What’s The Best Beer For Beer Can Chicken?

What type of beer would perfectly complement your beer can chicken dish?

Naturally, every griller and chef prefers choosing the proper brew for their dishes. Still, with so many different types on offer, an uninformed choice can lead to frustration and a less-than-yummy meal.

Let’s explore what makes different beers pair well with grilled or roasted chicken recipes. But first;

Popular choices for making beer can chicken are light lagers like:

Bud Light 4.2% ABV

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Bud Light

  • Refreshing taste
  • Low calorie (110 calories per 12 oz. serving)
  • Widely available

Pilsners usually lie on either side at 3–7%

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Pilsner Urquell Beer

  • Unique flavor (from Saaz hops and special yeast)
  • Versatile food pairing
  • Award-winning
  • Environmentally sustainable

Berliner Weisse around 2–3%

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Creature Comforts Athena Berliner Weisse

  • Refreshing and tart flavor
  • Low ABV
  • Great with food
  • Locally brewed in Georgia
  • Award-winning beer

Wheat beers like Weihenstephan Hefeweizen (5.4%)

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Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

  • Experience the rich, smooth taste of Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, a classic brew with a nutty twist!
  • Crafted with tradition, this British ale brings a cozy pub feel to your own home.

Heavy stouts like Guinness Stout (6%)

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Guinness Stout

  • Rich, velvety texture
  • Unique flavor profile
  • Pairs well with hearty dishes
  • Low ABV (alcohol by volume)

Malty brown ales such as Maduro Brown Ale (8%)

Award-winning Maduro Brown Ale

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Maduro Brown Ale

  • Smooth, medium-bodied ale
  • Notes of chocolate and caramel
  • Balanced flavor profile
  • Pairs well with grilled or roasted meats
  • Award-winning beer

Belgian wits typically range between 4–6%.

Classic Beer Style

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Belgian Wit

  • Light and refreshing
  • Citrus and herbal notes
  • Easy to drink
  • Pair well with seafood and salads
  • Classic beer style with a long history

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Beer For Beer Can Chicken

When selecting the ideal beer for beer can chicken, you should consider factors such as flavor profiles, alcohol content, and carbonation levels.

Flavor Profiles

Beer flavor plays a significant role in the taste of beer can chicken. Different beers have unique flavor profiles thanks to the ingredients used. When it comes to grilling, the type of beer used will determine how the finished dish tastes.

Lagers tend to be light and crisp with low bitterness and mild malty sweetness. At the same time, ales are generally fruitier and have higher hop content, adding an extra layer of bitterness to their dishes.

Light lager beers are typical fan favorites for beer can chicken because they pair well with lots of seasonings—think lemon pepper chicken, spicy chipotle rubs, or breadcrumbs flavored with garlic powder. They also provide just enough maltiness without overpowering other flavors.

Spaten Premium Lager is another excellent option that offers more complexity than traditional light lagers but still balances out herbal flavors nicely; its sweet-bitter hops characteristic provides depth in texture alongside subtle nutty aromas perfect for pairing up grilled vegetables like peppers or mushrooms too!

If you prefer something even lighter in alcohol content yet still flavorful, Bud Light does not disappoint.

For ale fans, Maduro Brown Ale from Avery Brewing Co has an intense coffee-caramel aroma complemented by citrusy zest, which makes it an ideal companion chicken roasted over sweeter spices such as cumin seed-, and chili powder rubs. At the same time, Guinness Stout requires no additional adornment outside salt & pepper.

A superbly balanced combination of deep roasted malt character and silky body creates a delicious marriage between juicy fowl flesh and delicate aromatic herbaceousness provided by freshly ground black peppercorns and dry rosemary sprig!

In addition, wheat beers like Belgian Wits create a brighter juicy profile contributed by their citrusy tang and lively carbonation; the freshening palate brings an explosion of vibrant fruitiness with each bite.  

Alcohol Content 

The alcohol content of a beer will influence the flavor profile and intensity, as well as how it contributes to the cooking of your beer can chicken. Generally speaking, beers with higher alcohol by volume (ABV) infuse more flavor into your chicken in the end.

For example, an American barley wine has an ABV level of 8% to 14%. You, therefore, expect more intense flavors from these than from standard lagers or ales with ABV levels of 4-7%.

As for beer-can chicken recipes, many people prefer using middle-of-the-road brews since high ABVs may overpower delicate seasonings, leading to a too-strong beer taste.

In addition, if there is too little ABV content, all your hard work could go down the drain because some of this liquid evaporates during cooking. A beer with very little ABV content can fail to add any flavoring! 

When choosing the right beer for beer can chicken, it is essential to consider the carbonation levels of your brew. Carbonation affects your bird’s taste and texture. Higher carbonated beers will cook crisper chicken, while those with lower levels will result in more tender meat.

Moderate carbonation provides just enough bubbles to help enjoyably tenderize the dish without overwhelming its flavor. Beers like Pilsner or Spaten Premium Lager have moderate carbonation levels suitable for beer can chicken due to their light body and malty sweetness.

Bud Light also has a moderate level, making it an ideal option if you want something readily available at most stores. On the other hand, some India Pale Ales and Wheat ales may be too heavily carbonated and produce an unpleasantly acidic flavor in your final dish.

Does It Matter Which Beer You Use For Beer Can Chicken?

When it comes to beer can chicken, choosing the right beer can make a massive difference in the final result. The type of beer you choose will affect the flavor and texture of your beer can chicken.

This is why you have to think about flavor profiles, alcohol content, and carbonation levels when selecting the best option for your recipe.

Light lagers provide crisp, clean flavors that create a juicier bird than heavier beers like stouts or porters. Lager beers are easy to work with for most recipes, and pair perfectly with the herbs and spices used in marinades or rubs.

Pilsner Urquell is considered one of the best choices overall due to its well-rounded taste profile that pairs nicely with grilled white meat like chicken breasts or thighs.

Wheat beers are sweet and creamy with fruity undertones, which help add acidity to spicier dishes. 

At the same time, malty ales provide more body while cooking at higher temperatures, giving your bird a crisp exterior and a full-flavored aroma from evaporated hops throughout your grill space. Bud Light has become increasingly popular because of its light but lasting character, thanks partly to its high carbonation level–which helps hold all those suds on top while maintaining a bubbling broth beneath chicken skin. On the other hand, at 4-6% ABV, Maduro Brown Ales offer mellow nutty notes without being too heavy. This yields deliciously roasted birds with perfectly balanced layers of flavor.

So Which Are the Top Beer Options For Beer Can Chicken?

For the best beer can chicken, these are some of your top choices – light lager, Spaten Premium Lager, Pilsner, Berliner Weisse, wheat beer, and Bud Light.

Why is this so? Let’s delve into it. 

Light Lager

Light lagers such as Bud Light, Coors Light, and Corona Light are one of the most popular beers to use for beer-can chicken. Light lagers have a balanced flavor profile that is not too distinct or polarizing; their taste falls somewhere between sweet and bitter.

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Additionally, due to their low-level carbonation levels, light lagers add enough moisture to help make beer can chicken juicy without being overly saturated with liquid.

These beers generally contain around 5% alcohol content, which helps keep the meat tender while adding subtle hints of maltiness from the hop notes.

Spaten Premium Lager

Spaten Premium Lager
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The Spaten-Franziskaner Brewery of Munich, Germany crafts Spaten Premium Lager. It has been brewed using a traditional German brewing technique since around 1397. It still uses only top-quality ingredients in its recipes today.

This beer offers a clean, crisp flavor profile that blends notes of hop bitterness with a light floral aroma to round out the finish. With its impressive 4% alcohol content and medium carbonation levels, Spaten Premium Lager carries enough weight in each sip to pair amazingly well with any grilled or smoked food.

Whether you opt for Beer Can Chicken or another favorite BBQ dish, this lager will provide an enjoyable experience while adding subtle but flavorful complexity to your chicken recipe.


Pilsners are an excellent choice for beer can chicken due to their milder flavor, middle-of-the-road bitterness levels, and well-balanced carbonation. Additionally, when it comes to the skin’s crispiness, its light body won’t overwhelm the bird’s delicate flavors or make it soggy.

The Corona Extra Lager Pilsner will pucker up your palate by delicately seasoning your poultry.

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As a bonus with Pilsner – aromatic nuances from hops contrast beautifully with herbs commonly mixed into beer rubs used on BBQ chicken, like thyme and parsley . This guarantees you of a pleasant flavor profile that merges the beer tones and your marinades beautifully. For those looking for an authentic beer experience without an overpowering hop, Pilsner is ideal as it’s composed mainly of Czech Saaz Hop Varietals and Burkina Bavaria Malt/ This will give you subtle bitter flavors instead of the sharpness you’d get from IPA beers.

Night Shift Granita Weisse

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Granita Weisse is a classic German beer style that is tart and effervescent with a pale straw color. Its unique flavor comes from adding lactic acid during fermentation, making it one of the zingy beers.

The low alcohol content and light oxidized notes make it an excellent choice for beer can chicken due to its mildness that will not overpower the delicate flavors of poultry.

Its brightness also helps to bring out the earthiness in savory spices like cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and sage – all common seasonings for chicken dishes.

Wheat Beer

Wheat Beer
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Wheat beers have a distinct flavor profile and a malty sweetness complimenting beer can chicken dishes. Its flavors are mild and refreshing with lower bitterness than lagers or ales.

Their medium carbonation also helps keep the chicken moist and tender while cooking, making it easier to hold upright without slipping off. Popular wheat beer options for Beer Can Chicken include Blue Moon, Shock Top, and Four Peaks Peach Ale.

Blue Moon is especially recommended because of its moderate level of carbonation, which helps lock in moisture from the outside during grilling or roasting. It also has fruity notes that impart sweet nuances to enhance the flavors in your dish as it cooks.

Spaten Premium Lager

Spaten Premium Lager
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A Spaten premium lager is an excellent option for beer-can chicken. An award-winning Dortmunder-Helles style brew from the renowned Spaten-Franziskaner Brewery, this beer offers a medium sweetness and mild bitterness with a clean, light flavor profile perfect for complementing any grilled meat dish.

This lager has been specially crafted to give its drinkers a fantastic experience, balancing maltiness and hop notes while providing enough which keeps your meal juicy without overpowering its natural flavors. 

Also, with just 4% alcohol content, Spaten Premium will fill the cavity of your bird with long-lasting flavor without getting in the way of other flavors you may be using, such as Chicken seasoning or herbs.

Bud Light

Bud Light
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Bud Light’s light and refreshing flavor, moderate carbonation, and low alcohol content of 4.2% make it an ideal beer for beer can chicken, as it won’t overpower the other flavors used in the recipe while still imparting subtle malty notes to the meat.

By using a beer with a lower ABV like Bud Light, you can reduce the amount of steam and smell generated during cooking, leading to a juicier and more flavorful chicken compared to using a higher alcohol beer like an IPA or stout that generates more steam and smell, which can impact the final flavor of the meat.

With only 80 calories per bottle, Bud Light is an excellent choice for cooking as it evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave behind any residue on the finished dish, making it a healthier alternative to other beer styles that can add extra calories and potentially impact the flavor and texture of the chicken.

Maduro Brown Ale

Maduro Brown Ale
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Maduro Brown Ale’s well-balanced flavor profile and mild chocolate notes make it a popular choice for beer can chicken, recommended by experts in the beer industry such as The Beer Exchange and Brew Publik.

This ale’s versatility in many different chicken recipes, from grilled legs to roasted chicken, has made it a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike.

With its ability to handle spicier ingredients, Maduro Brown Ale offers a perfect pairing for those seeking bolder flavors without overwhelming the dish with beer notes.

Guinness Stout

Guinness Stout
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Guinness Stout is a top beer option for beer can chicken thanks to its uniquely roasted taste and high alcohol content that give your dish an unbeatable smoky finish.

Unlike lagers, the exceptional carbonation levels in Guinness interact with heat faster, allowing it to infuse quickly into the meat upon contact and create more intense flavor.

The widgets in Guinness cans add a subtle complexity to the flavor profile of the beer that helps enhance the taste of the chicken while keeping it moist during cooking.

Belgian Wits

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Belgian Wits, also known as bière blanche, are a Belgian-style wheat ale that make a great beer option for beer-can chicken due to their balanced range of flavors, including coriander and orange peel in some recipes, and low bitterness.

The light body of Belgian Wits allows the flavor of the chicken to shine while still adding subtle complexities to the dish, making it a perfect option for this cooking method.

Two popular Belgian Wits for cooking beer can chicken are Spaten Premium Lager and Hoegaarden Original White Ale, both of which complement the richness of grilled or smoked meats and pair wonderfully with BBQ sauce, providing a bright and flavorful taste that enhances the dish.

Beers To Avoid For The Perfect Flavor

It is important to note that you should avoid certain types of beer when making beer-can chicken due to their strong flavor and high alcohol content. Some IPAs, Barleywines, and other bitter or heavy beers can negatively affect the chicken’s overall taste. The same goes for overly sour or overly fruity beers that may add too much sweetness without complementing the flavors of the seasoning or spices used in your recipe.

Additionally, beers that get too bubbly while cooking can make grilled chicken soggy, instead of that crispy exterior and juicy interior we crave for in grilled chicken. Moreover, fruity-flavored beers contain natural sugars that may caramelize on the skin when cooked on direct flame resulting in burnt patches. 

In this regard, Beer lovers should opt for affordable, flat beers such as Bud Light or Coors Light, which impart light flavors, while infusing moisture into the meat. This gives light beer notes, while keeping the chicken yummy and juicy. 

Perfect Beer To Use When Cooking Chicken 

Successfully selecting the perfect beer for beer can chicken is essential to enhancing and amplifying the flavor of your roast. While various beers can be used, selecting one with a few key factors in mind is essential.

Light lagers do best when grilling since they lack intense flavors. At the same time, pilsners offer both full-bodied flavor and malty undertones. Stouts also work well when paired with darker meats like beef or pork, whereas IPAs bring out citrusy notes that work well with grilled poultry dishes like Beer Can Chicken.

When picking an appropriate brew, consider each option’s carbonation levels, as high carbonation beers  make chicken crispier, while low carbonation beers make it more tender. 

FAQs on The Best Beer for Beer Can Chicken

What is beer-can chicken?

Beer can chicken is a cooking technique where you use a half-full can of beer to prop up the bird as it cooks. The steam from the beer helps keep the chicken moist while imparting flavor as it slowly roasts in an oven or over an open fire.

What type of beer should I use for beer-can chicken?

Lighter beers such as pale ale, lager, wheat, and blonde ales are recommended when making beer can chicken since they do not have too much bitterness or overwhelming flavors. Additionally, avoid very hoppy IPAs or heavily flavored craft brews – as these could overpower the taste of your dish with their complexities that may not mesh well when combined with other ingredients already being used in your recipe.

Can you use any beer can size for this cooking method?

No. This depends on what type of recipe you’re following and how many people will be served. Typically 12 ounces (355 ml) can work best since they tend to provide enough liquid for proper steaming but still fit comfortably within most standard oven racks/grills. This saves up some space, allowing you to cook multiple birds at once if needed.

Should one take any safety precautions before attempting this method?

Yes – when dealing with raw poultry and hot surfaces, extreme caution should always be taken as these items considerably increase risk levels around food poisoning. Make sure everything has been thoroughly cleaned & disinfected after each use.  

Dan Smullen Beer is my life profile

Hi, I'm Dan, founder of BeerIsMyLife. I've been an avid homebrewer for over ten years, and beer is my true passion. I've traveled all over the world, visiting breweries, tasting beer, as well as making my own batches. I set up this blog to share that experience with you.