Beer Can Chicken or Beer Butt Chicken is an unorthodox method of cooking or grilling chicken. It involves sitting a chicken on top of open, half-filled can of beer during the cook. Some use racks, some use porcelain "thrones" and some simple stand the chicken upright on the can alone.
Now, I don't know how many times I've heard the benefits of beer can chicken touted over a friend's grill or by fellow bloggers. One too many I guess. I'll admit it's rather fun and comical to see the little bird dancing on a beer throne. And of course birds are fantastic with a little extra moisture (brining, marinades, etc), but there much better ways of cooking chicken. In fact, in many of the links below, you can see that beer just barely gets up to steaming temperature right near, or worse after, when the chicken is done.
You'd be far better off injecting my Stout Snout marinade, brining or even putting the beer in a disposable aluminum pan or water pan under the grate and cooking the bird over it. That way you've added moisture to the cooking chamber and kept air circulating throughout the bird. Think back to our Thanksgiving Turkey if you will - the cavity is left open so air can circulate. That is important for even cooking. Cooking evenly means that it'll be moist when finished to the correct temp (165°F breast/175°F thigh).
This is why spatchcock chicken is popular - the bird is opened up to promote even cooking.
With a beer probed through the chicken this blocks the circulation and can actually pose a risk health risk. In fact, both Anheuser-Busch and the Canned Manufacturing Institute discourage the use of beer cans for cooking. Let's think about it for a second. Speaking just about the can itself there's the question of the coloring in the labels and the question of materials withstanding the heat. They just weren't designed for that use.
So save your beer and just enjoy your chicken! A decent instant-read thermometer
and a good recipe will produce a far moister chicken than your beer. If I still haven't sold you then do what suits you or check out these thorough, sciency articles for debunking beer can chicken. My goal isn't to stop you from making what you like, but to help you make it better.
"Beer Can Chicken, Myth or Fact?" -
"A waste of good beer and it is dangerous" -
"Beer can chicken is a waste of good beer" -