By: Max Good
The Weber Original Kettle 18″ Charcoal Grill has about 240 square inches of cooking surface and sells for under $100. It is the basic unadorned low price Kettle, and a perfectly fine cooking tool just the same. Ash is swept through the vent holes in the bottom under the grill by a lever beneath the bowl and it drops into an aluminum pan. This compact grill is great for moderate capacity cooking and use where space is limited, like an apartment patio. However, the ability to effectively set up 2-zone cooking is reduced. Weber’s 22″ Kettles work much better for 2-zone.
In 2015 Weber made a few changes to some of their classic BBQ kettles. The Original Kettle 18″, formerly One-Touch Silver 18.5″, has a new nylon lid handle that adds a protective heat shield between your fingers and the lid. Previously the legs just popped into brackets. Now they are secured to the body with spring loaded pins, which also enable them to be easily removed. Although the name changed from 18.5′ to 18″, Weber specs declare the grate is still 18.5″ diameter with the same 240 square inch capacity.
Let’s debunk a myth: The parabolic shape of the Weber Kettle is not a more efficient heat reflector than other shapes. By far the vast majority of the heat is radiated directly from the surface of the glowing charcoal with some more reflected from the sides. Very little heat is being reflected off the curved bottom of the bowl. There is a solid barrier in the way: The bed of coals. Any heat that hits the bottom of the kettle just bounces back into the charcoal pile. So the parabolic shape of the kettle is no more efficient than a square box.
Weber-Stephen is one of the oldest and most respected manufacturers of BBQ equipment and related accessories in the world. Weber grills and smokers cook beautifully and have great features that are clever, effective and easy to use. As popularity and demand for BBQ gear grows worldwide, Weber continues to earn their long standing reputation for quality, durability and outstanding customer service and support, (7 days a week from 7am to 8pm CST), in an increasingly competitive environment. Even in this crowded marketplace, many consumers are still willing to pay more for the Weber name and they are rarely disappointed. They make a variety of cookers and smokers. Their iconic black charcoal kettles are known throughout the world. Indeed Weber is expanding globally.
Weber-Stephen was family owned since it was founded in 1952 by George Stephen. At the end of 2010 the Stephen family sold a majority stake to Chicago investment group BDT Capital Partners. In 2012, Weber settled a class action suit out of court regarding their use of the phrase, “Made in USA”. Weber previously qualified the “Made in USA” statement by specifying their products are assembled in the USA with some components that are sourced globally. Here is an excerpt from Weber’s statement “Weber believes that because all Weber grills and the disputed accessories are designed and engineered in the USA, and all grills save for one line [Spirit]* are manufactured and assembled in the USA using component parts primarily made in the USA, it did nothing wrong and therefore has valid defenses to plaintiff’s claims. The court has not held a trial or ruled in favor of either party on any disputed issues. Weber and the plaintiff have agreed to settle the matter to avoid the costs of continued litigation.” As a result of this suit, Weber can no longer claim to be made in America.
Since then Weber, like many others, has outsourced manufacturing of more product lines. Things change, but we believe Weber’s commitment to quality and innovation has not.
The biggest barrier for many folks is price. Webers are not cheap, but when you consider that they last decades, the price is easy to justify. Many some cheap grills fall apart after three years or so.
Our main complaint: All Webers have the obligatory bi-metal dial thermometer in the hood that gives you a ballpark reading of what the temperature is high above the meat. Since we cook on the grates, though, it’s always better to bring your own digital thermometer and place a probe there. It appears this is beginning to change as Weber enters a new era of digital technology and software based products.
Published On: 2/22/2013 Last Modified: 4/9/2021
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