How They Work
As the name implies, gas grills produce heat by burning either propane or natural gas. The gas is ignited as it flows through perforated burner tubes. In grills like the Weber Spirit series, there are two to three burner tubes that run the length of the grill from front to back. Above each tube is a small, inverted “v” shaped metal plate that converts the direct heat from the flames into radiant heat that is more evenly distributed under the grill. The heat plates also boost flavor by vaporizing drippings that hit them, adding moisture and a small amount of smoke to the cooking environment.
The Barrel House Deluxe is $249 with free shipping.
This design offers several noteworthy perks, including the ability to achieve two-zone cooking. Because grills like the Spirit have multiple adjustable burners, different ends of the grill can be set to different temperatures, allowing users to cook a variety of foods simultaneously. The gas system also allows for quick start-up, bringing the grill to the desired temperature within a few minutes of ignition.
Unlike gas grills, the Barrel House cooks over charcoal without the hassle of heat plates or drip pans. In the Barrel House, meat is suspended by hooks that hold it directly over the heat source. Heat and smoke rise in the cooker and circulate around the meat, convection cooking it evenly from top to bottom.
Normally, allowing drippings to hit the charcoal would be a problem. Juices have a tendency to cause flare-ups, but not on the Barrel House. Thanks to a specially engineered, elevation-based air intake, the Barrel House restricts the flow of oxygen, preventing flare-ups and maintaining consistent temperatures for over six hours. The juices vaporize, creating a pit environment that locks in moisture while infusing meat with a traditional, smoky flavor.
Which is Better?
Comparing charcoal to gas is like comparing apples to oranges. Both platforms offer a variety of benefits and, if possible, it is best to have one of each. Unfortunately, it would be impractical to recommend both styles, so we have created a breakdown of the key features and advantages of each, using the $399 Weber Sprirt E-210 as the benchmark for gas grills and the $249 Barrel House Deluxe as the standard for vertical charcoal smokers.
Why Choose Gas?
The greatest advantage to gas is speed. With gas, you can have meat on the grill, cooking within five minutes of lighting the burners. For anyone who needs to grill burgers, steaks or chicken in a hurry, gas has the clear advantage.
Gas also beats charcoal on start-up. With grills like the Spirit, the burners can be ignited with the push of a button whereas charcoal requires lighter fluid or a chimney starter to get going. As for clean-up, charcoal grills produce ash that regularly has to be removed, while gas grills drain most of the drippings into a removable cup. However, the char and drippings that do not drain must occasionally be cleaned, meaning the grates have to be removed so that the bottom of the cooking chamber can be scraped out, which can be a tedious and messy process.
Gas grills also have an edge over most smokers when it comes to temperature control. With adjustable burners, the temperature can be dialed in and maintained with relative consistency over long periods of time whereas most charcoal cookers are subject to significant temperature fluctuations – the Barrel House being one of the few exceptions.
Ultimately, gas is ideal for more casual barbecuers. People who need to cook a quick meal without having to fuss with their grill too much would be wise to consider gas. However, the ease of use and efficiency of gas grills often comes at the expense of flavor and moisture.
Why Choose Barrel House?
Gas grills cannot compete with the flavor that smokers like the Barrel House deliver. With the ability to burn wood along with charcoal, the Barrel House gives users precise control over the amount of smoke that is infused into the meat. The humid environment that the vaporized drippings produce also increases the quality of the cook by sealing in moisture and preventing the meat from drying out. This unique cooking environment produces a level of flavor and moisture that few can match.
Unbeatable flavor, smokiness, and juiciness.
The Barrel House is also a hassle-free cooker. The elevation-based air intake is designed to keep the charcoal burning at consistent temperatures for over six hours – long enough for nearly any cook. With reliable temperature regulation, all of the guesswork is eliminated and cooking becomes time-based. Simply set the intake to the correct altitude, set a timer and let the Barrel House do the work for you.
While gas grills are also designed for consistency, achieving the desired temperature can require a considerable amount of guesswork. Between burner dials without set temperatures, unreliable thermometers and “hotspots” on the grill, there is still a degree of uncertainty with many gas grills.
Brisket cooked on the Barrel House Cooker.
Charcoal is also better suited for cooking a larger variety of foods. With the ability to slow smoke a brisket in the 200 degree range or sear a steak at 700 degrees or more, the Barrel House offers much greater versatility than grills like the Spirit, which tops out at around 500 degrees.
Another advantage that the Barrel House offers is size. The Weber Spirit is one of the more compact gas grills and it still measures over four feet from side to side and weighs a hefty 128 pounds, making it nearly impossible to transport. The Barrel House, on the other hand, has a width of only nineteen inches and weighs just thirty-three pounds.
Surprisingly, the difference in size does not result in a decrease in cooking capacity. Thanks to the hanging system, the Barrel House is able to accommodate over six racks of ribs compared to the Spirit’s four. It is important to note, however, that the vertical design of the Barrel House limits the total surface area for cooking on grill grates compared to the Spirit which more easily accommodates items like burgers and hotdogs.