Spicy chicken thighs brined in beer

Beer makes everything better. Well, pizza and beer. But especially beer. And beer turns these chicken thighs into something delicious. We marinated a few chicken thighs in a stout. The spicy marinade with the caramel and chocolate flavours of the stout make these chicken thighs something exceptional.

Beer is a good base for a marinade

A marinade should be a good balance between all the flavours. The basis of this marinade is a so-called pastry stout. A stout variant that is richer in taste than ordinary stouts and almost resembles a dessert because of the flavours of caramel, coffee and chocolate. Hence the name pastry stout. To compliment these flavours, some sour and spicy ingredients are added. And some extra sugar to get the perfect colour while grilling.

As we said, beer makes everything better, and so does this brine. Studies have shown that beer helps stop the build-up of so-called carcinogenic carbons called PAHs. And the darker the beer, the better it works. So that goes well with this jet-black stout.

We are not in favour of marinades for larger pieces of meat. A marinade only penetrates a few millimetres into the meat. That is why it is suitable for thinner cuts of meat such as these chicken thighs.

We pour the brine with the chicken thighs into a ziplock bag and then put it in the fridge for about 4 hours. The advantage of using a ziplock bag is that you need less marinade. Before closing, push out as much air as possible. This way, the marinade has contact with the chicken everywhere.

Marinating longer than 4 to 6 hours is pointless and can also damage the structure of the chicken. The marinade’s acids break down the chicken’s connective tissue, making the meat more tender. That seems like a good idea at first, but you should not overdo it so that the chicken becomes too soft.

After brining, we pat the chicken thighs dry with kitchen paper and place them on a rack to dry overnight in the fridge. We sprinkled the skin with some table salt so that the skin dries out even more. That will ensure that we get a tremendous crispy chicken.

We have set our Kamado Joe Classic III to an indirect temperature of 150ºC (302F). As far as we’re concerned, that’s the perfect temperature to prepare chicken. The meat is given ample time to cook and become tender, while it does not become too hot so that the sugars burn. You don’t have to worry that the chicken won’t brown nicely because we’ll solve that afterwards when we grill the chicken over direct heat.

We first cook the chicken to a core temperature of 70ºC (158F). That’s why we put a thermometer in one of the thighs. After an hour, the chicken thighs are wonderfully tender and juicy, and the skin is dehydrated. Exactly what we wanted. The only thing still wrong is that the meat could be slightly darker. You want your chicken thighs to look like they’ve been on the barbecue, right?

That’s why we remove the platesetters from the kamado and grill the chicken thighs on both sides. Keep a close eye on them now. It would be a shame to let them burn now, wouldn’t it?

This is the end result. Amazingly tender and delicious chicken thighs. If you will make these beer-marinated chicken thighs too, let us know in the comments below. Or better! Could you take a photo and post it on Instagram? Tag @bbqhelden and @kamadojoe so we can see what you’ve made.


  • 4 chicken thighs with skin and bone
  • 33 ml stout
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp table salt


  1. Mix the stout, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, chilli flakes and black pepper. Place the chicken thighs in a ziplock bag and add the marinade.
  2. Before closing the bag, push all the air out of the bag and let the chicken thighs marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and pat them dry with some kitchen paper. Place them on a wire rack and sprinkle the skin with table salt. Let them dry overnight in the fridge.
  4. Prepare a barbecue with an indirect temperature of 150ºC (302F). Place the chicken thighs on the grid. Insert a thermometer into the chicken and close the lid.
  5. Cook the chicken thighs to a core temperature of 70ºC (158F) and then grill them over direct heat until they are a nice golden brown on all sides.

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