For more than a century, Weber has been synonymous with the kettle grill. As the grilling industry continues to develop, how does Weber hope to keep up?
The SmokeFire range of pellet grills from Weber piqued my interest immediately. My neighbor uses solely Weber grills in his backyard, and the fragrances coming our way from his grills draw many a neighbor while he’s rolling smoke. I first learned about Weber grills from him.
My local Ace Hardware dealer told me that Weber was planning to introduce a wood-fired pellet grill for the first time. Since we’re testing grills all the time here at the lab, we have grills in and out of service rather often. If I hadn’t heard about Weber’s new pellet grill, I believed he was rolling a different sort of smoke.. (if you know what I mean.)
When I went online to look for leaks of images or information about the new grill, I found almost nothing. In a catalog ad, there was a single image of a leak that said “Smokefire,” and I was immediately enthralled.
In the tradition of Weber’s enameled grills, the Smokefire is no exception. A liquid black metal finish has been applied to the exterior of the grill, giving it the appearance of being dipped in it. Even though it is enamel coated steel, it still has a striking appearance.
Unlike most grills today, which have single-wall steel throughout, this one has double-wall steel sides. You can easily move the grill by using the handle on the left end and the wheels that seem to be enough for the job.
This grill is meant to survive longer than other grills on the market because of the durable coating on the exterior. Rust is a huge concern for those of us who maintain a barbecue outdoors since most wood-fired pellet grills are not stainless steel. It’s just a matter of time until our grills begin to show signs of rust, even if they’re protected by a cover.
The Weber grill line’s appearance shines in this regard. This pellet grill from Weber is built to the same high standards as the rest of their line, including a porcelain finish that should endure for many years.
Surface for Cooking
The SmokeFire EX4 and EX6 grills are both versions of the SmokeFire barbecue.
Weber SmokeFire EX4 Wood Fired Pellet Grill (2nd Gen) with Cover
Weber SmokeFire EX6 Wood Fired Pellet Grill (2nd Gen) with Cover
Because of the higher cooking chamber, there is enough of vertical room on both racks to really employ the grilling grates.
Because of the limited space in many grills, Weber has done an excellent job of including a shelf that may be used to store extra items.
“Heat tents” or “flavorizer bars” are the usual names for the triangular bars seen behind gas grill cooking grates. Why aren’t flavorizer bars included on wood-fired pellet grills since they’re so common on propane grills and low-cost gas barbecues?
Many wood-fired pellet grills have a single plated steel baffle plate that lies beneath the pellet cup where the pellets are lit and consumed.. This big metal plate covers the whole grilling chamber, preventing any direct heat from reaching the meat.
It’s possible to avoid hot areas on your pellet grill’s cooking surface by using this strategy, but it also means that you can’t actually “grill.” Weber’s pellet grill is a departure from the standard in that it connects directly to a direct flame over high heat.
The pellet cup is protected from burning anything immediately above it by a huge flavorizer bar in the grill’s center, although it does not cover the full cooking surface.
To provide a consistent distribution of heat throughout the cooking grate, there are at least four auxiliary flavorizer bars set on each side of the main bar. Liquid from the flavorizer bar evaporates and is reabsorbed into meat fluids as they flow off of the animal. While it claims to combine the finest of grilling and smoking in one machine, only time and actual usage will reveal whether or not they succeeded.
The Ash & Grease Drawer
In lieu of vacuuming out the grill after every few usage, the ash and grease gather in a drawer. Pellet grills haven’t had decent ash and grease removal systems for the previous decade, but Weber has finally brought what we see in more costly manufacturers to a $1,000 price point.
The bottom of the pellet cup is slotted, enabling pellet dust and tiny unconsumed pieces to fall into the trash pan.
Drippings (or grease) from the whole cooking surface are collected in an aluminum pan that is tucked away in the ash drawer. The ash from the fire pot’s bottom falls just below the metal pan. Cleaning the grill is as simple as taking out and disposing of the drawer, which holds the grease or as complex as changing the metal pan and tossing the ash.
To be clear, this does not imply that you will no longer have to clean out the grill. Weber estimates that around 70% of the pellet waste will be caught in the metal drop pan and the rest will accumulate in the bottom of the grill.
I’ve had pellet ash “seasoning” my meals for years since all of the ash was trapped in the pellet cup with a fan blowing beneath to provide oxygen to the flames.. We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the new Weber grills and see what they can do for us in person.
They both have a cooking temperature range of between °200 and °600 degrees for the Weber SmokeFire EX4. Everything from low and slow cooking to high heat searing can be done on one cooking surface with this kind of range.
For the last decade or so, the most popular pellet grill models have been able to reach a maximum temperature of 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit, and even then, they often shut down due to a high-heat alert.
It’s a real pain to cook steaks on a pellet barbecue. When the sear option is offered, the flame pot is normally opened to expose the grill grate in a very tight area. One steak is seldom enough to cook at a time. Unlike its competitors, the Weber Smokefire has a distinct advantage in this area.
With a focus on searing, Weber has arrived in the backyard ready to play; they are looking to hit a home run. BabyBack Maniac and Harry Soo’s YouTube videos show plenty of smoke on the SmokeFire. As soon as one becomes available, we’ll be sure to put it through its paces.
Ventilation and Smokestack
The Weber smoky fire barbecue lacks a chimney, in case you missed it. Rain should not be a problem because of the grill’s venting system, which has openings cut into the metal at the rear of the cooking chamber.
Direct rainwater will not enter the grill since each vent has been carved with an arch. Some of the barbecues we’ve evaluated at The Barbecue Lab have been plagued by rain, and we’re pleased to see that Weber has come up with an answer with this latest model.
Capacity & Hopper Size
The grill’s pellet hopper, which can contain 22 pounds of pellets, can be found along the grill’s rear side. Weber’s pellet storage runs the whole length of the grill’s back, unlike most other pellet grill manufacturers who use a storage container that hangs off the side of the grill.
Pellet grills aren’t intended to be kept too near to the home, thus this technique of storage puts the grill a bit farther away from any wall or railing it could be backed up against.
The Pellet Auger and Slide
The SmokeFire has an 8-inch vertical auger that connects to the firepot. This is correct: the auger delivers pellets down a slide into the heating cup after being pushed up a hill by the auger. Weber claims that this method was intended to prevent jams and has a shorter auger than you’ll find on a typical pellet barbecue.
For all intents and purposes, the fact that the auger is vertical and that it pushes pellets up and down to allow them to fall is a novel feature in the pellet smoker market. Most augers in modern pellet grills are between 18 and 24 inches long, which means that the distance from the pellet store to the fire cup has been significantly reduced.
The pellet slide is responsible for delivering the pellets and keeping them away from the fire pot so they can’t be used. As a safety measure, we’re all for it. It’s brilliant that the slide feeds itself instead of the auger, and I can’t wait to see it in action.
As soon as you have fewer than 2 pounds of pellets in the feeder, you’ll get an alert on your phone or tablet. Is it OK to claim that I’m infatuated? My meal was ruined since I ran out of pellets on another wood-fired pellet grill I had two days ago. It’s true that I should have checked to see how many pellets were in the grill before I began, but a warning would have been appreciated and may have possibly saved my meal! According to rumors, your phone or other smart device may also get an alert when your barbecue is on the fritz.
We’ve heard that the SmokeFire’s auger runs backwards when the grill is turned off, returning all of the pellets that haven’t been eaten to the hopper for future use. We can’t wait to get our hands on this and see it for ourselves.
A PID control system developed by Weber
Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are supported by Weber Connect’s PID controller. Regardless of your location, the Weber Connect digital controller, which is placed on each unit, is ready to be connected to your smartphone or other digital device.
Four temperature probes may be connected to the control system of the Weber Connect to monitor the temperatures of the meat and the air. However, the grill is said to only come with one probe, and more ones may be purchased as required.
Weber Connect even tells you when your meal is done according on the current temperature. “Food doneness notifications” may be sent to your mobile device through text message. How difficult is it to smoke and grill nowadays?
A “SmokeBoost” mode is rumored to allow pellets to smolder longer and produce more smoke with less heat in the grill. Whether this feature will be accessible at launch is still up in the air, although it has been tipped as a likely candidate. If it isn’t, the manufacturer has stated that it will be included in an upcoming control system update.
In order to achieve a more stable temperature range, a PID controller uses both auger and fan speed adjustments. Many pellet grills on the market are known to have a large swing in temperature range, and the PID controller helps to minimize the difference between the temperature you specify and the actual temp you obtain.
Traeger has been the giant in the pellet market for many years, while Weber is the new kid on the block with a sparkling new toy. Regardless of who wins the pellet wars of 2020, the ultimate winner is us, the backyard chef.
Competition is excellent in every sector because it keeps us and our businesses at our best and always inventing. This is what I’m looking forward to the most from both Traeger and Weber in the wood burning pellet grill industry.
Continued innovation will benefit backyard chefs worldwide, and when the leaders in the business genuinely lead, other companies will follow.