How to Brine Beer Can Chicken

Posted on 20/09/2012 by Erock
An empty, dented can of PBR never looked so good. That's the brine we used on a most excellent beer can bird.

How to Brine Beer Can Chicken — The Recipe in 5 Easy steps

502 Bad Gateway

502 Bad Gateway

If you have never brined a chicken before throwing it on the grill then you are in for a treat. When you do this right it fills the bird with flavor and the result is moist, fork-tender chicken. Now let’s talk about why and how to brine beer can chicken.

Brining helps tenderize meat in part because that salt starts to break down the meat on a chemical level — you are starting a chain reaction of awesome chicken. The alcohol in the beer also helps tenderize the bird, but also gives it a nice malty flavor and blends nicely with the bay leaf and rosemary. Speaking of blending, why not make the brine up a day early? If you have time, it will give your brine more flavor. Be careful not to over-do it. 24 hours is probably as far as you want to go.

How to brine Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken brine in progress.

If you want to learn more about brines and marinades, check out this excellent book on the subject by Jim Tarantino: Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures and Glazes.

Now let’s get our brine on!

1: Brine Equipment and Set Up

A few words of wisdom on  how to brine beer can chicken — best to do it in a gallon zip lock bag, dig?
Double bag it, you don’t want a leak. A plastic container will work too. Another thing to note: This is one of those recipes that you can use an extra pair of hands with…especially when it’s time to pour the brine into a plastic bag. Finally, there is something about storing brine in a metal container can give you weird, metallic off-flavors. So ideally you want a plastic container, that you can seal up tight.

Before we start with the recipe here’s what you will need:

  • The biggest measuring cup you can find, or even the pitcher from your blender.
  • You will also need a large mixing bowl or Tupperware container to mix the stuff up in.
  • A big old spoon.

 2: Mix up the Beer Brine for Chicken

Here’s the recipe. We have made a few other brines including one total dry-brine disaster.

Rosemary Beer Brine for Chicken

  • 1 cup kosher or table salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 10 cloves garlic , unpeeled. (We  mashed the cloves a bit with the side of a knife, before dropping the cloves into the brine bucket.)
  • 1 Lemon, mashed and quartered.
  • Bay leaves. (10-20)
  • 10-14 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 quarts water
  • 1 quart beer!

Add the salt and sugar to your big measuring cup. Heat up the quart of water until it’s hot but not boiling. Mix that with the salt and sugar and blend until you get that stuff mixed in completely. Stir for a while. You don’t want to see any undissolved sugar or salt. Now, add your garlic, lemon, bay leaves and rosemary. Finally add the cold beer, which should cool everything off.

If you need to you can cool it off a bit in the fridge. You do not want to put a raw bird into hot water…cool the brine off completely before you put the bird in.

3: How to Brine Beer Can Chicken

Now that you have the brine, you need to apply it to the bird and let it sit overnight. We brined this baby for about 7 hours (see below) but it could have gone 12, and soaked up even more goodness. Basically brine it for as long as you can, but probably not more than 20 hours. Also note that the longer you have the bird in the brine, the more salt it will absorb.

Prep your bird, by removing giblets and all that jazz, place it in a clean ziplock gallon bag (or big resealable container) then slowly, gently pour in the brine mixture. This is when you call for your assistant or second set of hands.
Seal the container up, making sure you get as much contact with the brine as possible before placing back in the refrigerator. If you think of it, give the thing a little stir every few hours, turn it over or what have you, to agitate and get an even brine.

4: Get Ready to Grill some Beer Can Chicken!

Some recipes we have read recommend rinsing off the brine before you prep the bird.  With the recipe above, we have not found the need to do that. We did put the bird up on the can (according to the ancient Chinese secret recipe for beer can chicken, here) and dry that bird off with some paper towels. Then it’s time to apply a little rub. We got some tips on rubs for beer can chicken, check it out.

5: Cook your Beer Brined Chicken 

Now all you have to do is rock the beer can chicken, and when you pull it off, be sure to let it sit for 20 minutes before you carve into it. (If you can resist the urge to tear into it.) Here’s our basic beer can chicken recipe  if you are new to this. Let the chicken sit after taking it off the heat, in order to let the juices reabsorb a bit and give the bird time to rest before you start to carve.

Final step – crack open a frosty beverage and congratulate yourself. And be sure to post your pics of your beer can chicken masterpiece on our facebook wall.

Comments are closed.