Regular readers know me to be a charcoal griller, having converted from propane several years ago. Since that conversion, I have continued my search for “the best” charcoal. While many are fans of all-natural lump charcoal, I find the inconsistent size of pieces can be frustrating. Simply put, the variable sized chunks can lead to “holes” in my cooking coverage.
All Natural Charcoal Briquettes
When all-natural briquettes were introduced, I tried all the brands available and put down my thoughts in an article. The benefit of natural briquettes is that they contain nothing but hardwood fines & vegetable paste for a binder. The petroleum based additives in cheap, mass produced charcoal are included for various factors such as release of the briquettes from the molds during production, ease of lighting and ash production.
Logically, I realize that by the time the mass produced briquettes have burned to the point that they are ready to use, most, if not all the chemical additives used have burned off. I am leery of the chemicals, and with natural options available, why not use the purer option?
When I light natural briquettes, I smell wood, not chemicals. In tests for heat generation, duration and ash production, the natural briquettes out performed the inexpensive mass produced brands.
If labeled all-natural, briquettes will contain 95% hardwood charcoal fines and 4-5% vegetable starch binder. However, as of this writing, there is no government definition or oversight of the term.
Weber Enters The Market
Recently, Weber-Stephen Products LLC, a leading manufacturer of charcoal, gas and electric grills and grilling accessories, announced they are launching new Weber Briquettes.
The new 20-lb. bags of Weber Briquettes, made from all-natural hardwood, without the aforementioned chemical binders or fillers. Early testing results I have read from those grillers who have used the product are claiming a long, consistent heat requiring less need to refuel during grilling. These results are consistent with all-natural briquettes and represent a real advantage over value priced options.
“Over 90 percent of charcoal grillers want charcoal that provides consistent heat. It is important for grillers to feel confident they are using briquettes that will provide the ultimate performance on their grill,” says Melissa Enos, Vice President Americas Marketing, Weber-Stephen Products LLC. “Weber Briquettes provide the consistent heat consumers want.”
Weber Briquettes come in a weather-protected re-sealable bag featuring a zip top to help protect charcoal from the elements. The moisture resistant bag is a nice feature that should keep the charcoal dry during humid summer weather or extended rainy periods.
Initial feedback is that the front facing opening opening doesn’t allow for easy access or pouring of the charcoal. If this user response continues, I suspect the company will make a packaging change.
The new Weber Briquettes in the 20 lb. size retail for $24.99 MSRP. They should be available wherever Weber grills are sold. The price of $1.25 per pound is certainly higher than cheap mass produced charcoal, but not out of line for all-natural.
Wicked Good stopped making all-natural briquettes not long ago, so I have been using the widely available Kingsford Competition. I now want to compare and contrast Weber’s new product with Kingsford – I smell another article.