I’ve grilled on some diverse equipment over the years…cast iron grates on an open fire, tailgating hibachi’s, cheapo `pot on a tripod’ charcoal grills, fixed gas grills, and various grades of propane units. The Weber Genesis has given me the best overall grilling experience thus far.
For reference, I’ve been using this grill approximately once per week for the past 3 ½ months. That’s not a great deal of use, but plenty of time to know that I have a great product in my hands. I’ve grilled chicken, fish, steaks (beef and bison), shish-ka-bobs, veggies, pineapple, burgers, dogs, sausage, etc.
HOW IT COOKS
Let’s face it, our primary goal with any grill is to cook great food for our friends, our families, and ourselves to enjoy. This Weber makes it easy to do just that.
HEAT- One of the main problems I’ve run into with other grills is a lack of heat. In roughly five minutes the E-310 reaches 500F with the lid closed. If you wait a little longer, it will push 550F no problem. Not only does it heat quickly, it heats evenly. Unlike some of the other grills I’ve used over the years, heat is dispersed nicely around the grill, and all cooking positions on the main grate work equally well.
NO FLARE-UPS- I have yet to have any sort of flare up. The bits and drips that fall from the grate are either caught in the catch tray, or turn to smoke/flavor. I’ve never used another grill that didn’t have ANY issues with flare-ups. The convenience of this feature, and the positive impact it has on producing properly finished results can’t be stressed enough.
CONSISTENCY- The factors above make for consistent grilling. I think that’s the one benefit of this grill that I’ve noticed above all others. I’ve really been able to dial in my cook times, because I know the grill is going to react the same way every time. 3½ minutes per side on a 1″ thick steak at full heat produces a perfect medium restaurant-style steak…every time. All guesswork is eliminated. With other grills, I always seemed to be a bit off on my cook times. Food was either over or under-cooked, and I only stumbled on the perfect preparation once in a while. With only a little experience on this Weber, I’m already confident that I can churn out awesome meals every time. To me, that’s what makes this grill so great.
HEAT RETENTION- Another outstanding heat-related feature of this grill is how quickly it comes back up to temperature after it’s opened. I’ve never owned a grill that rebounds so quickly from the release of heat. You open the lid to check on your food, close the lid, and the thermometer on the grill face is racing back towards 500F. The thick, heavy duty lid and grate are obviously great heat sinks.
THERMOMETER- The thermometer on the face of the grill is a handy tool. It helps you adjust cook time by recognizing how much heat you’ve lost when the grill was opened. In other words, if you’re shooting for 3 minutes per side on a burger at 500F, and you open the grill for some reason (add buns to toast, etc.), you can see when the grill is back at 500F, and how long it took to get there. That way you can cook a little longer to compensate for the loss of heat. It’s a very handy feature.
EASY TO LIGHT- I’ve never had any issues lighting this grill. It lights on the first click every time, and the other two burners light instantly when you turn their knobs. When you look across the flames from the side, you see that the flames are all perfectly even.
DURABILITY- Since I don’t have much time on my unit yet, I can’t comment too much on durability. I can say that the grill appears to be very solidly constructed, and I don’t have any concerns about how it will hold up.
ASSEMBLY- My wife put this grill together in the garage with basic hand tools. She laid everything out on the garage floor with the directions. I came back in after working on a yard project a couple of hours later, and it was done and ready to light. I consider her a little more handy than average, but she said it was a fairly intuitive build.
COVER- The cover fits snugly and seems to protect the grill well. We had an ill-fitting universal cover on our last grill, and it was always a pain to take off and put on. The one for this unit is a piece of cake, and covers the entire grill almost to the ground.
GAS TANK LEVEL- The `fuel remaining’ indicator on the propane tank is handy, and should result in fewer major party-fouls. Not having enough gas for the grill at your BBQ is up there with running out of beer, or playing terrible music through a tiny boom box. If you commit any of these serious offenses you should be permanently banned from throwing parties in the future.
VS. CHARCOAL GRILLS
If you are a casual griller with the primary goal of producing consistently great food in your backyard, buy this grill and don’t waste your time with charcoal. I recently went to a friend’s house, where he proudly showed us his new charcoal/gas hybrid grill (it was actually also a Weber, except one that uses gas to start, and charcoal to cook). I felt bad watching him flail around with the thing. First he had to get the charcoal lit. Then he had to wait for all of the coals to light evenly. Then he wasn’t sure how hot some of the coals were vs. others around the grilling area. Then he wasn’t certain when to put the food on. His burgers came out overcooked, and the heat died so quickly that he struggled to finish a couple of measly hot dogs. What a train wreck. I felt bad for him, and longed for a giant, juicy burger off of my grill. He experienced all of those problems, and was only cooking for four at the time. I can’t imagine cooking for a party of 30 on that thing. It would be a juggling act to produce reasonably good results for all. Also, don’t buy into the `more flavor with charcoal’ hype. If you season your burgers nicely when you prep them, and cook them properly on this grill, you won’t be lacking any flavor!
Nothing is perfect, and there are a few things I’d like to see with this grill. First, I’d prefer to have a higher and larger top shelf grilling surface. I primarily use the top shelf for bun toasting and warming. I’d like to have it removed a little further from the direct heat of the burners. Also, it would be great to have more shelf space on the sides of the grill. No matter what grilling situation I’ve been in, I always seem to be lacking counter space, particularly when cooking for a sizeable group.
If you have a few extra bucks, and you want to produce consistently great food, invest in this grill. The $250-$400 grills of the world can’t compete with this Weber on producing repeatable, delicious results. They lack heat production, they flare-up, they don’t retain or rebuild heat quickly, and their grates and burners tend to fall apart. Also, unless you’re a BBQ connoisseur with a lot of spare time on your hands, don’t waste your time with charcoal. You’ll spend too much time futzing around, and stress yourself out trying to get consistent results (particularly if you’re cooking for a sizeable group). You want a grill that’s easy to “learn.” That way can quickly and easily produce consistent results, and spend more time relaxing on your deck with a cold one, swimming in your pool, spending time with your friends and family, etc.