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Recommendations for a charcoal smoker

The 22" Weber Smokey Mountain is my go-to smoker for small cooks.......2-4 butts or 10 # of chicken leg quarters. Fill the water pan with sand or just leave it empty and wrap it in foil. You can throw away the foil and the pan stays clean. The water helps regulate the heat but if you cook on it enough you will find that the bottom vents also regulate the burn rate thus the heat stays where you want it. I haven't put water in mine in ten years.

Good tips.

Did my second cook using my lump coal over the weekend. This time without water. A chicken, beef short ribs and a center eye roast. The chicken and ribs were outstanding. The roast was a bit dry (lack of fat, not water), but the flavor was outstanding. Without water, I was able to do a 5 hour cook and easily maintained 225 - 250F the entire time, great smoke for the entire cook.

I decided to regulate temps with just the top vent, based on a video I watched. Left one bottom vent half open, and the other two just slightly cracked. The top vent then became a fairly precise control, made the cook easy.
Have watched a bunch of videos and read a ton of other content. At this point, I'm down to choosing:

1) An offset smoker, either Char Griller XD, Ok Joe's Longhorn or, if I can find enough change in the couch, an Old Country. Actually like the Char Griller a lot. They have incorporated a lot of common, aftermarket upgrades, like a fire basket, more thermomenter mounting locations, gaskets pre-installed.

2) A Masterbuilt or Char Griller gravity fed charcoal unit. Those things look fantastic, in terms of performance. I just hate the technology reliance. A circuit board on an outdoor consumer appliance is usually a recipe for a limited lifespan.

Any of the above can be fueled by the lump charcoal I'm now making or, in the case of the offsets, seasoned wood I already have stacked.
Well, maybe I got a bit carried away.

Immersed myself in reading, forums, and videos. A lot of research. Kept an eye on FB marketplace, and ended up with this high-mileage Pitts and Spitts Ultimate Upright. Weighs about 650lbs. Did some TLC on it, and today is already my third cook. It's a learning process. A fun one.


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