Seriously. I think that there are pros and cons of each that can be adjusted to and overcome. Yes, kbb doesn't burn as hot. Nothing that opening your air vent up a little more can't overcome. Yes, kbb produces more ash, nothing a little higher basket can't fix. Yes, lump will fluctuate a little more in temp due to the irregular sizes, nothing a little more tolerance and ignoring the thermometer can't overcome. Maybe the all natural briquettes with their regular size and no nasty chemicals are the answer? Nah, they don't have as long of a burn, but that's nothing that putting a little bit more charcoal in the basket can't fix. ... etc.
Championship winning cooks have used both kbb and lump. Several respected members here use either with great success. So then how can it be as bad as some want to make it out to be???
That said .... in my drum, I could never taste any difference between kbb and lump. A buddy of mine with a WSM reports the same. From posts here, I believe most are the same way. I'm guess that if the charcoal is allowed to preheat, burns clean and is indirect, you're not going to taste the difference.
BUT, when I got the Pit Barrel and did ribs. The first rack of ribs, lighting the kbb with lighter fluid like the directions, I had off taste on the first 3 - 4 ribs closest to the fire. Yuck. I figured it was the lighter fluid. The next rack a few days later, tried again but used a chimney and kbb. Same results. Good flavor up at the top of the barrel, but the bones closest to the fire had a chemically taste. I didn't expect it. It wasn't a bias. I couldn't believe it was the charcoal, since I never had problems with kbb. But, then I did a third rack with lump and the off taste was gone.... 3 racks isn't exactly scientific, but enough for me.
I'm starting to think that there might be something to the distaste for kbb, but I only think it might have value if you're cooking direct and closer to the flame.
I bought 4 more bags kbb at the sale recently, so it isn't totally dead to me. And, I have two bags of the new Cowboy lump in the shed, which I'm not that crazy about either. My bags have huge pieces and lots of little shards. If I don't break the big pieces up, it burns too irregularly. Messy Pain. I keep thinking I need to go back to using the Royal Oak briquette. I always had good results with that.
I'm tired of the it's the charcoal's fault cop-out responses.
Proudly Smoking on a UDS, PBC &
Accidental Winner of the 2012 "Saucy" Throwdown.