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Next step from a Weber kettle - thoughts

Discussion in 'Grilling and Smoking' started by Mr_Yan, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Mr_Yan

    Mr_Yan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    991
    Location:
    Northern IL
    Planting Zone:
    4b
    So guys I'm a big fan of a Weber kettle but my family of five has outgrown how we use the 22 inch kettle. This 22 inch diameter just doesn't cut it for a family of five and my kids are still small. This grill is about 17 years old and has held up really well to the midwest winters that whole time.

    Typically we direct grill things - burgers, fish, chicken, kabobs - but I am learning how to smoke and have had some good results.

    What are my options for moving to a larger surface? I want to stay charcoal / wood fired.

    1) Add a second 22 inch kettle for about $100. Easy, cheap, I know how to use it. BUT I will have to maintain two fires almost every time.

    2) 26.5 inch kettle. Getting hard to find this size and they base at $300. 45% more surface area than the 22 inch grill. Many reviews point out it uses the same legs as the 22 inch and seems flimsy for it.

    3) horizontal barrel with a offset side fire box. This is the unknown. How well do these direct grill? My budget has me at the low end of this scale. Will that just effect the materials and their lifespan or will it effect the usage and heat distribution when smoking?

    Which way would you guys go if facing this?
     
  2. Mr_Yan

    Mr_Yan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    991
    Location:
    Northern IL
    Planting Zone:
    4b
    Just did some reading and according to Weber and a few reviews the 26" grill is really 24.4" in diameter giving 508 square inches of cook space not 580 square inches.
     
  3. wolffman

    wolffman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    395
    Location:
    Texas, Gulf Coast
    Planting Zone:
    9
    Yan, I use a heavy duty offset smoker. If you want to smoke, indirect is the way to go. If I want direct heat, I just build the fire in the barrel portion of the pit. Most folks around here have two rigs, one for grilling and one for smoking. Those cheaper pits don't last long if left in the weather. I would get about 6-7 years out of them when I used them. Keep them dry, and they'll last a long time.
     
  4. w_r_ranch

    w_r_ranch Master Gardener Moderator

    Messages:
    3,038
    Location:
    South Central Texas
    Planting Zone:
    8b
    The body of the Kettle is 26", the cooking grate is always somewhat smaller... it always been that way, just like any other grill ever made. In the case of the Weber 26", the cooking grate has to be 25.44" to achieve an area of 508". Having said that, 508 sq. in. is still about 40% larger than the 22" version (363 sq. in.). So what on the legs... they are more stable today than 20 years ago & do they exactly what they are designed to do, which is elevate the body of the unit.

    Since you stated that most of your cooking is grilling, I wouldn't even consider a cheap offset smoker for a number of reasons... the main one is being it is not designed to do the job that you want to do (like pounding a nail in with a crescent wrench).

    I can recommend that you get a 'premium edition' (regardless of the size), as the additional features will greatly add to your cooking enjoyment over the next 15+ years. Weber Kettles provide the 'best bang for the buck' & they have a 65 year history of outlasting all competitors. I have used them my entire life (I just bought my 5th one last fall) & can honestly say that they are the gold standard in charcoal grills.
     
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  5. Mike

    Mike Might know the answer Administrator

    Messages:
    866
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Planting Zone:
    6b
    @w_r_ranch just curious, what are your thoughts on the Big Green Egg grills?
     
  6. w_r_ranch

    w_r_ranch Master Gardener Moderator

    Messages:
    3,038
    Location:
    South Central Texas
    Planting Zone:
    8b
    I don't have any thoughts on them other than they seem to be on the expensive side ($1K) for something that is relatively fragile & prone to cracking. Folks that have them seem to like them, though I have always personally wondered if they would make the purchase again after knowing their pros/cons.
     
  7. Mr_Yan

    Mr_Yan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    991
    Location:
    Northern IL
    Planting Zone:
    4b
    @Mike
    I know several people who know people who love the green eggs. But I don't know anyone who has actually used one or has one. Most Saturdays there is a green egg in front of the local fireplace and grill store with smoke coming out of it.

    The cooking surface always looked really small to me. At most it looks like it would make a meal for two or smoke / grill a single whole chicken.

    @w_r_ranch
    You make really good points on sticking with the Weber kettle. My mom bought my grill back in the summer of 2000 and I acquired it when she moved and I was in college but out of the dorm.

    Now we need to make a decision of whether to gimp along our grill until we save up the $300, buy a second 22 inch, or blow another line item in our budget to buy a 26"
     
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  8. Mr_Yan

    Mr_Yan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    991
    Location:
    Northern IL
    Planting Zone:
    4b
    Over the weekend we replaced the old workhorse kettle with a new 26" kettle.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a side by side shot of the two.

    Last night we did some chicken breast, onions, green pepper, and mushrooms on it. I have to say it will take some getting used to. I'll probably have to use more charcoal on it than the 22. The part that got me though was the distance between the food grate and the charcoal grate is smaller on the 26 than the old grill which I think caused it to cook much differently. Maybe it's the design that the charcoal is closer or, maybe, it is that the old charcoal grated is bent and deformed such that it has a 2" bowl shape.
     
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  9. Mike

    Mike Might know the answer Administrator

    Messages:
    866
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Planting Zone:
    6b
    @Mr_Yan my current grill looks almost exactly what your old one looks like minus the bucket. You're making me jealous, maybe it's time for me to upgrade my grill as well.
     
  10. Mr_Yan

    Mr_Yan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    991
    Location:
    Northern IL
    Planting Zone:
    4b
    @Mike That old grill still had life in it but we outgrew it. The main reason we bought the new one is we needed the larger cooking surface. For an idea the charcoal grate on this new big grill is the same size as the food grate on the old 22.5 inch grill.

    The new ash hopper attached to the grill is much nicer than the old round disk I replaced with the bucket. This grill also has the capture ring / cage for the lid rather than the hook on the inside of the lid. I'm not sure how I like it yet. The hook had the problem of not always catching but the lid was out of the way. This cage allows the lid to easily slide away but then the lid acts like a huge wall on one side of the grill. But the big lid on this grill is heavy - at least 2x heavier than the 22 inch grill lid.

    As I was looking at the grills during my research I really liked the Weber Performer series with the frame and integrated table. Take a look at those. But as I needed the larger size for my family we went with the 26 inch and that is only offered with the tripod legs.
     

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