The Weber Smokey Joe Gold charcoal grill is almost identical to the best-reviewed Weber Smokey Joe Silver (*Est. $30) save for the position of the grill vent and the addition of lid locks for transport. Most owners say that the extra $5 is well worth it to get the locking lid. However, we found a significant number of reports from both experts and users who prefer the Silver model because its bottom-mounted vent provides better airflow than the Gold's side-mounted vents. The Smokey Joe Gold also lacks the ash pan that sits below the kettle on the Silver model. Experts say this grill's cooking surface (14.5-inch diameter, 147 square inches) can fit six to eight burgers, a 1.5-pound flank steak or a whole (butterflied) chicken. Although many reviewers say the Weber Smokey Joe Silver is ultimately the better choice because of its bottom venting, the Gold is still a very well-reviewed alternative, thanks to its Weber quality and locking lid.
Cook's Country, sister publication to Cook's Illustrated, publishes a comparative review of several portable charcoal grills. We also found a good comparative review at Slate.com and a thorough review by the About.com guide to grilling and barbeques, Derrick Riches. User reviews from Amazon.com and Walmart.com round out the picture of how the Weber Smokey Joe Gold performs.
1. Cook's Country
The editors evaluate six portable charcoal grills evaluating them for factors including portability, durability and (of course) cooking performance. One grill earns the highest-possible recommendation, while another grill is not recommended.
Review: Portable Charcoal Grills, Editors of Cook's Country, June 1, 2011
2. Slate Magazine
An unspecified number of testers rate seven portable gas, charcoal and electric grills. The Weber Smokey Joe Gold, a smaller and sturdier version of the Silver, wins the competition with a score of 9 on taste and 10 on convenience and performance. Stewart writes that the Smokey Joe's ventilation system, which includes six adjustable holes in the body's kettle and top, "is tough to beat."
Review: Fired Up: Which Portable Grill Cranks Up the Heat?, Jude Stewart, June 5, 2007
About.com's guide to barbequing and grills says the Smokey Joe's temperature control works very much like that of a full-sized Weber grill. "Take good care of it and it will last you for years," he says, although he wishes it had better airflow control. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold, Derrick Riches
About 90 customers rate the Weber Smokey Joe Gold on Amazon.com. The Smokey Joe Gold gets an average rating of 4 stars out of 5 possible; the big complaint from consumers is that the Gold has ventilation holes in the sides of the body -- above the coals -- instead of underneath, which makes it harder to reach high temperatures. Note: The Smokey Joe Silver has a separate listing and receives a slightly higher rating overall.
Review: Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Gold Charcoal Grill, Contributors to Amazon.com
About a dozen customers rate the Smokey Joe Gold grill on Walmart.com, but all of them would recommend it to a friend. Nobody complains about the side vents, and one reviewer says that her previous Smokey Joe Gold lasted 14 years.
Review: Weber 147 Sq. Inch Smokey Joe Gold Charcoal Grill, Black, Contributors to Walmart.com