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.
Derrick Riches, the About.com guide to barbeques & grilling, gives the Weber Smokey Joe Gold a thorough review and rates it 4 stars out of a possible 5. He says it's basically a scaled-down version of the iconic Weber kettle grill and performs well for a small grill, but it's flimsy and has poor airflow.
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold, Derrick Riches, Not Dated
The Weber Smokey Joe Gold receives about 150 reviews on Amazon.com, with an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5. Most users say it is extremely durable and performs very well, although some complain that because air vents are above the coals, the fire tends to go out.
Review: Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Gold Charcoal Grill, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014
In about 30 reviews, the Weber Smokey Joe Gold earns an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5. Owners say it's great for tailgating, and it's easy to use and transport. Many also like it for apartment living and other small spaces.
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold Portable Charcoal Grill, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of April 2014
The Smokey Joe Gold rates 89 points (out of 100) on Viewpoints, based on about 90 reviews. Owners say it's easy to use and surprisingly roomy. A few complain that it's hard to clean.
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold Portable Charcoal Grill Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of April 2014
5. Cook's Country
Editors from this sister publication of Cook's Illustrated evaluate six portable charcoal grills on the basis of portability, durability, design and performance. The Weber Smokey Joe Gold is among the tested models. This is an older review, but the Smokey Joe is still the same design.
Review: Portable Charcoal Grills, Editors of Cook's Country, June 1, 2011