Heat Beads are the number one best seller in Australia. One of our supporters Heat Beads UK offered the team a bag of briquettes to try out and review, as I had never used them before I said I would do it. I have seen a lot of people saying that Heat Beads are their favourite briquette. I live in Northern Ireland and haven’t seen anywhere that stocks them locally, this could well be an opportunity for someone.
The bag is 4kg in weight and the briquettes when I opened them were smaller than the Weber ones I usually use (see picture below), they did however seem much denser and were heavier. Briquettes are my fuel of choice if doing low and slow as they provide a more consistent heat than lump wood. The exception to this is in a Ceramic BBQ where I always use lump wood.
I decided to use our baby Bristol Drum Smoker and the minion method to see how long they would last. I set up the fire basket and only used half a bag. I had heard that they were hard to light so I put a bit of lump wood in the mini chimney and a few heat beads on top. I used a wood wool starter to light. In about 15 mins they were well lit and I tipped them into the drum. I put in the deflector plate and set up the IGrill to monitor the temperature (Our kitchen is on the first floor so this saves a lot of running up and down to check the temperature) After about 15 mins the bbq was coming up to temp, this is slightly quicker than the weber ones, that can take 20-30 mins, I closed the two side bottom vents and left the middle one fully open, and the top vents to half closed and on went the pork shoulder. The bbq sat quite happily between 220°F and 250°F with a few tweaks now and then on the vents, this is very similar to the Weber briquettes but the Weber ones need a bit more babysitting. You can see this on the graph in the picture below, the top line is the drum temperature. At around the 7 hr mark the temp started to drop and as the pork was ready to wrap, I wrapped the pork and added a few more briquettes as the fire basket was down to a handful of unburned briquettes, this brought the temp back to the desired range and after another 2 hours the pork was ready. The Weber briquettes would last a similar length of time in the Baby drum although in the slightly bigger fire-basket in the Weber Smoky Mountain I have got 13 ½ hours but obviously this was using more briquettes. I have no doubt the Heat Beads would do the same. I need to try Heat Beads in the Weber Smoky Mountain.
I still have some left and I plan to do a Rotisserie cook with them, I am sure they will work equally well at the hotter end of the temperature spectrum and their density will make them long lasting too.
The briquettes give off much less ash than others I have used and this is great as this means there is less chance of them snuffing out. I will try and source these briquettes although delivery charges may be a killer. That’s one of the joys of living in Northern Ireland some people think we are in Outer Mongolia.
In summary, 7 hours on half a bag in our baby drum is an excellent result, much longer than the 4 hours they claim to last and I can certainly recommend these briquettes. Good consistency and heat throughout the cook.
Heat Beads are distributed in the UK by