Beer Can Chicken– Does the Beer matter?

I finally got around to making Beer Can Chicken after seeing it in about 400 cooking shows, 273 cooking magazines, and 4.7 million websites. In most of those presentations I saw a common thing– the beer being used was typically a watered-down American pilsner. And I thought, “well, American Pilsner, you can make football even more entertaining with your wonderful commercials, but I doubt you can punch up the flavor of a grill-roasted chicken.” And with that in mind, I sought to find a full-flavored beer that came in a can, would lend it self well in aromatic cooking, and was worthy of getting shoved up a chicken’s butt.

Yes, I know you could simply grab an aluminum can, dump the contents, and pour in the beer of your choice, but where’s the adventure in that? So without further ado, I bring to you a very good pale ale that not only comes in a can, but sports a fabulous name: Porkslap Pale Ale. Brought to you by the smarmy brewers at Butternuts Beer and Ale, Porkslap Pale Ale is flavored with crystal hop and a touch of fresh ginger. Staying true to that porky theme, I paired the pale ale with the spicy Jamaican Firewalk rub from the Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company. This is a fantastic, Jamaican Jerk-inspired rub that’s got great flavor and heat. This rub is amazing when liberally tossed on chicken thighs and grilled, so I figured why not use it on the whole bird? Sure enough, all I can say is, “Well played, Dizzy Pig, well played.”

Dizzy Pig Rub and Porkslap Pale Ale

The Verdict

Delicious. Stood up my bird in my gas grill, complete with jerk spice/veg oil rub and beer can suppository, over indirect heat. Cooking time was around 75 minutes, resulting in crisp, spicy skin, with moist and tender meat within. But the beer, Rob, what about the beer?! Ok, the verdict on the beer making a difference:

Not really.

I can’t say I really tasted a beer taste, let alone a pale ale taste, in the chicken. There was a slight hint of a yeasty flavor, but I’d say that Porkslap is best served cold in a glass and that, in this application, pretty much any old brew will suffice. I’m also thinking that a good option would be to go car-bomb on it and drop a shot of bourbon in the beer can for some flavoring potential.

Is it possible that there is a beer or ale out there that could impart some flavor through aromatic goodness? Probably. I’d say that a good sour Flemish ale would have a chance– but again, probably better served in a glass.

Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company:
Butternuts Beer and Ale:
Beer Can Chicken Recipe:
Sour Ale:

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2 thoughts on “Beer Can Chicken– Does the Beer matter?

  1. Sandi

    I love beer butt chicken but the reason I don’t make it much is that I just can’t figure out how to get the can OUT when the chicken is hot…I guess I should just carve it sitting on its throne…

  2. Stefan Hakansson

    I find it help to put dome aromatics in the beer – pour out 0.25 of the beer (use that in the basting sauce) and add some crushed garlic, thyme, rosemary etc. to the beer can.
    To remove beer can I find it easiest to grab chicken under wings with tongs and with second pair of tongs hold beer can as I lift the chicken off the can.


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