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New 18.5" and 22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain Cookers for 2009

Originally posted: 09/01/2008
Last updated: 06/09/2014

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The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker you cooked on in 2008 was essentially the same product people were cooking on when the WSM was first introduced in 1981. With the exception of changing some rust-prone steel parts to aluminum and changing the lid handle from wood to plastic, it was basically the same product all those years.

It was a great product that served us well, but for many years Weber fans had been hoping for some product improvements and innovations. A bigger cooker with greater cooking capacity, a built-in thermometer, a bigger, more stable water pan, a better access door, and a charcoal grate that doesn't drop charcoal into the bottom of the bowl.

Well, our prayers were answered in the Fall of 2008!

The new 2009 18-1/2" and 22-1/2" Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smokers

The new 2009 18.5" and 22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smokers

In October 2008, Weber introduced an improved 18.5" Smokey Mountain Cooker and a new, larger 22.5" Smokey Mountain Cooker.

18.5" Features

  • Built-in lid thermometer with 1.5" stem
    • Temperature range of 100-350°F in 5°F increments
  • Improved access door
    • Door handle indicates locked position
    • Latching mechanism pulls door tight to middle cooking section
    • Clever new design allows the door to be removed entirely or have it open downward but still attached to the cooker—without hinges
  • Improved water pan
    • 2.5 gallon capacity
    • More solid fit on grill straps
    • Unfortunately, less headroom between bottom of water pan and charcoal chamber
  • Sturdier legs
  • Improved charcoal grate prevents charcoal from falling through into the bowl
  • Heat shield mounted to the legs under the charcoal bowl protects patio or deck
  • Improved packaging protects the product during journey from factory to front porch
  • Updated owners manual operating instructions and modern recipes

22.5" Features

  • Two 22" cooking grates
  • Built-in lid thermometer with 1.5" stem
    • Temperature range of 100-350°F in 5°F increments
  • Additional handle on edge of lid to assist with lifting
  • Larger 4-1/4" vent dampers, each with four 3/4" holes
  • Improved access door
    • Taller, much wider door opening
    • Door handle indicates locked position
    • Latching mechanism pulls door tight to middle cooking section
    • Clever new design allows the door to be removed entirely or have it open downward but still attached to the cooker—without hinges
  • Improved water pan
    • 3 gallon capacity
    • More solid fit on grill straps
  • Sturdier legs
  • Improved charcoal grate prevents charcoal from falling through into the bowl
  • Larger charcoal chamber holds an entire warehouse club-sized bag of briquettes
  • More headroom between the top cooking grate and the lid, and more space between the top and bottom cooking grates
  • Heat shield mounted to the legs under the charcoal bowl protects patio or deck
  • Improved packaging protects the product during journey from factory to front porch
  • Updated owners manual operating instructions and modern recipes

Detailed Specs

Model 721001 18.5" Model 731001 22.5"
Height 41-1/2" 48-1/2"
Width 18-7/8" 22-7/8"
Weight 37 pounds 52 pounds
Top cooking grate 17-1/2"
240-1/2 sq. in.
21-1/2"
363 sq. in.
Bottom cooking grate 17"
227 sq. in.
20-3/4"
338 sq. in.
Distance between cooking grates 7-1/2" 9"
Water pan 14-3/8" x 7"
2.5 gallons
18-3/4" x 4-1/4"
3 gallons
Distance between water pan and charcoal grate 5-3/4" 12-1/2"
Charcoal chamber 14-1/2" x 4-3/4" 17" x 4-3/4"
Charcoal grate 15-1/4" 18-1/4"
Distance between charcoal grate and bottom of charcoal bowl 4-1/2" 5-1/4"
Lid 18-1/2" OD x 13" (including handle)
10-1/2" between inside top of lid and top cooking grate
22-1/2" OD x 14-5/16" (including handle)
11-13/16" between inside top of lid and top cooking grate
Lid damper One 3" damper with three 3/4" holes One 4-1/4" damper with four 3/4" holes
Thermometer 100-350°F, 5°F increments
1-1/2" stem
100-350°F, 5°F increments
1-1/2" stem
Thermometer hole in lid 3/8" 3/8"
Middle cooking section 18-3/4" OD / 17-5/8" ID x 17-1/2"
6" between screw holes
22-7/8" OD / 21-3/4" ID x 21-1/2"
7-1/4" between screw holes
Access opening 7-1/4" x 10" 12-3/4" x 13-7/8"
Access door 8-1/8" x 11-5/8" 14" x 16-1/4"
Access door knob 3" long 3" long
Charcoal bowl 18-1/2" OD x 10" (without legs), 12-3/8" (with legs) 22-5/8" OD x 12" (without legs), 14-1/4" (with legs)
Charcoal bowl dampers Three 3" dampers with three 3/4" holes Three 4-1/4" dampers with four 3/4" holes
Legs Three, 11-1/2" x 1-1/2" Three, 13-1/4" x 2"

Videos on YouTube

Weber was kind enough to provide a pre-production version of the 22.5" WSM so I could cook on it and provide feedback. You can watch my comments as I open the box for the first time and assemble the cooker, and see a comparison between the old 18.5" WSM and the new 22.5" WSM.

22.5" Photo Gallery

Click thumbnails for larger images.

WSM front view WSM top view Close-up of lid handle, damper, and thermometer Close-up of lid handle and vent damper Overhead view of lid handle, damper, and thermometer
Close-up of lid vent damper Close-up of lid edge handle Close-up of thermometer Thermometer and bezel removed from lid Thermometer inside lid
View of lid edge handle and access door View of access door Close-up of access door knob View of open access door Access door hanging from side of WSM
Close-up of access door detail Close-up of access door latch View of leg, bowl damper, and heat shield Close-up of leg Profile view of leg
View of legs, damper, and heat shield View into middle cooking section Water pan in middle cooking section Close-up of water pan and grill strap Charcoal grate
Charcoal chamber on charcoal grate Bottom cooking grate Top cooking grate Two nested Weber rib racks Two Weber chimney starters on charcoal grate

18.5" vs. 22.5" Comparison Photos

Smaller parts are 18.5" parts, larger parts are 22.5" parts.

Click thumbnails for larger images.

Overhead view of water pans Side view of water pans Detail of water pan lip Overhead of nested top cooking grates Overhead of nested bottom cooking grates
Overhead of charcoal grates Overhead of nested charcoal grates Overhead of charcoal chambers Overhead of nested charcoal chambers Nested charcoal chambers inside bowl


Test Cook #1

6 Slabs Pork Loin Back Ribs - Total weight approximately 13 pounds
August 11, 2008

I fired the 22.5" WSM using the Minion Method and a 9-pound bag of Kingsford charcoal briquettes. I spread 40 hot coals over the unlit briquettes, added 3 chunks of apple wood, and put 2 gallons of water into the pan.

The 6 slabs of ribs were cooked on the top cooking grate using a Weber rib rack, 4 slabs in the rack and 2 slabs on either side, flat on the grate.

With all the vents wide open, it took about an hour for the cooker to rise to 225°F. I was able to easily control temperature over the next few hours until these ribs were tender.

You will notice that there was very little fuel left over after I shut down the cooker. This may be due to the out-of-round condition exhibited by this pre-production unit. Having said that, I think this cooker generally uses more fuel because of its larger size and dampers.

The first 3 photos below show a comparison of ribs on the old WSM and the new 22.5" WSM.

Click thumbnails for larger images.

Ribs flat on grate, 18" left, 22" right
18.5" left,
22.5" right
Ribs in rib rack, 18" left, 22" right
18.5" left,
22.5" right
Rolled ribs on grate, 18" left, 22" right
18.5" left,
22.5" right
FireStarter cubes on charcoal grate Lighting the chimney starter
Unlit charcoal in the charcoal chamber Hot coals spread over unlit briquettes Smoke wood place on hot coals Foiled water pan inside cooker Front view of ribs in rib rack
Side view of ribs in rib rack Open access door during cooking process Finished ribs in the cooker Leftover fuel after cooking Ashes in bottom of bowl


Test Cook #2

6 Beer Can Chickens - About 5 pounds each, total weight 30 pounds
August 15, 2008

I fired the 22.5" WSM using 7 pounds of Duraflame lump charcoal. I spread a hot chimney full of lump over the unlit lump, added 3 chunks of cherry wood, and put 2 gallons of water into the pan.

Three chickens went onto both the top and bottom cooking grates. The cooker immediately jumped past 250°F, and even with all the bottom vents fully closed, the cooker ran in the 260-270°F range for 90 minutes before drifting down to 245-250°F and stayed there 2-1/2 hours until these chickens were done. I never did open the bottom vents.

The first 2 photos below show a comparison of beer can chicken on the old WSM and the new 22.5" WSM.

Click thumbnails for larger images.

Beer can chickens on bottom grate, 18" left, 22" right
18.5" left,
22.5" right
Chickens touch
top grate on 18.5"
Beer can chickens on top grate, 18" left, 22" right
18.5" left,
22.5" right
Overhead view of 4 beer can chickens on 22" top grate FireStarter cubes on charcoal grate Lighting a chimney full of lump charcoal
Hot lump in chimney Three chunks of cherry wood Hot coals spread over unlit lump Smoke wood on top of hot coals Six chickens on cooker
Overhead view of 6 chickens in cooker Close-up of thermometer Finished chicken in cooker Fuel leftover after cooking  


Test Cook #3

6 Pork Butts - Total untrimmed weight approximately 45 pounds
August 22, 2008

I fired the 22.5" WSM using the Minion Method and a 21.6-pound bag of Kingsford charcoal briquettes. I spread 50 hot coals over the unlit briquettes, added 4 chunks of apple wood, and put 2 gallons of water into the pan.

Three pork butts went onto both the top and bottom cooking grates. As with the ribs before and with all the vents wide open, it took almost an hour for the cooker to rise to 230°F. The cooker ran in the 225-250°F range easily for another 5 hours, but during the remaining 5-1/2 hours the cooker languished around 200°F, even with all the bottom vents wide open, stirring the coals twice to rejuvenate them, and having used foil to fill the out-of-round gaps at the beginning of the cook.

I was able to finish the butts successfully, but with the cooker temperature drifting below 200°F and with very little fuel left. I need to explore different methods to see how to get more than 11-1/2 hours of cooking time.

The first photo below show a comparison of pork butts on the old WSM and the new 22.5" WSM.

Click thumbnails for larger images.

Pork butts on top grate, 18" left, 22" right
18.5" left,
22.5" right
Top grate load test - 45 pounds of pork butt Smoke wood and hot coals in charcoal chamber Six pork butts in cooker Finished pulled pork and whole cooked butts
Close-up of pulled pork Close-up of three cooked butts Using foil to close out-of-round gaps around bowl Fuel leftover after cooking Ashes in bowl


Test Cook #4

6 Pork Butts - Total untrimmed weight approximately 45 lbs.
September 5, 2008

My fourth test cook was another 45 pounds of pork butt. I wanted to see if I could get more than 11 hours out of a big bag of Kingsford. This time I used 2 gallons of hot water in the pan instead of cool water. It was a calm, warm night and never went below 63°F outside.

Someone at Weber told me they got 14 hours of cooking time by starting with a lot of hot Kingsford, setting the top vent just 3/4 open, and closing all the bottom vents for the entire cook. So, I spread a full Weber chimney of hot coals over the remainder of a 21.6-pound bag of Kingsford and set the vents as described above. I used foil to plug the gaps in the out-of-round condition of the cooker. The meat sat at room temperature for 1 hour before going into the cooker.

I could not get the cooker temperature over 200°F. After about 90 minutes of this, I opened just 1 bottom vent 100% and it ran at 225°F for a long time. Toward the end of the cook, I had 2 bottom vents open 100%.

Once again, at about 11 hours the cooker was dropping to 200-210°F. The meat was done at 11-1/2 hours. I shook loose the ashes to reveal less than a chimney-full of partial briquettes in various stages of burning.

Click thumbnails for larger images.

21.6 pounds Kingsford ready to go 6 pork butts loaded into the 22" WSM Finished pork butt in the cooker 6 finished pork butts in the kitchen Leftover fuel and ashes after 11.5 hours of cooking
Remaining fuel after ashes were shaken out        


Test Cook #5

2 Beef Briskets - Total untrimmed weight approximately 31 lbs.
September 12, 2008

I trimmed a few large areas of fat from each brisket and cooked them using the Minion Method...50 hot briquettes over the remainder of a 21.6-pound bag of Kingsford, plus 2 gallons of hot water in the water pan. I did not refill the water pan during the cook.

I cooked overnight, from 9:00pm to 11:00am the next morning. It never got below 59°F outside. It took 2 hours for the cooker to come up to 225°F with all vents wide open. The cooker then ran 225-250°F for the next 6 hours. After that I never measured a temp over 225°F even with all vents fully open and stirring the coals once.

The brisket on the top cooking grate reached 185°F after 12 hours of cooking and got foiled and moved into a dry cooler to rest for a few hours. I moved the brisket from the bottom grate to the top and cooked for another 2 hours. It only reached 180°F after 14 hours of cooking, and at this point the cooker had dropped to 177°F, so I removed it from the cooker.

You can see the monster smoke ring achieved by the slow ramp-up of cooker temp during those first 2 hours.

I am coming to the realization that the 22.5" WSM consumes more fuel in general than the 18.5" version. Yes, you're potentially cooking more pounds of meat and putting more water in the pan, and both of those affect fuel usage, but this new cooker also radiates more heat because of greater surface area, and it has to heat a larger amount of air inside the cooker, and more air is drawn through the cooker because of the larger vent dampers. All these factors affect fuel consumption.

Click thumbnails for larger images.

15 pound brisket on 18" WSM
18.5" WSM
15 pound brisket on 18" WSM
22.5" WSM
Two 15-pound briskets go into the 22" WSM Nightvision photo of thermometer Foiled briskets resting in dry cooler
Slicing brisket across the grain Close-up of smoke ring on brisket slices Leftover fuel and ashes    


More Cooking Photos

Grilled Skirt Steak
September 10, 2008

Decided to use the 22.5" WSM as a "Smokey Joe on steroids" to grill skirt steak over lump charcoal. Delish!

Click thumbnails for larger images.

22" WSM as Smokey Joe on steroids Skirt steak grilled over lump charcoal on 22" WSM


Visit to Weber Corporate Headquarters

I was invited to meet with Weber's R&D and marketing staff at Weber Corporate Headquarters in Palatine, IL on August 25, 2008 to discuss the new Weber smokers for 2009. You can read my trip report here.

Photos of 18.5" and 22.5" WSMs: 2008 Weber-Stephen Products LLC.

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