Beer Can Chicken

Welcome to the latest issue of the Chargrill Chat.

This issue is going out to people 693 people world wide.

The first issue of the Chargrill Chat went out to just 5 people!

Today's issue:

1. What's New At The Barbecuehut
2. Recipe - Beer Can Chicken.
3. Barbecue tip - Use a Chicken Rack.
4. BBQ article - Barbecue Recipe Science part 1
5. Food trivia - Safflower

What's New At The Barbecuehut?

I'll open this newsletter with the same sentence as the last... Where does time go!

It's been a very busy time for me these last few months. Our last two children, James and Megan, went off to university in September. We now have all five of them living away from home, with four of them in completely different parts of England. So we've spent time visiting all of them, as well as Maresa's (my wifes) family in Scotland.

So to be honest, I've not done anything new on the Barbecuehut website.

I'd like to apologise for the last newsletter, I sent it out with the wrong title! Thanks to everyone that let me know.

I have had a number of requests for a beer can chicken recipe that I mentioned in the last newsletter. I did include this in a newsletter a couple of years ago, but, by request, I've included it below.

Recipe - Beer Can Chicken


  • 12 ounce can of beer
  • 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of any barbecue rub

That’s it, I told you it was simple. If you’re using wood chips or chunks to create smoke, you don’t even need to use the oil or the rub.

I’ll give you two methods for cooking the chicken. The first uses a barbecue smoker. The second uses a barbecue grill and indirect heat. The preparation applies to either method.


  • Set-up your barbecue smoker. Or if using a barbecue grill, set it up for indirect heat.
  • Remove the giblets from chicken and trim off any excess skin and fat.
  • Rinse the chicken well under cold water, inside and out. Then pat dry.

If using a dry rub.

  • Brush the oil all over the outside of the chicken. Then sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rub.
  • Open the beer can. If using a water smoker, pour about a third of the can in the water pan. If using a grill, either pour it away, or better still, drink it.
  • Punch another three of four holes in the top of the can. If using the rub, pour the remaining 1/2 teaspoon into the beer.
  • Hold the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity at the bottom, and lower it onto the beer can. Effectively stuffing the chicken with the beer can.
  • Pull the chicken legs forward so it stands upright. Using the chickens legs and the beer can to form a stable tripod.

    Cooking Method Using A Water Smoker

    The instructions below assume that you’re using a charcoal water smoker. I’ve assumed that you have the charcoal at the correct temperature, you have your wood chips or chunks on the charcoal and the water pan is in place, with water and some of the beer in it.

    If you’re using an electric water smoker, follow the user instruction that came with the smoker to get it prepared for smoking.

    • Carefully stand the chicken on a cooking grid in the smoker. Use the legs and the beer can to act as a tripod.
    • Put on the smoker lid and let the beer can chicken smoke for about 2 hours. Don’t worry if you let it go a bit longer. So long as there’s water in the water pan it’s going to be OK. When I make beer can chicken I often leave them in my water smoker for up to 5 hours. The result is succulent, fall apart chicken.
    • When cooked and ready to eat, carefully take the chicken out of the smoker. I find the best way is to use a large, clean cloth or oven gloves. Take care as the beer can will still have about half the beer and drippings from the chicken in it, and it will be very hot.
    • Put the chicken on a board and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
    • Carefully remove the beer can from the chicken. Discard the can and carve the chicken.

    Cooking Method Barbecue Grill And Indirect Heat

    I’ve assumed that you have the charcoal or gas at the correct temperature. Your grill is set-up for indirect heat, and if you’re using wood chips or chunks, you have them in place.

    • Carefully stand the chicken on a cooking grid over a drip pan. Use the legs and the beer can to act as a tripod.
    • Cover the grill with the hood and let the beer can chicken cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Check the chicken at intervals, say every half hour to start with. The chicken will be cooked when the skin is crisp and is dark brown going on black. If the skin goes brown too quickly shut the vents on the grill to reduce the heat.
    • When cooked and ready to eat, carefully remove the chicken from the grill. I find the best way is to use a large, clean, cloth or oven gloves. Take care as the beer can will still have about half the beer and drippings from the chicken in it, and it will be very hot.
    • Put the chicken on a board and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
    • Carefully remove the beer can from the chicken. Discard the can and carve the chicken.

      ***Barbecue tip****

      Use a chicken rack when making beer can chicken. It makes puting the beer can chicken on and then taking it off the bbq/smoker much easier as it gives a stable platform to stand the chicken on, and, in my opinion, it's much safer then cooking without one.

      BBQ article - Barbecue Recipe Science Part 1.

      There's a whole lot of "science" behind what makes good slow smoked barbecue recipes develop their flavor, tenderness, appearance, and moisture content. So, let's take a few of the reactions and try to explain the science behind it...

      This is also called the Maillard Reaction. It is a reaction between amino acids in the meat's surface and sugars in the presence of heat. The Maillard Reaction and the smoke introduced to the meat's surface is what gives barbecue it's characteristic "bark". Usually, well smoked barbecue has a crust that is black in color suggesting the Maillard Reaction on overdrive. Don't worry... this is a good thing. Most people love the "bark" on a properly cooked Boston butt or brisket.


      Most barbecue pit masters do not sear their meat before smoking. Searing meat is cooking it for very short amounts of time in an attempt to seal in the juices. Scientific tests have been performed which weigh two identical pieces of meat before and after cooking. One being seared and the other not. Test results show that the seared piece of meat lost more moisture than the not seared meat. If searing is done properly, it will improve the flavor due to the Maillard reaction, but it will probably not improve juiciness very much. This one is extremely controversial though. Many chefs swear by "searing in the juices". Maybe there is something to it because after reading the paragraph on resting, you'll understand how the muscle fibers contract when heated and push the juices to the center of the meat.

      The Smoke Ring...

      The smoke ring is important for aesthetic reasons, but as far as flavor is concerned, it contributes none. The smoke ring is just a chemical reaction between nitrogen dioxide and the amino acids in the meat which produce a pink color. Nitrogen dioxide is produced when wood is burned at temperatures exceeding 600 deg F. Note this is in the firebox and not your cooking chamber. The smoke ring really has nothing to do with smoke at all. The smoke will impart it's flavor to the surface of the meat independent of the smoke ring reaction. Interestingly enough, gas grills do produce nitrogen dioxide. Some sawdust burning smokers that combust at lower temperatures do not produce nitrogen dioxide. Of course, ovens do not produce smoke rings, but what kind of jackass would cook barbecue in an oven anyway!? Note that in barbecue competitions, most judges do not know these facts and they think the smoke ring is caused by smoke and they do take that as a sign of properly smoked meats - especially brisket. So producing a good smoke ring is important.


      I can't say this loudly enough... make sure you properly rest your meat before slicing or pulling! As the outside muscle fibers in the meat heat up, they contract and push the moisture to the center of the meat. If you pull a piece of meat off the fire and set it on a cutting board, you'll see that some of the juices will naturally run out. If you cut the meat prematurely, about twice as much will run out. And you wonder why your brisket is so dry! Let the meat rest at room temperature. If it is too cold outside, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest that way. Do not put it in the refrigerator or ice box to rest. Let chicken and ribs rest for 15 minutes and butts and brisket for 30 minutes. Of course, always slice your brisket against the grain. And now would be a good time to tell you... stop poking holes in your meat! Every time you poke a hole in your meat, you can literally see the juices flow out! How stupid is that!? Poke it once with a meat thermometer and leave the probe in. Otherwise, use your hands or tongs to move your meat around. Injecting is a whole different story. Injections are done before cooking and they generally introduce a whole lot more moisture than they let out. Some of the moisture will leak out, but it's sort of an offset. The benefit being the introduction of more flavors to the center of the meat. Your meat probably will not be juicier, but it may improve the taste a bit.

      About the Author
      For more information on slow smoking ribs, chicken, butts, and brisket, please visit Bill Anderson's web site now.


      Food trivia - Safflower

      Safflower is a thistlelike Eurasian plant (Carthamus tinctorius) of the daisy family, having heads of red or orange flowers that are the source of a red dye. The seeds, which look like small pine nuts, contain an oil used in foods (especially margarines), cosmetics, paints, and medicine. The flower petals are sometimes used as a substitute for saffron ('bastard saffron'). Safflower has been found in Egyptian tombs dating to about 3500 B.C.



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      That's it for this issue of the Chargrill Chat. I hope that you enjoyed it.

      If you have any requests, or a recipe, or tip to share that you think other readers might like, or even if you disagree with anything in this newsletter, please email me at

      Best regards,



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