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Buying a new BBQ (and smoker)


#1

Not wine related, but wine-occasion-related

I seem to remember that some of you lovely folks (who I’ve missed a lot by the way) know something about BBQ technology.

I am very tempted to buy a new, larger BBQ and am considering getting the smoker add-on to explore this completely new area (for me).

Does anyone have any experience to share on what to buy, and what to look out for? … and before anyone mentions them, I cannot afford a Green Egg (and if I could, I’d probably spend the difference on nicer wine instead)

I’m currently considering this entry-level option:


#2

I have one like this, albeit a much cheaper version, and i really like it, but I’m only an occasional bbq er. The smoker section is great with some flavoured woodchips. The only tbing with mine is that i find the charcoal burns too quickly, and i wonder if that has to do with how thin the metal is, its hard to tell if this might be similar in that regard.

But the compartments do give a nice flavour. Its hard to get even cooking though, nowhere to warm things so needs a fair bit of attention.


#3

I bought a Weber 8 or 9 years ago now and love it. I haven’t really experimented with smoking much but for casual BBQ’ing with a lid it’s fantastic and much better build quality than many I’d had before.


#4

I was advised to buy two different units both designed for the purpose rather than something that would “do” both - one for general BBQ work and one for smoking

I went with the BBQ and didn’t bother with the smoker for the small amount of time I was going to use it!

There are several on-line DIY smoker units - if you are handy with the tools perhaps look at that?


#5

Whilst I can’t recommend a particular smoker, we have a louisiana grill smoker which takes pellets and is pretty good,
https://louisiana-grills.com/shop/grills/wood-pellet/
I would recommend this book by Rich Harris:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fire-Smoke-Grilling-Delicious-Barbecue/dp/0857833502


#6

Last year I renewed my BBQ and went for the Weber. Mainly because each BBQ i’ve had to change is because the grill has been old and the basic body still ok. weber parts are widely available.

My manual says that you can smoke on the thing and it came with a pizza stone, so all set for the summer. once my patio is laid.


#7

Waiting for a delivery of a smoke box for my gas BBQ. Having met various smokers at Food Festivals, I formed the view that all the smoker element of a ‘combi’ will do is add some element of wood flavour, so a £15 box will do that.
I remember being impressed at Abergavenny by a chap who had a smoker on wheels which he towed behind his push bike. As with all these devices, smoking is a long proces, so is perhaps best separated from the cooking . Think the oaking of wine as a comparison.


#8

I have had a Weber for three years and it’s excellent. BBQ only. Weber aren’t cheap but are built to last and easy enough to get spares.

I have a small separate hot smoker which cost about £15-20 and runs on meths burners.

I assume that you are talking about hot smoking? Cold smoking is a different process and needs the smoking unit to be remote from the heat source.


#9

Thank you everyone. If I was a serious smoker (that sounds wrong) is probably go for separates but if they are “extra” hassle, I’m sure they’ll get used less.

I’m only starting my smoking journey so this will do me, I hope.

As @Ludlow_Steve mentions, I think of it like oaking so will try to keep it minimum and experiment with wood only first rather than chips or pellets, but that’s something for the future

I’ve read a little about the metal thickness issue @tom mentions too, and also “leakage” … so investing in some special sealant too

Basically a bit worried about the extended scope of this small step into the unknown


#10

Kamado Joes are as good as Green Eggs and nearly half price. Good for smoking too.


#11

Still recommending the weber.

The metal is thick, and not rusted / bent / discoloured at all.


#12

I have been cooking on a Weber for 25 years and they are very good. You can cook in directly and do large roasts and control the temperature. I add water soaked wood chips direct to the coals when I want to hot smoke with good results. The best bit is putting the lid on a walking away knowing your food isn’t instantly go up in flames. I tend to always use briquettes as they last longer and run a bit cooler than charcoal. if you are just cooking a few small bits you can shut the air vents down and reuse a large amount of coal the next time.


#13

I’ve already got an older Weber, but by the looks of mine it is much more entry-level with a different grate and I’ve not learned to do anything clever on it. Always been frustrated by not being able to adjust the height of the grill in any way

Maybe I should refurbish it a bit as well - that joint looks great!


#14

Just my 2p worth… As mentioned before I’m a Big Green Egg fan, but note your comment on the crazy prices. I love mine so much I picked up another at the weekend, but I was offered a killer deal that I couldn’t turn down. I really do like them that much. As noted, other kamado grills are available!!

With a Weber (or similar design) you don’t adjust grill height- you use top and bottom vents to control the temperature and cook predominantly with the lid on. “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking”

The question would be - what do you want to achieve? BBQ sausages? Low and slow? Hot smoke? Cold smoke? Pizzas? Roast meat joints?

This’ll dictate what you might spend your money on. I’d get the best you can with the money you’re prepared to spend on something specific. As some have suggested, a separate smoking box isn’t too expensive and might be worth thinking about if you’re not smoking very often

Weber have a good reputation and having used them I’d consider them myself. Not sure about the brand you linked to but check reviews for build quality as some may only last a couple of summers

A note on charcoal - I’d go lumpwood every time as long as the BBQ is equipped to control temperature. You can cook for longer than briquettes and don’t need it to be fully lit before you start so you can get cooking quicker. Also there are far fewer chemicals and additives. Less ash too which can inhibit airflow on longer cooks. Oh and don’t forget to source your charcoal responsibly :slight_smile:


#15

Agreed - also, I always use a two-zone fire for mine, that way you can also control heat by placement of the items. For example on that rare warm bank holiday Monday we had last week I simultaneously cooked sausages on the cooler side (indirect heat) and venison steaks and lamb chops on the hot side right above the coals. Being able to cook indirectly makes it easy to cook things like sausages and chicken legs that always go black before being cooked through if on direct heat. You can also cook big steaks using ‘reverse sear’, i.e. leave on indirect side until at the desired internal temperature, then whack onto the hot side to crisp and brown.

See further https://www.foodfirefriends.com/2-zone-cooking/

:yum:


#16

Likewise I only ever light the back half of my weber.

Start things on the non lit half with the lid on and move them over after a while, cooked through with no burning.


#17

This is a great way of cooking. I use this method too on my Weber and it works so well for particularly fatty meats that usually char beyond all recognition.


#18

I’m also in the weber camp - they actually make a brilliant smoker once you have it set up right. The difficult thing is cold smoking 'cos the weber likes to heat up quickly. Hot smoke is dead easy - just chuck a couple of handfulls of damp hardwood sawdust on the coals and close all ventilation with just a tiny gap (top & bottom)

2 tips: Aim for a VERY slow cold smoke… 6 hours with just a wisp of smoke is better than a 30 min bonfire. And I get my sawdust (free) from a local tree surgeon / arborist, they just fill a carrier bag when sawing an old oak or whatever.

Brining beforehand makes all the differance. 8 hours for a side of salmon, a whole week for a pork belly. And use some ‘prague powder no.2’ to keep pork/ beef rosy.

Dont get kidded into the idea that expensive equipment is what matters - its mostly down to you the artisan. Enjoy!


#19

Another Weber fan here. They are a bit pricy but two things to consider: they last for years and spares are available if anything should go wrong (though there isn’t much that can) and secondly, because of the build it makes looking to pick one up second hand a good option.

I have had mine for many years and it’s been fantastic. Can fully endorse all the tips about indirect cooking and control of the airflow. I have the ‘Performer’ model that has a table attached and gas ignition. The ignition isn’t really necessary but is convenient and I like the sturdiness of it overall plus the table / charcoal bin is useful.

My absolute favourite bit of kit is the rotisserie attachment. Again not cheap but comes with a really good electric motor and a metal ring that raises the height of the lid. Chickens are particularly good because of the self-basting effect but ribs, lamb (whole legs and shoulders) pork and ham joints of all kinds are all excellent. I have cooked our Christmas turkey on it for the last 3 years (it can handle up to 20lb) and I wouldn’t do it any other way now as it keeps it so moist. And also good fun to wrap up warm and get outside with a nice glass of something on Christmas Day!


#20

Forgot to add that another bit of kit that I really like (irrespective of which model of bbq you go for) are Grillgrates. Great spread of heat and good control plus keeps flareups to a minimum.