smoker grills with offset firebox

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by marknb, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Hey all,

    My wife and I (well, mostly me!) are researching a new grill to replace our propane CharBroil. Personally, I'm not going to miss propane refills, tank inspections, and corroded/clogged cast iron burners one bit.

    If anyone would like to chime in, I'd like some insight into units like the Brinkmann Pitmaster Deluxe and the CharBroil American Gourmet Deluxe. Are there other brands I should be looking at? What can I expect for the money? I want something that's going to last, so I'm kind of shying away from the CharBroil as it seems fairly 'entry level' and I don't feel its probably likely to last.

    I've looked at some other charcoal grills like the Big Green Egg, but for ribs and chicken it would seem the offsets are a better fit. Also the BGE is about $1500 Canadian once you have it nicely outfitted. I was hoping to find something for $600 or less, but lets see what kind of feedback I get first.


  2. fourthwind

    fourthwind Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You will get a lot of great advice from these guys and gals. My 2 cents worth is that there will be no one grill, smoker, kettle that will do everything you may want. As you can see on my list, I have everything but an offset. Which is my next project. The offsets like the brinkman, need quite a bit of modification to be a great smoker, and when you make those modifications, they cease to be something you can grill on. For me it's like having the right tool for the right job. Each type of smoker, gas grill, charcoal grill ect has it's own properties. If it were me making the decision to replace the gas grill, I would buy the offset smoker, and a 22 inch weber kettle. That would cover 95% of the cooking you will want to do.

    BTW I see your using the kitchenaid as a grinder. Do yourself a big favor and buy a regular grinder. If you do a lot of grinding you will burn out your favorite mixer, and be in hot water with the wife! This happened to me and another guy I know. 300 bucks for a new mixer is a lot more expensive than spending 150 on a decent grinder.
  3. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Greetings fellow convert! [​IMG] I just made the same switch myself, from gas to charcoal.... love it!

    I ended up going with the Char-griller Smokin' Pro 800 w/ side fire box, which I got a Lowe's for $170 (US). Then I spent about another $40-50 on some of the basic mods (check the forum for the list of recomended mods). The main mods are the smoke stack, and some sort of charcoal basket. For the baffle I just flipped my main chamber charcoal pan over and hung it as high as I could - temp diff. from one side to the other is about 20° (very manageable).

    The two main reasons I went with the offset are to not have to mess with rotating racks (like some of the verticals), and the large internal space. I have room to do two racks of ribs, the cut off rib skirts, two 6-8 lb. shoulders or butts, a large pan of Dutche's Wicked baked beans (Dutch you da' MAN!! [​IMG]), and a few ABT's for my mid-smoke snack [​IMG].

    Over all I have been very happy with the smoker I got, but I will say it might not be the most efficient smoker to use in colder weather. Large chamber means lots of lump to keep it up to temp if the weather is cold'ish. But for a 1st smoker and bang for the buck I am very happy.

    Now as Fourthwind said you don't want to grill on it once you have that beutiful mahogany seasoning on the inside - the high heat grilling will burn the seasoning off of the grates. So I got a 22" Weber Kettel off of Craigslist for $25, that I use not only for high heat grilling but also as a place to start my chimneys of lump to feed the smoker.

    Best suggestion is to read the forums and ask questions. You will get a feel for the style of smoker you believe will best fit your needs... and budget![​IMG]

    Best of luck!
  4. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Re: grinder, good stuff, thanks! I have used it a number of times, works good, but I did get that mixer as a present for my wife, she would not be pleased.
  5. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    My uses will be primarily grilling. Steak, burgers and assorted tubular meat. I do have a Centro Electric Smoker, and just ordered a Smoke Daddy for generating smoke at low temps, I just thought another option for hotter smoking - ribs and chicken would be nice. Now that you mention it, beans would also be a fantastic idea....And, it would seem there's less clean up than my electric.

    I'll lose the mahogany patina in high temps you say? Hm...

    Thanks for the other comments, got to do some reviewin' and ponderin' now.

  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You might want to look at some of the vertical smokers then. I believe they can produce some of the higher temps a bit easier. You can pick up a ECB (El Cheapo Brinkman) off of craigslist for $20-$40, and with mod's they should work good! Another way to get a smoke flavor on something like a Weber kettle is just toss a couple of chunks of hickory (or whatever flavor wood) into your coals. I did that the other night with a couple of steaks and some corn on the cob. Gave everything a nice smoke flavor but obviously wasn't true smoking.

    Another nice thing about some of the verticals is a much smaller footprint on the patio/deck. My horizontal takes up more room than a 4 burner gas grill with side burner and work table/shelf.

    As for the beans! If you do some true smoking definately give Dutche's beans a try! I like to smoke the skirt that I cut off of the ribs then chop them up and toss 'em into the beans..... the beans have now become more popular than the ribs with my kids [​IMG]
  7. helljack6

    helljack6 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Save yourself a LOT of money and build your own UDS. Barrel plus parts will probably run you the same if not slightly more than an ECB. Use four 1" air intakes and you can easily hit 450-600 degrees. I know because I used mine last night with four 1/2" intakes and with all four open and the lid off, I still pulled 550 degrees. And you can still cook low and slow on it. Either way you cook, you'll get that "open pit" flavor unless you use a heat diffuser right over the fire basket.

    Barrel = $20-$30
    Weber 21" hinged cooking grate = $19
    Mounting Hardware = $5
    Lowes Shaker basket = $13-$15
    Two Bricks to set the basket on with clearance beneath = Free?
    Your preferred fuel be it lump or briquettes = ?

    Time to build after reading and understanding the basic concept and plans = less than an hour assuming you have the right tools
  8. chisoxjim

    chisoxjim Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    cut my bbq teeth on a chargriller offset, with some minor modifications it turned out some good bbq. However I still found myself having to babysit it too much. The capacity was great, never a lack of room. However it took up way too much room on my 10 x 12 deck, and alot of room in my garage(my wife wants it gone)

    My offset has been covered in my garage since May 16th(nad I smoke meat twice a weekend). A buddy loaned me his WSM, and I instantly liked the easy use, and good product the WSM turned out. The only drawbacks were capacity, and price.

    I dreaded pulling the offset out of the garage when I returned the WSM, so instead I bought a GOSM propane fired cabinet smoker. Easy to use straight from the box after assembly(after seasoning), clean tasting smokes, great temperature control, decent capacity, and I have found cheaper to run than the WSM( I got 30+ hours out of $17 dollar tank of propane which was 5+ smokes).

    My offset will probably be sold @ our garage sale next month, it served me well, taught me what I needed to know, and was a great tool. I say if you can learn on a el cheapo offset, and turn out good bbq you can turn out good bbq on anything. I will be buying a WSM in the next year or so just to have a charcoal burner at my disposal. For now I have a Weber ketlle for a charcoal smoker if I feel the need.

    a UDS would be great, but I am not as handy as some folks on here.

    good luck with your purchase,
  9. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    You said you don't want entry level, and at the price you listed you can get something decent, so as a Brinkman bullet (ECB) owner, I recommend you don't bother with an ECB.

    How much meat do you expect to grill and smoke? Offsets need modifications, and they aren't fuel efficient if you're just making something for dinner tonight. A lot of offset users here load up, and cook and freeze a ton of food at once. I don't, so an offset would be a complete waste for me.

    These days I smoke on a Weber 22 1/2 inch Kettle. It does a great job, holds a decent amount of food, and is of course, a kick-butt grill. You can get goodies like charcoal baskets, a Smokenator (for smoking,) a rotissorie among other things to make your cooks taste fantastic. If you have the room, your budget allows for both a Kettle, and a Weber Smokey mountain. That would be an awesome combo!
  10. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Obviously everyone has a recommendation, thought I would put in my 2 cents. $600 price range. hmmm. As Fourthwind pointed out, its really a question of tools for the job.

    First you have a great smoker in the Masterbuild Centro Electric Smoker, is that a 30" or 40"? Are you satisfied with the MES? Lets assume you are, so you have the smoking part covered for now.

    You want to grill and you think you want Charcoal. The best economical Charcoal grill is the the Weber Kettle. The new 26" model will give you more than enough capacity, but most use the 22" model. The main problem with the 26 will be charcoal usage, to get the right heat you will need more briquettes and that is more money. The 22" can do a lot, grill steaks, hamburgers, etc. Roast Chicken, and other meats using indirect cooking method. Smoke too after you figure out the basics.

    Personally I Like having the MES, a 22" Weber Kettle", and a Weber Genesis Silver B gas grill. Believe me if you are tired of refilling a propane bottle, then putting dirty briquettes and building fires, plus dumping old dirty briquettes may wear you out even more. I use both the gas and charcoal all the time and sometimes at the same time. The weber kettle makes the best roasted chicken, and its super easy. If I have time I like to use the kettle. But a lot of times I just don't have the time, and that is where the Gas Grill comes in. We cook almost all our summer meals on a BBQ.
    Here is the past 7 days as an example.

    Tue. I smoked 2 Roasts and potatoes in MES, grilled the potates on gas grill with Asperagus.
    Mon. Grilled sausage & peppers on gas grill,
    Sun. Left overs
    Sat. Grilled shrimp on skewers w/ red potatoes, asperagus all on kettle
    Fri. Grilled hamburgers, steak fries, steamed broccoli, all on gas grill
    Thr Dined out
    Wed. Roasted Chicken w/potatoes, on kettle

    The convience a gas grill offers is great. Your problem is you have a cheap gas grill. If you buy the $90 version of the Weber Kettle not the fancy model. Save a few hundred more and get a Weber EP320 for around $600-700 american. Or just save $1300 and get the Summit. The best thing about the Webers is parts and warranty, the parts are always available. My Genesis Silver B is 10 years old, I have replaced just about everything, burners twice, just replaced the grates, flavorizer bars, ignition, tank regulator,etc. There are a lot of deals on Webers both the Genesis and the Summit. The speciality stores have to get rid of inventory, and summer is almost over. Go to the speciality stores and make friends and you might get a great deal. There is an opinion that the big box stores that offer weber genesis models are not selling the same quality as the speciality stores. You will have to compare to besure. Find out when the big box stores put bbqs on clearance.
  11. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    Ye gods, that's a lot to take in guys, thanks for all the replies! I was speaking with my wife again about this last night over supper, and she's of the mind that we should be looking at building a masonry grill of some kind....yeah right! I like the idea, but additional major projects (I have a two year old son with tentative plans for a second child, and a yard to landscape) are not in the cards right now. Same goes for a UDS, I like the idea, but I fear I'd have a garage full of parts for the next year. And I personally am not a fan of the pan fried steak, no offense to anyone who is.

    So, now I'm thinking the alternative plan will be to save the cash I would spend on a higher end unit, get something simpler like a Weber Kettle, and buy myself a couple years of lump charcoal grilling while I plan out something major and home made. Like an old school stone or brick smokehouse with a charcoal grill built on top of the smoker firebox.... I can dream can't I?
  12. marknb

    marknb Meat Mopper

    As for gas grills, well i grew up with them really. And the last one, the one that's crapped out right now, wasn't a cheapy exactly either, paid about $500 on clearance 7 years ago. And its held up ok, but the last couple years the cast iron burners have become scaled and clogged, and I'm tired of trying different ways to clean them out - banging them together upside down, soaking them in CLR, poking a finish nail through all the little holes, etc. Replacements are $50 (x3). The last house it was under a roof on my porch, but my new place its out in the back yard, exposed. I can't drag it back and forth from the garage since my lot is sloped, and at present unlandscaped.

    All this business aside, its unescapable gas grills most days of the week are very convenient. When they work everything's peachy, but there's always fussing with just about everything it seems, so....

    Anyway, I also bought a 30lb replacement propane tank after my father in law winged the last one with the snow plow a few years ago. He didn't damage the tank, but he sort of munched the handle on top, and they guy at the local gas bar refused to fill it. I'm still getting the 30lb-er filled 2 times a year at about $18-19 a throw. The tank was $60, plus $5 for the purge when it was first filled. And, propane cylinders have a max 10 years life span in Canada, based on the manufacturers stamp at the top. My own dumbass fault, but I bought a new tank off the shelf that was already 3 years old!

    BTW, the 20lb tank my pappy in law winged still had 4 years left on it, and it was purchased to replace the previous 20lb tank that I had to hand over prematurely when the industry switched from internal to external threads on the valve. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever got the full 10 years from a propane tank, though like i said, that's partially mishap and my own fault for not looking before buying. What it amounts to is propane costs me about $45-60 per year, depending on how much grilling I do, and I usually don't stop until its colder than +5F (-15c). That, and now the grill is acting up to the point where I've given up using it and switched over to my portable camping grill.

    Part of the attraction of switching over to charcoal is the simpler technology, and its going to cost less too. 20lb bags of lump charcoal are on right now at the Home Depot for $8.50. Even if I buy 80lbs a year I'm ahead on that count, and I won't run out of fuel mid-cook (never had a tank with a gauge, happens every fill!). And people keep telling me food cooked over charcoal tastes better, I guess I'm ready to find out.

    Cheers all,


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