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offset smoker vs classic Weber...help me decide!

joshlane4 Jul 25, 2008 11:03 AM

I owned a traditional Weber charcoal grill in college. I LOVED it! But when I moved away I gave it to a good friend. I was given a wonderful Weber Genesis gas grill soon after. I've been 100% pleased with this grill except...sometimes I miss that charcoal goodness.

So, I'm going to buy a charcoal grill in addition to my gas. I'm thinking about an offset smoker like: http://www.charbroil.com/Consumer/pro...

This way I can grill traditionally or smoke stuff vs the Weber (which I loved) where indirect heat is as close as I can get to smoking. What do you guys and gals think?

  1. f
    FlaHopper Jul 25, 2008 11:12 AM

    It would seem that the offset smoker (something for which I covet) is what you're looking for. The gas grill is meeting you grilling needs, but not your smoker needs. The offset smoker will allow you to smoke meat with abandon and occassionally grill over charcoal when the mood strikes you. If you're not sure you actually want to get into smoking (which requires a bit of time on your part) you're probably better off sticking with your gas grill.

    8 Replies
    1. re: FlaHopper
      p
      Pantz Jul 25, 2008 07:34 PM

      I too covet an offset smoker, but I'm not sure the Charbroil model is the one to buy. A Weber Kettle is so flexible and multi purpose that in that price range, I don't think it can be beat.

      If your goal is to start doing long, slow cooking with smoke, you may want to consider a Weber Bullet or a Bradley smoker. As FlaHopper mentioned, you've got grilling covered and there are ways to pump up your smoke/wood flavours on a gas grill.

      For me, going to an offset is the next level and it will require an investment in serious equipment.

      1. re: Pantz
        f
        FlaHopper Jul 28, 2008 07:23 PM

        I like my Weber Bullet well enough (http://eatanddrinkitall.blogspot.com/...), but as soon as I got used to it, I wanted something bigger. If I had it to do over again, I'd go right for the offset smoker. I mean you invest so much time in quality barbecue, it's a shame that the Bullet limits the amount of meat you can prepare at one time.

        1. re: FlaHopper
          ted Jul 29, 2008 06:54 AM

          I'd check your assumption about an offset being the next 'level' of smoker. The WSM has a lot going for it- tight construction, controllability, nice paint job ( ;-) ). There are folks who compete that just run 3 or so at once.

          Unless you get into the higher tier of expense on offsets (think Klose), that extra capacity will be at the expense of burning a lot of fuel and having to tend the fire a lot to maintain stable temperature. That's just from the thickness of the metal used to construct it and from air leaks.

          If you want the advantages of the WSM with extra capacity, you're either going to need to get an expensive offset or go to an insulated smoker like a Backwoods or Stumps.

          1. re: ted
            f
            FlaHopper Jul 29, 2008 10:25 AM

            Because I've never used an offset, I wasn't aware of the problems with the less expensive ones. So thanks for that. I guess it comes down to a matter of value: is the added capacity worth more to me than have to use two or three Bullet smokers at once? Don't know. That depends on how much the expensive smokers and high quality offsets cost.

            1. re: ted
              joshlane4 Jul 29, 2008 10:49 AM

              I guess my question is, with one of these cheaper offsets am I going to get a moderately good smoker/charcoal grill combo

              the Weber smoker is out of the question IMO b/c I don't have money for a separate smoker and charcoal grill at this time

              1. re: joshlane4
                ted Jul 29, 2008 02:20 PM

                I'd be on the lookout for a Weber kettle in good shape on craigslist.

                FWIW, I've had a Brinkmann Smoke n Pit minus the side firebox for 10 years or so. It's OK for grilling (Weber kettle would have better access to the whole grate and better air feed), but it's my go-to for smoke-roasting chicken, salmon and the like w/ an indirect fire. I wouldn't want to run it for many hours to do ribs, butt, etc.

              2. re: ted
                joshlane4 Jul 29, 2008 10:49 AM

                I guess my question is, with one of these cheaper offsets am I going to get a moderately good smoker/charcoal grill combo

                the Weber smoker is out of the question IMO b/c I don't have money for a separate smoker and charcoal grill at this time

              3. re: FlaHopper
                Davwud Apr 24, 2009 08:55 AM

                I have the exact offset that is linked here. Don't over estimate the size of the cooking surface. It's not that big. Two full shoulders or 4 racks cut into manageable pieces are about the surface size. Then there is rotating to do because the temperature difference from one end to the other is significant.

                All that said, I love me. I've produced some incredible food from it and dollar for dollar is a great BBQ purchase.

                Some other drawbacks are, thin gauge metal means keeping the temp up in colder temps is a challenge.
                The shelf in the front of it has no support so anything heavy has to have a side table.
                No thermometer. There is a hole for an aftermarket one though. I've found that the one I have gets coated in carbon and doesn't keep a good temp.

                DT

          2. weinstein5 Jul 26, 2008 07:38 AM

            I guess the thing is remember each does a different job - the grill is for grilling foods and the offset smoker is for true Barbecue - low and slow - I am like you Weber is my grill of choice and still have one - but four years ago my wife got me a brinkman offset smoker for my b'day and use both regularly - using the smoker is definitely a day long affair and is fun -

            3 Replies
            1. re: weinstein5
              joshlane4 Jul 26, 2008 07:46 AM

              But that's the thing, I think some of these offsets can do an adequate-if not good job at both. (Let me say here, of course I would rather have a BGE/Komodo but I don't have that kind of money, and won't for the foreseeable future).

              If you see the one I posted or this one (which you have to buy the sidecar separate): http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action...

              I think these will function as a regular charcoal grill, or you can use the sidecar and make them an offset smoker. That's at least what I'm hoping you can do.

              1. re: joshlane4
                weinstein5 Jul 26, 2008 10:02 AM

                The Brinkman I have is designed the same way and yes they will function like a charcoal grill but it is a bit of the pain to clean out the ashes - this is the brinkman I have http://tinyurl.com/5z56v9 -

                1. re: weinstein5
                  joshlane4 Jul 26, 2008 12:48 PM

                  hmm...is it so much of a pain that I would want to deal with it? or is it the kind of pain that's do-able. I don't really want to buy this thing at this time if I'm ONLY gonna smoke in it.

            2. c
              chipman Jul 26, 2008 07:49 AM

              One word..... Big Green Egg. Ok, that's three words, but that is my recommendation. I'm so happy I bought one, it almost makes me giddy. It grills up to 700* and can keep 200* for as long as you need to do a brisket or pork butt.

              It's easy to maintain, there are many accessories available. But, most of all they have a very active internet community that has the answer for any problem or question.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chipman
                joshlane4 Jul 26, 2008 07:56 AM

                they can get a lot higher than that, I've seared tuna at near 1000 deg temps (my dad has the large sized BGE)...but alas, I have ~$200 to spend (and barely that) not the ~$1000+ I would need for a BGE.

                but hey, if you're buying!

              2. Romanmk Jul 26, 2008 11:27 AM

                You could build a 'Little Brown Egg'. Looks like a fun project. This guy claims he only had to take the lid off twice cooking 2 pork butts. http://www.naffziger.net/blog/2008/07...

                1. m
                  mpalmer6c Jul 26, 2008 08:06 PM

                  Matter of personal taste, not a vote.

                  1. porker Jul 26, 2008 09:39 PM

                    I bought that very Charbroil model (not the best photo as it was snapped a few minutes ago, round midnight).
                    I grew up grilling with brickets. Gas became the fashion around my neck of the woods and is still pretty much the standard porch grill.

                    Wanting the flavor of charcoal as well as the versatility of both grilling and smoking, I chose the offset smoker.

                    I can't compare this smoker with other grills/smokers (green egg, weber, etc etc) but I can give you my impressions of the Charbroil:
                    I bought it 6 years ago and use it year round. It sits on my patio unprotected (Canadian winters) and still holds up great. I might have to replace the front wood slats soon, and I had to purchase new charcoal grates (heat-warped), but otherwise, its relatively heavy guage steel is pretty tough (I've seen other flimsier types that I wouldn't recommend).

                    It didn't come with a thermometer, but it has the knockout for fitting one (I bought one and popped it on).

                    Cleaning the ashes is not much of a hassle (I used to clean commercial charcoal chicken rotisseries), you just need a small fireplace shovel.

                    I've smoked brisket, ribs, 1/2 milk pigs, and other stuff with very good results. I've grilled hot-dogs/hamburgers, fish, steak, chicken, and other stuff with very good results.
                    (I've had some lousy results as well, but that wasn't the smoker's fault...)

                    For me, one of the trickier aspects is smoking at low temps (under 200) for long periods of time (a fellow chowhounder suggested brickets rather than the lump which I was using, but I've since bought a gas powered water smoker which I use for some sausage and bacon.)

                    Smoking between 200 and 250 (probably the majority of applications) is simple to obtain.

                    With lump charcoal INSIDE the grill, on only the left half, I got readings of 600 degrees when closing the lid (you can probably get a lot hotter having a full bed of charcoal)

                    There's also a wow factor of having that classic off-set look sitting on your porch. I mean, I bought the sucker to do some smoking and grilling, but I am proud when someone steps on the porch and says "This guy obviously likes his BBQ"

                     
                    1. Phood Jul 26, 2008 10:23 PM

                      I love my offset smoker, but the process of using wood is lots more involved than Q'ing with lump charcoal. If lump charcoal is acceptable to you ( serious results, less complexity) look into the Weber bullet. It'll grill over charcoal, and can also do serious competition quality low-and-slow barbeque. Weber quality, too. Brinkman does the same, but I like the Weber quality.
                      just my $.02
                      http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/ The Barbeque FAQ -serious wisdom!
                      http://virtualweberbullet.com/ Weber bullet info and links

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Phood
                        weinstein5 Jul 27, 2008 09:20 AM

                        But you would never want to do lump charcoal alone when smoking - you will always want to through some other wood, either chunk oir chip soaked, to subtle flavors - in my brinkman offset I start the fire with lump charcoal and add soaked chips - usually pecan sometimes a sweet mix I get from my barbecue store and works great -

                        1. re: weinstein5
                          porker Jul 27, 2008 10:27 AM

                          I pretty much follow this method too; sugar-maple lump in the firebox, add handful of soaked chips (apple or cherry or hickory) at a time. Sometimes I'll use green apple-tree twigs.
                          Lotsa smoke to start, then taper off, depending on what I'm smokng. Then just the lump, providing a heat source and only a bit of smoke.

                          When I first started out I tended to oversmoke everything...it was with PLENTY of trial and error that I finally got to the results I wanted.

                      2. joshlane4 Aug 8, 2008 04:31 AM

                        So, I changed my mind again. Last night, I ordered a WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain). I decided I would rather be able to smoke great that be able to both smoke and grill with mediocrity.

                        Thank you all for your help, and I look forward to many years of smoking ahead!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: joshlane4
                          h
                          healthyscratch Aug 8, 2008 07:37 AM

                          Good choice! And you "can" grill on the WSM...

                          http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/gri...

                          And I'm sure you know One-Touch kettles are pretty inexpensive; if you have the room, three different Webers would be pretty cool.

                        2. j
                          jbnlj Apr 24, 2009 05:44 AM

                          inexpensive offsets can be made alot better with minor tinkering. if you get one get one that has a panel door instead of the entire top half opening like the chargriller pro does.it lets way to much air in around the entire length of the lid.home depot sells one with just a panel door and solid sidesand back.next take the thermometer that comes with it and smash it twice with a hammer. get a digital with a wire lead and probe and put it through a block of wood to keep it off the grate. set it right next to your food.(dont put the entire thing in) extend the chimney down with aluminum flashing so it draws air from deeper in the cooker and make a baffle between smoke box and cooking box(google it).these cookers work great and are under 200 dollars. with these few fixes the only other thing youll need is experiance. plus these grills just look cool. use good lump charcoal and youll be wowing your friends and if your like me youll become addicted to smoking

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jbnlj
                            r
                            ricepad Apr 24, 2009 08:30 AM

                            I couldn't agree more with your chimney extension and baffle modifications. Those are key to making the temps in the cooking chamber more even from end to end, and getting the most out of the smoke. For the chimney, I used a tin can that slipped over the bottom end of the chimney, and it rests on my cooking grate. (Cut out both ends of the can, of course!)

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