We've done 12-13 contests with a Gateway this year, and have never experienced any "charred flavor". Is your temp staying constant? Also, how often are you having the lid off? I've noticed that the temps will raise pretty quickly when the lid comes off. How many wood chunks are you using? Those things are so easy to use that it feels like a cheat code for barbecue, haha.
Gettin' Basted barbecue team