Several years ago, I heard about beer can chicken, but as a serious smoked meat freak, I found the thought of it somewhat lame and gimmicky. Yet it survived with an almost religious, cult-like following. Not being one who likes left out in the cold when it comes to a tasty meal, I thought I’d give it a try. Hell, I’ll eat anything once, for fear of missing something. Therefore, I turned to my go-to reference source, Twitter. In no time my foodie groupies gave me the low down. Damn! I had been missing out all these years!
Off to the Chicken Store. Play along as I attempt my first beer can chicken.
Prep the Bird
My chicken was frozen, so I let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the package inside the chicken’s cavity, the neck, liver, etc. I don’t know about you guys, but I cherish that part of the chicken, as well. I wrap those in foil and put them on the grill with the bird. I either eat them as they are, or use them to make some great giblet gravy.
Wash the chicken and trim off any fat and loose skin, Either lightly salt and pepper him, inside and out or use a poultry rub of choice. I used my All Purpose Chicken Rub. You can find the recipe here. Place in the refrigerator.
Next, either punch several holes in the top of the of the can, or as I did, use a can opener to cut the entire top off. You may want to temporarily remove the beer from the can while you remove the top, as it does take a little bit of fiddling with the can opener.
This is where some people get creative and add juices, spices and all kind of concoctions to the beer. Since this was my first attempt at beer can chicken and I really was doing this to analyze the overall technique, I followed the traditional, no brainer method. I did throw some of the left over chicken rub into the can, but that was it.
The rest isn’t rocket science! Just set the chicken down on top of the beer can and work the can to where it belongs.
He’s Looking Chilly, Give Him Some Heat!
It’s time to fire up the grill. I made a fire using the indirect heat method. Some people recommended direct, medium heat. This being my first beer can chicken, I was taking it easy. I went for a high, indirect heat. Basically, an oven effect, rather than hot fire.
Normally, this is the time I’d be deciding what type of smoking wood is best suited for this particular meat, but since I’m adhering to tradition, I’ll forgo any smoke flavor this time around. I’m looking for that broasted chicken flavor.
In most instances, when I build an indirect heat fire, I’ll put a water pan under the meat for added moisture. With the beer can chicken theory of cooking, moisture will be achieved from within via the beer can. Therefore, I’ll not use any water since I want to create dry heat in hopes of crispy skin. Man, how I love crispy skin!
Set the chicken upright in a tripod-type way, using the can and two legs. Close the lid and let him cook.
My temperature indicator on the grill was reading around 300-degrees F. Since my chicken weighed about 5 pounds, I calculated it would need about 2 or 3 hours to cook. I figured I was good for about an hour before I’d need to take a peek and, more than likely put on some more charcoal.
After an hour things were looking good. I adjusted the fire, took a temperature reading from the chicken and determined it would need at least another hour, but would take the chicken’s temperature every half hour.
All told, it took 3 hours for the chicken’s internal temperature to reach 175-degrees F. Although the cooking time was a bit more than I was planning, I could only imagine how tasty this slow-cooked chicken was going to taste. With internal moisture ensured due to the beer can, and the skin’s crispiness, I couldn’t wait to tear into this chicken. I let the chicken rest for 15 minutes prior to carving.
The Final Verdict
I’m very disappointed! Disappointed that I’ve not tried beer can chicken sooner. All those years of my life that have slipped by without even one beer can chicken!
As advertised, this chicken was indeed moist, flavorful and had that lovely crispy skin. It went very well with traditional accompaniments such as mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed vegetables and warm bread.
In light of the fact that this was my first beer can chicken, I think it came out quite well. My mind is already in a frenzy as to how I’ll cook my next one. Improvements on the technique and flavor enhancements are already in the works. I believe beer can chicken will be a weekly meal in my household from now on.
Stop back again. I’ll keep this section updated with all I learn. In the meantime, good luck with your own beer can chicken.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on beer can chicken. Have any secrets or tips? Please share them in the comments section below.