Was your exhaust vent all the way open? I like to keep mine all the way open - I also leave intakes open and control the heat by the size of the fire. I'm wondering how a lot of ash got on your chix. How clean is your cooker? Having tar like gunk your food makes me wonder what's going on in there.
If you're trying to get higher heat, lump is a better way to go than briqs, and yes, briqs leave more ash than lump.
Don't be discouraged - it's your first time out on chix - you'll get where you want to be if you keep at it.
50" Klose BYC, 22.5 WSM, Backwoods Chubby, UDS, 26" & 22.5" Weber Kettles, Jumbo Joe, WGA, WSJ/MUDS, Jumbo Old Smokey, a piece of expanded metal I throw over the fire pit sometimes, Stealthy Black & Vol Orange
Displaced East Tennesseean
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Former outlaw MOINK baller, now IMBAS Certified, but still lookin' over my shoulder.
"Relax, it's only BBQ.
" - Bigmista, 2013
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