The Smokey Joe was created by Weber, as a budget alternative to their other portable charcoal grills. They had promised prior to release that despite its price of under $40, it would be well-made, and would have some excellent features. Its price has caused some astonishment among consumers, so I decided to take a look, and let you know what I found. This Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill Review, will provide you with inside information on its features, and ultimately we'll decide together, whether or not it represents good value for money.
by Weber [Weber]
- 147 square inch cooking area
- Excellent design
- Porcelain-enamel coated
- Brilliant Top Vent
- Food tastes great
- Low price
- Bottom vent can become clogged
- Flimsy legs
Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill Review (Official Site):
The Smokey Joe measures 15.6 inches in length, by 15.6 inches of width, and comes at a depth of 9 inches; so what you've got is a standalone grill, but it's not very tall, so you'll need something to place it on. This point certainly affects portability. as grills with most portability, can simply be put on the ground, ready to start. It is however lightweight, at 9.5 pounds, so it'll be easy to move and to transport. The bowl on the Smokey Joe is the same design Weber have used on other, much more expensive grills, like the Original Kettle Grill, and it's large enough for a wide variety of foods, so buyers can certainly take advantage of this versatility, while on the road.
For all intensive purposes, the 10020 Smokey Joe is a cheaper version of the Weber Kettle Grill at a fraction of the price. So its success or failure as a value for money product hinges on the design decisions Weber made. Did they cut costs in the right places, without sacrificing too much quality? Well, looking at the Smokey Joe, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's made of the same material as the Original Kettle, but Weber have been quite clever here. Instead of Aluminum, they've used triple wrapped nickel, which isn't a major step down in terms of quality, doesn't affect the weight, and most importantly, it doesn't affect the taste. Full marks to Weber for their first cost-cutting decision.
The next piece of good news is that Weber have given buyers 147 square inches of cooking surface; but here's the first problem. Weber have dispensed with cast-iron grates, and instead used steel grates, which aren't as good, and won't heat food as quickly or as evenly as cast-iron grates. Having said this, you're also not paying more than $40 for the Smokey Joe, and steel grates are still pretty good, so this issue is definitely off-set. Furthermore, I don't think many buyers would be expecting 147 inches of cooking surface, plus cast-iron grates on a budget grill like this, so there won't be any disappointment.
Although the cooking area is wide, and the bowl is large enough for a whole turkey; temperature control is the key to versatility in a grill. Vents allow grill owners to manipulate the temperature inside the cooking area, by letting air-flow in and out; there's usually a vent on the bottom and one on the top of the grill, and good vents are critical, if you want to cook different types of food. While the top vent on the Smokey Joe, does allow for a wide range of temperature control, the bottom vent can become clogged with debris. This is potentially a big problem, as medium rare steaks with a clogged vent, could turn out to be well-done, and slow cooking might be impossible. So, while the Smokey Joe, certainly has the size, to make a wide variety of foods, its performance depends on buyers constantly checking their vents.
On the plus side, the Smokey Joe does have a good ash-catcher, and rather helpfully the grill closes down to put the fire out, thereby saving your charcoal and ultimately saving you money. Unfortunately however, unless you're careful you'll need to pay someone to straighten out the legs, which are very flimsy and prone to bend under any strain. So be very careful around them.
For the price you can get this for, the Smokey Joe is one of the best grills out there. You just have to be a little more careful, then you are with other Weber grills. Keep the bottom vent clean, make sure it doesn't get clogged up, and treat the legs well. If buyers do these things, then what they'll have is a wonderful grill, with 147 square inches of space, steel grates, and made with a lightweight triple nickel plated material. I'd say Weber have done an excellent job here, cutting-costs, while creating something that's perfect for tailgating, and camping trips.