by Dan Taylor
seems obscene that it would take me 36
years to explore what happens when the
open end of a chicken meets the business
end of a beer can. Especially when you
consider that there are three food/drink
stuffs that Ive liked from the get
go: cheese, chicken and beer.
Well talk cheese some
other time. Instead, lets talk chicken.
This is one of THGs All-Time Foods.
Its versatile as hell and can be
As far as beer goes, I blame
my brothers. In an effort to buy my nine-year-old
silence one night, they slapped a Schlitz
Tall Boy in my hand, took a few pictures
and convinced me that if I ratted them
out I would be in just as much hot water.
They gambled on the fact that Id
never risk the punishment and they were
right. Schlitz in hand I figured that
if I was going to be in trouble just for
HOLDING the damn beer, I might as well
go all the way and have a sip. Or two.
You might expect this to turn into a cautionary
tale filled with a trip to the hospital
emergency room and a visit from Child
Services. And you couldnt be further
from the truth.
Sadly, I was a more responsible
drinker at age nine than I was at age
29. Once that first sip of Schlitz raced
across my tender taste buds, I knew it
was something Id be embracing in
So youd think at some
point a light wouldve gone off over
my beer-addled noggin, causing me
to consider the possibilities of a can
of suds and an 8 lb. roaster. Yet it would
take nearly three decades for the worlds
of hops, barley and poultry to collide
with dramatic results on
my backyard grill.
The technique is called
Beer Can Chicken, and never has a technique
been so aptly named. No glazing or pan-frying
here. If you have a grill, a beer can,
and a chicken youre 99% of the way
there. Actually, you don't even need a
grill, but doesn't everybody have a grill?
first thing youre gonna need
obviously is a chicken. Most recipes
youll see (including those found
in Steve Raichlens awesome book
Beer Can Chicken and 74 Other Off-Beat
Recipes for the Grill) recommend a 3-4
lb. bird. I consider this a waste of time.
Step up to the plate and get a nice big
6-8 lb. roaster.
Next up is a 16 oz. can
of beer (8 oz. for a small bird). Extensive
taste tests have determined that Bud is
king of beers for this job. I cant
tell you why.
Set up your grill for indirect
grilling and start your fire. (Gas: turn
off one of the burners before you put
the chicken on the grill. Charcoal: create
two mounds of briquettes on either side
of the grill with a drip pan in the middle.
The chicken will sit above the drip pan.)
Open the beer and pour out about half.
Punch some extra holes in the top of the
can. Rinse and pat dry the chicken.
Rub the outside of the chicken
with a little oil (I use olive oil)
this will give the bird a nice skin and
hold the seasonings better. Sprinkle the
bird inside and out with whatever seasoning
mix suits your taste. Lately Ive
been using Ragin Ricks Steak
Shake or Head Country's Championship BBQ
Rub. Take a couple teaspoons of the seasoning
mix and spoon it into the beer can. Dont
worry if it foams up a bit.
In order to achieve the
best possible beer can chicken, you need
some smoke. If youre using a charcoal
grill, toss a handful of pre-soaked wood
chips onto the coals before placing the
bird on the grill. If you use gas, get
those mesquite or hickory pellets that
dont need soaking. You just place
them in a tin foil pouch.
Place the beer can tightly
inside the chickens cavity. Charcoal
grillers should set the chicken in the
middle of the grill over the drip pan
while gas grillers can turn off one burner,
turn the other to low and set the chicken
over the off burner.
the chicken on the grill, breast forward,
using the legs and can like a tripod.
Tuck the wings behind the back so they
dont burn, close the lid and walk
away. A chicken that weighs 7 to 8 lbs
will require about 2 hours of cooking
time; a 3 to 4 lb bird can be done in
about half that. If youre using
a charcoal grill youll need to watch
the coals and make sure your temperature
When the chickens
done, take it off the grill carefully
(I usually don oven mitts and lift it
off) and tent it with foil for about ten
minutes. Youll probably want to
have somebody help you extract the can,
since it tends to get wedged in there
pretty good and is full of hot liquid.
Carve, serve and enjoy. Repeat as necessary.
Dont have a grill?
According to Raichlens book you
can still pull off a decent beer can chicken
without the smoke, of course
in an oven. Set the oven at 350° F
and place the beer-canned chicken in a
roasting pan. Position the pan low enough
in the oven so that the chicken doesnt
touch the top.
Dont drink? Dont
worry. Ive done beer can chicken
with non-alcoholic beer and it has turned
out great. Plus, you can always substitute
fruit juice, soda or any other liquid.
Just hang onto some aluminum cans when
youre finished with them, rinse
them out and use them to create your own
Beer Can Chicken Resources...