There is a shred of positive light on this trend however. With the introduction of “natural” lump charcoal and the placement of these products into stores like Whole Foods people have been given the impression that charcoal cooking isn’t bad for the environment or your health (at least not as bad as previously assumed). This is justifying the good old cookout, convincing more people to fire up charcoal for their grilling.
Charcoal High End: For decades there has been one charcoal grill that has stood out as the pinnacle of charcoal grills. The Grillery Grillworks is going to run you between $2,000 and $3,000 depending on the model but is an amazing grill. This year The Grillery is being joined by the The German Grill. This award winning design is a top quality charcoal grill that starts well over $1,000. In addition this year Cal-Spa has introduced a charcoal unit that looks like a conventional gas grill and can be mounted into one of Cal-Spa’s outdoor kitchen units. Napoleon will also be introducing their own similar grill this year.
Going Green: One of the big buzz words in the outdoor cooking industry this years has been Green Grilling. According to HPBA a year of operating the average gas grill will burn through a little more than a barrel of oil per year. This fact has many grill makers talking up how few BTUs their grills have. From Fire Stones Cook Number grills and their maximum 30,000 BTU output to Char-Broil’s new RED and its “infrared efficiency” (about 43,000 BTUs for 620 square inches). Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal of data to make a real educated decision yet about the best way to grill green. However, there are certainly a number of ways you can reduce your grill’s carbon footprint:
- Durability: Manufacturing, packaging, shipping and recycling grills of any type causes a great deal of pollution. Buying products that last longer will reduce pollution. You will also spend less money in the long run.
- Gas Efficiency: Grills that produce good heat with less fuel are always a better choice. You will use less fuel and save yourself some money. Look at the build of a grill. Inefficient gas grills have large opening in the back and rotisserie mountings. Also infrared generally uses less fuel and is worth looking into.
- Charcoal Efficiency: A good charcoal grill can be shut down to put out the fire and save remaining charcoal for your next cookout. In this way you can greatly reduce your charcoal consumption. Avoid charcoal lighter fluids which are largely petroleum products. Use electric starter, charcoal chimneys or natural charcoal lighter instead.
- Buy only what you need: There are a lot of grills out there offering a wide range of extra features. Rotisserie burners and infrared sear burners are becoming standard and grills with ovens and refrigerators are starting to increase. If you really don’t need these features, save yourself some money and reduce the waste by getting the grill you need, not every bell and whistle.
- Clean your Grill: A dirt grill creates more smoke and more pollution.
Smokers: While we continue to see Kamado style grills ( i.e. Big Green Egg) marketed more and more as smokers, one old fashioned smoker company is working to keep the good old barbecue pit alive. Barbecue legend Chris Marks and his Ace of Hearts Barbecue Specialties company is taking the classic Good One Smoker mainstream and looking to sell it nationally. This is a great smoker and with this kind of marketing might just become a national brand. Only time will tell if this gamble will pay off. Barbecue Popularity: For years everyone has reported the phenomenal growth in the popularity of barbecue. The real store this years is how this popularity is being taken advantage over. The Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) took on some professional marketing recently and will launch a National Tour this year to promote barbecue. Interestingly enough, they are promising to demonstrate grilling and barbecue techniques. It would seem that old school barbecue is using grilling as the gateway to more barbecue fans and better business.