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A less common lump charcoal critique

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    A less common lump charcoal critique

    Some of us are just lump charcoal advocates/users...…...not that briquettes are a negative, it's just one of those preference things. Some folks can even be induced to cross over to the "dark side"......….e.g. Noah Glanville of PBC fame recently revealed that he uses lump exclusively...……...take that KBB.

    I'm not going to attempt here to supplant The Naked Whiz, he's got his huge database and earned whatever respect he's given. This is just a snapshot in time of my personal experience with a brand of "premium" lump I'd not seen before. Triggered by a posting on these boards a few days ago for the Golden's Cast Iron Grill, I noticed they also sold lump on their website. Well, that's not entirely accurate, they advertise it with the disclaimer that it's only available from one of their authorized dealers. Cost is $25 for 20 pounds. Kind of in the middle of the pricing range as various lumps sell for anywhere between $10-$50 for 20-35# bags. I was curious about just how "premium" this product was. Somewhat oddly there is an authorized dealer less than 10 miles from my house. Odd because we're in the Sorta Sticks (we need to make that an official designation)…………..closest Costco for instance is like 40 some miles away. Anyway, I went to the store, had a nice conversation with the owner and as a result of her believing that I know something about outdoor cooking she ended up gifting me two bags. I will admit to being a bit of a nutjob about lump, I usually sort each bag into three categories; Firebox ready, starter "chips", and burn pile dust. The "starter chips" thing is a loose term depending on the type of fire I'm building, but generally these would be unsuitable for contact with the firebox ventilation format of any particular cooker, i.e. restricting airflow. Dumped from a chimney starter on top for shorter burns though they seem to be good initial heat and wide progression to the bigger chunks.

    So, this is what a bag of Golden's Lump looks like. Right snappy lookin' bag eh? It's supposed to be premium man.

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    Once dumped this pic might disappoint, particularly for those who value large chunks in abundance. There are a decent number of good, useable sized lumps that fall into my "firebox ready" category. To note, I don't separate those just based on size, shape matters too. A smallish but long piece, for example, can be useful in bridging the firebox vent holes in some cookers, so even though they might appear small I'll still sort them to the "preferred" container.

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    Once the preferred sized lumps are removed to the storage bin the next level of sort is the "chips", term loosely used. These get shoveled back into the bag they came in and stored in a weather tight box for use in chimney lights. Just for grins I weighed the "chips" and they came in at around 10.5 #..........ugh, more than half the bag by weight. Something that might be a contributor is that this was the showroom display bag and likely has had a fair amount of handling in it's time, so that might matter..........or not.

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    The remainder is pretty much dust. Every lump bag is going to have some so it's not a total negative, but this is not as bad as I've had. I've actually gotten more from a single bag of Jealous Devil which is generally acknowledged as justifiably "premium" with a price to boot. This goes off to the burn pile which, in turn, ends up in some home made "potting soil" along with coffee grounds, and other organic stuff.

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    Second bag gets dumped and happily looks a bit better, a few larger chunks, and more of the "acceptable" stuff.

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    After the sort for "firebox ready" I didn't take a pic of the "chips" but there were less as you'd expect from the above pic. Turns out that the chips weighed in at 8.5 # so a 2 # improvement. Maybe handling on bag 1 was a factor.

    Likewise the dust quantity wasn't appreciably different though less.

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    Since this is an unfamiliar product I thought it would be useful to compare to something that folks here who use lump might be more familiar with. It might also make it easier to contextualize my rating. Just so happens I have a bag of B&B "Texas Style" (naturally) lump on hand. A pic of the bag for reference.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	bb lump 01.jpg Views:	0 Size:	376.4 KB ID:	873235

    And out onto the pan. Hmmmm, looks a fair bit like the distribution and general appearance of the Golden's stuff. Since Golden's is a cast iron manufacturing company, odds are they are having their lump packaged for them by a charcoal producer. Could it be..................? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	bb lump 02.jpg Views:	0 Size:	412.9 KB ID:	873236

    And the similarity doesn't end there. We ended up with 8.3 # of chips, but a bit more dust, so "firebox ready" yield was roughly the same as the Golden's 2 bag.

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    I used some of the Golden's in my yakitori cook last night and it sparked and popped a bit in the chimney, but settled down once on the fire grate. Burned hot and clean, so from a performance standpoint it's very acceptable. While the price isn't sky high like some claimed premium brands, it's highish when compared to the very similar B&B which is typically in the $12-16 range for a 20 pounder. That, and the B&B is widely available while the Golden's is authorized dealer only stuff. Enjoy

    Last edited by Uncle Bob; July 1, 2020, 12:19 PM.

    Coincidentally, I bought a bag of this stuff too. I’ve been impressed with it thus far. My bag had big stuff on top and more “briquette” sized lumps throughout. I did notice it popping too when I used in my PBC, but so does B&B so I just shrugged and kept cooking.

    I’m not sure, but I might’ve been the one who revived that CI thread. The Goldens Kamado is really nice looking.

    As and aside..... My dealer had Goldens, Jealous Devil and Fire and Smoke (ie PK) lumps out. I will be buying the fire and smoke next, it had good looking sizes in there.

    I theorize most lump brands are good, some light better than others and burn faster, but all are subject to the guy handling it, thus the inconsistent sizes.

    Great write up, thanks for sharing.


    • Uncle Bob
      Uncle Bob commented
      Editing a comment
      Yep, this "discovery" is all on you......………….LOL

    My experience is that the #1 indicator of lump size is where the bag is on the pallet, and how much it’s been tossed around. Get that top bag on the pile, if you can.


    • Skip
      Skip commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree with you Mosca . Those bottom bags have a tough life.

    Even buying on the shelf the first bag is the last off the pallet


      Great write up. I can identify with being in the sticks. Our nearest Costco is so far away we measure the distance in time, it's two and a half hours away. I'm am also a committed lump user and have tried several different brands. Right now I'm getting the most usable lump from bags of Rockwood and Kamado Joe big block. I really like B&B but the last two bags were over half dust and small chips. I've decided to stick with these two unless an issue comes up with them down the road.



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