Sizing Up A Grill

It’s about a month into grilling season here in Seattle, and after an unappetizing experience with MatchLight “Easy Lighting” (viz. “Soaked With Fuel”) Charcoal the other day, I finally decided to go out and get a proper gas grill for my deck. A couple of weeks ago, I had spotted an unusually cool clam-shaped barbecue at my friend Stephanie’s house so I decided to look it up on the interwebs.

After a few minutes, I determined it was one of the “Weber Q Series” grills. The problem was, there were three sizes and I had no idea which would be ideal. Luckily, Weber put together this extremely helpful diagram on their spec page:

Now that is some great information design. I don’t care if the grill is X inches by Y inches. I don’t care if it’s “small”, “medium”, or “large”. I just care what I can grill on it. Weber’s diagram tells me I can cook 10 hamburgers, 16 hot dogs, 55 shrimp, or 2 lobsters on it, and that’s all I need in order to determine that the 100 Series is big enough for me (I ended up getting the 120… it has flaps).

Anyway, great grill so far. I definitely recommend it. It’s small enough to throw in the back seat of your car as well so you can take it down to the beach or wherever you need to heat up tasty foodstuffs.

30 comments on “Sizing Up A Grill”. Leave your own?
  1. Kevin says:

    Now when do we come over for the shrimp and lobster?

  2. Zipwow says:

    How is the heat distribution? I have a cheapo $20 grill from Bartell Drugs, and my only complaint is that the heat is slightly uneven.

  3. kenrick says:

    Um so what happened with the match light? I much prefer having coal over gas (less burning, tastes better etc). I have not had any bad experiences with it yet, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one lurking around the corner for me.

  4. Mike D. says:

    Zipwow: Heat distribution seems good to me, but I’m no pro.

    kenrick: Alright, so the deal with the MatchLight was that I let the stuff burn and smolder for 10 minutes, as directed, and then threw the kabobs on for a little while. When they were done, I took a few bites and everything just tasted like fuel. I’m sure it was probably user error, but I’ve heard bad things about the pre-soaked briquettes.

  5. Ben Lowery says:

    Yeah, it’s a great little grill. I loved mine until someone stole it from outside my apartment. :)

    The only problem I had with it was that it’s nearly impossible to do indirect heat with it. It’s all heat, all the time, and on high it gets mighty hot. Still, I loved the thing and I’ll probably pick up another fairly soon, probably the middle size instead of the little guy.

  6. Nate says:

    I also prefer charcoal, and I agree that lighter fluid or charcoal with lighter fluid incorporated often leaves the food tasting like fuel. What you need is a charcoal chimney. It effectively lights all the charcoals without any lighter fluid. All you need is a match and a sheet of newspaper to get things going. Enjoy!

  7. Nate beat me to it, but the chimney is definitely the way to go with charcoal. I’ve been using one for the last 15 years or so and have never had a fire not turn on for me.

    I feel like I am in bizarro world or something. This is the second case of “directions” being mentioned or used in the last couple of days in regard to match light. The other being when I arrived and heard the hosts saying “Well Step 2 on the bag says. . .”

    Nice to hear you like the grill, my bro is looking for a gas one so I’ll make sure to recommend the Q series.

  8. Dennis says:

    That is a great ad…looks like you are going to be a grilling machine. So what did you bless it with?

  9. Calichef says:

    There have been three others before me expressing the superiority of chimney charcoal starters, and several others who agree that charcoal barbecues produce much better tasting barbecue, but I simply must chime in because it’s an occupational hazzard.

    I agree completely. I never use charcoal lighter fluid, and when invited to a barbecue I won’t eat food cooked in the carcinogenic smoke of petrochemicals. I can taste the chemicals and it can’t be healthy.

    I’ve used nothing but the chimney method for twenty years. But here’s a little DIY secret: You don’t need to spend $10 to $20 for a chimney. Just beg a gallon-size can from a restaurant you frequent. Offer to pay them a buck or two, but they probably won’t take it.

    When you get it home use a can opener and cut the bottom out. Then use a “key” can opener to pierce holes around the bottom of the can, every inch or so. Then, as stated above, a couple pieces of crumpled newspaper on the bottom, fill with briquettes, light the newspaper from the bottom, and you are good to go.

    You will lift it with tongs when the coals are hot, depositing the coals out of the bottom in a pile, instead of using a blazing hot wooden handle to pour the coals, but so what? It’s not quite as big, either, but if you need lots of coals you can use two cans or just pour more briquettes on top when you remove the starter can.

  10. Aww.. the fuel-soaking is the best part!

  11. In case you wanted to know, that great info design was conceived and executed by Avenue in Chicago. They actually handled all aspects of the Q’s launch. Bob Domenz headed up that effort.

  12. Whoops, that was supposed to be Avenue.

  13. Calvin Tang says:

    That’s great that you have a grill that can cook that much food at once. Now all you need is to configure your deck to be able to fit us all outside.

  14. Ooble says:

    So, about this whole Newsvine party thing… your place? :-D

  15. Reed Morse says:

    The chimney does indeed work wonders. I’d write you an essay about it’s superiority, but Calichef beat me to it :)

  16. Joshua says:


    I don’t think I’ll ever switch from the classic charcoal BBQ.. it just tastes so much better. The fuel coal does sound gross though.

    If you are ever craving a good old fashioned charcoal meal, head over to my place in Kirkland and I’ll cook ya one up.

  17. Rich says:

    “a month in to grilling season” ? What?….Grilling is a lifestyle….

    Weber is a great choice.

    You can tuck a smoker box in there with some wood chips for some added flavor.


  18. Rich says:

    Back for more.

    Did I mention that a bit of newspaper and a cylindrical charcoal starter (best $20 ever spent) totally eliminate the need for propane or lighter fluid?

    I have also been known to substitute a 1/2 block of that ALL NATURAL wax fire starter when in a hurry.

    And again – ‘grilling season’ come on we are talking meat and fire here – Seattle can not be that cold.

    Enjoy part 2 !

  19. Rich says:

    Did I say newspaper? – I meant hardcopy Newsvine printouts.


  20. Scott Elfstrom says:

    There’s always the Woodflame grill… Saw this linked off of the 37signals blog.

  21. Brian says:

    I love my Q grill. It’s compact so I can take it camping and it has a nice solid grilling surface. My only gripe was that, though visually cool, it is designed to use the thin blue propane cylinders that are used for blow torches which are more expensive and harder to find than the more common short green cylinders. But I modified my grill to accomodate the green cylinders.

  22. Mike D. says:

    Thanks for the tips, everyone.

    Justin: Thanks for pointing out that Avenue did the Weber web site. Props to them!

    Rich: Burn Newsvine printouts at your own risk. We use a lot of green and green ink can make you sterile and/or impotent when inhaled.

    Brian: Yep, you can just remove that little metal ring and the regular canisters work just fine. That’s what I did as well.

  23. just now grilling season?
    oh, I see that was already mentioned … a couple of times

    hey, when i was living in Missouri it was grilling season all year long. even when it was snowing, forget about shoveling the drive, i made a path on my back deck to my grill … priorities.

    gas, charcoal, electric – whatever. seared/smoked meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, breads, pizza, cinnamon rolls, and more all are very tasty on a grill.

    what’s the strangest thing anyone has ever “intentionally” grilled up?

  24. Dave Mohrman says:

    The benefits of Gas v.s. Briquet/Charcoal/Wood depend on your P.O.V. on some things.

    Gas benefits include: Ease of use; Rapid starting and cooldown; and Environmentaly friendlier too. Gas emits less hydrocarbons and particulates than the other fuels. If you want some smoky flavors, you could purchase bags of pelletized woods, from mesquite to apple, pear and hickory. You put these in an aluminum foil envelope and place them in your gas grill and as they heat up, they emit smoke from holes you’ve punched in the foil envelope. It’s not too bad, but not like cooking with actual wood chips or charcoal for flavor. Another downside of gas grills is that, for some reason, cooking with gas really corrodes the burners and other elements in the grill causing costly replacement in a year or two of the burners and related elements. This may not be as much of a problem with higher quality (& cost) grills.

    B.B.Q. purists and elitists – or “gourmets” if you prefer – will claim that NOTHING beats the quality of meat grilled over seasoned charcoals and woods, and they’re 100% correct. But you have to babysit the grill all the time and you have a real limited window of cooking time as the coals reach their optimum temperature. Kind of cuts down on your enjoyment of friends and family too.

    I recently bought a little Weber Smoky Joe which is charcoal because my el cheapo gas grill of 7years finally gave up the goat and is not worth restoring again (I did it once 3 years ago) and I don’t have the resources to purchase a better replacement at this time. But although it produces tasty food, it underscores for me the convenience of cooking with the gas grill and the taste trade off is not that big of a sacrifice to me.

    When the time comes I’ll look into the Weber Q.


  25. kenrick says:

    Yeah about the waiting 10 minutes, you have to wait until the charcoal are all grey. If you only wait 10 minutes then you have pretty much guaranteed yourself a fuel-inspired dinner.

    The biggest problem I have with gas is that I tend to burn food on it alot easier. I mean, the flame is RIGHT there. With charcoal (if you are using the vents and the lid right) unless you forget about your food its alot harder to just burn it outright.

    Hope you enjoy your new grill though, I love to BBQ in the summer for sure.

  26. Melissa says:

    I have had the Baby Q Webber Grill for 3+ years and love it. The best part is it’s portability.

    I vacation every year to a remote island in Maine and be rest assured it comes with us.

    We have even grilled a small Turkey on it!

    – melissa :)

  27. Bill says:

    give the matchlight a break – 15 min after lighting the petrol smell is gone. just give the coals some time.

  28. Walt says:

    I have a Q grill, too – but you should check out Char Cones ( for when you gotta have that great charcoal taste. They’re pretty much disposable chimney starters with the charcoal already packaged inside.

    Great idea and it works. We use them all the time for tailgating (and at home). Sure beats that stuff soaked in lighter fluid!

  29. jacques0 says:

    Several comments: Here is my approach to grilling: Use lump charcoal for all the reasons that the vendors espouse. It lights fast, has a pleasant odor, burns hot. I use a chimney, putting in the leftovers from the last grilling (more on that later), then putting a generous splash of denatured alcohol over it (READ THIS!!: Denatured alcohol burns quickly and hot, with no odor BUT it ignites explosively. Stand back when lighting your chimney). On top of the alcohol-doused leftovers, I add fresh lump charcoal (Royal Oak), then light the bottom. Fire is ready to go in 10-15 minutes, no odor.

    2nd: The chimney itself is made from 2 three-pound coffee cans stacked vertically, using slits cut by a Dremel tool. The sides are cut in X-shaped cuts (Dremel again) to allow for airflow.

    3rd: When the food is cooked, I shut off the vents to the grill (lower and upper), then put a roasting pan cover over the grill to quickly extinguish the fire. This results in any unused charcoal available for the next cookout.

    4th: During the grilling, I add soaked apple or cherry wood chips to the fire to add a lot of flavor to the food.

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