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DanCole42
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I'm interested in graduating from the Weber Kettle.

Not that there's anything wrong with it: it lets me barbecue (thanks to the Smokenator) and grill (thanks to the Cast-Iron Grate). It's also big enough to feed my family of two as well as multiple guests.

However, the Kettle is a bit rusted in places (I can't close the bottom dampers), and isn't as "open" as I'd like (can't elevate the coals easily, can't easily manipulate the fire, etc.). The point is, there are better grills out there. The grill I'm looking for can be described thusly:

-Charcoal
-Can BBQ/smoke (possible external firebox?)
-Can grill (cast iron grate)
-Open design, easy to get at/manipulate/add fuel and clean
-Durable, well-built
-It would be great if the coals could sit on this shelf beneath the grate, and you could raise and lower them using a crank handle. I don't know that I'd use this much, but it's super sexy
-Shelf space for at least three boston butts
-Affordable

What do you think? Should I upgrade, and if so, to what? Or should I stick with the kettle, since it already does pretty much everything I need it to?

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I'm interested in graduating from the Weber Kettle.

Not that there's anything wrong with it: it lets me barbecue (thanks to the http://www.smokenator.com/) and grill (thanks to the http://www.cast-iron-grate.com/). It's also big enough to feed my family of two as well as multiple guests.

However, the Kettle is a bit rusted in places (I can't close the bottom dampers), and isn't as "open" as I'd like (can't elevate the coals easily, can't easily manipulate the fire, etc.). The point is, there are better grills out there. The grill I'm looking for can be described thusly:

-Charcoal

-Can BBQ/smoke (possible external firebox?)

-Can grill (cast iron grate)

-Open design, easy to get at/manipulate/add fuel and clean

-Durable, well-built

-It would be great if the coals could sit on this shelf beneath the grate, and you could raise and lower them using a crank handle. I don't know that I'd use this much, but it's super sexy

-Shelf space for at least three boston butts

-Affordable

What do you think? Should I upgrade, and if so, to what? Or should I stick with the kettle, since it already does pretty much everything I need it to?

what kind of budget are you looking at?

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Depending on the answer to xdcx's question, I'd recommend a Big Green Egg...

clickity click click

If you budget is lower how about this one? I have had mine for a few years and it serves me fine for all sorts of grilling and smoking. The height of the coals is adjustable (without a crank) and it has plenty of grill space. You can also get a side smoke box too.

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Depending on the answer to xdcx's question, I'd recommend a Big Green Egg...

clickity click click

I actually have an Egg, too, but I never use it. It's too finicky. You have to line up the top and bottom just do, the felt gasket is crap, you're expected to re-use charcoal (after it's been covered in slop from your last grilling), there's no way to get to the coals...

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If you budget is lower how about this one? I have had mine for a few years and it serves me fine for all sorts of grilling and smoking. The height of the coals is adjustable (without a crank) and it has plenty of grill space. You can also get a side smoke box too.

It looks kind of flimsy?

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Not flimsy at all, had mine for about 5 years and it's holding up well. I also have the side firebox. The grill area easily holds 4 pork shoulders

That actually brings up an additional requirement. Four pork shoulders is great. But most of my grilling is going to be for two people. Is it impractical to use such a large grill for a couple of NY strips? Maybe, but what about BBQ? Would I end up needing to use the same amount of coal and wood for one slab of ribs as I would for half a hog?

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That actually brings up an additional requirement. Four pork shoulders is great. But most of my grilling is going to be for two people. Is it impractical to use such a large grill for a couple of NY strips? Maybe, but what about BBQ? Would I end up needing to use the same amount of coal and wood for one slab of ribs as I would for half a hog?

if you're going to want to smoke a decent amount of meat, you're going to need a separate smoker. something that makes a good grill, won't make a good smoker. you wouldn't be able to do more than 2 with the chargriller and even then you'd have to have add the offset firebox and probably modify it to add a baffle otherwise your heat distribution is going to be all over the place in the chamber. I'd stick with the kettle for grilling and either build an ugly drum smoker or buy a decent offset. (I'm partial to offset smokers)
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I actually have an Egg, too, but I never use it. It's too finicky. You have to line up the top and bottom just do, the felt gasket is crap, you're expected to re-use charcoal (after it's been covered in slop from your last grilling), there's no way to get to the coals...

You must've gotten a lemon. Or maybe it may just take some getting used to.

Seriously, whatever slop falls on the coals burns off in the high heat. Plus it's "green" to reuse charcoal! Ours has no problem aligning--you just close the lid. Felt gasket is fine. Been using it for about a decade with no problems. True there is no easy way to get to the coals, however...

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That actually brings up an additional requirement. Four pork shoulders is great. But most of my grilling is going to be for two people. Is it impractical to use such a large grill for a couple of NY strips? Maybe, but what about BBQ? Would I end up needing to use the same amount of coal and wood for one slab of ribs as I would for half a hog?

This is certainly not the grill for one rack of ribs, but do you really go through all the effort and only smoke one rack? You can easily cook for two (I do it all the time) as there is an adjustable (up and down) tray that holds the charcoal so you can build as small a fire as you like and only use one part of the grill.

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I've been very happy in the 2 1/2 years since I upgraded from Weber kettles to this. It grills a couple of steaks or smokes a full-size turkey. Easy access to clean or load the charcoal shelf, which moves up high or down low with a crank. Only feature I don't care for--the glass door is unnecessary. If you do any smoking at all, the glass turns black and is impossible to clean unless you are a fanatic about cleaning it every time it is used, which I am not. It's an extremely versatile grill. I do low-slow roasting/smoking and hot-fast grilling on it all the time. I have the dual metal model Continental which is a bit cheaper than the all stainless.

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If you budget is lower how about this one? I have had mine for a few years and it serves me fine for all sorts of grilling and smoking. The height of the coals is adjustable (without a crank) and it has plenty of grill space. You can also get a side smoke box too.

I second this vote. I've got the side smoker, too, and I can confidently say the grill's not flimsy. I'll admit the legs look weak, but I've moved it many times and it's never failed me. This includes the weight of the grill, the smoker and about 20lbs of hickory logs just waiting to be smoldered. I just bought my second set of cast iron grills this spring. The first set lasted several years, but they got a little too rusty for healthy cooking. I'm cooking for 2-4 most times I use it (besides the parties where it may be for 40) and it works as well for 2 as it does for more. It's inexpensive (around $130 without the smoker) and it lasts. I considered the Egg when i was looking years ago, but the price point, the inconvenience of getting to the coals and the difficulty moving it turned me away from it. The Char-Griller is king.

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I second this vote. I've got the side smoker, too, and I can confidently say the grill's not flimsy. I'll admit the legs look weak, but I've moved it many times and it's never failed me. This includes the weight of the grill, the smoker and about 20lbs of hickory logs just waiting to be smoldered. I just bought my second set of cast iron grills this spring. The first set lasted several years, but they got a little too rusty for healthy cooking. I'm cooking for 2-4 most times I use it (besides the parties where it may be for 40) and it works as well for 2 as it does for more. It's inexpensive (around $130 without the smoker) and it lasts. I considered the Egg when i was looking years ago, but the price point, the inconvenience of getting to the coals and the difficulty moving it turned me away from it. The Char-Griller is king.

So where in the area can you go to actually get a look at one?

I miss BBQ Galore...

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Okay, I'm definitely leaning towards the Char-Griller.

I'm probably going to go with the Smokin Pro since it seems to be a bit smaller and actually comes with the side firebox. The one thing I can't figure out is whether it also has the adjustable height grate...

This is what I have, but I bought the basic and added the side box (and I think it cost less than your Amazon link). The height of the coals is adjustable from within the grill with simple handles that you lift and set on the various hooks on the wall of the grill. The max height is about 7-8" and the minimum is around 3-4". Indirect heat is a cinch because the grates are so large you can set up shop on one side and have the coals up to 18" away (or in the side smoker if you want really, really indirect heat).

The only potential negative, depending on how much work you want to do, is that you'll need to season the cast iron grates before use. On my new set I did the flaxseed oil seasoning that's all the rage now. It took many hours and a stinky house, but they seem to be working like a charm. We'll see if they actually last longer than the first set, which lasted maybe 4 yrs before they became too rusty.

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Damnit.

Now I'm seeing people who say that the Char-Grillers are poorly made: the paint flakes off, the heat is uneven, the grate in the firebox actually MELTS, the thing uses a ton of fuel because nothing fits right and there are tons of leaks...!!!

Back to square one...

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Damnit.

Now I'm seeing people who say that the Char-Grillers are poorly made: the paint flakes off, the heat is uneven, the grate in the firebox actually MELTS, the thing uses a ton of fuel because nothing fits right and there are tons of leaks...!!!

Back to square one...

any smoker like that is going to use a lot of fuel because the metal is so thin, it doesn't retain very much heat. you're not going to get a good smoker cheap.
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Damnit.

Now I'm seeing people who say that the Char-Grillers are poorly made: the paint flakes off, the heat is uneven, the grate in the firebox actually MELTS, the thing uses a ton of fuel because nothing fits right and there are tons of leaks...!!!

Back to square one...

Have you seen these reviews? They like your Weber, but they also like the BGE..

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Okay, so forget the cheap part. What are my options? B)

I just bought a new pit from Gator pits after having a chargiller for 5 years. http://www.gatorpit.net/ even the budget pits are 1/4" inch thick steel. Yes they're expensive, but it's not the kind of thing you're going to buy a lot of and if taken care of, you're only outgrow it.
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Gator and Klose... holy crap.

Wish there were a place around here where I could check 'em out.

they both have really good reputations, but since they're mostly custom, they aren't going to have dealers. Before I bought mine, I did a ton of research and I couldn't find anything negative about Klose, Gator or Jambo and went with Gator because they had the right kind of base model that I wanted to customize. I'm also not expecting to have to buy another pit for the rest of my life.
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I'd keep the Weber kettle (some WD-40 on dampers?) & add a Weber Smoky Mt. smoker. I recently got the 22.5", it will hold 4 butts easily, & can do an overnight cook. I did a team dinner for my son's lacrosse team recently & over 2 days, did 3 butts, a huge beef brisket & 4 racks of ribs-of course, it was all devoured in an hour & a half, but it was a painless weekend of cooking. Smoking & grilling are very different, & I think it's better to get separate equipment. I picked up the WSM from a local dealer who advertises on Craigslist for $299., which is a great price. I have other gas & charcoal grills, but for true bbq, it's hard to beat the WSM.

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I have had two great grills that have done me right for the last 15 years or so. Grill one -- back when I lived in the burbs and had more room -- was a Brinkmann Smoker. Excellent grill with all features you mention (except the cool, rarely used easy crank to change grill height). Grill two -- now that I've graduated to the city -- is a BGE. It's terrific. Not quite as versatile as the Brinkmann ( harder to smoke or get lots of surface for indirect heat), but a quality product and a great option for those who grill for two. The Brinkmann replaced my webber kettle. No regrets.

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Dan, have you looked at Hasty Bake? I can't speak from experience, but I've heard they're very good and they certainly look well made.

ETA: Ah, I see Zora mentioned this already.

Dan, you are welcome to come over to my house to have a look at my Hasty Bake, if you like. I know that's it is a scary prospect to buy an expensive piece of equipment sight unseen, based on photos on a website. I bought mine after having several meals cooked on a friend's. He showed me all the features, and I was convinced. PM me if you want to see it.

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I have been a long fan of this grill, and have had it for about 8 years with no problems at all. Great for big or small grilling, as the charcoal is kept in individual zones. The coals can be raised or lowered from outside the box using a crank, the sludge can be easily removed using a slide out drawer, and the sides flip up and down letting you store it in tight spaces. Now, I don't know if they make it anymore, but if they don't, I saw something amazingly similar, at Home Depot. The only real difference I saw at quick glance is the Bar-B-Chef has the cast iron grates, while the brinkmann have the porcelain grates. I would be willing to bet that you could trade those out though with Bar-B-Chef grates.

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Zora, do you like its grates? I love my cast iron grates, and I will measure them to see if they would fit the Hasty Bake (or buy new ones) -- this price is tempting.

I like the grates. Cast iron would probably be better, but I have no complaints about anything except the glass door on my Continental model, which is completely useless due to carbon build-up. The Legacy doesn't have a glass door. There's a narrow little metal grease trap below the grates, which angles down across the center of the grates to channel grease to an exterior reservoir--it burned out after a couple of years and I never replaced it, I just let grease drip down onto the coals. It doesn't flare up if the door is kept closed. Otherwise it's a great design. Jim Shahin, the BBQ guy at the Wash Post calls the Hasty Bake "the Cadillac of grills." A Cadillac for less than half of list price is a good deal.

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Per Zora's appreciated notice of the sale and recommendation, I bought the Hasty Bake and am initiating it today by smoking a pork butt, with Zora's Spicy SC Mustard Sauce to accompany the resulting pulled pork. Sensing a theme, I may just as well name my new grill "Zora," unless she (or Jonathan) objects. Further apropos, as it just occurred to me that my older sister desperately wanted our parents to name me "Zorro" when I was born, after her favorite TV character at the time.

Since Don was responsible in a sense for my grill, as my wife and I first met Zora at the soft open for Rockwellians at Ray's the Steaks, I should name at least a part of the grill after him. How about the ashpan, Don?

post-866-0-25829100-1379252533_thumb.jpg

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Per Zora's appreciated notice of the sale and recommendation, I bought the Hasty Bake and am initiating it today by smoking a pork butt, with Zora's Spicy SC Mustard Sauce to accompany the resulting pulled pork. Sensing a theme, I may just as well name my new grill "Zora," unless she (or Jonathan) objects. Further apropos, as it just occurred to me that my older sister desperately wanted our parents to name me "Zorro" when I was born, after her favorite TV character at the time.

Since Don was responsible in a sense for my grill, as my wife and I first met Zora at the soft open for Rockwellians at Ray's the Steaks, I should name at least a part of the grill after him. How about the ashpan, Don?

attachicon.gifZora.jpg

Lookin' good, TFB! I am honored to be associated with such a worthwhile possession.

"Zorro" was one of the many ways my name was twisted by my schoolmates, with the goal of harassing and humiliating me, accompanied by the Z-shaped slashing movement and swishing noise of Zorro's sword. Others were "Doctor Zorba" (anyone remember Ben Casey?)and "Zora the Greek" or more accurately, "Zora the Jew," "Zero," "Zelda," "Prisoner of Zenda." Ah, bringing back such unpleasant memories.

On a more pleasant note, I rescued a starving dog that I found in the lot where I parked my car, when I lived in a loft in a commercial building in Inglewood, CA near the L.A. airport. She was a black shepherd mix, a lovely intelligent and affectionate dog who quickly became attached to me when I started feeding her. I couldn't keep her inside, because of my own jealous dog, but I fed and made a bed for her under the stairs to my building while I tried to find her owner, and took her to a vet when it became apparent that someone had broken her jaw, probably by hitting her with a board. I called her "Stranger." I put up a photo and a story about her at a couple of nearby pet stores, and soon found someone who wanted to adopt her--a single woman who had recently gotten divorced and was lonely, who lived in a house with a fenced yard, but didn't want a puppy. It was a perfect home. I heard back from her that they were very happy together and that she had re-named the dog "Zora" in honor of me.

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Per Zora's appreciated notice of the sale and recommendation, I bought the Hasty Bake and am initiating it today by smoking a pork butt, with Zora's Spicy SC Mustard Sauce to accompany the resulting pulled pork. Sensing a theme, I may just as well name my new grill "Zora," unless she (or Jonathan) objects. Further apropos, as it just occurred to me that my older sister desperately wanted our parents to name me "Zorro" when I was born, after her favorite TV character at the time.

Since Don was responsible in a sense for my grill, as my wife and I first met Zora at the soft open for Rockwellians at Ray's the Steaks, I should name at least a part of the grill after him. How about the ashpan, Don?

attachicon.gifZora.jpg

I picked mine up last week after also seeing Zora's post. So far I've done brisket and chicken legs. This was one of those "you can't afford not to buy it" sales. C&B even ran out of them briefly.

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Adding one more name into the mix, I've recently acquired a Primo XL.  It's a ceramic grill like a Big Green Egg, only it's oval-shaped. If you wander onto any of the major BBQ message boards, there are lengthy debates between advocates of the BGE and supporters of the Primo XL.

So far, I've smoked a whole chicken on it, cold-smoked salmon (twice), grilled pizza, and grilled some swordfish from BlackSalt.  With no modesty at all, I would say that the food has been exceptionally good.  The whole chicken I made this past weekend convinced me that I will be smoking my Thanksgiving turkey on the Primo this year.

One advantage of ceramics (at least according to the gazillion websites and message boards that I consulted before making this purchase) is the wide temperature range you can get.  So, I was able to cold-smoke the salmon, maintaining 70 degrees for two hours one time and six hours another (I used an accessory called A-Maze-N to generate the smoke).  Kind of cool to be able to make homemade lox.  Later that same day, I was easily (and remarkably quickly) able to get the grill up to 700 degrees for making pizza (and it could have gone higher if I hadn't closed off some of the air flow).

Not cheap (especially with the very nice and functional teak table that we got to house it), but we anticipate using this for a long, long time.

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Any new products/info that would be helpful in figuring out which grill to buy?  The last time I had a deck/backyard, I just had a hand-me-down gas grill.  I don't think I'll be doing heavy smoking (though having the option would be nice), but I like the idea of a piece of equipment that does things I can't do indoors.

I know people who are gaga about their BGEs, but then others who prefer a more traditional grill.

I generally only cook for 2, but it would be nice to have the capacity to put more food on when we entertain.

Any thoughts/recs are much appreciated!

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Any new products/info that would be helpful in figuring out which grill to buy?  The last time I had a deck/backyard, I just had a hand-me-down gas grill.  I don't think I'll be doing heavy smoking (though having the option would be nice), but I like the idea of a piece of equipment that does things I can't do indoors.

I know people who are gaga about their BGEs, but then others who prefer a more traditional grill.

I generally only cook for 2, but it would be nice to have the capacity to put more food on when we entertain.

Any thoughts/recs are much appreciated!

Are you going gas or charcoal? There are applications best suited to both, but both will do anything you want at least capably.  I tend to prefer gas, because I am lazy.

I went with a Weber Genesis S-330 a year or two ago and I can highly, highly recommend it. My biggest problem with gas grills that I have bought in the past is poor construction and poor choice or materials. If you get something that is more or less 100% stainless steel, things will last a lot, lot longer. It costs more money up front, but it will save you loads in the long run. I expect this grill to last more like 10-15 years instead of the 2 to 4 years I'd been getting with pervious grills (kept outside year round, under a cover on the old grills did not help - but this weber is a beast).

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I agree with pool boy. I have a weber s670 and it can do it all from sear to rotiserie to cooking food for twenty. I. Use the grill as often as possible though the outside burner much less then grilling. This beast is 5 years old and has at least another 10 years in it. An outside gas line helps a lot as there is never the issue of running out.

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I agree with pool boy. I have a weber s670 and it can do it all from sear to rotiserie to cooking food for twenty. I. Use the grill as often as possible though the outside burner much less then grilling. This beast is 5 years old and has at least another 10 years in it. An outside gas line helps a lot as there is never the issue of running out.

Ahh lucky!  I keep two Propane Taxi canisters on hand at all times. When one goes out, I roll the next one in and order the next one the next morning.

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Any new products/info that would be helpful in figuring out which grill to buy?  The last time I had a deck/backyard, I just had a hand-me-down gas grill.  I don't think I'll be doing heavy smoking (though having the option would be nice), but I like the idea of a piece of equipment that does things I can't do indoors.

I know people who are gaga about their BGEs, but then others who prefer a more traditional grill.

I generally only cook for 2, but it would be nice to have the capacity to put more food on when we entertain.

Any thoughts/recs are much appreciated!

I've been 'thinking about' a BGE for about three years now but still haven't pulled the trigger. I may still; either that, or for 1/20th the price, maybe the basic Weber Kettle.  I love the convenience of gas but the taste and flavor of wood or charcoal better.

Are you going gas or charcoal? There are applications best suited to both, but both will do anything you want at least capably.  I tend to prefer gas, because I am lazy.

I went with a Weber Genesis S-330 a year or two ago and I can highly, highly recommend it. My biggest problem with gas grills that I have bought in the past is poor construction and poor choice or materials. If you get something that is more or less 100% stainless steel, things will last a lot, lot longer. It costs more money up front, but it will save you loads in the long run. I expect this grill to last more like 10-15 years instead of the 2 to 4 years I'd been getting with pervious grills (kept outside year round, under a cover on the old grills did not help - but this weber is a beast).

I also have a gas Weber but medium sized (dinner for 4-8 depending on what we're grilling) and love it.  Besides being very well made (ours is maybe 8 years old and still looks and performs great), Weber is one of those increasingly rare companies that truly is customer focused versus just babbling about it.  About two years ago, I had some trouble with a line getting clogged and my grates starting to to be tough to clean.  I called them and they emailed clear and comprehensive directions to take the entire thing apart and clean it (as you're kind of supposed to do every several years but I hadn't).  At one point, I had a question and called again.  No voice mail maze and, within minutes, someone who really knew what she was talking about came on the line and solved the problem.  Also, the grates and some other part were under a 10-year warranty I didn't even know applied and they sent me knew grates and another part for free.  Weber fan for life here.

Ahh lucky!  I keep two Propane Taxi canisters on hand at all times. When one goes out, I roll the next one in and order the next one the next morning.

Wow, pretty hard core but admirable.  We use Propane Taxi too but they're so responsive, I just call when I know it's close to empty.

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I've been 'thinking about' a BGE for about three years now but still haven't pulled the trigger. I may still; either that, or for 1/20th the price, maybe the basic Weber Kettle.  I love the convenience of gas but the taste and flavor of wood or charcoal better.

I also have a gas Weber but medium sized (dinner for 4-8 depending on what we're grilling) and love it.  Besides being very well made (ours is maybe 8 years old and still looks and performs great), Weber is one of those increasingly rare companies that truly is customer focused versus just babbling about it.  About two years ago, I had some trouble with a line getting clogged and my grates starting to to be tough to clean.  I called them and they emailed clear and comprehensive directions to take the entire thing apart and clean it (as you're kind of supposed to do every several years but I hadn't).  At one point, I had a question and called again.  No voice mail maze and, within minutes, someone who really knew what she was talking about came on the line and solved the problem.  Also, the grates and some other part were under a 10-year warranty I didn't even know applied and they sent me knew grates and another part for free.  Weber fan for life here.

Wow, pretty hard core but admirable.  We use Propane Taxi too but they're so responsive, I just call when I know it's close to empty.

Never run out, never surrender!

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I'm not really wedded to gas OR charcoal at this point - either way, we are going to have to lug something heavy to/from the store when it's time for refills.  I want something that is easy enough to use that I'll actually, you know, USE it...but also something versatile enough that it offers the opportunity to try some new things.

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I'm not really wedded to gas OR charcoal at this point - either way, we are going to have to lug something heavy to/from the store when it's time for refills.  I want something that is easy enough to use that I'll actually, you know, USE it...but also something versatile enough that it offers the opportunity to try some new things.

Maybe gas then? No lugging of anything with these guys actually. Been using them for several years with no trouble. Their tag line should resonate with you: "Stop lugging that tank!" Or, in your case, don't start? :-)

https://www.propanetaxi.com

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