Char-Broil American Gourmet 18202078 30″ Offset Smoker Review
Char-Broil has an extensive line of barrel style grills, many of which have offset smoker boxes. Though there are a few features and characteristics built into the 30-inch 18202078 Charcoal Grill With Offset Smoker that make it a good value compared to its competitors and even other grills in the same line.
Right off the bat, the first thing you will notice is robust, thick gauge steel. Not only does this help reduce long-term problems with rust and corrosion. The durable exterior paint also gives it superior weather resistance.
The side smoker box was designed to deliver smoke consistently to the primary cooking chamber. There is a lower access door that allows you to reload charcoal and wood chunks without altering the heat dynamics inside the primary chamber. It’s also pretty handy for ash cleanout afterward.
The Char-Broil 18202078 Charcoal Grill And Smoker has a modest 477 square inch primary grill grate with a protective, non-stick coating. The smoker box measures in at 128 square inches. There is also a small side table for prep and serving platters.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
For the price range, the Char-Broil 18202078 Charcoal Grill With Offset Smoker has relatively thick gauge steel. Particular attention was spent on reducing air leaks. While it’s not perfectly airtight, the primary cooking chamber and smoker box certainly do better at holding in the hot smoke than many of the director competitor units.
Things like the ash access door in the offset firebox and the non-stick coating on the grill grates are also feathers of quality in this grills cap.
When it comes to assembly. The instructions are relatively easy to follow, though there are a few sticky points. Especially when it comes to properly attaching the chimney. It might help to have a second pair of eyes and hands-on duty. All things being equal, you should be able to get this grill put together in a little over an hour or so.
As advertised the Char-Broil 18202078 can be used as a charcoal grill or as an offset smoker. In a pinch, you could even start a fire on the smoker box to use for direct high heat grill of things like kabobs.
It’s important to keep the lid shut tight anytime you are using it as a smoker. While this unit does trap smoke better than competitors at this price point, it will still leak a little bit. This isn’t really an issue during warm weather times of the year. Especially because the thick gauge steel helps with heat retention.
The problem comes in with heat loss during cold times of year. Especially if you are planning for a morning start time. It might help to start a small fire in the grate of the primary chamber during preheating. A fire rated brick or two wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil would also help absorb heat and refract it back into the cooking chamber. This will improve overall consistent heat control when smoking in cold weather.
The grill grates have a protective non-stick porcelain coating, which helps prevent food from sticking. They aren’t height-adjustable, but there is just enough space in the primary grilling chamber to set up two different heat zones for things like hybrid grilling.
The slight air leaks can also lead to flareups when you smoke with wood chips. It’s a good idea to soak wood chips in water overnight or to use wood chunks when smoking. This will reduce flares to help you maintain a consistent temperature.
The side shelf is annoyingly small, and if you aren’t careful you will inevitably knock a plate off it someday.
The primary grill grate measures in at a convenient 477 square inches. This is enough to accommodate grilling for a family of four. The side smoker firebox offers another 128 square inches for a grand total of 650 square inches of grilling real estate.
The side access door on the offset firebox is a very nice touch and rarely something you see in other grills at this price point. It allows you to reload charcoal and wood chunks during long smoking sessions for making things like ribs, brisket or pork shoulder.
Ease to Clean
Barrel grills are often notorious for being a pain to clean the ash out of. This is still somewhat true for the primary chamber. However, the side smoker box has an access door that makes it much easier to cleanout. It also reduces the occasional rust problems that can occur in the bottoms of offset smokers that are poorly maintained.
One saving grace in the primary grilling chamber is that the grill grates are coated in non-stick porcelain. This makes for easy scraping. If something goes get stubbornly stuck-on a grate, or you need to perform a seasonal deep clean, you can always pull the grates off in sections to soak in warm soapy water. The porcelain will protect them from rusting.
Scooping ash out of the primary chamber is a little bit of a hassle. This is a common complaint with a lot of barrel style grills. One way around this is to put down a double thick sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil before you place the charcoal. Which will give you something to grab a hold of later when it’s time to pull the ash out.
The Char-Broil 18202078 Charcoal Grill With Offset Smoker comes with a 1-year warranty. This is about on-par for a grill in this price range.
If you are working with a limited budget and you want a barrel-style grill with an offset smoker, the Char-Broil 18202078 Charcoal Grill With Offset Smoker might just be worthy of your hard-earned dollars. It does have more air leaks than a high-end smoker, but it’s still a lot better than many of the competitors with a similar price tag.
Just be prepared to start an extra fire when smoking in cold weather and take your time cleaning ash out of the primary cooking chamber.
- Durable materials for the price
- Minimal air leaks
- Heavy-duty steel construction
- Access door for easy cleanup on smoker box
- Might struggle with consistent temperature in the cold
- Only a 1-year warranty
- Instructions have trouble spots
- Small side table