brink1.JPGI have lost count of the number of BBQ’s I have destroyed over the years. I can honestly say that it has been my experience that Gas BBQ’s do not have the staying power to survive my abuse that a charcoal one does. Of course a charcoal BBQ is a far simpler design with much fewer parts to wreck. It has no burners to burn up, no Venturis to catch fire, no rubber hoses to melt, and the really big advantage, no propane tank ready to explode and level the house!

There is also the question of taste. Most BBQ aficionados agree that food simply tastes better with charcoal. Well usually. The exception to the rule is when someone doesn’t have a clue. They give the charcoal a big bath of lighter fluid to help get it started, and start cooking before the coals have disposed of the accelerent. There is something about the taste of petroleum bi-products in my food that I just do not like.

In fact it is rare that I even used lighter fluid at all. There are better ways of getting the show on the road.
For the well heeled you can go high tech:

The only bad aspect if that your young child might use it to reenact part of the movie Home Alone!


There are lower tech solutions, this for example works great:

You just scrunch up a couple of pages of newspaper, put a few coals on top, light the paper and in 10 mins you have the start for the rest of the coals. I saw one of these critters in a BBQ store many years ago. The idea looked great, but I decided that I could build my own. A large coffee can, some abuse by a can opener to put air holes in it, I was good to go:

coffee can charcoal chimney

I must give a word of caution though, this device comes without a handle, and the can gets pretty darn hot! My solution was to ‘borrow’ my wife’s best oven gloves. I thought the scorch marks gave them a ‘lived in’ look, she on the other hand was slightly unhappy with me. I got a good tongue lashing over the whole deal. So next time I used the ‘not best’ oven gloves. To this day I do not understand why I got another verbal beating? So my advice to anyone planning the Coffee Tin lighter project, go buy your own pair of oven gloves, it will prevent disharmony in the household.

Oh dear, I seem to have drifted from the initial idea for the article Brinkmann. As I said, I have destroyed many BBQ’s over the years but there is only one that has defeated even my most fervent attempts. The Brinkman Smoker is a tank! I have owned three of them, and never managed to bring a single one to a state of collapse. Why three? Well it costs more to transport a Brinkmann Smoker when moving a thousand miles than it does to buy a new one. At around $100, do the math!

This little critter is far more versatile than it may look. In its basic configuration it is a smoker, a warm smoker, but smoker of great repute. A quick switch around and you have a roasting oven, perfect for large slabs of any animal. One more change and it is good for grilling.

One of the things that bugs me about charcoal grills is that if you are dealing with a big slab of animal you will at some point need to put more charcoal in. This is a big hassle requiring more than the standard issue two arms and hands. You have to lift up the grilling rack, while securing the slab of beast in order to prevent it sliding off and receiving a ‘dirt rub’. So you need a second person to insert the new charcoal. The Brinkmann Smoker does not have this problem. They have a cute little (and very hot) door that allows you access to the fire pan. But it is a hot zone. My advice is that seeing as you are going to get beaten senseless by your wife over the oven gloves, you have little to lose. Metal pasta or salad tongs are perfect, you can place each piece of charcoal with precision.

The more common Plastic ones are not recommended. They tend to melt. Catch fire, and almost certainly cause trouble with the wife when she finds out. It is unfortunate as the device is almost custom built for delivering a single Charcoal Briquette at a time.

The Brinkmann Smoker in my mind is almost a Simon Proof product.

Note to Brinkmann: I lost my last Smoker in a move some years ago. But I would be happy to do a product review if I could get my hands on one

Simon Barrett

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