After kindly writing an article on planchas for the site last year Mark Quigg has kindly written up his initial thoughts on the SNS Grills Kettle BBQ.
If you don’t follow Mark already I would highly recommend following him on his social media channels. See the links at the end of his article.
Why Change from Weber?
I have been a Weber user for over 8 years. A real former fanboy who bought anything with a Weber logo on it. I have pens, aprons, tea towels, smoking papers, spice and salt mixes, scarves etc. I was even their ‘Fans of the Month’ many moons ago. However, the time arrived where I needed to get a new grill, so my choice should have been obvious.
Unfortunately, my Weber Kettle is more like Triggers broom. Whilst I expect to need to replace a few parts over the years, I am on my 3rd grate, 2nd font leg, 3rd set of cleaning blades etc, I didn’t expect to experience so many issues with the porcelain enamel. I am on my third lid and second bowl. My third lid is less than 6 months old, but already has enamel chipping where the lid handle joins the lid. Whilst it doesn’t affect the use in the short term, it will inevitably result in rusting in the long run. It’s not what I expect from a brand like Weber. It’s a sad truth that a 15-year-old Weber is probably in a better condition than many made in the last 10 years.
So it was time to investigate the market. Two stood out to me.
- The Napoleon (the one with the beautiful cast iron grate) and
- A newcomer to the market the SNS Grills Kettle BBQ.
Each grill has its own pro’s and cons and I truly believe I would have been happy with either of these. However, for me the choice was easy.
I have used a Slow’N’Sear Deluxe for around 18 months in my Weber kettle. It absolutely changed the way I used my BBQ. It made everything easier, means I use less fuel and spend less time faffing about. Over the year I had added a couple of accessories such as the Drip’N’Roast pan and their Cherry Picker Tongs. Every item works just as it should, are great quality and are well designed.
So I may as well complete the set and get an SNS Kettle. I purchased mine from Totally BBQ and it arrived the next day. I won’t bore you with the unboxing or build details, but it took under an hour and there were more washers than in a Meccano set.
This grill is priced at the same level as a Weber Master Touch and Napoleon Kettle. A bold move from a newcomer. But after building it, you can really see why.
The first obvious feature is the collapsible metal side shelf. It can hold up to 10kg. I have tested it with an 8kg bag of briquettes and it held firm without even a wobble. It has proven to be an extremely useful addition for preparing food, holding utensils or attaching my Meater probe.
The next features are two holes in the bowl. A small one towards the top right-hand side and a larger one towards the bottom left. Both have swing covers in place, so they are shut when not in use. The top one is for temperature probe wires to be fed through and the bottom one is for a temperature controller to be installed. Both very useful features. The bottom one has been referred to as a ‘smoke hole’ by Justin aka Baby Back Maniac and he has started a trend where during low and slow cooks, you shut off the bottom vents completely and control the temp purely by the smoke hole. This gives greater control of the temps and you can actually see how far open it is, unlike the bottom vents.
The bottom vent is an ash cleaning system, similar to a Weber, however, it uses 5 short blades rather than 3 longer ones. It is in its closed position in the middle and a sweep from left to right, fully opens and closes the vents twice.
The lid is a refreshing change from my previous kettle. The temperature gauge is located to the front of the lid, so it is nearly at grate level. The lid vent is located just above it. So you can have both the vent and gauge above the food. Which is ideal for a slow ’n’ sear set up. The lid also comes with a high-temperature gasket, so there are no smoke leaks at all.
The cooking grate that comes as standard is the stainless-steel easy spin grate. It has a larger hinged section to one side and as the name suggests, it is designed to spin easily in place. Effective for the cold grate technique. The charcoal grate is porcelain coated. Now that’s quality.
Over the last few months, I have completed a range of cooks. From hot and fast to several low and slows. All of my cooks have been completed using my slow’n’sear deluxe, but this does not come with the grill and would have to be purchased separately. I highly recommend it.
I have found this grill to be a dream to use. It really just locks onto temps, with minimal fuss. Whilst the majority of use so far has been in summer conditions with the odd rainstorm, it has performed better than any grill I have used before.
I am a big believer that you need to use a grill for a year before you really get to know it, so a follow-up article is inevitable. However early indications are nothing but positive.
SNS Grills have not attempted to reinvent the wheel. As with the slow’n’sear, they are a team that barbeques lots and understands how we all grill. They have sought to just make a lot of minor improvements, which together make for a potentially great grill. The attention to detail on the build quality really shows through. As for the lid handle enamel chipping problem? SNS Grills install two fibre washers to take the stress from the handle. How much do you reckon that costs, 5p?