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Lone Star Grillz Pellet Cooker - On Site Review

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    Lone Star Grillz Pellet Cooker - On Site Review

    I have been waiting for Chris Goodlander to let his new pellet cooker roll out settle in before I went to see it first hand. With the COVID lock downs and various travel restrictions, that got pushed even further. I had been keeping in touch with him via email and with the post by Alphonse last week as a reminder, I finally got a chance to make the journey up to Willis to see this anticipated new offering.

    I'll begin by posting the same video as many have already seen as a more comprehensive explanation by Chris himself. I also messed up and thought we were going to be outdoors so I brought the wrong lens for my camera, so pictures on my part were a bit spotty.



    First impressions were as anticipated. Build quality was very good on both the 36" and 42" units. The cooking box was the newest squared off design he introduced to his new line of stick burners. It provides better top and front clearance to accommodate more cooking volume. The cooking chamber was all welded 10 gauge with the hopper and cart made form 12 gauge steel.

    Fit and finish were superb as with all his cookers. The front door was tight and gasketed to provide a tight cooking environment while being large enough when opened to access the cooking grates easily.

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    The cooking grates were standard carbon steel expanded metal. Tons of room especially on the bottom grate, to more than accommodate larger cooks. I could envision 12 pork butts on the 36" and probably 16 on the 42".

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    The tall rather slim hopper unit was attached to the right hand side. The top was the actual hopper that holds I believe 40# of pellets. It has a pellet dump at the bottom of the hopper for easy pellet change out.

    The lower end held the auger assembly and the fans. In the middle was the real brains of this unit, the Fireboard controller. Most of use are familiar with the precise PID control afforded by Fireboard. This unit is very similar to their Generation 2 model but with a variety of settings to enhance this pellet specifically.

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    There's a cold smoke setting that pulses enough heat to the burn pot to "smolder" the pellets, thus producing smoke with little or no heat. The cooking range varies from 160* on up to 450*. Shown above they also provide a probe port to accommodate up to 6 probes, similar to the Fireboard stand alone units.

    The auger unit and the burn pot are also unique and thought through. The pellets are delivered by an "open center" type auger that all but eliminates auger jams. Once in the pellet burn pot, ignition is accomplished by blowing air over a hot rod to ignite the pellets, eliminating the need to change the hot rod due to erosion from heat and direct contact with burning pellets. The pellet pot itself is clipped to the base of the cooker and can easily be removed to clean out built up ash without having to disassemble the heavy diffuser plates from the top.

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    One thing I always look for in these units is how grease is gathered. Heavy gauge 1/8" deflector and grease plates are bent and sloped causing grease to move away from the burn pot right hand side to the far left then down to the base of the unit. There grease can escape through a hole in the base to be collected in a bucket below the unit. A ball valve is available to control the flow.

    As with all pellet cookers, LSG attempts to be a grilling machine by having a sliding trap door open to a series of slots that allows direct access to the burn pot. I asked him what prevents the grease from dripping down into the base of the unit and/or directly into the burn pot and he admitted nothing. I got the impression the this feature was almost there as an expected amenity more than a practical one.

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    The unit is mounted on a heavy duty cart with lots of storage space beneath. With all his unit, this monster (some 300# in all) is moved around by heavy duty casters. There's also upgraded large rubber tires that can be mounted for off road or pulling behind your Cowboy Cadillac pick-up truck !!

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    There are a lot of little details that make up this unit that you can see for yourself on his website or in his video above. Chris really did his homework and thought through just about everything that could go wrong, as well as everything that does go right, and incorporated it into these beauties.

    Could this be the perfect pellet cooker? Well not having cooked on one, it's hard for me to make that call. Compared to the high end P&S pellet I have, with it's older technology, I would say he's hit the mark for everything I would want in a pellet cooker. Only time and a few cooks will say for sure, but I don't think it's a stretch to say this may be one of the finest pellet cooker I've seen, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel !!

    HITS

    1. Outstanding design and build quality. By utilizing heavy gauge construction, heat retention and longevity are made superior.
    2. Well thought out pellet delivery system.
    3. Hot air ignition system eliminating hot rod change outs.
    4. Ability to clean the burn pot externally.
    5. Pellet dump on the hopper a big plus.
    6. Large accommodating grates for tons of cooking surface.
    7. Seems like a reasonably decent grease removal system, keeps grease well away from the burn pot.
    8. And of course the brain, the Fireboard controller. Nothing more needs to be said about that.

    MISSES

    1. Not as much a miss but does give one pause, this unit with all the goodies ranges from the mid to high $2000 range. That puts it in the high end, elite category of pellet cookers. This is a serious piece of machinery.
    2. Long wait times. Up to 12-14 weeks which is not unlike most custom pit builders. Chris says he's upgrading his operation in a new facility and will be cranking out a lot more units soon.
    3. Grilling port. Maybe I'm being overly critical but trying to grill on a pellet cooker is somewhat of an oxymoron. Forget the attempts to make these machines something they are not.
    4. No hinges on the pellet hopper cap, just loose. Couple of cheap hinges and maybe a latch would be a simple add.
    5. Burn pot location seems to be way off center to the right. It cuts down on auger length but may cause uneven heating across the chamber. Again I have not cooked on or tested the unit to be sure of that, it's simply an observation.

    As mentioned, all American built in Texas by one of the nicest couples I've run across. What makes these units special is more than the attention to detail and the great build quality, they are made by folks who have a passion for barbecue and know what it takes to make a great cooker. Other than how well they perform in real time, I gotta think this unit is approaching the Platinum level for sure. Maybe Max can sweet talk them into a test unit soon !!

    Troutman's out, got my eye on one of his Santa Maria unit, just gotta talk mamma into it !!!


    #2
    The last thing I would want to do on a pellet grill is grill. Oh the irony!

    Comment


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      Cooker, pellet cooker

    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh but they make some TASTY burgers and steaks, trust me! They are great at grilling.

    • bbqLuv
      bbqLuv commented
      Editing a comment
      My pellet grill from Cabela's can sear over the firepot. I use grillgrates and get a good sear.
      But the area is small. Perhaps it is a better idea than in practice.

    #3
    Great review!

    Comment


      #4
      Very enjoyable read. Thank you.

      Comment


        #5
        Wonderful review Steve, thanks for taking the time. I just uncrated my offset and giving it the once-over. Man, these things are BEASTS and so well built.

        Comment


        • Steve B
          Steve B commented
          Editing a comment
          Need pics Mike. 🙌

        • CaptainMike
          CaptainMike commented
          Editing a comment
          Posted on my latest thread Steve B

        • Steve B
          Steve B commented
          Editing a comment
          Saw it and commented. 😋😋

        #6
        Thanks Steve. Looking forward to the results in the real world. But expectations are high.

        Comment


          #7
          Thanks for the great report and review! I suspect he has a big backlog on these already. His waiting list was huge.

          Did the place look busy? Their business is booming isn't it? I have a 24x48 Adjustable Grill & Smoker that's in production at the moment and should be finishing up this week or next.

          Comment


          • Troutman
            Troutman commented
            Editing a comment
            Yea he’s busted butt to turn out all kinds of grills. As mentioned he’s opening up a new fabrication facility to up the pace. Pellets alone are backed up close to 300 deep I think.

          #8
          Thanks for the review.... this pellet grill is exciting. I can’t wait to see reviews of it in action. It could be a real game changer for the high end pellet market.

          Comment


            #9
            Awesome report. Thanks for sharing!

            Comment


              #10
              In the videoe says something about a charcoal basket that fits inside for grilling burgers and steaks, I use the grill more than the smoker just having one contraption would be nice, plus you can get wheels that match the golf cart. 😎

              Comment


              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                Yea I saw that too, we really didn't talk about that when I was there. As you mention, it's just another add-on for someone who wants one cooker flexibility.

              #11
              Good post. Thanks Troutman !

              Comment


                #12
                Nice review Steve, great job. Sure looks like a pellet cooker to stand apart from the rest.

                Comment


                • Troutman
                  Troutman commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Dadof3Illinois Both? Sure and then I'd have to hire a divorce lawyer, budget can't spread that thin

                • Dadof3Illinois
                  Dadof3Illinois commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Troutman I've saved up my pennies, nickels and dimes to get a new cooker...had my sites set on either a LSG (standard flow) or Lang (reverse flow).....but now I'm not sure after you've mentioned those Santa Maria pits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                • Sweaty Paul
                  Sweaty Paul commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I’m jonesing bad for one of their insulated vertical cabinet smokers.

                #13
                Good report Steve. The marketing guy cells in my brain think about who the "typical" customer for this profile device is. I saw the few hundred backlog on the site a few days back, an impressive number. I would guess that the buyers are experienced outdoor cookers who are seeking a quality upgrade from the pellet pooper they already have owned or are the better informed consumers who've been looking to get into the pellet cooking world but weren't satisfied by the "commodity" style cookers that appeal to the usual newbs.

                A woman who works for my bride was asking me about pellet cookers the other day. Turns out her hubby had been at Costco and saw a Traeger and was intrigued. She wasn't clear about understanding if it was one of the demo shows, but I suspect so. Anyway, I asked a few questions about what he was hoping to gain from having one of these and her responses boiled down to two. "Easy", low involvement/mess smoking and price. She thought $600 was shockingly high, but if it made the old man happy she'd stretch to that. Any discussion of alternative considerations as to build/feature quality, customer service, performance, etc on my part was pretty much a waste of time. I offered for him to contact me directly, and that I'd give him a hands on tour of my cooker for comparison sake, but frankly I don't think I'll ever hear from him on that score. My guess is he represents about 80% of the market that buys on some level of familiarity by seeing a product in many standard marketing streams (Traeger's biggest advantage) and assuming that's a form of marketplace endorsement. And then the price thing............

                With all that as backdrop Chris's getting into the pellet market at this point in the evolution string is probably very good timing. For those who started with one of the more common "big box" style cookers, or some variation on that bracket, who have learned what better features and build quality will be the step up they appreciate this one looks to be right on target for the most part. Those impressive order backlog numbers mean something.

                Comment


                • Troutman
                  Troutman commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Excellent comments. I'm not a basher of anyone's choice in cookers. You buy what you can afford and you learn from the results. Traeger has had their missteps (previously poor Chinese build quality) and obviously Weber did a face plant. LSG learned from their mistakes and Chris has put a LOT of thought in doing it correctly. These units are built for a lifetime of cooking, but with that comes a price, as well as a long wait time!!

                • Alphonse
                  Alphonse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Interesting story Bob and I think you're perspective is correct on Who represents the majority of the customers who buy and own pellet grills. Obviously LSG is not targeting them at this price point.

                  I have watched the LSG Owners Facebook Group with interest regarding who LSG customers are. Chris has been brilliant in the use of social media, both FB and YouTube. His customers and YouTube influencers are selling his product for him.

                #14
                Given the number of times the backlog has been mentioned so far, let’s just say making the number public was a super smart move on Chris’ part.

                Comment


                  #15
                  I wanted to add a couple more thoughts. Chris is a really nice guy who I believe is on the verge of becoming very big in the industry. With that it brings challenges that he's already beginning to see. New fabrication facility, capital expenditures and most importantly of all finding qualified people. His commitment to quality is going to be a challenge for him but his plan is to grow from within, hire people who are hungry and willing to begin with the simplest task and work their way up to the more difficult. So team building to achieve quality control will be his greatest challenge.

                  Success is a fleeting thing. Hopefully he's up to the task and remains true to his roots. Here's to him

                  Comment


                  • TripleB
                    TripleB commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Cheers to the free market. Here's hoping Chris makes it to the top.

                  • Uncle Bob
                    Uncle Bob commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Good addendum to your post Steve. Many folks think they know what it takes to build and run a business successfully, but few are able to prove they can actually do it. Good observation on your part.

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