Updated: June 8, 2015
The Legendary Weber Grills2014 UPDATE: I upgraded to a stainless steel Weber Genesis in 2014 - little holes in the burner tubes were starting to get corroded/clogged. Called their 800 number, grill was still under warranty, they sent me replacement parts for free, no questions asked. Good products, good service, good company. Thumbs up, Weber!
Anyone who has even done any barbecueing knows about Weber grills. For many people, the term "the Weber" means "the barbecue" - they are synonymous. Weber grills have been fixtures on American decks and patios for decades - in fact since 1951, when they first came out. Their original models were the old traditional charcoal powered kettle grills. The small, portable versions of these were often seen at picnics and campouts, grilling up some chicken or burgers. But Weber has continued to expand and improve their products, and they now offer a full line of deluxe gas powered stainless steel grills, while also remembering their humble roots with the little Smokey Joes still selling well. Below, we will check out the most popular Weber grills, find out what to look for when buying a barbecue, and check prices and places to buy.
Buying a Weber Grill - CharcoalThe official Weber website is Weber.com. From there, you can browse their entire family of grills. The Smokey Joe portable grills are small and great for taking camping, to the beach, or on a weekend outdoor getaway anywhere. You can pick one of these up for less than $40. These are also popular for cramped areas like apartment balconies where there may not be enough space for full-sized grills. The full sized charcoal grills are called the Weber One-Touch Silver and Gold Charcoal Grills. These have steel coated porcelain enamel kettles. They come in either 18.5" or 22.5" diameter sizes. The Gold version has a high capacity ash catcher for easy cleanup of used charcoal. The silver model will set you back about $80, while the Gold costs about $129. They also make something called the Ranch Kettle which has an 1100 sq. in. (read "HUGE") and can cook several turkeys or roasts at the same time, as it has a 44" diameter. If you do cookouts for large groups, this might be just the grill for you. Some people prefer the old fashion cooked style of charcoal over gas, but most grills sold today are gas powered. Why are gas powered grills better than charcoal? A couple of main reasons. First, they start instantly with the push of a button and are up to full heat cooking power in just 1 minute or 2. Compare that to piling up charcoal, getting lighter fluid or the chimney going, waiting for coals to warm up, and you are looking at 20+ minutes of prep work and waiting to cook with charcoal. Next you have the even, constant heating of gas flames - no need to worry about hot spots or cool spots, you never run out of cooking power, etc. And with gas, there is no pile of ash and charcoal bits at the bottom of the grill when you are done, hence no dusty, dirty clean up after each cookout. So chances are you will be buying a Weber gas grill (see entire Weber grill family here).
It may be biased, but Weber offers a nice guide on their website to refer to when you are shopping for a BBQ. They suggest you first look at the quality of the build of the grill - wiggle it good, and see how it is put together. Then lift up the hood and see what kind of cooking grates are included (stainless steel best) and how the hood is constructed - it should be double-walled. Then look below the grates and see how grease and drippings are channeled away from the flames. Then check out the burners themselves. You can see the guide here: http://www.weber.com/bbq/pdf/howtoshop.pdf.