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View Full Version : ?s for all you Weber Kettle Smokers


ChefJRD
10-06-2015, 11:48 AM
I found a deal on C-list for a nice Weber Gold 22.5" kettle for $25, and if everything works out, I'm going to pick it up tonight. :thumb: I'd like to smoke on it, as I've been jonesing for a smoker like a WSM, but can't find any locally for cheap, and they're not in my budget new.

I've been looking at all the great posts from the Roadmap to smoking setups on the grill. My first question is, is it pretty easy to get thin blue smoke? Does it take long to get? I know the WSM takes 20 mins or so to stop billowing.

Next, when lighting it up, do you put the intakes full throttle and then choke it down when it's about the right temp, or do you choke it down from the get go? Does it depend on the method of lighting used? IE: ring of fire, minion, snake, etc.

Final question, for now, is how many of you gasket your kettle so it's super airtight? I saw some ideas like binder clips, aluminium foil, etc. What do you guys use?

Thanks for all your help. I've read quite a bit, and if you know of a useful thread, please post it, I'm always willing to read more. I'll post pics of the kettle after I get it tonight. I'd love to do a butt or two on it tomorrow and start the learning curve. :pray:

landarc
10-06-2015, 12:02 PM
I always let my kettle warm up for at least an hour, it uses up a little fuel, but, I get a good stable smoke that way. I usually set the bottom vent for the temperature I am looking for, then leave the top vents wide open. I do leave the lid off for the first 15 minutes after dumping the coals in. Once the lid goes on, things level out nicely rather quickly. I use grease for my seal, once you've run a few cooks, the buildup will seal the kettle nicely. To be honest, I have never had an issue with a kettle not working great when brand new, do not drop the lid though

rickv14623
10-06-2015, 12:09 PM
@landarc nailed it once again. Top vents open, control at bottom. No need to seal it up. Minion or snake and you can get hours of slo n lo. Yes, I have used a waterpan in the middle of the snake to help as a thermal mass at times.

AZRaptor
10-06-2015, 12:14 PM
I usually use the snake method and put a shallow pan of water under the meat being cooked (usually pork butt for me). Some have see instances where certain sections of the snake burn hotter on performers that have the gas tube coming into the base, but if this is just a standard kettle you probably won't see that, and even when I have had that happen it hasn't thrown the cook off.

landarc
10-06-2015, 12:19 PM
I actually like to line the fire grate where there is no charcoal with foil, this prevents too much air from drafting around the fire.

ChefJRD
10-06-2015, 12:41 PM
Thanks for the responses guys. I saw that foil idea elsewhere, I like that and plan on using it. Can't wait to start playing... I mean... cooking, of course.

Roguejim
10-06-2015, 01:21 PM
I must be the odd one out because I can't keep the temp below 300F with the top vent wide open. This is with a 2-2-1 fuse. I will have the lower vents barely cracked, and the temp still creeps up unless I close the top vent about 1/3-1/2 way. One Brethren opined that kettles let in too much air, and two of the bottom vents should be taped over with furnace tape. I have not yet tried this, though.

jsperk
10-06-2015, 01:26 PM
I must be the odd one out because I can't keep the temp below 300F with the top vent wide open. This is with a 2-2-1 fuse. I will have the lower vents barely cracked, and the temp still creeps up unless I close the top vent about 1/3-1/2 way. One Brethren opined that kettles let in too much air, and two of the bottom vents should be taped over with furnace tape. I have not yet tried this, though.

I do the same way and I have to close my bottom vent 3/4 of the way shut or I will be over 300 easily.

dadsr4
10-06-2015, 01:30 PM
Little to add to Landarc's post. I use the minion method with two bricks for any smoke under 8 hours.
http://i1193.photobucket.com/albums/aa345/dadsr4/Firebricks.jpg
It's easier to catch the temp you want as the kettle is warming up, rather than trying to get the temp to go down, so I'd try to back off on the vents if the temp is rising too quickly.
My kettle is old,
http://i1193.photobucket.com/albums/aa345/dadsr4/Cookers/A%20kettle_zps1vkxpy6n.jpg
so if I am going to cook at a low temp, such as 225 deg, I use three binder clips to help hold the lid tighter. Otherwise, I do nothing to seal.
As for thin blue smoke, it's less critical when you are using chunks with charcoal. I usually lay the wood chunks on top of the unlit coals, pour the lit coals on top, and the smoke has usually settled down by the time you are ready to cook.

ButtBurner
10-06-2015, 01:36 PM
I must be the odd one out because I can't keep the temp below 300F with the top vent wide open. This is with a 2-2-1 fuse. I will have the lower vents barely cracked, and the temp still creeps up unless I close the top vent about 1/3-1/2 way. One Brethren opined that kettles let in too much air, and two of the bottom vents should be taped over with furnace tape. I have not yet tried this, though.

it all depends on how well your kettle seals

they all can be a little different

dadsr4
10-06-2015, 01:49 PM
I must be the odd one out because I can't keep the temp below 300F with the top vent wide open. This is with a 2-2-1 fuse. I will have the lower vents barely cracked, and the temp still creeps up unless I close the top vent about 1/3-1/2 way. One Brethren opined that kettles let in too much air, and two of the bottom vents should be taped over with furnace tape. I have not yet tried this, though.
I will admit that my answer is based on my experience using the old daisy wheel style. That said, I treat a snake cook the same as I do a minion-style cook. I use the bottom vent to control the temperature as it rises. Once the temp is set, there will, for me, be more fluctuation in the snake temps than there will be using the minion method, but the overall average temp for the cook is the same.

AZRaptor
10-06-2015, 01:52 PM
I must be the odd one out because I can't keep the temp below 300F with the top vent wide open. This is with a 2-2-1 fuse. I will have the lower vents barely cracked, and the temp still creeps up unless I close the top vent about 1/3-1/2 way. One Brethren opined that kettles let in too much air, and two of the bottom vents should be taped over with furnace tape. I have not yet tried this, though.

Nope, I'm with you there too. I have to partially close the top vent, but I usually start it up with everything wide open and then close the lower to half or less when I'm 30 deg away from the target, so perhaps I need to start out with the lower vent partially closed.

dadsr4
10-06-2015, 01:58 PM
Nope, I'm with you there too. I have to partially close the top vent, but I usually start it up with everything wide open and then close the lower to half or less when I'm 30 deg away from the target, so perhaps I need to start out with the lower vent partially closed.
As Landarc says, start with the lower vent where you think it needs to be at cook time. You can always open it more if the temp is too low. The temp will climb more slowly, but it is much easier to get it to stabilize where you wish it to be than it is to get it to cool down.

dadsr4
10-06-2015, 02:16 PM
I've just updated some links that have helped people in the past.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?p=3373229#post3373229

Dauvis
10-06-2015, 02:30 PM
Pretty much as everyone else. Ring of fire, top vent wide open, bottom vent cracked slightly. I let it heat up for about 1/2 hour after dump the lit coals.

AClarke44
10-06-2015, 03:17 PM
I've ran both methods, the snake and the minion which I use fire brick to bank coals to one side then light about 12 and put in the middle of the pile. I usually target 275. When using the minion method I will have both the top and bottom vents wide open until I approach about 245-250. Then I shut the bottom vent down to just a sliver. Maybe 1/8 open (I have the one touch system btw). It'll settle in where I want it. Usually between 265-285. If I use the snake method I start with about 8-10 lit briquettes and do the same with the vent settings until about 245-250 then I close it down to just over half way. I tend to need more air with the snake.

Bludawg
10-06-2015, 03:22 PM
Don't get hung up on pit temp there is no magic number. Take what it gives ya and be happy with it.

effinUker
10-06-2015, 04:28 PM
I usually use the snake method and put a shallow pan of water under the meat being cooked (usually pork butt for me). Some have see instances where certain sections of the snake burn hotter on performers that have the gas tube coming into the base, but if this is just a standard kettle you probably won't see that, and even when I have had that happen it hasn't thrown the cook off.

I have a gas assisted Performer and don't remember ever this issue. I run a snake about 85% around the grill. If I'm facing the grill, and the gas tube is at the 3 o'clock position, I run my snake from about 2 o'clock to about 4 o'clock. Burns all day, and I can keep a nice steady 225-250 with just the bottom vent.

THoey1963
10-06-2015, 04:30 PM
What the Dawg said... Find where your pit likes to run and adjust to cook at that temp. My WSM loves 275* and will be anywhere +/- 25* of there every time.

Roguejim
10-06-2015, 04:44 PM
Nope, I'm with you there too. I have to partially close the top vent, but I usually start it up with everything wide open and then close the lower to half or less when I'm 30 deg away from the target, so perhaps I need to start out with the lower vent partially closed.

My method, exactly. But, I don't see how starting out with the lower vent partially closed will prevent the kettle from creeping up in temp. It will just take longer. In my case, I think it's either too much air, or, too much fuel. I guess I can either tape closed two of the lower vents, or use less charcoal. I want to be able to leave the upper vent wide open, but my temps went to 340F+ the one time I did this.

Will a 2-1 fuse run for 8 hours at 275F-300F? Enough fuel?

ChefJRD
10-06-2015, 04:46 PM
What the Dawg said... Find where your pit likes to run and adjust to cook at that temp. My WSM loves 275* and will be anywhere +/- 25* of there every time.

I will definitely keep that in mind. Is there anything you guys smoke on the kettle that you feel you do best on the kettle vs a dedicated smoker?

bikerm40
10-06-2015, 04:46 PM
Here's my setup wet or dry with sand

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/X5EkO-NpSEvQW-dbeEwR87P5diiHyPRpOje6pzlPc5Av2D4Gi5bvAxsQW8cz5dsX RGSWcLZxWGRM_oFqFpXYjN4tgR-f_RHccGJSBsigbNDzHCLeX_3gDC0Df2yHUb5O6U4W84YXni8na UAAoPNEfyTmv02fsIQIllEYQE19MtWZZLPJkP0JEAcT9SKGvEr w7wn0ZrEz2CGNFf28A9_Gm3sKhb_bs9gBfAfUtshkT_zG-944sxfuhapq0ZPGBEbcI2OtlBqDmVfrc3INoSLR2nlwzt_3Rfx f5AGIl3zX3e67TtbYrq0WlH2Y6SwarAJJPiICuHTNIB80ttExU jk-9O9_yPmXESA6VncyyCwSMvLJ7UXITiK2j4MjDTe-vGi6s7n0KJZ2Y7JQgtNQhLunykvvUgn3BHj5pYJOSpFmIpiU1I 5Ahmy4SUQ6FBldOnY7xWLdyeHxo4P_wytnnCykmz2yw5FTf2BL zWcsabYcTu6FmPo70o6VYPflJKYrOv6lPoR7og8KAtvBM1ZITv SMNYrH51u7MQApm-MpyovbeTY=w1020-h765-no

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/i0Ga6fZHC6FinwvwFg1YTDuDz3ZNONDS9uHxQZ5aRgZxuwYWwB ao2eqoTGQpdxvXxVzzZtzcsW1gOtH8P34ZyosdKVQFdRXQeOH3 h6g_86N15-2Z_zVe0l4uBVWnHHZMQCjm21pv8ZgjXr5l64CClxZ6L2ac-Il2WIMk-PXq2PCwm4obTOM8OQTpNVPMljD0CbBOi2KiR62LG2NVRLKsiC_ Uc73jpfw7YWOL873arYAXp_8ySLnXMohUd6zQ27ZyyMzn0SGr-yp00eSTPqqtbefc_oD_ICDBczK7Jb_ijSj_tb6vadFUElBquvh LNUQHt5YlDcwHJ6_-FcYF3i1SCqhmKKPu4gEPn-RlqZVUaRNev3OCtnchuPKbB6GfyvIjCnGoBE_8qQLaIeu3cKME PNY6B6SLAIe0b-geohEIQo4JM_GqvTzN5ZVCgK7_b5OKGL8JASqaHfgZE_zW-n0JVkGUQjukX4i6bKt6uDct7CJvzmXcv-XoGXaXFnNLaOuT7d8C7eMtkCSyACaPboOxGfLExOgJYlJUNHq2 _2hua6w=w1020-h765-no

Bludawg
10-06-2015, 04:55 PM
I will definitely keep that in mind. Is there anything you guys smoke on the kettle that you feel you do best on the kettle vs a dedicated smoker?
If your charcoal fired it don't matter you'll not notice a difference from one pit to the next The difference is when you cook with all wood on a offset. I have both, if I'm lazy or other wise occupied and don't want to tend the fire I use the ROF on my Performer. I perffer the flavor from my offset but the old Weber does a great job.

landarc
10-06-2015, 05:05 PM
For me, it is about space, you need good air circulation, and a kettle has come limitations, although, clearly, if you have a 26" kettle, you can do a much larger cut than a 22" kettle.

Rusty Kettle
10-06-2015, 05:14 PM
I run mine totally different. It goes against the grain but I run it wide open bottom vent and I use the top vent for temp control.

Close the top vent half closed. Bottom vent/ash sweeper wide open.

I like to stack the charcoal in rows of 10 briquettes each. 4 rows up each side of the kettle.

I light about 14 briquettes in a chimney. Then I dump 7 lit briquettes on each side. This will allow a long burn time and very low fuel consumption and maintain easily about 250-275 temps at the grate level.

I don't refuel even on longer cooks. I have run about 15 hours and still had fuel.

I also throw wood chips not chunks but chips through the piles of charcoal so they burn as the charcoal piles burn down.

I like wood chunks for everything but the kettles. Chips for the kettles and nothing else.

Just my preference.

Now when you start it up you will get bad smoke. I have gotten yellow smoke not white but yellowish smoke. Lift the lid off the kettle and air it out move the lid through he air to let the trapped smoke out. Then put your lid on and in a few mins you will get a nice thin blue to clear smoke. Now you are ready to put your food on. Wait 10 minutes to make sure you have stable consistent thin blue smoke.

Make sure you use a water pan with water as this helps to stabilize the temps in the kettle better. I like a disposable pie pan as you just toss it when you are done.

Have fun.

Anything I described above is for the one touch silver 18.5" weber kettle grill.
Adjust accordingly. More fuel for larger kettles.

BB-Kuhn
10-06-2015, 06:30 PM
I used to use a snake fuse topped with chunks. Top wide open. Bottom vent 1/2 open while temp was climbing, throttled back to barely open when temp got about 50 deg out from target temp (usually 250). Then it usually stayed reasonably close to 250 with little effort moving bottom vent. Would burn for 5-6hrs easily like that on a 75+ deg day.

Roguejim
10-06-2015, 07:01 PM
I used to use a snake fuse topped with chunks. Top wide open. Bottom vent 1/2 open while temp was climbing, throttled back to barely open when temp got about 50 deg out from target temp (usually 250). Then it usually stayed reasonably close to 250 with little effort moving bottom vent. Would burn for 5-6hrs easily like that on a 75+ deg day.

Were you running a 2-2-1, or less charc0al?

ChefJRD
10-06-2015, 10:12 PM
Thanks again for all the helpful posts! I got the kettle and will post pics tomorrow and might even do a small test smoke (or big, who knows) and try some of these suggestions out.

VoodoChild
10-07-2015, 12:07 AM
Great advise given here .. Just Move slowly and never under estimate your kettle it can cook amazing food .. just slow down a bit a listen to the Pros ! :thumb:

captjoe06
10-07-2015, 05:38 AM
I must be the odd one out because I can't keep the temp below 300F with the top vent wide open. This is with a 2-2-1 fuse. I will have the lower vents barely cracked, and the temp still creeps up unless I close the top vent about 1/3-1/2 way. One Brethren opined that kettles let in too much air, and two of the bottom vents should be taped over with furnace tape. I have not yet tried this, though.

Same here.

krex1010
10-07-2015, 10:34 AM
I had a kettle as my only BBQ cooker for over a decade, once you get a method down they are a great cooker. There are more than one way to set them up. Here's the way I do it. I use bricks or rocks to keep the coals where I want them, usually about 1/4 to 1/3 of the area. Depending on how long the cook and how large the meat is. I fill that area up with kbb and mix a few wood chunks in, then about 15-20 lit coals spread out on top. I do use a water pan under the meat which I mostly cover with foil and leave open where I can direct the steam away from the meat. Vents open until my therm shows about 200, then the meat goes on and I close the bottom vents 2/3 of the way, when temp is up around 225-250 the bottom vents get closed almost completely and the top vent closed about half. Will hold 250-275 for 4 or 5 hours, sometimes a bit more depending on outside temp and how well I managed my vents. Get a hinged grate and leave it open so you can toss more coal or wood in, or knock ash off the coals without taking the lid completely off. I use an oven thermometer next to the meat to monitor temps, face it so you can see it by just cracking the lid slightly.