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Cooking Tests

Beer Can Chicken

by Michael Chu
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When I prepared last year's Smoked Beer Can Turkey, I wondered if any discernable amount of flavor was being imparted by the beer itself to the fowl - or if the steam was serving just as a delivery system for the aromatic herbs (as well as a moisturizing agent). I went as far as to claim that perhaps using water would be just as good, but only a few of my readers took the bait and commented on this. So, I prepared this simple experiment (which will "prove" nothing) to find out if beer or water makes a difference. (Let the discussion begin!)

I sat down to think about how I wanted to proceed on this particular "test" and decided that there was no way I could be exhaustive or scientific about it if I didn't want to be wasteful. I knew I had to minimize the potential differences between the birds I was cooking, so I made a few decisions. First, I would use chickens because a turkey is too big. The chickens would be roasted in the oven at the same time - but would not be rotated or positions swapped (because I didn't want to risk scalding myself with boiling hot beer as the chickens inevitably tilted while I manhandle them around).

I also decided I would eat both chickens, which meant a few choices had to be made about flavoring. Normally, I would brine the chickens, but because I didn't have two identical containers (so the volume of brining solution needed to cover the chickens would be different), I decided to skip this step. I suspected if one chicken took on more salt than the other then this would be a far greater impact than anything beer steam could provide. Unfortunately, I didn't like the idea of eating an unbrined chicken, so I selected two free range broiler-fryer chickens of nearly identical weight - around 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg). Due to greater activity while alive, free range poultry has a stronger flavor than unbrined conventional poultry.

I was still concerned about eating two minimally seasoned chickens, so I decided to rub onto each bird a simple spice rub so at least the skin and surface of the meat would be flavorful. I chose to use essentially the same rub from the aforementioned turkey recipe. I would also be applying a few herbs (one bay leaf and a teaspoon of dried thyme) to each of the steaming liquids. The liquids - I decided - were to be beer and water. Because I was only interested in seeing if beer made a difference when compared to water, I would not prepare a third chicken using a non-beer can method of preparation.

When I was in the checkout line with my two chickens, I mentioned the test I was about to undertake. The man waiting behind me immediately jumped to the defense of using beer. He claimed that not just water was steaming; it was also the alcohols and flavorants - for if you could smell it, surely it must be getting into the food. I countered by saying that there are many volatile compounds that we can smell during the cooking process, but many of these dissipate so quickly that they don't enter the meat. If alcohol in gaseous state is such a good flavorant, why doesn't anyone steam vegetables or delicate meats with a pot of top quality cabernet sauvignon (hmmm... maybe I should try it, but it will have to wait until I'm rich).

Now I had to select a beer. In retrospect, I should have selected the darkest brew I could find, but while shopping for beer, I mainly had one priority - something that came in an individual can. I went to two markets and one convenience store and realized that no one seemed to sell a dark beer outside of glass bottles (which would not be useful for supporting the chicken) and six-packs (which is too much beer). The problem stems from the fact that I have never learned to truly appreciate beer as a beverage and view it as an ingredient that I occasionally use. As alcoholic libations go, my tastes tend to lean toward red wines - at least for now. I didn't want tons of left over beer in my fridge. (Once I found a year old bottle - definitely several beer life times past its prime - in the back of my refrigerator.)

So I ended up with a large can of Budweiser. Not the best choice, but at least I can say it's widely available. It turned out that I skipped over the glass bottles for nothing - in the end I would execute my test using Poultry Pal Beer Can Chicken Cookers (see Poultry Pal website). The Poultry Pals worked amazingly well - the design is simple and functional. As an added benefit, there isn't a colorful logo imprinted on the side of it that was produced (probably) without the intention of being roasted in a hot oven with steam and hot oil rolling over it.

I whipped up a large batch of spice rub (brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt, and black pepper) for use on the inside and outside of the chickens. I also measured out 8 oz. (235 mL) beer and 8 oz. (235 mL) bottled water.


Into each Poultry Pal, I poured the liquid and the herbs (after crushing the bay leaf). The Poultry Pal is really quite simple and yet so much better than the old beer can. With a beer can, the pop top opening is too small to be effective, so I have to cut the entire top off using a can opener. Depending on the can, this can leave sharp jaggies and maybe even a partially crumpled can. The Poultry Pal is a two piece structure - a pan that looks like it could double as a round cake pan and a plate with a protruding tower that holds the chicken. Pinky-sized holes are liberally placed throughout the tower and the plate has a few holes to allow drippings from the poultry to enter the liquid holding pan. There are no unnecessary ridges, so washing was easy by hand.


I then got my hands dirty by removing the giblets from each chicken (setting them aside for dirty rice and stock). The inside and outside of the chickens were rubbed with the spice rub.


I stood each chicken up and deposited them onto their Poultry Pal. I baked them in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until they were done. Unfortunately, my notes fail me at this time, and I don't know how long they were in the oven for - but that's okay because they were both in for the same amount of time. Both chickens reached proper temperatures at the breast (about 165°F) at the same time. The thigh meat had a fairly high temperature of almost 180°F. Usually I don't worry about the legs drying out because they have more intramuscular fat which helps keep the meat moist, but in this case, they were a bit overdone - probably a by product of sticking out away from the body as the chicken is "sitting" on the beer can (or, in this case, the Poultry Pal). But, that's not the purpose of this test (I already knew that would happen).

I pulled the chickens out and let them rest about ten minutes before attempting to remove them from the Poultry Pals.


When I use beer cans, they have a tendency to become welded to the cavity of the bird as it bakes. The can holds almost boiling beer (or water) and is, obviously, hot to touch. You don't want to spill the contents of the can because it's a lot of oil and drippings that don't need to be reintroduced to the chicken (and sloshing liquid onto the crispy exterior may ruin that sublime texture). Even with the Poultry Pal, it's easiest with two people. The chicken is removed from the cooking liquid first before extracting the tower. One person lifting the chicken and the other holding down the plate of the Poultry Pal (protecting all hands involved with wads of paper towels) seemed to work best. The non-stick finish really worked; the chicken slid right off. In fact, after removing the second chicken, it occurred to me that I probably could have laid the chicken down and pulled out the plate horizontally. I allowed the chickens to cool a bit longer to make carving easier. (I thrust a wood skewer I had nearby into the chicken prepared with beer so I could tell the difference later as I carved and served up chicken for tasting.)



I cut pieces from the thigh and from the breast, removing the seasoned surface and skin (that was for Tina and me to enjoy later as we finished off the birds - for tasting, I wanted a clean piece of meat). I expected the thigh meat would taste the same, but wasn't too sure about the breast meat. Could the flavorants from the beer penetrate the chest cavity and enter the breast? The answer, in short, is no.

The thigh meat, as expected, tasted exactly the same on both birds. The breast meat was juicy (but not as juicy as it could have been had it been brined) and had the barest hint of herbs, but no difference could be detected between the two types of chicken. I even cut new pieces, this time with some skin and seasoning, and tasters still couldn't tell the difference. Maybe I needed a stronger, darker beer - but some difference should be detectable, even using Budweiser vs. plain water. The experiment was done and I had my answer - I won't be running to the store to buy beer to fill my Poultry Pal in the future.

Tina and I dutifully ate the meat off both chickens, used the remaining meat on the bones for creamed chicken, the livers, hearts, and gizzards for dirty rice, and utilized the final remains for chicken stock (which ended up as the base for matzo ball soup).


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Written by Michael Chu
Published on April 08, 2006 at 12:19 PM
82 comments on Beer Can Chicken:(Post a comment)

On April 09, 2006 at 01:44 AM, mcfarlanea (guest) said...
Subject: Quality of Beer
Quite honestly Budweiser is basically fizzy water. I normally find your tests so thorough - why on earth did you spoil this by using poor ingredients?!

Alas, those red-wine-drinkers are a rowdy, interminable bunch ;)

I'd be very interested to see the sequel using a strong stout or something similar. Something with strong flavour - heck, something with flavour, period!


On April 09, 2006 at 10:01 AM, discostu (guest) said...
A bottle of year old beer would be just fine!
This "fresh beer tastes better" rubbish from Budweiser (again rubbish) really annoys me. If the receptacle is sealed, you could drink it in 10 years time an d it would still be fine.


On April 10, 2006 at 10:08 AM, Janne (guest) said...
Subject: Wrong beer
I agree on the choice of beer basically invalidating the test. When you make a beer stew, you would never use a lager or pilsner. I'm not surprised you didn't get any flavour difference; if a light lager won't make a difference when you boil meat in it, it shouldn't do so when being steamed by it either.

For a stew you would most likely use a porter or a stout (I prefer porter); I think you may find a discernible (positive) difference if you'd used something like that instead. It would be interesting to see if you did.


On April 10, 2006 at 12:06 PM, Rob (guest) said...
Subject: Strong Beer
I've done this test myself, and yes lighter beers don't make any difference. But when I used Guinness we could defiantly taste the difference. It was subtle, but you could certainly taste the bitter, chocolaty flavor of the stout.
One side note , the Guinness cans are taller, so if you use a small chicken they tend to get suspended in the air and are a bit unstable.


On April 10, 2006 at 01:00 PM, dhooie (guest) said...
Subject: Beer and other liquids
I am also an engineer who is not a big fan of beer. I bought Budwizer to make a trap for slugs and even they wouldn't drink it. I find a heavier beer does impart flavor. You can also use soda flavors, such as orange, to make a nice "chicken a'la orange." I slide orange slices between the skin and meat to help infuse the flavor in both directions.

Does using beer vs water make a difference? Don't know but I do know my roasted chicken is the talk of the neighborhood and smells sooooo good. :D


On April 10, 2006 at 07:30 PM, Aariq (guest) said...
Subject: to rob, re:guiness
I think you're not supposed to use the guiness cans because they have a widget inside.


On April 11, 2006 at 02:05 PM, Arieh Raviv (guest) said...
With all due respect, since when is Budweiser called a beer? If you want to cook with it, you might as well use water. Beer is something entirely different. For cooking (and preparing sauces) I would recommend at least Guinness or Murphy's, or if you can get it, a Belgian Orval or Trappist. All these are ales, but an ale is first cousin to beer so it is OK. By the way, try to taste them, and you might change your mind about beer.
Bon Appetit
Arieh Raviv


On April 11, 2006 at 09:57 PM, DibS (guest) said...
Subject: Beer as an ingredient...
I also am not a huge beer drinker, but I respect it when I use it as an ingredient. You would never use Night Train in place of wine or Ripple in place of cognac in a recipe, would you? As such, I do my best to use the right beer for the job.

I do like to cook with Guinness, but I transfer it into another can when using the "Beercan Method" because of the widget. The other problem with cooking with Guinness is there can be a residual bitterness as it reduces and intensifies. I usually counteract this with brown sugar and/or molasses. Another good option that very flavorful and not quite as bitter is any of the Black & Tan style varieties. I like the Yuengling Black & Tan because it is delicious and relatively inexpensive (not as cheap as Bud, but worth every penny).

Of course adding sugar to the beercan chicken equation probably won't change a thing when it comes to flavor if the bird isn't first brined. HERE IS WHERE BEER MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD!!!

Pour two to three cans of beer into your brining vessel. Add a half to three quarters cup kosher salt, two tablespoons of molasses, half a cup of brown sugar (packed), ten or so whole peppercorns, and few shots of hotsauce. Whisk above ingredients... Insert bird... Chill overnight... Cook over beercan (you can recycle the brining liquid for this)... Enjoy... Then get down on one knee and think of Stephen Raichlen who's recipe I just roughly quoted.

DibS

PS I have another theory that the "Beercan Method" yeilds a moister bird more because of positioning than steam. Old school kosher technique calls for roasting breast down on a bed of salt for a moister result. Also, see napastyle.com for a roasting pan that holds your bird up by the neck hole. Gravity may just be the key...


On April 12, 2006 at 01:35 PM, Dabu (guest) said...
Subject: If it's all in one oven...
Just a thought, but dosn't the fact that you roasted the two birds in the same oven at the same time negate the effects of the "beer" test? steam from both liquids no doubt mixed evenly together inside the oven, likely leaving you with nothing more than the effect of using more dilluted beer than you otherwise would have. I've always been a beer can skeptic myself, though (I've tried it a few times and never noticed any effect from the beer). In the end, I'm with you that brining is the way to go!


On April 13, 2006 at 09:04 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: Free Range
Just as a side note "Free Range" is designated by the FDA as having access to the outdoors. Doesn't actually indicate the product, chicken in this case, is any more or less tasty.


On April 14, 2006 at 11:38 PM, Jake (guest) said...
Subject: In defense of Budweiser
I think good 'ole Bud was a fine choice for this test. At the risk of being forced to turn in my Elitist Foody Snob membership card for saying this, I respectfully submit that there is a good reason for Budweiser being the market leader in the beer industry.

By way of mentioning, I wouldn't use Guiness to strip a tile floor, no matter how trendy and cool it would make me.


On April 15, 2006 at 02:56 PM, mcfarlanea (guest) said...
Subject: On Bud as Market Leader
Quote:
...there is a good reason for Budweiser being the market leader in the beer industry.


Indeed. You can buy it at every corner store, it's dirt cheap, they have an enormous advertising budget, and it goes down easy so you get drunk quickly. A teenagers dream!

Perhaps if you're looking to get trashed quickly, Bud is your choice. But for anyone who drinks beer because they enjoy the taste (albeit a small percentage of those who actually drink it), Bud isn't even an option. I'd rather have fizzy water. To say: "I don't enjoy Guiness, therefore Bud is good" is faulty logic (apologies on the paraphrasing). There are plenty of better beers in between the two, many of which compete on price point and certainly trump in taste. I encourage you to branch out a bit in between!

You wouldn't buy Baby Duck and then an expensive Pinot and decide that you liked Baby Duck better, therefore there was a good reason it was more popular? Besides the fact that the comparison is between two different products, you set yourself up to be disappointed...


On April 17, 2006 at 12:58 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Even if beer and water make the meat taste the same, wouldn't any sauce you make from the drippings taste very different?


On April 17, 2006 at 05:43 AM, sweatervest (guest) said...
Subject: old beer tastes.....old
As an engineer and a professional brewer I can tell you that Budweiser's campaign that fresh beer tastes better is true, and that most beers taste better than american standard lager. That last one is an opinion just like all tastes, but the first one is a fact. Beer is highly subject to oxidation and sadly a brewing process has yet to be invented that can guarantee no oxygen in packaged beer. Store beer cold and drink it fresh to slow and minimize deleterious flavour effects due to oxidation reactions in package. I can guarantee discostu that 10 year old beer would taste like a wet cardboard box. In fact some beers get this wonderfully bad flavour in under 6 months. Wine doesn't suffer this effect as it is chock full of the preservative and antioxidant sodium metabisulphite when it goes in the bottle and in general the flavours that develop in it due to oxidation over its long shelf life are generally pleasant. Lucky for us, old wine is wonderful.

As far a beer can chicken is concerned. In my own chicken investigations I've found no substitute for dry heat, and I can think of much tastier cavity flavourings than beer.

Cheers.


On April 20, 2006 at 12:10 PM, Abraham (guest) said...
Subject: Alcoholic beverage as moisturizers
I tend to use cheap beer or any equally tasteles soft alcoholic beverage (sake in my opinion is a better option) when I want to get advantage of the faster dissipation of them. Water tends to take longer to boil and, in the case of my city where tap water is hard, also tends to change the flavour of anything cooked into it.

If flavouring is also a point, White Wine or any cheap Cava or Champagne do wonders on unbrined chicken (I cannot use much salt for health reasons), without killing any taste it can have by itself. If you don't care about the original taste, then red wine, or even better, a 50/50 mix of Jerez Dulce and Jerez Seco (I think they call it Sherry Wine in english), or any strong, dark beer will do. In a meat with such a subtle flavor such as chicken meat, this process will practically erase any traces of its flavor and aroma, and it will replace it with the ones of our alcohol of choice, plus of the any spice we add to the mix.

There are also spice that nullify the flavor of the chicken, but that's an entirely different subject ;)

(sorry for my extrange grammar; it's not quite the same write tech reports than write about cooking...)


On April 20, 2006 at 05:12 PM, Chef (guest) said...
Call me crazy, but I think Guiness-flavored chicken sounds perfectly nasty. Its also amusing to hear people confuse their subjective personal preferences (e.g. Guiness is "better" than Bud) for objective qualities.


On April 21, 2006 at 04:36 PM, tuetano (guest) said...
Subject: my results
I have done this many times here at my house with mexcian beer, and this is what i have found:

tecate = so so taste
pacifico = great taste
modelo = acceptable

i also put clove, red pepper and parsil on the cerveza and put only butter and black pepper on the chicken and cover it with a metal cube-like stuff and seti it on the charcoal, and put some of it above so the heat covers all, after like 1.5 its done and tastes terrific.


On April 23, 2006 at 03:02 PM, Cary Black (guest) said...
Subject: The best liquids to use for Continous Infusion Cooking
I wrote the book Zen and the Art of Cooking Beer-Can Chicken: The Definitive Guide (www.redowlpublications.com).

In the course of writing the book, I had the pleasure of trying a host of beers, wines, soda pops, juices...etc as the liquid source in the beer-can or in the liquid resevoir of the infusion cooker (ie: Poultry Pal).

I found that the more hoppy and robust the beer the larger the impact on the flavor of the bird. My best results were achieved using such beers as Rogue's Smokehouse Ale, or Great Divide's Doubled Hopped IPA. Both excellent. At the end of the day, the most significant benefit of the continuous infusion process (beer-can technique) is the continuous flux of moisture which moistens the bird as it cooks and allows the bird to cook a bit faster. If you desire to impart flavor through your liquid medium, you need to use beers such as what I discussed, and/or liquids with a strong aromatic aspect. Either way the continuous infusion process makes for a superlative chicken or turkey.


On April 26, 2006 at 10:06 AM, Johndi (guest) said...
Subject: You proved your expectations.
Just a thought, but unless you do a double blind test your expectations will influence your experiment.


On April 27, 2006 at 09:03 PM, A Food Year said...
Subject: Day 116
I just made beer can chicken last night on A Food Year and somebody linked me to this. I found that the chicken tasted different than it would as if it were just cooked regularly, but it was hard to tell how much of that was from the beer, the rub or because it was my first time making it on the grill :o


On April 28, 2006 at 09:50 PM, chuie (guest) said...
Subject: Beer butt chicken
Haven't tried it, but one recipe I read instructs you to pour off half the beer (or juice or soda--they mention root beer as an interesting alternative) and poke holes in the sides of the can. The liquid is mixed with various spices and put in a spray bottle to baste the chicken periodically as it cooks. Their preferred cooking method was a kettle grill, I believe.


On April 30, 2006 at 12:52 AM, Dave (guest) said...
Subject: Re: You proved your expectations.
If he expected one to taste better than the other, then seeing which was which might taint the results, but if he's expecting them to taste the same, how is blind testing going to make any difference?


On April 30, 2006 at 03:49 PM, poultry pal (guest) said...
Subject: beer can cooking
Hi Michael,
I am the inventor of the Poultry Pal cooker used in your test and have worked with Carey Black on beer can recipes. In my experience
the last few years on this subject, use the most flavorful beer or steaming liquid you prefer, that is the great thing of cooking this way --you can still eat your less than perfect results!
Experiment with rubs, spices and liquids till you get what you enjoy!
I will soon be adding an instuctional video on the Poultry Pal web site along with beef / pork roasts and pot pie instructions.
May I also incourage people to try brined turkey on the grill, this beats deep fried hands down!
Thanks and keep cooking in good health,
Tom Simon


On April 30, 2006 at 03:52 PM, Dan (guest) said...
If the beer flavor don't penetrate the chest cavity, why would one bother to use seasonning. Might as well use only water.


On May 06, 2006 at 02:02 PM, cz (guest) said...
Subject: www.czech-info.net
http://czech-info.net

check this site, good info about czech beer and another info for travelers to Czech. Prague pubs, prices, linving in czech etc.


On May 15, 2006 at 06:55 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Old Beer vs New Beer
Not to doubt a 'professional' brewer, but if young beer is SO much better than new beer, why are some Belgium beers aged 2 years in the bottle, before drinking? Some Lambics are aged ten.


On May 15, 2006 at 10:07 AM, eliasen said...
Subject: Aging is sometimes good...
The reason that some Belgian beers taste better with aging is that the yeasts often produce some unwanted chemicals that dissipate with age. For example, I recently brewed a Belgian style Trappist ale, and the popular yeast strain that we used produced a rather strong phenolic taste. (That means it tastes like a Band-Aid.) This is a known effect with the yeast, but this taste weakens with time. It wasn't too good to start with, but is getting better. We'll let it age some more if we can stand to wait that long. :) You're usually waiting for some bad taste to dissipate, rather than a flavor to get better.

There's a lot of misunderstanding of beer terms above, though. A pilsener is a lager. "Lager" refers to a beer fermented at low temperatures, usually with a bottom-fermenting yeast. An ale is also a beer, but fermented at higher temperatures, usually with a top-fermenting yeast.


On May 30, 2006 at 07:35 AM, sweatervest (guest) said...
Subject: belgian beer
Belgian beers that can be aged for a long time can be because they are still alive. They contain various microbes and wild yeasts that protect them from the deleterious effects of oxygen in the package. The microorganisms respire any minor amounts of oxygen introduced at packing time. High alcohol content also has a strong preseving effect. Regular single yeast strain, filtered, modern beers do not want the flavours that these microorganisms produce so are out of luck with in-package oxygen defense. Naturally conditioned beers also have this advantage, but the priming yeast is not as long lived as the belgian beer's yeast and bacteria cocktail, and without the other microbes involved to consume the yeast as it dies, a nice beefy marmite flavour eventually develops. Once again high alcohol content can slow this process down remarkably.

I stand corrected. If only trappist beer came in cans :)


On June 01, 2006 at 10:13 PM, Brad (guest) said...
Subject: Beer can chicken
As a ChE, just curious about any toxicity from the printing on the beer can.


On June 05, 2006 at 04:26 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Budweiser?
Instead of looking for good ale in cans, why don't you buy a good bottle of brew and a can of swill. Dump out the swill in the can and add the good stuff. Although I would buy a container from a good cooking supply house that could replace the beer can.

I'm with the other nay-sayers - What were you thinking using Budweiser? Guinness, Speckled Hen, Murphy's, Abbot Ale, or Newcastle Nut Brown Ale would do the trick with more flavor. Next time just go the beers from Belgium section and pick something unique. I'm sure the fruit flavored Belgian beers would be fantastic. Raspberry? Dark Cherry? Can't you imagine how those would infuse into the chicken?

I'm off to try this with Hoegaarden. With the orange peel and coriander overtones, I'm sure it will be great. It should be a perfect complement to the poultry.


On June 18, 2006 at 02:19 PM, Cary Black (guest) said...
Subject: Re: Beer can chicken
Brad wrote:
As a ChE, just curious about any toxicity from the printing on the beer can.


In fact lterature published by Anheuser Busch strongly discourages the use of their cans using the beer-can cooking method. The inks are not food grade and some colors can be toxic. Further, at typical grill temperatures, aluminum vapors will also infuse the meat....
Quote:


On July 02, 2006 at 11:39 PM, Carl (guest) said...
Subject: Beer Can Chicken
Guiness works great, even with the little thingee inside. I used various store bought barbque sauces and the combos were exceptional.

Try tying the legs to keep them close and not so well cooked.

As for opening the beer cans all around, a simple old-fashioned church key works just fine. Just work it around untill the top bends down out of the way - you're not going to be putting your fingers in there, I hope.


On July 13, 2006 at 07:11 AM, an anonymous reader said...
use steeelllllaaaaa ummmm beeeerrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


On August 02, 2006 at 11:39 PM, Gloman (guest) said...
Subject: full steam benefit...
In my own experience I think the best way to get the steam through the meat is by using an air tight oven bag. I have never used beer as an ingredient in a chicken but have experimented with free range meat, corn-fed and pasty, white cage varietys.

The corn-fed was by far the best and to be honest if you have to load the bird with spices, herbs, and beer to get any flavour into the meat then why bother at all?

Thoroughly enjoy these experiments.


On September 20, 2006 at 03:30 PM, terisa (guest) said...
Subject: a bit late, but...
... try using Sprite (or 7-Up) and gingered sherry. I store my fresh ginger root in a jar of sherry in the fridge. I just salted and peppered the chicken, dumped out half the Sprite, added about 4oz of the sherry, then added some minced garlic, minced ginger, lime juice and chopped onion. I also saved a bit of the mixed sherry and soda to baste during cooking. Tying the legs close to the body does help keep them moister.


On September 30, 2006 at 12:20 PM, Hesperis said...
Subject: Tasting a difference
Hi everyone, I have eaten the beer can chicken which was cooked on a charchoal grill and can certainly taste the flavor of the Budweiser that was used. The guys where I work like to cook chicken this way. They really don't use any other flavorings so you really can taste the beer flavor which is actually quite pleasant with the chicken. I am not one who really likes beer. I prepare my own roast chicken without much in the way of seasonings as I usually prefer only salt and pepper. I think the test was at fault because there were so many other seasonings used that were stronger than the flavor imparted by the Budweiser. Also liquor store beer is different than grocery store or convenience store beer. The flavor of the beer in the poultry is really very mild so I can see why your couldn't taste any difference. Plus like someone else said the chickens were cooked in the same oven at the same time. I really enjoy your website and observations though. Keep up the good work.


On October 15, 2006 at 09:59 AM, Peter (guest) said...
Subject: No wonder this didn't work...
I guess you are in USA from what you wrote - no wonder it didn't work cos your beers are all so weak... not like in the UK or here in Munich... Nobody would ever use lager-type beers for cooking (even if you cooked meat in this you would not get much flavour!). If you are going to perform interesting tests, you should not just approach it from an engineering point-of-view but at least have some basic knowledge of cooking too...


On October 31, 2006 at 06:58 AM, NickC (guest) said...
Subject: Mug Instead of Can?
I wonder if a coffee mug would work as well as a can?

I imagine it's been fired at way higher temps than you get in a kettle bbq, and you avoid any problems with ink volatiles. You could put any sort of marinade you like into the mug.

Anyone tried it? I'll give it a go next time I cook a chicken.


On November 13, 2006 at 02:19 AM, beerfan (guest) said...
Subject: American "beer"
I know this is an old article, but reading above the "professional" brewer's opinion about aging beer is non-sense. Well, ok, only if we are talking about BEER and not american heat treated "beer". I personally have a beer cellar with fine examples aging very well. Any beer which does not contain live (or dormant) yeast is dead and is not really beer anyway. The trappist style Belgian beers are the oldest beers in the world, and so they define the tradition (with breweries in operation centuries before america was even settled). Beer should age gracefully and get much better with age. I have brewed beers which tasted much better 3 years after bottling then they did a month after brewing. A dead malt beverage used to be beer, until it was killed and became a static malt beverage. This may sound elitist but hey - try talking about american "champagnes" to a wine expert. They don't exist. Of course, hop character, bottle size and style play a big part in aging. Nobody would age a pils anyway, that is like aging a wine cooler. But there is nothing like a well aged real beer, with highly complex character and delicious flavours that only come from proper aging. Okay, rant over...


On November 18, 2006 at 09:55 AM, catia (guest) said...
Subject: Great Idea, but Faulty execution, that's all. Try it again,
Ok, IMHO, two factors played a huge part in a great idea for a comparison experiment. Unfortuneately, they played a negative part in the entire experiment, rendering it useless, but hey, live and learn...
1st, both chickens cooked in the same exact oven at the same exact time...Brain fart??? imagine if one were butter and the other onions...see???
And yes, the spices affect your ability to taste the beer flavor. I'm with the guy who was talking about cooking with just beer and little or no other spice aside from S&P. If you wanted to see IF the BEER INFUSED flavor, you gotta know what beer flavored chicken tastes like 1st, before overpowering with other spice.
You will get a mild flavor from a beer like Bud, and with the can, you may also get the aluminum flavor, cuz if you've ever tasted bud in a can, well, it tastes like the can and fizz. Use a dark and heavily flavored beer, a beer you would use for Irish stew (guinness), or to steam shrimp.
I know you wanted to do the whole chicken beer can experiment, but you could've just cut the whole chickens in 1/2 and improvised, and of course cooked seperately. You will definately get a beer flavor in your bird...If it's not strong enough for your taste...shoot the bird up...literally take a syringe full of the beer of choice, and shoot the bugger up...
***BTW, the guy who suggested hoegarten for chicken--it's excellent for steaming shrimp--I'd imagine chicken would be excellent. I'm gonna try this one ASAP, thanks!!!***
BTW---I absolutely HATE beer for drinking...but I love it for cooking certain things. I am no wine conniseur either, but love to use it for cooking...My alcohol of choice for drinking...Vodka... I have yet to have a vodka sauce I like!!!


On November 21, 2006 at 02:30 AM, Charleston Dave (guest) said...
Subject: Experiment Design Flaws
I have some problems with the design of this experiment:

(1) Confounding of effects
Because many other flavors were present, the effect of the beer was likely less prominent than if those other flavors had not been present. Choosing a weakly-flavored beer probably exacerbated this effect, rendering the flavor impact more subtle than it would have been using a stronger-flavored beer. If your goal is to measure effect, why did you chose the weakest stimulus to confirm your expectation that the effect is immeasurably small? This is poor factorial design.

(2) Use of brining
For aromatic compounds to penetrate the meat and remain within it, molecular-level openings within the muscle and collagen of the chicken need to provide space for these compounds. This is partially driven by pressure differential (e.g., the boiling of the liquid within the Poultry Pal driving aromatic steam into the fowl cavity), but will certainly be reduced when those molecular gaps are previously supersaturated with liquid from brining. I suspect that an unbrined "dry" chicken would show more flavor and texture impact from continuous infusion than a brined "wet" chicken.

Also contaminating your results is the acknowledged bias beforehand that the two birds would have no difference in taste. This bias would tend to reduce your sensitivity to differences that contradict your expectation.

Your experiment as conducted addresses the question, "Does continuous infusion cooking with a weakly flavored American Lager in a brined and highly seasoned chicken produce flavor changes when I don't expect to find any?" Your use of additional flavor ingredients creates "noise" that dampens the signal-to-noise ratio of the key test ingredient and makes it easier for the results to conform to your expectation that there would be no flavor difference between the birds.

This experiment did not well address the general question of the flavor profile feasible with continuous infusion cooking.


On December 04, 2006 at 02:38 AM, Nephandus (guest) said...
Subject: I tried it tonight
I googled this site up after mine appeared to be a flop. I followed Steve Raichlin's recipe from the Barbecue Bible - which involves Memphis Rub (a paprika/cayenne/sugar rub) + a beer in a can.

I used a swill beer - Yankee honey or something, in a can. I figured the beer would likely reduce to concentrate anyway and get walloped by juices and spices anyway, and I couldn't get Guiness in a can (unlike many here, I actually do like good beer, to the point that I don't like to waste an excellent beer by boiling the hell out of it in a chicken.) I figured the alcohol and water would evaporate, but leave the flavorbase in the can.

Anyway, the rub tasted good, but the bird was otherwise unremarkable, including parts of it that were not exposed to rub. No beer taste whatsoever.

I think the problem is bigger than the beer. In my case, I used a fairly small chicken. To expose more of the chicken to the beer, I used a can opener to simply cut the whole top of the can off. Even so, the can formed a chimney, sealing the bird right up to the neck - there was no place for the beer to get out into the meat except at the neck. When the can boiled, it seemed to almost form a pressure seal at the neck. Removing the well done bird from the can, you could see that the can was still full of scalding hot beer. Almost none had evaporated - it had created a pressure cooker, and hadn't leaked into the bird.

If I try this again, I'll use tin snips to bisect the can in half, thus exposing more of the opem cavity to the beer. If that doesn't work, I'm going to chalk this one up to pop cook recommendations- the kind of thing that often starts with a can of mushroom soup poured over something.


On December 13, 2006 at 03:38 AM, brad (guest) said...
Subject: My experience
I do beer can chicken on the grill and simply rub the bird with kosher salt and a liberal amount of pepper. They always turn out great (and yes I use Bud). The grill gets to about 450 degrees and it is always very smoky/steamy which would be impossible to achieve in a kitchen unless you had a huge fan that pumped the smoke out of your building which is uncommon in most if not all apartments. There is also almost no beer left in the can after the cooking process. Some of the flavor comes from the drippings falling on the the bottom of the grill and smoking, but I can taste the beer (especially in the breast area) however the thighs do not benefit from the beer. My main problem with the test explained here is that it implies that there is still a fair amount of beer left in the can after cooking at the lower oven temps. Cooking outdoors at higher temperatures (that also come with profuse amounts of smoke) is in my mind a much more fair way to judge the "beer can chicken". First of all, almost a half can of beer is vaporized during the process and the smoke from the chicken fat dripping provide a flavor that cannot be matched in the kitchen oven (imho).


On January 18, 2007 at 12:11 AM, an anonymous reader said...
perhaps i did this wrong, but here goes. i've been intrigues with this "beer can chicken" thing for awhile and decided to give it a whirl. using an actual beer can sounds like a very risky and unsanitary practice, so i used a stainless steel cup of equal size. i rigged this up in my roasting pan, wedging the cup in between two of the sections of the grill and stood the chicken on top of it. i filled the cup half full with sam adams beer (a hoppy, dark full flavored brew) and put dried rosemary and some lemon juice in the cup too. for a rub i just rubbed it with kosher salt, olive oil and black pepper and put the same inside. i then put garlic cloves in the top neck cavity to seal it, in order to keep the steam in. here's what happened:

the damn thing took almost three hours to cook, the skin was soggy, and the meat had a rancid, almost "skunked" beer taste to it. this bizarre flavor saturated the entire bird, and later on when i boild the bones for soup it STILL tasted bad. i'm not sure what happened as the beer tasted fine when i drank what wasn't in the cup. i don't know, but next time i think i'll stick with what i usually do which is take a whole lemon, stab it a few times with a knife, cut a head of garlic in half, and stuff them in the cavity + fresh rosemary sprigs. i cook chicken like that in a roasting pan with a raised rack and it always comes out amazing. anyone else ever have beer can trouble like me?


On February 19, 2007 at 09:56 AM, Looking for mayonnaise (guest) said...
Subject: Beer butt chicken
I have tried making beer butt chicken on a kettle type grill. I have done it several times and have had pretty good chicken. So I thought I'd try it with something sweeter and did it with root beer. The results seemed pretty much the same, nice moist meat! Haven't really noticed much of the liquids flavor imparted into the chicken. Of course I too have used some chicken seasoning, garlic and lemon.

I would cut open the top of the cans and remove about 1/4 of the liquid to allow for some spices in the liquid. I would use somewhat indirect heating by having the coals around the edge of the grill and the chicken in the middle. It's been a while since the last time I grilled one, but I think it only takes an hour on the grill.

While grilling to enhance the flavor of the chicken meat I also put some pieces of apple wood, and live oak, or hickory on the coals to make smoke. I suppose because of the spices and smoke I didn't notice any real flavor from the beer or root beer, but it was still great moist chicken. :) Oh the thing that I have noticed was the the meat was so moist, that when I used the two tined meat fork to take the chicken off the can the chicken would fall apart.

So it mostly appears to me that having a can of liquid in the cavity of a chicken while grilling is to keep the meat from drying out. Although maybe having a strong flavored/aroma liquid could impart some taste to the meat too. When roasting a turkey we use stuffing to keep the bird moist, but hardly ever use this to keep a whole chicken moist. Hmm... maybe I should get a chicken out of the freezer and try a beer stuffing.


On April 09, 2007 at 11:49 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: can in the hole
I have found that with any type of cooking the cheaper the liquid. i.e beer, wine. the better the flavor. I have been cooking beer can chicken for years. and I have done the the exact same test, because I wanted to know the exact same answer. THe best beer I have found to work is PBR.

Also try this, I guarantee you will not be dissappointed.

Boil. Worshester sauce, red wine, or cheap champagne, salt, lemon and a bay leave with the chicken for at least 15 min. yeah you are boiling the chicken, once done transfer to beer can rub with honey, and stuff the top of the cavity with a lime that has been rolled and broken for the juices to drain. smoke with pecan wood, till chicken has reached 165.


On April 10, 2007 at 12:10 PM, GaryProtein said...
I don't know. To me, beer is beer, but they all taste different and there are some I don't like. Wine is another thing. When you cook with wine, with the exception of dishes like coq au vin the use a lot (a bottle or more) of wine as an ingredient, most dishes that call for wine don't use very much and their cost doesn't usually impact the cost of living, and I wouldn't cook with a wine that I wouldn't drink. That is not to say I would cook with $50 or $100 bottles of wine, but $10-30 or so wine for cooking is alright. The same goes for recipes that call for hard liquor. The $2.99 wine popular in high school is not something I want in anything that I spend a lot of time cooking, especially when there are other delicious or expensive ingredients.


On May 20, 2007 at 10:18 PM, Carmen Hess (guest) said...
Subject: Try iced tea
different beers will give you different flavors. I prefer the Miller beers, such as Icehouse. But, try using a can of Lipton Iced Tea. This gives the chicken a lemony sweet flavor


On June 04, 2007 at 02:38 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: White wine
If you are not a beer drinker use white wine and see if it has a discernable difference and as for the Budweiser I agree it is fizzy yellow water. Many microbreweries use higher quality malts and even fruits and herbs to flavor their beers.

You actually got me interested about steaming vegetables over wine.

One last note. GUINNESS ROCKS!


On June 12, 2007 at 01:00 AM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: Grill Roasted Beer Can Chicken
Cook's Illustrated (the magazine) did a story about this in the July-August 2000 issue. I use their recipe with the Fragrant Dry Spice Rub on the same page. It is outstanding in my book!


On June 13, 2007 at 11:22 PM, Befuddled (guest) said...
Subject: An engineer did this experiment?
:lol: Are you serious? I'm not an engineer...just a 'lil 'ole science teacher
and I find it hard to believe that you would even try this experiment by
cooking the two chickens in the same oven!!! Come on guys!
I have never acquired a "taste" for beer, but I do love wine...especially the reds. My family LOVES beer butt chicken and it doesn't seem to matter what kind I use. I usually go for what's on sale and give most of it away, saving about 4 cans for future use in the whole chickens. There is definitely an unusual flavor added by the beer. It might have something to do with hops...who knows???


On June 21, 2007 at 09:14 PM, TomatoQueen (guest) said...
Subject: Beer can chicken
On the east coast we use the Brewbutt Chicken kit, which is a tall narrow aluminum can, screwtop lid, and a plastic bag with the dry spices built in, and a detailed recipe and method on the label. The recommended method works well and is flexible. The brining step isn't needed at all. Having made my weekly chicken this way for many years, I get a moist juicy chicken every time, by being careful about the temperature of the oven, setting it to preheat at 425 F first, then after roasting at that temperature for 15 minutes, I turn it down to 375 F for the next hour. Expect the bird(s) to take a bit over an hour. ALWAYS baste with the juices in the pan, always always always, about every 20 minutes or so. When the legs wiggle freely, turn the oven wayyyy down and let the birds rest for 15 minutes in the oven. Then you can get on with the carve and serve. I don't try to remove the whole chickens from the cans any more, but take my kitchen shears and cut the birds into serving pieces, slowly and carefully, cutting down the back bone and breast bone, then across.
My beer of choice is Newcastle Brown Ale, or Newky Broon to those who love it. Guinness works well enough but Newky Broon is a bit lighter. Be sure to include plenty of mashed garlic and onion in the liquid mix, I neglected this once and the difference in flavor was surprising. I roast a 3 to 4 pound fryer each Sunday night and the flavor of the meat stands up until the bird is gone at Thursday lunch time.


On July 01, 2007 at 07:32 AM, Davey Crocket (guest) said...
Subject: Beer
I love beer, from Guiness to MGD. So, I have tried using the Beer can chicken both with and without the Beer(ran out and used water) and have used Beer in the marinade. The best flavor result was from having the chicken in a Beer marinade(with standard spices). Having beer or water in the can made little difference to me.

P.S. I used MGD because it seems a shame to not drink the darker beers.

Happy Grilling. :-)


On September 02, 2007 at 04:01 PM, Sandi (guest) said...
Subject: Beerbutt Chicken using terra cotta
I haven't tried this yet, but watched a show on TV where new terra cotta pots (that's right, the garden variety) were used. After all the brining and seasoning is done, place your chicken in one terra cotta pot sitting inside a baking pan, and enclose it with another. I think that before I try this I may 'season' my pots first.


On November 11, 2007 at 05:16 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: try an ale
i am not a beer drinker (dont really like the yeast in it) but i have found that using an ale gives good flavor to meats(and it tasts better than beer)and if you like wine a good cheep red wine .


On January 05, 2008 at 09:28 AM, Otto Rik Shah (guest) said...
Subject: why not
just butterfly the beast?
it facilitates flavor penetration.
and eases the maneuverability during preparation, along with the carving and disposition of the bird just before eating =D

also, regarding your discussion at the grocer - the alcohol itself would not be likely to flavour much, esp. given its volatility (consider pouring everclear over a chicken) ... though perhaps the other chemicals in beer and wine will help.
i wonder if a good cabernet sauvignon would be worthwhile, even disregarding cost: many of the flavours are subtle enough that, while appreciable as a drink, might not be substantial enough to impart to a meat. I think there was a column on this in the NYTimes within the last two years. A comparison of cheaper wines with very fine clarets elicited no difference in final product. So it seems their conclusion was certainly aligned with yours.


On February 16, 2008 at 11:34 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: I like the beer best
I think I like a good lager best. The way I do it is to roast the chicken in oven and drink the beer while the chicken is being cooked.

No matter how it turns out, it all taste good after couple of beers.

Cheers.


On February 17, 2008 at 03:41 PM, Keith (guest) said...
Subject: beer can recipe
Beer can chicken is a redneck recipe. It doesn't matter what type of beer -- just what is on hand at the time.


On February 17, 2008 at 03:55 PM, Keith (guest) said...
Subject: Re: beer can recipe
Keith wrote:
Beer can chicken is a redneck recipe. It doesn't matter what type of beer -- just what is on hand at the time.
I should have said, use whatever beer you are drinking at the time. Because Rednecks drink any beer that anyone brought on the trip ( hunting, fishing, est. ). If the chicken is cooked long enough, it is very tasty and very tender. It should be enjoyed-not analyzed!


On April 23, 2008 at 03:02 PM, Brian (guest) said...
Subject: Beer Can Chicken
I like using an IPA for the same reason that you add the herbs to the water or beer. All beer has its own herbal flavor: hops! An IPA has lots of hops, hence more flavor imparted to the meat. If you home brew you could probably get the same flavor by adding dry hops to water and baking.


On October 25, 2008 at 11:12 PM, Bob W. (guest) said...
Subject: Wrong cooker
What were you thinking, using the oven? Beer Can Chicken needs to be cooked on a gas grill with wood chips to create smoke. You can't do this indoors.

You need a gas grill because of the cooking time. With charcoal, you'll be adding coals partway through, which never works well. You need wood chips because half the flavor comes from smoke. I have a great rub, but without wood smoke, you've got nothin'.

Finally, I settled on Heineken because it's available in cans. Tried Budweiser a couple of times and found Heineken actually added discernible flavor (and the wife agreed).

I'll post my recipe if anyone wants it.


On November 01, 2008 at 02:10 PM, goot (guest) said...
Subject: Beer Can Chicken
Dude. This is so weak. You had them in the same oven with the steam present from both liquids. Figure out the rest.

Also, why don't you complain a couple more times about how you couldn't "brine" them. Dude, I might sugget you always brine your chickens in the future to avoid the emotional anguish. You'll be happier, live longer, and readers won't have to suffer your whining 'bout brining.

Also weak is your reluctance to pony up for a lousy 6-pack. What planet are you from? Be a man, drink a friggin' beer on a Saturday afternoon. You may find your confidence increasing, increased interest in girls in tight sweaters and your tolerance for unbrined chicken might even go up.


On November 07, 2008 at 10:37 AM, Dhananjay (guest) said...
Subject: Using a gas burner ??
HI everyone.

I had beer chicken once at a bbq party. It tasted real good. And I was fascinated by the recipe. Recently I discovered Poultry pal and I feel its a great invention. Kudos!!

Will is be possible to use Poultry pal on a gas stove? Like the 4 burner stoves which run on cooking LPG ?? Has anyone tried this before?


On February 13, 2009 at 10:12 AM, kitchen mad scientist (guest) said...
Subject: beer can chicken in an oven... without the can?... no.
while the poultry pal is a nifty looking device (and kudos to the inventor) it's not gonna cut the mustard, so to speak. the holes are just too small for what you're trying to accomplish. and an oven is just the wrong environment for this.
my very first time doing this i was using an old barrel grill and half a bag of mesquite charcoal, with the coals moved to the sides, and a really cheap can & chicken holder from the local walmart. the skin was rubbed similar to the above recipe, but i didn't use beer i used a margarita flavored wine cooler and added some sangria so the can was only half to three quarters full.
to ensure that the steam stayed in the bird i also pulled the skin flap left at the neck over the hole after putting a half lime in it and used a toothpick to hold it closed (couldn't find my poultry string left from turkey day)
and i didn't remove the aluminum lip on the can i just made the opening alot wider by making 2 cuts in the can top and bending them in with pliers. the bird just slid right on and then i set it in the middle of the grill rack and left it for 3 hours, turning it every 30-40 minutes to ensure even cooking. and when we took it off the grill we let it set for a good 10-15 minutes
the results were fantastic - the skin dried into an extremely flavorable seal and held in all the moisture, the neck being sealed helped that considerably, and the flavor from the liquid in the can absolutley complimented the flavor of the chicken without overpowering it.
since then we have experimented with other flavored wine coolers, juices, etc. and have had to buy a steel double can/chicken holder because our friends beg us to make more.


On March 01, 2009 at 10:38 PM, laetus (guest) said...
Subject: do overs?
I'd like to see this experiment done again either using a more flavorful beer (or perhaps wine, coke, sprite etc; all of which can be used for this method.

Although some have complained about your using an oven and it not smoking the chickens, I don't see why a grill is necessary for this experiment since both chickens were treated the same way.

It is possible that the steam from the beer chicken partially flavored the plain chicken since they were both in the same oven. Maybe a way to remedy this issue is to cook them separately then refrigerate samples of both chickens. That way they could be tested at the same temperature even though they were cooked at different times.

Anyway, I'm cooking a beer can chicken in my oven right now. It's actually an empty coke can filled partially with cheap red wine, garlic powder, and cilantro. I found this site when searching for cooking times because I had forgotten how long it take in the oven.

I might have to try running this experiement on my own sometime to see if usuing a more flavorful liquid affects it.


On April 21, 2009 at 04:05 PM, p0rkmaster (guest) said...
Subject: There's an old joke about Budwieser....
A Belgian friend of mine once told me that Budwieser is like making love next to a lake.

In other words - f#$@ing close to water.


On June 07, 2009 at 04:17 PM, reddog1963 (guest) said...
Subject: Alcohol in Beer
The alcohol in beer tends to break down the proteins in the meat, since chicken is not normally tough it makes the meat softer. A dark or stronger beer I suspect would work better for all meats especially in a marinade. I'm going to experiment next weekend with some spices and strong beer.


On November 17, 2009 at 05:08 PM, Jimbob (guest) said...
Subject: Beer can myth
How does this beer boil to create steam? 212 is the boiling point and your bird cooks to 170-180 and in the last ten minutes of cooking rises to that temp how does that steam penetrate the membrane in the cavity? pull some breast meat down to the 1/8 inch thick cartilage you think the little evaporation you got from the beer mist in the last 10-15 minutes of cooking penetrated that? and since the can is 3/4s of the way up the birds butt maybe a 1/4 of the top of the bird saw a little steam so it flavored the whole bird?
doesn't take a rocket scientist to observe that


On November 17, 2009 at 09:07 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Beer can myth
Jimbob wrote:
How does this beer boil to create steam? 212 is the boiling point and your bird cooks to 170-180 and in the last ten minutes of cooking rises to that temp how does that steam penetrate the membrane in the cavity? pull some breast meat down to the 1/8 inch thick cartilage you think the little evaporation you got from the beer mist in the last 10-15 minutes of cooking penetrated that? and since the can is 3/4s of the way up the birds butt maybe a 1/4 of the top of the bird saw a little steam so it flavored the whole bird?
doesn't take a rocket scientist to observe that

The beer isn't at the same temperature as the chicken. The oven and the beer and the chicken are all at different temperatures throughout the cooking processes. Also, remember that something doesn't need to boil for it to produce steam - the boiling point of water is the maximum temperature at which water can stay in liquid form, but water evaporates at lower temperatures (simmering as well as even lower temperatures) but not as vigorously. The beer reaches a temperature where steam is produced quickly in comparison to the slowly heating chicken.


On February 13, 2010 at 10:40 PM, solutionorppt (guest) said...
Subject: Ideal beer can chicken beer
Use Oskar Blues brewing company's canned beers. They are fairly widely available and are the best beer you can get from a can.


On April 07, 2010 at 08:34 PM, HumptyDumpty (guest) said...
Subject: Beer can chicken debate
Thank you so much for all the time and effort that you put into this site. I absolutely love the recipes I've tried thus far. I'm proud to say that I'm from the Biggest Beer-guzzling country on the planet, and I can't understand how everyone could have overlooked the obvious best beverage source - If you're in the USA, then just go north, eh?


On July 03, 2010 at 01:17 AM, an anonymous reader said...
The problem here is definitely the use of Budweiser; a beer whose mass appeal can only be down to it's lack of taste. An good alternative would be Guinness but as others have pointed out, it can leave quite a bitter taste. The best beer, in my opinion, would an ale (a traditional British beer). I don't know how familiar Americans are with British beer (what you would call beer is a lager to us Brits), but it is somewhere between a stout and lager. It varies greatly in strength, colour and taste, not very fizzy and is and is usually served near room temperature to allow the subtle flavours to come through, much like a red wine. It's used extensively as an ingredient in English cuisine and will give a rich beer taste, without the potential burnt taste of stout. As a drink, many people used to drinking lager (or American beer!) find it unappealing, but it's use as an ingredient can't be faulted. I've never come across a recipe using a lager before and I always presumed this was because it could not impart any flavour.


On July 10, 2010 at 05:08 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I believe to use Darkest beer and cover with baking bag.


On July 16, 2010 at 10:54 PM, Tom from Toronto, P. Eng. (guest) said...
Subject: Beer Can Chicken
I routinely make beer can chicken and I like to use a German pilsner beer. I use a natural gas BBQ. The chicken on the stand along with the beer can sit in a foil pie plate so that the drippings can be collected to make gravy.
I always use indirect heat, ie. the two outside burners are at high heat, and the two burners directly under the bird are off. I BBQ with the lid down, and monitor the temperature of the chicken with a digital thermometer.
The chicken is rubbed prior to cooking with a Montreal style dry seasoning.

The results are always good.

Beer is much more flavorful than using water.


On August 20, 2011 at 06:02 PM, Steve in Kentucky (guest) said...
Subject: Beer vs. Water Can Chicken
The original article was about determining whether using beer (instead of just water) makes a difference so I want to comment on that, not debate the author's beer choice*. I too have wondered how much it matters. But, I have used different liquids and achieved different results with the same spice recipe (Steven Raichlen's "The One and Only Beer-Can Chicken"), which by the way, is the beer can chicken recipe we always come back to after we have tried other spice rubs/methods. In his recipe, he states "You can also barbecue a chicken on a can of cola, lemon-lime soda, or root beer." We decided to try this and made two chickens for a family get-together. With two reformed alcoholics as in-laws, my wife would never let me serve "beer" can chicken. So, on one, we used a lemon lime soda (e.g. Sprite) and the other a root beer; otherwise, they were identical. Both worked well. They were slightly different but we couldn't tell which was which. *If you recall, the original author's beer choice was [u:06d1744cff]primarily[/u:06d1744cff] driven by his desire to buy just a single can of beer. Remember, if you don't have a can, you can always pour your favorite beer into an empty soda pop can; I am yet to have a chicken complain!!! Enjoy!


On August 27, 2011 at 05:04 AM, Gryndyl (guest) said...
Subject: A lot of you missed the point here.
The reason the recipe for beer can chicken exists in the first place is because it was a recipe that depended on using a 16 ounce aluminum can. What was in the can was irrelevant. It's just that the only thing that came in 16 ounce cans was crappy mass market beer.

Beer that comes in 16 oz cans is generally not of the sort that have enough flavor to produce any discernible taste difference from water, nor was that an expectation of the original recipes. It was just a method of holding a chicken vertical and steaming the inside with spices.

Now that we have commercial versions of the beer can stand as well as a much broader access to beer varieties it's much easier to play around and try and use a strong enough beer to add some beer flavor. If beer flavor is what you're looking for, however, you'd be better off using it as a basting base.


On September 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM, gregtyndall (guest) said...
I've tried a lot of different liquids including a vinegar based bbq sauce and can never tell that it makes a difference. So, I just drink the beer and put water in the can.


On January 07, 2012 at 09:51 PM, majkfngrs (guest) said...
Subject: beer can chicken
great test, but I cook them on thrones on my smoker at about 250 degrees.
I have found that brining does change the taste but my chickens get rubbed under the skin with a mixture of herbs and a dry rub (commercial) on top of olive oil for the skin. The mixture in the thrones is about 50-50 dos equis dark and barbecue sauce. A woman I worked with recomends an inexpensive aromatic wine in the thrones, but I haven"t tried that yet. After cooking, we pull the chicken and serve with a light honey-mustard barbecue sauce and haven't had a dry chicken yet, even without the sauce. My experience has been that the thrones contain a mixture of barbecue sauce and chicken fat after cooking. I think the real advantage of cooking "beer can" is that you are cooking from the inside as well as the outside and the fact that you are introducing moisture to what is normally a "dry" cook process. I cannot discern any beer taste in the chickens.


On August 18, 2012 at 04:04 AM, Rich Shewmaker (guest) said...
Subject: "Beer Can" Chicken
I have a couple of twists on this recipe. First, most well equipped kitchens already have what is needed to roast a chicken upright. I use the removable center section of an angel food cake pan, placed on a sheet pan. Second, all the recipes I've seen for upright roasted chicken mount the chicken legs down. I suggest putting the chicken on the device breast side down. The biggest problem with roasting a chicken is that the breast meat cooks faster than the thighs and legs, and tends to dry out. Placing the dark meat at the top exposes it to more radiant heat and allows it to cook faster while the Breast is protected by the pan. Also, gravity is on our side, pulling the juices down into the white meat and helping keep it juicy. I tie the tips of the drumsticks together and tuck the wingtips behind the back of the bird. No other trussing is necessary. I also like the Cook's Illustrated technique of drying the skin in the refrigerator for a day with a dusting of baking soda to ensure crispness.


On December 14, 2012 at 04:43 AM, CuDenny said...
I have to agree choosing a Bud as "beer" pretty much negates the findings as Bud is closer to water than it is to beer. I have never noticed a beer can chicken recipe mention washing the can first, not ever. Certainly the heat of the oven would likely take care of the bacteria on the can, but really, isn't this just something you would want to do? The chicken itself has potentially vast more bacteria than a beer can, but most people at least rinse the chicken under running water, like that does anything. Anyway, cans are packaging that protect the contents, but nothing protects the outside of the can from anything; so wash your can.

My experience with beer can chicken produced tasty results, but issues with the chicken leaning over and falling during cooking. The up-righted chicken was wobbly, as if the beer was having the usual effect, and only after much manhandling would it stay upright in the cast iron pan.

Still, the results were no better than brining, though more adventurous.


On December 14, 2012 at 04:48 AM, CuDenny said...
Subject: Re: "Beer Can" Chicken
Rich Shewmaker wrote:
The biggest problem with roasting a chicken is that the breast meat cooks faster than the thighs and legs, and tends to dry out. Placing the dark meat at the top exposes it to more radiant heat and allows it to cook faster while the Breast is protected by the pan. Also, gravity is on our side, pulling the juices down into the white meat and helping keep it juicy. I tie the tips of the drumsticks together and tuck the wingtips behind the back of the bird.


Okay ...not sure about the baking soda bit, but here I sit impressed at genius. 8|
I don't even want to try beer can chicken again, well maybe with wine this time, but definitely I am going to try this.
B)


On December 20, 2012 at 06:56 PM, Dilbert said...
>>not sure about the baking soda bit

it's a desiccant, as is plain old salt and many other compounds.
the cited idea is for crispness - but I have also read a number of comments about baking soda "contributing / enhancing" browning with specific regard to baking.

which is actually something I'm playing with at the moment - I'm experimenting with a really good drop biscuit recipe - my complaint is that it does not brown well. I've been through some bake temp experiments, now working on more baking soda.....

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