Posted by johngl
About a dozen years ago, Weber Grills came out with a 36″ diameter super-sized unit and since then, I’ve wished, on numerous occasions, for something between the 22.5 and the behemoth 36. The last time I even saw one of these monster things was about a year ago at the HEB Plus in Kyle, TX — for nearly $1000!
Several weeks ago, I stumbled across some blurb about a new 26.75″ diameter size for a Weber Kettle. I really wanted to see one. I even checked around a few local stores to no avail.
Could it be that I have really outgrown the reliable and nearly indestructible 22.5 that I’ve been grilling on for a quarter century? I searched the web. The 26.75 did actually exist. And the price was right at about $300.
I’ve even considered (briefly) setting aside the Weber in favor of the XL sized (24″ diameter) Big Green Egg. It too carries an XL price tag – $1100+ and the bugger weighs in at over 200 pounds!
The old 22.5 now has a big brother.
Now, you really wouldn’t think that 4.25 inches would buy you much extra cooking surface. However, a mere 18% increase in diameter yields over 165 square inches more grilling goodness. That’s enough extra space for a small turkey. Or two whole chickens or ducks. Or, or…16 three-inch diameter burgers!
Better yet, the grilling surface sits up several inches higher so I don’ t have to bend over to flip all those burgers.
The good folks at Weber have also made some interesting changes.
This is the charcoal grate. It now boasts a truss to help keep it from sagging from all that heat.
They’ve had this ash pan on the “Gold” series for quite a while now. It’s definitely an improvement over the “Silver” series pan. Further, here in Austin, where summers can make grass tinder-dry, the newer style ash catcher ensures that no hot coals go where they shouldn’t.
I’ve made one modification on all of my Weber kettles:
As much as I like the quality of manufacture, they continue to put these cheesy little plastic caps on the end of the third leg. I’ve learned to replace them with a champagne cork. One cork will last for years, unlike the plastic cap which barely makes it through a single season. The cork also helps keep the round leg from flattening out or scratching the surface of a wooden deck.
They have also changed the handles again. I really really liked the solid wood handles on the original Weber Kettle. Then they came up with solid plastic ones that get pretty darn hot. This seems to be a hollow version that may not heat up quite so readily.
Also, the handle on the vent is much improved over the earlier (and less expensive) edition. It’s wider and actually gripable. We’ll see how it holds up under years of heat.
I like that this unit also includes a thermometer. I used to drop in a thermometer through the vent holes on my silver edition unit.
This old 1985 Silver Edition Weber is mounted into the surface of my patio kitchen countertop. The old wood handles are severely weathered, but still survive. The wrench and the Phillips screwdriver are all that I needed to assemble my new, larger, Gold edition.
Clear, pictographic instructions make this grill easy to assemble no matter what language you speak.
The grill also came with some handy charcoal holders designed for indirect heating and the grilling surface has a couple of flip-up doors to facilitate reloading of charcoal.
I’ll have one other modification to make and that is to get a hefty steel grate made to fit this big guy.
This one, that fits nicely into the old 22.5″ unit (shown), is a bit too tiny for the new one.
This is my third Weber Kettle in 25 years of grilling and I still have both of the other two. I hope that this size fills my needs so that I can stop thinking about that $1100 egg.
Oh, and if you live here in Austin, you can pick up one of these at Barbeques Galore. They have two locations (north and south) and are some pretty friendly folks! I picked up mine today at the Sunset Valley location after stopping at Mighty Fine for lunch.
UPDATE: (June 29, 2013) The Sunset Valley store of Barbeques Galore has close. There are several other locations that remain open.