The subtle hops flavor of beer pairs perfectly with chicken (from Summer Sear, July 2021). Photograph by Douglas Merriam.

This recipe employs a popular grilling technique that has been around for decades. It’s amazing how moist the steaming beer bubbling up into the cavity makes the chicken, and the subtle hops flavor pairs perfectly with the ice-cold beers you are apt to be drinking on a hot July day. New Mexican beer, please!

ANCHO CHILE RUB

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and then ground 
2 teaspoons brown sugar 
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and then ground
2 teaspoons hot New Mexico red chile powder
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder 
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper 
2 teaspoons kosher salt 

CHICKEN

4-5-pound whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 can of your favorite New Mexican beer (try La Cumbre Elevated IPA)


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix all ingredients for the ancho chile rub in medium bowl. 

  2. Place chicken in a large bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and blot dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken and its cavity with the vegetable oil. (Wearing rubber gloves makes this task easier.) 

  3. Prepare grill for medium-high, indirect heat (350°). (For a charcoal grill, bank coals on either side of grill, ignite and allow hot coals to form; for a gas grill, leave one burner turned off in the center so chicken can roast over unlit burner.)  

  4. Season the chicken’s surface, including cavity, with the rub mixture. Pour out (or drink!) a quarter of the beer and place the cavity of the chicken, legs pointing down, onto the open can so that it supports the chicken upright.* 

  5.  Once grill has reached 350°, place the chicken in the center of the hot grill and cover. (My five-burner gas grill has 5 dials; I had 1, 2, 4, and 5 lit—the chicken was over 3.)  

  6. Grill chicken for 1 to 1¼ hours (start checking after 35 minutes), or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165° when inserted into the breast. It’s important that the grill stays between 350°–400°. If the gas grill gets too hot or chicken starts to get too dark, turn off one burner. Charcoal-grill coals may need to be adjusted. 

  7. Once cooked, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. 

*If you find it tricky to balance your chicken directly on the beer can, a variety of vertical roasters can provide extra support. Many have spikes that hold potatoes or vegetables as well.