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 conclusion is, beer can chicken it, for the most part, a myth.
i decided to put the myth to the test, albiet in a somewhat unscientific way. i did season my chickens and i cooked them on two different eggs two different ways.
my suspicions tell me that more often than not (closer to always), this method is tried using an american macro lager and a beer can. my test will be using a craft beer and one of my homebrews.
the seasonings i used are pretty standard for me. salt and pepper, dizzy pig dizzy dust, dizzy pig tsunami spin and simply marvelous season all. i pulled the skin back off the breast meat and rubed the chickens down good inside and out.
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.
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.
due to limitations, i was only able to get a temperature probe into the porcelin chicken sitter to monitor the temp of the liquid.
(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.
as you can see, the beer that was in the can is still at the same level it was when we started…..
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. to achieve this, you will need to use one of the various ceramic or holders on the market today. i’m not a scientist, nor do i play one on tv, but experience and talking with a couple buddies, have decided that the beer can stuck up the chicken’s butt will never get hot enough to boil as chickens are cooked at 180 degrees internal. if the whole can is up the chicken butt, the liquid will never get there. the different material (ceramic) and expanded area exposed to heat allows the beer to boil and the taste permeates into the bird.