The ultimate BBQ guide #5 - charcoal v gas

For some, gas is a swearword; others think “lumpwood” is a caviar. We asked Tom Byng, of upscale burger chain Byron, to finally settle the debate:

The barbecue is a “man or mouse moment”. Take a long, hard look in the mirror, and ask yourself one question: “Are you man enough to do this properly?” Yes, you could take the easy way out — opt for gas, and essentially use the same piece of equipment as you would inside. But for God’s sake, man: roll your sleeves up. Do something primal. Go charcoal. To wean yourself off gas, try the briquette. This is a charcoal, made from wood by-products. It’s cheap, it’s neat and it burns for a long time, giving out a consistent heat. On the downside, briquettes are treated with chemicals and can adversely flavour food.

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Purists should choose lumpwood. Made from wood that’s been cooked without oxygen, it lights quickly, burns hotly and is free from added chemicals. If you need a little help to get it going, use grain alcohol rather than lighter fuel. Make things even more interesting by adding wood chips: hickory gives a spicy, distinctive smoke.