The year was 1982 and Americans were increasingly cooking for their friends and family outdoors. To meet the demand, the Weber-Stephen company offered its iconic kettle design in 5 sizes including 14.5, 18.5”, 22.5”, 26.75” and Ranch models. But Weber was not resting on their success and several developments were underway that would further distance the company from its competition. These developments would create different models of the basic charcoal kettle by offering advanced features or upgrades. The sum of Weber’s best options would eventually lay the foundation for one of the Company’s most iconic kettle models, the Weber Master Touch.
Since it began making kettles in 1953, Weber had fastened a “C” shaped hook on the underside of its lids to allow the griller to hang the lid from the side of the kettle. In 1982, the Company was developing a new design to allow the lid to hang higher up on the kettle and provide a “wind block” when the lid was not in use:
Although this design was never used, the seeds of the first new lid holder design in 30 years had been planted. In addition to innovations in the lid design, the bottom half of Weber’s kettle was getting some attention as well. Weber developed the “One Touch” system, consisting of 3 metal arms inside the bowl that could be moved back and forth via an external handle. This allowed grillers to easily moderate airflow into the kettle, and sweep the ashes into an ash pan without having to clean the kettle from the inside out. The One Touch system was sold alongside the existing 3-vent wheel design starting in 1983 until the 3-vent kettle was discontinued in 1999. At the time, kettles equipped with the One Touch system were sold as a premium model over the base “Three Wheeler”.
The One Touch Plus – a precursor to the Master Touch:
By 1987, Weber had filed patent number 4,777,927 consisting of a lid cradle and a handle with a removable thermometer, and by 1988, the Weber “One Touch Plus” was born:
The One Touch Plus (or OTP) was a kettle griller’s dream with an elevated wooden handle, a removable thermometer to monitor kettle temperatures and to check the internal temp of food, the lid cradle that helped block the wind and provide a handy place to store the kettle lid, and the introduction of charcoal baskets to allow for focused direct and indirect cooking. A one touch plus kettle was the premium charcoal kettle on the market, designed to make you the envy of the neighborhood.
The Last Piece of the Puzzle
In 1990, two years after the introduction of the One Touch Plus, Weber introduced the fully enclosed ash catcher on its new Performer model. US Patent 5,036,832
Ash catcher assembly for barbecue grill, was issued August 6, 1991. This patent introduced the cylindrical ash catcher: “An ash catcher assembly is developed which can catch ash and debris falling out through openings in the bottom of the barbecue kettle. It is also very easy to assemble and empty. Further, the ash catcher can be easily retrofitted onto previously made kettle grills. And, the present assembly can be easily disassembled to clean and store“.
The Master Touch (Gen 1).
With the 1992 introduction of the Weber Master Touch, Weber provided a model designed to provide the serious griller with a serious grill. It contained all the bells and whistles. At the time, Weber was creating a “good, better, best” approach to its charcoal grills. The 22.5” kettle lineup for 1992:
- BAR-B-KETTLE with 3 user installed daisy wheels, single front bowl handle (wooden), disk ash catcher with clips, black wheels, single center spoke triangle frame
- One Touch Kettle with one touch cleaning system replacing the daisy wheels, standard cooking grate, dual bowl handles (wooden), disk ash catcher with clips, white wall Weber wheels, standard triangle frame
- Master Touch Kettle: All of the features of the One Touch kettle plus an integrated lid bale, removable lid thermometer below the handle, enclosed ash can and ring assembly, flip style grates, and charcoal fuel baskets.
- Performer kettle: All the features of the Master touch installed in an integrated cart with charcoal storage and available gas assist starting.
The Master Touch was clearly positioned as Weber’s best stand-alone charcoal grill model. An excerpt from the April 21, 1994 San Bernardino County Sun: “If you’re planning to trade up your hibachi for a stylish new model, the April Williams-Sonoma catalogue features a Weber Master-Touch Kettle in trendy Harrod’s green, cobalt blue, and black. The one-touch system allows you to open the bottom vents to create convection heat that seals in food juices and flavor, put out the file, saving charcoal for next time, and release ashes into the large-capacity ash catcher below. Other features include a special brace so the lid can act as a windshield when not needed for cooking; a thermometer on the lid to let you monitor the inner temperature, and a rust –resistant, porcelain-enameled steel kettle with oak handles. A vinyl storage cover is included in the $160 price.”
In addition to green, blue, and black, the Master Touch was also offered in red, red mist, copper mist, grey and burgundy. The model was only offered in the 22.5” size. Weber produced the Gen 1 Master Touch in the US from 1992 until 1999, at which time both the BAR-B-KETTLE and the Master Touch were discontinued.
The Master Touch (Gen 2)
Although Weber was offering the second generation Master Touch (in several colors) outside of the US, it only became available to US buyers in 2015, and was only offered in Black. What it lacked in color choices, it more than made up in features including:
- Redesigned High Capacity enclosed ash catcher and ring assembly.
- One Touch system.
- Flip up Cooking Grate
- Three specialized black glass reinforced nylon handles with built in tool hooks for the bowl handles. The handles are stamped “Master Touch” in white letters.
- Lid thermometer.
- Redesigned lid bale that allows for more room to maneuver while cooking.
- 8″ wheels with taller leg kit. This lifts the kettle up to make it more comfortable for most grillers.
- Larger silver wire triangle frame specially made for the MT’s taller leg kit and 8″ wheels.
- A warming rack and charcoal baskets come standard. The Gourmet Grate system comes standard as well. This heavy duty grate has a removable center to allow for sear grates, fry pans, woks, and several other accessories.
The Weber Master Touch was first conceived in 1992 as the “top of the line” charcoal kettle, offering several accessories to increase the functionally of the kettle and to maximize the enjoyment of cooking on a Weber. When the first generation model was discontinued in 1999, it represented a true loss to die hard charcoal grillers. With the introduction of M/T Gen 2, Weber fans can now rediscover the joy of cooking on the best equipped charcoal kettle on the market. A very informative and well documented comparison of the Gen 1 and Gen 2 models was written by the WKC’s own SixZeroFour. It is highly recommended reading and can be found here:
A repository for information regarding the Weber Master Touch kettle is an ongoing effort of the WKC. If you have something you would like to share, please feel free to send a message to WKC member “Winz”.