The Weber Smokey Mountain 18 inch charcoal smoker is possibly the most well-known and used smoker throughout the barbecue world. It’s a smoker that is used by beginners and experienced barbecue chefs alike and more than holds its own against much more costly smokers on the BBQ competition circuit.
Looking for a new charcoal smoker I could not ignore the Smokey Mountain range of smokers. This is the middle sized smoker within the range that also includes the 14 inch and the 22 inch models; however this appears to be the most popular. After much research I was highly impressed by this smoker and offer my findings with you.
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This Smokey Mountain has two heavy duty nickel plated steel cooking grates and together they give a cooking area of 481 square inches. As a means of comparison Weber use the number of hamburger patties that can be cooked at a time and for this 18” smoker they state that it can cook 19. Maybe to give you a better idea of its size, you can cook an entire ham and a full turkey at the same time.
The heavy duty plated steel plates mean that they aren’t going to deform with the weight of food on them and also that they aren’t going to rust if looked after properly, and that they are easy to clean.
It might seem strange when choosing a smoker to consider “tradition” but that is exactly one of the factors that I did consider when looking for a new smoker. The Weber range of barbecues has been in production since 1952 and the first Weber Smokey Mountain was produced in 1981. George Stephen founded the Weber brand based on innovation and quality and as his company has been successful for more than 60 years, this cannot be in doubt.
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When I first began researching the Weber Smokey Mountain 18 inch charcoal smoker, model 721001, I knew it was a very popular and capable smoker from the snippets of information that I’d read and heard beforehand. However I was surprised by some of the things that I read, such as, “Our WSMs (Weber Smokey Mountains) regularly allow us to win Grand Championships even when we go up against other smokers costing over $15,000”.
On Amazon, at the time of writing, I found 600 customer reviews for this smoker giving it an average score of 4.8 out of 5 stars, which from what I can see is one of the highest scoring smokers on Amazon.
Out of those 600 reviews a massive 585 people give it 4 or 5 stars and only 15 people scored it at 3 stars or less.
On closer inspection it appears that this smoker does exactly what it’s supposed to do and it does it well. But of the few people that don’t like it the complaints were about the flimsy access door, missing or damaged parts, and poor customer service. However these complaints were from a very small minority of people.
I did check other sources and the general opinion is that the access door is flimsy when judged against the build quality of the rest of the smoker. But this does not seem to cause any great concern in general. I have had a few bullet type smokers myself, not Weber, and they have had what I would call a flimsy access door but it’s nothing that I couldn’t live with. This type of door seems to be generic with this type of smoker
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This is a vertical, bullet type charcoal smoker and as such the design is relatively simple. The coals and wood producing smoke go in the bottom, the water pan is placed above that, and then you have two grids to cook your food. The theory is simple and it practice this weber smoker does exactly what it’ built to do.
There are cheaper, much cheaper, bullet type smokers available but at the time of writing none were held in such high regard as this. I’ve had cheaper smokers over the years and they just don’t perform as well as the Smokey Mountain.
The main problem that I had with cheaper smokers was that they didn’t hold the heat. I live on the coast and it can get quite windy and this appeared to suck away the heat from the smoker so that the food did not cook. For that reason I always go for a better build smoker and based on my research and the opinion of hundreds of users I would always recommend the Weber Smokey Mountain.
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