Has this summer's hunt for the most badass, blazing bag hardwood charcoal finally delivered a winner? Two top-notch contestants are squaring off and we need you to decide the winner.
Contender No. 1 is Woodstock's All-Natural Lump Hardwood Charcoal: Does it bring searing heat to the ring, or pack less punch than hot, summer breeze? Does it dish out lumps worthy of a championship bout, or is full of pebble-size lightweights? Will it burn long enough to singe Satan's eyebrows, or peter out before the competion breaks a sweat?
Let's find out!
Woodstock Lump Charcoal battles in the lightweight class -- coming in an 8.8 lb bag. That's not to say it won't be a great contender -- most of the better charcoals I've used have come in 8 - 12 lb bags. It just means it doesn't pack as much volume as some its heavier-weight bretheren.
It does try to make itself look a bit tougher by wrapping itself in a robe that touts slogans like 'All-Natural' and '100% Natural', but all good lump charcoal is -- after all, it's just wood that has been partially burned in a low-oxygen environment. (When it comes to lump charcoal, posers that contain easy-light chemicals are few and far between. We at AtG have yet to come across one - and will most certainly treat like the vermin it is if we ever do...) The bag is bio-degradable as are most (but not all) lump charcoals.
This competition isn't about being pretty though, it's about packing a punch -- let's get down to stats that matter!
I bought it at local natural food store for the regular, retail price of $12.99. It can also be found online for $11.99.
The lump size ranged from medium to large all the way though the bag. Here take a look for yourself - the fresh lumps you see came from about two-thirds of the way through the bag:
And for the most crucial factors of all - burn heat and duration: this puppy packs a punch in both categories.
It burned hotter than most charcoals, I'd put in the top 20%. Proof can be seen in the form of intensely white ash on the older lumps. Also, the ash is fine and dense (e.g. it doesn't stir up or blow around easy) - both strong signs of a hot, thorough burn.
And the burn lasted as long as other high-end lump charcoals (i.e. Ozark Oak).
All in all, this contender knows how to bring the heat. The opponent facing off in the opposite corner -- Best of the West Natural Oak Lump Charcoal -- definitely has something to worry about...
To wrap up:
- Price: $12.99 for an 8.8 lb bag
- Quality: very good - a very nice blend of lump sizes: big enough to allow for easy airflow so the fire could breathe easy and burn hot but not so big as to prevent the burn from moving between lumps, and a slightly less than average amount dust or pebble size pieces in the bottom of the bag
- Performance: very good - burns almost (just a hair less) as hot as other top-shelf lump charcoals... leaves behind less ash than most charcoals... and the ash is heavy enough so as to not be blow up onto the food if there's a bit of a breeze