WSM vs. offset smoker: pros and cons?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by daniels, May 11, 2016.

  1. I've got it bad.  Really bad!  The local grocery store has a Starbucks inside so I stop there in the mornings to get a cup.  But I don't really like their coffee.  The reason I go is that they have two big commercial smokers on trailers sitting outside by the front door with the wood smoke coming out.  Ahhhh!  I love the smell of hickory smoke in the morning.

    I have a couple of Weber kettles and a Weber Smokey Mountain.  I need more! ... or do I?

    I'm thinking about getting an offset smoker to add to my arsenal but the WSM may be as good as it gets.  Any good reason to add an offset smoker?

    What are the pros and cons of WSM and offset smokers?
  2. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Daniel

    I have Weber kettles, a bullet smoker and also an offset. The main benefit of the offset smoker is it will give you cooking quantity (providing you get a reasonable size one) however, whereas the WSM is really fire up and forget (OK I exagerate slightly) you will find the offset smoker a lot more work. Temperature control on the offset takes a lot more management than on the WSM and you will also have quite a significant temperature gradient along the cooking chamber unless it is a reverse flow. The temperature gradient isn't a problem once you adjust your cooking methods to use it, but you will find that you will need to turn/move your meat periodically during the cook to ensure even cooking. The gradient can actually work to your advantage if you are cooking things that require different temperatures.

    Compared with the WSM the offset will require a lot more TLC during the cook. Here is a video showing a little about controlling temperature in an offset but look at it critically as he also does several things that cause the temperature to rocket way too high.

    I still do use my offset sometimes but you are likely to find that it is something you use in addition to the WSM and it will probably not replace it. The WSM is likely to be a lot less work to cook on.
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
    tombruceuk likes this.
  3. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    While i don't disagree with Wade about the offset vs. the WSM the extra "work" and TLC on the offset to me is extra fun. I had a WSM for over a year then i bought a Lang 36 patio  and i have used my Lang almost every weekend since i have gotten her and i just love making food on her. the bullet(WSM) hasn't been used since i got my Lang because the Lang is so much fun to use and smoke with. My wife says the flavor is sooo much better too with an all wood fire vs. charcoal and some wood chunks.

    If the WSM is fun and good to use but you want something more check out the Lang smoker. Its a reverse flow offset and is built to last you the rest of your life. you can read my review in the review section. If you want Cadillac you do pay a Cadillac price. but you will not be disappointed with the quality and craftsmanship of made in the USA product. 

    these are my two smokers! Black Betty left/front and Bullet right/back

    Happy Smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  4. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    I use my WSM as my "no fuss" smoker. I have a DigiQ that I hook up to it, get it going and throw the meat on and come back when it's done. (it's not quite that simple but damn close). My offset is for BBQing... you know hanging out around the pit with your bros and having a few. Throwing a log or two on every now and then, fussing with the vents and telling stories, laughing and yelling to the wife "it'll be ready when it's ready". Both have their place.
    julius likes this.
  5. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    If you prefer smoking with charcoal & wood, then you will enjoy an offset, whether it's regular or reverse. Yeah, it's a bit more "attention required", but to me that's part of the fun! I just cooked a 7# butt last weekend. 10 hrs of keeping the chamber between 215 & 265 and it was better pulled pork than I ever made in the MB gasser! Did it with nothing but wood after the initial fire build. Doesn't sound like much, but I'm pretty pleased with myself 😊

    Never had a WSM, although I wouldn't mind having one!
    I have a feeling you would get a kick out of an offset stick burner, Daniel..
  6. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I had a WSM 22 for several years and now have my stick burner offset. The offset definitely gives me a better flavor of finished meat and also gives me a lot of fun when it comes to playing with fire. However, after I have learned how my smoker likes to run and how to manage the heat and fire at that range, it's not nearly as difficult as some folks think. I start with a basket of lump to get a good bed of coals and then add pre-heated splits to bring the CC up to temp. When I have the cooker at temp, I add a couple of splits, add some chunks of flavor wood and put on the meat. An offset likes to run at a range, not a specific temp. The range will usually be +/- 25*. Mine likes 250-275* which is pretty tight. When the temp gets below 260*, I will add a couple of pre-heated splits and the temp will quickly begin to rise to the 275* level.

    The biggest factor in my heat management is pre-heating the splits. They ignite very quickly and keeps the fire from using it's energy to warm them to the ignition point. The quick ignition keeps the splits from smoldering and turning the TBS to ugly white smoke.

    Good luck with your research for a smoker. If you can squeeze your budget to the $1K range, PM me and I can put you in touch with a wonderful custom builder that will give you what you want.

  7. stolps

    stolps Fire Starter

    Bullet looks like the red headed step child in this picture
  8. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

  9. mkriet

    mkriet Smoking Fanatic

    I've never owned a stick burner so I can't say about that, but in the past I had one of the small brinkman smokers, and was able make some really good BBQ.  The only thing I didn't like about it was I had to constantly be tending to it.  From the sounds of all the stick burner lovers on here, it takes a similar amount of work to use.  I will say I think the stick burners look like the Poster Child for what a smoker really is.  

    However, I recently purchased a WSM and I love it.  I don't have a problem sitting around the smoker, but most of the time I don't have a whole day to tend to the smoker, and have other things I need to do.  So in the past I haven't been able to smoke near as often as I would've liked.  I've smoked on the WSM, and it was basically set it and forget it.  I like the idea of being able to put a pork butt on the night before, and waking up to BBQ without having to get up in the middle of the night to mess with the fire.  Don't get me wrong, if you want to sit by the smoker and drink beer, the WSM still offers the ability to do that, you just don't have to get up near as often to stoke the fire, and can spend more time drinking beer.  :) 

    Either way, I hope you are happy with the decision you make, and that your smoker is always full.  And, if you really can't make a decision on one or the other, a man can never have too many smokers.  
  10. I think this is the key statement.  I already have a 22.5" WSM and if I can never have too many smokers then I really should get an offset smoker too.  How's that for logic?  Will it work on SWMBO?

    I watched a couple of youtube videos (about the offset smoker I'm thinking about) on the family TV last night.  My 30 year old son was very impressed.  He has used commercial smokers before.  My wife pretended not to be watching the videos but I saw her peeking now-and-then.  I think she realizes it's a 'guy thing'.  When she heard how my son was impressed and saw the enthusiasm from the guys on the videos she was sort of outnumbered. :)

    So, I think I'll be getting an offset smoker.  Now I just need to decide on a brand and a size.  I've been looking at the Yoder Cheyenne with maybe a couple of options.

    I would think the Cheyenne would be plenty big for feeding the 5 of us.  How many racks of ribs do you think it would hold?  Can it do 2 pork shoulders at once in case I had a group of people to feed?
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  11. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yoder makes an excellent line of offset smokers, and that Cheyenne model is a good back yard size..I'll bet you could get 6 to 8 pork butts in one.  And Lang, mentioned by Aaron,  is also a highly respected pitmaker.  There are others out there...Horizon and Jambo are a couple that come to mind.  A lot may depend on what you can buy directly.  If you can't find one at a local retailer, then shipping/freight costs come in to the equation.

  12. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    When I got the offset, the Mrs assumed I'd be getting rid of the gasser. Imagine her surprise!
    One hint. Perfect your pout...☺️
  13. I just called Yoder and asked a few questions.  The Cheyenne will be plenty big enough for my needs.  Shipping will be around $150 which includes lift gate service.  That's doable.

    Throw on a few options and we're talking about roughly $1200 to $1300 for a lifetime of smoking.  Not that I have that many years left in me but my kids can use it when I'm gone.

    Now I just need to line up some wood.  I have a chainsaw, several acres of timber, and some time to let it season out on the patio or in the shed.  In the mean time I have a pickup truck and access to craigslist to line up some seasoned wood.  This will be fun.
  14. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    That's awesome. when that smoker arrives it will be like Christmas morning when you were a kid!

    Youtube some videos on seasoning your smoker there are some good ones.


    phatbac (Aaron)
  15. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Before you make a final decision, I would suggest that you contact Craig Bell at Bell Fab in Tulsa, OK. He is a great guy and very easy to work with. Craig will build you a one off smoker to your personal specifications and wishes and at a very reasonable price. His material and fabrication is top quality. I really think that you could have a personal custom smoker with the whistle and bells that you want for less than the Yoder or Lang.

    Give Craig a try. You can contact him at: [email protected]. Good luck, Joe.
  16. elwood68

    elwood68 Newbie

    Anyone use a temp controller on an offset?
    Like a guru or iq110, is it worth it?
    I just bought my first offset last month, I have 22 weber kettle with a homemade smokenator , 2 vertical gas smokers and an electric box that my wife bought me for Father's Day years ago,just use it for warming for big party's .
    Did my first competition last summer, if I really want to do it right,I had to get a offset.
    Working on making some mods now to get the heat even through the cooking chamber. I sealed the doors too.
    Thanks for any advice
  17. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I'm not familiar with temp controllers, so no help there. I just use a Maverick probe to monitor the chamber.
    Make sure the area where the firebox is connected to the chamber is sealed, and where the stack connects.
  18. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have used them yes and they work quite well. For them to work effectively though you must get all of the doors and air vents in the firebox sealed properly. It was was not really effective until the doors were sealed with stove tape and the air vents sealed with aluminium tape. I do have an IQ-110 which I use on my Weber Kettle but the one we used on the offset was a BBQ Guru clone.

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