The Affordable Kettle Grill
By Jonathan Poet
Weber's kettle-style grill still looks very much like it did when it was invented nearly six decades ago by George Stephen. The way Weber tells the story, Stephen came up with the kettle grill out of the frustration of using "brazier"-style grills — those $10 shallow saucers that show up in drug stores and supermarkets. Stephen cut a metal buoy in half, fashioned a dome lid and the kettle grill was born. Stephen then persuaded his employer, Weber Brothers Metal Works, to make them. He eventually bought the company. (His son now runs it.)
Today, Weber also builds gas grills, but it continues to roll out new charcoal styles with advancements like an ash-cleaning system, plastic table-wings, a built-in charcoal storage bin and even a gas-fired starter. A top-of-the-line 22.5-inch Performer model retails for about $300. The supersize Ranch Kettle, which can handle about 18 whole cornish hens at a time, goes for a whopping $1,100.
Or, you can spent $30 on the portable, but versatile, 14.5-inch Smokey Joe Silver model. You have to provide your own table, store the charcoal elsewhere and use newspapers or lighter fluid to get it going, but it's made with the same porcelain-coated steel as other models. It also leaves a lot of money in your pocket for steaks, veggies and beer.