There are many ways of preparing grilled chicken, including using alcoholic beverages to steam the inside of the meat. Beer can chicken is made by inserting a can of beer into the lower cavity of your whole chicken and indirectly barbecuing it on the grill. This method might sound complex, but it's pretty easy to follow. We'll discuss the best beer for beer can chicken and the grilling process in this post.
Types of Beers for Beer Can Chicken
There are many beers on the market today, which is the leading reason most people get confused when making beer can chicken. However, you don't have to go in blind since we'll be discussing the types of beer you can use in your beer can chicken recipe.
A lager is a great bear to use to make beer can chicken. Lagers have a lighter tint and are brewed using a unique process that requires lower temperatures to activate the yeast. While ales require warmer temperatures for fermentation, lagers require cool temperatures. Many people claim that lagers are the best for beer can chicken.
2. IPA Beer
IPA, which stands for India Pale Ale, is a beer that tastes hoppy and can add an eccentric beer flavor to your chicken. This beer style packs a tropical, fruity aroma that some consider pine or citrus-like. It's also characterized by bitterness, but it doesn't have a dark appearance; instead, it has a red-brown color that almost looks like copper.
It's a popular beer in the US, and it's no surprise it's used in many beers can chicken recipes. Compared to most craft beers, IPA contains higher amounts of alcohol, but the most notable difference is perhaps the earthy, all-around flavor. It's arguably the best beer for beer can chicken because it effortlessly blends with the chicken meat, so it's definitely worth a try.
Stouts are darker in color and tend to have bitter flavors. They come in a variety of styles and can be a great option because they offer different tastes. The most popular stouts have chocolate, caramel or coffee flavors which could add a nice kick to your whole chicken. A great example of a stout is Guinness beer which is commonly used in numerous grilled chicken recipes.
Some people consider stouts with dark chocolate flavors the best fit for beer can chicken. These stouts add a blend of aromas to the chicken while also introducing a hint of hop.
3. Fruit Flavored Beers
If you'd like your chicken to have a fruity appeal, you should consider cooking it with fruit-flavored beers. These beers have a refreshing effect and are normally lighter in color. There are many fruit options for these beers, including citrus, pineapple, watermelon and berries. All you need to do is buy canned beer that's infused with the flavor you'd like.
Among fruit-flavored beers, peach ale is the best beer for beer can chicken. These bears can add anything from a sour to sweet taste to your chicken which is why you'll have to try out different recipes to find the ideal option.
4. Sour Beers
As the name suggests, these beers have a sour taste and can add a funky flavor to whole chicken if you use it in your beer can chicken recipe. Sour beer can be brewed using different types of yeast and bacteria. An advantage this beer style offers is that it could include fruits which can help strike a balance between sweetness and sourness.
The fruitiness of sour beers can come courtesy of fruits like cherry, raspberry, or peach. Berliner Weisse is an example of a kettle sour beer you can use for chicken, and it's available at most local beer stores. The combination of sweet and sour flavors can complement the meat in unexpected ways, so some consider sour beer the best beer for beer can chicken.
Pilsners also have a potent hoppy flavor but not as much as IPAs. They have a lighter color that looks almost golden and taste like a dry, crisp beverage. The primary difference between a lager and a pilsner is the Saaz hops which add a spicy edge to pilsners.
There are various flavors you can find in your pilsner, which can prove beneficial in making your cooked chicken more appealing. Unfortunately, pilsners are generally more expensive than lagers and pale ales, which is why they aren't a popular option for most people. Nevertheless, if you aren't working with a strict budget, you can cook the chicken on your gas or charcoal grill with half a can of pilsner for a delicious meal.
6. Belgian Wits
Belgian wits are pale and cloudy beers made using Belgian yeast, which dominates the taste. You can cook beer can chicken with Belgian Wits because they come in different styles, complementing your chicken in various ways. Some of the famous flavors you can explore include coriander, grapefruit, and orange peel.
If you don't want a lot of sweet flavors in your chicken, don't fret because Belgian Wits can add some spicy accents to the meat.
7. Chilli Beers
There are chili beers and chili-infused beers, which might sound similar but are a bit different. Chili-infused styles are made by adding chili flavor to the beer. Some of the spices you can find in chili beers include hot pepper juice, peppers, or oils. While these beers taste sweet in your mouth, they leave a spicy taste in your mouth after you swallow.
These beers can complement your whole chicken by adding a spicy flavor to the meat. If there's a specialty store close to your location where you can buy craft beers, you can check for Habenero Sculpin, which is the best beer for can chicken for some people.
8. Domestic Beers
If you are on a budget, you can use cheap beer for your beer can chicken recipe instead of craft beer which could be more pricey. You don't have to get expensive beer for cooking your chicken since the beer in your fridge could do the trick.
The downside to domestic beers is that they don't offer a unique taste to your meat since it normally doesn't contain fruity, spicey, or sour flavors. Examples of domestic beers you can buy include Coors Light, Michelob Ultra, and Budweiser.
If you want a beer that's low on hops, you should go with the malty ones. Malt beers aren't as bitter as other beer styles and are a great alternative to those who don't want a bitter flavor in the beer can chicken.
Mild and brown ales are examples of beers that are rich in malt. That's why you can use them in your recipe for a natural and tasteful outcome.
How to Make Beer Can Chicken
Once you've selected the best beer for beer can chicken, you can now prepare your chicken for grilling. Below are the steps to follow to cook your whole chicken with a beer can. It's also known as the beer butt chicken recipe, and it's pretty straightforward.
You should keep in mind that the process for cooking your chicken on a charcoal grill is a bit different from that of a gas grill. Nevertheless, you can use either as long as you don't cook the chicken directly.
1. Season the Chicken with a Spice Rub
The first thing you should do is start preparing the seasoning for your chicken. Some of the ingredients you can use for seasoning include kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, rosemary, olive oil, and brown sugar. Additionally, if you have other items you'd like to include in your seasonings, like thyme or other spices, knock yourself out.
You'll need to mix the ingredients into a paste in a small bowl. Once you've combined the spices, you'll dry rub the seasoning into the chicken, inside and out. The seasoning will slowly permeate the chicken and ensure it has a mouthwatering taste.
2. Empty or Drink Half the Beer
This is perhaps the most exciting part of your cooking process. We don't need a full can of beer when grilling beer can chicken since we need some room to boil and steam.
That's why you can drink about half of the beer in the can as you let the chicken rest. We only need half the amount of beer to grill the chicken, which is why you can pour beer into another container that you can use later for basting.
3. Place the Beer Can Chicken in a Pan
In this step, you'll need to keep the chicken upright as you insert the beer can into the lower cavity of the chicken. We want the beer steam to help cook the inside of the chicken. You'll need to place the beer can on the pan first and then fit the chicken over it to ensure you don't spill the beer.
Ensure the chicken sits stably on the can, leaving only about two inches of the can outside the chicken.
4. Cook Over Indirect Heat
It'll take about one and a half hours to properly cook the beer can chicken on your grill. The main tip to keep in mind here is that you want to cook the chicken over indirect heat. As such, if you have a charcoal barbecue, you can preheat it to medium heat by placing the coals on one side of the grill rather than spreading them across.
If you have a gas grill, you can light half the burners and keep the ones directly under the chicken off. If you set aside some of the beer, it'll be useful here since you can use it to baste the chicken as it cooks. You'll need a meat thermometer to ensure you can check the internal temperature of the chicken till it gets to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Transfer the Chicken to a Tray
Once you've checked that the chicken is ready, you can remove it from the grill and set it aside to rest before you start carving it. The outer skin of the chicken should be well-browned and crispy, depending on your preferences.
How to Remove the Beer Can from the Chicken
Removing the beer can from your chicken can be dangerous since the beer can, chicken, and beer are hot. That's why you'll need to be cautious of how you separate the can from the chicken. You can use a pair of tongs to hold the top and a metal spatula under the beer can.
Next, lift the chicken and move it to an open tray and let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes to ensure it cools. Then, lift the chicken off the can slowly, but you can use the tongs if it's hard.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Ideal Temperature for Cooking Beer Can Chicken?
It can be tricky to determine whether your beer can chicken is ready, which is why you need a meat thermometer close by. First, you'll need to insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken thigh and check whether it reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You should start checking the temperature after about an hour and fifteen minutes.
The bones of the chicken could be hotter than the meat in the thighs and breasts, which is why you should avoid touching them with the thermometer when checking the temperature.
2. Which Seasonings Should I use for Beer Can Chicken?
There are many spices and ingredients that you can use to season your beer can chicken. Ordinarily, you can use the spices you have available around your kitchen, like garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, brown sugar, olive oil and kosher salt. First, you'll need to mix them up inside a bowl into a paste that you can rub both inside and outside the chicken.
3. Are there Alternatives to Beer-Can Chicken Recipes?
You don't really need beer to complete a beer can chicken recipe since the important thing to have is the can. If you have a clean can, you can pour whichever drink you want, including soda, alcohol, white wine, etc. You can use these beverages as alternatives in your recipe.