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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 01-27-2014, 12:19 AM   #1
snowocean
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Been smoking with a Brinkman Vertical Water Smoker for about 3 years now. One consistent problem I have is my food tends to be heavy on the smoke. Did a bone in turkey breast tonight and family raved about, admittedly it was quite good. Smoked for about 4 hours and finished in the oven...........but it wasn't the mild smoke level I was shooting for.

Was curious if others have ran into this? What are common mistakes newbies make? I definitely have a hard time maintaining a steady temp. After about 2 hours it shoots down and I end up loading it with charcoal trying to get the temp up. I have a feeling this is a mistake, but can't find any good info to validate.....or Better yet how to keep it from happening. I am starting to think I should I need to drill mor holes I the charcoal pan and just plan on adding about 10 coals per hour.

Thoughts?
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:30 AM   #2
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Very sloppy presentation, but here is a pic of finished product:
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File Type: jpg image.jpg (76.8 KB, 185 views)
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:36 AM   #3
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A couple of things... 1) What kind of wood are you using? 2) Are you letting the smoke clean up before adding your meat? 3) When adding new charcoal, are you pre-lighting it?

Those are the three things that come to mind immediately.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:10 AM   #4
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To add to that, is the exhaust wide open? Are your wood splits fully dry and cured?
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sliding_billy View Post
A couple of things... 1) What kind of wood are you using? 2) Are you letting the smoke clean up before adding your meat? 3) When adding new charcoal, are you pre-lighting it?

Those are the three things that come to mind immediately.
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Originally Posted by Diesel Dave View Post
To add to that, is the exhaust wide open? Are your wood splits fully dry and cured?
I had used one a long time ago when I first started.

YES, they do burn through charcoal because they many air leaks which makes the coals harder to control. If there is too much smoke I would start with the first 2 items which were pointed out above. 1) Start your charcoal in a chimney and add it AFTER they start to appear orange in color. 2) make sure your exhaust is fully open all the time.

From there if it is still to smokey in flavor try reducing the amount of wood that you add. A smaller smoker will not require as much wood to flavor the meat. Lastly all charcoal is not created equal, many have additives than can cause heavy flavors to the meat. In most circumstances it is not noticeable, but it can be more pronounced in smaller smokers, thus putting the charcoal in after it has started to turn orange.

Keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:09 AM   #6
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To build on IamMadMan ;Chicken sucks up smoke like a sponge Cut back on the wood If your just doing a bird 1 man fist chunk is more than enough to get the job done. If your not using lump you should really give it a try, It burns much cleaner less chance of over smokin.
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:20 AM   #7
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A few things come to mind.
1) Use the right type of wood for your meat...don't use too strong for poultry.

2) Don't use too much wood

3) Try to keep a small hot fire vs a bigger smoldering fire.

4) What Diesel Dave said...exhaust needs to be wide open.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:45 PM   #8
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To answer some questions before asking a few more:

1. Used hickory yesterday. From the sounds of it too much. Started with 3 chunks and added a few more as the cook went on. It was a little cool and windy in Denver yesterday and I added the extra chunks to keep the temp up.
2. Royal Oak Briquettes. Normally use Kingsford, but the RO was about the half the price and I figured I would give it a shot.
3. I am letting the fire settle a little before adding the meat, but not as much as I probably should. Once it gets to about 150 it goes in, but I am guessing I should wait a little longer. Will definitely wait until the temp stabilizes before adding meat next time. I have sort of suspected this as an issue prior, but haven't been disciplined enough about it.
4. Exhaust is wide open and I believe the wood to be dry and cured.
5. When adding coals I add them unlit.
6. Haven't used lump yet, but it sounds like I should definitely try it.

Now a couple questions:

1. It sounds like adding unlit coals is maybe not the best idea. I am honestly a little surprised. Isn't the minion method basically doing that? If so is it an issue because I have a less efficient smoker?
2. Definitely want a new smoker for father's day this year. Will unlit coals be an issue in a more efficient smoker? Specifically thinking about a Kamado Joe or WSM. thoughts?
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:10 PM   #9
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The Minion is a little bit different because the coals are heating to the point of firing underneath the lit ones instead of lighting cold as would happen when throwing them onto a lit bed of coals. That being said, some people do have an issue with the acrid taste even from the Minion method.

Ran a WSM for a long time, and yes you will still want to add lit coals if you need to. The difference will be that you shouldn't need to add coals except in extreme cases because you have a more efficient smoker.
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:19 PM   #10
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Back to my point # 1...use the right type of wood with your meat. Hickory is not the best wood for poultry.

Apple or other fruit woods is a good choice...other light smoking woods.
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:19 PM   #11
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Here are my thoughts:
1. Are you using the water pan? If you are, try a cook without water.
2. You should be able to load up your cooker and do a Minion style burn and get several hours before needing to add more fuel.
3. Try a cook without any wood chunks to set a base level, then add 1 chunk each cook until you reach your desired amount of smoke flavor. Keep in mind that different types of meat saturate with smoke differently.
4. Run your cooker for about an hour before you put your meat on. I know this seems like a waste of good fuel, but start here and adjust as your figure out your cooker. I don't put my meat on the smoker until I get that "Thin Blue Smoke" or "TBS" everyone talks about. I frequently get the cooker up to temp way before the TBS sets in.
5. Adding unlit coals is not the same as the Minion Method. When using the Minion Method the unlit coal are heated up and not cold. Cold fuel causes the thick white smoke, thus the reason for waiting for TBS before adding meat to the cooker.
6. You could do just fine with your smoker, a few tweaks and mods here and there and you could have something you can really enjoy. If you are set on a new smoker it is going to depend on your budget. I ended up building a UDS because I couldn't decide on what I wanted to spend my money on and I wasn't sure the type of smoke I wanted to use. I've been using my UDS for over a year now and don't plan or need to upgrade anytime soon.

good luck.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:29 PM   #12
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For poultry I use Stubbs only, no wood. It comes out juuuust right!
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
To build on IamMadMan ;Chicken sucks up smoke like a sponge Cut back on the wood If your just doing a bird 1 man fist chunk is more than enough to get the job done. If your not using lump you should really give it a try, It burns much cleaner less chance of over smokin.

There's your key to success......
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Old 02-17-2014, 02:56 PM   #14
snowocean
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Wanted to thank everyone who posted here and give a quick update. Been real cold in Denver since this smoke and haven't had a chance to try some new techniques until yesterday. Did some ribs and as suggested used mostly fruit wood and waited until pit was stabilized to add meat. Never added coals unless they were already lit in my chimney.

Results were quite a bit better flavorwise.......ribs were a little tough. The meat never fully retreated from the bone for some reason. It was cool and windy, my pit averaged between 200 and 210........lower than my normal smokes. I used briquettes I had in the garage since I am a tight ass, but I am thinking lump makes more sense for me. Will certainly be trying that out.

I will be using even less wood next time, but considering where I was I actually feel good about progress. The tenderness of the ribs is a little discouraging, but it has never been an issue before. I am thinking the weather threw me off a little and it is a lesson learned.

Probably won't be able to smoke next weekend, but my mom and brothers will be in town the weekend after that. Weather permitting we will do whole chickens! Going to try an Almond/Grape blend for (2) whole chickens........I am sure I won't be able to talk them out of adding the beer can though.
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:28 PM   #15
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You should probably be hotter than 200 to 210.
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