On October 8, 2015, Brinkmann filed for Chapter 11 under the US bankruptcy code.
The Brinkmann Pellet Fuel Grill introduced in 2012 is an entry level smoker available at Home Depot and Bass Pro for backyarders ready to jump on the pellet bandwagon. It is very close to Traeger’s popular Lil’ Tex. In fact Brinkmann designed their smoker with similar dimensions and wiring connections to let buyers take advantage of the many existing aftermarket parts. Some might even call it a knock-off. Since 2012, however, other manufacturers have brought newer, better pellet smokers to market, making this one a relic.
It costs a couple hundred bucks less than Lil’ Tex, but includes some nice upgrades that are remnants of the days when Brinkmann made great, quarter inch thick offset pits. You get large, Oklahoma Joe style wagon wheels, a front shelf, lower shelf and a handle on the right side. It also has a slightly larger cooking surface: 443 square inches vs. 413 square inches for the Lil’ Tex. And last but least, it has a built in lid temperature indicator.
Heat in these entry level, antiquated pellet smokers can fluctuate with weather conditions and food characteristics. Both Brinkmann and Lil’ Tex have an out of date three position manual Temperature Controller for Low (or Smoke), Medium and High heat. These controllers have no thermostat and can’t monitor the heat inside the cook box. They just execute pellet feed run times for Low, Medium and High. The great innovation of pellet smokers is that you can control the temp more easily than any other smoker or grill. This one gives you less control than a gas grill.
Here’s what one reader wrote us: “When I calibrated it on the low setting, as I will use it as a smoker mostly, it reads ~160°F to ~200°F (using a Franklin digital thermometer and following your instructions for seasoning/calibrating a grill). I think this is too low according to your articles. I have to flip the switch between Low and Med often. The problem is that the temp can go as low as 190°F and as high as 260°F when employing this method.” Before moving up to the Medium temperature setting, some apply the Texas Crutch (wrap the meat in aluminum foil and add some liquid like apple juice), then continue cooking until done. Finally, we spoke with a Traeger rep who owns a Lil’ Tex. To reduce temperature at the Medium setting and get close to 225°F he wedges a rock that’s about an inch thick under the right side of his hood to keep it slightly ajar.
Ortech makes a Pellet Grill Digital Controller that can be used to upgrade Brinkmann and Traeger LMH controllers. Traeger offers similar kits that work with their BBQ smokers, but Brinkmann had not tested them and therefore could only recommend using Ortech for an upgrade. The folks at Brinkmann planned to offer this smoker with the Ortech controller installed at a higher price point. Unfortunately, they haven’t sold well despite the low price and it appears Brinkmann now just wants to unload them as is.
Pellet Fuel Grill
Made in USA:
Researched it from Afar
We have researched this product from afar by gathering info from the manufacturer, owners, and other reliable sources, with our BS meters on high.
443 square inches
Mid-Size(about 21 burgers)
On October 8, 2015, Brinkmann filed for Chapter 11 under the US bankruptcy code. As of November 30th, 2015 they are no longer selling products, not accepting returns or exchanges, and not honoring warranties. It appears one of their biggest client, Home Depot, stopped ordering and that pushed them over the edge.
Brinkmann is known for super low priced cookers, made for frugal people. Quality and price are close to value brands like Masterbuilt, Char-Griller and Master Forge, but Brinkmann is a small step above and sometimes offers interesting and useful value added features. Brinkmann is one of the largest BBQ manufacturers in the United States, angling for the market of price driven rival, Char-Broil, but lacking that company’s focus and innovation. They have a thousand and one models and some have merit considering the price, but many of their products are more of the same cost driven stuff with a different logo on the lid.
Brinkmann is widely distributed online and at brick and mortar outlets, including big box stores.
Published On: 12/26/2012
Last Modified: 2/15/2021
Max Good, Full time grill tester - Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max bottles his own barbecue sauce recipes and now sells them around the country.