3rd smoke a dissapointment...

Discussion in 'WSM Owners (Weber Smokey Mountain)' started by s1w99, Feb 23, 2015.

  1. s1w99

    s1w99 Newbie

    I'm new to smoking for starters and got the 18" version about 1.5 months ago. I've got some basic questions about my last effort.

    1. Smoked a 9lb butt for the Superbowl. 10hrs, top rack, Rubbed with salt, sugar, paprika an pepper. kept around 200-220 the whole time. Came out with a nice bark and very juicy inside. (some soaked hickory chuncks added to coals)

    2. Smoked the same thing last week, heat averaged right around 200-190 for 10hrs. Same type rub. Bark was black but thin.

    Tasted amazing. (some soaked hickory chuncks added to coals)

    3.Smoked a 7.5 and 9.5 butt top/bottom for 12hrs (hoping to get a thicker bark) Only used salt as a rub. Kept average temp 225-250. No hickory wood used this time. Butts came out with NO bark at all, a little dry around the edges. A big disappointment as the first to runs were awesome.


    1. Why no bark?  (no sugar in the rub?)

    2. Water pan only lost about half it's water on the 12hr session while most of the water was gone on the shorter cooler sessions. (makes no sense)

    3. Thermometer was very responsive but could it be an issue?

    4. Why no bark with longer and higher temps?

    5. I'm going to poke around but is there a link to some basic tips for smoking butts on this smoker?

    Thank you for your help,


  2. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Did you take the temperature of the meat itself? Yes the sugar in the rub does affect the quality of the bark. I didn't see where you listed any internal meat temps so if you don't have a good quality meat thermometer you should get one. Also the therm on the lid reads hotter than what it is at grate level. I would guess you are under cooking your butts. If the gauge read 190 it was probably more like 170 at grate level. At least that is what my Maverick et-732 tells me on mine. By the way there is no need for water in the pan and do not soak your wood. Wet wood does not burn. I see this is your first post so head on over to roll call so we can give you a proper introduction.
  3. Sorry to hear about that last experience. I've been smoking on the WSM 22 for about 5 yrs now and have not ran into that issue before. The spices in the rub are what give you the bark. You do not necessarily have to use sugar. I actually do not like using much if any sugar because I have seen it get to dark and give a bitter taste. I would definitely recommend getting yourself a good thermometer. I personally like using a constant probe in mine. Do not depend on time so much as it will get you. Cook to temp not time. It doesn't lie. If it gets done early wrap it well and place in a cooler.

    elkhorn98 likes this.
  4. eh1bbq

    eh1bbq Fire Starter

    I noticed one thing right off the top.  In all 3 attempts, you have changed something every time. In the 2nd attempt, you changed the temperature. In the 3rd attempt, you changed the amount of meat in the cooker, you increased the cooking time, changed the rub completely, changed the temperature, and used no wood.

    One of the things I figured out early on is that consistency makes good bbq. Not saying you can't change things, but change 1 thing at a time. What happens is you will end up losing the aspects you liked in favour of trying to fix the things you didn't like. Making even a simple change to a rub can change everything about the bark, the flavour, the colour.  Changing the cooking time can affect all those things as well. So can changing the wood you use, or removing it completely. Adding meat to the cooker will increase the overall moisture in the cooking chamber.

    For example, with pork shoulder, settle on a temperature for the recipe you're working on. Also, settle on a type of wood, and amount of wood (by weight). Then start working on your recipe. This will keep things consistent. If after a few tries, you're not liking something about it, then start making small changes. For example, if it is too smokey, look at your firing method. Then start looking at the type of wood, and the amount of wood. If it is too sweet, look at the sugar content in your rub. Too salty? Look at the salt content.

    I guess what I am trying to say is if you liked how it turned out the first two times but still want to change something about it, change something small, and change only 1 thing at a time.

    So to answer your questions in order:

    Q1: Why no bark?  (no sugar in the rub?)

    A1: No sugar, no paprika, no wood (some may disagree with me on the wood part, but I feel it contributes to the bark).

    Q2. Water pan only lost about half it's water on the 12hr session while most of the water was gone on the shorter cooler sessions. (makes no sense?)

    A2: More meat in the pit.

    Q3. Thermometer was very responsive but could it be an issue?

    A3: If anything, changing temps when you're cooking could be the issue. Should also check your temps at grate level instead of just dome. My WSM dome therm is off by ~10 degrees from top grate, and 25-30 degrees from bottom grate.

    Q4: Why no bark with longer and higher temps?

    A4: See answer to # 1.

    Q5: I'm going to poke around but is there a link to some basic tips for smoking butts on this smoker?

    A5: Tons of information available here and on the Virtual Weber Bullet website.

    I really hope you keep asking questions and keep trying. When you get bbq right, there is nothing like it on the planet.

    Feel free to PM me any time with any questions. I should be able to help with just about anything, and if I don't know, I should know where to point you.  All the best and Happy Smokin'!!!
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  5. When 1st starting out I bought the book "Low & Slow." It is an easy to understand guide to the basics of smoking meat. Many of its recipes I still use today.

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