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By: Max Good
The name says it all. The American Muscle Grill is a high powered, super-sized gas grill with striking looks, made in the USA with top grade 304 stainless steel and solid construction. If power is what you crave, just turn the knobs. AMG’s dedicated flame thrower ignitors at each valve crank up the five 22,000 BTU, 14 gauge stainless burners from zero to 350°F in minutes. When run flat out this monster can drain your LP tank pretty quick so if you don’t have a natural gas line, be sure to keep extra propane on hand. Cosmetics mirror performance with a control panel modeled after the front grill of the classic 1965 Ford Shelby GT 350 Mustang, and control knobs that suggest drive sprockets on a muscle car blower drive.
Although it is primarily a gas grill, AMG’s unique design employs six 12 gauge stainless steel fuel trays above the burners that may be filled with wood or charcoal for a hybrid fuel BBQ experience. Each burner is covered by a stainless V-shaped bar with a flat top to protect it from ash when solid fuel is used in the trays directly above. There are four large center fuel trays and two smaller end trays that fit on the left and right sides. When cooking, these trays always stay in place because even when empty they double as heat diffusers, however they are removable to facilitate clean up. A large slide out drip pan with a drain hole in the front right corner collects drippings and ash that falls out of the fuel trays.
This hybrid fuel design has drawn comparisons to the superb Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Gas Grills which we believe are some of the finest grills made. Listing at $10,700 for this freestanding model on cart with a typical street price of about $8,500, the AMG 36″ 5-burner is less than half the price of Kalamazoo’s K750HS freestanding model, prompting many to refer to it as the poor man’s Kalamazoo. I don’t want to make too much of this as it’s not a fair apples to apples comparison. It should come as no surprise that even in this high priced luxury category you get what you pay for. Kalamazoo’s design, performance, craftsmanship and price tag surpasses AMG which is more in line with parent company Summerset and other outdoor kitchen manufacturers such as Lynx and DCS. AMG delivers all the features one would expect from a luxury gas grill, stainless steel all the way around – inside and out, beautiful seamless welded hood, and high performance burners with sophisticated ignition. What differentiates it from comparatively priced gassers is the dual fuel trays and retro cool hot rod appearance. AMG states it was not their intent to compete with Kalamazoo.
The large stainless steel housing features a rather deep fire box and high profile 16 gauge double-lined hood with spring assist. The spring assist helps a bit when wielding the massive hood, but could stand improvement for smoother operation. Ditto for the warming rack which conveniently folds up and out of the way when not in use, but does so in an awkward fashion and easily slips out to fall clanging onto the grates. There are adjustable hood dampers on each side which don’t do much because, as is typical with gas grills, the cook box is highly ventilated to insure the burners don’t go out and create a safety hazard. More on this later. AMG claims they have upgraded the spring assist for the hood.
There are no batteries; electric ignition, hood lights and control knob lights plug into a 110 volt outlet. The two powerful hood lights provide ample illumination of the cook surface and make a beautiful night time image when coupled with the blue control knob LEDs. When plugged in, the ignitors at each valve shoot a column of flame to start each burner. If you lose power, a tube that runs from the right burner to the cook surface allows you to easily fire up manually with a match or lighter.
A cart with drawers, casters and side shelves exists, (see below). AMG didn’t have one to spare for our tests and sent a makeshift stand on wheels instead. A larger 54″ 8-burner model is also said to exist, although the 8-burner appears to be currently unavailable.
With all five gas guzzling burners cranked and the lid down, we clocked AMG at about 920°F with mighty even temps from left to right. With this kind of power, it’s a good idea to set up 2-zones, a hot direct side and cooler indirect side, to provide a safe haven for foods when they need to be yanked from the searing inferno. Click here to learn about 2-zone cooking. With the lid up temps ran about 810°F. With all burners on Low AMG was at about 418°F. In each case temps were even across the cook surface. The lid down tests revealed a huge discrepancy between cook surface temp and the inaccurate hood ornament, aka thermometer. When our digital probes said 418° the hood estimator read 310°. At higher temps the error increased to 920° surface vs 675° hood. As always, we strongly recommend you disregard the hood estimator and rely on accurate digital thermometers. Click here to explore our seachable digital thermometer reviews.
The two unusual grates are reversible V-shaped 9 gauge stainless steel bars that are beyond heavy. Each V-shaped bar is about an inch across. AMG says they started with SS rod grates but at high temps the heat was overpowering and cooking the cook, so they went big to trap it at the cook surface (see below).
Coupled with the intense radiant heat coming from the fuel trays directly below, AMG V-grates provide a high temp experience similar to working with infrared grills. Stand by your AMG when searing because those big V bars can leave a strong impression on food surfaces and you need to flip constantly. Even without adding wood, the 22,000 BTU burners produce ample sear power. The convex side is recommended for cooking beef, pork and other meats while the concave side is meant for delicate items like fish and vegetables.
To confirm the even heat profile we observed in our temp tests, we spread a layer of chicken wings across the entire cook surface with all burners down low and left each piece in place, flipping occasionally. They cooked up remarkably even. Sharp eyed readers will notice I lost a little skin on one piece at the bottom.
You can have a lot of fun with AMG using wood and charcoal, but it really isn’t a charcoal grill and it certainly isn’t a smoker. For consumer safety, gas grills manufacturers strive to insure their burners will not blow out. Grill designs must provide enough ventilation to insure the flame is fed an adequate supply of oxygen while still being shielded from wind currents and not blow out when the lid is flipped open or closed. Charcoal and wood cookers are the opposite. They rely on air tight construction and adjustable dampers to control airflow and allow smoke to linger and impart an intoxicating flavor and aroma. When you fire up wood and charcoal in AMGs fuel trays, within minutes you’ll see smoke billowing out the large open seam behind the grill (see below) and the rotisserie hole on the left. The adjustable dampers are helpless to control the airflow.
Be that as it may, it’s still a treat to grill with wood and charcoal. AMG says you can use wood pellets as well, but each time we tried pellets they just burst into flame and burned up quickly while producing light ash that floated around and landed on our foods. We even tried leaving the burner off and using a fuse technique of lighting one end of the fuel tray with a blow torch, hoping the pellets would slowly burn and produce smoke, but once again a raging pellet fire soon erupted. AMG was unable to advise us how to make pellets work in their fuel trays. Click here to read How To Set Up A Charcoal Grill which decribes the fuse technique.
Grilling with wood and charcoal, however, is a breeze. Remember to set up for 2-zones so you don’t have a gigantic sea of fire in front of you. Place an even layer of wood and/or charcoal into the fuel trays on one side. Do not overfill. With the hood open, ignite the fuel with the burners below. Within about 5 minutes you should be ready to go. If you need to replenish the solid fuel, AMG provides a “Grate Holder Tool” and heavy protective gloves that enable you to lift up the front of the grate and hook it in place above the warming rack for easy access to the fire.
Searing over blazing wood is fun, easy and delicious. Just be vigilant; stay at you grill post and keep flipping. Cooking with solid fuel at lower temps requires a little more finesse, but you’re essentially just doing a two zone set up with foods on the cooler indirect side. You can even remove or hook up the grate on the hot side to have constant access to the fire. Be sure to use an accurate digital thermometer probe to monitor cooking temp on the indirect side. We always set up the left side for indirect heat and threaded the digital temp probe through the rotisserie spit hole there. You can get some smoky flavor when grilling steaks, chicken, fish and veggies direct, and doing ribs indirect, but for long low and slow cooks like brisket and pulled pork you’re better off using a dedicated smoker. The fuel trays are an asset, however, if no smoker is available. Click here to read The Best Setups For Gas Grills which provides further instruction for 2-zone setups and includes tips for smoking on gas grills.
Summerset successfully pulled off their over the top concept. The American Muscle Grill looks and cooks like a supercharged hot rod. It has an outrageous quality that I delighted in displaying to guests at every opportunity. Still one has to wonder if some buyers may think twice about committing, and opt for a more classic, less specific look. The market for luxury equipment in this price range is already narrow. Has Summerset differentiated themselves from competitors or painted themselves into a corner? Possibly both, and possibly it’s a nice corner to be stuck in. Time will tell about this unusual, relatively new gasser. Meanwhile some grillers are taking one look at AMG and saying, “That’s for me!” See happy new AMG owner Sly Stallone with Summerset’s Jeff Straubel below.
The AMG arrived almost fully assembled. Packaging was excellent. The stainless steel hood was protected with adhesive backed film, all parts were held firmly in place with form fitted foam and the super thick, multi-layered cardboard and foam board crate kept it all together nicely. In addition to the grate tool and gloves, AMG came with a branded cover.
American Muscle Grills offers a generous limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship on the everything except the electronics which carry a one year warranty.
Summerset Professional Grills offers a complete line of nationally available commercial grade, stainless steel gas grills, freestanding grills, BBQ islands, fire pits, and a complete line of island components.
Owner, Jeff Straubel, is an American muscle car lover. Inspired by the power and flashy appearance of the 1960s era Shelby GT 350 Mustangs, he set out to create a super charged gas grill – The American Muscle Grill.
Although Summerset outdoor kitchen products are made in China, AMGs are being manufactured out of Huntington Beach, California. Summerset claims they are currently transitioning production of as many Summerset products as possible to their Huntington Beach facility.
Published On: 2/21/2017 Last Modified: 3/17/2021
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