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EGGtoberfest XVII - Mini-Max Debut

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Last year’s EGGtoberfest XVI marked the coming out party for the largest BGE introduced to date: the 30” (74 cm) diameter XXL. This year marked the introduction of a new Egg at the other end of the spectrum: The Mini-Max. Last year there were a total of 3 XXL’s in the wild at the show. This year the Mini-Max was was in greater supply. This blog will discuss the Mini-Max and some of what I heard about it making the rounds at EGGtoberfest. Let me also say: I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I don’t have the need for the portability or size that the Mini-Max or Mini or Small bring to the equation. So I am writing this more as a matter of interest, than as a preview of a product I want. There has been a lot of interest in this product, so I figured I would share what I have learned at EGGtoberfest with others who didn’t go to the show.


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This picture shows the 2013 debutant: the XXL (right) which was cooking 80 chicken wings. This years debutant the Mini-Max (left) is cooking 20 wings

DESCRIPTION:

So what is the Mini-Max? It is an Egg that sits on a table top like the Mini, but has the grill size of a small. Or put another way: It has the height of a Mini and the diameter of a Small. Translated into actual figures this means a 13” (33 cm) diameter grill like the Small vs. the 10” (25 cm) diameter grill on the Mini. This increases the cooking area 67 percent from 79” square inches (507 square cm) to 132 square inches (854 square cm). The Mini Max weighs 63 pounds (28 kgs) which is just over double the weight of the Mini which weighs 36 pounds (17 kgs) and about 75 percent the weight of the Small, 80 pounds (36 kg). The height of the Mini Max is 19 1/2” (49.5 cm).

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One difference between the Mini and the Mini-Max is the stand used for each. The Nest for the Mini is essentially a stand with 4 short approximately 6” (15 cm) long legs. The Mini-Max uses what is called a Egg Carrier which is a combination Table Nest and carrier. The base has short legs that raise the Mini-Max up off a table top (like a table nest) and the legs continue and extend up the sides of the ceramic base and end in a ring that falls just below the hinge band ring. This upper band has handles extending off the two sides to make moving the Mini-Max very easy.

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PRICE & AVAILABILITY:

The Mini-Max in the BGE Company Store tent at Eggtoberfest was shown with the Egg Carrier for an MSRP of $598.00. Availability is said to be November 1. This would be a good time to release it if they want the Mini-Max to end up under people’s Christmas trees this December. I will admit the price seemed a little on the high side to me, but like the other Eggs this price will most likely vary across the country. My question is really which Egg(s) might the Mini-Max be replacing. It just seems like there are three very similar models, with not much differentiation between them. The Mini-Max is priced very close to a Small and I just hope that doesn’t mean another round of price increases for the rest of the line. But this is pure speculation. The facts as of EGGtoberfest are: The Mini-Max will be available to buy on November 1st priced at $598.00 with an Egg carrier.

USE CASE:
I find it interesting that one of the reasons for developing the last two Eggs, the XXL and the Mini-Max both came from the restaurant industry and professional cooks. The XXL was built to fit the needs of high volume restaurants, catering businesses and professional BBQ teams. They all had needs for a large Egg for high volume events. The Mini-Max, while at the other end of the size spectrum, was also said to be something restaurants had a use case for. In talking to some of the folks at the Company Store in Tucker and out at Eggtoberfest they mentioned many restaurants were using one of more Minis in their kitchens set on countertops. They liked the ability to use it on top of a counter, as opposed to on a floor stand (Nest) like the larger models. This allowed them to get storage or refrigeration below as opposed to wasting the space with a floor stand. Space is always at a premium in a restaurant Kitchen. This way they get a countertop model like the Mini with the larger cooking area of the Small. A second use case is for people who do a lot of “grilling on the go”. This includes camping, tailgaters and people who enjoy taking day trips and cooking wherever their travels take them. I don’t fit into any of these categories any more, so I am not the target audience for this product. Still I find it a very interesting product.

OBSERVATIONS:
Here are personal observations and some things I picked up walking around EGGToberfest and listening to comments from people who had used the Mini-Max.
  • Price Tag: Just because I am not getting a Mini-Max myself, this doesn't mean I wasn't very curious to find out more information. Unlike last year when there was one of the new XXL's in the Big Green Egg Company Store tent, one on static display in the Marriot Evergreen lobby and one being cooked on at the end of the Dizzy Pig tent nearest the demo stage; there were many more Mini-Max’s. There were several on display in the Big Green Egg Company Store tent complete with the Price tag of $598 with the Egg Carrier. Some people were speculating that that price included plate setter. The two units I saw with price tags had no platesetter anywhere in sight-either in the Egg or on the table next to it. The price tags also specifically said Mini-Max with Egg Carrier. So I am going to chalk that up to just wishful thinking on their part.
  • Vertical Clearance: One thing I noticed was the platesetter seems quite a bit more shallow then the plate setter for Small. This would make sense since the base of the Mini-Max and the ceramic firebox of the Mini-Max is considerably shorter than the Small. What what this means is there doesn't seem to be a whole a lot of room to get a deep drip pan in there. It would have to be more like the depth of a 1/4 sheet pan. I am also wondering if using the platesetter on the Mini-Max will be at different experience then it is on the larger grills. There is far less vertical clearance meaning the heated horizontal surface of the platesetter will be fairly close to the grill grate.
  • Cooking Time: I will be curious to see what kind of cooking time you get on the Mini-Max. While the Mini-Max Sports the grill size of a Small, it has nowhere near the volume of a Small. In that regard it is closer to the Mini and it doesn't appear to have significantly more interior volume than the Mini. I am guessing the charcoal burn time is not going to be significantly longer than the Mini and certainly nowhere near that of the Small. While people may favor the size of the Mini-Max versus the Small in terms of portability, they may not like it so much when it comes to burn time.
  • Word of Mouth: There were several Mini-Maxes that had been seeded as a beta test units to several barbecue teams and longtime Big Green Egg users in use at various cooking tents. I stood back and listened to people ask questions about it to the people that had been using it. The beta testers seemed to really like it. I know the folks who are beta testers have a certain level of good standing with the Big Green Egg company. As a result they may not want to spoil their good standing by making bad comments about the grill. Still everything I heard was positive, not even the tiniest negative was heard. Dr. BBQ mentioned how his partner Sandy was kind of intimidated by the XXL when he was testing it last year. He mentioned she took to the Mini-Max immediately and didn't hesitate to try it out. It seems like everyone I saw that was beta testing a Mini-Max, were saying that they were planning on buying one when they were released.
  • Which Egg is Redundant?: When I first saw the announcement of the new Mini-Max last spring, my first question was what Egg is it going to replace? It just seemed like there were too many Eggs hovering around the same size and price point. It seem like there was room for two, but not three grills at that end of the product line. One of the more popular rumors making the rounds at EGGtoberfest, which was said to be started by some Egg dealers and distributors, was that the Small was destined to be discontinued with people being given credit towards a Mini-Max in the event for warranty issue. This just doesn't seem to make sense to me, particularly after seeing all three. Discontinuing the small would leave two smaller similarly sized Eggs in the lineup. I don't see the need for two models with a high degree of portability. The Small is a nice size unit for a home based Egg which can be used for longer low and slow cooks. The Mini-Max is good for short cooks, but I'm guessing it has nowhere near the burn time of the small. It will be fairly close to the Mini. Where the Small and the Mini-Max have the same grill size they can share some EGGcessories, at least the ones from the grill up. One thing that makes me suspicious is the pricing for the Mini-Max is so close to the Small, it makes me wonder if a price increase is in the works for the Small and the other girls above it. So I'm betting on the Small and the Mini-Max rounding out the small sized end of the product line, with the Mini disappearing over time. There is also a third possibility and that is the company lets people talk with their dollars. Whichever grills sell remain in the lineup, and the model that has bad sales over time may be on the chopping block.

CONCLUSION:
So there you have it: a mixture of preliminary information, rumors and wild ass guessing. I don't claim to be a journalist nor do I play one on TV. The big difference between what I just did in this blog and what a lot of so-called journalists do these days, is I admitted I don't have a clue about some of the things I am discussing. Time will tell the outcome of somebody's questions. The one thing I am pretty sure of is the Mini-Max should sell well.

SOME RELATED LINKS:

Here are some links to other blog entries in this series and several blog entries from my first visit to EGGtoberfest in 2013.


EGGtoberfest XVI - 2013
   EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 1 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.
   EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 2 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.

EGGtoberfest XVII - 2014
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MOTHERSHIP 2014 Blog Entry about my first visit to the Big Green Egg Company Store at their headquarters in Tucker, GA
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MEET & GREET 2014 Blog Entry about the second Meet & Greet held at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriot Resort. Did they fix some of theses from last year?
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - BGE COMPANY STORE TENT 2014 Blog Entry about the Mini-Max which had it’s coming out party at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - COOK’S AREA 2014 Blog Entry with some Big Picture information about the setup and what went on in the Cook’s Area at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - TIPS & LESSONS LEARNED 2014 Blog Entry with some Big Picture information about the setup and what went on in the Cook’s Area at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - SWAG BAG 2014 Blog Entry with some pictures and descriptions of what was in the EGGtoberfest XVII Swag Bag

   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - OFFICIAL VIDEO Web page containing the 2014 EGGtoberfest XVII video produced by the BGE Company

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