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Old 05-05-2006, 09:42 AM   #1
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Comparing Charcoal Smokers

I have been considering the purchase of a smoker for a while. My Weber gas grill just doesn't cut it.

I happened to go to a grand opening of a local hardware store and saw a smoker for $39. I had no idea they were this inexpensive!

Now, the question is: is this worth getting this Brinkmann Smoker for $39.00


...or is it a piece of junk and I have to lay out $250. for this Weber ?

I don't expect to do a lot of smoking, it will be occasional. It's just another aspect of cooking I'd like to experience. Besides, I love ribs and pulled pork and I already have a recipe for a kick butt BBQ sauce.

I'd really appreciate the recommendation of you knowledgeable folks.
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Old 05-05-2006, 09:59 AM   #2
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I can't give you any real advice Andy, but if it were me I would get the Brinkmann. It is cheaper than a tank of gas
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:10 AM   #3
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Well, since I'm the owner of a propane smoker I can't speak from first hand knowledge, but from what I've gathered while scouring BBQ sites for ideas and recipes, the consensus I've found is that the "El Cheapo Brinkman" as it is known, will require modifications to become a reliable smoker (As far as temp control and such), but it will work.

The Weber smokeymountain, however, is almost unanimously reagrded as a superior, turn key product.

Some good websites for information are:

http://www.randyq.addr.com/
and
http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/index.html

John
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:46 AM   #4
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Thanks, John, really good info.
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Old 05-05-2006, 08:15 PM   #5
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Hi Andy, I have the Brinkmann that you linked to. Found it at a garage sale for $5. I actually like it. Please take my feedback with a grain of salt. I'm not an avid smoker like others on this forum. I just do it once in a while and wanted to expand my cooking methods. I would honestly never buy any Brinkmann grills because like people say, it is cheap.

I have never used any other smoker so have no way of comparing different brands or styles. I have used it only for pulled pork and smoked beef short ribs.

If you're not going to use it a lot, why not got the cheaper route. If after a while you find that it doesn't suit your needs and you smoke more, then maybe it'll be time to upgrade. You may find that for a once in a while, non-competitive thing, it'll be good for that.
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Old 05-05-2006, 09:23 PM   #6
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Thanks, I appreciate your sharing your experience.
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Old 05-10-2006, 12:44 PM   #7
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I know this is a few days old post, but I wanted to add that you have to use the Brinkman smoker on concrete or some other non-combustable surface -- and NOT your deck. There's a little whole in the bottom of the firepot that drops hot coals out. I know this from experience, I saw a ton of smoke out my back window when I was using mine, and thought, 'Wow, that's a real smoker!'. But really, my deck was burning. It could have been bad had I not noticed the smoke.

My advice: Go for an electric or propane fired smoker.
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Old 05-19-2006, 11:38 AM   #8
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I'm a newbie to smoking. I have the Brinkman Gourmet smoker. This weekend will be my first smoke. I have read about not putting the smoker on your deck, but I have mine set up on cinderblocks with a cement pad on top on my deck. Should I have any problems with this setup?
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Old 05-19-2006, 12:28 PM   #9
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How large of an area does the cement cover?

You want to be careful of burning embers coming out of the smoker. You should be OK, but you might want to stay by the smoker with a fire extinguisher and a cooler full of beer
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Old 05-19-2006, 01:45 PM   #10
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Thanks for your response. The pad is 24" x 24" x 1" thick and is sitting on 6 regular sized cinder blocks.
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Old 05-19-2006, 10:07 PM   #11
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Sounds like you are in good shape JWJR40 - the base of the unit is smaller than the concrete pad. Since I assume your gourmet model is basically like my cheaper model (the charcoal pan only has one hole in the center of it) then that's about the only place you have to worry about embers falling out. Brinkmann does sell a drip pan/ash guard (item # 812-3309-0) which is a 20-inch round metal pan that the smoker sits in - in fact if you read the instruction manual it says to use one. They run about $20.

I never was cooking on a wood deck - but just for convenience of cleanup I used a large pizza pan that I picked up at a restaurant supply for about $5 and notched the sides to accomodate the legs with my jigsaw (before the days of the Dremel tool which I would use now) to catch the ashes.
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Old 05-20-2006, 10:12 AM   #12
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THanks Michael,
The Gourmet has fins around the charcoal pan, and a bottom that covers it and this has the hole in the middle. I was already thinking about using a pizza pan or cookie sheet to catch any fallen embers. Should I leave the bottom hole open all the time or should I plug this up. I put a hole in the top of the smoker. Should this stay open or closed? I have heard that it is hard to control the temp and am trying to figure out the best way to do this.

Since this is my forst smoke, how long does it usually take to smoke a whole chicken? Ive heard about cutting in in half, is this a good way to go?
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Old 05-20-2006, 03:15 PM   #13
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The Weber Smokey Mountain is by far a better cooker than the Brinkman. I know folks that have given up on smoking because of the difficulty regulating the heat on the Brinkman. Brinkman is a bad design and needs a number of modifications to make it work subpar at best.

Shop around and you can find a Weber under $200.
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Old 05-20-2006, 03:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jminion
The Weber Smokey Mountain is by far a better cooker than the Brinkman. I know folks that have given up on smoking because of the difficulty regulating the heat on the Brinkman. Brinkman is a bad design and needs a number of modifications to make it work subpar at best.

Shop around and you can find a Weber under $200.
Jim
Thanks, Jim. That's why I asked the original question. There is a significant difference in the RETAIL prices of the two - $99 vs $250.

Then I saw a $600 gas smoker in Sam's Club today....
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Old 05-20-2006, 11:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWJR40
Should I leave the bottom hole open all the time or should I plug this up?
NO - leave it open!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWJR40
I put a hole in the top of the smoker. Should this stay open or closed? I have heard that it is hard to control the temp and am trying to figure out the best way to do this.
The problem with the Brinkmann smoker is that it does not have variable air flow dampers which helps you to regulate the temp. If you go back to the link that ronjohn posted and you compare the Brinkmann to the Weber you'll see that the major functional difference is the ability to control the air flow with adjustable dampers/vents at the bottom and the top. Several things influence how much the vents need to be opened/closed ... wind speed, barometric pressure, humidity, ambient temperature, etc. To compensate for the lack of vents - I would open the door on the bottom by the coal pan a hair - and sometimes use a stick to prop the top up a little to increase the air flow at the top. If you are handy with a drill it wouldn't take much to fashion a pair of vents for your Brinkmann. As for what to do with the hole you drilled ... don't know where it is or how big it is or how it will affect the air drafting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWJR40
Since this is my forst smoke, how long does it usually take to smoke a whole chicken? Ive heard about cutting in in half, is this a good way to go?
Cutting the chicken in half will save a little time. But, it depends on the temperature inside the smoker. At 220-F (usual temp) you can count on 3-4 hours for a 3-4 pound chicken. Split in half - still going to be in the 2.5-3.5 hour range. And no - it doesn't really make much difference on how many you smoke at one time - although it will take a little longer the more you add to it. I've done 6 whole chickens at once and it took about 4 hours.

Remember - you're smoking them - not grilling them. It will take longer. Just cook them to a temp of about 165-F - measured just like you would if you were roasting/baking them in the oven - with a thermometer.

It takes time to learn how to smoke and how your smoker works. It's a learning process. Pay attention and keep notes. Once you get the basics down - you can smoke a turkey in a trashcan!

Good luck! And HAPPY SMOKING!!!
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