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Mark Surratt

Hi from N.Carolina

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22 hours ago, tony b said:

@Poochie Who Dat!

I've never seen this Royal Oak before, so not judging (even if it's briquettes). The "regular" stuff in the red bag is total crap! Scrap lumber pieces mostly. Burns up super fast. And you worry if it's been treated or not? 

My thoughts - if you've spent the $$ on the KK, why in God's name would you use cheap-ass charcoal in it? 

I respectfully disagree.  You're confusing royal oak with cowboy.  Cowboy has random pieces of different density of wood, sometimes you see lumber scraps (even with hinges and screws on it) - it has been a while since i have seen that but it has happened.  Cowboy in some cases is not fully carbonized - basically just pieces of wood.  Also with Cowboy, I always find at least one rock in every bag. 

I hate that every other bag of royal oak has too many small pieces in it, but it's *not* scrap lumber and IMO doesn't burn up super fast.  "You get what you pay for" and it is cheap charcoal.  I feel after using IDK 20 or 30 15 pound bags from home depot over the past 2-3 years that it is a consistent product made out of the same material in every bag.  Fully carbonized, etc.  Is it the best charcoal ?   No - sometimes it is worth getting premium lump.   But why pay more if the product is consistent and you can get repeated results with it over and over again?

But anyway on the burn length: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpdatabase/lumpbag11.htm. Naked Whiz agrees with me.  4 stars.
I buy what home depot has which is the American made royal oak in a red 15 pound bag.  Some bags have a lot of larger pieces.  Others do not.  That's the only thing I dislike about it.  Everything else about it to me is "just fine".  

I like more expensive lump charcoal, but I do not like to pay for it for every day cooks.

Edited by johnnymnemonic
accuracy, detail
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I apologize, you are correct. I was thinking about Cowboy. Royal Oak is a decent lump charcoal, especially for the price point. I've used it in a pinch as it's readily available at the local big box hardware stores. (btw - that Naked Whiz review is 15 years old. His standards have changed over that time.)

But to one point made - folks have to understand how briquettes are made - they usually have a binder to hold them together. So, I find 100% hardwood labels to be a bit misleading. However, I will give Royal Oak credit for saying that their briquettes are made from the leftovers of their lump processing - as an Engineer, I applaud efficiency like that! In most cases, the binder is just a starch base (like the Royal Oak ones). Steer clear of the ones that use paraffin or similar stuff that will produce nasty off flavors - the so-called Quick Lighting ones. Even basic Kingsford (trivia - started by Henry Ford, assisted by Thomas Edison), adds things like limestone and borax, besides the starch. My main issue with them is that you have no idea what woods are being used - even  pine and spruce (per Wiki) - not my first choices for cooking with. Their website just says "North American wood" for the original version. But what I really love is their "100% natural ingredients" tag - yeah, I guess limestone and borax are technically "natural." 

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate all briquettes - I was a fan of the Wicked Good ones, but I don't think they make them anymore. I just prefer to cook with lump, as I know what it is made from and I find that it burns better (hotter & longer) than most briquettes (YMMV). 

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Before Academy Sports opened semi-locally here, I was buying most of my lump from Home Depot or Lowes. I found a lot of variation in the lump from the home stores even amongst the same brand - one bag would have very little smalls and dust but the next bag wood be all smalls with lots of dust. I attributed that with how the bags were being handled - I think the bad bags were abused during shipping and/or handling in the warehouses and stores. Same with orders from Amazon - I ordered a bag of jealous devil from Amazon since I couldn't find it locally and was disappointed; the bag showed obvious abuse and had several tears that had been taped with lots of smalls and dust. The bag was coated in dust too.

I've bought all of my lump from Academy since they opened here and I found out they carried it. They usually have jealous devil and B&B; I've stuck with B&B and have been happy with the quality and price. Inventory has been low for the past few months tho; I got lucky the last time I got some and got a bag right off the pallet so I knew it have been minimally handled. That bag was full of big chunks.

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I just paid $1.30/lb for KJ Big Block lump on Amazon (20 lb bag). I know that I'm paying extra for the "free Prime shipping," but it's a very good lump, nice distribution of pieces, and a decent price.

The FOGO is good, but the pieces can be way too big, and I have to break them up. Believe it or not, cantaloupe sized charcoal doesn't burn all that well.

Any quebracho style charcoal is going to impart that flavor profile, some like it, others don't - personal preference. I did like the FOGO Eucalyptus, but it's pricey and not always in stock. 

Guess that I'm lucky and had good success with Amazon with charcoal shipments, including Jealous Devil (which I like a lot!) Hopefully your bad experience was unique. But at least now you can get it locally. 

@Poochie - still love ya, buddy!


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Sometimes it depends on the person with the horrible job of stacking the bags of lump. If he's miffed about his job, wife, kids, mother-in-law, he'll throw those bags and beat them into submission to get them stacked. I've seen it with charcoal, Dorito's, eggs...you name it. And if you buy the bags on the bottom of the stack...which are now the top of the stack, it'll look a bag of black sand from Hawaii. Get something that works for you and stick with it. You'll learn how it burns and adjust to it. 

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On 1/3/2022 at 11:58 AM, tony b said:

I apologize, you are correct. I was thinking about Cowboy. Royal Oak is a decent lump charcoal, especially for the price point. I've used it in a pinch as it's readily available at the local big box hardware stores. (btw - that Naked Whiz review is 15 years old. His standards have changed over that time.)


Agreed, Naked Whiz is dated.  Also the quality of lump you can readily find keeps going up and up and there are an ever increasing number of brands, so the "range" has expanded.

Royal Oak would definitely be on the mid to low end of the current market spectrum.  For me, Royal Oak is the "lowest acceptable", mainly because it is the exact same product in the bag every time.  You buy it, you know exactly what you are getting and it cooks and tastes the same way as the last 20 bags you bought.  Consistency is a key attribute for me.

To quote someone else above, I am definitely irritated from time to time at the qty of small pieces and dust in every 2nd or 3rd bag of royal oak.  The key is - it's made of the exact same wood every time.  No weird mixtures of things like in other cheap brands.

Other cheap charcoal like Cowboy and Frontier are not just cheap and not very good, but horribly inconsistent.

As a value shopper, I find Fogo black to be the new value brand if you want something solidly in the "good" range without paying a whole lot for it.

Edited by johnnymnemonic
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As did I, so I was speaking to myself too lol


this is the only BBQ forum I have ever been on where every thread didn’t dissolve into a charcoal debate. I’d love to see it stay that way lol

Edited by C6Bill
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16 hours ago, Mark Surratt said:

All this talk has me wanting to jump from a 32 to a 42....still not sure why you think tiles cook better than pebbles. 

@Mark SurrattAs a recent purchaser, I will outline my story, my decision, and my results.  As I use my 42 more and more, I get more perspective.

I made my original order back last June.  I ordered a 32BB in matte black pebble.  As I waited and waited, 2 things happened.

1) I got impatient and wanted to see if I could get a cancellation on the boat ahead of me

2) I had FOMO on making sure I got the biggest grill.  The biggest reason for ordering my KK is that I do big cooks of pulled pork.  I was doing 2-3 cooks of 2 pork butts in each cook on my Big Green Egg for my brothers in law, which now I can do all at once.  I can do 6 butts on the main grate (with room to spare and drip pans underneath) without making 2 layers with the upper grate, which is astounding and awesome.  The pic I am providing is featuring 5 but I could easily do 6.  I vac seal and freeze BBQ for my brothers-in-law for Christmas to take back home to new york.  And I have some other family gatherings, etc where I bring frozen bags and warm them up in the sous vide and they taste almost like they are fresh off the smoker.  And I am expanding the stuff I do this technique with. 

I ended up being successful in acquiring a cancellation in the boat ahead of me and received my KK in November.

Here are some observations.

A) the 42SBB is not too big.  The basket splitter comes standard.  You can grill with a small amount of charcoal.  With half a basket or less you can run the grill for many hours.  Full baskets are a lot of charcoal, but it doesn't burn near as much as you think it is going to. 

For grilling in particular, You have ample space for all sorts of versatility.  The way that the upper and lower grates are split into 3 sections gives you several different ways to set the grill up, which is so handy and cool.

B ) after living with the 42, I occasionally find myself wanting a smaller KK or wanting to use my BGE.

I think it boils down to how you are going to use it.
For me, I love my 42 because

  • I do a lot of grilling and I absolutely adore the extra room that this grill gives me
  • I do several very large smokes every year and it's great to do it all at once rather than in batches
    • I could probably do these large cooks in a 32 very easily as well but I appreciate all the handy extra space.  I don't have to fool with the upper grate unless I want to do - what - a dozen pork butts (which I may do one day and I will post pics!).

If you are mostly doing one brisket or one pork shoulder and that type of thing and you are doing mostly smoking and not grilling, I would recommend sticking with the 32 or even looking at the 23 ultimate.  The reason is that on this pork butt cook that you see in pictures below (yes, they are all perfect and awesome) but - the butts on the right side where there was more fire underneath were slightly hotter than the ones on the left.  This is a HUGE nitpick because THIS IS A KK and the results are mind blowing no matter what, but - it is my impression that the temperature consistency is more and more uniform the smaller KK you have.  If you are doing smaller amounts of food and you are aiming for absolute utter perfection, I think a smaller KK is the "best tool for the job".  That said, do I have any hesitation about smoking small amounts of food in my 42? None whatsoever - and the results are - as I say - mindblowing - just like with any KK.

Bottom line: If you grill a lot like I do and you want the absolute most versatile KK in the line, upgrade to the 42.  It's so useful to have all the room and you won't regret it, except for the rare occasion where you wish you had a smaller one.  

At least, that's my take.




Edited by johnnymnemonic
adding pic
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Thank you for your input...I will keep it at the 32 for now. I have my Primo XL for different temp cooks when it need to do that. It is very tempting though. I was looking at the 23 and decided to go up to the 32. Do you have the cold smoker, I normally rely on adding wood, wasn't sure if it would make that much difference. I found a lump that is off the grid and really good to the point that I don't really need to add wood now. It is called Smith Mountain Lump out of Virginia.

Your cooks really look good. With pork pricing the way it is now that would cost a few pennies!

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I bought my 23 before the 32 was available..and subsequently I came this close to getting a 32. I now have a 19 in addition to the 23, and I’ll still get a bigger grill in the future when my situation warrants, and I’m not sure whether it will be a 32 or 42. Regardless it will be tiles.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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