Brewmeister’s Chicken

Beer is more than the perfect beverage to serve with barbecue — it’s the lifeblood of live-fire cooking. Of course, any chicken steamed over a beer can will pick up a mild flavor, but in this recipe the ante is upped by marinating the bird in a mixture of beer, mustard, and soy sauce. To gild the lily, as it were, serve the Brewmeister’s Chicken with Dark Beer BBQ Sauce.


Brewmeister’s Chicken

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: 4 to 12 hours for marinating the chicken
  • Yield: 2 to 4 servings
  • Method: Indirect Grilling
  • Equipment: 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or cherry), soaked for 1 hour in water and/or beer to cover, then drained; 1 clean empty 12-ounce beer can (optional) or a vertical chicken roaster (optional)


For the chicken and marinade:

  • 1 can or bottle (12 ounces) dark beer
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chicken (3 1⁄2 to 4 pounds)

For the rub:

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 can (12 ounces) beer, preferably dark, or 3⁄4 cup bottled dark beer
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Dark Beer BBQ Sauce (see Step 12, below)

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Make the marinade: Place the beer, mustard, soy sauce, lemon juice, onion, garlic, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in a deep nonreactive bowl and whisk to mix.

Step 2: Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Place the chicken in the bowl with the marinade or place the chicken and marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Let marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, turning the bird several times so it marinates evenly.

Step 3: Make the rub: Put the paprika, mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, celery seed, and nutmeg in a small bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.

Step 4: If the beer is canned: Pop the tab off the beer can and pour half of the beer (3/4 cup) over the soaking wood chips or chunks or reserve for another use.

If the beer is bottled: Fill an empty can halfway or fill a vertical chicken roaster, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Set aside the half-filled can of beer or filled chicken roaster.

Step 6: Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the marinade. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the rub inside the body cavity and 1/2 teaspoon inside the neck cavity of the bird. Drizzle the oil over the outside and rub or brush it all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the bird with 1 tablespoon of the rub and rub it all over the skin. Spoon the remaining rub into the beer through the hole in the top of the can or into the beer in the vertical chicken roaster. Don’t worry if the beer foams up: This is normal.

Step 7: If cooking on a can: Using a church key-style can opener, make 2 additional holes in the top of the can. Hold the bird upright, with the opening of the body cavity at the bottom, and lower it onto the beer can so the can fits into the cavity. Pull the chicken legs forward to form a sort of a tripod, so the bird stands upright. The rear leg of the tripod is the beer can.

If cooking on a roaster: Position the chicken on top, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 8: Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back.

Step 9: Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.

Step 10: When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked through (about 180 degrees F on an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh, but not touching the bone), 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour. If the chicken skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil.

Step 11: If cooking on a can: Using tongs, hold the bird by the can and carefully transfer it in an upright position to a platter.

If cooking on a roaster: Use oven mitts or pot holders to remove the bird from the grill while it’s still on the vertical roaster.

Step 12: Present the bird to your guests. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then carefully lift it off its support. Take care not to spill the hot beer or otherwise burn yourself. Halve, quarter, or carve the chicken and serve with the Dark Beer Barbecue Sauce.

Recipe Tips

Dark beers include some ales, all porters, and the darkest of all, stout. I like their sweet malty flavor for this recipe. Unfortunately, most dark beer comes in bottles, not cans, so use a dark beer for marinating and a conventional canned beer for grilling or transfer the dark beer to an empty beer can.

This marinade is amazing for all manner of meat, from steaks to pork loins to lamb chops.

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