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LordlyMantis
01-08-2014, 02:43 PM
So I'm a little stuck in what I should do in regards to investing in a cooker for competition and thought I would reach out to the brethren for some opinions. I just got heavily into smoking about a year ago after getting my first pellet grill. Now after taking a trip to the royal last year I'm looking at doing competitions this year. My current pellet grill isn't large enough to be able to cook all the competition meats. I was looking at investing in something like a gravity fed charcoal smoker. My dilemma is whether to buy a small gravity fed smoker to use in conjunction with the pellet grill. Or do I sell the pellet grill and get a a larger gravity fed smoker. So I guess it boils down to can I effectively do all the competition meats on one smoker? I know there are plenty of teams that do it, but starting off would I be better off with more than one. Additionally even though I would like to do competition, the majority for my cooking is still going to be for friends and family so I don't want some large smoker that it's really practical for smaller use.

Thanks for the help in advance

cpw
01-08-2014, 02:56 PM
I just went through this same scenario, and settled on a single Superior SS1. If money wasn't an object, I would have preferred an SS2 and an SS3 because I would be able to cook at 2 different temps (or only fire up the small one for home use), but I think the SS1 will work like a champ.

To answer your question, I'd keep the pellet grill and buy a small/medium smoker to use in conjunction with it.

Smokin' D
01-08-2014, 03:06 PM
I have done competitions with multiple cookers and with just one. I prefer using just one cooker as then there is just one fire to be concerned with and just one cooker to move around and set up. I use and have placed well, many firsts, with my Good One Rodeo. It is an off-set, vertical charcoal cooker. Easily can do a comp on it, all four meats, and I use it for backyard cooking and catering too.
They have a smaller model called The Marshall which would work very well too. I did not go with an insulated cooker as I wanted to still be able to play with fire. Sleep is overrated!

Actually, I can get 10 hours overnight no problem with mine. Check them out if you want to see something different.

Here is a pic of the grate side as I was unpacking it. Sorry for the sales pitch, but I just can't help myself!
http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o101/RabNab/P5050404.jpg (http://s118.photobucket.com/user/RabNab/media/P5050404.jpg.html)

ewchippe
01-08-2014, 03:25 PM
I have been looking at the exact same scenario. I am actually leaning towards an Abes Smoker (from Detroit). I would probably also add a Pit Barrell Cooker for the chicken, but do all larger meats and ribs on it. Theirs are insulated vertical smokers. I don't know much about them, but they look pretty good. I wanted the SS-1, just cant see spending that much money just yet.

eggzlot
01-08-2014, 03:28 PM
how do you plan on getting the cooker to a competition? Pulling a trailer - open or closed? Laying something in the back of an SUV or pick up truck? If you want to go lean and light a lot of people are successful just on 2 WSM's, and those are a good size to have at home too to cook parties.

We compete with a Lang 84, its on a trailer already and we pack our SUVs with our gear. Others have enclosed trailers so a smoker (like a vertical unit) can go in the trailer along with your gear. Obviously need a big SUV/pickup truck to pull these trailers.

The pros to two smokers as said above is the ability to cook at different temps, use different woods, etc. For some cooking styles that matters, for other styles, it makes no difference.

Its a very personal choice, lots depends on your space requirements for transportation, and how you think you'll cook your meats. There is no perfect answer.

Most teams on here will get new cookers every few years to keep tinkering with their approach. For some reason we stick with the no sleep stick burnin' Lang....still wonder why sometimes http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif

LordlyMantis
01-08-2014, 03:29 PM
I've looked at the Good One numerous times and they are sold locally. My hesitation is that my pellet cooker has spoiled me on temp control. I was leaning towards the gravity fed for that reason.

LordlyMantis
01-08-2014, 03:31 PM
how do you plan on getting the cooker to a competition? Pulling a trailer - open or closed? Laying something in the back of an SUV or pick up truck? If you want to go lean and light a lot of people are successful just on 2 WSM's, and those are a good size to have at home too to cook parties.

We compete with a Lang 84, its on a trailer already and we pack our SUVs with our gear. Others have enclosed trailers so a smoker (like a vertical unit) can go in the trailer along with your gear. Obviously need a big SUV/pickup truck to pull these trailers.

The pros to two smokers as said above is the ability to cook at different temps, use different woods, etc. For some cooking styles that matters, for other styles, it makes no difference.

Its a very personal choice, lots depends on your space requirements for transportation, and how you think you'll cook your meats. There is no perfect answer.

Most teams on here will get new cookers every few years to keep tinkering with their approach. For some reason we stick with the no sleep stick burnin' Lang....still wonder why sometimes http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif

I'm still figuring out the logistics, but more than likely I'll be using an enclosed trailer with ramps.

eggzlot
01-08-2014, 03:36 PM
6x10 trailer? 8x20? what towing capacity does your truck have, how much can you fill the trailer with weight before its maxed out for towing, etc? Just rhetorical questions but logistics you need to figure out. I think you can see where I am going. Lots of options, almost too many options!

We currently use the Lang and cook everything in one cooker with one type of wood at 1 heat temp. For fun, if we were to change, maybe would go to 2 small insulated cookers, can get sleep, cook at different temps, etc.

And I bet we'll still finish middle of the pack anyways!


Personally, I'd stay away from pellets only because of power source, you have to hope the competition provides reliable power or you need to invest in a good generator and the cost of upkeep on a generator, etc. MANY teams do it, its very possible to do with good results, just something that does not interest me personally.

RumRunner_1492
01-08-2014, 04:34 PM
So I'm a little stuck in what I should do in regards to investing in a cooker for competition and thought I would reach out to the brethren for some opinions. I just got heavily into smoking about a year ago after getting my first pellet grill. Now after taking a trip to the royal last year I'm looking at doing competitions this year. My current pellet grill isn't large enough to be able to cook all the competition meats. I was looking at investing in something like a gravity fed charcoal smoker. My dilemma is whether to buy a small gravity fed smoker to use in conjunction with the pellet grill. Or do I sell the pellet grill and get a a larger gravity fed smoker. So I guess it boils down to can I effectively do all the competition meats on one smoker? I know there are plenty of teams that do it, but starting off would I be better off with more than one. Additionally even though I would like to do competition, the majority for my cooking is still going to be for friends and family so I don't want some large smoker that it's really practical for smaller use.

Thanks for the help in advance

I only have one smoker. I use the Stump's Jr. It is a great smoker and I can easily do a competition only using it. I have to manage my clock a bit more so I do my brisket and pork over night and around 8 am take them off and put them in a cooler then work on my ribs and chicken. I could put them all in there at once if I wanted to but I find this easier.

This smoker is the perfect size for my patio and I can cook a single chicken or much more if I want to. I couldn't be happier with my decision. If you have any questions let me know. Not to mention Stump's was great to deal with.

Mr Goodtimes BBQ Club
01-08-2014, 08:05 PM
I have a Southern Q and I love it. Best money that I have ever spent in bbq.

FatCoyote
01-08-2014, 08:31 PM
This is what I am now going to be using. I have it set to cook in the oven at 350 for hot items like yard bird, 265-255 for ribs in the main chamber and 220 in the upright for brisket and butts. So far so good. I am looking forward to the first comp with the new rig after a run each weekend between now and March.

http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/b571/FatCoyote/FatcoyoteHome_zpsc323263a.jpg

joemat
01-08-2014, 08:39 PM
I only have one smoker. I use the Stump's Jr. It is a great smoker and I can easily do a competition only using it. I have to manage my clock a bit more so I do my brisket and pork over night and around 8 am take them off and put them in a cooler then work on my ribs and chicken. I could put them all in there at once if I wanted to but I find this easier.

This smoker is the perfect size for my patio and I can cook a single chicken or much more if I want to. I couldn't be happier with my decision. If you have any questions let me know. Not to mention Stump's was great to deal with.

Glad to hear it. After 6 months of research and speaking to pitmasters at several competitions I too chose the Stumps Jr. Can't wait for the delivery.

MattG
01-08-2014, 08:47 PM
I'm very happy with my Stumps Stumpster XL.

http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu288/MattG902/image_zps0a5f1635.jpg (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/MattG902/media/image_zps0a5f1635.jpg.html)

http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu288/MattG902/image_zpsb88c0300.jpg (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/MattG902/media/image_zpsb88c0300.jpg.html)

TailGateJoecom
01-08-2014, 09:23 PM
I got into comp smoking last season, did 3 large comps. I went and bought a smoker that had enough capacity to handle all my comp meat plus the capacity to cook enough for the tailgate parties I do. I went with an FEC120. Can't say enough good things about it, love it!!
I am thinking now it would be nice to have 2 smokers to play with some different temps, and I am caught between a yoder ys1500 and just getting a second fec120.

JD McGee
01-08-2014, 09:36 PM
We cook on one MAK 2 Star General and one Big Poppa Drum Smoker and haul them all over the country in a 6x10 Interstate trailer. :cool:

Kave Dweller
01-09-2014, 08:26 AM
I cook on 3 different cookers, last year was 2 backwoods and a stumps. This year will be three backwoods. I like the flexibility of kicking one cooker up in temp if I have something falling behind the schedule and I vary temps for different meats.

What ever you decide practice your plan before you head out to a comp. What works on paper doesn't always work in reality.

BMerrill
01-09-2014, 09:12 AM
If you want to stay with pellet cookers then the FEC-100 and the Yoder 1500 are the cream of the crop of comp smokers. I cook with 2 Traeger Texas at comps because I owned them before doing comps. IMO the pellet cookers are great for chicken and ribs, but don't impart enought smoke flavor to the larger meats. Have used lower starting temperatures and the Amaz-N-tube smoker for added smoke, but the smoke flavor is still lacking. With that said, I too have been looking at getting a gravity feed unit for the larger meats. There is a local company to me, BQ Grills, that makes some fine units that are at the top of my short list. I would add the Stoker Power Draft System for temp control making it much like a set it and forget it pellet grill. I too am spoiled, just don't function well without a little sleep at comps.

Zig
01-09-2014, 09:45 AM
When I started competing 5 years ago I wanted a cooker that I could run two different temps and control them. I could not find what I wanted so I built my own. It is a charcoal/stick burner. Its not a gravity feed but it works well. Check it out www.zigscookers.com (http://www.zigscookers.com)

LordlyMantis
01-09-2014, 11:53 AM
If you want to stay with pellet cookers then the FEC-100 and the Yoder 1500 are the cream of the crop of comp smokers. I cook with 2 Traeger Texas at comps because I owned them before doing comps. IMO the pellet cookers are great for chicken and ribs, but don't impart enought smoke flavor to the larger meats. Have used lower starting temperatures and the Amaz-N-tube smoker for added smoke, but the smoke flavor is still lacking. With that said, I too have been looking at getting a gravity feed unit for the larger meats. There is a local company to me, BQ Grills, that makes some fine units that are at the top of my short list. I would add the Stoker Power Draft System for temp control making it much like a set it and forget it pellet grill. I too am spoiled, just don't function well without a little sleep at comps.

That's right on track with what I was planning to do if I kept the pellet grill, use it for the ribs and chicken and then used the gravity fed for the brisket. I'll have to check out add BQ grills to my list to research :) For as much meat as we raise in Nebraska, you'd think there would be a few more grill manufacturers close by. I have definitely been looking at temp control systems as well. The older I get the more I need some regular sleep.

MikeJ65
01-09-2014, 03:59 PM
I've got nothing against the gravity smokers and will probably own one at some point in time. However, I think my suggestion for you short term would be to get a second, fairly inexpensive pellet grill. Starting out, you should keep things as simple as possible. There is enough to worry about without learning another type of cooker. Once you are fairly happy with all four meats, you can bring in a gravity, basket, or drum cooker and start doing one meat in that.

Aside from an offset, which is going to have multiple temperature zones, doing a comp on a single cooker is challenging. For example, you can't raise the temp to catch up on brisket without affecting your rib cook.

RumRunner_1492
01-09-2014, 04:23 PM
I've got nothing against the gravity smokers and will probably own one at some point in time. However, I think my suggestion for you short term would be to get a second, fairly inexpensive pellet grill. Starting out, you should keep things as simple as possible. There is enough to worry about without learning another type of cooker. Once you are fairly happy with all four meats, you can bring in a gravity, basket, or drum cooker and start doing one meat in that.

Aside from an offset, which is going to have multiple temperature zones, doing a comp on a single cooker is challenging. For example, you can't raise the temp to catch up on brisket without affecting your rib cook.

I really don't think it is very challenging at all. I spoke with quite a few teams that used a single gravity fed smoker for competitions before I decided to go that route. I cook my pork and brisket starting around midnight and pull them off around 8 am. That temp is at 250 then I bump the smoker to 300 for ribs and chicken. If I need the pork or brisket to stay in longer that is not a problem since there is plenty of room. My big meats stay in a cooler wrapped in a towel but they have no problem resting that long.

At the end of the day I have one smoker to maintain and watch. I also only have one to load and unload. When I am done I wheel it to the back patio and use it there as well. I might eventually get another smoker in the future but I see absolutely no reason to at this point. Just my 2 cents.

Eggspert
01-09-2014, 05:16 PM
Yoder makes a pellet smoker that I have heard amazing things about. Also Fast Eddy makes a larger pellet smoker. You enjoy using your current pellet cooker and like your results, why not look for a larger pellet cooker for competitions? Lot's of people have excellent results with pellet cookers. Or if you don't want to spend a lot of money, what about getting another pellet cooker just like the one you currently own. Then you know how to use it. If you decide you want one larger cooker down the road then sell the two and get one large one. Since you are new to competitions, buying another small cooker would be less of an investment just starting out!

Eggspert

LordlyMantis
01-09-2014, 09:46 PM
Part of the reason getting something other than a pellet cooker appeals to me is because it is different. It gives me the opportunity to see if I like the results better on something other than a pellet cooker. As BMerril pointed out there is a school of thought that larger cuts of meat develop better flavors over charcoal or wood. One of the competition class instructors I had said it was due to the density of the wood burning. I have no idea if that's true but it sounded good.

Untraceable
01-10-2014, 06:26 AM
The good thing
after a few contests you'll have a better picture of what you will want/need for a contest cooker. Everyone cooks a little different. Odds are with whatever you get this year, you may want a tweak here or there for next year.

LordlyMantis
01-10-2014, 02:15 PM
The good thing
after a few contests you'll have a better picture of what you will want/need for a contest cooker. Everyone cooks a little different. Odds are with whatever you get this year, you may want a tweak here or there for next year.

I'm sure that's true, for that reason and at the end of the day, aren't we all addicted to "toys" there is always something, shinier, better and cooler.

pjayt
01-10-2014, 02:46 PM
:clap2:here is my baby stick burner on one end charcoal on the other

Untraceable
01-10-2014, 03:17 PM
I'm sure that's true, for that reason and at the end of the day, aren't we all addicted to "toys" there is always something, shinier, better and cooler.

True. I got 2 birds stoned at once this year.
Went into the season with a G2 Chubby and a wsm for ribs and brisket. I found I didnt like anything above ribs (on the g2 you can only get 2 per rack) cause the drips would ruin the appearance and they cooked slightly faster on top. and I realized the G2 ran and cooked much more even than a wsm, that I wanted a cooker that could do 3 racks of ribs comfortably with nothing above, and 1-2 briskets but cooked as even as an insulated reverse flow.

plus I wanted something shiny :decision:
Got a Humphreys Cube for 2014

Im sure next fall Ill have something else latest and greatest to ogle over again. lol

EverettBBQ
01-10-2014, 08:27 PM
Love my Rebel 17:clap2::clap2:
Can go up to the 23 or 27:mod:

LordlyMantis
01-10-2014, 09:39 PM
Love my Rebel 17:clap2::clap2:
Can go up to the 23 or 27:mod:

The Rebel is actually on my short list. Ive heard good things about them and its one of the easiest gravity feds to get around here. But I haven't had any luck getting a response from them yet.

mikerobes
01-12-2014, 09:39 PM
Southern Q, they have won over 40 GC in 2013, including The SAMs club national with Killer B's. Who also, along with the owner and Swiggin Pig. Are hosting 3 tell all classes. We had 2 GC and reserve in just 12 contest last year with Southern Q gravity. Can't wait for the class as well. Good luck with whatever you decide