A good grill with a few issues

Apr 13, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Fuel-efficient, good cooking area, good overall quality.

Cons:Kettle becomes wobbly, damper assembly could come loose.

The Bottom Line: A good grill. As a grill, it works so well that it's flaws become a bit magnified. Be wary of Weber accessories, not all are as good as the grill.

I’ve had my Weber grill for over a year now. I would describe myself as an avid (if not terribly skilled) griller. We cook outside all year long, and several times a week in the summer. We’re a bit adventurous and cook all kinds of foods on the grill. Not just hamburgers, hotdogs, and steaks.

The grill went together fairly easily. The fit and finish was good and all the parts were in the box (if you regularly buy things that need to be assembled, you know what I mean). The only difficulty was that the leg tubes fit very tightly into the cups welded to the bottom of the kettle, and I needed to lubricate these to get them in. I’ll come back to this.

On my first use I made a normal fire and grilled using the direct method (coals spread over the grate in the bottom of the grill). When the grill cooled after use, I was alarmed to see that the kettle wobbled on the legs, and by rotating the kettle handle, it would move an inch or so in either direction. Since I cook on a wood deck, I made very sure the kettle could not fall off the legs before I used it again. In addition to the legs, the lid did not fit the kettle as well as it had. After consulting with a friend and long time Weber user, I came to find out this is normal. I had been ready to take it back and after all this time it’s a “feature” I still don’t like.

After many uses, the damper assembly, which is held to the kettle by metal tabs using spring tension, became loose. At one point it actually pulled away from the kettle. This is dangerous as it could allow burning embers to reach the ground. After the grill cooled, I rebuilt this part of the grill using metal hose clamps to keep the tabs securely in the kettle sockets. I’ve had no problem since.

The “magic” of the Weber in my opinion is that the combustion air comes up from the bottom and through the coals. This makes the grill very fuel-efficient. Many times I will cook, we’ll eat our meal and clean up, and I’ll go back out to grill and notice that there’s still plenty of fire to cook. My experience with the cheap square grills (where the combustion air comes in from the sides) is that the fire is nearly out by the time you’re done eating. As a result, I use less fuel with the Weber.

Some final comments on the grill itself. Weber says the adjustable vent on top of the lid will not rust. This is true, but the bolt that holds it on will. Buy a cover if you plan to leave it outside. The handle on the lid is not thermally shielded and can get way too hot to touch, so have a mitt handy.
When I bought my Weber, I decided to immerse myself in the Weber culture, so I bought several of their branded accessories. Here’s my experience with that.

First the good.

Weber makes a good quality sleeve type fire starter. Fill it up with briquettes and put a single sheet (no more, no less) of newspaper in the bottom, and 30 minutes later you’re ready to cook. I’ve abused mine a bit because I sometimes forget to put it away, but it remains in very good shape for as hot as it gets. Never use “match light” coals with the starter. I did once because one winter I could only get match light fuel. I wound up with a column of flame about 6 feet high for a few minutes.
If you are a serious griller, you will want to do “indirect” grilling. Weber makes baskets for holding the coals off to the sides of the kettle. If you wondered why the cooking grate has two flip up sides, it’s to add coals to the baskets if you have them. Chances are the store where you bought the grill will not carry the baskets, so you will need to buy them from Weber’s online store. These are so useful, I don’t know why they don’t come with the grill.

Now the bad.

I bought a set of tools (spatchula, spoon, and tongs) that hangs on the side of the grill. These are sold under the name “Weber Style”. While using the grill, the handles of these tools can get hot enough to burn your hand. A very poor design. The tools themselves are OK, just don’t hang them on the grill (which is the whole point).
I also bought a table that hangs on the side of the kettle. This has a wood top and looked very nice when new. I treated it well, but the heat was enough to cause the wood to eventually split. You will wish the grill had a workspace on the side, but this is not a durable solution.

Overall this is a very good grill, and replacement parts are readily available. As a grill, it works so well that I’m overly disappointed when it’s (minor) flaws surface.

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