Many people assume that all charcoal grills are the same. While it’s true that they all share at least one common factor, there are actually many things that distinguish them from one another. That’s why we’ve put together these Stok charcoal grill reviews.
Stok Grills provide the perfect example. Though the company makes gas and electric grills in addition to charcoal-burning units, the innovative nature of their products sets them apart.
Stok also sells a number of accessories designed to augment their grilling systems. Other grilling companies offer similar items, but Stok’s lineup is particularly impressive. Their flagship charcoal grill, the Drum, has no fewer than 9 inserts available. That’s the unit we’re here to discuss.
- Durable construction
- Numerous inserts available
- Innovative airflow system
- Easy-to-read temperature gauge
- Difficult to find at most retail outlets
- Minimal cooking space
- Requires a degree of skill to keep the fire going
Things To Consider Before Buying a Charcoal Grill
Cooking over a charcoal fire is a rewarding experience. It puts an excellent sear on grilled meats and gives every ingredient a fabulous smoky flavor. For true barbecue enthusiasts, there’s nothing like it.
That said, charcoal grilling isn’t the right choice for everyone. The coals take time to heat up, which means you need to plan ahead. Starting the fire can also be tricky, especially if you don’t want to use lighter fluid. That’s why many people prefer to stick to gas grills.
Charcoal also leaves behind a great deal of residue. Those who prefer a neater cooking experience would probably be happier with a gas-powered unit.
If you’re a die-hard charcoal fan who wants to invest in a new unit, here are some of the most important factors to consider.
First, sketch out a preliminary budget. Charcoal grills tend to be less expensive than gas-fired models. That said, there are plenty of high-end charcoal grills available.
Decide in advance how much you’re willing to spend. It should be easy enough to find something that fits your price range.
There are three types of charcoal grill: kettle, barrel-style, and kamado.
Kettle grills are usually small, offering between 300 and 400 square inches of cooking space. These are the grills that most people think of when they picture charcoal-fired units.
Barrel-style models offer more flexibility in terms of size. Because the cooking surface is rectangular rather than round, a barrel-style grill can hold an impressive array of ingredients.
Kamado grills originated in Japan and have gained widespread popularity in recent years. They resemble kettle grills in shape, but a ceramic construction is traditional for this style.
A quality charcoal grill should be made of either enameled steel or ceramic.
While ceramic grills are prized for their superb heat retention, they’re also quite expensive. The material is both heavy and brittle, making it difficult to transport. That’s why enameled steel is the preferred choice for most manufacturers.
When it comes to charcoal grills, the cooking grates are typically made of cast iron. Stainless steel is another popular option. Either way, the grates might be coated with a layer of porcelain to prevent sticking.
Charcoal grills may vary in size, depending on their design. Smaller units might feature just 250 square inches of cooking space. Others might offer more than 800 square inches to work with.
Smaller families should be able to get by with a total surface area of 350 to 400 square inches. However, if you like to grill several meal components at once, or if you entertain often, a larger model is in order.
For charcoal grills, good ventilation is the key to reliable temperature control. Take a look at the air vents to ensure that they provide decent airflow. A built-in temperature gauge is another useful component.
Some charcoal grills might come with locking wheels, shelving, or other bonus features. These components aren’t necessary, but they bring an extra level of comfort to the grilling experience.
STOK Drum Charcoal Grill: Features & Benefits
These Stok charcoal grill reviews should help you determine whether the Drum is the right fit for your household.
First, the bad news. As charcoal grills go, the Stok Drum is fairly expensive. You could buy a kettle grill of a similar size for much less.
However, if you’ve only used gas grills in the past, you’re used to spending more money to upgrade your unit. The quality is also top-notch (see Construction, below). When you look at it from that perspective, the Stok Drum may be worth the cost.
The Stok is a kettle-style grill. As such, it’s a modestly-sized unit with a circular firebox and a tripod base.
The firebox and hood are constructed of porcelain-enameled steel. Both are heavy and well-balanced for their size. The porcelain coating is also noticeably thicker than on most charcoal grills.
The tripod frame is reasonably stable and sturdy enough to withstand the extra weight. An integrated airflow system is designed to get the fire burning quickly, so you can get dinner on the table that much sooner.
The grates are made of heavy-duty cast iron. Like the firebox itself, they feature a porcelain coating, so they’re easy to clean. All the grates sold with the Stok Drum are compatible with the optional inserts (see Other Features, below).
The firebox on the Stok Drum measures 22.5 inches in diameter. This allows for 363 square inches of grilling space. As kettle grills go, these measurements are fairly standard, although smaller and larger sizes are certainly available.
With a grill this size, you should be able to accommodate about 15 hamburger patties. If you’re planning to grill-roast a whole chicken or prepare a rack of smoked ribs, the unit should be of the perfect size.
Because the grill is neither too small nor too large, it can be used multiple times per week. There’s no need to feel guilty about firing it up to prepare a simple meal for two. On the other hand, it’s big enough to accommodate a larger group if necessary.
Remember not to crowd the grill. The key is to allow the heat to distribute evenly. Otherwise, the food won’t be able to sear properly, which would defeat the purpose of grilling in the first place.
The Stok Drum is equipped with an airflow system that’s easy to use, even if you’re unfamiliar with charcoal grills. Simply adjust the vents on the firebox to increase or decrease the temperature. The more air that flows in, the hotter the fire will burn.
Like most kettle grills, the Drum is outfitted with a built-in temperature gauge. The dial is large and fairly easy to read, and it seems to provide an accurate measure.
Although the Stok Drum is lacking in storage space, it has a few other nifty features that set it apart from the competition.
First of all, there are two tabs on either side of the lid. These might go unnoticed at first, but they actually serve a useful purpose: They allow you to attach the lid to the side of the grill when it’s not needed.
The lid is also equipped with a heat shield that keeps the handle from getting too hot. If you own a pair of grilling gloves, this might not be an issue. For others, however, it could be a major perk.
Finally, be aware that Stok offers a two-year warranty with every purchase.
Although the following items aren’t included with the purchase, Stok does offer several inserts that are designed to increase the versatility of the grill.
First, there’s the smoker/infuser plate. This gadget is solid in the middle, with three concentric rings of holes around the edge. The holes are designed to allow just the right amount of smoke into the firebox when the fire is burning low.
The pizza stone is meant to be used at raging hot temperatures. This will give pizzas and homemade flatbreads a crisp crust.
There’s also a vegetable tray, which is similar to the smoker plate in appearance, only it’s peppered with holes throughout. The design will keep asparagus and other veggies from slipping through the cooking grate.
A grilling basket plays a similar role, but it has a finer mesh and a sealed design.
If you enjoy making cornbread and biscuits on the grill, you’ll probably appreciate the cast-iron kettle attachment. It comes with its own lid and can be used to boil water for hot beverages as well.
True barbecue aficionados might want to take a closer look at the kabob and rib rack, which allows skewered meats and vegetables to cook evenly. The holes in the bottom provide excellent smoke distribution.
Similarly, the chicken roaster holds the bird away from the direct heat, so the grill becomes more like an oven.
Want to whip up a batch of pancakes and bacon? The griddle attachment can make it happen. Just be forewarned that these inserts only take up a small portion of the grill’s diameter, so you might have to work in batches.
STOK Drum Charcoal Grill: Social Proof
What does the general public have to say regarding Stok charcoal grill reviews? Here’s what we were able to discern, based on a brief internet search.
In spite of the high price, the Stok Drum earned high marks from consumers. The quality and superb airflow were mentioned more than once. A few customers mentioned that it was the ideal size for their family.
On the other end of the spectrum, some claimed that the tool provided to remove and replace the inserts is difficult to use. However, that’s not likely to matter unless you actually buy the inserts.
If the Stok lineup isn’t lighting your fire, you might consider one of these alternatives.
#1 Char-Griller Akorn Ceramic Grill
This is a kamado-style charcoal grill with ceramic construction. Although it offers just 153 square inches of cooking space, it holds its heat well and is built to withstand many seasons of use.
How They Compare:
- Cooking Grates—Stok
- Temperature Control—Stok
- Other Features—Char-Griller
The Char-Griller Akorn is a solid option for those who enjoy taking their grill on the road. If this sounds like you, feel free to give this unit a try.
#2 Weber Master-Touch 22 Inch Charcoal Grill
Another kettle grill of comparable size, the Weber Master-Touch also features a heat shield and a hinged cooking grate. The cleverly designed ash catcher makes cleanup a snap.
How They Compare:
- Cooking Grates—Weber
- Temperature Control—Tie
- Other Features—Weber
Check out the Weber Master-Touch if you’re in the market for a charcoal grill, but would prefer something with a more traditional design.
#3 Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill
The infrared cooking grate on the Char-Broil Kettleman is designed to keep food from falling onto the coals. It also helps to cut back on fuel consumption.
How They Compare:
- Cooking Grates—Char-Broil
- Temperature Control—Stok
- Other Features—Stok
This kettle-style alternative is worth a look if your local department store doesn’t have any Stok models available.
Do we feel comfortable recommending the Stok Drum charcoal grill? In a word, yes.
Here’s why: The grill earns high marks across the board, with quality construction and great heat retention. Despite the relatively high price tag, it’s built to withstand years of use, which is great news for those of you who grill on a regular basis.
However, the Stok Drum can be difficult to find through online retailers. If you’re having a hard time getting your hands on one, the Char-Broil model is a good alternative.
Take a closer look at the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill by clicking here.