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Unread 07-21-2013, 09:59 PM   #1
LTG
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Red face Charred taste with boston butts on Gateway Drum

I'm having an issue when cooking butts on a Gateway Drum. Both times the butts have had a distinct charred taste to the bark.

I've tried multiple rubs with the same results.

Cook 1: 325* temps, Royal Oak lump with cherry chunks. Meat was on top rack closest to lid. Fat cap down. No diffuser. Charred taste. I did 2 butts that were 16 lbs combined. 2 diff rubs, neither one has a ton of sugar. I ASSUMED the charred taste was due to the fat dripping directly onto the coals.

Cook 2: Today, 300* temps, Royal Oak lump with cherry chunks. Fat cap down again. I put in a 3rd rack closest to charcoal basket with a foil wrapped pizza pan set on top of it to act as a diffuser. Meat cooked on top rack closest to lid. Both butts still had a pronounced charred/burnt taste.

I didn't foil or pan either butt until it was time to remove from cooker.

Thoughts?

I did 2 racks of spares that turned out phenomenal today though on same drum. They were foiled after 2.5 hours though. I've cooked butts on a 22.5" kettle, 22.5" wsm, 3 diff stick burners, a bws fatboy, etc and never had this issue.
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Unread 07-21-2013, 10:02 PM   #2
HeSmellsLikeSmoke
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What are the intake and exhaust vent setups you used?
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Unread 07-21-2013, 10:28 PM   #3
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Sounds like air flow issues to me.
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Unread 07-21-2013, 10:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeSmellsLikeSmoke View Post
What are the intake and exhaust vent setups you used?
Exhaust is wide open. Both intakes are at approx 15-20% open.
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Unread 07-21-2013, 10:43 PM   #5
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Went and looked at picture of a Gateway Drum Smoker, I see at least two large vents for intake and one large outlet chimney. First glance, looks like the smoker will work.

Charred taste is usually caused by creosote in the smoke, that points to a fire that is not burning cleanly. It can be as mentioned, an intake issue, of it can be from poor fire management else wise. Are you running the chimney wide open? It should be. Are you burning the fire long enough that the smoke is barely visible? It should be very light blue and see through. Are you letting the heat stabilize before putting on the meat, then letting it stabilize again before fussing with the vents? You should allow at least 30 minutes after putting on the meat, into a stable cooking environment, before fussing with the vents. (oops, simulpost)

At those temperatures, how much sugar is in your rub? A rub that is fine for ribs, will not be fine for a pork butt, at 325F. I have had no issues at up to 275F, but, there can be excessive darkening of brown sugar at 300F on a butt, that you do not see on ribs.
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Unread 07-21-2013, 11:07 PM   #6
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Your rub has to much sugar in it for that long of a cook at that temp and it is burning
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Unread 07-22-2013, 12:14 AM   #7
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Foil is your friend if you are cooking heavy meats direct on any drum IMO.

Personally, I love the taste of meats cooked direct over the coals with the fats dripping on them adding to the unique flavor, but its not a taste everyone enjoys. I found that out when I first started competing with Drums and cooked the Brisket and Butts without using foil until done and got many comment cards like "tastes like too much Liquid Smoke" or "Bark tastes like creosote". Once I started foiling those went away.

I still think a direct drum is the best Chicken cooker!
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Unread 07-22-2013, 07:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
Your rub has to much sugar in it for that long of a cook at that temp and it is burning
I'm guessing this is it, but did the drippings vaporize/burn when hitting the deflector? I had one setup where mine was getting too hot and causing similar unpleasantness as directly dripping on the fire.
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Unread 07-22-2013, 08:11 AM   #9
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I'm going to watch how I respond, but this is what you get when using PARTS of a design. It takes a complete thought to get the mission done, not just pieces here and there. Controlling or diverting the airflow will help. To do so is to use a difuser or smoker plate. Grease on coals suck when done too much. Grease vaporizing on a tuning plate or piece of metal will yield the desired results for a longer period of time and won't pull ashes up with the airflow. That's probably the charred taste you mention. Classic problem when you think you have a smoker when you actually have a grill with a lid. Hope I've expounded the correct way to something that bugs me dearly. Now I'll go back to building real smokers. Steve.
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Unread 07-22-2013, 08:56 AM   #10
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Five hundred for a flat black, one grate, bare bones UDS?
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Unread 07-22-2013, 09:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Five hundred for a flat black, one grate, bare bones UDS?
I saw one for $285 recently and thought that was steep. Ouch!
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Unread 07-22-2013, 09:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssbbqguy View Post
I'm going to watch how I respond, but this is what you get when using PARTS of a design. It takes a complete thought to get the mission done, not just pieces here and there. Controlling or diverting the airflow will help. To do so is to use a difuser or smoker plate. Grease on coals suck when done too much. Grease vaporizing on a tuning plate or piece of metal will yield the desired results for a longer period of time and won't pull ashes up with the airflow. That's probably the charred taste you mention. Classic problem when you think you have a smoker when you actually have a grill with a lid. Hope I've expounded the correct way to something that bugs me dearly. Now I'll go back to building real smokers. Steve.
Just to be clear a UDS is a true BBQ pit ( cooking over live fire) an off set is a Smoker supplies heat and smoke indirectly much like a smoke house, two different critters.
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Unread 07-22-2013, 09:40 AM   #13
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Please do not derail this thread guys. Im looking for input on how to correct this issue. Not debate what my drum cost or whether it is a "real" smoker.
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Unread 07-22-2013, 09:51 AM   #14
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Not trying to derail, but explain my reason for my answer. When fat drips on coals for too long your food tastes charred, should you have any upward airflow. If you're putting food on a cooker that's not burning clean, that will compound the problem. Part of my rant is about design, which is not your issue. Sorry for any confusion. And for those of you that still believe a smoker is direct, argue with yourselves. I was taught by masters and they said indirect only makes a smoker. I'll stick with that. Steve.
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Unread 07-22-2013, 10:18 AM   #15
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Sounds to me like excess drippings hitting the coals and vaporizing. That happes a lot with large cuts or fatty cuts like chicken or bacon. If cooking more than a little amount of the latter, things can get nasty pretty quick when the fat starts rendering out. The fix for this is a second grate with a diffuser or better yet a drip pan with water or sand in it.

Could be bad airflow though as others suggested. Question- I read they're website and they listed a "fire box liner". What is that exactly? Being that it's a drum and there's no firebox per se, just curious if this liner is restricting your bottom intakes in some way.
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