$90 off MES 30 @ Cabelas (good till Dec 3)

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by jckdanls 07, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have a Christmas catalog from Cabelas and they offer the MES 30 for only $140 (reg $230)... The picture is the Gen 1 version (controls on top in the back).... I believe it's on the website as well.... Pretty good deal If your looking for one....
  2. I just purchased one through one of their competitor's stores because they have a price match policy. The nice thing was that it was cash and carry, no shipping or additional charges! Looking forward to using it. I've been smoking on a Brinkman Electric for years (on my second one now) so the MES will be a luxury for me.

  3. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    This is actually an updated Gen 1 with a different controller design and an internal meat probe. For $140 I'd snap it up. In fact, if I didn't already own a MES 30 Gen 1 (original design) I'd be on my way to Cabela's right now.
  4. troutter

    troutter Fire Starter

    This is a killer deal and a nice little smoker to boot
  5. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    Newbie here, anxious to get my first smoker. Lookin at the MES, will probably dive in with a 30" just to get started. Saw the posting about the Cabela's gen 1 MES and had a question/concern: is this the model that you have to replace the entire body to replace the heating element, or do you just replace the heating element? Thank you for your constructive replies.
  6. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The heating element can be replaced by itself. In fact, an instruction manual is available online in PDF format and is most likely shipped with the replacement by Customer Service. You can also watch a how-to video on You Tube. I've had my MES 30 Gen 1 for over two years with no need to replace anything but that's purely my own experience. I love this smoker.
  7. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    daRicksta: Thank you for the update. I appreciate your input and valuable experience with your MES. I did browse the over 1000 reviews on Amazon for the MES and a common issue is that some heating elements don't last as long as yours has, and, some MES models require you to replace the smoker body with the heating element. Masterbuilt has since fixed this issue, with the newer units having an easier element replacement strategy. Being new to MES, I'm not sure of which gen had this original heating element issue, thus, my original inquiry.
    Once again, mucho gracias for you insights.
  8. chase1300

    chase1300 Fire Starter

    I just purched this one from Sam's club for $140. Is this the same one you guys are talking about? I still haven't decided if I'm going to keep it or not.

    Sorry not the best pic!
  9. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    Here is some text from a review on Amazon:

    30" Electric Smokers
    > Model #20070106; sold here on Amazon.
    For heating element replacement, you must replace the entire body - and the customer can do this. The cost for the new body is $60.00 plus shipping and handling.
    > Model #20070110; smoker with window and meat probe
    The heating element alone can be replaced by the customer.
    > Model #20070910; standard 30" edition
    The heating element alone can be replaced by the customer.

    40" Electric Smokers
    > Model #20070710; smoker with window and meat probe
    The heating element alone can be replaced by the customer.

    Hope this helps.
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Da nada, toejam. Just checked that pdf doc again and the instructions apply to my model, and models 20070710 and 20070810 which I also assume are Gen 1 30" models. Honestly, I probably haven't used my smoker nearly as often as many other guys which either could be why the heating element is fine or I happen to have a well-made smoker, I have no idea.

    I just watched a You Tube video on replacing the element on a 40" MES Gen 2 with a window and the guy just had to take out the chip loader, unscrew 3 screws holding the wood chip tray against the side wall, removed the wood chip tray, removed the 6 screws from the element cover plate on the outside rear wall, and then pulled out the element. No new parts needs other than the element. It's real straightforward and easy. The model #20070106 is an older version of the MES 30 and I bet is no longer being produced. If you buy the basic MES 30, which is what I have, you'll get the redesign that would just require the element to be replaced without replacing the entire body. The replacement procedure appears to be consistent with both 30" and 40" Gen 1 and Gen 2 models. The MBTech Guy who can be reached by PM through this forum could provide the most accurate and up-to-date info.

    If you look at the stats on this forum, most of own the MES 30 Gen 1. As I have said several times, every assembly line produces a percentage of lemons. I read bad reviews on products I've purchased and continue to enjoy and use a lot. It's my opinion that a percentage of product reviewers leave out important details like what they may have done to screw up the thing. I'd say in many cases user-caused damage is the actual culprit although lemons can be shipped if people on the assembly line had a really bad day or have ceased to care about quality and the supervisors sign off on defective products just to keep their production numbers up to over above quota.

    Both positive and negative product reviews can be phonied. However, hundreds or thousands of positive reviews can't be phonied on Amazon because of safeguards against autobot posts. Currently 1,907 users rate my MES 30 model #20070910 is rated an average 4 out of 5 stars and is the #1 best seller. I chose the MES because I wanted an electric smoker without the hassle of reloading charcoal or liquid propane. With the AMNPS smoking is virtually set it and forget it. It's not how the big boys do it but it's how most of us home smokers on a budget prefer to do it.
  11. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    Yeah, and you don't know how many competitors are putting in bad reviews as well. The overall trend for the MES reviews are definitely positive, which is a good think for MES purchasers. Just need to make sure you're not buying one of the known duds or units that require you to replace the entire body to replace the heating element. As you've indicated, the Masterbuilt has addressed this issue with their newer models, you just need to verify that the model you're purchasing is not an older model stuck in someone's inventory.

    I was actually about to order one of the Cookshack smokers, they have tremendously good reviews, as well as a PREMIUM price for the unit. After sleeping on it, I realized I can buy 6 MES's for one Cookshack smoker, kicked myself in the head and went ahead and ordered a MES 30" (should be here tomorrow). If it works out nice, I may revisit the Cookshack for my next smoker, we'll see how a year of smoking does with the MES 30".

    I'm curious how your AMNPS is working for you? I browsed the mailbox mod comments and see it as something that has mixed results. Some folks can get it working without problems. Others have issues keeping the AMNPS lit through an entire smoke cycle. After all the reading, I came away with the impression that it might be a good idea, once all the kinks are worked out. Like you indicated, I'm wanting to get in the set-it-and-forget-it mode, otherwise I'd be looking at a gas or wood smoker. If I have to keep monitoring the AMNPS tray then it isn't really addressing my needs. Also, $35 for a tray seems high, no matter how good it is.
  12. bansai

    bansai Newbie

    I took advantage of this sale on black Friday. They are as of today (on DEC 4) still selling these for 139, so they've extended the sale. and free shipping now for orders over 49 bucks - but, they add a surcharge for the weight / bulk of the smoker and that will add 14 dollars. The convenience was worth it as I spend that in gas alone driving out there.

    It took 2 days to get to my door. I've seasoned it and used it once just for some brats so far that turned out better than expected. The temp on mine runs 7 degrees cooler than indicated with the built in thermometer. And the temp swings about 10 degrees. Example - set at 240 degrees - (is really 233) and then it swings from 235 to about 245 which isn't bad at all. I just plan on setting the temp 7 degrees higher and it's good to go.

    I am very pleased so far. This weekend I have plans to do a couple of chickens that will become my daughters and my 'lunch meat' for our sandwiches next week. For my first cook I used the built in chip feeder/tray which performed spot on. I also have on hand the external cold smoke attachment for doing cheese, and in case I ever run into any issues with quality / quantity of smoke delivered by the bare bones unit.

    Few pics of this, and other things I splurged on that day if I can add them below:

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014
  13. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    First, as I wrote, all current MES models have the redesigned element and I haven't seen any retailer selling the older version. It's for this reason I would stay away from places like Ebay.

    Next, the MES 30 is just what it is: a great beginner's smoker at a great price which is why I bought it. Learn how to smoke on the MES and then if you choose you can move it to the more expensive and heavy duty jobs. I've had mine for two years and feel I'm just now beginning to know what I'm doing. Yeah, I'd like to have not a Cookshack but perhaps one of those large offset pro jobs you see where guys cook "Q" at Farmers Markets or festivals or competitions but that ain't happening on my budget and in my small backyard. With my MES, I store it in my garage on a hand truck and wheel it out when I'm ready to use it.

    With the AMNPS, for me it stays lit 98% of the time. The only times I've had problems has been a few times using it in cold, damp weather when I was cold smoking, or with not having sufficient airflow in the smoker, or not getting it lit properly (there's lots of advice here and videos on You Tube with tips on lighting it and getting it to stay lit). Even when the AMNPS kept going out when  I was cold smoking cheese it produced more than enough smoke to produce some great smoked cheese even though I smoked the cheeses about an hour or two too long. One time my MES was burning too hot due to my error and so the wood pellets in the AMNPS were burnt out in a couple of hours instead of 6-12. I do most of my smoking in warm weather and under those conditions it performs beautifully for me.

    I don't use any mods, least of all the mailbox, because Todd designed the AMNPS for the MES 30 as a standalone without mods. For my smoker I've found inserting the lit end of the AMNPS against the back wall provides the best airflow. Based on suggestions, I've pulled out the chip loader an inch or two but I've also found it isn't necessary. According to Todd and others, the big mistake most guys make is to actually fill the water pan with water although that's what Masterbuilt recommends but MB also recommends the use of wood chips. From trial and error I've found that leaving the water pan empty and simply foiling over the top is sufficient and I've yet to have the meat dry out. The water pan produces steam which tends to smother oxygen and that's what snuffs out the AMNPS. Some guys suggest filling the water pan with clean playground sand to turn it into a heat sink. I did that a few times but saw no difference so that's why I leave it foiled and empty.

    Whether the AMNPS is priced high or reasonably is per one's personal values. I've bought two of them since I made the stupid mistake of placing a hot one on top of a plastic resin table and it melted through. I thought it'd be easier to buy a new one instead of trying to melt the plastic off the AMNPS with my propane torch (I've still got that first one so I still might try that next summer). Anyway, with the purchase of the AMNPS Todd throws in a 2 lb. bag of his Pitmaster's Choice wood pellets, which is a terrific all-purpose blend.

    To me, $35 is a bargain, especially since you can use it for cold smoking without buying yet another accessory. The cold smoking units that I've seen for about the same amount of money only do just that: cold smokes. Todd makes his products in his own facility; nothing is made overseas. His wood pellets are 100% wood. For all of that, the AMNPS is a bargain at $35 and Todd ships the package for free. One additional thing: what is outstanding customer service worth to you? Todd provides among the best I've ever encountered; I think he might even surpass the great customer service of Masterbuilt. Not only that, you can reach him here through a post or a PM or you can email him and he always responds quickly.

    You'll find that vast majority of Todd's customers greatly admire him. A couple of guys even helped him with the R&D and QC during the early days of his company. One of them is Bearcarver and I consider him among my most valuable Masterbuilt, AMNPS (and smoking in general) resources.
  14. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    Just curious why others go through putting in the mods if the AMNPS is supposed to work flawlessly with the MES?

    I still don't have my MES (coming tomorrow), so, don't know what I don't know at this time. I'm reluctant to go the mailbox route due to all the aluminum inserted in your cooking path (mailbox+flex+elbows) and the (un)healthy affects of aluminum. I saw where some folks recommended putting bricks in the bottom of the MES to retain heat, don't know how much room there is available for bricks. Will get a better idea when my unit arrives (did I mention that it's coming tomorrow?).

    The $35 may be justifiable, it just seems steep for a cooking tray. Also, where do you get your pellets from? Are they as economical as wood chips? Can you burn wood chips in the AMNPS instead of pelletts? What is it about the MES design that the integrated wood burner is insufficient and you need an additional $35 burning tray?

    I'm full of questions at this time, but, that's because I'm a newbie. I'll know more when my unit gets here (tomorrow).
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ask away; I still ask questions which is one of the ways I learn. I've noticed that we've got a lot of mechanics and electricians in the group who love to customize their MES whether it's installing an Auber controller or their own mailbox mod invention. Maybe some smokers need mods to increase airflow but to me it's all about the competition: who can come up with the best original mod. I've read there are airflow problems with the Gen 2's but on Amazon with 1,908 reviews it's rated an average 4.2 out of 5 points. How many complaints do we have about it in these forums--20? 30? This is why I don't join others in talking crap about them because I only have personal experience with the MES 30 Gen 1--and you now know how much I love mine.

    I'm not the kind of guy into mods, anyway. I don't want to drill new holes in the sides and top. I don't want to go to a hardware store and buy aluminum tubing and hardware and other material to Frankenstein my smoker. I chose the MES because I could use it immediately right out of the box as is. I quickly found out wood chips were a huge hassle and some guys here turned me onto the AMNPS. If you think that $35 is a bit high for a burning tray, ask yourself this: would you prefer to spend that money for a wood pellet tray which could burn untended for up to 16 hours (according to Bearcarver) or would you rather load more wood chips every 20-30 minutes over a a 6-12 hour smoke for free? I hated dealing with the wood chips; looking outside my door at the top vent and seeing absolutely no smoke after about 30 minutes. To me it's a no-brainer because I'd rather spend my time with my ET-733 tracking ambient and internal temps, attending to what I'm cooking and not worrying about reloading the wood chip holder. For me, the AMNPS works just fine with my standard issue MES. I just load the burning end to the back since there seems to be better airflow back there. I think that's due to the placement of the top vent as well as the wood chip loader--but again, that's just me. I think pellets are more economical than wood chips because with the AMNPS, I rarely use more than a row and a half of pellets over 4-6 hours while I kept having to feed wood chips into the loader all that time. Even if it wasn't more economical it was sure more convenient.

    In the beginning I bought some wood pellets at local retailers but now I buy them exclusively from Todd. Guys here I respect say he's got the best wood pellets (and dust) at great prices. He sells them in 2 and 5 lb bags and the thing is, he's got about every wood "flavor" imaginable, some I never heard of. I've got what I consider are the basics: hickory, mesquite, apple, pecan, oak, and alder in different sizes. I've also got about 3 bags of his Pitmaster's Choice which also includes cherry. I've read that cherry is such a hard wood it's almost impossible to keep lit so they guys here mix it with a hot burning wood like hickory. I don't have to do it myself because Todd already did it with his Pitmaster's Choice. However, I took a BBQ where the instructor claimed you couldn't tell the taste difference anyway. He also claimed that after four hours of cooking or when meat got to an IT of 160 it could absorb no more smoke. From what I've read elsewhere, both claims are wrong--but it was still a great class.

    No room for bricks in the MES. I think it's it's both needless and a dumb idea but perhaps they don't think so in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and the northern plains states this time of year. It's definitely not needed here on the West Coast.

    The AMNPS is what its name says it is: a pellet smoker. It wasn't designed to hold wood chips. That's what the wood chip holder in the MES is for. And no one said that the integrated wood burner (as you call it) was insufficient. The design of the MES is that you plop wood chips under a heating element which heats the chips up to the smoldering point. Wood chips produce great smoke flavor in smokers and in charcoal/propane grills or in the kitchen; they definitely have their place in cooking. The whole point of the AMNPS was to produce the same or superior results using more convenient wood pellets which burn for a much longer time than chips. Have you ever used wood chips--wet or dry--on top of charcoal? You get maybe 5-10 minutes worth of smoke out of them and then they're ashes. As I wrote, I can get 4-6 hours of continuous smoke from a row and a half of the AMNPS, and there are three rows.

    Please post when you get the smoker. Once you've got it all setup (and there's hardly any setup to be done) and ready to go, post it here. You are going to love home smoking--guaranteed.
  16. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    Todd should put you on his sales staff. :cool:

    I got the sense that the MES could burn chips, but, as you'd said, you'd have to babysit the smoker all day. I'm leaning toward the set-it-and-forget-it mode, so, the AMNPS may be something I'll invest in. So, yes, $35 is ok if it saves me from yo-yo'ing to the MES every 20 minutes to load more wood chips.

    Seems like I read on another thread that the meat wouldn't absorb smoke after some temperature. Don't know, will have to find out once I get into the swing of things.

    So, what to smoke first on my new toy? I 've got a turkey for xmas, but, that's a ways off. It's an open slate since I've got nothing else in the freezer ready to smoke, so, will have to make a trip to the local meat house. Let's see, my new MES gets here tomorrow, most likely late late late tomorrow. I won't have it setup until either later tomorrow evening or Sat morn. Need to do a seasoning run on the MES. While it's seasoning, I can make a trip to the meat house and get some morsel for the first sacrifice to/on the MES. What to get? What to get?

    Decisions. Decisions.
  17. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's a funny comment, Toejam, because it's frequently crossed my mind that people might think I'm shilling for Todd (Todd, I am available for hire if you're reading this...). Truth is I strongly support all businesses that I think deserve it. That's why I also talk up Masterbuilt despite it being the only smoker I've ever owned.Todd has helped me in many ways as I'm sure he's helped his other customers. His wife is also involved in the business and she's great, too.

    My advice for your new smoker is to try it out with wood chips first. You can go out to a hardware store or superstores that sell camping equipment along with food and other stuff. My local Fred Meyer (owned by Kroger) sells both wood chips and wood pellets. Costco sells HUGE bags of pellets (since they sell Traeger smoker/grills) and I think they sell wood chips. So you can have your wood chips today instead of waiting a week or so for the AMNPS and bag of wood pellets to be delivered. See firsthand how you like dealing with wood chips. If they work for you--great. But at least you have more of a basis to decide if you want to order the AMNPS (or another wood pellet burner you come across since there are quite a few others) or not. Remember, when you get further into smoking you'll want to try out cold smoking. The AMNPS is great for both hot and cold smoking and Masterbuilt sells a cold smoking attachment for the MES. The MB cold smoker has an electric motor to continuously feed chips into the MES but I don't understand why it also can't be used for hot smoking? But I wouldn't buy it for the same reason I won't buy a Bradley smoker: motorized parts can burn out or otherwise go bad. With the AMNPS no moving parts to worry about. Also Bradley requires you use their wood biscuits and why would I want to be restricted to that?

    What should you smoke first? Two words: baby back ribs or St. Louis style ribs. No wait, that's more than three...anyway, I suggest you buy two racks and look up recipes here and online. I own two smoker books and quite a few grilling books--much of the grilling books are by Steven Raichlen.The grilling books have recipes for dry rubs and sauces (some people prefer wet rubs). For ribs or beef brisket what's all important is the rub, as well as mop or sauce if you choose to use one, and the cooking method. A basic bb ribs recipe is 3-2-1 cooking: 3 hours uncovered, 2 hours covered in foil, last hour uncovered while brushing BBQ sauce on it. 3-2-1 isn't set in stone; I use variations if I've forgotten to foil or unfoil or something. I've recently discovered that when it comes to rubs for ribs and beef brisket wet mustard is your friend. slather it all over the meat and then apply your dry rub. You won't taste the mustard but it sure adds to a moist end product.

    You can't fit a very large turkey inside a MES 30 anyway but you also need to consider this: factoring in how long in hours it will take to heat up the internal temp of turkey outside of the danger zone. Briefly, unrefrigerated meat can't safely be kept below 140 degrees for more than 4 hours due to bacteria buildup which will poison you. Because of the size and bones and everything, whole turkeys can be very risky in a smoker BUT--turkey breasts are no problem. I smoked one a few weeks ago and it came out superbly if I do say so myself. Moist and smoky--and it was my first one. The turkey had been in our freezer for about two years.

    If you choose brisket--you may be able to fit up to 10 lbs on a rack. If not, some guys take a big brisket and slice it in half. If the ribs or brisket are touching the sidewalls, not to worry, they're shrink over the course of cooking. A brisket should take about 6 hours but could be more; most guys smoke it to an internal temp of 185-200 degrees or so you MUST have a good and accurate therm with at least one probe. I advise you get a brisket with only the flat--not with the point attached. The point looks just like its name and is at the front of brisket. It's a different cut and texture and needs to be removed and cooked separately. Many supermarkets sell only the flat; that's the easiest way to go when cooking your first brisket. The next one I buy will have the point so I can make my first batch of burnt ends.

    With ribs, first thing to do is to turn them over bone side up and remove the membrane. If you don't, you'll see this dried crinkly paper-like thing on the bones which is not tasty. The membrane also blocks smoke from permeating the meat from the bones side. There are You Tube videos showing how to remove the membrane and, warning: it can be really easy or it can be a bitch. The ribs are done when they bend on the bone but don't necessarily meat falling off done. The pros prefer a little "pull" when tugging at the meat with their teeth. But some guys like falling off the bone done so it's all personal preference. Again, get a good basic rub to start and then start researching how to make your own--they're easy. One of my favorite BBQ sauces is Stubbs (also makes among the best charcoal briquettes out there) but I also find good craft BBQ sauces on sale in local supermarkets. I only buy stuff that doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup.

    I've found out with briskets that they can get "stuck" at 160 degrees IT, which means the temp stays right there for maybe an hour or so. Then miraculously you'll see the temp increase again up to the target of 185-200. Try using hickory wood chips to start; Southern smokers swear by pecan or even apple for pork but I also like that hickory. Mesquite or oak are also good for brisket. What I try to do is imagine what flavor a certain wood will impart to what I'm cooking. As you get more adventurous you can start mixing different woods together to develop different, complementary and more complex flavors. Also, for brisket, a renowned smoker from Austin named Aaron Franklin uses only a salt-and-pepper rub over his oak-smoked world famous beef brisket. People line up for hours to buy and eat his stuff.

    Don't worry if in the beginning the smoked meat has a "harsh" flavor. That means it was oversmoked and I think we've all done it in the beginning. Some guys choose to stop using wood smoke maybe halfway or three-quarters into the smoke, especially while the meat is foiled. If I have wood pellets left I let them smoke until they're all ash. The great thing about the AMNPS is that it doesn't put out too much smoke; somehow Todd designed it to produce what's called TBS--thin blue smoke--over a long period of time. If it's producing too much smoke then you might adjust the top vent on the MES to reduce airflow. After two years, I've just gotten to the point where my smoked meat no longer tastes harsh. Still working on how I want the ribs to look since my son prefers the wet look to dry and barky. All this is part of the fun of home smoking.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
  18. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    Guess what just arrived at my door: MES 30" + Maverick thermometer + Apple wood chips.
    Time to start seasoning the big boy.
  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to the club, Toejam. You're a real smoker now. I've got the Maverick ET-733. Just follow the written instructions and you'll be fine. You can either choose to set up target smoker and meat temps or just let the probes do their thing and report what those temps are in real time. Now, picture yourself sitting in your favorite chair watching TV in your warm home while monitoring the smoker in the cold outside. THAT'S why I love the Maverick.

    Since you got apple wood chips, I suggest going with pork ribs whether they be spare or baby back or St. Louis. OR get yourself a pork shoulder (aka boston or pork butt) and smoke yourself some pulled pork, my friend. Buy some commercial pork rub to cover the entire outside, cook it between 215-250 degrees for maybe 6-8 hours (depending on its size) and you'll be eating incredible pulled pork used in a variety of dishes over the next week. If you use Mexican spices and seasonings for your dry rub you can make it into a big batch of carnitas.
  20. toejam

    toejam Newbie

    Note to self: make sure the wood chip shelf is fully inserted before closing MES door. Otherwise, the inserted wood gets dumped right on the heating element instead of the burn tray and your ashes are all over the bottom of the MES.

    And it put out a pretty TBS trail the whole time.

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