Product Review: Grill Rescue Grill Brush

Monk: If you’re like me you’ve come across horror stories of grill cleaning brushes with metallic bristles that come lose and result in a very painful ER visit. I’ve tried out a few different options from a wood spatula that conforms to the grill shape to ones more akin to a safer version of steel wool. Recently, the folks from Grill Rescue reached out to me to see if I wanted to give their grill brush a try in exchange for an honest review.

Grill Rescue is a grill accessories company that was started by a firefighter (hence the distinctive firetruck red coloring) and also has koozies, tumblers, and a set of rubs and spices. Their grill brush is touted by them as the “world’s safest grill brush” due to the fact that it has no bristles and is instead made of a fabric called aramid fiber, which is durable fabric apparently used in firefighter gear. It will run you $39.95 for the standard model or $44.95 for one that includes a scraper (see photo below).

In addition to the unique brush material, another big point of differentiation is the removable head which can be cleaned in a dishwasher and replaced when the time comes. I found that the head was harder to take off than what was shown by the video of a bikini-clad model on the website and I ended up having to use the end of a spatula to pry it off initially. Perhaps it will be easier on future removals.

For this year’s annual neighborhood Wing Fest (where my team took home the win for the second year running), I sprayed the brush head down with a hose and cleaned my trusty Weber. The water created a steaming effect that easily removed grime. In no time the grill was ready or our award-winning wings. Once we were done, rinse and repeat (literally) and the grill was good for storage until next time.

While my brush came with a rubber hook accessory that sticks on the end and allows you to hang it off your grill, it will set consumers back an additional $9.95 on top of the cost of the already-pricey brush. I feel that this should come standard or the brush should already have a way to hang it without the additional cost.

In terms of other additional costs, replacement cleaning heads run between $12.95 for standard or $16.85 which includes a scraper. The website claims each one will last up to a hundred uses. This is what mine looked like after one use and a washing. The aramid fiber was tough but I’m already starting to see signs of wear so I’ll be curious how it holds up after additional uses.

In the crowded grill accessories market where you can go to your local hardware store and get a grill brush for around $10, is the Grill Rescue Grill Brush worth its price tag of at least $40? Assuming it holds to its claim of 100 uses per brush head (a couple of years worth depending on how often you grill or smoke), the answer is “possibly.” It feels really solid in my hand, the safety aspect is not nothing, plus it works well in it’s actual main function of cleaning the grill. Ultimately your threshold for spending that kind of money will be an individual decision. If you do decide to get the Grill Rescue Grill Brush, you will get a well made grill accessory.

Product Review: Slow ‘N Sear® from SnS Grills

Monk: SnS Grills is a grill and accessories company headquartered in Concord, NC. The story of the company and its founder David Parrish is covered in detail on their website but long story short Parrish got hooked in with the Amazing Ribs website and its community of amateur pitmasters and grillers before eventually deciding to tackle the riddle of how to turn a kettle grill into a legit smoker. The Slow ‘N Sear is the product of him using his physics degree for the good of barbecue and grilling.

And it’s won the company some acclaim, with Meathead Goldwyn of Amazing Ribs proclaiming it “the single best accessory for the Weber kettle ever” and Steven Raichlen calling it the “best new barbecue product of 2018.” Having re-ignited my love for my now-16-year old Weber kettle during the pandemic, I had to give it a try for myself.

Made of heavy duty steel (listed on the site as “18-gauge 430 stainless steel”), the Slow ‘N Sear is a charcoal basket that sits directly on the bottom grate of my Weber kettle grill. Where it differs from the Weber Char-Baskets is that it is made larger to fit more charcoal without needing to constantly refill but more importantly it has a built-in water reservoir to help evenly cook the meat.

I tried it out with a small chuck roast and the Slow ‘N Sear worked like a charm. The basket promoted airflow and burned the charcoal cleanly. While the website says the reservoir will get you 5+ hours of steam from the water reservoir, I refilled it once during the cook. I may have cooked the meat just a tad over but through no fault of the basket. And while this chuck roast was too small, had it been a steak or other piece of meat I could have flipped it directly above the charcoal for searing.

There are actually two models of this insert – this original and the Deluxe which has a removable water reservoir and a ventilated plate for $30 more.

SnS Grills has expanded into making a ton of other grill accessories along with their own line of kamado smokers and kettle grills and I will give serious consideration to the kamado next time I’m in the market for a smoker. However, if you are still rocking an old-school Weber kettle grill like me, the Slow ‘N Sear is an easy way to turn it into a legit offset smoker.

Product Review: Carolina Dry Rub and Eastern Carolina BBQ Sauce from Carolina Brewery

Monk: Carolina Brewery was founded in 1995 by UNC Chapel Hill alum Robert Poitras, who was originally from eastern North Carolina. The original brewpub, which still remains open to this day, is on Franklin St. heading towards Carrboro and they later opened a second brewpub in Pittsboro in nearby Chatham County.

This summer, after twenty-six years Carolina Brewery recently relaunched their brand “to promote the best of the Carolinas’ outdoor lifestyle and coastal conservation.” They also recently invited the Barbecue Bros to join their family. I told them we were in and before long both Speedy and I had some of the rubs and sauces in our hands to take advantage of some beautiful fall days in Charlotte and Nashville, respectively for some grilling and product testing.

Carolina Dry Rub

Speedy: And for ole Speedy, the timing couldn’t be better. After living in Nashville for four years, I finally put down some roots and purchased a home. My first accessory was a Big Green Egg that I re-homed from a friend that was not giving the old girl enough attention. Don’t worry – she’ll be well used from now on. 

I had tried a couple pork butts and gotten the temperature control pretty figured out, so on a lazy Sunday afternoon it was time to try some baby back ribs. Normally I like to make my own rubs, but the Carolina brewery rub ingredient list seemed perfect, so I sprinkled some on and got to smokin. Overall, I was really pleased. The rub imparted great flavor, and had a bit of kick. In a pork rub, I usually like a little more sugar to caramelize, but for ribs, this was spot on. Highly recommended for this use case. 

Monk:: The label said it was good for beef as well, so I tried the rub on some chuck roast I wanted to smoke for tacos a few weeks back. The 2 lb prime chuck roast took well to the rub and made for some tasty tacos. The rub has a generous amount of chile powder in it, so as Speedy mentioned it had a nice kick. Not too bad for me but be careful with folks who don’t like spice or young kids.

Eastern Carolina BBQ Sauce

Monk: In terms of the eastern NC barbecue sauce, when I glanced at the ingredients, I saw a true eastern NC vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Which makes sense, considering founder Poitras’ eastern NC roots. The one thing I did not see at first was that it already had hot sauce in it, so after topping a pork sandwich with the sauce I added some Texas Pete Hotter Hot Sauce on top of it and WOW, that sando had a kick. Great flavor, but man what spice. Next time around I’ll be smarter, but the sauce is a great option to add to your chopped pork.

Speedy: I used this sauce on some leftover pork butt, as I had run out of my own homemade dip. Monk is right – it is true to eastern NC and did pack a punch (Monk warned me about the hot sauce). While I still prefer making my own dip (favoring Lexington style), this is a perfect substitute for when I don’t want to spend the time making my own. Will use again. 

Costero Lager and Copperline Amber

Monk: As for Carolina Brewery’s beer, I was provided two six-packs since they could ship within North Carolina. I found that the Costero Lager – a Mexican-influenced cerveza – was a great beer for smoking on a sunny, warm day and the Copperline Amber paired perfectly with the smoky meats.

All in all, a successful introduction to the Carolina Brewery family. They’ve got a nice rebrand going, and I look forward to checking out more of their sauces and beers next time I spot them in the grocery.

If you like the sounds of this and are in, you can check out Carolina Brewery’s beer finder here and learn more about their sauces and rubs here.

Product Review: Matt’s Rub from Midwood Smokehouse

Monk: After interviewing pitmasters Matthew Berry and Michael Wagner from Midwood Smokehouse, I took home a bottle of the (at the time) recently-released Matt’s Rub. Nearly two years later and I have certainly put it through its paces on a variety of meats.

Most recently I used the rub for pork belly burnt ends I smoked for this year’s Super Bowl following this recipe from Hardcore Carnivore. After cubing the 9 lb. pork belly, I tossed them in the rub to evenly coat before placing on a cooking rack and placing in the smoker for two hours.

After two hours (rotating the racks in the smoker after an hour), I tossed them in a sauce mixture of Sweet Baby Ray’s, local honey, and chicken broth before putting back onto the smoker in an aluminum pan for another 2 hours total.

In total, after 4 hours I had pork pillows perfect for Super Bowl snacking. I have extolled the virtues of pork belly burnt ends before and I wasn’t let down by smoking them for the big game, both in terms of results as well as time spent. Each bite was well-balanced between spice, smoke, and sweetness.

And what about Matt’s Rub? The rub itself has a slight kick but I have found it to be a great all purpose rub. From this pork belly to pork butts, pork tenderloins, chuck roasts, chicken, and burgers, each time I was quite pleased with the results.From that conversation almost 2 years ago, here’s what Mathew and Mike each used it on, at least back then:

Is it an all-purpose rub? It can go on anything? What do you use it most on at home?
MB: At home? I use it on burgers the most. I cook a lot of burgers at home.
MW: I would use it on beef and pork. I would use it on chicken with maybe a little more black pepper, just cause that’s the way I like it. I mean anybody that knows anything about dry rubs, if they make one its going to have all of this in it.

Midwood Smokehouse has also since introduced a line of sauces, which we briefly discussed in that same conversation. Maybe next time maybe I’ll use their Matt’s Original Sauce instead of the mass-produced Sweet Baby Ray’s.

You can purchase Matt’s Rub online and at all Midwood Smokehouse locations.