A few weeks back, me and the missus turned a year wiser (let’s just leave it at that). Knowing that I’m into one of the daddest hobbies ever (backyard BBQing), a few of our closest friends gave us a Weber Master-Touch 57 for our birthday. How cool is that? And if you love charcoal grilling, then this thing is the real deal. Let’s be fair, there are other well-known brands and models but this one’s right up there with the bests. So imagine how thrilled we are for having this — thank you so much, dear friends! 🙂
Anyway, my previous post featured the now discontinued model, Weber Spirit E310, for which I haven’t really explored the whole array of modes and capabilities yet. Now you may wonder, you already have a BBQ, do you need another one? The short answer is, yes. The Spirit E310 uses LPG (gas) as fuel, while the Master-Touch 57 uses charcoal. If you ask me which one should you get (gas or charcoal)? My answer would be, go get both if you can. Gas BBQs give you convenience, charcoal BBQs give you a more authentic BBQ flavour. Which one is better? I think it’s about personal preference, but it does fall under apples to oranges comparison.
Let me show you the highlights of this masterpiece.
What’s in the box?
First things first, this one comes in a box and needs to be assembled. It has quite a lot of parts compared to a basic charcoal BBQ so you may want to take your time to read through the manual and make sure there are no kids around when assembling — some metal parts could be a little unsafe for kids.
As good as it looks on the outside, there’s really more to this thing than meets the eye. It’s a huge upgrade from my 1st charcoal BBQ, not even close. And since this is within the Weber Kettle series, it does sport the infamous kettle-like design where the bottom half appears like a bowl – in fact, the manual refers to that bottom half as the ‘bowl’.
Let’s see what’s inside, and let’s take a closer look at each component.
Vents and Dampers
This is where you take control of the airflow. The more air that comes in, the hotter the internal temperature of the BBQ gets. This gives you the flexibility to either get the grills piping hot for searing steaks, or to keep the temperature down for smoking briskets and ribs for hours.
The Fuel Grate
This is where the charcoal sits. High-heat resistant material that will withstand any burning charcoal on it.
The cool thing about this grate is, it has what they call a V channel – basically a depressed section where you can put fire starters for lighting up your charcoal.
Just light those fire starters up, slide those charcoal baskets over, and that’s how you start a fire. Chimney starters are good to have but not necessary in this case.
Charcoal baskets and drip pans
See those charcoal baskets above? They’re not just for starting fires, the real purpose of those baskets is for heat placement. It’s handy for doing some indirect heat methods when cooking bigger chunks of meat. Take a lamb leg for example, depending on the size, it can take a few hours to roast. In that case, you don’t want the charcoal directly below the meat, otherwise you’ll have fossils for dinner.
There is an included disposable drip pan which you can easily buy on-line or in any grocery shop as this can only last a number of grills. Drip pans catch oil drippings from the meat which makes cleaning less of a chore.
The Cooking Grill
Now this grill is quite special. Cleverly designed, I should say. Here’s why:
This is what’s out of the box, you can grill almost anything on it.
That circular section in the centre though, it’s removable which then allows you to fit a sear grate, a griddle, or a pizza stone (all sold separately).
One more thing – ever had trouble with having too little fuel in the middle of your cooking? You won’t need to lift the whole grill up. There are flaps on both sides of the grill that open up so you can drop a few briquettes or smoking wood chunks in. Simple solutions like this go a long way.
One of the debates in the BBQ world is, lid on or lid off? Weber has been an advocate of the ‘lid on’ approach and considering that the actual reason for using a charcoal BBQ is to have that smoky flavour and aroma, I think it makes more sense to lean towards the ‘lid on’ technique. Having said, the lid is just as important as the other components.
The lid comes with a vent and damper for airflow control, and a built-in thermometer.
The Ash Catcher
Cleaning the BBQ is, let’s just say, not the best part in BBQing. However, having the ash catcher in place takes away much of the overall housekeeping time and effort. Again, one of those simple solutions that matter.
Since it’s the age of thermal probes, an iGrill holder is definitely a plus. This small metal sheet is compatible with the iGrill Mini and the iGrill 2. Compatible meaning, they fit perfectly in there. There is an iGrill 3 on the market these days, but it only works on Spirit 2 and Genesis 2, as far as I know. And yes, I do have an iGrill 2. Will be posting a review soon. 😉
The Weber Master-Touch 57 is definitely more than just a standard BBQ and will take grilling into some level of creative experience. It’s not about just preparing meals, for some of us, it’s about learning some form of art. The best part is, we get to eat in the process.
There you have it, folks. Again, this is more than just a BBQ, this is a toy. And like any other toy, it needs to be played around with. That being said, I don’t see myself turning vegan anytime soon. 😉