The Virtual Weber Bullet - Your best source for Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker information & discussion on the Web
HOME PRODUCT INFO COOKING TOPICS OPERATING TIPS & MODS VIDEOS RESOURCES FORUMS SHOPPING
 

Weber Summit Charcoal Grill: It Grills, It Smokes, And It's Expensive.
Is It Really The #GrillofaLifetime?

Bookmark and Share

Something Is Coming

On March 2, 2016, a Weber dealer in Wichita, Kansas was the first to let the world know about a new Weber product with this single sentence:

Something is coming.

 

Two days later, on March 4, Weber-Stephen Products LLC made their first official announcement on Facebook and Twitter:

Coming April 6! #GrillofaLifetime

 

Weber's Teaser Campaign Freaks-Out The Rabid, Obsessed Fan Boys

Over the course of the next month, Weber teased us with a series of videos and images on Facebook and Twitter. The freelance Creative Director and writer behind the videos, John Angelopulos, posted on his blog:

"Weber was about to launch it's biggest grill innovation in over 20 years. To match the loyalty of Weber's hardcore fan base, we teased up the reveal with a social campaign that tapped into their freakish obsession with grilling."

The Associate Creative Director/Art Director for the videos, Matthew Sharpe, blogged the following:

"Weber has a lot of loyal customers. It's actually fair to call them rabid and obsessed. They are in love with how well these grills can grill. So what happens when they decide to launch a new grill that will change the game all together? We'll see April 6, but first we had to tease and watch the fan boys freak out."

Do some of us have a rabid, freakish obsession with Weber grills? Yes, we do. Do we love Weber grills? Absolutely. So if you were following the campaign online and felt your loyalty to Weber was being played...well, yes, that's exactly what was happening.

Close-up view of Snap-jet igniter knob and enclosure

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 1

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 2

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 3

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 4

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 5

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 6

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 7

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 8

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 9

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 10

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 11

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 12

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 13

GrillofaLifetime teaser ad 14

 

Looking High & Low For Details

I looked high and low for leaked photos, specs, schematics, and owners manuals...but I didn't find any. I've got to give credit to Weber, they did a good job of keeping the product details under wraps until the very end. There wasn't the epic fail for this product that occurred in Fall 2013 when a European Weber dealer published a photo of the yet-to-be-announced 14.5" Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker...followed by Weber accidentally posting the cooker's parts schematic on their support website!

Still, there were tantalizing clues swirling around the conversation on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board prior to the April 6 announcement:

  • People who initially signed up for Weber's product announcement e-mail list received a confirmation from the "Weber Summit Charcoal mailing list".
  • A few dealers announced they would be revealing "the new Weber Summit Charcoal Grill" at their stores on April 6.
  • People spoke with individuals having knowledge of the product who said it would be a two-layer, air-insulated metal grill with gas assist lighting, a hinged heat deflector for indirect cooking, and a top vent daisy wheel that pops up for increased airflow for high-temp grilling.
  • We heard there would be a $1,500 base model and a $2,000 Performer-like table-mounted version.

April 6, 2016: The Big Reveal

Weber announced the new Summit Charcoal Grill and Summit Charcoal Grilling Center on April 6, 2016 at 9:00 am Central Time via their website, social media postings, and direct e-mails.

Weber Summit Charcoal Grill - $1,499
Weber Summit Charcoal Grill - $1,499

 

Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center - $1,999
Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center - $1,999

Here are the specs:

MSRP: $1,699 / $2,299
Street Price: $1,499 / $1,999

Dimensions: Height 45.5" / 47.7", Width 39.5" / 56.6", Depth 35.8" / 35"

Cooking Area: 452 square inches

Construction: Heavy-duty steel cart frame; One-Touch™ cleaning system; removable, high-capacity aluminum ash catcher; wire bottom shelf; locking caster(s); easy open lid hinge; Rapidfire® lid damper; stainless steel wire basket (Grilling Center only); weather-protected CharBin™ storage container (Grilling Center only); diffuser plate storage area (Grilling Center only).

Features: Built-in lid thermometer; tool hooks (3); owner’s guide; limited warranty; Gourmet BBQ System™ hinged cooking grate; stainless steel front handle.

Cooking System: Stainless steel hinged cooking grate; porcelain-enameled, air-insulated, double-walled bowl and lid; stainless steel air insulated hinged diffuser plate; two position fuel grate; slow cook, smoke bowl vent setting; Snap-jet™ gas ignition system.

Product Photos & Video

Here are more photos and a great video of the Summit Charcoal Grill. Some are courtesy of Weber's media relations department, some are screen shots from videos on Weber.com, and the one of the grate extender is from Mike Lang of AnotherPintPlease.com.

 

Summit Charcoal Grill
Summit Charcoal Grill
 
Summit Charcoal Grilling Center
Summit Charcoal Grilling Center
Ribs laid flat on 24" cooking grate
Ribs laid flat on 24" cooking grate
 
Optional expansion grilling rack
Optional expansion grilling rack
 
Spring-loaded lid hinge
Spring-loaded lid hinge
 
Adjustable charcoal grate in upper position for grilling
Adjustable charcoal grate in upper position for grilling
 
Moving charcoal grate to lower position for smoking
Moving charcoal grate to lower position for smoking
 
Removable hinged, insulated heat deflector plate for smoking
Removable hinged, insulated heat deflector plate for smoking
 
Snap-jet gas ignition system
Snap-jet gas ignition system

 
Rapidfire lid damper pops open to increase airflow
Rapidfire lid damper pops open to increase airflow

 
Lid profile view
Lid profile view
 
Open lid reveals double-walled air insulated lid and body
Open lid reveals double-walled air insulated lid and body
 
Overhead view of Grilling Center work surface
Overhead view of Grilling Center work surface
 
Storage area below Grilling Center for Gourmet BBQ System parts
Storage area below Grilling Center for Gourmet BBQ System parts
 

Product Availability

As with any new Weber model, availability of the Summit Charcoal Grill will be limited for some period of time as inventory builds in the retail pipeline. At the time of writing, Weber is making the grill available at a select number of retail outlets; check the Weber Dealer Locator for a dealer near you (select "Summit Charcoal Grill" or "Summit Charcoal Grilling Center" from the dropdown selector).

Accessories

Weber offers the following optional accessories to go with the Summit Charcoal Grill:

  • Polyester cover: $59 / $69
  • Large rib rack: price not available at time of writing
  • Expansion grilling rack: price not available at time of writing
  • Charcoal rake: price not available at time of writing

Owner's Manual & Assembly Instructions

Want to see how the new Weber Summit Charcoal grills are put together and how Weber suggests they be operated? Just download the owners manual.

Get Adobe Reader

Why Did Weber Make This Grill? What's The Big Deal?

This is the big question...why did Weber come out with the Summit Charcoal Grill, and what does it offer that you can't find in existing Weber grills or in competitive offerings?

The "why" is that Weber wants to compete in the profitable, high-end charcoal grill market that is currently owned by the Big Green Eggs and Kamados of the world, in the same way they already compete in the high-end gas grill market.

Keep The Site Free! Click Here To Shop Amazon.com

The "what" lies in the ability of this grill to be equally proficient in both grilling and smoking. The classic Weber kettle is a great "hot & fast" grill, but not a great smoker. Yes, you can use it for smoking, but with some effort. The WSM is a great "low & slow" smoker, but not a great grill. So the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill attempts to do both things very well, to offer the best of both worlds in a single unit, and thus take on the likes of Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe head-on.

Leveraging their history of metal work, Weber is relying on double-walled, air-insulated, porcelain-enameled steel to create efficiencies and performance similar to ceramic cookers, but in a lighter weight package and with the supposed ability to recover more quickly when overheated than ceramics. The design allows higher temps for grilling and more efficient charcoal use for smoking, allowing 10-12 hour cook times with less charcoal than we're used to using in the WSM. The adjustable height charcoal grate moves the coals up closer to the meat for grilling and down lower for barbecuing. An air-insulated diffuser plate can be inserted for indirect cooking or removed for direct grilling. The Rapidfire lid damper offers traditional Weber daisy wheel control, but can pop open during fire-up so the grill reaches 550°F in 20 minutes for grilling. There's ease of charcoal lighting with a gas assist propane lighter. The whole thing rolls around on wheels, there's accessories storage, and on the Grilling Center version, onboard charcoal storage. All this in a package that will not crack, that weighs less and is easier to move and transport than ceramic cookers, and at a comparable price to ceramics.

Add the One-Touch system for easy ash removal and the Weber Gourmet BBQ System for wok cooking, cast iron cooking, Korean barbecue, pizza stone and more, and you begin to understand the value proposition offered by the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill.

Is It Worth The Money?

Value is in the eye of the beholder. Weber fans have never seen a Weber charcoal grill in the $1,500-$2,000 price range before, and to be honest, it freaks out some people. It's hard to know how much of the price is for product and how much is for prestige. But we are used to Big Green Eggs costing $1,100 before all the necessary add-ons, and we are familiar with the Weber Summit gas grill starting at $1,500 while the proficient Weber Genesis gas grill starts for less than half that amount. So I think we're in an "adjustment period" where people are getting to know this new grill and its capabilities and deciding whether or not they will become comfortable with the pricing. Only time will tell if enough people find value at these prices to make the Summit Charcoal Grill a success.

Having said that, the price of this grill is clearly not for everyone, and I don't expect to see lots of people putting their grill and smoker collection up for sale in order to buy a Summit Charcoal Grill. If you're new to the hobby and looking to save money, for $800 you can buy both the top of the line Weber Performer Deluxe and the excellent 22.5" WSM, assuming you have room for both, and still have $700 leftover to purchase your charcoal stockpile.

Does The Summit Charcoal Grill Replace The WSM?

No, it does not. Weber does not intend for the Summit Charcoal Grill to replace the WSM, and based on price alone, it's unlikely to do so. But the Summit might be a good choice for someone with deep pockets wanting to buy a single cooker that's good at both high-temp grilling and low-temp smoking.

The 24" cooking grate with optional extender grate should come close to the capacity of a 22.5" WSM and exceeds the capacity of a 18.5" WSM. The fuel efficiency of the unit, due to its insulated design, is an advantage over the thin-walled WSM. The Summit's gas ignition system lights charcoal more easily than using a Weber chimney starter in the WSM. And don't forget, unlike the WSM, the whole thing rolls around on wheels.

On the other hand, upon initial inspection, servicing the charcoal and water pan appears somewhat more difficult in the Summit than in the WSM (although adding charcoal might not be necessary in some cases due to better fuel efficiency). The Summit does not have an access door like the WSM, so water must be serviced through the hinged cooking grate (if water is used at all in this grill) and fuel through both the hinged grate and hinged diffuser plate. There's even a new charcoal rake tool for making the task easier, so it must not be that easy to begin with. It's the access door that makes these tasks easy in the WSM...but the door fits poorly on many units, so lack of a door may be counted as an advantage for the Summit.

Unlike the WSM, the Summit cannot easily break down into pieces for transport. The Summit would be more challenging to transport to a barbecue competition than a WSM, especially if moving it by yourself. And there's the issue of price—you can buy five 18.5" WSMs for the price of just one Weber Summit Charcoal Grill.

At some point, I would like to take the Summit Charcoal Grill for a test drive and compare its operation and performance with the WSM. If I ever get a chance to do so, I'll be sure to write about it here.

 

Photographs of Weber Summit Charcoal Grill and Summit Charcoal Grilling Center: 2016 by Weber-Stephen Products LLC.
Photograph of Weber Summit grate extender: 2016 by Mike Lang of AnotherPintPlease.com.

Updated: 04/12/2016

Help support TVWB with your Amazon.com shopping Buy the WSM @ Amazon.com
The Virtual Weber Bullet
The Virtual Weber Bullet is your best source for Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker information and discussion on the Web. Popular with competition barbecue teams, the WSM is an easy-to-use water smoker that's equally at home in the backyard. See the WSM and its component parts; get recipes, usage tips, and modification ideas; check-out BBQ-related resources; and discuss the WSM with owners and enthusiasts in our online forums.
About TVWB

Welcome Message
Site Map
How To Use TVWB
Recent Articles & Site Updates
The History of TVWB

Facebook  Twitter  You Tube  Instagram

Get The TVWB Newsletter

Email Address

Subscribe to our monthly e-mail newsletter to learn about new articles, tips, recipes, and prize drawings.

Terms of Use   |   Privacy Statement   |   Learn How You Can Support TVWB   |   Advertising On TVWB   |   Contact Us

© 1997-2017 Chris A. Allingham LLC
The Virtual Weber Bullet is an unofficial Weber product fan site and is not affiliated with Weber-Stephen Products LLC.

The Virtual Weber Bullet is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn
advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

WSM 14 WSM 18 WSM 22 Donate Using PayPal TVWB t-shirts & logostuff