This is the Cadillac in the Weber charcoal grill line. Friends and neighbors will step up and take notice if you spring for the Ranch grill. This super grill does make a statement.
Recommend this product?
The big question is: Do you need a charcoal grill this big?
The Kettle is over three feet across, and that's a heap big grill. Seriously, picture it in your mind. Get the yardstick out and look at that size. Better yet, go to the store and give it the once over. The grill grate is huge and especailly for charcoal. You can't just immediatly turn the button down to low, after all, like on gas. When it's cranking, it's cranking. You better know your lid and vent techniques.
Since this is a Weber and in the kettle design, it does work and well. Most brands, if in this size with the coals closer the grates, would be scorching hot and not in a good way. The nice head space makes this one the best of the mega charcoal grills.
Traditionally, Weber has not gone with super sear on charcoal. There's some distance between coals and grate and grates are not thick and highly heat retentive. You've got a little wiggle room. That's a blessing for the typical backyard griller. And, it's a lifesaver on this monster model especially if you're not initiated.
The Weber Ranch may be a good idea if you cook for really huge crowds or if you do larger cuts of meat offset - chicken, shoulders, pork butts.
You can cover the entire bottom of the Ranch with a thin layer of hot coals and grill massive amounts of burgers, steaks, chicken and so on at once. You will need good long-handled tools to reach across such a wide space and with heat coming up. Grill gloves would be a good idea too. Think how far you have to reach to get the center hot dogs.
Personally, I prefer smaller spaces and cooking in batches, but I'm a wimp when it comes to putting my hand close the heat or right over it. I use Lodge camping gloves and make no apologies. I just do not enjoy burns. And, I'd rather have my meat a little closer. Heck, I could probably get a chest burner on this sucker if I didn't use common sense.
Another option is to put coals on one side and offset cook. You can grill on one side and shift items over to reach the desired doneness with indirect heat. In other words, you sear and then finish off on the side sans coals to get medium and well. I do this on other models anyway, but so many people just fill a grill plumb full of charcoal and let it burn like crazy. No wonder folks get a lot of charred food when invited to cook outs.
Add the lid on the Ranch, and you can smoke, but that take some practice and skill. The offset method with lid does work, but it is not on the easy list for outdoor cooking.
Weber Ranch Kettle definitely has its place for outdoor cooking, but it's not a beginner grill and not for general back yard cook outs. I would not recommend it for a starter grill at all. If you kettle grill for a while and get the hang of it and start having mega parties or perhaps cater with grilled food, then this could make sense. Try the 22 inch first and get your footing and then think about it.
For a mega grill, the Ranch is very well designed. The grate is hinged to add more coals. Gloves again I'd strongly suggest. But, it's the great Weber kettle shape that works for most outdoor grillers. This set up is very solid.
Overall design and venting - Weber perfect. If things do get too hot, you can lock down those vents and get some control, but you need to know how to do that. And, that can be more art than science.
Smoking. Yeah. This works but takes up more charcoal and requires more manual labor than a regular smoker like the Smokey Mountain Bullet - another Weber product. Bullet smoking is much easier than offset for most people.
Generally, bigger is not better for the backyard grill king of queen. It's just bigger and more things to think about and master. If you can rock it, you're good. No, you're great. If not, you spent a lot more money than on a smaller model that suits most families. Just cook in two or three batches and stay in your comfort zone. Nothing wrong with that.
True outdoor chefs will find the Ranch Kettle to be rock solid. It will cook a lot of food at one time for fast flippers. Lot of food going down at once and fast. It's versatile with the offset options. So, you can smoke up some big stuff if that's what you have in mind. Just make sure you know how to vent and keep those temps low and slow.
This is one where I say "no" for most folks but "heck yeah" for others. For what it is, this is a terrific mega grill. But, I really do think that most people would be like the dog that caught the car. What do you do with it once you grab a tire?