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Hexa Beer Pong Cups

Posted by Dave On July - 26 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Hexa Beer Pong Cups

Beer pong. Not quite as popular in the tailgating lots at cornhole but it still remains a strong No. 2 in the rankings. From Freezable Beer Pong Racks to Spinning Beer Pong Racks to Naked Pong to Floating Beer Pong Tables, there is a wealth of beer pong accessories on the market. Despite all of this innovation for the game of beer pong, for the longest time the cups used to play beer pong have remained the same. Until now.

As you can seen in the above photos, Hexa Beer Pong Cups have taken the traditional round cup opening and made a hexagon out of it. This way the flat edges can line up against each other and form a honeycomb. By reducing the gaps between traditional round cups, the playing surface is larger and increases the chances of making shots. Successful shots make for a faster game allowing more people to play in the same amount of time. Also, a faster game is preferable while tailgating based on the limited amount of time you have in the tailgating parking lot.

We had a chance to test out the Hexa Beer Pong Cups for ourselves and found them to be a great improvement on the game of beer pong. The photo gallery also shows that the Hexa Beer Pong Cups round bottoms allows for use with other existing beer pong accessories like the N-Ice Rack Freezable Beer Pong Rack and Spin Pong.

After putting the Hexa Beer Pong Cups to the test, they are definitely “Tailgate Approved”. Hexa Beer Pong Cups come in a sleeve of 50 that also includes five (5) pong balls.

Hexa Beer Pong Cups are available from Amazon.com for $9.99.

Product Review – The Hovergrill

Posted by Brandon On July - 22 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

0000055_deluxe-individual-hovergrill_300Earlier this week we posted our review of the Smokenator, and in that we disclosed that along with the Smokenator we also received a product called the Hovergrill. Due to the length of that review, and our thoughts about the Hovergrill we opted to do 2 posts instead of cramming it all into one.

During the boxing it was pretty apparent that the Hovergrill was a serious product, worthy of it’s own review. While it may look like a typical round grill grate, the difference is that it has collapsible legs that raise it several inches. By the way those legs can lock into place so there isn’t any worry of it collapsing if you do your part. In addition to this the construction seems top notch. The metal is of heavy gauge and the finish appears excellent. It’s tough to know how durable it would be over time, but judging by the construction I think it would probably outlast the grill.

The Hovergrill is meant to be used by stacking it on top of your existing cooking grate. This in theory allows you to cook more food at the same time than you would with one grate alone. Not having enough grill space is one of those issues that most if not all tailgaters will experience, and if this product can mitigate that it would be of huge benefit.

So to test the effectiveness of the Hovergrill I set out to make fairly large batch of chicken wing pieces. Just how many I don’t know due to being a dummy and not counting them, but let’s say it was around 50. I had room for some more, but since there weren’t many mouths it wasn’t necessary. The pictures should kind of given you an idea of how this all looked.

After about an hour I had a whole batch of really nicely cooked wings that were ready for saucing. By my standards this is a passing grade for sure.

While my test was a simple indirect cook don’t forget that since this product sits on top of the cooking grate use with the Smokenator is not an issue. This opens up a lot more space for smaller foods, an area where we felt the Smokenator excelled. I can absolutely seeing this thing being used to smoke those wings, or to make a whole mess of other appetizers. Or if you’ve got that early morning thing going, some of those sausage fatties that I made for the Smokenator review would be good here, and you could make multiples easily.

Not bad since this is another item that can fit inside the grill during transport and doesn’t take up extra space in your vehicle.

However, there are some things to consider when using the Hovergrill. For starters, it’s designed for a round Weber kettle of at least 22″ in diameter, not something that everyone will have in their tailgating arsenal.  There is nothing to say that it couldn’t work on a different grill but the chances you’d get it to work a smaller portable grill are pretty slim.  When using the Hovergrill, if you need to flip/turn any of the food that might be under it, you’ll want a place you can set it off of the grill. Also take care that you don’t place something too large on the Hovergrill because it’s a few inches (3.5) closer to the top of the closed lid that you may not be accustomed too. Furthermore, don’t overload it. While I have no concerns about the ability to hold a lot of food, you don’t want to do anything that clogs up airflow since that will mess with your cook. Just keep a little space between items and you’d be fine.   None of those things are knocks on the product, just things we felt you should know.

In short we loved the Hovergrill. It’s well made and it really opens up some options for a tailgate menu. Without a doubt the Hovergrill is Tailgating Approved. You can purchase individually or in a combo with the Smokenator if you choose. For more information you can visit www.Smokenator.com

 

 

The Smokenator

Posted by Brandon On July - 19 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

smokenator-grillI think it’s fair to say that the kettle-style charcoal grill is something of an icon in the grilling world. Not only is it a classic symbol of charcoal grilling, it’s easily one of the most affordable, and maybe more importantly versatile style of grill on the market. I’ll go out on a limb and say for the money it’s the best thing going. While many manufacturers have their own take on this design, Weber is probably the maker that most of us associate with the concept.

Kettle grill users know that not only can they crank out great burgers, steaks, and whatever else they want to throw over the fire, they also know that when set-up correctly their grill can work as a passable smoker. Sure it will likely never be as good as a dedicated smoker, but then again it’s probably better at smoking than a smoker is at grilling. But I digress…

We were recently contacted about testing a product called the Smokenator. This is a fairly simple device that aims to make the Weber kettle from an acceptable smoking device, into a much better smoking device. Naturally we were happy to give it a go and share our thoughts. The sample we were provided was their Smokenator 1000, I’ll be dropping the 1000 during the review, which is designed for the 22 inch kettle, but they do offer other models for the various kettle sizes. (Note we were also sent a sample of their Hovergrill product, but since it was not integral to the operation of the Smokenator we opted to review in a separate post which can be seen later this week.)

IMG_20160627_085523801First things first, the Smokenator is a simple design. It is basically some sheet metal that has been cut and molded to interface with the various surfaces of the Weber kettle. Also there are 3 holes in the top, 2 smaller round holes for access to the fuel and 1 larger rectangular shaped hole for the water pan. The included water pan holds roughly two cups of liquid.

Installation is super easy, just remove your cooking grate and place the Smokenator on the side of the kettle. You should be able to see how it interfaces with the tabs that hold the grate in place and the lower charcoal grate and make adjustments if needed. There is no anchoring or permanent modification of the kettle required. This is a huge benefit in my opinion because some, if not most, of us don’t have the luxury of taking several cooking devices on our tailgates.

The first test is purely to get a handle on how the Smokenator performs with an empty cooker and to see how easily we can manage the temps, or in other words a dry run.. This test was conducted by filling the Smokenator with 50 unlit briquets of standard Kingsford Original (Blue Bag) and 15 lit briquets of the same. Also used was 1 semi large chunk of pecan wood. The water pan was filled 2 cups of hot water (~165 degrees F), and 2 temp probes were placed in the cooker. One was on the cooking grate and one on the lower charcoal grate. You can see a narrative of the this test here, Smokenator Data – Sheet1.

A quick word about this type of cooking if you aren’t too familiar with it. There are many variables involved with maintaining a lower temperature like you’d use for BBQ cooking. The outside temp, wind, sun, precipitation will all affect the cooker temp. Also if you build too big of a fire in the form of too many lit coals you won’t be able to keep a low temp. Practice, practice, practice before you commit a lot of money in food costs and really get a feel for cooker temp otherwise you will be sorry. Even between my tests the environmental conditions were different enough to produce noticeable differences in cooker performance.IMG_20160628_123413119

My dry run showed a couple things, by hour 4 the fuel supply was considerably spent. This is likely due to the fact that I measured my temps at the grate levels and not at the dome. The dome temps are 10-20 degrees higher than the upper food grate per the Smokenator manual so my grate temps which were above the target mark in the Smokenator manual were much higher than the temps by which they based their calculations. If you’re cooking bigger food items you’ll want to refuel at hour 4 if using the Smokenator in the standard fashion. Possibly even sooner if the outside conditions require you to burn hotter.
While we’re on temperatures, notice the lower (charcoal) grate temp was much less than the upper (food) grate temp. If you’re planning on packing the cooker full of food you need to adjust for that bottom grate being much lower in temp. Also of note the fact that the temperature is lower on the bottom grate is a great sign that the Smokenator design really does make for a true indirect cooker. If you’ve ever tried indirect with charcoal before without some sort of holder you know sometimes keeping the coals where you want them can be tricky.

IMG_20160708_113813893The next test was to try a short cook to see how the cooker responds with food in the chamber. The first of which was a simple naked fatty. If you’re unfamiliar I’ll save you the risky Google and tell you what it is. A Fatty is a term BBQ for a smoked roll of ground meat, and the naked adjective means that it is cooked without anything more than some rub on the outside. I will disclose that the weather played some tricks on me with this one as a light drizzle began falling about and hour and a half into the cook. As I mentioned earlier weather is one of those variables that will really mess with your cooker temp. To compensate for the loss I made the decision to open the vents and try to shelter the cooker from the elements as much as I could without posing a fire hazard. This did help but the breeze, lack of sun, and rain really made this a much more difficult cook. I also believe the fatty might have still been a little frozen which made the internal temp just sit still for a long time.

Because this 2nd test was so full of variables that worked against the Smokenator I opted to conduct a 3rd test cook that would hopefully no
t have the same conditions as cook 2. Thankfully aside from a quick yet heavy downpour the 3rd cook was perfect. The 3rd cook featured not only another naked fatty, but also a bacon cheeseburger fatty made with a bacon weave and ground chuck.IMG_20160708_120626541

One thing that became pretty apparent with each cook was that the Smokenator requires some periodic attention to function at peak performance. As you replenish the water take the time to stir the coals using the included rod. You’ll knock the ash off the coals and keep them exposed to the air for better combustion. It’s also a good idea to consider adding more fuel if you expect to be cooking for longer. I wouldn’t do this every time but maybe every other water refill.

Thinking outside of the instruction manual another thing you could do would be to remove the water pan and either use it on top of the grate or use a different container altogether. What this accomplishes is that you’ll have more room for fuel in the Smokenator and, if you chose a larger water container, less frequent filling. You could alternatively omit a water pan entirely, but this comes with the downside of reducing humidity in the cooker as well as foregoing the benefits that the water lend to temperature control. I think I’ll likely tinker with things over time, but as long as the person doing the cooking knows what is what it shouldn’t pose an issue.

I’ll cut to the chase. Is the Smokenator “Tailgating Approved”? Yes it is. While it’s not the only way to go about the task, it absolutely allows you to easily, and maybe more importantly, temporarily modify your Weber kettle into a suitable smoker. Does it have some limitations? Sure, but if you know them you can easily work with or around them. The model 1000 we tested for the 22″ kettle comes in right around $70, but other options are available for some of the other kettle sizes.  For more info on the 1000 or the others you can visit Smokenator.com

KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce Mix and Dry Rub

Posted by Brandon On July - 11 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

habaneroEvery so often when we’re contacted about evaluating a product the conversation leads to other review opportunities.  This just so happened to be the case with KC Masterpiece’s new BBQ Sauce Mix and Dry Rub.   Being no stranger to BBQ sauce I was more than willing to give it a try.

Initially I was unsure of how this product worked. I mean in most cases BBQ sauce really isn’t something that you just throw stuff into and out it comes.  BBQ sauce can mean many things, and can be somewhat controversial in the true BBQ world, but for the casual cook we typically associate the term BBQ Sauce with a thick reddish brown/completely brown sauce we find in bottles at the grocer.   While you can make your own somewhat easily it does involve several ingredients and cooking.   This BBQ Sauce Mix eliminates most of the ingredients and the cooking all together.

IMG_20160711_115112757To make a sauce with this all you need to do is add 3/4 of liquid to one of the 2 packets that come in the box.  What kind of liquid? Well that is where this product finds its use.  The mix provides a pretty solid base flavor and the liquids you add are not only going to make the sauce well, liquid, but add those additional flavors you might be interested in.  Like fruit flavors in your sauce?  Just add whatever fruit juice you want.  Really like the tangy acidity that vinegar adds?  Use some vinegar.  You are in the driver’s seat here, its entirely up to you.  Want to crack a can of beer and whip it up in the parking lot?  Should work just fine.  IMG_20160709_193448180

Since we were sent a sample of the Spicy Habanero variety and decided to go with sort of a honey mango type of thing for the test.  So all I had to do was add 1/4 each of mango nectar, honey, and cider vinegar.  What I got was a pretty nice little sauce with not an excessive amount of heat.  I can safely say it wasn’t excessive because my wife who is pretty sensitive to the heat thought it was an acceptable level.  I applied this to some wings I had cooked on the grill as part of another product evaluation and I was  pleased with the results.  It might have been a touch thick for tossing wings in, but I also made it in advance of saucing and per the box the sauce will thicken over time, plus most wings can’t have enough sauce on them.

Full disclosure, we didn’t try the product in the dry rub or marinade capacity.   This wasn’t because I didn’t think it would be good, it was just a result of having grilled meats for pretty much every meal for a week. 

All in all I think its a good product especially if you want to whip up a fresh BBQ sauce in a hurry.   The Spicy Habanero version is gluten free per the box, and I would guess that the others probably are as well.  You can find this product pretty easily in Wal-Mart and the price is pretty right coming in around $3 for a box of 2 pouches of mix.  For more info and recipe ideas you can check out www.kcmasterpiece.com 

 

Tailgating has come to Canada! (Sort of)

Posted by Dave On July - 8 - 2016ADD COMMENTS
Toronto Argos Fan Tailgating

A Toronto Argonauts fan cooks on a grill during a tailgate party ahead of the team’s CFL season opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Toronto on Thursday, June 23, 2016. (Photo courtesy The Canadian Press/ Chris Young)

Canadian football fans can rejoice! Tailgating is not only allowed but encouraged at Toronto Argonauts games this season. Before you head to the beer aisle and buy the entire supply of Molson and Labatt Blue in preparation for this, you need to know something.

BYOB tailgating is still not allowed in Canada.

That’s not to say that you can’t have a frosty beverage while tailgating a Toronto Argonauts game – it is just going to cost you. You see, you can buy an overpriced and undersized beer from a BMO Field approved vendor, but bringing your own is not allowed. Leave your cooler at home and make sure to bring your wallet. And a good line of credit if you plan on having more than two.

Traditional American style tailgating in Canada has been non-existent due to the heavy restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in outdoor spaces. The Calgary Stampeders fans have tried to bring tailgating to the Canadian Football League but the fans can not overcome the existing laws across the Great White North. It’s not that you can’t have a tailgate party without alcohol. It’s just the fact that the Canadian government views their adult citizens as children that can’t handle the responsibility of consuming alcohol outside the confines of a bar or restaurant.

David Menzies of Rebel Media in Canada explains the hypocrisy of it all in this video rant:

David Menzies’ take on the situation is a bit more critical than the Canadian “mainstream” media. By going by the Canadian newspapers and blogs, you would think Toronto’s first season with tailgating mirrors that of a Buffalo Bills or Green Bay Packers tailgate.

CP24: Tailgating experience a hit with fans despite home opener loss for Argos
Hamilton News: Burgers, beers and beach chairs: Toronto tailgating experience a hit
York Region: Argos fans enjoy the tailgate experience
CBC: Argonauts fans celebrate start of the season with launch of tailgate parties
TSN: Tailgating coast to coast? Here’s hoping

With all that optimism, is Menzies the only critic? Probably not. But you need to keep in mind those dissenting voices may not be getting much publicity because the Canadian people have been lulled into believing their bureaucrats know better than they do.

I’d compare it to Soviet block countries that never knew what freedom and liberty was. If you only know standing in line to buy toilet paper or being pleasantly surprised when you can buy a ration of coffee, you really don’t know what you are missing. Same thing goes for the Canadians and BYOB tailgating. They will take what they can get but unless they have ventured south to an NFL game or even a college game, they don’t know what they are missing.

I would not be surprised if the Toronto Argos fans took in a Buffalo Bills game at Orchard Park, they would start demanding the bureaucrats start changing their laws.

Until the Canadian government wakes up and starts treating it’s adult citizens, well, like adults, they may have to resort to childish behaviors to get around these oppressive laws. We’d suggest checking out these Beer Can Covers for sale or the wide selection of Sneaky Flasks to disguise your hooch while tailgating up north.

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TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

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