First time smoking over fire...can you help me decide?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by smokewithmeman, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. So here's my situation. I currently have a second generation MES 30, and have prepared some tasty BBQ on it. However, I think that it's operates more like an outdoor oven than an actual smoker. I have tried the cold smoker attachment (which Masterbuilt provided at no cost since I was having trouble getting smoke), and the AMNPS, which I have trouble keeping lit if I use my water pan (if I remove the water pan, I get crazy temperature fluctuations). I have really enjoyed smoking and sharing the food I make with others, and am looking to take it up a notch,

    I just purchased a Weber EP 330 for the majority of my weekday outdoor cooking, so I am looking for something soley to smoke on. I had looked into a kamado cooker, but prefer the ease of the gas grill for cooking during the week.

    I would like to add a WSM or possibly a horizontal smoker with a firebox, like an Oklahoma Joe or something. I will usually never do more than a 2 pork butts or a 6 racks of ribs. I have also never cooked over fire, so I am sure there will be a learning curve (which to me is half the fun). So what do you guys reccomend? Is one easier than the other? Do you get better results with one vs the other?

    Thanks in advance!!
  2. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    To me it comes down to price and space.  The WSM or a UDS will take up less patio space, but you might be able to get more food on an offset.  You really won't be going wrong either way.
  3. Thanks much Bruno for the input.
  4. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Get the WSM! Great smoker great price easy to use another option could be PBC(Pit Barrel Cooker) or build an UDS(ugly drum smoker)
    FWIW I chose a WSM over the pit barrel because I was leery of hanging food in the PBC.
  5. rmmurray

    rmmurray Master of the Pit

    Congrats on the new Genesis! Now get you butt (pun intended) a WSM and learn to use it 😉
    - Ryan
  6. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to the site. There's a ton of knowledge here and lots of folks ready to share. For my $0.02 worth, I had a WSM for a number of years and really liked it. Easy to use and easy to keep clean. However, the assembly and disassembly for each cook was too much for a 70 year old with a bad back.

    You mentioned that you thought the learning curve would be fun. I can assure you that it will be. I have had a stick burner on order and I'm eager to get it. I have been searching sites and posts from some of the most experienced folks and it has been a ball. An offset stick burner requires some tending and should be a fun time to just sit back and enjoy.

    Sorry that this is so long, but you need a good basic place to start. First, you need to determine a budget, then the type of fuel to use, then the type of smoker you want, and how many folks that you would feed at a time (remember, bigger is better). Then you put all of this in a magic hat, shake it up and it will tell you what you want. (Wouldn't that be nice). That last part isn't true, but if you have all of the other bases covered, you shouldn't have any problem making a good decision.

    Good luck and good smoking. Keep us informed how you're doing. Joe
  7. I was in a similar situation last year. Wanted to upgrade from my flimsy offset and spent a lot of time debating between a WSM or a new offset.

    Something to consider is how much time you want to spend with your smoker. WSM's have a good reputation of being set-and-forget once you learn how to use them properly. An offset requires more attention and fire tending than you may want to deal with. On the other hand, you may enjoy stirring up the coals and adding a small log to on offset every 45-60 minutes.

    Also, you may want to do a forum search for offset smoker mods here to see what kind of work people put into something like an Oklahoma Joe or Brinkmann Trailmaster (a similar offset to OK Joe) to make them more efficient. There are a lot of videos on YouTube as well. From my understanding, WSM's are pretty much good-to-go straight out of the box.

    Either way you go, you'll put out some delicious BBQ. Good luck with your decision.
  8. kapdon

    kapdon Smoke Blower

    My thoughts exactly! Doesn't seem like much fun. I have side fire box and I do enjoy tending to the fire. If you have ever enjoyed putting logs on a camp fire or tending a fire place I would recommend it. Nothing can make food taste as good as cooking with wood fueled fire. Nothing!
  9. Thanks for all the feedback guys, much appreciated!! After much consideration, and taking into consideration everything you guys had to say, I am going with the WSM 18.5. I just ordered it on Amazon and it should be here on Thursday. It's a tough thing to find here in the Pittsburgh area. I decided to go with 18.5 because I think it will provide a sufficient cooking area for the majority of my smoking needs, and when we do have larger get togethers, I can always break out the MES. This weekend is supposed to be nice and dry here, so hopefully I will get a chance to break her in. Thanks again all for your insight!!
  10. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Enjoy the WSM. Good luck with the learning curve. I tried water in the pan a couple of times and a clay saucer a couple of times. Then I just foiled the pan and used it for a deflector. All of the other stuff didn't show me anything and it was too much to mess with.

    Not many mods are necessary with a WSM, but be sure to use a good digital therm like a maverick or whatever you like. Another thing that is not mentioned very much, but I can't understand why it is not standard is handles for the center section.

    Good luck, Joe
  11. Thanks Joe! I have a Maverick 733 that I bought for my MES, and use it for everything. So I got that covered, but my question is, do I need to drill a hole for the probe? And does water or some sort of thermal mass help stabilize the temp, like it does in my MES?
  12. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1. You can drill a hole. You can drop them down in the top vent. You can just lay them under the lid. I think one of the best ways is to just file a small slit at the top edge through the lip for the lid.

    2. The stability of the temp is very good in the WSMs. I didn't tell much difference either way. I do think that the water acts as a heat sink and makes it a little difficult to reach higher temps for chicken, etc.

    Just my opinion.... Not worth much, Joe
  13. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    I run my therm wires thru the door of my WSM. I put them near where the latch is. I see no other use for that door!

    I have never used a water pan in over 25 years of smoking...
  14. Hey guys, I posted this under poultry, but I wanted to show you all the results of my first smoke on the new WSM. Thanks for all the advice!!


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