Smoking Brisket went wrong - but why?

Discussion in 'Messages for All Guests and Members' started by lewisnotty, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. lewisnotty

    lewisnotty Newbie

    Hi all, looking for some help

    My friend and I built a smoker from an oil drum. We have it sitting horizontal. Inside we pop the coal and wood to the right, and to the left we keep the meat. We have a chimney and a little hole about an inch wide to let smoke out. We fired up the smoker and got it to about 250F and then popped our brisket on the grill. This was at 5:30am. The temp kept going to 190-200F and I kept topping up the coal to keep the heat up. Being a custom built job there were a few places the smoke was escaping and I presume this caused temp drop, also, we think we need to add a new air vent as the coal musn't be getting the oxygen it needs to continue to burn. 

    Long story short, after doing this for 12 hours, the brisket never reached over 130F inside. And when left for rest for 30-40 mins, I was devastated to find it was touch and not breaking apart. I don't really know where I went wrong with the cook, so all comments are appreciated. I am a new smoker, so mistakes are going to be made. 

    Thanks in advance,

  2. icyhot

    icyhot Smoking Fanatic

    Brisket won't break down at 130 degrees. It needs to be taking to the 200 or 205 range. When u insert a probe or toothpick into it and it goes in like a hot knife through butter its done.go by temp and not time and you should be good. Hope this helps
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  3. schlotz

    schlotz Meat Mopper

    icyhot is spot on! Very good advice.  I will add that you probably should be testing your DIY smoker and getting it modified to a point that it can maintain temps prior to tackling one of the more challenging meats. Having grate thermo probes to monitor the temp is a good step to consider. You should also move them around the grate to discover if there are significant hot and cold spot locations, then see if they can be adjusted. There are a number of methods all of which will deliver good brisket but the essential point is to maintain a consistent temp throughout the process. 

    Personally, for brisket I prefer 250°, wait until it gets the color I'm after, which usually occurs somewhere around 155-165°, then dbl wrap and continue until 203°.  As icy indicated, doneness is finally determined by feel, probe in & out of brisket like a knife through butter. When that happens it's time to pull and rest the brisket for 1-2 hrs (2 is better).
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  4. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hello Lewis and welcome to the site!

    The guys are giving you good advice on cooking a brisket.  At an internal temp (IT) of 130*, its no surprise your brisket wasn't edible.  Your target should be somewhere near 200* IT.

    You have some issues to work out with your smoker first.  Every efficient smoker, regardless of the fuel type, must have an Air Intake and an exhaust to allow for the control of the oxygen your fire needs to burn properly.  This is how you control and adjust the chamber cooking temps in your smoker.  Without knowing what your setup looks like, I'd suggest a design where there is air coming into the drum down low on the fuel'll need some sort of adjustable damper design that will allow you to control how much air the fire gets.  Then, I'd put the exhaust on the opposite side of the drum (the meat side).  Again, it'll help if this exhaust is adjustable so you can control air flow.

    And I agree with shlotz...I wouldn't try cooking anything else in it (especially expensive cuts like brisket) until I had a few fires built in it and knew I could control the chamber temps by adjusting air flow.

    I hope that helps...good luck!  And let us know if you have more questions!  [​IMG]

  5. smokinal

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

    12 hours & only 130 IT.

    Hopefully you didn't inject it or it probably would have made you sick.

    After a couple of hours I think I would have just finished it in the oven.

    You'd need a chainsaw to cut a brisket at 130.

    195 to 205 or until probe tender is where you want to be.

  6. lewisnotty

    lewisnotty Newbie

    Thanks everyone for the advice it is very much appreciated and will use it going forward. I am looking to modify the smoker and perhaps add an offset box to it. Hopefully with a few more tests we can get it up and running. 

    Any recommendations for smokers for under £500 that are good?


  7. smokinal

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

    You can't beat a WSM 22.5.

    It's well built, very easy to use, & will put out competition BBQ.

    And they cost about $400.


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