The Weber Spirit Premium S-320 is a gigantic gas barbecue. We were initially cynical about its size and price, but it won us over with its consistent cooking and – surprisingly – its barbecue flavour.
If you live for barbecue season, this beast is well worth considering – especially if you're happy to shop around online for the best price.
This is a large, top-of-the-range gas barbecue. Lifting the lid reveals three independently controlled gas burners (keep the middle one turned off to cook indirectly). Each burner is covered by "Flavorizer" bars, which produce flavoured smoke as fat juices from your food drop onto the hot bars. So despite not using charcoal, food still benefits from that barbecue flavour.
The unit also includes a side burner for heating sauces and gravies, and a gas bottle screen on the other side. Design details include a condiment holder, six tool holders, a side table and a storage cabinet. We found these all to be decent, apart from the gas bottle screen – our 13kg bottle was too wide to fit in the screen and too tall to fit inside the storage cabinet.
Like the Weber Master-Touch, it comes with a Gourmet BBQ System (GBS) grate. Lift out a section in the middle and you can add a wide range of foodie accessories such as a wok, griddle, pizza stone, poultry roaster, Dutch oven and sear grate.
We felt the Weber looked great, but were a little concerned about how it would weather over the years. We also thought the small temperature gauge in the lid looked daft: too small for the size of the unit.
Once you've taken delivery of your Weber gas barbecue, be prepared to spend some time on assembly. Single-handedly, it took two hours to put together.
The sheer amount of assembly is intimidating, even though it requires only a screwdriver. However, the instructions were clear and the various parts were neatly packed in individually lettered bags for each stage, which made things easier. The instructions even go as far to warn of common mistakes – what not to do.
The gas regulator is fitted to the hose already, which is a nice touch. Nevertheless, the process still felt like IKEA flat-pack hell. Best to allow an afternoon and a beer or two to complete assembly, rather than try to run at it.
Using the ignition, the barbecue lit in seconds. A match-lighting option is available too, with a long wire match holder supplied for this purpose (the burners are low down, out of reach otherwise).
Like many barbecue aficionados, our testers were cynical about its barbecuing prowess – simply because it's gas. But they were soon eating their words, along with chicken that was perfectly cooked; still moist, and crispy on the outside.
Most surprising was that the food really did taste barbecued, putting paid to the usual "if I'm going to use gas then I might as well cook the food in the kitchen" criticism. This is presumably thanks to the "Flavorizer" bars.
Size-wise, the Weber S-320 is impressive. The cooking area is vast, which means feeding a whole party in a short space of time will be no trouble at all. The controls are excellent, plus there's a warming rack higher up for buns or to keep cooked food warm.
We didn't have any GBS accessories to try out in the Weber, but it's clear that they'd only add to its versatility as the heart of an outdoor kitchen.
We were tempted to mark down the Weber Spirit Premium S-320 simply on price, but shop around and you can pick it up for considerably less than its £999 RRP. It makes for a stunning outdoor kitchen, so if you're someone who spends much of your summer entertaining al fresco, this is a worthwhile buy.
Gas is also a great option on a roof terrace, or in any other area where a charcoal barbecue may be unwise. If you're on a tighter budget then the fun-and-foodie Char-Broil Big Easy SRG offers gas barbecuing and more, or the Char-Broil Kettleman is a good-sized charcoal barbecue.
A stunning, sizeable gas barbecue that cooks up a storm. If you live for barbecue season then the Weber Spirit Premium S-320 is well worth considering.