Not a very broad base of experience but will share what I have observed. Out of necessity (live in CA which is apparently a RO Lump free zone) I bought a few bags of Cowboy from Lowes. I have to agree with everyone else here. It's pretty bad.
I mail-ordered some WGC Weekend Warrior Blend. Overall I liked it. Lit well burned consistent and hot. Didn't notice much of an off smell but then again I have never been able to use really good stuff.
Had a few bags of the WGC for my last cook but knew I would not have enough so I bought a bag of Best of the West Mesquite from the local Safeway. That stuff is CRAP. The chunks ranged in size from beer can and a half with a several soup can sized chunks. One chunk was about 2" in diameter and at least 7" long. It also was not "cooked" completely -- within 20 seconds of putting it in the box, it was flaming like a fireplace log. The other really big chunks did not flame but I had to turn them over to get them to light all over -- like tending a log campfire. The big chunks were on top of the bag with very few 1" to 2" inch or so square pieces and the rest were like confetti. This stuff did smell strange when it was lighting. If my only choices were Best of the West or Cowboy, I would probably use Cowboy -- or give up altogether.
I just got back from my local Menards. They had been having a sale on the R.O. Steak House Lump (green bag, USA) for 4.64 an 8.8 lb. bag and I had bought about 5 bags last week. When I went in this morning to pick up something else I noticed they had dropped the price down to 4 bucks a bag so I grabbed 10 bags. I think I'm probably pretty well set for the summer if not longer.
In case anyone is wondering, the label says "Oak, Hickory, Maple and other hardwoods" or something close to that.
Well I used some BGE this past weekend. Its the first time I have used a lump hardwood coal. I thought it burned fine, it "popped" very little and seemed to burn fairly hot. I didnt use too much and what I did use lasted awhile. I found some RO and wallmart so I will try that after I use this bag up.
went to wal-mart yesterday and in the isle they had royal oak. I noticed the picture on the bag and it was not of a briquette but of hard wood (lump).
I have alway just looked at the bag for the word lump. and really have never to my recolection used much of anything in my grill except kinksford.
I used my knife and made myself a small inspection hole in the #10 bag @ $5.27 and sure nuff it was hardwood charcoal. I read the bag and it said made in the USA out of hickory, oak, maple and other hard wood. I bought 6 bags. upon further investigation I found more in the outdoor area and the price tag on the shelf siad royal oak hard wood 18lb $6.27 but there was none the #10s filled the empty void there.
In an other post/thread I found a great review of RO which I hope stands for royal oak.. I put the Hot link there..If you get the chance read it..very informative..
But any way's, I guess they have carrried it all the time.and I have over looked it, as I was just looking for the words lump as it seems every one use's the term for it instead of hardwood.. but i noticed kingsford and several other brands do in fact use the word LUMP on their bags..
went back to wally world yesterday..there was three palates of royal oak hard wood charcoal two days earlier.
that stuff sells fast. there was 1/2 a palate left. so I forced myself to purcahse 10 more bags.
when you load your cart with coal, every body want to talk about why. and since now I am some what edumacated in the art of smoking I dazzle the heck out of them..they are wanting a smoker when I get done. they all want pig candy and fatties.lol...
Hey Coyote, major score on the fuel for your future smokes. I wish Wally-World had consistent offerings throughout their stores 'cause I can't get any RO down here in the Daytona Beach / New Smyrna Beach area. May have to ask their management if they can special order it.
I tried a new super market today, and they actually had the kingsford lump charcoal, I used a little today already and it was way better than the cowboy, and burns longer than the BGE lump....6.99 for 10#
I also found a local fire wood place that sell wood for bbq... Imagine my joy finding a place like this.....they carry huge chunks of hickory, oak, almond, apricot, cherry...I am in heaven now......I can't wait to experiment...
I am a loyal RO user, but my son trying to help out and not knowing exactly what he was buying bought some Kingsford lump for me last weekend when he bought the roasts. I tried it, didn't like it. Pops too much, too many crumbs and in my opinion not nearly the level of heat as my regular RO. Heck in my opinion this Kingsford lump wasn't any better than store brand charcoal. If I had to choose between it and lets say Wally world charcoal I would take the wally world charcoal any day. At least it burns hot. But charcoal just has too much ash, doesn't burn as hot ot long. For me it RO or nothing to go along with my apple and cherry wood.
I too like the RO. WalMart here seems to have an endless supply. I was wondering about Frontier Lump. I saw some at Rural King yesterday and it was much cheaper than the RO. Has anyone had any experience with Frontier Lump?
I used RO lump once, the Lowes i go it at must have had it one time only, now they carry the cowboy. the ONLY other lump i can find is OiK brand, can only compare to the 1 bag of RO and the 1/2 bag of cowboy, but i really like it when i use something other than wood. I think i may do some searching to find some lump closer to home, the OiK is 35 miles away.
From what I've heard, the RO customer service is pretty good. If you call the 800# on the back and let them know you found some "odd" pieces in your bag of charcoal, they might send you a coupon for another bag, on them.
It's rare that those pieces get into quality products such as RO (although I still have yet to try it) but when they do, at least they have the customer service to back it up.
Give their 800# a try and let us know what happens. Hope the experience is a positive one!