Favorites: Beer Can Chicken

“We are having Beer Can Chicken for dinner.” “What’s that?” my daughter [who has been living abroad] asked.” “Well, you take a whole chicken and put it on a beer can and grill it.” “Do you . . . open the beer can?” “Yes!”

Beer can chicken recipes have been circulating amongst my Colorado friends for several years now. My recipe is based on one posted by the Culinary School of the Rockies (now Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Boulder) in 2009. I tweaked it a bit, and have made it a lot!

I highly recommend Oskar Blues Old Chub as the beer for this recipe. I’m kind of partial to Oskar Blues, since this brewery started out in my town of Lyons. During the September floods in 2013, Oskar Blues helped our community with grants to businesses and individuals.

Oskar Blues was one of the first breweries to sell their microbrew in cans. Old Chub is a very hoppy IPA, and works great in this recipe.

Beer Can Chicken
serves about 4

  • 1 whole roasting chicken
  • 1 open 12-ounce can of beer, preferably a flavorful microbrew
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard powder, and chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika – use smoked paprika if you have it
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • a couple tablespoons fresh herbs, if you have them on hand; I have used thyme, mint, basil, and oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry.

Mix the brown sugar with all the spices and herbs. Rub the chicken with some olive oil, then rub in the spices. Rub them in the cavity, under the skin that covers the breast, and on the outside of the chicken.

Preheat a gas grill to 350˚. The chicken needs to be cooked over indirect heat. My grill has 3 burners, so I set the first and third burners to medium high, and leave the middle burner off. Then the chicken has room in the middle to stand up without touching the gas grill cover when it is closed.

Hold the chicken upright (legs down) and place it on top of the beer can so that the can easily slides into the cavity. Use the legs to balance the chicken upright on the grill. (Yes, this can be a bit tricky the first time you do it!)

Close the lid. Grill the chicken at 350˚ for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. With my grill, I find that I need to check every 15 minutes or so to make sure that the grill is still at 350˚. The chicken is done when it is golden and at least 165 degrees.

Transfer the chicken (minus the beer can!) to a platter and serve!

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