Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beer Can Chicken, part 93

We suppose it is no surprise that with the grilling and barbecue season in full swing that discussions of Beer Can Chicken would crop up. We have always maintained that Beer Can Chicken is either a) a waste of time, b) a gimmick, or c) both. We wrote about our experiments doing side-by-side cooking of chickens with beer, chickens with an empty can, chickens with beer and gobs of spices and garlic in this article on our web site. What we found was that a plain chicken sitting on an empty beer can was no more juicy and had no more flavor than a chicken sitting on a can of dark porter loaded with spices and garlic.

In addition to the side-by-side cooking, we also measured the temperature of the beer in the can, inside the chicken. What we found was that the beer never boils and in fact never gets above 170-180° during the cooking process, thus bringing into question the very idea that the beer was being vaporized and then somehow transported into the chicken meat.

Well, a recent discussion questioned that number, suggesting that perhaps if more of the can were outside of the chicken, i.e., more of the can were exposed to the heat, the beer would get hotter and boil. Of course, none of the recipes we had ever seen suggested that this was a critical factor in Beer Can Chicken success, but we took the challenge and tried a new experiment.

We put ½ can of beer in our cooker with a temperature probe in the beer. We recorded the temperature of the beer over the course of a one hour cook, using the same temperature we had used in all our previous experimentation. This represents the best possible situation for getting the beer hot since there is no chicken keeping the beer shielded from the heat.

What did we find? Well, we will be updating our Beer Can Chicken, Myth or Fact? web page this weekend with all the details, but the short story is this. The beer never boiled. It got hotter and got hot faster, but it never came close to boiling. Look for the update to our web page where you will see the graph of the beer temperature vs. time, along with a few other observations.

One additional bit of information: In a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, a writer claims that Beer Can Chicken will make a nice moist chicken, but add no flavor. At least he got it half right.

(UPDATE: We have just posted the update to the web page so you can see the graph.)



At July 22, 2010 at 10:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if you poured the beer along w/ herbs & spices, into a drip pan underneath the chicken, think that might flavor/moisten it?

At July 22, 2010 at 8:39 PM , Blogger The Naked Whiz said...

We have never done any experiments with this, but the famous Dr. BBQ said that it might work!

At August 5, 2010 at 12:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. If there is no volatilization of the beer than why do I keep topping up with more beer? Why do I go through 24oz of beer for 1 chicken??? It seems to me that there are some variables not taken into account. I do use one of these so maybe that changes things a bit…

At August 11, 2010 at 8:33 AM , Blogger The Naked Whiz said...

Anonymous, see my latest post to the Whizlog. Work continues.

At March 30, 2011 at 9:11 AM , Blogger The Naked Whiz said...

If you take a look at our Beer Can Chicken web page, you will find the results of our latest testing. It is possible to get the beer to vaporize, but not in a beer can. Even so, side by side comparisons reveal no difference in the final product.



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