I have really been enjoying testing out all of the new grilling products my local Academy Sports have been stocking. Academy has seriously upped heir grilling game in 2021 and I will be shopping there more often.
The latest product from Academy that I wanted to try was B&B Charcoal Briquettes. I picked up the orange bad of Competition Oak briquettes which had the claims of burning “Hotter, Longer, Cleaner” and spent some time evaluating the charcoal in my Weber kettle.
B&B markets this charcoal as “All Natural” with no chemicals, additives or fillers.
Let’s see how well it performed!
B&B Charcoal vs Kingsford Charcoal
The first thing I wanted to do was to test out the B&B claims of “Hotter, Longer, Cleaner” as one can only assume that those claims are being made in comparison to the market leader, Kingsford.
A quick side by side comparison of the briquettes showed that they were extremely different. The B&B briquette, pictured on the left, is much larger and rougher than Kingsford’s.
I suspect the difference in appearance reflects the lack of extra binders/forming agents in the B&B product (I believe B&B does use a little starch as a binding aid).
I loaded up two charcoal chimneys with approximately five pounds (2,300 grams) of each brand of charcoal. Each chimney was placed in a foil pan to collect ashes and the exact weights of the charcoal was measured for each brand.
The chimneys were lit with a couple of fire starter bundles and the testing begun!
For the first ten minutes both chimneys were rolling out the smoke. However, after about 15 minutes the chimney burning the B&B charcoal was producing about 5X less smoke than the chimney burning Kingsford.
In this test, B&B (Right) definitely burnt cleaner than Kingsford (Left).
I let the chimneys burn the charcoal for a little more than two hours and then gave them a little shake to knock off the ashes. I took a picture of the remaining charcoal and it looked like there was more B&B left than Kingsford.
There was nothing scientific about my observation but it looked like B&B might have a slightly longer burn time than Kingsford. In the sake of fairness I will call “Burn Time” a tie as I didn’t see an overwhelmingly obvious winner.
The MASSIVE difference between these two products was the amount of ash produced.
I let both chimneys completely burn down and measured the amount of ash residue left behind in the foil pans. You can tell by looking that B&B (Right) had significantly less ash production than Kingsford (Left).
I weighed the ash residue and compared it to the initial weight of the charcoal in each chimney to calculate a percent ash content.
- Kingsford had an ash content of 21.5%.
- B&B had an ash content of 15.5%
By my measurements, on a per pound basis, B&B produced 38% less ash than Kingsford.
Since more of the B&B briquettes are fuel instead of filler/binder it makes sense to expect that you could get the B&B to burn either Hotter or Longer than Kingsford.
B&B Charcoal Grilling Performance Test
Burning a chimney of charcoal is fun but using the charcoal in you grill is the big performance test! I loaded up a couple of charcoal baskets with B&B and used a single fire starter in the corner of each basket to get the coals lit.
My informal observation is that the B&B took longer to light than Kingsford. This is not surprising as I believe Kingsford adds nitrates to their briquettes to make lighting easier.
I had the charcoal baskets on either side of the Weber and placed some Country Style Pork Ribs in the middle of the grate. The charcoal was only burning in the corners of the baskets and I was able to maintain temperatures in the 275F range without much trouble.
After about 90 minutes the country style ribs hit an internal temperature of 145F and looked amazing. The ribs had a nice clean flavor that was accented but not overwhelmed by smoke.
I would not hesitate to use B&B briquettes for my next Low and Slow barbecue adventure.
After the ribs were done I moved the charcoal baskets to the middle of the grill and used some tongs to mix the lit charcoal with the unlit. After about 10 minutes the coals were burning hot and the grill was ready for some steak!
I had a couple of chuck eye steaks seasoned up and put them directly over the hot coals. Man, it was fun to listen to the sizzle and watch the flames jump!
I finished grilling the steaks and pulled them when they hit an internal temperature of 135F.
These steaks were amazing. They had a great outside char and a perfect Medium center.
I really like B&B charcoal briquettes and give them my full recommendation.
B&B briquettes worked fine for Low and Slow barbecue as well as Hot and Fast grilling.
In my tests, B&B burnt cleaner than Kingsford and produced 38% less ash.
I call this brand a winner!