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Weber Grill Review
Following on the success of the Genesis line of grills, Weber introduced its premium grill,
the Summit, in 1997.  The initial line of Summit grills included five different models,
the 400 FT, 425, 450, 600 FT and 650. When the Summit grills debuted they cost between
$1200 and $2400.

The most obvious difference between the Summit and Genesis line of grills is that the number
of burner tubes increased from three on the Genesis to four or six on the Summit.  A subtler
difference is that he burner tubes on the Summit run from front to back instead of right to left as
on the Genesis.  None of the initial Summit grills came with a side burner.  All of these grills had a
single layer of Flavorizer bars; seven for the 400,425 and 450 and eleven for the 600 and 650.

The Summit 425 and 450 are both four burner grills with slightly different housing constructions.  
The Summit 650 is a six burner grill with the same enclosed housing found on the Summit 450.  
The cooking grates and Flavorizer bars were stainless steel with a seven year warranty.  All three
of these grills came with a “Steam-n-Chips” smoker box.  

The “Steam-n-Chips” smoker box was fundamentally different from smoke boxes seen on Genesis grills.  
Previous smoker boxes sat directly over a Flavorizer bar and took up valuable grill space.  This smoker
box was designed to be installed in the middle of the cooking chamber by replacing a Flavorizer bar.  As
such this smoker sat below the cooking grate.  This smoker also came with a water pan that sat directly
over the wood chips.  The vaporizing water was supposed to add moisture to your food.

It looks like this smoker box design was a failure as it did not reappear in any future models of the
Summit or Genesis grills.  I suspect the reason this design was not continued was that the location of
the smoker below the cooking grate caused three problems.  The first problem, which Weber cautions
about in the Owner’s Manual, is that the box needed to be replaced with a Flavorizer bar when you
were not smoking.  If the box was left in continuously it would eventually get covered in grease and
clogged up.  I suspect very few owners took the time to switch back and forth between the smoker box
and the Flavorizer bar.  The second issue is that refilling the box with wood chips during use would have
been a pain in the neck.  You would have had to turn off your burner, lift a hot grate (that probably had
some food on it), remove a water pan, add chips, refill the water pan, etc. The last problem is that this
smoker box, unlike previous and subsequent smoker boxes, was placed between two burners and
heated indirectly.  All other smoker boxes have been located directly above a burner(s).  I suspect this
resulted in the box taking much longer to heat up and start generating smoke.    

The Weber Summit 400 FT and 600 FT are remarkable grills from a historical perspective in that they had
a fundamentally new design that was very short lived.  Both of these grills, the four burner Summit 400
and the six burner Summit 600, were essentially open air, flat top grills.  That is, these grills did not have
a closeable lid to use while grilling.  The left and right side tables on these grills were on sliders.  When
the grill was not in use you would slide the side tables over the cooking grate to serve as a flat topped
storage lid.  Just to state the obvious…the FT in the names stands for “flat top”.

The Summit 600 was also interesting for its use of burners.  This grill had four burners under a cooking
grate and two burners underneath a cast iron griddle.  The griddle was designed for frying bacon and
other fatty foods.

The initial Weber Summit grills were interesting not only for their increased size, but also for the
innovations they experimented with.  This line of grills was replaced by the
Silver and Gold Summit series.