My journey with Barrel House Cooker Company started with the 18C model, which was — from what I gather — released in January of this year. Not long after I bought my 18C in April, I got the 14D.
Initial differences? Of course the 14 is the little’en and the 18 is the bigg’en, but what else? The 14D is the original Barrel House Cooker, and I’m not going to make you wait until the end of this post to hear my penultimate belief: the 14D model is a superior cooker compared to the 18C. There are features the 14D has that are completely missing from the 18C.
For a tiny cooker, the 14D is a beast. I believe that I read that it can hold up to 6 lbs. of charcoal. That makes it sound like a lot, but it really isn’t, and that is something I love. As someone who also owns a 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain, which is an absolute terror of a charcoal hog, being able to get multiple uses out of a bag of charcoal for several smokes is an amazing feature for a tiny cooker like this. Even though it is small, I’ve cooked four racks of ribs in it, and I’m sure you could fit six racks of baby back ribs in there if you wanted to.
When I first received the 14D and removed it from the box, I noticed the gasket seal under the lid. I had a, “D’uh, stupid!” moment when I was wondering what the hell it was. I knew it was a piece of gasket tape, but I still reached out to Barrel House Cooker rep, and my de facto brother from another mother, Jeremy Cunha, and asked him, in simple terms, “What the hell?” I guess I was surprised by its addition to the lid on the 14D because it is missing on the lid for the 18C.
Furthermore, the 14D features a shelf attachment that goes onto either handle on the side of the barrel and, best of all, latches that connects the bottom charcoal base to the barrel itself. I’ve complained in my 18C review that the barrel on it does not sit snug on the charcoal base. It is not a dealbreaker, but as someone who is kinda OCD about desiring a snug fit on the cooker sitting solid, it bugs me. I love the latches on the 14D, because even during the middle of a cook you can pick the cooker up in its entirely and move it. Furthermore, the latches keeps the barrel sitting snug on the base. Another great feature that the 14D has that the 18C doesn’t is the lid has a hinge! I know that you can take the 18C’s lid and hang it on the side of the cooker, but it is far more efficient on the 14D to be able to open the cooker’s lid and not have to spend a few extra seconds sitting it on the top of the barrel like you do on the 18C. I know a few ‘extra’ seconds are inconsequential, but I’m a proponent of efficiency.
Yes, you can make mods on the 18C that will mirror the features the 14D has, from the latches to the lid hinge to the gasket that goes around the lid, but I’m not a particularly crafty guy. I still love my 18C cooker, don’t get me wrong, but I wish it already had these features built into the current model. I get the feeling that the company wanted to rush out this model, just to get it out onto the market, because I don’t understand why they went astray from the features that are pretty much the blueprint on the 14D. They even changed the air intake elevation setting on the 18C. For the 14D, you have the standard open/close vents that includes the ‘dots’ for the elevation recommendations on the side, but on the 18C the air intake is on the very bottom, and I don’t see that as a particularly efficient air intake setting, because ash buildup can far easily hinder the 18C’s long cooks versus the ash buildup in a cook for the 14D. However, I’m not an engineer nor do I have an engineer’s mind (going back to the fact that I’m not crafty), so you can take what I say with a grain of salt, but those are my two lil’ pennies.
I don’t write these criticisms as a ‘hater’. I’m a full-force Barrel House Cooker loyalist at this point. I’ve had my Weber Smokey Mountain for over a year, and I’ve already used these barrel cookers double, or maybe even triple (I haven’t taken count) the amount of times I’ve used the WSM. I fully believe in the company and its vision. The customer service is incredible. You get treated like a valued customer straight from the beginning. I am immensely happy that I chose this company over Pit Barrel; I have no disparaging remarks to say or beliefs to emit in regards to Pit Barrel, as I said in my review for the 18C: I know for a fact that it is a fine cooker given its following and users. However, I feel like these Barrel House Cookers are ‘next-level’ cookers, as the ease of charcoal access and the ability to have a thermometer on the lid (I know you can mod a PBC with one) are superior assets on the BHC, which one cannot objectively deny. But I digress. Point being, I love Barrel House Cooker Company and my two cookers.
14D vs. the 18C in a nutshell:
The 14D has the features (lid hinge, gasket seal, latches, less charcoal use) I mentioned above that the 18C lacks. It isn’t a big deal at all, but if you are like me and not particularly ‘crafty’, it can be slightly disappointing. Again, it is not a dealbreaker at all nor is it even a big deal, but I do believe it worth noting for a comparison like this. The 18C can hold multiple whole chickens and even more racks of ribs. I like the space the 18C offers over the 14D, but that is a no-brainer. I like cooking up a good bit of food, as oftentimes I host family/friend get-togethers and I also enjoy having leftovers. I’ve used both cookers at the same time, as well, and they make for a great team that still doesn’t use as much charcoal, even while used together, as the 22.5″ WSM, which I am thankful for.
While I am thinking about it, it also seems like the top portion of the 14D, where you sit the H-frame or O-ring, sits lower from the lid than what the top part of the 18C sits from its lid. For example, if I place food on the top part of the 14D and the same type of food on the top part of the 18C, it sits lower from the lid. This can be an issue on the 18C if you have food in the middle as the lid thermometer probe might touch or go down in your food, giving you inaccurate readings on your temperatures. Realistically, it can happen with the 14D as well. I’ve cooked a couple of pizzas on the 14D and the probe has gone down into them. However, that still hasn’t prevented me from creating some delicious woodfire pizzas in these incredible cookers!
Another flaw that the 18C has by itself is that if you are hanging meat, the meat will sit closer to the fire. If you are hanging a brisket, depending on its size it will hang into the coals, so you will either have to sit it flat on the grate in the middle of the cooker or separate the point and the flat from the brisket and hang them separately. The 14D is taller than the 18C, so it has an advantage here as well, that is… if you don’t have the new extension kit that Barrel House Cooker Company recently released for its 18C model.
The new accessories for the 18C include a cover, an O-grate (the packages may include the slotted grate, half-grates and/or the drumstick grate), a stainless steel base and charcoal basket as well as an extension kit! I am honestly the most stoked about the extension kit! This will allow a big ol’ brisket to be hung in the 18C with no problems, a la the 14D, so if you have the extension kit, the above paragraph becomes automatically nullified. I have not used the extension kit for the 18C yet, but soon enough I will be doing so!
*****The two above pictures are not mine! These are pictures from the Barrel House Cooker Company website, which you can view here!*****
I’m not a professional pitmaster, but I am a wannabe in that arena. I love cooking for my family and friends or simply people in general, because I love seeing the smiling faces of those who taste my flavorful concoctions. The Barrel House Cookers have simply done it for me here. I post this type of feedback because I know this is the type of company that will read it and truly listen. When you are using a product from a company that has already been given a slew of your hard earned money and they listen to what you have to say, you know you are in for a treat. That should be an American standard for businesses, but alas, not all of them are in the same vein as Barrel House Cooker Company.
*Full disclosure* Barrel House Cooker Company sent me the following accessories for the 18C at no cost to me: the cover, the O-grate, a slotted half-grate, drumstick holder, stainless steel base/charcoal basket as well as the extension kit. I am incredibly grateful, honored and appreciative that this company decided to do this, and I am more than happy to explain more about this, in detail.
I bought not just one, but both cookers, the 18C and the 14D respectively, with the money out of my own pocket as well as the beautiful gray hat and pizza pan. No, I do not feel like just buying these items entitles me to anything whatsoever. However, I point this out in conjunction with my brutally honest posts, thoughts and comments both on here and on Instagram where I have offered and extended my love for the company and well thought out constructive criticism on the cookers that I feel could be improved in the future. I am not the type of person who looks or expects handouts. In my review of the 18C, I did mention the (at the time) impending release of the stainless steel base.
I keep writing about how this company will take care of you. They will. I keep hammering the point home, but it is also because it is near and dear to my heart: customer service should be the number one priority (asides from standing behind a quality product or service) for any company in the world. I also know I’m shoving the following story down people’s throats: my father owned a successful coal mining parts company in southwest Virginia. I’ve witnessed, first hand, what top notch customer service looks like. I feel like it is in my blood, in a way. I also feel that I get that wanted customer satisfaction from Barrel House Cooker Company every time I talk to anybody from there.
Finally, I am not going to go around parading in the halls and shouting about how I was ‘given’ these items. Yes, again, I appreciate the accessories more than I can convey in these limited-choice-of-words formats, but what I am going to do is this: I’m going to use the accessories as to how they are expected to be used. I’m going to write about how the extension kit affects the cooks on the 18C as well as how the new stainless steel base/charcoal basket acts, looks and holds up after multiple cooks as opposed to the old base. I’m going to test these accessories to the max. Yes, companies need to test their products prior to release and I know they have, but your customer base is your single greatest population for feedback search.
Bottom line: Too many companies reel you in with that first or second big sell and then they forget about you since they already got the mighty dollar out of your pocket as they look for new customers and appeal to a new buyer base. That is NOT Barrel House Cooker. Once you are a customer, you are a part of the team, of the family. You are valued and welcomed. That is the vibe I get. I am exceptionally appreciative, grateful and honored.
When deciding which cooker you would like between the 14D and 18C, consider the above as well as how many people you plan on feeding or, if you are similar to me, love leftovers. Both cookers have their place in my heart, as sometimes I’m just doing something simple, don’t want to use an excess of charcoal but still want that rich, smokey flavor without any fuss — the 14D fits the mold for me in that area. On the flipside, when I want to throw down some more food, I’ll go with the 18C. For me, it is worth having both, but if you have to choose between one of them, consider the thoughts above.
Yes, Barrel House Cooker Company features a comparison between the two cookers on their site, but I think a comparison made by someone outside the company who uses the two products may make a potential future consumer possibly feel more at ease when making a decision. These are strictly my thoughts and do not reflect those of Barrel House Cooker Company.