The other day I came across a post in a foodie group where someone was looking for advice on choosing a smoker because he wanted to start smoking meats. This was my chance to get my opinion out there, and it wasn’t completely unsolicited.
At first, I was smoking briskets and chicken in college and then moved on to pork shoulders and ribs. But, I have not perfected the ribs. That’s not the point. A few years ago, I completed a Backyard Pitmaster class from Brisket U, but that’s not the point either. The point is that I am not a professional pitmaster, but still have some thoughts and opinions on the subject. I’d like to think I’m qualified to give my not completely unsolicited advice.
I’ve owned offset smokers and barrel smokers and have some minor experience with the egg type of smokers. I have found that the grill that works best for me though is the simplest. I have gone through at least a couple of Weber classic kettle grills. They make great smokers. As with all grills, they require periodic attention to ensure that there is enough fuel for the fire to keep up the smoke and heat to cook your meat. With any grill, the key is to control air flow to keep the fire at the right size to keep the temperature and smoke at the right level.
Pellet Style Smokers
What I don’t have any experience with, and what most of the comments giving advice were about, was the pellet style smoker. What I call and understand to be the set it and forget it type of smoker. For me, half the fun in smoking a piece of meat is tending to the fire and maintaining the heat. It should be a hands on experience. For me, filling up a box with pellets and setting a thermostat takes all or most of the fun out of it. The pellet style smoker does work for some people.
This is just my opinion. There are many different schools of thought out there on grilling and smoking. I like a grill that can do it all without a lot of bells and whistles. There’s a lot of information out there for you to make an informed decision for yourself.