Cheaper alternative to Weber grills?
I've been shopping around for a mid-ranged grill and have done a few hours of research looking at all the various brands and options available.
I'm looking for something that can do dual-zone cooking well (meaning probably 3 burners minimum) and a grill that has infrared or high temperature searing capabilities for steaks.
If price was not an option I'd probably go with the Weber Genesis E-330/S-330, but the $799 price tag is definitely on the steep side. I'm willing to pay for it if there aren't any other good alternatives but I thought I'd post and see if there is anything else that is close to the quality and performance of the Weber Genesis for cheaper.
I've researched the Char-Broil Quantum 4 burner model (http://www.charbroil.com/ProductInfo/...) but reviews seem pretty mixed trending towards the negative side due to poor build quality.
Any suggestions for other brands that are worth considering? Thanks.
I did the same research and came to the conclusion that there really isn't another brand with the reputation for quality and durability that Weber has. Then I ignored my own research, bowed to my wallet's concerns, and bought a cheaper brand that had decent reviews and, more importantly to me, felt solid when I examined it at the store - heavy, thick metal, nice enameled cast-iron grates, etc.
Bad decision. It never cooked evenly - from the start, there were a couple of spots that were nuclear hot and others where items would barely brown, requiring active and continual vigilance to cook things without torching them and/or undercooking them. (I even tried to rig it by plugging up some of the gas holes to re-direct the flames, which helped a little but it was still incredibly uneven.) The grates rusted as soon as a tiny chip in the enamel appeared. The starter lasted about 3 months, then each successive replacement lasted about the same.
Finally, after 3 years, I sold it and bought a Weber (Genesis 310s, no infrared though). It's bliss - I can fill the entire thing with kebabs and they all cook uniformly. My wife commented that my chicken was no longer always at least partially burned, and she's getting good at making grilled pizza (which was impossible on our old grill).
The only thing I miss is that the nuclear hot spot on our old grill was good for searing steaks, but if you get the infrared option then you'll have that ability too (and I don't miss it that much; if you crank the regular burners for 15 minutes before tossing the steaks on, you can still get a solid sear before they reach temperature). I'd say go for it - think of it as a long-term investment that should easily last 10 years, if you take care of it.
I can not speak to much as to the Weber gas grills, or any gas grill for that matter, as I am strictly charcoal. But, all of my charcoal grills are Weber, and just about everyone I know has a Weber gas grill (of those that use gas). They have had them for many years with little to no trouble.
When looking at the charcoal grills, I felt the quality was inferior to what I got with the Weber. They just do not seem as durable and felt over the years they just would not hold up as well.
You may want to check some BBQ sites, as they may have input on the subject. Some that I would reccommend are the Weber Virtual Bullet and BBQ Brethren. There is also a web ring associated to barbequing which is the Smoke Ring. The ring provides links to a number of other barbequing sites.
Hope this helps.
Unfortunately charcoal is not an option for me since I live in an apartment and they don't allow charcoal grills. Even if it was I don't want to have to worry about cleaning out the coals and dealing with the mess each time. I do agree that charcoal grilled food tastes much better though. I will check out some of the BBQ sites you mentioned but most likely I won't be doing any BBQing, just grilling.
I bought a small, cheap gas grill and it didn't last a season. I got a weber baby q grill and it has lasted me four seasons and hasn't had any problems at all. My brother got the same grill secondhand, and when he had a problem, the company helped him with the replacement part quickly and easily.
If you can afford it, I'd get a weber. In the long run, it will save you money, because you'll need to buy a new grill less often.
I think you can save yourself some money by going with the model without the side burner and the sear spot, but I would still go with the Weber. On a good grill, infrared is just not needed and on some grills that I looked at, you can't used the grill and the infrared at the same time which would limit your cooking. I also very rarely use the side burner.
From what I have seen, Webers last forever and there are always replacement parts for the few pieces that do wear.
Weber Spirit line is cheaper, a bit. If you can do without the stainless finish. Get a Weber, anyway. I used to go through a cheaper grill every 2-3 years, at which point they'd be rusted junk. Bought Weber charcoal and gas grills about 7 years ago and they're in perfect shape.
A windstorm Trashed my old Weber after 10 years. Like you I did my research and knew that I wouldn't be happy with anything else but didn't want to spend $700 either. So I bought a used weber 3 burner for about $75. His wife had gotten him a new stainless model. It works just great.