Smoking on a Ketlle BBQ

Discussion in 'Pork' started by plofty1981, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. plofty1981

    plofty1981 Newbie

    I'm a proper newbie to this forum and smoking.

    I want to used a charcoal kettle grill to make pulled pork, ribs, brisket etc.

    I have done some research and come out with various different set ups that have left me a little confused on which is best.

    This information may already be somewhere else on the forum and if it is apologies and please direct me, otherwise can anyone give me a beginners set up that'll work and then I can through trial and error works on and improve to suit me?

    Many thanks!

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  2. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Most good quality Kettle BBQs will do a fairly decent job. Just make sure that you get one that is a decent size - if it is too small then you will be disapointed with the amount you can smoke at any one time and also temperature control will be more difficult. I have been using the Weber 57cm (22") Kettle successfully for both hot and cold smoking and I know a lot of other people on here do too. I also have a Weber 67cm which works fine too and gives more space. The 57cm Kettle is a good all-rounder kettle especially for a beginner.

    You may even like to take a look at the Weber Smokey Mountain 57cm. Whilst this is more accurately a Bullet Smoker it will give you very good results and is very versatile.

    There are other makes on here that people use and I am sure that they can give opinions on the different brands. I have also used the ProQ bullet smokers - very similar to the WSM and can be adjusted to give you different cooking modes however the build quality is not nearly as good as the Weber. As with most things you usually get what you pay for.

    I hope that helps get you started.
  3. Hello.  I am with Wade on this one.  I have bought several different kettle types and have only recently bought Weber.  I assume you are in the States so go to Lowes and or Home Depot and have a look.  Pick up the lid on the cheaper smoker and then lift the lid on the same size Weber.  You'll discover instantly why they cost more.  Also the Webers have an enamel coating so they don't rust like the cheaper ones.  When I think of how much I've spent on the cheap ones I wish I had gone Weber years ago.  Don't get the compact, go for the deeper Weber one touch, more versatile.  There are other options and Wade gave you a couple but as you asked about a kettle, I'll leave it there.  Good luck.  Keep us updated.  Keep Smokin!

  4. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    I use my Weber quite often for smoking.  I use the snake method (or its called the fuse) and I am able to achieve steady temps and smoke.  There are videos on youtube that will show you how to use this method.
  5. plofty1981

    plofty1981 Newbie

    So, I used the snake/fuse method... Cooked some ribs they were very nice but the temp was too high so didn't cook them for as long as I wanted to. To manitain a lower temp I guess I just need to have a thinner snake? Is that right?

    Also my snake got from one end to the other in about 4-5 hours anything I can do increase the cook time as I'm gonna do a Boston butt next week and would really like at least twice as long at a lower temp, any advice would be great?

    As I say, I was happy with the results and I think this method suits me and the equipment I have, just need to tweak I think...
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  6. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I take it you got a Weber? You can get it down to 225 pretty easily just by closing the vent or vents more. It would help to know what you have there. I use half moon shaped coal baskets that Weber sells for long smokes and I can get about 8 hours of cook time without reloading. But reloading is a piece of cake as long as you have a charcoal chimney. I use the minion method. Hope this helps you out. Happy smoking, timber.Whatever smoker you have don't even trust the thermometer in the lid. You will find that a good digital temperature probe unit like the Maverick et 733 or 732 is invaluable especially when you start cooking pork Butts and the like. You get one probe for the meat and one for the cooking chamber. They are wireless so you can monitor what is happening from your couch or nightstand.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  7. plofty1981

    plofty1981 Newbie

    It's not a webber, but that style. It's not a brand name I don't think. There is a vent below and one on top... From your comments I think I had the vents way too far open (I had both almost fully open the whole time). I should close them to lower the temp and increase cooking time, right?

    Is the below or the top most important on reducing heat?

    Sorry, as I say a complete rookie!!!
  8. You need to work the vents together for best results. Exactly how will depend on the characteristics of your cooker and how much charcoal you have burning.

    More air means more fire and vice versa so the wider you open the bottom vent, the hotter your fire will burn and the faster your fuel will be consumed. Most times in my experience, the top vent needs to be a hair more open than the bottom

    One other thing, I've got an old Weber kettle that was given to me by the landlord that has a warped lid and won't close tightly so it constantly draws air. I have to regulate heat on it by the size of fire I build. Lower heat = less charcoal; more heat = more coal.

    You just have to play around with it and learn about your cooker and how it acts. You can cook some great food on a cheap cooker if you learn how to run your fire.

    Keep notes every time you much charcoal you start off with, vent settings, how often you need to add fuel, etc. Before long you'll just know what you need to do to get a perfect cook.

    I hope this helps at least a little, and happy smokin'!

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  9. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    If you are smoking meat that will take hours and hours you will want the top vent all the way open all the time. This is so you don't get a stale or bitter smoke flavor from stagnant smoke. The bottom vent or vents are for controlling the fire and thus heat. You need to have an accurate thermometer for the grill as well as one for the meat. You may or may not even be able to get smoking temperatures with your kettle due to thin metal, poor fit and air leakage. Best of luck to you. You might think about keeping an eye out for yardsales or craigslist for a Weber kettle. A good grill is like a night and day difference from cooking with el-cheapo stuff.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  10. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Michael

    As with most methods on here you will find different people have different techniques. It appears that sometime in the past Timberjet has had a problem with his Weber after restricting the top vents. I cannot really comment on his technique and do not know the types of wood/charcoal/bricks that he was using but there are many of us on here that regularly do regulate the temperature on their Webers by balancing both top and bottom vents. The purpose is to control the burn by regulating the flow of air over the fuel. If you have restricted the flow to the point where the smoke has time to become "stagnant" then the fire will have probably gone out long before that. I suspect that problems similar to the ones he describes are more related to what is being burned rather than the way it is burning. At the UK Smokers event this weekend I cooked ribs for 6-7 hours in the Weber and last Thursday I cooked a pork shoulder for 8 hours. Both had the top vents 3/4 closed and neither had any off flavours - at least none that were reported by the crowd that ate them.

    I am not suggesting that you ignore Timberjet's advice but you should also not take it to be such a black-and-white issue as he suggests. Try cooking with the vents partially closed and also with them fully open and see which work best for you.

  11. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

     I do not like the taste of soot. Creosote is not your friend. I have been grilling and smoking for 36 years and own several types of smokers. None of them ever have the top vent closed down. Now I just can not figure out why you would need to do this. Or why you would want to give bad advise to some young budding smoker so he can turn out black chicken that you have to hose down before you eat. This is not a winnable argument sir. You can feed your flavor challenged friends and family whatever you want Just STOP THE MADNESS! I regularly check up on what the leaders of the BBQ ing world are up to as times and techniques change.. This is how not to do it..
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  12. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    When you have to resort to trading CV's and making inane "definitive" statements about things that are simply not true then you have already lost the argument. Maybe more practical experience rather than simply  "checking up on what the leaders of the BBQ ing world are up to" would be advisable. 
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
    yotzee likes this.
  13. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Hahahaha..... Maybe you should do some reading Wade. You do not know what you are talking about. I suggest you try asking some of the well respected members of this site and see what they have to say about it. I just don't see why you feel the need to buck the system. Hard headed much?
  14. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    I routinely smoke in my Weber with the top vent open only about 1/4, primarily using the bottom vent to control heat. I maintain temp and thin blue smoke and my food never taste bitter or of creosote.
  15. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    To each their own I suppose, but you don't want chicken like that lady did on that masterbuilt in the link I provided. Trust me.
  16. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    You're being a bit presumptuous, and frankly a little rude, telling us how our food turns out being you've never tasted it.

    I've never seen this kinda rude interaction towards another poster on this board before.

    Have a nice night.
  17. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry, I'm in agreement with Wade & Yotzee. I use both vents to regulate temps, and have never had a creosote flavor in my food.

    Keeping the top vent open all the time is good advice for horizontal smokers, but the Weber is a different animal.
  18. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I just do not get why you need to do this. I can get my performer running 225 perfect degrees in 100 degree heat with the top vent open. So what is the point? My UDS runs perfect at almost any temp with the exaust wide open. My WSM ....etc.... I was trying to give a young smoker GOOD advice. Beginner advice. You read Jeff's book? Read what Chef Jimmy has to say on the subject? I am done with this one boys. This is in the same realm as putting the dry rub in the pulled pork after the smoke. You do what you do. But when it comes to the basics of smoking I will stick by my guns on this one.
  19. yotzee

    yotzee Smoking Fanatic

    You can do so respectfully, without making rude comments like "you dont know what you're talking about" and "hard headed much". If I run my Weber with the top wide open I will easily climb up over 300. Theres all kind of variables, like you're in Washington, Im in PA and Wade is in England
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  20. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    To each his own. To the OP, you have a couple of different techniques now. It's up to you to find which one works the best for you.

    Timberjet is correct, and I think almost everyone here would agree, that you need to monitor your temps with a good, digital thermometer like a Maverick.

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