New Kingsford Charcoal
I am not at all happy with the new Kingsford charcoal. It burns way too hot and fast, and it does not have that distinctive Kingsford flavor. I think Kingsford made a "new Coca Cola" fail move with a favorite brand that was perfectly wonderful before they started messing with it.
I've been grilling for over 35 years, and my first pick brand for charcoal is Kingsford - or it was. Although I know the foodie trend is to favor natural lump which is said to give a hotter burn and cleaner flavor, I found Kingsford to be perfect. It did not burn super hot which is why a lot of people burn the outside of foods with it still uncooked in the middle. I see this all the time especially at tailgate events (not on my grill - but newer grillers or those who don't grill often). And, I personally love the rich charcoal flavor that Kingsford used to have. That extra flavor is especially nice on burgers and steak.
This is not the first time I've used the new Kingsford. The other time I had the Mesquite flavored and thought perhaps that was the difference. Since I just finished up my back stock of barbecue charcoal and since they had a great sale going on, I decided to go with the Original Kingsford. The deal was 2 twenty pound bags for $9.98. That is a great price. The bags were, however, shrink wrapped together partially which meant lifting 40 pounds up on the grocery store conveyor belt at once and then loading and unloading. The plastic does not totally cover the bags, so I had a mess in my car seat and also on the front of my shirt.
Although Kingsford does have the Original charcoal in the familiar blue bag, the bag (other than these sale bags I bought) are smaller. The company says that they made the briquettes smaller and that they burn hotter and longer. They also have grooves which they state mean they light up easier. Other than those things, this is supposed to be the Kingsford charcoal many of us know and love.
When I put the Kingsford Original (new version) in the chimney starter, I went inside as typical. It usually takes 15 minutes or so for a full chimney starter to be hot and ready to use. When I went out to check, the charcoal was basically gone. OK. I added more charcoal and watched it. Within 3 or 4 minutes, it was ready to go in the grill.
My son went out to put on the steaks but had to come in to get a grill glove. This has not been necessary before with a 22.5 Weber kettle. So, the charcoal was cleary burning hot even with the lid on. Fortunately I had offset the charcoal, so the steaks did not burn. They were, however, more done than we like due to the really high heat.
The night before last I decided to grill a pork loin and decided I'd better do the grilling duties, since the guys have not done a loin over charcoal. I ran into the same problem with the charcoal burning down right in the chimney starter and had to add more once I put the briquettes in the Weber. These caught right up and were burning hot as blazes which you don't want with a whole pork loin.
When I went out to check the grill and charcoal, I touched the lid handle and burned my hand. Geez. I forgot about my son mentioning that now being an issue. After I got the grill glove and looked into the grill, it was all singed (including the side handles) and had white ash particles all over. The charcoal was almost gone again. Added a little more. Very annoying.
The Weber kettle is usually easy to use for a slower smoke on a pork loin, but it was very labor intensive trying to damp down the heat with the the new Kingsford charcoal. To make matters even worse, the charcoals were so hot that they slightly warped the Weber kettle lid. Now it does not close up tight. This is an 8 year old grill, and I've never had problems with a Weber. This is a case of the charcoal burning insanely hot. So, they are right that it burns hotter, but they are dead wrong that it burns longer. The new Kingsford charcaol is gone in a heartbeat, meaning you have to try to add charcoal to a terribly hot grill. No fun.
The heat and fast burn are issues certainly, but the biggest beef I have about the new Kingsford charcoal with is billed as the Original is that they wrecked the flavor. Food tastes like it has been grilled over natural lump or maybe hardwood or pellets. It just has a little smoke flavor and not a charcoal flavor. This is not the flavor I grew up with and loved. If I wanted wood smoked, then I'd just buy natural lump or get some wood off the woodpile. I buy Kingsford charcoal (or I did), because it did taste different, and I happen to like that distinct charcoal taste.
I sure hope Kingsford puts the real deal back on the market. The new Kingsford charcoal burns way too hot and fast. It made my grill lid handle hot enough to burn my hand and warped my Weber grill lid. And, the steaks and pork loin just weren't all that with ash on them and semi-wood smoke flavor (but not quite that). All in all, the new Kingsford is a bust. I'll just pick up a store brand or something, unless Kingsford brings back real charcoal.