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beerguy911

Charcoal brand rating

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I understand that we have nakedwiz.com as a reference source for the different charcoal brands but is appears that listing has become dated and stale as well for different purposes beyond being used in a kamado. Therefore I propose that we start our own topic category that reviews charcoal brands. And if we could also have a rating method similar to nakedwiz.com that would be even better.  

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I have a strong opinion on lump charcoal.

 

With a very few exceptions, they are all as good as the others.  I have cooked with at least 10 different brands of lump charcoal.  I have had no issues of any significance with any of them.  The Naked Wiz database and testing of lump charcoal is a joke.  There is nothing consistent or scientific about his testing.  The differences that he notes from one to another are INSIGNIFICANT.  

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There are some charcoals that are definitely a higher density wood than others.  The charcoals that are made out of the south american hardwoods, especially the quebracho, fit into this category.  They do burn a bit longer in my experience.  After everything is said and done thought, it still doesn't make much difference.  I can fill my firebox with the cheap royal oak from Walmart and still cook a brisket or a butt for about any length of time imagineable without needing additional charcoal.

 

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I agree with all of the points above but would  like to point out that I have noticed different charcoal can impart different flavours to what you are cooking. I have used 3 different brands of charcoal in my kamado's and they do taste different. 

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50 minutes ago, ndg_2000 said:

I agree with all of the points above but would  like to point out that I have noticed different charcoal can impart different flavours to what you are cooking. I have used 3 different brands of charcoal in my kamado's and they do taste different. 

 

I can't tell any flavor difference between the lump charcoal brands when I have a clean burning fire going.  The only time I feel like I am getting 'flavors' from my fire is when there is grease and residue in the grill from previous cooks.  I see this comment frequently and I, in all my cooking experience, can't validate it.

 

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I agree with John completely on all points. Like John points out. The only difference is burning time...and usually not by a lot. I've cooked plenty with RO and never had a problem. The only time I'm picky is using my Konro. Other than that whatever is on sale. 

 

I do hate the large chunks though. Whoever thought super large lump was a good idea should be hung from their fingernails. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, landscaper said:

 

WOW I'm really surprised by that! I really noticed it when I bought a bag of BGE charcoal (seen it said on here it's Royal Oak rebranded) from my local BGE supplier and compared it to a CPE charcoal recommended on this site as a good UK supplier.  There was a different  smell from the kamado when the BGE charcoal was burning and the kamado was up to temp and the chicken I cooked had a different smoke flavour to it compared to the CPE. I put it down to the wood the charcoal was made from. 

Edited by ndg_2000
Quoted wrong person

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3 hours ago, John Setzler said:

 

I can't tell any flavor difference between the lump charcoal brands when I have a clean burning fire going.  The only time I feel like I am getting 'flavors' from my fire is when there is grease and residue in the grill from previous cooks.  I see this comment frequently and I, in all my cooking experience, can't validate it.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ndg_2000 said:

WOW I'm really surprised by that! I really noticed it when I bought a bag of BGE charcoal (seen it said on here it's Royal Oak rebranded) from my local BGE supplier and compared it to a CPE charcoal recommended on this site as a good UK supplier.  There was a different  smell from the kamado when the BGE charcoal was burning and the kamado was up to temp and the chicken I cooked had a different smoke flavour to it compared to the CPE. I put it down to the wood the charcoal was made from. 

 

4 hours ago, John Setzler said:

I can't tell any flavor difference between the lump charcoal brands when I have a clean burning fire going. 

Here's the key sentence ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

 

I don't follow the norm when lighting my grill. I light several places and leave the lid open for a while till I'm satisfied with the fire and how its burning. How long I leave it open depends on what size fire I want and what temperature I'm cooking at. 

 

Once I close the lid, I adjust vents to hit target temp and let it ride and settle in. I say all that to say this. You may have been up to temp, but you didn't have a clean burning fire. 

 

Air flow. When a fire is burning properly you get good air flow and draft. When you don't have a clean burning fire you get smoke. 

 

When you have a clean burning fire it would be difficult to tell any subtle nuances from one lump to the other in smell or on the finished product.  

 

Do the same cook again with the same lump and if you have a clean fire you won't have any issues. 

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In my limited experience, it is possible to make charcoals that taste different from oak by using a highly flavored base wood. I've got a bunch of Frontier-brand mesquite coal that has a different taste than oak-based charcoals (using RO and KJ Big Block). I can taste a difference when cooking pizza at 600F for 10 minutes. It's subtle...

 

The real problem? I love the taste of mesquite and my wife doesn't. Sticking with oak-based fuels for the foreseeable.  

 

Have fun,

Frank

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Thanks for everyone's input...   I have bought a few of the recommended bags of charcoal ranked high in the list nakekwhiz website. Some have a oily smell to it (B&B Charcoal), some do not seem to get hot enough to use for high temp cooks (Cowboy Lump Charcoal), other like Royal Oak (gets hot, no foul smells, lot of dust) but find matter in the bag that is not charcoal, Rockwood Lump (pretty good, good size pieces, no foul smells, gets hot). So from my limited sampling there are differences how the charcoal is processed and the quality of the wood used. For that reason I brought up the suggestion that members get a common area to share their findings. I also think the charcoal producers quality changes overtime and the www.nakedwhiz.com site does not stay up with the changes. Some of their reviews are well over 5 years old. Lastly when new charcoal products hit the market I am not sure the nakedwhiz pics them up today.

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