New Lump Charcoal Source??
While recently perusing another BBQ forum (The Smoke Ring), I came across an interesting thread regarding lump charcoal. What caught my eye I suppose was where this lump is being made - in Montana about 7-8 hours from SLC!
The charcoal is called Real Montana Charcoal - <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.realmontanacharcoal.net">www.realmontanacharcoal.net</a><!-- w --> - and The Naked Whiz did a review of their maple lump charcoal just a couple of months ago (August, 2008)... The review was surprisingly very strong and positive... Here is a link to that review:
<!-- w --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpdatabase/lumpbag86.htm">www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpdatabase/lumpbag86.htm</a><!-- w -->
The company makes about 10 different varieties of lump (alder, apple, birch, black hawthorne, cherry, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, plum - plus a "softwood" mix of pine and fir?????...) He sells it at $1/pound - which is about what I think I last paid for BGE lump (I think I got a 20# bag for around $20 plus tax)... Granted, a little pricey... But if it is good stuff (compared to Cowboy), it might be worth looking into...
Anyway - I sent the owner (Randy Schwehr) an email, and I thought I would share some of his response to all of you:
Hello Dr. Mike,
Thank you for contacting me. I will try to answer all your questions. Yes I bag every piece by hand, I inspect every piece to make sure it is of the quality I am looking for. I eliminate "brands" from the bag, try not to place too many pieces that are overcooked in the bags. My Bags as they are when they leave my hands are mostly medium size pieces and almost no little pieces. The only small pieces in the bag are ones that break apart while loading them. Of course during shipping and handling some pieces break apart further ( I was actually surprised to see so much in the bag I sent to the Naked Whiz), but it is still a small percentage of the bag. I try to cook my charcoal just the right amount so that it still smokes a little for flavor but burns like charcoal should. Hot and long with little ash. I obtain my raw products from various different sources, my Apple come from a large orchard, Maple is a mix of trees growing wild in the mountains as well as from a mansion just outside of town that has many Maple trees, along with some coming from various sites from a tree trimmer. Plum comes from the same trimmer. Black Hawthorne grows wild in the Valley as well as white Alder (new product not yet advertised). Oak, Hickory, Cherry, Birch and Red Alder are trimmings from large cabinet shop in the Valley. The softwood mix comes from the same cabinet shop for the most part, this product burns very hot but very quickly as well, has a good flavor and is best for very quick cooks. It is very light and 10 pounds is packed in the same size bag as most 20 pound bags of hardwoods.With such a variety a person may experiment with many flavors to find what suites their own taste and or meal.
Maple is so far my favorite and along with Apple the most plentiful on a consistent basis. Maple has a flavor that goes well with most meats and has a slight hint of Maple syrup smell/taste. My Oak does not have a lot of flavor to it in my opinion, but a guy in Florida said it was the best flavor and product he had ever used, period. But did tell me he got a 16 hour burn time out of my maple but the smoke was a little too strong for him. As with everything beauty/quality is in the eye of the beholder. However I do make every effort to make my product the type of quality most people appreciate. (can't please everyone but you can please most of them).
I am going to order some of his product this week, although I think I will stay away from the "soft wood" stuff! I am also a little leery of stuff coming from a cabinet shop, as I hear those woods have sometimes been chemically treated before they arrive for commercial use (someone is more than welcome to correct me on this and/or offer a different opinion or experience regarding wood coming from a cabinet shop)...
Anyway, I will follow up here once I have given it a spin... If it is as solid/good as the review in The Naked Whiz - and if there is enough interest - then maybe we might want to look at ordering a pallet and splitting it... There may be a possibility of meeting him in Idaho Falls (which is about 1/2 way to his location in Montana) to help minimize the shipping costs (not a "definite" right now, just a "maybe)...
Anyway - thought I would pass this along...