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America's Test Kitchen rates Smokers

BotchBotch Posts: 2,614
edited February 2012 in EggHead Forum
And, before I say another word, I'm just the messenger here!   :)>-  
 
They tested three.  They didn't like the Brinkman smoker: it didn't have vents in the bottom, it was difficult to add more fuel, and did not have a grate to allow burned lump to fall through (instead ash just collects and eventually puts out the fire.  They were also not happy with its thermometer, which is only calibrated to "Warm", "Ideal" and "High".
 
They had a Large BGE, and were impressed with its ease of keeping a steady temperature, but were a bit disappointed with both its weight and its cost.  Their major complaint, however, was the lack of a water pan!  They claimed that food off the Egg was a bit drier than from the other two (I know from personal experience that isn't true, and you can certainly add a pan if you wanted).
 
Their winner was the Weber Smoky Mountain.  Calibrated thermometer, charcoal grate that kept the fire going, large door to add more fuel, and a "more reasonable" price of $350 (honestly, I thought those things were closer to $200).  
 
I'm guessing they might get a letter of protest or two... 
_____________________________________________
 
I Know Why The Egged Bird Sings.
 
Ogden, Utard.  

Comments

  • I have one of those it is good but it's a baby sitting adventure on long cooks, I have had it for more than 10 years. I also have a horizon 36 inch offset and it cooks great but it too is a baby sitting adventure. The BGE cooks as good and it's not near the cost of a horizon, it will not hold as much as the horizon and the weber holds as much as the BGE. I can cook a 45 pound suckling pig in the horizon. The bge can not do that. They are all great cookers, what do you want ot cook? They all have the good points and points not so good.
    Located in Western North Carolina
  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,409
    "large door to add more fuel" should have been a hint. 
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,184
    The price of the Egg really freaked them out.  Freaked me out too.  You have to really want the Egg and know you are going to use it to justify the cost.  If I thought I was only going to use the grill a few times a year, I'd get a WSM. 

    The only thing they thought that paying the big money for ceramic was good for was saving a bag of charcoal a year.  They did not seem to think that having the Egg hold a rock steady temp w/o ever needing to be refueled was that big a feature.  Instead they thought all the WSM's vent controls were great for fine tuning the temp w/o saying the Egg was easy to do with a single vent. 

    If they did their that test in winter in the North they would appreciate them Egg a lot more. 
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • try a weber smokey mountain in wisconsin this time of year and see how far you get.
  • One man's meat is another man's poison I always say
    :D
    Only 3 things in life matter. Family, Steelers and my BGE!!
  • MikeGMikeG Posts: 174

    They weren't much interested in the positive virtues of the thermal mass of the BGE but jumped right to a rosy assessment of the WSM without mention of the negative aspects of the lack of thermal mass. 

    It seems the Weber corporate folks have found a way to influence the bias of the reviewers by some means.     

  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 781
    edited February 2012
    I am not one to jump on the conspiracy bandwagon, I think they just don't understand it.  I bought the Egg and my brother made fun of me for spending that kind of money on charcoal BBQ.  He had some of our ribs and we had them over for a pork shoulder, last time we talked about BBQs he was wondering what size egg would be right for him for.

    Gerhard
  • MikeGMikeG Posts: 174

    As a businessman, I wasn't referring to any possible influence in the context of conspiracy, but more so as a reflection of Webers international status and their marketing prowess.   Having once worked for a similar company, it's infathomable that Weber has not made an effort to work with ATK in some way, even if only exec on exec golf meetings and $1500 business dinners. 

     

  • BotchBotch Posts: 2,614

    Having once worked for a similar company, it's infathomable that Weber has not made an effort to work with ATK in some way, even if only exec on exec golf meetings and $1500 business dinners. 

     

    We-e-ell, like gerhardk I'm doubting there's a conspiracy or undue influence.  I've been following Cook's Illustrated for years and, while they're pretty damn accurate most of the time, occasionally they rate something higher that I disagree with (and I've personally written them twice with mistakes they've made wrt heat transfer issues).  
    And, if they were perfect, we wouldn't have anything to post about... 
    >:)
    _____________________________________________
     
    I Know Why The Egged Bird Sings.
     
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • I am also been following Cooks Illustrated for years.  I started with a Weber and that did kick off my addiction.  ATK always takes price as a huge factor, if they can get it done at a lower cost they rate those products higher.  Also, and they are correct on one point, they cite surface area. "The single, 18-inch grate was cramped." for the Egg and "It included twin 18.5-inch grates, which provided ample room for four pork butts, two whole turkeys, or four rib racks" for the Weber.  That is true there is a LOT of area inside the Weber. 

    I made the switch because I wanted to take my barbeque to the next level.  Personally I spent more time tending the pit rather than dealing with flavors.  So much time that I did not feel comfortable doing an overnight even though I  know people do it.  So I stuck with things I could smoke during the day or got up REALLY early to start and tend the pit.  Finally I wanted to mount my smoker into a counter to keep it away from the fingers of my then 2 year old and the dogs. 

    To be fair to the Weber I gave it to my neighbor to get his addiction going and he has been cooking on it for a couple years now and is happy tending to the grill but does not do overnights.  Friday Night I threw on some pork butts for Saturday and slept sound knowing my Egg was just going to sit there at the temp I dialed in.  I think we are all on the same side of moisture.  I don't agree with their statement and have used a drip pan with and without water.

    Last but not least I love being able to switch over from smoking to then grill an awesome burger, a beautiful Pizza Pie or fall apart tender trout.  Is all of it the grill maybe not, but it is all about being comfortable with the grill and I have comfort and confidence in the product I produce on the egg and think that is worth everything to me.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,262
    It seems like CI weights a lot of their estimates by what they perceive as value for price. CI has given very good ratings to the Victorinox Fibrox chef's knife. It is an excellent value for its price. However, if quality of the knife were the only consideration, its just not in the same league as a fine knife.

    Its been awhile since I read the review (I'm a subscriber) but it was obvious to me that they really didn't know how to use the Egg, or understand its range of use. And I was a little perplexed by the weight comment. I guess their frame of reference was "Winter time, time to move the grill to the garage."

    When I shifted from metal to ceramic, it took me about 6 months to figure out how really different the two types were.

    And there is the value of the ceramic warranty that I don't think they considered. No one goes back to Weber and says "The bottom rusted out of my cooker. Can I get a new one?"

  • jerrypjerryp Posts: 226
    Their big bitch about the egg was that it dried out the meat.  I'd bet all the tea in China they didn't have the plate setter in the bottom of it.
  • Volkswagen vs Lamborghini 
    economical vs expensive to maintain
    hi vs low gas mileage
    roomy vs cramped (only holds 2 people)
    relatively smooth ride vs stiff bumpy ride (could feel the road)
    air cooled engine vs requires liquid
    .... 
    We pick the Volkswagen since it is air cooled.

  • The two testers have lost all credibility in my eyes. They were not dealing with facts about the BGE. I dont know anything about the other smokers but to say that the BGE dried out the food is just nonsense
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,692
    edited February 2012
    I used a WSM with a ET-73 for 8 years.  It made great BBQ. I did overnighters often.  The difference is that you definitely had to refuel before your pork shoulder / brisket was done.  If it was windy or going to be windy, you had to set up a "wind block" or temps would be all over the place all night long.
    The windier and colder it was, the more fuel you'd use. Some nights I slept soundly through the night, others I'd be up a handful of times to adjusting vents and/or adding fuel.
      
    I retired the WSM for the EGG so I could get more sleep and have a more versatile grill/smoker/oven.  Very happy I did so.

    I gotta say though, the review was ridiculous.  Except for price, everything they complimented the WSM for could have been applied to the egg as well.  They clearly didn't to their homework on the egg or chose not to for whatever reason.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,184
    edited February 2012
    All of their complaints came down to money.  The Egg's staring price is high and that doesn't include an indirect set-up and a second rack.  You can get a second rack and do more than than 4 pork butts on the egg.
    There are some inexpensive work-arounds to create indirect or raise a second grid with beer cans, but realistically the egg needs a nest (or table), and about a $100 (or more) of accessories to achieve the versatility that most of us love about the egg.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • As already mentioned, try using the WSM up here on a cold Wisconsin day, and see how you like it.  (Well, maybe this mild winter it would work...)  If it were only a smoker, maybe ATK would have a point.  But as a smoker/grill/oven, that does all very well, the egg is worth every cent.  Personally, I find spending $350.00 on a sheet metal smoker is kind of excessive...
    Large BGE - Small BGE - Traeger Lil' Tex Elite - Weber 22.5" One-Touch - Weber Smokey Joe
  • joe@bgejoe@bge Posts: 394

    I don't even think its really fair to compare them side by side.  WSM is a great product...  Can I produce good food on both?  Absolutely.  Are there areas where the BGE performs better?  Absolutely.

    I lose credibility in the article when they say that food off the BGE was more dry.  They obviously don't know how to properly setup and use a ceramic grill.  My $.02


  • pabpab Posts: 95
    I started with a Brinkman, and dropping close to 3 bills on a WSM was quite a leap. Loved the WSM and ended up not even considering the difference in cost. Of course the cost of my large Egg made the WSM price look good. In truth, the Egg is far superior. As mentioned by someone earlier, the ablility to smoke, grill or bake make the Egg worth the money IMO.
    Nerk Ahia LBGE
  • I used a WSM with a ET-73 for 8 years.  It made great BBQ. I did overnighters often.  The difference is that you definitely had to refuel before your pork shoulder / brisket was done.  If it was windy or going to be windy, you had to set up a "wind block" or temps would be all over the place all night long.
    The windier and colder it was, the more fuel you'd use. Some nights I slept soundly through the night, others I'd be up a handful of times to adjusting vents and/or adding fuel.
      
    I retired the WSM for the EGG so I could get more sleep and have a more versatile grill/smoker/oven.  Very happy I did so.

    I gotta say though, the review was ridiculous.  Except for price, everything they complimented the WSM for could have been applied to the egg as well.  They clearly didn't to their homework on the egg or chose not to for whatever reason.
    I would have to agreee completely with this. I actually have both, a large BGE and an 18.5" WSM. I have had the WSM for 8 months longer than the BGE. Once I got the BGE, I haven't had the cover off the WSM. Don't get me wrong, the WSM is a great smoker, but keeping a consistent temperature for a long period of time is like babysitting a drunk friend with ADD that won't shut up. Every 15-20 minutes the temp guage needs to be checked and foeget it when the weather is bad. It's even hard to control when the awesome weather in Las Vegas gets to what we call "bad". As far as the moisture, no comparison. Everything that comes off the egg pours with juice when I cut into it or pull the pork to pieces. 

    Stick with the egg. Versatility and peace of mind.  I can't tell you guys how many times I've stuffed a pork shoulder in there and went out to the bar all night, taxi'd it home, slept all until about noon, woke up to a 230-240 degree egg with lunch ready to be served!
    Large BGE in Vegas
  • txbbqtxbbq Posts: 16

    I don't even think its really fair to compare them side by side.  WSM is a great product...  Can I produce good food on both?  Absolutely.  Are there areas where the BGE performs better?  Absolutely.

    I lose credibility in the article when they say that food off the BGE was more dry.  They obviously don't know how to properly setup and use a ceramic grill.  My $.02

    What is weird, is that the first thing I cooked on by BGE was a brisket. I even screwed up a few things (like letting the fire go out 5 hours in) and it was still the moistest most flavorful brisket I have ever had.
  • Hey all.

    I've just been a reader here for a while and figured it was time to get my feet wet. I lived in San Diego for 15 years, then San Antonio for 10 years after that. Moved to MN summer of 2010.

    I've had Webers for over 30 years, gassers, kettles, you name it. Still do. I haven't had a turkey cooked in the oven (at my house) in that entire 30 years. When I was in TX I got into true BBQ and had a pit smoker for about 8 years. When I moved north (on my own dime), decided the heavy pit smoker cost too much to ship and sold it.

    I have a low and slow mod kit for my Weber kettle, but as stated, it required too much babysitting. I bought a pellet grill summer of 2010, thought that was the answer to my problems until winter hit. Ouch! It was better than the kettle but went through a lot of pellets and have had some reliability issues.

    Went to a Home and Garden show spring of last year and was introduced to the BGE. I recognized immediately the benefits of these green gems. Perfect for MN winters. My first low and slow cook I was able to hold 230 with no problems. It smokes, sears, and bakes like a dream! Since then, my gasser, pellet, and kettle have mostly remained idle (had to use the pellet once last summer cuz I was doing 10 racks of SLC for a neighborhood block party).

    Anyway, FWIW, I have cooked turkeys on a Weber for 30+ years, BBQ'd ribs, butts, turkey, chicken, brisket, on pits, kettles, pellets, and now the BGE. BGE is the clear winner, no matter what the climate. I did my first turkey on the BGE last fall for Thanksgiving, I used a drip pan, but no liquid in it, just to catch drippings. Can't remember a single turkey I cooked on the Weber that came out that moist. For that matter, I have not had a moisture issue with anything I've cooked on the egg. Can't say that with any of the other setups I've used.

    Okay, I'm rambling now. Glad to be on the forum at last.

     

     

    Extra Large, Large & Medium eggs, Weber Summit gasser, Weber Q. Mankato, MN
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