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Author Topic: beer can chicken, does it work?  (Read 5953 times)

Offline deepsouth

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beer can chicken, does it work?
« on: August 02, 2010, 08:01:54 am »
there are probably millions of people who have cooked beer can chickens and a few have even gone so far as to document their results.  the most notable to me is on the nakedwhiz site....

the naked whiz conclusion:

We suppose the conclusions here are pretty obvious. Doing beer can chicken to produce moist and flavorful chickens is a waste of time, good beer and good flavorings. Side by side comparisons showed that birds cooked with and without beer in the can turned out identical in juiciness. A bird cooked over beer with flavorings turned out identical in flavor to a bird cooked with no beer and no flavorings. It just plain doesn't work. The only reason we can see for putting a chicken on a can is cook it vertically so you can fit more birds into your cooker. But for flavor or juiciness? Nope. If you need to increase the juiciness of your chicken, or if you want to get some flavor into the meat itself, you would be far better off investigating the art of brining.

i'd suspect that more often than not, these beer can chickens are done using macro brews such as budweiser or miller or even a lite version of those beers.

my rub was a mixture of salt and pepper, dizzy pig shakin the tree and tsunami spin and some simply marvelous season all.

i pulled the skin back on the breasts and rubed them good inside and out and let them sit for a couple hours.

i used some onion and garlic in the beers.

for my beer can chicken experiment, i used an oskar blues ten fidy russian imperial stout which comes in just under 10% abv.  i cooked the chicken indirect on a small big green egg using the actual oskar blues can and a couple skewers to hold the chicken up inside the egg.  i used a bit of onion and garlic in the can.

for the other beer, i used a homebrewed barrel aged double ipa that came in at about 130 ibu and 11% abv.  i used a ceramic beer can chicken holder for that one.  used onion and garlic in the beer as well.

the one cooked on the large big green egg was cooked direct, however i did use the spider with an aluminum pan sitting on it.  i also used the adjustable rig to cook to cook higher in the dome, at the level of the felt on the base of the egg.

the large...

the small...

i was able to put a probe into the ceramic container holding the chicken in the large big green egg to monitor the temp of the liquid...

next readings....

(at this point, i dropped my iphone 4 and shattered the back glass on it.  pictures became less frequent as i was pretty ticked off.)

the chicken took less time on the large big green egg.  also, the beer boiled in the ceramic holder as there was about 1/2 the amount of beer than what i started with. 

the chicken on the small big green egg came off about 30 minutes later.  most noticable was the fact that the amount of beer in the can was pretty much the same amount that i started off with. 

my conclusion

both chickens were juicy, but i noticed the one done direct at a bit hotter temperature was more moist than the one cooked indirect.  the chicken cooked on the small egg indirect picked up little to no flavor from the beer.  the chicken cooked direct on the large egg at a bit higher temperature tasted more moist and tasted different than the chicken cooked on the small egg.  the beer most certainly added flavor to the chicken cooked on the ceramic chicken holder.   there was evidence that the beer in the ceramic holder boiled and that flavor was apparent in the chicken.

so, if you really want get good results on your beer can chickens, my recommendation would be, cook them direct between 375-400 and use a hoppy beer, preferably an india pale ale or a double india pale ale.  i'd suspect a very hoppy regular pale ale would work as well.  i think it's necessary to get the beer to boil before you will see results.

part two of this test will be using a russian imperial stout direct on the egg to see if beers other than hoppy work for "beer can chicken".

thanks for looking!
Hoppy Homebrewers of South Mississippi (est. 2009)

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bottled:     white house honey ale

Offline hamiltont

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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2010, 08:12:04 am »
Hey DS,  Nice work!!!  I've done beer can chickens & found the same thing. No real benefit.  Your ceramic chicken holder & direct heat looks intriguing though.  I gave up on the beer cans & went the spatchcocked route. Takes up more space on the Q but sooo moist. With that ceramic chicken holder I bet you could get more chicken on the grill. Cheers!!!
If Homebrew & BBQ aren't the answer, then you're askin' the wrong questions... Cheers!!!

Offline bluesman

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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2010, 09:37:41 am »
Nice job!

I'll be referring to your notes if I get around to trying this.

I made some Turkish Kabobs yesterday.  I'll post some pics sometime soon over on the BBQ thread.

Keep up the great work!
Ron Price

Offline nicneufeld

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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2010, 06:09:06 pm »
I like many was impressed by the beer can chicken method the first time I tried it, but my theory on this is, as was the case with me, for many folks, it is one of the first times they do a whole chicken on the grill.  Whole chickens compared to, say, boneless skinless chicken breast or overcooked, direct grilled chicken pieces, are going to be a revelation, no matter what you stick up the birds butt!

I moved on to spatchcocked chicken, occasionally direct, but usually indirect grilled at high temp with wood chunks.  I also heavily debone it, leaving only leg and thigh and wing bones, by the time I'm done...makes for very easy carving. 

I still do beer can chicken but the beer goes in me, not the birds abdominal cavity.   ;D

Offline weithman5

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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2010, 07:17:13 pm »

investigating the art of brining.

I have brined often, especially turkey.  it is simple and i have added beer in to my brine, nice juicy and ... crap now i am hungry
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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2010, 09:58:50 am »
I brine most stuff I grill...chicken, turkey, pork, and especially shrimp.
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Offline The Professor

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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2010, 12:16:46 pm »
I brine most stuff I grill...chicken, turkey, pork, and especially shrimp.

Ditto that (though it never occurred to me to brine shrimp...gonna try that!).
When I do chicken, I brine it in a porter based solution with salt, white and black pepper,  fresh onion and garlic juice, some sweet paprika, thyme, rosemary, and spoonful of vinegar (I don't add the vinegar if the porter is a well aged one).   
Then the bird gets cooked over indirect heat; after the first  15 minutes I put a small amount of soaked applewood  chips on the fire, and then let the heat do its thing till the chicken's done.

This preparation is pretty much my favorite way to enjoy chicken. And the next day or two, the meat is really great sliced cold and added to a big green salad. In fact, I  almost like it better the next day.
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Offline babalu87

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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2010, 07:35:58 am »
Rotissierre chicken is scrumptious
I ordered the rotissierre kit for the Weber once I got it home.

Let chicken warm up a little (dont worry the gooneys arent gonna come eat yah!)

DRY thouroughly!
Season inside and out.

On draught:
IIPA, Stout, Hefeweizen, Hallertau Pale Ale, Bitter

Hefeweizen,Berliner Weisse, Mead

Offline deepsouth

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Re: beer can chicken, does it work?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2010, 12:50:26 pm »
got an update from the "naked whiz" in an email this morning....  he will be doing more testing and updating his site....

"I thought I would let you know what's up with the beer can chicken experiments. I tried using a plain can of beer, half full, sitting on a raised grid with a cheap aluminum foil drip pan on the regular grid and only got the beer up to 206 degrees. It stayed there for 30 minutes, so I doubt it was ever going to get higher.

But after you posted your results, I ordered a ceramic chicken sitter (actually a turkey sitter since I can't read, doh!), a Weber BCC pan that has a small reservoir for liquid (they say to NEVER use an alcoholic beverage, lol! as it might catch fire) and a metal pan with a wire framework to hold the can and the chicken.

So far, I've been able to try the turkey sitter and much to my surprise, the beer did boil around the edges and you could smell hot budweiser (I'm not blowing off any good beer just to see if it boils!). I wonder if the large bottom surface and the extra mass of the ceramic helps get the heat into the beer. But, at this point, I've got to try the other two devices and I'll redo the can by itself test to double check what happened there.

And of course, then I will have to put a chicken on them to see what happens.

I also plan to do another plain bird/beer bird run using one of the following two beers:

I am leaning towards the czar, but I picked up the hoppus maximus on a whim, thinking that it might actually be hoppus maximus and I saw you had commented that you thought hoppy beers would add more flavor. So, if you have any thoughts on which beer to use, I appreciate your opinion. I did use an expensive porter on my original test, but I can't remember which brand I used. Last night, since I was in the beer store, I enjoyed a bottle of Fuller's London Porter.

Anyway, I'll let you know what happens, and of course, I'll be revising the web page after I get this all done."

Hoppy Homebrewers of South Mississippi (est. 2009)

AHA# 196703

bottled:     white house honey ale