Tako the octopus' online cooking show is one of the delights of the internet. It hasn't been updated in a while, but it's worth a look. What could be funnier than an accident prone cartoon octopus chef who lives in a bucket and argues cookie baking technique with his purple haired Mom? (He's an American cartoon octopus, despite his name.) They are flash shows, with recipes in an associated archive. It's hilarious, but also contains real cooking and food science information. Episode 1 contains the recipe for beer-can chicken, which I have taken and adapted as my own. I've also seen this elsewhere on the net, sometimes called "beer-butt chicken", but the cartoon octopus got to me first.
Tako's recipe can be found by selecting episode 1, then extras, then recipes. As you will see, it refers to other recipes for a marinade and gravy, and is a bit fiddly in technique (injecting the marinade?). I have massively simplified this for routine use.
Recipe: Beer-can Chicken & Jus
one large chicken (1.8kg is good)
one can of beer
A herb or spice rub of your choice
Spread the rub over your chicken, getting some under the skin if you can. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees. Open your beer and drink about a third of it. Set the beer can in the middle of a roasting pan, or a metal cake tin, and shove the chicken on the can vertically, legs down. Don't be bashful; make sure it's all the way on. Roast at 220 degrees for 15 minutes, then drop the oven temperature to 180 degrees and roast for another 45 minutes, or until chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a carving tray, and deglaze the roasting pan with the beer from the can. Use a gravy separator to skim the fat off; tip the rest into a small saucepan and boil down to reduce by about half. Serve with the chicken.
Notes: you almost certainly won't be able to have two oven shelves in, as you would with a reclining chook, which is why I use a cake tin for the chicken and a loaf tin for roasting vegetables on the side. The beer doesn't have to be anything special - plain old VB is fine.