Smoked my first butt and uuummm...

Discussion in 'Pork' started by bbq kenny, May 19, 2017.

  1. Well I smoked my first butt a week ago and while it turned out ok I know at least a few of the mistakes I made. One I cannot figure out is why the bark of the butt imparted a bitter taste. So much so that when I pulled it I tried not to include much of the bark in the finished product that I shared out. I used apple wood and smoked for the first 6 hours. I figure I either used too much smoke or it had something to do with the amount of rub I put on. I definitely used a lot of rub! Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sounds like creosote.

    Caused by too much thick white smoke.

    You don't even need to see much smoke coming out of your smoker.

    If you can smell the smoke, so can the meat.

    TBS or thin blue smoke is what we are all looking for.

    This is how it should look.


    Last edited: May 19, 2017
    noboundaries, chinanick and bbq kenny like this.
  3. sauced

    sauced Master of the Pit

    Yes Al is right on.....
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Al, that smoker is making me CRAZY jealous. 
  5. lancep

    lancep Master of the Pit

    What Al said! How are you firing your smoker (charcoal or wood fire?)
  6. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    What Al Said TBS is what you want!

    i have a couple pics 

    not TBS the wood once it starts burning

    i put no meat on this smoker until the next pic

    once the wood burns down and gives TBS from hot coals

    now i put on the meat

    notice that you can barely see it

    you don't want a heavy smoke or wet smoke you want a thin blue dry smoke

    Hope this help,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  7. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    The smoke quality is almost certainly the answer. You might also want to spray the pork next time. I spray mine about once an hour with and apple juice and Captain Morgan's rum combination.
    bbq kenny likes this.
  8. LanceP I am using both charcoal and wood. I start with the charcoal until it's ashes over and up to temp then throw the wood in there followed by the meat. From what Phatbac is saying maybe I should let smoke roll for a bit before inserting the meat?
  9. SmokinAl, yes that smoker is awesome!
  10. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    yes the best way to do a stick burner is to burn the wood down to coals and add the coals to the firebox.(burn barrel method) i don't do this because that is a little more work than i want to do but let you base fire burn down to hot coals and add slowly small splits (1-2 per 45-hour) and it keep the smoke thin. you dont want a lot of unburned wood at a time in the firebox.

    remember thin and almost invisible smoke is a good thing flavor wise. gently adding smoke to the meat is so much better than just slamming it with heavy smoke.

    a good slow roast on most meat with an almost subtle smokey goodness is just divine!

    Happy Smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  11. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    The top picture is my fave for comparison of bad vs. good smoke.

    Bad & Bitter Tasting Smoke on the left                           Thin Blue Smoke on the right

    This level of smoke (below) is also AOK

  12. Uncle Eddie, great pics...I see exactly what you mean by blue smoke!
  13. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Looks like these got pretty much everything covered. Just also know that you don't need to keep feeding wood for the whole cook. even just a little bit at the beginning (like 2-3, 2" chinks)  will impart a nice mild flavor. Start there and crank up the amount of chinks in future cooks depending on how just the few little chinks turn out.
  14. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    It's not mentioned what kind of smoker your cooking on... If it's a side firebox stick burner.. set some pieces (4-6) on top of the firebox to preheat them... this helps get them up to kindling temps so when you do throw a stick or two on the fire they will ignite quicker... without flame they just smolder and this is when it puts out all the white smoke... flame means a clean burning fire...
  15. lancep

    lancep Master of the Pit

    Yes, you want to wait until the thick white/grey smoke has burned off. Now how long that takes depends of a number of variables including how you're setting up your fire. Which is why I was asking.

    There are two ways you can go about this with your smoker. Which works best will depend on your tastes and how involved you want to be in the cook. I use both but prefer a wood fire.

    First: you can set up a charcoal fire using the minion method. Fill the firebox or charcoal basket with unlit charcoal, mix in a few wood chunks, and pour 1/2-1 chimney of fully lit coals. However much it takes to get your smoker up to temp. Now my variation on this is, instead of wood chunks, I put a small split on top of the lit charcoal and let it burn for 5-10 min. Then close everything down and dial in my temp. Because I let it burn first I get thin blue smoke fairly quickly and usually get a nice smoke out of it. If you use chunks be careful not to use too many. The pros of this method are: you can get a long consistent burn and, if you've sealed up your smoker so that you have complete control over airflow, after a few smokes you can set it up and walk away. The cons? In my opinion a wood fire still tastes better.

    The other option is a wood fire. You can start it any way you want. Kindling, charcoal, weed burner etc. I start with half a chimney of lit charcoal and add a couple splits.

    White smoke

    My smoker comes up to temp really quickly so once those splits are burning I close it down and set my damper for the temp I want. By the time it's at temp I have tbs so the meat goes on. After that it's just adding splits as needed to keep the fire burning. The key is to burn a small hot fire just big enough to maintain your temperature range. A small fire that burns hot (flames) burns clean and will give you clear to thin blue smoke.

    Preheating splits on the firebox helps them to ignite instantly and maintain tbs.

    The flames burn off a lot of smoke including creosote and other compounds that give your meat bitter and acrid off flavors. Don't worry, your meat will still be smoked. It just won't be overwhelming.

    Pros to this style are: a lot less ash and the flavor can't be beat. Also, if you're in an area where hardwood is easy to come by it can be much cheaper than charcoal. Cons? You have to pay more attn to fire management. In some areas where hardwood isn't readily available it can be more expensive to cost prohibitive.

    Either way you'll eventually find which style best fits your needs and turn out some great que. just keep the smoke thin and blue.

  16. 3montes

    3montes Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Al I'm flattered you used a picture of my smoker to illustrate the good TBS! [​IMG] On a side note I purchased that smoker from a extraordinary fabricator who posted frequently on The Smoke Ring who went by the handle Wreckless over there. I was saddened to find out last week that he just recently passed away. He was a talented fabricator and smoker I'm honored to own one of his projects.
  17. jennsf

    jennsf Newbie

    Hi Kenny,  just a few words of encouragement after the wisdom shared by the guys here. I made horrible pulled pork on my first two attempts - that bitter taste you talked about was the same for my first butts and I felt very discouraged.  Once I sorted out the smoke problem, it never happened again. You'll be cooking awesome pulled pork in no time!  [​IMG]
    bbq kenny likes this.
  18. 88rxna

    88rxna Smoke Blower

    Great info!
    Such and awesome community here!
  19. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    That is a heck of a smoker you have there & a perfect example of good TBS!

  20. I want to thank everyone for the comments and helpful tips. This is a great community of folks and I'm glad I have this type of support in place! Thanks again and happy smoking!

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