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Ultranatura Alamo Smoker Charcoal Grill review

Maggie Holland
20 Jun 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
81
inc VAT (as of 20th of June)

This is a flexible BBQ that can do it all but don't mistake it for models costing much more

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Specifications

Fuel type: Charcoal, Cooking area: 370x390mm, Dimensions (HxWxD): 810x1200x450mm, Accessories: None, Warranty: One year RTB

The Ultranatura Alamo is a an oil drum style barbecue and smoker. Large enough to cook for a family or smoke two whole chickens at the same time. It's largely sold through Amazon and looks impressive for the amount it costs.

Assembly and build quality

Sadly, the Alamo was a disappointment when it comes to quality. It was by far the most difficult to build, Taking well over an hour, the instructions were poor, the tools provided were terrible and the nuts, bolts and screws weren't labelled. Worst of all, some of them weren't included - which lead to problems later on.

The metal used for the body of the barbecue is quite thin - and thin metal, although okay for grilling, doesn't retain enough heat for roasting and slow cooking. As being a smoker is one of the Alamo's selling points, it was also surprising that it does not have a thermometer built in.

All of this is a moot point though, as my review model was missing the hardware that attaches the temperature dampers (those vents you can open and close to adjust airflow). This meant it had open vents at each end and was therefore only usable as a standard barbecue.

Looks and style

The Alamo is based on the classic American oil drum barbecue style pioneered by American manual workers who would cut a used oil drum in half lengthways, fill it with coals and chuck a grill on top. This method was so effective that it has been copied, albeit in a slightly toned down way, ever since and is now a common sight in gardens across the land.

Most importantly though, where the Alamo is concerned, the long and deep style makes for one of the best home barbecue smokers. Although rarely even considered by barbecuers in Britain, smoking is huge in America and something well worth giving a try. If you have the right barbecue and the patience the results can be incredible.

In use and features

The Alamo is fairly large, making it big enough to cook for both family and friends. Its size and length made it good for zonal or indirect cooking too, where coals can be piled to one end to produce different levels of heat across the grill. The Alamo also has a raised shelf hinged on the lid, meaning moving food away from direct heat, or keeping food warm, is easy.

It comes with front- and side-mounted wooden shelves, so you've somewhere to keep raw food ready for cooking as well as all your bits and pieces too. Such shelves are invaluable when you don't have a table in the vicinity of your grill.

The cooking grate bars themselves are a little bit thin for our liking, making chargrilling steaks and chops less satisfying, but they're perfectly adequate for general barbecuing. Despite some of its shortcomings Ultranatura has included some good features in the Alamo, two of which would be essential if you were to use it for smoking.

The first being the dampers/vents at both ends on both the lid and the base which would make fine tuning the temperature and airflow easy. This is good for controlling temperature whilst grilling, and is a necessity when controlling smoke and air flow through the body when smoking. The second useful, if not essential design point, is the hinged hatch in the middle of the grill bars, meaning coals can be added at any time during cooking - especially important when it comes to topping up coals or smoking chips whilst smoking or slow cooking larger cuts of meat.

Cleaning and storage

The Alamo is large and fairly cumbersome to try to move. In my experience, this makes storing it under a cover, unless you have a conservatory or similar, the only option. When it came to cleaning the Alamo, the design is open, and all parts are easily accessible, however the paint on the barbecue is thin and scratched off when cleaning, leaving metal exposed which could rust.

Conclusion

We really wanted this barbecue to be all it could be. In design and style, the Alamo has so much to offer but was sadly let down by quality and finish. Having investigated the issues we found with this barbecue, it appears that missing parts and difficulty in assembling the Alamo are a common problem, and in our case meant that we could not test it fully.

It's very reasonably-priced for what it is, though, and even if you're not planning on smoking anything this is a very flexible BBQ at a very reasonable price, just be aware you might have some teething troubles. For other options see our Best BBQ 2016 roundup. 
Buy Now from Amazon

Physical
Fuel typeCharcoal
Cooking area370x390mm
Dimensions (HxWxD)810x1200x450mm
Weight22
Features
Controllable ventsYes
Cooking height adjustmentNo
ThermometreNo
AccessoriesNone
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Detailshttp://uk.ultranatura.net/
Part CodeB00C87P5MG

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