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Beer can chicken failure

FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
edited November 2011 in EggHead Forum
I've been cooking 3-4 nights per week since I got my BGE, and almost everything has turned out fantastic.  However, last night I tried beer can chicken and to me, it was a failure (although the family ate it and said it was ok).  For the first time ever during a cook, I struggled to get the dome temp above 400 degrees (although before I put food on I had to drop it from a high of 450).  Usually it's a no brainer too cook at 225, or 750, and everywhere in between.   
I ended up taking the chicken off when the internal temp was right via a meat thermometer, but the chicken was anything but tender, and the skin not crispy at all. In my experience my dome reads about 30 degrees cooler than the grate temp, so trying to get the grate to 375-400 I would have needed 405-430 dome. I even took the cast iron daisy wheel off and opened the bottom completely.  Still, 380 dome temp was about the highest it stayed for most of the cook.  There was no wind, and I used the plate setter so I guess airflow might not have been the best.  I plan to check the air holes in the fire box tomorrow to see if anything was plugged.

Any words of encouragement?  Does Royal Oak burn faster, meaning I should have added more coal than I did the BGE lump?  Because of the platesetter, and the fact it was completely dark, I couldn't see how much coal was left during the cook, just the red glow.  I simply used the same amount of coals I had been using, and I've cooked ribs for 5 1/2 hours at 275 Dome temp with no problems.  

I'm used to a little frustration while grilling, but since I started using the Egg I've had a lot less problems with temp than on my old webers.  Guess it had to happen eventually.  I just want to learn from the mistake.



  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 938
    I would take all the internal ceramics out, sweep all ash out and inspect that all the holes are free of obstructions. It is such a simple system that I can't imagine anything other than air flow being the problem.


    P.S. Your charcoal did not get wet?  That might cause problems.
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433

    Thanks for the reply.  I just purchased the charcoal from the store so unless it got wet on their end, it was dry.(the bag was dry from what I can tell).  It's been in the house for the days since I bought it.  

    I actually cleaned the firebox and lower ashes out last weekend since I hadn't done that ever, but didn't think to take the ceramics out.  I will check that out today before cooking on it today.

    Thanks again,
  • SqueezySqueezy Posts: 1,102
    Fire size may have been the problem, a few weeks back I had little charcoal in the egg but thought it would be enough for a short, hot pizza cook. While it started out OK, as soon as I put the pizza on, it dropped to 380º and then to 350º ... and with everything wide open .... learned my lesson. Won't be doing that again!
    Never eat anything passed through a window unless you're a seagull ... BGE Lg.
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    I just took a closer look, and it might have been a few things.  From making pizza, there was burnt cornmeal between the fire ring and the egg (not sure if that's an important place for airflow?) Then 3 of the holes in the firebox had ashes in them.  That, and I was completely out of charcoal! 

    As you said Squeezy, I think I may have underestimated how much I'd need for the cook.  Might have been due to the grill being completely empty before loading it as opposed to me usually just adding fresh lump to the left over coals.  

    I am getting ready to do a quick pizza or two for lunch, so I loaded the firebox full.  WIsh me luck :)

  • SqueezySqueezy Posts: 1,102
    Good luck Frank ...   :>
    Never eat anything passed through a window unless you're a seagull ... BGE Lg.
  • hoppyhoppy Posts: 16
    edited November 2011

    Not being an expert at beer can chicken, (never cooked one myself) but I have read that the boiling point of the beer is around 212F degrees, and the inside of the chicken when cooked never goes over 180F degrees. So in short, no steam vapor goes up into the chicken to help flavor it or keep it moist. So what is the point?

    I'll probably get flamed by the beer chicken people, but what I read made sense to me. Simple physics.


    PS; You can go to the Naked Wiz website. They did an experiment in their Infocentral site that backs up the vapor theory at 180F degrees.

  • SqueezySqueezy Posts: 1,102
    If you ever get around to trying it, you will become a believer, it is by far the moistest chicken mammaries I have ever eaten. The one thing I have found is, it doesn't matter what liquid you use ... beer, wine, water, juice ... I can't taste it, but moist & tender texture is there in spades ....
    Never eat anything passed through a window unless you're a seagull ... BGE Lg.
  • As others have suggested, my guess is an airflow problem.  I'd recommend getting a wiggle rod and poking it up through your fire bed in half a dozen places after you light the charcoal.  Since I've started going this, I've never had any problems obtaining the desired temperature (plus it seems to happen more quickly).
  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,699
    I second the vote for a wiggle rod. You can make your own from a metal coat hanger or buy a very nice one here:

    I also believe that the beer in the can doesn't really get to a boiling temp and has very little effect on the cooking of the chicken.  I have changed to making Spatchcock chickens and they always come out great.

    You should always fill up your BGE with charcoal to the top of the firebox.  When you are done cooking, the remaining charcoal stops burning as soon as you close the top and bottom vents.
    Large BGE
    Barry, Lancaster, PA
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433

    Thanks for the help and info guys.  I think the wiggle rod is probably going to be on my shopping list in the near future.  I did the pizza for lunch with no problems, then alder and cedar planked salmon for supper.  All is good now :)

    I do feel that the Royal Oak charcoal burns out quicker than the BGE lump

  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,699
    BGE lump is made by Royal Oak as are many other store brands.  There are always differences from bag  to bag of any charcoal product. I am very happy with most bags of Royal Oak as long as I buy the USA made product.
    Large BGE
    Barry, Lancaster, PA
  • What I have experienced is, that if you think you have enough used lump to get you by for a cook like that, you don't.  Just add a little more fresh, it really does make a difference.  Also, try a spatchcocked chicken/turkey, you won't go back to beer can.

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