The City Magazine Since 1975

Fruity Beer Can Chicken

Recipe courtesy of Billy Quinn of JB’s Smokeshack on John’s Island—“At home, you really can’t beat beer can chicken; it’s easy and nothing fancy,” says Billy, of the no-frills method of propping the bird on an open, half-full can of beer to grill. He suggests brining the bird (marinating uncooked meat in a solution with a high salt content) as an easy way to add flavor. And rather than beer, he adds apple and cranberry juices to the aluminum can stand for some fruity notes.
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1 3 lb. whole chicken
1 gal. basic brine (recipe follows)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 Tbs. spicy dry rub (recipe follows)


For the brine: In a large saucepan or stockpot, combine 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, and 1 gal. water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

For the dry rub: In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbs. black pepper, 1 Tbs. garlic powder, 1 Tbs. onion powder, 1 Tbs. chili powder, and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Mix until well combined.

Method: Rinse chicken thoroughly inside and out under cold running water and remove fat. Pat dry with paper towels. Set aside and prepare brine.

Submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate 2-24 hours. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.

With your hands, rub meat with dry rub and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, light the grill. If using charcoal, bank the briquettes along the sides of the basin. For propane grills, light the burner furthest from the center to 225°F. Just before closing the grill, place a handful of wood chips in the chip tray or wrap into a foil ball, poke holes in it, and place directly over the flame. Poke four additional holes in top of the aluminum can.

Fill the can half full with the apple and cranberry juices. Insert aluminum can into the cavity of the chicken so that the chicken stands on end, leg quarters facing down. Place in center of grill and cover for 2 ½-3 hours. When the meat’s internal temperature reaches 185°F, remove from grill. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.