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Will the Grill
09-26-2012, 12:34 PM
Our team just finished cooking both the KCBS and back yard grilling comp at Oinktoberfest in Clarence, NY (suburb of Buffalo). We didn't do as well as hoped in the KCBS 37/65, but finished 5th out of 28 in the back yard grill comp. When we picked up our results packet we noticed there were 7 comment cards. This was the 1st time we had ever received comment cards so we were eager to see what they said. Here is what they had to say and what concerns us.

Ribs
Judge 1, beautifully done, bang on tender and firm, good flavor and tang Judge 2, Lighter fluid ruined the taste, perfect cook, nice looking.

Fish (corn flake crusted, pan seared sea bass with balsamic cherry glaze)
Judge 1, Mushy and over cooked, nice crust.
Judge 2, cooked perfectly, and taste fantastic

Pork (tenderloin stuffed with bacon, scallions and moz cheese)
Judge 1, Excellent
Judge 2, Lighter fluid taste , would be 9 without it. (scored 9,7,9)
Judge 3, nice flavor, but chewy

We can live with one judge thinking the fish was perfect and one said it was overdone and mushy. We can live with 3 judges scoring it a 9 in tenderness and one saying it was chewy. What has us concearned is two seperate judges eating two seperate meats said they tasted lighter fluid. Here is what I can tell you. Our smoker is 3 years old and lighter fluid had not once ever been in it or around it. What could cause two seperate judges to say that. We have a custom built offset reverse flow smoker like a Lang. We only burn lump charcoal and apple wood and somtimes we add a little hickory or mesquite. We did use mesquite on sunday but not a lot. Any thoughts on what would be causing a lighter fluid taste.

Podge
09-26-2012, 12:36 PM
Mesquite maybe or a mixed up box number.

hamiltont
09-26-2012, 12:41 PM
Creosote can give a "lighter fluid" like flavor... Some judges just don't know the difference...

Balls Casten
09-26-2012, 12:42 PM
Too much smoke. ????

Smoke Ring
09-26-2012, 12:51 PM
Welcome to the mysteries of competition BBQ judging.

Pigs on Fire
09-26-2012, 01:58 PM
A friend of mine got a lighter fluid comment card in Atlanta. He uses a Lang 84 and has never used lighter fluid.

Never use mesquite. If you didn't this time, I'm going to say that wasn't the cause. But just don't use it.

The craziest comment card I've seen yet was on brisket a month ago.... (not ours) "Tastes like pickle juice was added"...

Stoke&Smoke
09-26-2012, 02:38 PM
A judge with taste bud issues! We NEVER have used it, but had 2 cards over the years that said it.

Last year had a top 5 butt that one judge called "rancid tasting".:confused:

I don't put much stock in current card system
Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I897 using Tapatalk 2

nthole
09-26-2012, 02:56 PM
In my WSM, if I don't clean the pan after a couple of cooks, I've noticed before the 'drippings' that have collected and then begin to heat and sometimes burn will give off an oily, almost lighter fluid esq smell. So I've taken to being sure to scrape out the pan each time. If you have a drip pan in there somewhere perhaps that could be adding some unwanted flavor.

Possible conspiracy theorist would suggest it is possible the person BEFORE your entry each time WAS cooking on lighter fluid and this particular judge didn't realize his palate had been soured and didn't know how to cleanse it.

However, as far as comments cards go, I wouldn't get bent out of shape over it. We one got a comment card that simply said 'Beef tasted too beefy'. Wtf were we supposed to do with that? Make it taste more like chicken?

TheJackal
09-26-2012, 03:11 PM
What's a comment card?

fnbish
09-26-2012, 03:27 PM
It will make your head spin sometimes :loco:. The only comment card I got this year was a 9,9,9 and the judge said he "loved the spicy sauce." Only problem was he/she didn't put what meat category it was for. I have an idea of course but it could have been 2 of our turn ins.

Will the Grill
09-26-2012, 04:14 PM
[QUOTE=nthole;2225984]In my WSM, if I don't clean the pan after a couple of cooks, I've noticed before the 'drippings' that have collected and then begin to heat and sometimes burn will give off an oily, almost lighter fluid esq smell.

This is possible, we do not use a drip pan, we have a heat shield like a lang cooker. The weekend before the comp, we cooked a 73lb hog for a going away party on saturday and on sunday we cooked 60lbs of chicken and 2 fresh hams for a fundraiser at a Buffalo Bills tail gait party. We seldom clean the cooker going for the seasoned smell. Also the night before we cooked 2 briskets, 2 shoulders and 6 racks of ribs for the KCBS event.

DawgPhan
09-26-2012, 04:18 PM
most likely culprit is not running a clean fire the whole time. especially on a stick burner.

Outnumbered
09-26-2012, 04:45 PM
I've had that taste before with oil. Ive done pork chops with Italian dressing and the smoke mixed with that has gotten a bit of lighter fluid taste. Maybe the bacon grease could have done that?

richardnoodle
09-26-2012, 08:55 PM
maybe you got some of that apple cider on the wood.:puke:
good job on sunday!

Bunny
09-26-2012, 10:35 PM
Sometimes when you put sauce on your meat and there's still smoke running around in the cooker it can turn the sauce bitter.

CivilWarBBQ
09-27-2012, 05:45 AM
Other than actual petroleum products (either as lighter fluid or match light briquettes) the most common flavors I've seen people identify as "lighter fluid" are creosote, mesquite or other sharp flavored fuel, and marinades/sauces containing booze. The last one was the biggest surprise to me, but I guess teatotalers just won't like that bourbon and peach glaze no matter how tasty we think it is.

Rookie'48
09-27-2012, 10:02 AM
Any injection that has more than 25% alcohol might give that evil taste. Yep, been there, done that :oops:.

Will the Grill
09-28-2012, 08:36 AM
Thanks for the response, I'm thinking it's either the use of mesquite, or possible creosote. It was very windy and we had trouble keeping our temps up. Since we don't use alchohol in any of our injections, that not the culprite. The other culpret could be the smoker had been used quite a bit that last weekend and day before and defenitely had some residule grease in it.

Divemaster
09-28-2012, 03:52 PM
Creosote can give a "lighter fluid" like flavor... Some judges just don't know the difference...

most likely culprit is not running a clean fire the whole time. especially on a stick burner.

Thanks for the response, I'm thinking it's either the use of mesquite, or possible creosote. It was very windy and we had trouble keeping our temps up. Since we don't use alchohol in any of our injections, that not the culprite. The other culpret could be the smoker had been used quite a bit that last weekend and day before and defenitely had some residule grease in it.

We use our Lang for every comp and the first thing we do once we are setup is start a fire and clean her out good. Just because you are rubbing her down with a steel brush doesn't mean you are removing the 'Cured Flavor', it means you are removing all the stuff you don't want your food to smell/taste like.

As for your wind problem, we connected two pieces of thin plywood with hinges to act as a wind break. We also try to be very aware of what direction the wind is going to be blowing (Accuweather dot com is great for this information). Another thing that we found that works for us is a moving (or welding) blanket for the cooking chamber. This little bit of insulation can do wonders.

Sounds like you did great even with the challenges. Congrat's!!!