Grilla Grills Flagship Pellet Grill is a Smoke Breathing Beast
Thanks for checking out this post about Grilla Grills and their brand bearing model, The Grilla. I first became acquainted with Grilla Grills back in February of 2012, when my friend Shane Draper of Draper’s BBQ posted a write up on the forefather of the current Grilla grill pellet smoker model. At the time of his posting, Grilla was a new product offering from Fahrenheit Technologies, Inc. out of Holland, Michigan.
The Grilla model sold for some time, and the reviews I read were all really positive. The only knock at the time was a $1,500 price tag. The units were being made here in the USA, but regardless of what some folks say about buy American – folks weren’t ready to pay that cost.
So, over time the company began to seek overseas locations for manufacture. Mark and the folks at Grilla were sticklers for the quality they were looking for, so the search took some time. Over time, they found a Chinese manufacturing site that could meet their qualifications and specs, and during this time – Grilla decided to revamp aspects of the grill itself based on feedback from folks like Shane who had a lot of experience using pellet grills at home and on the competition circuit.
In time, Grilla rolled out a 3 grill line, including the Grilla, the Silverbac (also pellet fueled), and the Kong – which is a kamado style charcoal grill.
Grilla Grills also opted to scrap its dealer network setup and go direct to customer. Using this model, they ship direct to buyers who purchase the grills via GrillaGrills.com. This, in conjunction with the overseas manufacturing, allows for pricing that starts at about half of what they were charging originally.
Grilla Grills – Grilla Overview
The Grilla Grills “Grilla” model is an upright pellet smoker that, to my knowledge, is a one-of-a-kind footprint in that it’s the only one I know of that stands upright. Fitting – as it’s named after one of our closer cousins in the animal kingdom. (I’m not a zoologist – so just stop it….)
Cooking space wise, the Grilla Grill offers up 488 sq. inches of cooking space – about 30 inches more than an XL Big Green Egg.
Feature wise, the Grilla Grill pellet smoker offers up solid steel construction, a 20 lb pellet hopper with quick release/dump drawer, steel construction and cooking surfaces, and stainless steel shelves. There’s an interior half shelf you can use to maybe fit one more rack of ribs in – if you cut them competition style and only go for those “money in the middle” bones – what I call a “short rack.”
Here’s a short video to give you a tour of the grill itself.
Grilla Overview Video
Easy Assembly for Fast Action!
I love that the Grilla comes virtually assembled, as the photos here show. All I had to do was remove the protective packing inside the cooking chamber, install the shelves (very easy), load the 20 lb hopper with CookinPellets.com’s Perfect Mix pellets, plug it in and go.
There are three wheels – two in back and one in front… like R2D2. The front wheel is the one that pivots, and there’s an easy to use kick brake on the back side so you can keep the unit in place.
Oh – note on first firing up your Grilla Grill.
I’d advise dropping a handful of pellets into the burn pot prior to your first session. If you don’t you’ll find that there’s an initial “burn in” phase that ramps the Grilla Grill up to as high as 400 degrees even if set to 275, which is where I set mine. Let’s talk about this for a second…
Grilla Grills’ “Grilla Model” is a Smoke Breathing Beast
The first thing you’ll notice when you cook low and slow on the Grilla Grill is that this beast puts out the smoke. OK… before that, you’ll notice that the temperature tends to swing between 10-12 degrees above or below where you set it. If you’re like me… and you’re used to pellet grills being dialed in to rest no more than 5 degrees above or below – this might set you on edge.
After a while, I realized what was going on and now see this as a benefit.
They’ve purposely programmed in what I’ll call a “temp swing” to drop the temp down just enough on a periodic basis so the auger will feed in a bigger load of pellets to ramp up smoker to your set temperature.
The result? More smoke!
I kid you not. There are times during your cook for ribs, chicken, pork, etc. at say between 225 and 350 that you’ll wonder if the thing’s on fire. I live in a condo, and I was fully expecting the fire department to roll up due to one of my neighbors calling in.
As you can see, I had the Thermoworks Chef Alarm set for 145 as a ‘check for color’ point. But, do you see that smoke? That’s actually “light.” I’d say I caught the video about 1/2 through a “smoke ramp” cycle.”
Here’s a better view of the Smoke Rollin from when the ribs were cooking… Excuse the ‘face for radio!’ – I definitely needed a shave!
And… with no exhaust, 90 percent of all that extra smoke is trapped inside the Grilla’s cook chamber – bathing your meat in a cloud of thin, blue awesomeness.
OK… so let’s get onto the cook.
Cooking Ribs and Pork with Grilla Grills “Grilla” Model Pellet Smoker
In deciding what to cook as I put Grilla Grills “Grilla” model through its paces, I wanted to keep as true to what I normally do at home – namely, St. Louis spares and Pork Butts.
For the Ribs, I did as close to a competition BBQ rib prep as this ol’ boy knows how. Basically, I did a standard 3-2-1 method using my good friend Rub Bagby’s Swamp Boys Original Rub and Heath Riles’ Victory Lane Mild BBQ Sauce. Great combo, by the way.
As I said, the ribs got a solid smoke bath and turned out very, very well. I wrapped for color, then did the butter, brown sugar, and rub dance in some foil. Good stuff.
The pork did equally well. As you can see from the photos, I was just able to fit 2 roasting pans with pork butts into the Grilla with relative ease. OK… a little crunching of the pan on the right was needed, but hey – 2 pans in!
Did you SEE that sweet Premiala Stainless Steel Injector? They sent it to me to try out, and I liked it a lot! Had me singing the Dentist song from Little Shop of Horrors!
In any case…
Smoke rolled strong throughout this cook. I set it to 275, all loaded with CookinPellets perfect mix (I’m telling you – get some), cooked to color (about 155 F) and then gave it the treatment. Oh – the rub I used was Porkmafia Memphis Mud, finished off with butter, Pineapple Habanero Texas Rib Candy, and some Turbinado sugar.
You can judge the results for yourself in the last photo above where you can see the color of the meat prior to me adding some Daigle’s Pecan Garlic Sauce. I was pleased.
Products Used to Cook the Ribs and Pork:
- Swamp Boys “Rub’s Original Rub”
- Victory Lane BBQ Mild BBQ Sauce
- Sweet Smoke Q Pork Juice
- Porkmafia Memphis Mud Rub
- Daigle’s Cajun Sweet Pecan Garlic Sauce
- Texas Pepper Jelly’s Pineapple Habanero Rib Candy
Grilla Grills – Grilla Model Final Thoughts
Overall, I like what Grilla Grills has done with their Grilla Model. The temperature control is straight forward, the temperature probe measures out reliably, the construction of the grill is solid, and it performs its job with more than adequate smoke – while also being efficient with pellet use.
On the “cons” list, here’s my take. If you’re going to do much more than a couple butts at a time, or just a couple of racks of ribs, or one large turkey, etc… you’ll find the capacity of this grill to be limiting. Fortunately, Grilla has the Sliverbac you can ramp up to.
Another thing you might not like, is the “temp swing.” Though it drove me crazy at first – it’s what allows this pellet grill to amp up smoke levels to where I feel you won’t need any additional help from a Smoke Tube or the like. This said, if you are simply dead set on your smoker temp staying balls on accurate to where you set it… you won’t be happy with the swing factor.
This feature is really pronounced on the Grilla. The Silverbac experiences the “temp swing,” too. You won’t notice it as much, because of where the grill’s probe is set.
Again, I encourage you to move out of your comfort zone here… as the smoke you get from the “temp swing” is worth it.
Lastly, Grilla Grills manufactures all of their grills in China. Yep. It’s a fact. If you’re a BUY AMERICAN MADE ONLY sort. DO NOT buy a Grilla Grill. Move on. Me? I’m a “The world is flat” kind of guy. So, I have moved on from the ‘Merican Made only bit.
You might say… “I’ll pay extra for products made in the USA.” Fine. But know this… you won’t be paying $10 extra, or even 10% extra. You’ll be paying 30-50% extra. Still sound good to you? Yeah? Awesome. Go forth and be happy.
That’s what it’s all about with BBQ really, am I right? Be happy. Hang with your family, friends, such. Drink a beer, or have a whiskey, or a Coke, or better yet… a whiskey and Coke!
If what I’ve shared here has you curious about Grilla Grills – give them a look see. You can find more videos on them here…. and here. I think you’ll be pleased. And of course, you can buy one for yourself direct over at GrillaGrills.com.
NOTE: Grilla Grills provided me with a Grilla Model Grill to test for this review.