Let me start off by saying I bought this because it was cheap, so I did not have great expectations for it. It was more something to start off with until I get my big one. Having said that, it is good for what you pay. Since you are probably wondering what the biggest issues will be, let me explain the issues I have had with it:1. The bowl that holds the charcoal is too shallow, and there is no grate provided to allow ashes to drop. That means when you want to smoke a brisket right (i.e. 10+ hours), the coals will suffocate in their own ashes and the temperature will drop too low. I have remedied this problem by installing my own makeshift grate which allows the ashes to sift to the bottom. But, since it is shallow, it limits the total cook time you have until the ashes pile up and suffocate the coals anyway.2. The little door on the side that allows you access to the smoker without opening the lid is entirely too small for its intended purpose. This means when you need to add wood or charcoal, there is really no way to add it evenly or quickly. I have had to resort to using tongs, heat-resistant gloves, and throwing the charcoal in order to get it evenly dispersed. Further adding to the frustration is trying to add water to the water bowl. It sits well to the top of the door, so there is no effective way to pour water in. I have resulted to using a folded paper plate to funnel the water to the bowl.3. Limited access to the meat. If you have a full smoker going, the top rack actually blocks access to the stuff you have underneath. That means if you have anything on the top rack, there is no real way to get to what is underneath if you want to turn it, baste it, or anything else. That also means that if you have any mopping sauce etc. to add to anything on the bottom, there isn’t any way to do it evenly. Further, if you do want to baste anything using the water bowl mixture, you will have to open the side door and use a baster to suck up the liquid, then go through the open top to apply it.
So, like the title says, don’t expect too much. This is a great little smoker for small jobs, especially for the price, but don’t expect to get any serious smoking done with it.
P.S. cleaning this thing can be dangerous. The metal supports that hold up the bowls/racks are really sharp.
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Although, I have to use more charcoal than recommended amd some work is required to assemble, it still deserves 5 stars. It won’t cook hot enough without a nearly full basin of charcoal, at the start. I do understand that smokers cook at lower temps, but it’s just too slow without a good amount of charcoal. Cheapo charcoal doesn’t work so well with this one, unless you are cooking burgers, steaks or hot dogs only. This is especially true if you are cooking a lot of meat and using both racks. I like having the nice size door because it’s possible to turn over the meat you are slow smoking (with a very long tong) on the second rack, without having to remove the lid and the top cooking rack, but in doing so, you really need to be careful. If needed, you can use the door to add more charcoal/woodchips. The reason this grill is my all time favorite; the meat gets so tender, and there’s no burn char. It browns and gets a delicious color, nice smokey flavor, but no burned areas. No charcoal residue gets on your meat. I don’t use a water pan. This is a slow way to cook, but you don’t have to constantly watch over your meat. I find when I get a good, even smoke going, only have to turn the meat once. Really, I can go cook my side dishes without running out to check on the meat every 10 minutes. Flare ups are rare. Healthy size slabs of ribs takes about 3 1/2 hours to cook. Best to cook burgers and hot dogs first, as soon as the charcoal is ready, without the lid on…after they are done, I put on the ribs and let them slow smoke.
I don’t know where they get that 50 lbs of meat from. Each rack holds approx., 1 large St Louis style ribs with tip attached or 2 baby back slabs or 2 chickens or 5 nice size steaks. It will smoke a 12 to 18 pound turkey and each rack will easily hold 3 lbs of hot dogs or sausage or 10 midsize burgers.
UPDATE: I can attest, this smoker cooks up tender, moist and….evenly cooked meats, without vents. Never a need to place your meat into a low temp oven to finish cooking and tender up. No. The meat is lip smacking good, evenly cooked, beautiful color, and tender moist, right off this smoker.
Yes, it has an open bottom area for the charcoal pan…makes for easier cleanups. The pan covers the bottom of the smoker. The smoke rises up through your meat and delivers smokey flavor. I use a, whiskey oak/hickory blend, of chips. That smoke flavor is in every delicious bite, okay. Once the charcoal is well ashed over and burned down some, you will not have flareups as long as the lid is properly fitted down into the barrel.
I add about 8 briquettes for every 1 1/2 hours of smoking, for the amount I cook. I start bone down and only, turn my meat once. You don’t have to monitor temps. It’s not necessary. Once you get a good smoke going, this smoker holds it’s temp. With experience, you begin to know how many briquettes to add for the amount of meat you are smoking. Old fashioned, Kingsford’s charcoal and water soaked wood chips, works best. Matchlight is convenient, but it burns too fast and you can’t use it as “add to” charcoal because of the lighter fluid infused into it.
The only person I would not recommend this smoker for….someone that wants to cook up a lot of meat at one time. It doesn’t handle a lot of meat, very well. I wish the cooking grate was 22″, but it’s closer to 18″ It is not as durable as Weber’s Smokey Mountain, but it’s also about 1/5 the price.
I’m just replacing mine. It never developed any inside rust, just a little on the outside after 13 years and I was not nice to my smoker. With care, this Brinkmann’s will last a good 15 years. It’s constructed of a heavier gauge steel. Over time, the thermometer may fall out, unless you seal it. I never paid attention to the temp readings anyway ( I focus on how my charcoal is burning) and when mine fell out, I plugged the area with aluminum foil.
My father was real old school. His, was an open grill was on a tripod; no lid, no hood, no vents, or thermometer. All he had was a spray bottle for flare ups, a big basting brush and some heavy duty foil. He’d sit there and baby that meat for hours and clamp a foil tent over the entire, meat filled, grate. His, were some of the smoked best ribs you’d ever sink your teeth into.
It won’t get hot enough if you use the charcoal in the pan as directed. I drilled a bunch of holes all over the pan to get some airflow through the charcoal. Works great now.
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