Weber recently introduced their own brand of charcoal briquettes for use in their kettle grills and smokers. This product is a direct challenge to Kingsford which is a tough brand to compete against.
I tried out the Weber charcoal and came away with mixed feelings.
I Don’t Like The Packaging
The first thing that struck me about this charcoal was the plastic bag it came in.
Weber’s charcoal comes in a large, resealable plastic bag. While the ability to reseal the bag is nice it isn’t really a feature that I need or value. I suspect this will be especially true for anyone who owns a Weber Performer with the built in charcoal storage bin.
My life is drowning in plastic. I am tired of the damn stuff. When I picked up the bag one of the first thoughts that went through my head was, “Here is one more thing that is going to go into a landfill.”
But, my personal grievances with plastic aside, the main reason that I don’t like the Weber bag is because the paper bag the Kingsford comes in is very useful. There have been lots of times when I have torn up the paper Kingsford bag, put it under a charcoal chimney and and used it to light the charcoal.
The paper Kingsford bag is useful. The plastic Weber bag is landfill material.
The Charcoal is Hard to Light
Here is a side by side comparison of a Weber (left) and Kingsford (right) charcoal briquettes.
The most striking difference between the two products is that the Weber briquettes are substantially larger than Kingsford. A more subtle difference is that the Kingsford briquette has two grooves on one side and a stamped “K” on the other while the Weber briquette is smooth.
The grooves on the Kingsford briquette are designed to help it ignite easier. Kingsford also uses some nitrogen based additives to aid in ignition. Weber does not use any additives to aid in ignition.
I could really tell a difference between the products when I tried to light the Weber charcoal. Getting the Weber product lit was a battle!
I started by doing what most backyard grillers do. I soaked the crap out of these things with lighter fluid. The charcoal flamed hard for about five minutes until all of the lighter fluid burnt off and then….nothing.
I ended up building a fire out of twigs and branches and pacing the charcoal on top of that. All told it took me 45 minutes to get the charcoal lit.
Yes, I could have used a chimney and probably got it it faster. And yes, I know all of the crap you have to say about lighter fluid. But I wanted to try lighting this stuff like most people would and most people use lighter fluid.
Given that one of the biggest reasons that people do not use a charcoal grill is because they have a hard time lighting the charcoal I consider this to be a serious issue.
The Charcoal Burns Hot and Long
I did eventually get the charcoal lit and was very pleased with how it burned.
I did some standard grilling and loved the results.
Started with some hamburgers on a GrillGrate panel over direct high heat.
When the burgers were finished I threw on some Italian sausages and cooked them with high indirect heat.
After the sausages were done I threw on some chicken drumsticks.
After the burgers, sausages and chicken had been grilled I put the lid on the kettle with the vents open to let the charcoal finish burning down.
I went out three hours later and, much to my surprise, the grill was still hot! I still had a small bed of charcoal burning away!
I have not done (and do not plan to) a rigorous side by side comparison of burn times between Weber and Kingsford charcoal. I will tell you though, I have been using Kingsford for over 15 years and know how it performs. The Weber product absolutely burns longer.
Between the plastic packaging and difficulty in lighting I am not planning on buying this product again.
Once I got the charcoal lit I was pleased with its performance and impressed with its burn time.
While the extended burn time of the Weber product is nice, it is not enough of a benefit to get me to switch from Kingsford.