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Troubles getting higher temps with my kettle

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    Troubles getting higher temps with my kettle

    Bit of a newbie here learning the ropes of bbq with a weber kettle. pretty much all of my cooks have been smokes with temps of 225 to 250. I've recently started to grill and its hard to get close to 350. I use a chimney 3/4 full and light it using the performer to get the weber charcoal well lit up. I also use a fireboard with the probe close to the middle of the indirect side. Both vents wide open. and I can barely get a temp of 300 and I end up lighting the gas again to get higher temps.

    Is this normal or should I be getting higher temps?

    #2
    How long are you letting it burn in the chimney? Is it glowing and/or ashed over on the top? My experience is the Weber charcoal seems to burn a little cooler than Kingsford, but I’m still able to get to 500+ easy. Could the charcoal be really old or have drawn moisture?

    Comment


    • big_mack
      big_mack commented
      Editing a comment
      a good 20 minutes. when i did my second indirect grill cook yesterday I made sure I had lots of ash before dumping in the SNS. I am going to get some kingsford. and I have an unopened bag of weber that I'll try. The charcoal I'm using now is in the performer bin on the cart and its possible its not dry. but it definitely did not get any direct rain.

    #3
    That’s very interesting. I have a regular Weber kettle and with vent wide open it runs over 500. Try it without the fire board.
    Last edited by StrikeBBQ; September 20, 2021, 12:24 PM.

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    • big_mack
      big_mack commented
      Editing a comment
      why without the fireboard? and without it, how do I know what the temp is? the kettle built in top thermoter does read around 400F actually and I chalked that up to it being inaccurate.

    #4
    I will outline my experience for direct and indirect high heat cooking on the kettle. I also have a Performer Deluxe, but have never used the propane ignition other than to light my charcoal chimney - never used it during a cook.

    For a high heat DIRECT cook (1 zone, entire grill), for things like chicken, I use a set of Grillgrates on top of the original grates, to avoid flareups. In this configuration, I go for a full lit chimney, and pour that down on maybe a half chimney or more of unlit, to keep things burning, and provide enough charcoal to cover the entire charcoal grate when spread out. Things gives me a dome thermometer reading of about 450F with all vents wide open, which drops to about 350F once I fill the cooking grate up with cold chicken. I do not bother with monitoring the grate level temp when direct grilling, as you are begging to destroy your thermometer probes, as they don't handle direct heat above about 500F.

    For a high heat INDIRECT cook, i.e. 2 zone, using either the Slow 'N Sear, Vortex, banked coals, or the Weber baskets, I put down closer to half to 3/4 of a chimney of lit coals over about a half chimney of unlit coals. In this configuration, I easily achieve 350F temperatures in the indirect portion of the cooking grate, and sustain those temperatures for 1.5 to 2 hours. Last Thanksgiving I used the Weber rotisserie to cook a 20 pound turkey at 350F, in this type arrangement. In that case, I banked the coals, and put a full lit chimney on top of an equal unlit amount, to get 3 hours or so for the turkey.

    Since you don't say you have a Slow 'N Sear or are using charcoal baskets of some sort, I am guessing you bank the coals to one side. I think you should try a full lit chimney to get the temperature higher, and you can dial it down with the vents if you overshoot. Also, put down a bed of unlit charcoal underneath the lit charcoal, if you need to cook for more than an hour, to extend your cooking time.

    Comment


    • big_mack
      big_mack commented
      Editing a comment
      I have yet to do a full direct cook yet. I do have an SNS and grill grates. I need to figure out what I'm doing wrong or need to fix to get a good indirect configuration to correct temp. I also find for a lower temp smoke cook I have to have the vents open quite a bit. bottom about 3/4 and top open half way.

    • tbob4
      tbob4 commented
      Editing a comment
      big_mack - have you tried to temp with the original grates? I am wondering if you have an airflow issue using the GrillGrates.

    • big_mack
      big_mack commented
      Editing a comment
      tbob4 I have not used the grill grates on the kettle yet. I bought them for my weber gas. but I can put them on the kettle when I need to cook that way.

    #5
    Do you have the top vent oriented opposite the direct heat side? If not, you may be losing too much heat straight up through the vent. That all I can think of.

    Comment


    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      Good point! I didn't think of this.

    • big_mack
      big_mack commented
      Editing a comment
      Good point. it is opposite from the coals.

    #6
    big_mack Ok, knowing you are doing the indirect setup with the SNS, my guidelines are close to what they outline on the snsgrills.com website. They say to get 325F indirect, to run with NO water in the Slow 'N Sear, and a half chimney of lit, poured on top of a half chimney of unlit if you want to go longer than 45 minutes to an hour. I tend to light a bit more as I mentioned - 3/4 chimney, maybe even the entire chimney.

    If you are having to open the vents more for smoking at 225 to 250, that implies you don't have any unexpected leaks. For my kettle, I run with the bottom vent about 1/2 open and the top vent about 1/3 open for smoking with the SNS at low temp, and without a temperature controller fan in use. The trick is - when you say 3/4 open, are you looking down at the blades of the vent ash-sweeps, or are you looking at the lever under the kettle? For me, 1/2 to 3/4 open is with the lever well over to the left hand position, around the 2nd or 3rd "hole" in the vent mechanism, similar to the photos at the bottom of this page:

    https://snsgrills.com/pages/slow-n-s...g-instructions

    But again, for the higher heat cooking, I run the bottom vent fully open, and adjust only the top vent. This ends up working a bit like my SNS Kamado, where you want good oxygen supply to the fire (bottom vent open), but up to a point, closing down the top vent can sometimes help keep more heat in the kettle, versus opening more can release the heat. That is up to a point though. If you close it down too far, you choke the fire back in other words.

    To be honest, for high heat cooks, i.e. chicken, I do NOT monitor my grate temp at all, and just run things wide open, and watch the chicken temperature more than the grill temperature. I'll look at the top temperature gauge on the dome as a guideline only in those type cooks.

    My chief suggestion again is more lit coals, don't let them burn down too much in the chimney - as soon as the top coals are lit, dump it in the SNS, put the lid on the kettle, and open all vents fully until you reach the temp you want, then start cooking. Don't wait for things to ash over fully in the chimney as some folks will tell you, as this often means the coals are half spent by the time you start cooking.
    Last edited by jfmorris; September 20, 2021, 12:42 PM.

    Comment


      #7
      I think the problem may be as simple as running Weber charcoal (if I'm reading that correctly). I always run with Kingsford and I fill my chimney up totally full. It tops off the SNS to the bottom of the grate, in fact sometimes I have to remove the access panel because it's heaping. I re-heated a QVQ chuck roast last night and opened all the vents and it ran at a steady 400*F at the grate (verified by my Fireboard grate probe). Using Grill Grates (as others have eluded to) I can get close to 600-650*F with a direct pile of charcoal underneath.

      I bet it's your charcoal. Try some Kingsford. I know a lot of guys don't like it but it is consistent and works well with an SNS. Not to mention you can get it cheap at certain sale intervals.

      Comment


        #8
        I just set the temp on my pellet grill, wait ~15 min, no problem.

        Comment


        • jfmorris
          jfmorris commented
          Editing a comment
          Where is the thumbs down button for the pellet cooker snobbery? JK!

        • glitchy
          glitchy commented
          Editing a comment
          jfmorris There's always at least one of us pellet heads trying to beat a square peg into every round hole that shows itself.

        #9
        My old Performer built in the '90s gets far hotter than my newer 22" kettle. I have to use welding gloves to remove the lid and I can easily send the detachable lid thermometer all the way around the dial.

        Comment


          #10
          Originally posted by Troutman View Post
          I think the problem may be as simple as running Weber charcoal (if I'm reading that correctly). I always run with Kingsford and I fill my chimney up totally full. It tops off the SNS to the bottom of the grate, in fact sometimes I have to remove the access panel because it's heaping. I re-heated a QVQ chuck roast last night and opened all the vents and it ran at a steady 400*F at the grate (verified by my Fireboard grate probe). Using Grill Grates (as others have eluded to) I can get close to 600-650*F with a direct pile of charcoal underneath.

          I bet it's your charcoal. Try some Kingsford. I know a lot of guys don't like it but it is consistent and works well with an SNS. Not to mention you can get it cheap at certain sale intervals.
          I have to do a smoke tonight and I'll get some kingsford for that.

          Comment


          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            For smoking at low and slow temps, my experience is that Weber charcoal (which I can no longer get) burns much longer than Kingsford. But it may also burn at a lower temp because it does take longer to ignite.

          #11
          I'm not sure if the Canadian Weber charcoal is the same as the stuff they sold in the US until about a year ago or not? If it is the same, it's pretty much all I've been using recently, but I cook on charcoal probably only a couple times a month. Anyway, I've had no problems getting to high temps with it, what I have noticed is it might not bury my dome thermometer quite as quickly or easily as Kingsford can. I've cooked steaks, vortex chicken, etc. with it.

          Anyway, reading back through this thread and some of the response, I think you might just need to use more charcoal, maybe a slightly heaping full chimney. The Weber charcoal is bigger which likely means you are going to have less charcoal in your chimney to begin with...not by briquette count, but by mass as bigger briquettes are not going to fall into gaps below them that well, leaving more voids in the chimney.

          Edit: I’m not saying that trying Kingsford is a bad idea at all. You never know how old your Weber stuff might be and how long and under what conditions it might have been stored before you bought it. Trying a bag of something else is an easy first step.
          Last edited by glitchy; September 20, 2021, 02:31 PM.

          Comment


          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            The fact that our brethren to the north still buy something called Weber charcoal, but that we can no longer buy it here, makes me wonder if it is the same stuff we had in the stores in the US, or something different, just branded as Weber charcoal...

            I would be interested if someone in Canada could take a picture of this charcoal - both the bag and the briquettes themselves, to see.

          #12
          Couple of pictures of the weber charcoal from us northerners. I was hoping to get some kingsford for the Clint's smoked Miso wings I'm doing tonight but could not make it happen. Using weber and again I'm having troubles trying to reach a lowly 250F. I also have the gas assist on to up the temp.

          Attached Files

          Comment


            #13
            Click image for larger version

Name:	AA16BEE2-7547-4553-AAB3-2A2A8D251D5A.jpeg
Views:	91
Size:	208.6 KB
ID:	1097852 Bag looks the same, but feel like your briquette looks different.
            Last edited by glitchy; September 20, 2021, 08:05 PM.

            Comment


            • rickgregory
              rickgregory commented
              Editing a comment
              Nope. Try inserting picture

            • big_mack
              big_mack commented
              Editing a comment
              pic is there now and that looks just like mine. not sure what to conclude though. I'll get some kingsford soon and see if there is a difference.

            • glitchy
              glitchy commented
              Editing a comment
              big_mack I feel like mine is a deeper black and a subtly different shape. Like yours is more gently rounded and mine has steep sides and a sharp edge around the center. Maybe it’s lighting and angles.

            #14
            Man, I wish I could see the pictures.

            Comment


            • Attjack
              Attjack commented
              Editing a comment
              big_mack they are showing now but it's that glitch amazingribs.com has been having since the last update.

            • glitchy
              glitchy commented
              Editing a comment
              Attjack I had nothing to do with the picture issue.

            • Attjack
              Attjack commented
              Editing a comment
              glitchy Where were you and who were you with when the update happened?

            #15
            big_mack that looks like the same Weber charcoal we used to have here. The bag is the same, and the briquette looks similar enough to me. I have to wonder if there is just a big stockpile in Canada that Weber has not depleted up there, i.e. in the distribution channel, and when it runs out, it will go away there as well.

            The thing I *can* tell you about Weber charcoal is that when using it in the SNS for low and slow cooking, it starts much slower, and I would put at least 15 briquettes in my chimney over the propane starter to get it going, then add it to the corner of the SNS, then fill in the rest of the SNS from the bag. In that mode, I've gotten 12+ hour long cooks at 225F on a single load of Weber charcoal in the SNS, on my Performer Deluxe. Kingsford starts up faster, and I would go with about 10 briquettes, and only get 7-8 hours on a load. I much prefer the Weber to the Kingsford, and do not recall trouble with higher heat cooking, but do admit I mostly reserved it for low and slow overnight cooks. With that 12 hour burn time, I could sleep easily without checking the grill overnight on a butt or brisket. I went through 15 or so bags of it between 2019 and 2021, and in fact burned my last bag of Weber early this year.

            Anyway, I think the key is that the fire SPREADS slower with the Weber briquettes, so you have to start with more lit initially to get to 225 or 250 faster, and cannot follow the lighting instructions from the SNSgrills website, as it is really centered around Kingsford briquettes, which are smaller and burn faster.

            How long are you running the propane when lighting a chimney? I usually go 5 to 10 minutes at the most, then kill the gas, and maybe 15 to 20 minutes later the fire is to the top of the chimney. If lighting just a few briquettes in the chimney for low and slow, I just mound them to one side of the chimney, or even stack on the grate, and use a scoop to move them to the SNS once all are lit.
            Last edited by jfmorris; September 20, 2021, 09:32 PM.

            Comment


            • glitchy
              glitchy commented
              Editing a comment
              I thought I heard they were going to keep selling in Canada and Europe somewhere, but that could be warehouses of old stock too.

            • big_mack
              big_mack commented
              Editing a comment
              jfmorris the last indirect grill I did on the weekend which prompted me to start this discussion I used gas for 15 minutes with a 80% full chimney. I did not let it sit in the chimney after that. It went right in the SNS. Maybe that is why. Maybe I did not get off to a good start.

              This issue I have is probably something to do with my methods and/or charcoal. I have another bag of Weber and will get a bag of kingsford and continue to do cooks and fine tune my workflow.

            • jfmorris
              jfmorris commented
              Editing a comment
              big_mack you don't really need to leave the gas on for 15 minutes. Once the bottom of the chimney is lit (5 minutes for me), you can turn it off and come back in 20 minutes or so. Don't dump it into the SNS until the top briquettes start to burn. Otherwise, when you dump it in the SNS, the top ones if they are still unlit end up in the bottom of the SNS, still unlit, with the burning stuff from the bottom of the chimney on top.

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