View Full Version : Help on choosing a "Q"

06-17-2009, 09:56 AM
I am very new to the board here and a fairly new BBQ'er......been grilling for years, but new to "REAL" BBQ.

Currently I use my Weber kettle, MES electric, and Bradly to turn out pretty good Q. However, I am ready to take it to the next level and am in the market for a bigger rig.....big enough to feed about 60 people.

I am very active, and we will be having kids soon, so I think that I am ruling out the stick burners since I will not have the time to babysit the fire. (Although I have always wanted a big offset stick burner. :icon_sad)

I really want something that can go long periods without too much attention. With that in mind I am looking at a pellet pooper or a gravity fed Q that is Stoked or Guru'ed. The FEC 100 really appeals to me but in reading the posts I am seeing that you don't get a good smokey flavor with it. I know very little about the gravity feds like Stumps or Superior, and have been looking for some diagram showing how the charcoal gets to the fire without the hopper catching on fire as well! :eek: I also am curious if the vertical smokers like Backwoods or Spicewine can give you really long cooks that I am looking for. Price will also be a big issue since I am on a tight budget.

Any input would really be appreciated. I am finishing my residency TODAY :-D and my fiance has given me the go-ahead to get a smoker. I will probably get a used smoker to save money since I: (1) need to relocate across the state, (2) am looking for work at a practice, (3) also starting my own practice, AND (4) need to start paying close to a half mil in student loans!!! :eek:

Thanks for any input guys!!!

06-17-2009, 10:00 AM
I know many people that cook witht he Stumps cookers and are very happy with them.

06-17-2009, 10:07 AM
Look into making your own UDS. It's a set it and forget it smoker.

Staydown has a picture of one is his avitar. ^^^^^^

06-17-2009, 10:22 AM
Feeding 60 people....is that just pulled pork, that's about 15 pounds of cooked pork, or 30 ish raw, which is about 4 butts. IN my opinion, to start out, for ease, I'd go look at the weber smokey mountain. Maybe even the 22inch. It's a step up from where you are, easy to transport, turns out great Q, and runs it's self on minion method for 14 plus hours. It also works great for one butt and some taters. Cheap too. What did you do your residency in? I'm in Peds here in Kingston NY, but trained in family medicien as a nurse practitioner. Congrats on getting through, getting married and most improtantly, getting a BBQ!!! Scott

06-17-2009, 10:28 AM
What's your budget?

06-17-2009, 01:23 PM
Budget is a great place to start but if you already are mentioning the FEC100 then you know it will set you back$3,500 or so. I just went through a similar decision process. I first went with a Traeger last year but we couldnot keep the temperature swings under control. Yes I am a little finicky but 40-60 degrees each way was not an acceptable solution. However, I really did like the pellet solution with a tempreature control.

I bought the FEC and have smoked on it only twice so far (just got it on Friday but was away for the weekend.) With that said, I seasoned it and then put a butt on. The temperature swing was a 10-20 degrees when first seasonging at 300. Then dropped it down to 220 and put the butt in the smoker. For the next 12 hours the temperature swings went down in the first three hours to less than 6 degrees each direction. By the end it was rock solid to within 2 degrees. The butt pulled great.

As for smoke flavor, there was plenty. One thing I have heard is that it is hard to do is oversmoke in an FEC100. Before you decide go to a show and try the Q that has come out of an FEC. What is great smoke flavor for one is not enough or too much for someone else.

For me it appears to be the right decision. Good luck on your choice. It is all good.

06-17-2009, 01:46 PM
You listed some good smokers there, I think you'd be happy with any of the brands mentioned. Each have pros and maybe a con or two - but the pros definitely win out.

Based on your post, I think you'd be good with any of them and with your needs/wants you don't need to be brand conscious but maybe price conscious.

Start checking out craigslist in your local areas to see if anyone is selling those brands you mention or and the brands that others have mentioned (WSM) or if you can build a UDS, they seem to be great proven smokers at a very low cost.

06-17-2009, 01:49 PM
I just went through this process except my budget was a bit smaller than what yours appears. I went with the Stumps Baby which is too small for what you're wanting but my decision was based off the great reviews I'd read about gravity feed smokers and actually watching one do it's thing. I currently have a backwoods and it puts out great Q and is a fine product but I grew tired of messing with the water.

Backwoods and Stumps are VERY VERY popular smokers so you can't go wrong with either one. It seems these UDS units are very popular here on this board and from what I've read it's because you get a lot of bang for your buck. It's relatively cheap (compared to buying a stumps/backwoods) and holds heat very well. I know there are downsides to the UDS's but I haven't read many on here. My suggestions is to do A LOT of research and ask A LOT of questions. This board is a good place to start but do not limit it to this board. Good luck. :-D

06-17-2009, 01:56 PM
If you are looking for a pellet cooker, without the big $ investment. Check out the Country smokers. I have been very happy with mine.

06-17-2009, 02:57 PM
I've fed 60 people before with an 18.5" WSM and a Weber OTG. You might want to consider saving some $$$ and get 2 UDS's or 2 WSMs or maybe start with just one and go up from there. I know that this isn't a pellet option, but it certainly is a lot cheaper, especially if you got kids on the way and student loans...

06-17-2009, 03:31 PM
Don't assume a pellet "set it and forget it" will produce the same quality of product as other smokers. Every smoker has it's own unique characteristics and habits as well as flavor profile. Start small, cheap and grow. Scott

06-17-2009, 03:33 PM
I love my Spicewine and with the Guru it can go 18 hours on one load of fuel...possibly longer since i normally finish a cook and have fuel unburned. It is a large however so the firebox on the medium and small may not last as long. I seem to remember someone else stating that their Spicewine went even longer...dare I say i remember 24-36 hours? Don't quote me but it is definitely efficient.

06-17-2009, 03:39 PM
A primo and a guru would work and only set you back about $1200. You can cook huge amounts of food on a Primo.

06-17-2009, 04:27 PM
A primo and a guru would work and only set you back about $1200. You can cook huge amounts of food on a Primo.

Ok..what is a Primo? Never heard of that one

06-17-2009, 07:11 PM
Ok..what is a Primo? Never heard of that one

Its an oval ceramic cooker, bigger than the egg.


06-17-2009, 07:56 PM
I have a primo oval xl and while I love it, I think there are better options if you are looking to cook for 60 people (sure, you can cook enough butts on there...you can get 7 butts on a Primo for sure). A stumps with a stoker or digiq will run for 30 hours plus easily and your temps will be within 1-2 degrees.

06-17-2009, 10:23 PM
Since you got a weber you should just add a medium sized smoker, kamado maybe, this way you can do some low and slow on there, other things on your weber. Should be enough for large parties.
And since you'll be having kids soon, dont spend thousands on a grill. With all the great bbqs coming out each year I feel like they get out of style as fast as computers these days.

06-17-2009, 10:41 PM
Traeger 150 - I have one and use it alot - very dependable.

06-18-2009, 12:25 AM

You guys are great on here....lots of input. Thanks!!

I can see myself getting hooked and ending up with a kamado style like an Egg or Primo for smaller cooks and baking (mmmm...pizza) AS WELL AS other smokers.

Right now I am thinking of getting a versatile cooker that I could also possibly start competing with. I really enjoy cooking for guests and I am very competitive by nature.....so BBQ comps sound like a good time.

Lots to think about......

Has anyone Stoked or put a Guru on a UDS? That could give me volume as well as semi set-it and forget-it. A Stoked 22" WSM could be good also. Both of these would be much less money than the others I have been considering.

Too many choices!!

I MAY be able to get a 4 year old FEC 100 with rib rack and cover (old style Traeger controller) only used a dozen times for about $1500. How does that sound?

Again, thanks for the input.