Food and beer pairings are bigger than grizzly bears right now (but not nearly as cute (or ferocious)). The reason beer and food are coming together is they really make the perfect fit; the perfect, two part meal. The huge variety of both beer and food can unite to make the right two choices sing sweet, sweet Motown right in your mouth. The other great thing about beer and food is that you can use one to aid in the cooking of the other. Throw some Trippel in your green chili, or 1554 in your gravy, get creative, go with what feels right. And last night it felt right to stick a can of Fat Tire into a chicken's butt, and then cook it.
We have all heard of beer can chicken, right? The general idea is that you take a can of beer, drink half of it, and then stick the half-full can right up the backside of a whole, roasting chicken. Then you stand the whole dinner-tower (chicken and beer can) upright and roast it in your oven, or on your grill (whichever fits the tall, and very top-heavy meal-time obelisk). Light lagers work really well for this dish, the easy hopping and well-mannered malty flavors transfer pleasantly to the chicken. In New Belgium's portfolio I would point to Shift Beer as the clear choice for beer can chicken. But this night I wanted something else from the beer. I wanted a stiffer sweetness, and some carmel-y tones for my chicken, and those things could only come from a Fat Tire. So I choose Fat Tire. And I went with a 16oz can because it was more upfront beer drinking for me, and the longer can would stabilize the chicken a little better. I only have a post-roast picture to show, as the pre-roast pictures looked kind of gross.
Let me walk you through the prep and cooking of this wonderful dinner. First crack the beer and start sipping. In a bowl make your dry rub. I went black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cumin (in descending order of pinch sizes). Rinse your chicken, inside and out, with cold water and then pat dry. Take a few more sips of your beer and then rub your spices all over that chicken, again, inside and out. Have the oven pre-heating to 350º. In cooking a beer can chicken you can use your oven, or you BBQ grill, depending on the vertical space, and seeing as I have the world's smallest BBQ, I went with the oven, and it was pre-heating to 350º. Get out a glass roasting dish, 13x9. At this point your beer should be about half way finished, so poke 4 more holes in the top with a church key for more ventilation and flavor transforming. Take the last of your dry rub and dump it into the half full can of beer (more flavor!). Take the spiced up chicken, turn it upright and cram that beer can up its butt. Then carefully set the chicken tower on the 13x9 and put the whole thing into the warm oven. 1 hour and 30 minutes later pull the chicken out and let it rest (this time frame worked for the size of my Colorado chicken, it might not work for yours. Make sure to cook the chicken until it is done at 165º internal temp). Using caution, tongs and a gorilla-like grip remove the chicken from the Fat Tire can. Cut it up and plate. Viola, beer can chicken!
I made roasted jalapeño and cheddar mashed potatoes with a basic green salad for accompaniment. You should make whatever sides you deem appropriate.
And then, all plated up, what beer could pair with this lovely dinner. Fat Tire would be a good (even great) choice. We used it in the cooking and the flavors are already roasted into the chicken. But is it too obvious? I thought it was, so I went with Sunshine Wheat. There was a gentle heat to the meal, from the pepper flakes on the chicken and the jalapeño potatoes. The Sunshine complemented that heat. And the sweetness of the beer did wonders to the rich, carmel-i-ness of the Fat Tired chicken. I also poured my Sunshine into sweet, vintage Hamm's glasses to class things up (see photo). This was the greatest dinner I have had all week and I would implore you to try this at home.
Beer can chicken is a fair bit of work, but the fruits of your labor will be enjoyed. Go forth and create wonderful food.