Beer-Can Turkey | Grilling

Joshua Bousel

Why stop with beer-can chicken, let's go for broke with beer-can turkey! Since it's been disproven that roasting a chicken on a beer imparts moisture or flavor—the beer never boils so it never produces steam—this is truly just for looks and the ability to say you've done it.*

For this recipe, I decided to go with a standard barbecue flavor, starting with a sweet apple juice and molasses brine, which was paired with a simple barbecue rub after the bird was done brining.

I really wanted to find one of those Heineken keg cans to call this "keg-can turkey," but alas, I could not locate one in the quaint town of New York City, so instead opted for a tall 24-ounce can, which worked perfectly in terms of weight and size to support the 12-pound beast.

It was then smoked—you can do this on a kettle grill, but will need to extend vertical cooking space by using something like an extension ring or the Smokenator—over apple wood until the breast hit 160°F. What emerged was truly something worthy to brag about.

The skin turned a beautiful mahogany color, and the meat was incredibly moist and flavorful, with a light sweetness, a little spice, and a distinct smokiness. My only regret is not doing a chicken alongside it so you can get a real sense of the scale of this accomplishment when the two birds are set next to each other, because if I'm not going to really show off, what's it's all for?

*On a grill, roasting vertically does help by keeping the breast meat further from the fire, cooking it slightly slower than the more forgiving dark meat, but this isn't really an issue in the more even heat of the smoker.