Weber gas grills are simply the gold standard. Designed intelligently with attention to details and built to last, they look good, work beautifully, and almost never break down. If they do, Weber is known for great customer service and for carrying an inventory of parts on models from years gone by. My 15-year old Genesis and I know from experience.

All their burners are quality stainless steel, have a long life expectancy, and they come with electronic ignitions. The body is heavy. The casters are sturdy and lock solid. Nothing wobbles on Webers. The grease drip pans are easy to access from the front, not the back as with many other grills. Except for the Q line, all models hold the propane tank inside the enclosed cart, and can be adapted for natural gas. They have smaller vents in the hood than most gassers which means they retain more heat than grills with more BTUs.

All have inverted V shaped “flavorizer” bars that cover and protect the burners while vaporizing drips and turning them into flavor that gets back up onto the meat. Except for the Q line, all either come with a rotisserie or you can order one as a factory accessory.

Weber gas grills come in four basic flavors, Q, Spirit, Genesis, and Summit, each with several configurations. Models starting with an “E” are built with Weber’s sturdy porcelainized enamel coated steel, and those starting with an “S” are mostly stainless steel.

weber summit grillAddressing an increased interest in outdoor kitchens, in 2011 Weber introduced add on “Island Cabinetry” and “Social Centers” to integrate with the Genesis and Summit lines. These range from matching side tables with enclosed storage to cart mounted side burners, enclosed trash cans and large “Social Areas” that serve as a bar with double door storage underneath. There is also a faux stone island with matching countertops.

Much has been made of 430 and 304 stainless steel: the two most popular grades used by grill manufacturers. Many other inexpensive brands use very thin, low cost 430 stainless to get that shiny showroom floor look. Premium grill makers tout their use of higher quality, higher priced 304 stainless. At some point, Weber decided to switch from 304 to 430. Although 304 is superior, 430 can work just fine if it is a thick gauge like Weber uses, but it is not as durable and one has to expect the life of the grill will be shortened. Will this decision could come back to haunt the castle in Palatine? Only time will tell. Alas, it does not appear Weber’s prices were reduced to reflect the cost savings realized with this change.

Weber-Stephen was family owned since it was founded in 1952 by George Stephen. At the end of 2010 the Stephen family sold a majority stake to Chicago investment group BDT Capital Partners. In 2012, Weber settled a class action suit out of court regarding their use of the phrase, “Made in USA”. Weber previously qualified the “Made in USA” statement by specifying their products are assembled in the USA with some components that are sourced globally. Here is an excerpt from Weber’s statement “Weber believes that because all Weber grills and the disputed accessories are designed and engineered in the USA, and all grills save for one line [Spirit] are manufactured and assembled in the USA using component parts primarily made in the USA, it did nothing wrong and therefore has valid defenses to plaintiff’s claims. The court has not held a trial or ruled in favor of either party on any disputed issues. Weber and the plaintiff have agreed to settle the matter to avoid the costs of continued litigation.”

Things change, but we believe Weber’s commitment to quality and innovation has not.

The biggest barrier for many folks is price. Webers are not cheap, but when you consider that they last decades, the price is easy to justify. In fact, when you consider the fact that some cheap grills fall apart after three years or so, Webers might be considered a bargain.

My only complaint: All Webers have the obligatory bi-metal dial thermometer in the hood that gives you a ballpark reading of what the temperature is high above the meat. Since we cook on the grates, though, it’s always better to bring your own digital grill thermometer and place a probe there. It would be nice if they would go digital in the digital age

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