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Ingredients - Beer

clock December 26, 2012 21:15 by author Administrator



Cerveza a la Brasa

A Brief History

The story of man and beer goes back surprisingly far; almost as far as the story of man and fire. For many Gringos a la Brasa, this fact may hardly be a surprise at all. After all, how long could men sit idly by a crackling hardwood fire, without thinking....”something is dreadfully out of place and missing from this experience”. It didn't take much time for our most revered relatives to endure this absence before saying “enough is enough, we must fill this void”. These first fermentables may not have been considered “beer” by modern standards, but the seed was planted . Using slightly looser standards, we are happy to consider any beverage that is high in sugar content and subjected to fermentation (wild or otherwise) to be considered “beer”. By that standard, “beer” is a very old friend indeed. The first written accounts of these fermented beverages date back nearly 6000 years to ancient Sumeria. However, these stone tablets simply reveal that beer had likely been part of the human experience for far longer. Chemical residue testing of jars found in ancient Iran show beer's presence in early man's life more than 7000 years ago. Creationists may argue with the dates on this one, but the point is that the history of beer is nearly as old as the history of mankind itself.


Barley has been a component for nearly 5000 of those years. In fact, the invention of beer and bread is widely believed to be the impetus for mankind's ability to develop agricultural technologies leading to the birth of civilization as we know it. That’s a pretty heady accolade for a drink that many just consider as an excuse to act out their favorite scenes from Caddyshack and spend their afternoons tailgating. So the next time you are in the parking lot drinking beer from a Solo cup and reveling with your friends...please honor you ancestors and toast the Sumerians! Without them, there would likely be no football, baseball, outdoor concerts, public houses, pool, darts, democracy, or beer pong! Those magnificent bastards made it all possible, so do your part and remind anyone who will listen.


At some point along our human journey (no one knows for sure when), someone ate a piece of tough charred meat and said, “this is bullshit, we must find a way to make our fire roasted meats more tender (paraphrasing)”. Perhaps by accident or perhaps revealed in a hallucinogenic dream vision, one of our fore bearers had to sense to drop their meat in beer before cooking it and genius was born. We are not certain exactly when this was first done to a bird, but we know from our history of the Chicken, that the first domesticated chicken was hatched more than 8000 years ago in Southeast Asia. The earliest firm evidence of these domesticated chickens in the Mesopotamian valley dates back more than 4000 years, but they may have been squawking around the Frankincense tree far earlier than that. That means that iT is conceivable that the Last Supper may have consisted on wine, bread, and Pollo a la Brasa! Although of questionable historical voracity, this helps us sleep at night. Even tough there is no mention of Pollo a la Brasa specifically in the New Testament (or Inca Cola for that matter), we like to think Jesus had the wherewithal to have Pollo a la Brasa on his last meal with friends. As for the Americas, there is even evidence of the domesticated chicken in Chile far before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors; 1350 AD to be exact. There is nothing in the archaeological record to indicate how their arrival could have possibly predated the arrival of the Spanish, but we like to think that the Chicken had a date with destiny in Peru and simply couldn't wait for the Spanish to give them a ride.

Enough History, why the beer?

Good thing you asked that question because we were about to answer it for you. Besides the wonderful flavor that beer imparts to a meat marinade, there are greater forces at work here. Beer contains high tannin and alpha acid levels that help separate amino acids. As you may remember from your high school chemistry class, amino acids are organic compounds within living cells. Amino acids join by forming peptide bonds, a link that connects one amino acid's amino group with the carboxyl group of another amino acid. When amino acids join through peptide bonds, they form proteins. Alcohol content further aides in this process of breaking down proteins. Proteins carry out numerous functions in the structure and operation of cells, tissues and organs. Breaking proteins down is basically denaturing muscle tissue. Denature is fancy talk for “tenderizing”. But like anything, too much can be a bad thing. Over exposure to 'tenderizing compounds', can lead to very mushy meat. Keep this in mind when using beer or any other tenderizing compound on your meats.

What beers are best for Pollo a la Brasa

As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it. Pollo a la Brasa marinades made from light beers and ales will burn off quickly once your meat hits the rotisserie or grill, and all that will be left is a slight beer aftertaste. Dark beers and Stouts are different in that they will leave a much richer fuller beer taste on your protein (meat), leaving flavor notes resembling oats, almonds, burnt wheat, hops, barley and grains. Try to avoid beers with high Hop content (IPAs, Bitter Ales, Black IPAs, American Brown Ales, and some stouts) as this will impart a bitter aftertaste. High alcohol beers will also tend to tenderize your meat quicker. Many craft beers will list their alchohol content on the bottle. Try to avoid 'strong' beers that are higher than 6% ABV. As no beers or Hops are created equal, use your best judgment and don't be afraid to experiment. If it doesn't work as a marinade, chances are the rest of your six pack will taste delicious as a frosty beverage. So don't get too sad.

In our Pollo a la Brasa recipes we typically call for no more than a half cup of beer. Unless you are a wasteful heathen, we're guessing you'll be enjoying at least some of that beer in beverage form. Your sadness will subside whatever the outcome of your “experimentation”. Please remember to enjoy your Pollo and your beers responsibly; no one like a chicken (or a dude) that has been marinating in too much beer. Also remember to toast those ancient pioneers....those magnificent ancient bastards that made it all possible for us to cook and eat Pollo a la Brasa with impunity.

Recipes - Porter Pollo

clock November 10, 2009 19:00 by author Administrator
Porter Pollo

We wern't sure if there was anything else we could call this pretty much sums it up: your standard Pollo a la Brasa with the deep carmel flavor and hoppy bite of a rich Porter. We even tried this baby with the Rogue Mocha

This is based on our Classic Pollo a la Brasa with the emphasis on the beer. We found that for some reason, (maybe the extra carmel in the beer), that we need a bit less Soy Sauce than our standard bird. Also, becasue the beer has its own profile, we have not called for the typical splash of vinegar b/c we found the flavor to competed too much with the hoppyness of the beer. Let us know what you think...enjoy!



  • 1 (2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pound) broiler-fryer chicken
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon huacatay (many substitues - check substitutions)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Achiote(Annato) (substitue Paprika)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon aji (either fresh or minced fresh - check substitutions)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup porter(don't drink all of it, you may need more)
  • salt and pepper
  • Oil for the grill


  • Upright or Immersion Blender (or mortar and pestle)
  • Grill with rotisserie or a grill setup for indirect grilling
  • Chef's Knives
  • Grill Utensils
  • Spray water bottle for flare-ups
  • Cutting Board
  • Meat Thermometer


    Porter Pollo

  1. Step 1

    Rinse chicken well inside out, pat dry, cut off excess fat, tuck the wings

  2. Step 2

    Combine the reaiming ingredients in an upright mixer (or in a bowl if using an Immersion blender)

  3. Step 3

    Pulse mixture until you have a paste. If necessary, thin the mixture with more porter.

  4. Step 4

    Taste it. Add splash of vinegar and salt accordingly.

  5. Step 5

    Rub the chicken with mixture inside and out, making sure you covered all parts of the chickens. Flavoring cannot naturally penetrate chicken skin. Where ever possible, it is important to seperate the skin and apply the paste directly to the meat.

  6. Step 6

    Seal them up in a large zip-top bag (or in a large bowl covered in plastic wrap) and put them in the fridge for 6 hours.

  7. Step 7

    Prepare your Grill. We of course like to use wood char rather than gas, but use what you have. In our "Alternative Methods" section, we even explore Deep Fried Pollo. But for now, we'll stick to the Brasa bro. If you lack a Grill Rotisserie, you will need to setup your grill for indirect grilling*. Be careful not to 'smoke' the chicken. We are not here to smoke anything. The best Pollo a la Brasa has a slight charcoal flavor but NOT a smokey flavor.
    *See tips below

  8. Step 8

    Maintain the pollo and the fire. It will take in a semi-open grill about 1 hour to 1 1/4 of an hour at medium heat (180 - 200 degrees F.) on an open Grill will take a little longer and temperature must be between 200 - 240 degrees F. Chicken should be about 12 inches away from fire at least. Much of this depends on your grill and your personal experience, so feel free to experiment. If you are using a rotiserrie, you may want to have the coals closer. Remove the bird from the Grill and place on a large cutting board when it has reached an internal temperature slightly over 170 degrees*. Don't drink too many beers here...remember...this is fire.
    *See tips below

  9. Step 9

    When the bird has sat for 10 minutes, quarter the bird with a butcher knife and serve with the condiments and an Icy cold glass of Porter (or 3 or 4)

  10. Tips
    • If you lack a grill rotisserie, the "Beer Can" method of grilling chicken works great in a pinch. For details on the Beer Can method, see our post here.
    • Because your bird has been thoroughly tenderized, it can withstand the high internal temperature. It is necessary to reach this high internal temperature in order to achive Pollo Perfection.
    • If you don't have fresh Huacatay or any Huacatay at all, fret not. Run to Latin market and you will likely be in luck. If you don't have one of those either...don't worry about it. If you have a garden or grocery store near-by, you may be in business: pulverize fresh mint with corriander and a little basil.
      Alternativly, if you are so inclined, grow the stuff. Its easy and grows like a weed, Check out our post on Huacatay.

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