Friday July 1, 2005 12:49 pm
Weber Q: Portable Gas Grill Review
If you’re heading out to one of our nation’s many parks this holiday weekend, or just staying at home and enjoying the fireworks, odds are, you’re probably going to be grilling. If you’re searching for that perfect portable grill that can also serve as a great backyard grill, you’ve come to the right place. Living the high-tech lifestyle isn’t always about gadgets and games, sometimes it’s about getting back to basics and harnessing the most basic of the elements: fire.
The Weber Q is a gas-powered grill from the people that practically invented fire. It has a slightly futuristic design, shaped somewhat like a football, albeit much larger. The design is intentional, and helps put a very large grilling area into what feels like a more compact space. With the side work tables folded inside of the grill, the Q has a footprint of 31.5 by 18 inches. The lid has a 7 inch tall capacity, but that is only measured at the very center, so while you might be able to get a chicken into the grill lying on it’s side, you won’t be doing the famous “beer can chicken”, nor will you be grilling anything too tall around the edges of the grill surface. However, if your most complicated grilling is hamburgers and hot dogs, there is 280 sq. in. of surface area on the grill grate.
Speaking of the grill grate, it’s easily the best feature of the Q. The grate is made of porcelain-enameled cast iron, and while it’s somewhat more difficult to clean, it heats up very evenly (not hot or cold spots on this grill grate), stays hot, and makes fantastic looking grill marks. The grate is quite heavy, and contributes to most of the 40 lbs. carrying weight of the Q. Heating that grate is an LP (liquid propane) canister of a somewhat non-standard size: 14.1 oz. It’s taller and thinner in circumference than the more standard 16.4 oz canisters, and can be more difficult to find. Some people have solved this problem by removing the retaining ring and jury-rigging some contraption to hold the larger canister in place, but this is likely going to void your warranty, as well as cause some problems in the future. For home grilling, it would be advisable to buy the adapter hose for a 20 lb. LP tank, and buy a few of the smaller LP canisters for those road trips.
Sold separately is a rolling cart designed specifically for the Q, which brings the grill up to waist height, or can fold flat for storage. There is a third aspect to the design as well, allowing the Q to be towed on the cart similar to a rolling luggage rack. It’s all quite clever, and shows a lot of thought in the design, another example of which is the way the grill tools (again, sold separately) can be stored under the right work table when not being used.
The first time I fired up the Q, I noticed that the grill wasn’t getting to what I would consider to be very hot. I was using the adapter hose and a 20 lb. LP tank (which itself had an adapter), so I figured I was either running low on propane, or there was some other problem. It was a Sunday afternoon, and while I figured it was a long shot, I called the 800 number listed in the manual. Less than three minutes later, I was talking to a nice lady at the Weber hotline, and she walked me through some steps. After turning off the gas and disconnecting the hose, she told me to reconnect the hose, and turn on the gas … slowly. Apparently, when using a larger tank, the gas can rush into the regulator too quickly and trip a safety valve. Sure enough, the grill fired up much better this time. It would have been nice to have had a notation in the manual (not everyone would have thought to call), but having such courteous help available on a weekend was a pleasant surprise.
For $199 (selling around $179 at retail), the Q is not inexpensive, not to mention the cost of buying the extra accessories if you feel you need them. But for a grill that will easily service a family of four, and can go on picnics to boot, you’re not going to find much better, especially not with the level of service and attention to detail that comes with the Weber name. Highly recommended.
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