Looking for the best smoker I can get - any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by smokeitmike, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. smokeitmike

    smokeitmike Newbie

    So after a few years with my pellet smoker (which I love), I wanted to upgrade to a stick burner for a few reasons:

    1.) Pellet smokers only come but so big and I want a lot more cooking area

    2.) I just haven't been able to get the smoke flavor I want out of Pellet Smokers and after all the extra work (using the Amazing Tube and using mojo bricks etc...) to coax the smoke flavor out of the pellet smoker, I might as well just get a stick burner

    3.) I want to start cooking for larger events and do competitions next year so the reasons above are magnified.

    I've been looking all over for the smoker I want and I THINK I've narrowed it down to the lang (60 maybe) or a pitmaker pit. I do have a few questions though:

    1.) Has anyone ever heard of pitmaker, heard of any experiences with them, or have any experience yourself?

    2.) Are there any others that I should strongly consider and why?

    3.) Of all the ones I've looked it, it seems Lang is the only reverse flow that I find... All the others are offset but not reverse flow and I'd definitely prefer a reverse flow if possible. Am I missing something or is Langs one of the few that do reverse flow?

    4.) Lastly what are the major differences between vertical and horizontal smokers? I've only used horizontal so I'm not sure - but it sure seems like I could save a lot of space with vertical. I'm just not sure if they cook different. Logic tells me that the bottom shelf near the firebox is hotter and each shelf as you go up is progressively cooler in temp when using a vertical smoker but I'm not sure if that's actually true in practice. Any thoughts?

    I know this is a long question so I appreciate any time taken to give input - I really respect the opinions of you guys on this forum. Thanks everyones :)

    OH yeah budget! I'm sure it would be helpful to know my budget... I'd like to stay under $4k.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The first question that pops into my head is your location.  Shipping on a smoker can get pricey and should be weighed into your decision. 

    The only question I would answer above is the difference between horizontal and vertical smokers.  Remember, heat rises, regardless of the air flow in a smoker.  All smokers will have internal temp differences between the top of the smoker and the grate level(s), even reverse flow horizontals, just due to the nature of heat.  Reverse flow helps minimize that difference but there's a reason they put more than one shelf level in quality horizontals.  Learning those temp differences in whatever smoker you purchase helps you use your equipment better.

    In vertical smokers, depending on the airflow pattern, heat deflector/diffuser, and meat load, the lower shelf can actually be cooler than the top shelf.  Reverse flow verticals help minimize that difference. 

    The one limitation in a vertical though is cooking space for intact animals.  You can put a lot of butchered meat in a vertical even though it has a smaller footprint, but the horizontal is going to give you the maximum flexibility especially if you want to do whole hog at some point. 

    I'd buy a Lang in a heartbeat if I lived back East or had money to burn.  Neither case applies. 
  3. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a horizontal offset stick burner that I love. It is a Bell Fab unit built by Craig Bell in Tulsa, OK. It is 24"x48" in the CC with a full grate and an upper half grate. That's a total of 12 s.f. of cooking area. It burns sweet, holds heat well and all I've ever had from it is TBS. Craig builds a quality one off cooker based on your individual needs and wants. I had him to put in a Horizontal style convection plate and baffle. Also, a second smaller air damper at the top of the FB end to push more directly across the CC. The temps are within 10* from end to end and 5* top to bottom. The learning on this smoker was a breeze. It's made of quality steel and the welding and fit are excellent. Craig is a great guy and wonderful to work with. Contact him at: [email protected]. It's a great smoker. Joe

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