Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:48 pm

I had great success with Cowboy brand natural lump charcoal in the past, but this year we grabbed some bags of Frontier lump charcoal and it has been lousy. A ton of fines and dust and a single chunk the size of a football, plus a few pieces that appear to be the remnants of kiln dried pinewood 2 x 4's.

As for conventional cubed charcoal I've heard that Stubb's stands leagues above the rest, and is just about as good as using a good natural lump, but I've never tried it. Stubbs and Cowboy Coal are manufactured by the same company.

But now I'm reading on another site where even natural lump Cowboy Coal has been appreciably cheapened vs. the product from a few years back.

Use this thread to share your thoughts on what you've discovered to be the best charcoal (conventional chunks, or natural lump).

Edited to correct the spelling of "Stubb's".
Last edited by lsayre on Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Stockton Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:25 pm

Normally I just use Kingsford. I get it at Sam's Club or on sale at Lowes. Occasionally I use the Cowboy Lump carcoal in my small Weber grill, but like your experience the last bag I got was full of fines.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: Salemcoal On: Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:39 pm

I have been boycotting the gas grill this summer strictly using the Weber with charcoal. I bought kingsford original from Home Depot , 9.88 for two 20 lb bags so i bought a bunch. It has been consistent. I hate to support the big guys but the price is tough to beat.
Salemcoal
 
Stove/Furnace Make: harmonsf150
Stove/Furnace Model: alaskachaning3


Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: scalabro On: Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:50 pm

lsayre wrote:I had great success with Cowboy brand natural lump charcoal in the past, but this year we grabbed some bags of Frontier lump charcoal and it has been lousy. A ton of fines and dust and a single chunk the size of a football, plus a few pieces that appear to be the remnants of kiln dried pinewood 2 x 4's.

As for conventional cubed charcoal I've heard that Stubb's stands leagues above the rest, and is just about as good as using a good natural lump, but I've never tried it. Stubbs and Cowboy Coal are manufactured by the same company.

But now I'm reading on another site where even natural lump Cowboy Coal has been appreciably cheapened vs. the product from a few years back.

Use this thread to share your thoughts on what you've discovered to be the best charcoal (conventional chunks, or natural lump).

Edited to correct the spelling of "Stubb's".




I've had great results with Cowboy and Royal oak and starting it with the tube style cans... No starting fluid used....Briquettes taste like oil to me now. I've also used the lump then piled cut up hickory and hard maple from my yard which I like best of all. Kind of like cooking on a hickory or maple campfire. I have not bought a bag of kingsford in years. Maybe you got a bad bag Larry.
scalabro
 
Baseburners & Antiques: Crawford 40, PP Stewart No. 14 in the works.
Coal Size/Type: Stove, Anthracite.
Other Heating: Oil fired, forced hot air.

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:55 pm

My bad experience has been with Frontier lump charcoal, and not with Cowboy Coal. I guess my wording was a bit awkward in the first post.

I agree that there is a flavor edge to lump vs. briquettes. But the only time I ever experienced a nasty fuel type flavor is when I used to use Match Light, or before that, with lighter fluid. I currently use a charcoal chimney, and it is the only way to go.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Stockton Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: hophead On: Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:49 pm

Kingsford is supplied by fine coal from Schuylkill County Pa. Please support our local economy.
hophead
 
Stove/Furnace Make: efm520

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: 2001Sierra On: Sun Aug 03, 2014 10:32 pm

Kingsford rules! I take my Weber Smokey Mountain to the races and the briskets, ribs and chicken are to die for. Hickory chunks are for sure as well.

I am the cheapest around and found Sam's choice and others just do not cut it.
2001Sierra
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90 Chimney vent
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Buderus Oil Boiler 3115-34
Stove/Furnace Model: Keystoker 90 Chimney Vent

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:45 am

2001Sierra wrote:Kingsford rules! I take my Weber Smokey Mountain to the races and the briskets, ribs and chicken are to die for. Hickory chunks are for sure as well.

I am the cheapest around and found Sam's choice and others just do not cut it.


I too use my Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) fairly often year-round. For the first few years I used Kingsford and varied the smoke wood with the type of meat.Reading the different BBQ forums, Cowboy charcoal often gets rave reviews. I tried it for a year and half. I have to agree with what others have said about the brands of lump charcoal that they are a natural product and the contents is inconsistent. That shouldn't be a problem for grillers where one is closely watching the grill and it's fairly easy to add to the fire*. For a low-and-slow smoker, it IS a problem. The contents of the bag varied widely from a nice distribution of sizes, way too much unusable dust and the last straw was a bag with just two huge pieces inside. By the time I broke it up, more than half was dust.

After that experience I tried Stubs briquets and haven't looked back. It has the go-to consistency of Kingsford briquets and very close to the long burn charastics too. I mean looonnnnggg. Last month (July) I smoked 15 lbs of pork butts (two bone-in butts) over a heaped charcoal ring of Stub's briquets. The WSM got up to 230-240°F quickly and stayed there. 13 hours later the two butts were at 190°F and I took them off with the fire still holding 230-240°F. I didn't shut the air down and left it roll. Twenty hours after I had sparked the Stub's up, the WSM was STILL holding 220-230°F. I never touched the fire except to add a few chunks of smokewood.

IMHO and experience, there is a distinct flavor difference using the Minion method in the WSM with Stubs vs. Kingsford. Stubs wins with more wood real wood smoke flavors. Cowboy sure has that too but you can't count on a long burn or what you find when you open the bag*. If I can get Stubs briquets, that's now my go-to with Kingsford my second choice.
VigIIPeaBurner
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: NJJoe On: Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:03 am

VigIIPeaBurner wrote:
2001Sierra wrote:Kingsford rules! I take my Weber Smokey Mountain to the races and the briskets, ribs and chicken are to die for. Hickory chunks are for sure as well.

I am the cheapest around and found Sam's choice and others just do not cut it.


I too use my Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) fairly often year-round. For the first few years I used Kingsford and varied the smoke wood with the type of meat.Reading the different BBQ forums, Cowboy charcoal often gets rave reviews. I tried it for a year and half. I have to agree with what others have said about the brands of lump charcoal that they are a natural product and the contents is inconsistent. That shouldn't be a problem for grillers where one is closely watching the grill and it's fairly easy to add to the fire*. For a low-and-slow smoker, it IS a problem. The contents of the bag varied widely from a nice distribution of sizes, way too much unusable dust and the last straw was a bag with just two huge pieces inside. By the time I broke it up, more than half was dust.

After that experience I tried Stubs briquets and haven't looked back. It has the go-to consistency of Kingsford briquets and very close to the long burn charastics too. I mean looonnnnggg. Last month (July) I smoked 15 lbs of pork butts (two bone-in butts) over a heaped charcoal ring of Stub's briquets. The WSM got up to 230-240°F quickly and stayed there. 13 hours later the two butts were at 190°F and I took them off with the fire still holding 230-240°F. I didn't shut the air down and left it roll. Twenty hours after I had sparked the Stub's up, the WSM was STILL holding 220-230°F. I never touched the fire except to add a few chunks of smokewood.

IMHO and experience, there is a distinct flavor difference using the Minion method in the WSM with Stubs vs. Kingsford. Stubs wins with more wood real wood smoke flavors. Cowboy sure has that too but you can't count on a long burn or what you find when you open the bag*. If I can get Stubs briquets, that's now my go-to with Kingsford my second choice.



I also have a WSM 22.5 inch and use exclusively kingsford in it. I've had it for a year and performed perhaps 10-15 smokes so far. I also prefer briquettes for the consistency not only in sizing but for mixture. I find that kingsford lacks the staying power needed for a long smoke. Several times I have smoked for 15+ hours and needed to add a few handfuls of briquettes around the 10-12th hour so I can keep the temps reliably around 225 for the remainder of the smoke. I'm willing to give stubbs a try after reading your post.

I did try cowboy charcoal and the sizing is too inconsistent for a long smoke. If I do use natural charcoal, its for my grill. I find that cowboy charcoal burns hotttttt and perfect for burgers/steaks etc...
NJJoe
 

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:24 pm

NJJoe wrote:I too use my Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) fairly often year-round. For the first few years I used Kingsford and varied the smoke wood with the type of meat.Reading the different BBQ forums, Cowboy charcoal often gets rave reviews. I tried it for a year and half. I have to agree with what others have said about the brands of lump charcoal that they are a natural product and the contents is inconsistent. That shouldn't be a problem for grillers where one is closely watching the grill and it's fairly easy to add to the fire*. For a low-and-slow smoker, it IS a problem. The contents of the bag varied widely from a nice distribution of sizes, way too much unusable dust and the last straw was a bag with just two huge pieces inside. By the time I broke it up, more than half was dust.

After that experience I tried Stubs briquets and haven't looked back. It has the go-to consistency of I also have a WSM 22.5 inch and use exclusively kingsford in it. I've had it for a year and performed perhaps 10-15 smokes so far. I also prefer briquettes for the consistency not only in sizing but for mixture. I find that kingsford lacks the staying power needed for a long smoke. Several times I have smoked for 15+ hours and needed to add a few handfuls of briquettes around the 10-12th hour so I can keep the temps reliably around 225 for the remainder of the smoke. I'm willing to give stubbs a try after reading your post.

I did try cowboy charcoal and the sizing is too inconsistent for a long smoke. If I do use natural charcoal, its for my grill. I find that cowboy charcoal burns hotttttt and perfect for burgers/steaks etc...


NJJoe, I run the original WSM, 18.5" diameter. I too have found I have to tend the fire near the 12 hour smoke. Weather and removing the smoker lid has a big influence on burn time. The smoke I spoke of was as perfect as I've had: nearly still conditions and in the low 70's at night. I heaped the charcoal ring too and fired it Minion method with a full chimney of lit reclaimed Stubbs from my last smoke.
VigIIPeaBurner
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: McGiever On: Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:42 pm

Turns out I have been lighting my boiler off w/ some decent cooking Lump Charcoal. :roll:

Lump Charcoal Review

Reader Survey

Other Charcoal Testing And Product Reports
McGiever
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AXEMAN-ANDERSON 130 "1959"
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: HARMAN MAGNUM
Hand Fed Coal Stove: RADIANT HOME AIR BLAST
Baseburners & Antiques: OUR GLENWOOD 111 BASEBURNER "1908"
Coal Size/Type: PEA / ANTHRACITE, NUT-STOVE / ANTHRACITE
Other Heating: Ground Source Heat Pump
Stove/Furnace Make: Hydro Heat /Mega Tek

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: lsayre On: Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:06 pm

Here is my latest charcoal briquette follow-up.

Stubbs was a total failure for taste, proving yet again that I shouldn't believe everything I read on the net. It imparts a rank flavor that both the wife and I seriously disliked.

I did however discover an economical charcoal briquette that burns hot, burns long, and departs a great taste to meat. It's called "Humphrey's Premium Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes".
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Stockton Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Searching for the very best charcoal for summer grilling

PostBy: gaw On: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:05 pm

I never knew there could be such strong opinions about charcoal. If it’s cheap and burns that’s the stuff for me. I also use the chimney/can lighter contraption to light my charcoal, not because I can taste the lighter fluid but because I’m too cheap to buy lighter fluid.
:blowup:
Kingsford has some fine anthracite mixed in their briquettes, I don’t know if that is standard among all manufacturers and I heard, saw or read somewhere that lime is added and that is what turns the briquettes gray as they burn.

Happy grillin’, I like mine medium-rare with a nice cold beer, Weyerbacher will be fine. :cheers:
gaw
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice from Schuylkill County