Smoker buying advice

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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby wade » 21 Sep 2015, 03:47

essexsmoker wrote:I would say a UDS is the second best bet after the weber kettle. If you are slightly DIY inclined then building a UDS should be a breeze. This will give you a full sized 57cm unit with the option of 2 or more shelves. You should be able to build one for around £100.


I agree that a UDS is a good way to go for someone who has been smoking for a while, but maybe not for someone who is completely new to smoking. At least with a tried and tested commercial smoker, if things are not going as expected it is probably something wrong with what you are doing. With a UDS a novice would not be able to tell if it was their technique or the UDS design/build that was the problem. Mind you, there are some fairly good UDS kits on the market these days.
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby Chris__M » 21 Sep 2015, 09:23

Once again, just from my perspective; not claiming to be an expert of any kind! :lol:

I hold a regular gaming event at my home, where anywhere between 6 and 16 people turn up to play games and be fed. It's a long time since I did this on a kettle, but my memory of the experience is as follows:
  • If used as a grill for burgers/bangers/chicken/veggies etc, it is easy to feed a dozen people off a 57cm Weber. You are going to be busy moving food around the grill, and you will, at some point want to get yourself a warming shelf of some kind (all garden centres will stock suitable items)
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  • If you are talking slow cooked smoking, like brisket or pulled pork, you will be either cooking it overnight or (my preference) the previous day, anyway. So if you need to cater for more people than your Weber can cope with, simply cook in two batches, refrigerate, then reheat the day of the event (either in the kettle, for effect, or in a domestic oven). To my mind there is absolutely no shame in doing this - in fact it is better than trying to time your pulled pork just right for lunchtime, and find you need to cook it for another 2 hours!
The Weber kettle is a versatile work-horse. Mine is 10 years old and still as good as new. Since I moved to the dark side (pellet grill), it has been on loan to a succession of friends, all whom have had great fun with it. My advice to them, if they are new to BBQ, is to start with something simple, like the Weber, and master cooking with that; then when they are ready, move on to something a little more sophisticated.
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby wade » 21 Sep 2015, 10:32

Chris__M wrote:If you are talking slow cooked smoking, like brisket or pulled pork, you will be either cooking it overnight or (my preference) the previous day, anyway. So if you need to cater for more people than your Weber can cope with, simply cook in two batches, refrigerate, then reheat the day of the event (either in the kettle, for effect, or in a domestic oven). To my mind there is absolutely no shame in doing this - in fact it is better than trying to time your pulled pork just right for lunchtime, and find you need to cook it for another 2 hours!
The Weber kettle is a versatile work-horse. Mine is 10 years old and still as good as new. Since I moved to the dark side (pellet grill), it has been on loan to a succession of friends, all whom have had great fun with it. My advice to them, if they are new to BBQ, is to start with something simple, like the Weber, and master cooking with that; then when they are ready, move on to something a little more sophisticated.


That is one of the secrets of a successful, stress free BBQ. When smoking something like a pulled pork shoulder cook it and pull it the day before and chill it overnight. It can be heated up the next day in the oven. I find that the flavour is actually enhanced when it is reheated the next day. It is also one less thing to remember on the day and means that you do not have to get up at 4 am to get it started.

I too cannot praise the Weber Kettles highly enough. I currently have 3 (2 x 57 cm and 1 x 67 cm). My 4th one died recently after 14 years of faithful service. Webers are a little more expensive than the DIY own brands but you certainly get what you pay for.
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby Vibe » 21 Sep 2015, 10:40

Riverside garden centre is currently doing the 57cm original for 100. Now is the time when they will start getting discounted at most place so keep an eye out


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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby Kiska95 » 21 Sep 2015, 14:28

I think Tiny aka Gerald Ratner owns Landmann not sure though :D
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby Bryan_80 » 21 Sep 2015, 14:47

The Weber 57cm is on sale in B&Q for £80 now which is well within my so-called budget and at £180 less than my favoured choice (the ProQ Frontier Elite) it's looking like a good option. I am more interested in smoking meat, both hot and cold as I really love smoked meat and cheese, than barbecuing even though I will continue to do that, so I really don't know what to do now. Will the final results be as good on either barbecue is one or the other harder to get a good end product for a novice like me?
I should add that I live in Edinburgh. Will both of them be able to handle the lovely Scottish weather thrown at it and be able to keep an steady temperature?

Cheers :)
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby wade » 21 Sep 2015, 15:25

Although you can cold smoke in a hot smoker the requirements are actually quite different. Depending on the cold smoke generator you use the limiting factors for cold smoking in something designed for hot smoking / BBQ is how cool you can keep the smoking chamber. With something like an AMNPS or ProQ smoke generator (I prefer the AMNPS) you should be able to keep the internal temperature low enough in your Weber to smoke your cheese and fish. In Backyard BBQ there is also a good idea for cold smoking in a Weber Kettle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFzzE3VaHmo

Although I started cold smoking in the Weber I progressed to using a separate unit for my cold smoking. All you really need is a smoke source and something to contain that smoke in. Before I built my purpose built cold smoker I simply used a new metal dustbin with board as a cover. Here is a practical cold smoker solution just using a cardboard box. http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/99316/cardboard-box-cold-smoker

When trying to choose a single smoker to do what you want there are always compromises that you will need to make.
The Weber is great for hot smoking and is good for cold smoking small items like cheese and fish. Trying to smoke something larger, like a slab of bacon or a country ham and you will struggle.
An offset smoker is great for cold smoking but for a novice can be tricky to get a good even temperature for hot smoking.
A ProQ Frontier or WSM are better all rounders.

If I were in your position I would probably go for the Weber for the hot smoking and also get a dustbin/filing cabinet/cardboard box for doing your cold smoking. Once you understand what you will be cold smoking longer term then you can upgrade to something purpose built.

Some commercial smokers - Like the Bradley - will do both but at a cost. The Bradley biscuits are not inexpensive.
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby essexsmoker » 22 Sep 2015, 09:05

wade wrote:
essexsmoker wrote:I would say a UDS is the second best bet after the weber kettle. If you are slightly DIY inclined then building a UDS should be a breeze. This will give you a full sized 57cm unit with the option of 2 or more shelves. You should be able to build one for around £100.


I agree that a UDS is a good way to go for someone who has been smoking for a while, but maybe not for someone who is completely new to smoking. At least with a tried and tested commercial smoker, if things are not going as expected it is probably something wrong with what you are doing. With a UDS a novice would not be able to tell if it was their technique or the UDS design/build that was the problem. Mind you, there are some fairly good UDS kits on the market these days.

There is a wealth of info on the net re. UDS use and if asking on this forum everyone on here.

At the end of the day it's just a big tube with a fire in the bottom. A WSM is just a posh version thereof.

Also if you have a tight budget like this chap it is all he will need. He will get to learn it pretty quick and a few problems make it more of a hobby anyway! :)
Also, you learn more from problems than if things go well. :D
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby QueFrescoPaul » 22 Sep 2015, 18:40

+1 to the Weber Kettle vote - it really is a versatile bit of kit, which will let you do both grilling and slow smoking.

To add to wade's advice on getting the 57cm version; also avoid anything with "compact" in the name. Weber do "compact" versions of their grills for a slightly cheaper price. There's nothing wrong with them, as such, but they have a lot shallower lid, which makes doing things like beer can chicken more difficult.


I'll +2 it. I actually don't like them that much because the build quality is poor. Don't get me wrong it'll last a good few years and certainly long enough for you to work out whether BBQ is your passion but after a couple of seasons do be prepared for the lid handle to come loose and the legs to fall off (the legs only fall off if you lift it to move it).

You can pick up a Weber 57 for about 80 quid at this time of year so that's £20 a year if you get 4 seasons out of it. Not too shabby considering the versatility of cooking possible.

Last point on beer can chicken on a Weber - make sure it's a small chicken or else the lid won't sit in position.
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Re: Smoker buying advice

Postby essexsmoker » 22 Sep 2015, 18:46

It depends on how you take care of it. I know a chap on the net that has had the same one for 18yrs!
Last edited by essexsmoker on 23 Sep 2015, 08:54, edited 1 time in total.
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