There are a lot of pellet grill manufacturers, but few have as big of a cult following as Grilla Grills.
You may or may not have heard of them, and you definitely haven’t seen them in any stores. Grilla Grills is a direct-to-consumer grill manufacturer that set out to design a pellet grill that stood out from the rest on the market, and with that in mind – the Grilla Grills Alpha Connect was born.
I was curious about the design so when Grilla offered to send us the Grilla Alpha Connect I was excited to try it out. In this review, I’m going to be my experience thus far, and let you know whether it lives up to the cult following they have grown over the last seven years.
Grilla Grills sent me this grill for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Overview and first impressions
I’ve smoked on a lot of different pellet grills, and I’ve never seen anything quite like the Grilla Alpha Connect. Instead of a traditional half-barrel design that you see on most pellet grills, the Grilla Alpha Connect is more of an upright unit with a unique design.
If you’re used to a standard pellet grill design, the Grilla may look a little funny – I’ll admit I was a bit worried that the odd shape would be gimmicky, but I quickly realized I was wrong.
This grill is rock solid when it comes to construction. You can tell just from looking at the grill that Grilla uses high-quality materials. The body of the grill is made from heavy-duty stainless steel, and the exterior of the grill has a beautiful powder-coated finish that will withstand years of use without major wear and tear on the exterior.
Specifications of the Grilla Grills Alpha Connect:
|Dimensions:||44”H x 31.5”W x 29.5”D|
|Cooking Space:||488 sq. in.:|
346 sq. in. – main cooking area
142 sq. in. – upper cooking area
|Hopper Capacity:||20 lbs|
|Temperature Range:||180°F to 500°F|
|Grill Material:||Powder-coated stainless steel|
|Grate Material:||1/4-inch stainless steel rod|
|Wheels:||5” rubber wheels|
(standard American 3-prong)
|Price:||Check Latest Price|
As I started to mess around with the grill, I found that I really liked the way they designed the sliding lid.
The handle has a comfortable, heat-resistant metal coil that wraps around the outside, making it very easy and comfortable to hold in your hand. The lid opens with little effort yet still feels secure and insulated when the grill is shut.
Another thing I noticed while I was doing the burn-in and seasoning on the grill is that there is a small glass window on the front of the grill that allows you to see the fire burning in the firepot while you are cooking. I’m not sure this is really a necessary feature, but it sure is cool to look at and provides some nice ambiance when cooking at night.
One thing I didn’t really love about the design is the location of the side trays. Due to the circular design of the grill, they are located further back on the body of the grill towards where the hopper is. If you have a lot of open space around your grill then this won’t be a big issue, but I found it a little awkward to try to set something down on the trays, then reach around the entire grill to get to it while I was cooking inside of the chamber.
Another really cool feature that impressed me about the Grilla is they have an integrated Temperature Safety Shutdown feature. If the unit exceeds 615°F or gets below 150°F for an extended period of time, the grill will automatically initiate the shutdown mode and an error message is displayed. I found this to be a really great safety feature.
Grilla Alpha Connect key features:
- Wireless Alpha Connect Control Board – the Grilla Alpha Connect allows you full control of your grill directly from your phone. You can monitor temperature and set grill and probe temperature alarms.
- Set ‘n Forget Digital Control System
- Backlit Easy Read Control Board
- 180°F to 500°F (in 5-degree increments)
- Included meat probe connected to control board for easy monitoring
- Stainless Steel firepot
- Double wall insulation
- Industry Exclusive TempTamer Feature – diminishes effect on grill temperature when opening and closing the lid.
- Swing Lid – keeps heat inside of the cooking chamber when checking food. The lid can also be left partially open as needed without the need to prop it open. The lid is light enough to be lifted with one hand and very little effort.
- Front pivot wheel with foot lever for easy moving
What I like:
- Heavy-duty construction & double-wall insulation
- Ease of opening/closing the lid
- Generous smoke output compared to other pellet grills
- Steady temperature holding and accurate temperature readings
- Bluetooth connectivity to monitor your cook remotely
What I don’t like:
- The location of the side trays are too far back; difficult to utilize due to the location
- The drip can is a basket, so you have to put a can or foil into the basket to utilize (not included)
- Smaller cooking chamber, not the type of grill you can cook multiple things on at once
Overall, I’m definitely impressed with the design of the Grilla Alpha Connect. It’s unique, but the design and construction quality are spot-on.
Unboxing and assembly of the Grilla Alpha Connect
The Grilla was hands down the easiest pellet grill assembly that I’ve ever experienced. Seriously – the assembly page in their manual is one single diagram on how to mount the side trays, that’s it.
The grill comes delivered on a pallet in a box, and the actual grill itself is fully assembled when it delivers. The only thing you have to do is to remove the cooking grate and drip pan from the cooking chamber and, remove the protective packaging, then install the side trays on both sides of the grill. The whole process took about 5-10 minutes.
Firing up the Grilla for the first time
Starting the Grilla is a super easy process that only takes the touch of a few buttons, but that is the case with most pellet grills. I was able to fit an entire 20lb bag of pellets in the hopper, so the capacity there is fantastic.
When you fire up the grill for the first time, you need to do an initial burn-in process (just like every grill you buy) to remove any chemicals or debris left from the manufacturing process. You just remove the cooking grate, the drip tray, and the drip bucket then push the ON button to start up the grill. After about 1-2 minutes the ignitor will start glowing a light red color, then you will start to see pellets drop into the firepot.
Once a few pellets have hit the firepot and you’ve confirmed that the auger is operating properly, just shut off the grill and replace the drip tray, grill grate, and drip bucket. Fire up the grill to 450°F and let it smoke for about 45 minutes to an hour – then it’s ready to cook on!
Cooking on the Grilla Alpha Connect
For my first cook on the Grilla, I decided to go with a rack of pork spare ribs. I typically take around 4 hours to smoke a rack of ribs, so I knew they would be a good way to determine how the grill operates over the course of time.
I fired it up to 225°F and it took about 10-15 minutes to complete the start-up process and get up to temperature. This is pretty standard across most pellet grills that I’ve used, so the Grilla is right around the industry standard in that regard.
Once my ribs were on the grates, I shut the lid and just let them smoke.
One thing I noticed about the Grilla is that it puts off a lot more smoke than I’m used to, but not in a bad way. As the grill works to maintain temperature, the smoke output fluctuates and I was definitely impressed with the amount of smoke that was hitting my ribs.
I would say it’s the most consistent smoke that I’ve seen out of a standard pellet grill without other fuel sources (e.g. wood/charcoal).
As for maintaining temperature, the Grilla did a great job and hovered between 220°F and 230°F the entire time I was cooking. A 5°F swing in either direction from the temperature setting is honestly really impressive and I believe the heavy-duty, double-wall insulation of the grill is the reason it holds temperature so well.
I wrapped the ribs around the 2 hour mark, let them smoke for another hour, then opened them up and let them smoke unwrapped with a light sauce for the final hour.
The ribs turned out beautifully and had a prominent smoke flavor that impressed me. I generally find that pellet grills lack smoke flavor compared to my offset smokers and barrels, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice, even and distinct smoky flavor throughout my meat from the Grilla.
Should you buy a Grilla Grills Alpha Connect?
Honestly, this grill is pretty darn cool. I was immediately impressed by the build quality and the unique design, as well as the consistent temperature control and accuracy. The smoke output was extremely generous compared to other grills I’ve used and I was able to achieve a great flavor on my food.
The grill is also a great option for a smaller space due to its upright design. It’s much narrower than a traditional pellet grill and doesn’t take up a lot of space, relatively speaking. It is also easy to move around because of the food pedal installed that allows you to move the grill around with ease.
Depending on your cooking style/preference, the area of the cooking space may be a little smaller than what you are used to. You could easily fit a whole pork butt or a brisket on the grill, but if you wanted to cook multiple things at one time you may have some issues with space.
Overall, I think this grill is a great option as both a first-time pellet grill or an addition to your existing backyard arsenal. It’s unique, well-constructed, and does a fantastic job at smoking meat.
Also, because Grilla is a direct-to-consumer company, you are going to be able to save some money without foregoing build quality. We’ve also done a review of the Grilla Primate, a gas grill that converts into a full-sized griddle.
You won’t be able to find a Grilla in a local store. Still, their shipping lead times are extremely reasonable, and at-home assembly is virtually nonexistent because the grill comes 99% pre-assembled.
Grilla was recently acquired by American Outdoor Brands also owns Meat Your Maker! We’ve reviewed several of their products, like their meat grinder, vacuum sealer and meat slicer and always found them to be good value.