Xmas brisket tomorrow on 18.5" wsm - how much coals to use?

Discussion in 'WSM Owners (Weber Smokey Mountain)' started by fender1983, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    I got a albs flat brisket and planning to smoke it tomorrow.

    How much coal should i use for approximately 8 hour cook?

    I have Stubbs lump charcoal and Kingsford Blue bag briquettes. Which one and how much would you reccomend?

    I used Stubbs last weekend for the first time to cook Spare ribs.

    I filled the ring all the way to the top and took the center out to start in the chimney.

    Throughout the cook I had white smoke coming out through the went. I know it is bad news, however the food didn't taste bitter.

    Now I am thinking it was a steam from the water pan since the out side temperature was around 25-27F.

    The charcoals were difficult to start, but temperature was very very steady for 7 hours.

    I never had good luck with briquettes, whenever I use them they will burn hot for the first 3 hours, but than temperature would drop bellow 200, unless I add more coals.

    Not sure what and how to properly use them for the brisket tomorrow. Please help.
  2. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I always fill my WSM and light using the minion method. I also always use KBB for the uniformity lends to a consistent cook and it will go for 8+ hours on one load. I suggest searching minion method if that's not how your firing up your WSM. When you shut down your WSM you should be able to save your leftover fuel fairly well that's why I always fill it up.
  3. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    I guess what I am using is modified minion method. I dig the hole in the center and dump the coals there.

    Do you just add yours on top of the unlit coals?

    How many briquettes do you use to start? I usually start with half chimney.

    Looks like tomorrow will be challenging due to high winds.
  4. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's how I do it. Then I just place some wood chunks around the ring and a couple in the chimney as well. Wind can be a big problem but I always smoke in the garage the smoke is pulled out the door and I only get wet going out there to check things and I'm getting a new maverick therm for Christmas that's going to cut that down. I get constant temps using only 1 of the lower inlets(usally fully open) and the top always fully open. Hope this helps and good luck don't forget the q-view!!
  5. So I just purchased a 18.5 WSM and had to fire it up yesterday. I filled the ring about 1/2 - 3/4 with KBB and placed my 28 oz can in the middle. I put about 6-8 briquettes from the chimney in the can, pulled it and opened all the vents... Within an hour it was at 269°. I dialed it down to 193° and got it to sit there for an additional hour. I closed all the vents and with 2 hours I could pick the coals up and hold them in my hand. If I had to guess no more than 15 coals were ignited in that whole process!!!!! The trick is two fold: weather and vents....which way is your prevailing wind coming from? That could be burning them to fast so close that side and open the opposite side vent. Second as I eluded to, vents....which should be open and which should be closed. I NEVER use water in my electric smokers or charcoal smokers, ever......If you are willing, try NO water and dialing in the bottom vents with the top vent 1/2 to wide open to regulate.... Remember, no billowing you want thin blue smoke where you can almost not see it......lastly I've read where guys inter-mingle the KBB and lump (less lump) throughout the ring and that works too....

    Good luck.....

  6. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    Sorry I didn't get it.

    Do you:

    1. Add the coals on top

    2. Dig the hole in the center and put your coals there?

    I block the wind with el'cheapo plastic foldable table and put the chimney on the top vent to prevent wind from sucking out warm air.
  7. I know this question was for b-one however this is how I do it:

    Add the hot coals from your chimney into the can......pull the can out and it should begin to ignite outward.

    I am unsure about your process of putting the chimney on the top vent so wind doesn't suck out warm air..... I dont think it will if the bottom and top are cracked just right it should have a constant flow and ambient temperature.

  8. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I do it like the pictures above just don't have a can. I wouldn't put anything on the top vent you need to draw the air through your smoker.
  9. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    Thanks guys! I usually start my fire the same way. I decided to give KBB another chance. It took about 30-40 minutes to bring cooker to temperature and since then it was stable at 230+-10F.

    Started my cook at 9 am. It is 11-24am right now and brisket reached 154F temperature according to Maverick and 149 according to my thermopen.

    Here are some pictures:

    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  10. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looking good! I just got my Maverick therm for Christmas! Have you noticed any difference in your smoker having the chimney like that verses not having it there? First time I've seen that done. If your not getting enough smoke flavor toss a chunk or two in the chimney,I always do to get the smoke going right away. What's in the rub?
  11. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    I am not sure if chimney does anything, but it doesn't hurt. In theory wind passing perpendicular to the small opening creates vacuum and suck the air out. It is just a wind barrier, but it doesn't block the exhaust vent.

    I got the rub idea from these guys:

    • Salt — 1 Tablespoon
    • Brown Sugar — 2 Tablespoon
    • Chili Powder — 2 Tablespoon
    • Cumin — 1 Teaspoon
    • Cayenne Pepper — 1 Teaspoon
    • Red Pepper Flakes — 2 Tablespoon
    • Minced Garlic — 1 Teaspoon
    • Minced Onion — 1 Teaspoon
    • Sweet Paprika — 2 Tablespoon
    • Black Peppercorn — 2  Tablespoon
    Cooker temperature dropped after 3 hours. It is 217 according to maverick and 200 according to the thermometr in the dome. I tried to kick the bottom legs and also moved coals inside.

    I'll wait another hour, if it won't change I will add more hot coals.
  12. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Rub sounds good I like SPOG on brisket. How do you have your lower vents set? I only ever seem to use one usally fully open but more air should help raise temps,but maybe you need more charcoal. Practice is half the fun right!
  13. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    Temps are back up to 232. All bottom vents are fully open. Brisket is at 158 right now.

    I am guessing 3 more hours to go.

    Should I wrap it in foil? If yes, at what temperature?

    Or should I just let it cook until 190, than wrap it and let it rest in the cooler for about an hour?
  14. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    It has been 4 hours and 40 minutes. Brisket is stalled at 158. Cooker temperature keep dropping with all vents wide open. Nothing helps. Maverick shows 208, the built-in shows 195.

    Going to light up some lump - it burns hotter.
  15. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    Temperature dropped to 190 of the cooker and the meat was down to 147 while i was relighting the chimney. When I took the smoker apart the coals were mostly gone.

    Added more. Now I am back to 237/158.

    I feel that I will be finishing it off in the oven. :( Damn wind.
  16. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    Not happy at all. Damn thing reached 182 and stalled. Cooker cooled off from 250 to 230 and meat temperature dropped again.

    Currently trying to finish it off in my oven in foil. Sitting at 174F.

    I burned two full loads of coals today and it has been 8 hours and 16 minutes.

    I guess it is not designed for cool michigan weather and long cooks. Will be selling it and getting big green egg at some point of time.
  17. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hopefully it turned out well. Some people wrap there smokers in welding blankets and clamp it shut may help you as well. I'm thinking about a brisky this weekend I'll try to remember to pay attention to cook time and fuel usage I also live in Michigan
  18. fender1983

    fender1983 Newbie

    The meat turned out okay. All my guests liked it.
  19. Before you sell and pull the trigger on BGE you might want to try a few more things under $1,000.00....... I have seen guys build a small 3 sided wind barrier using this silver rolled insulation stuff stapled to the wood as i it reflects the heat. 2nd I have heard MANY buy the welding blankets at Northern tool and have good luck also. I live in NC now so I dont have the awful winters you all have however our temps will get down to the 20's and 30's and I still successfully smoke delicious cuts of meat.....

    Good luck and hope all turns out in your favor,
  20. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Even in the cold weather you should be able to get the WSM to hold consistent temps for a longer period of time than you had. How many cooks do you have on the smoker? It takes multiple cooks to get a smoker properly seasoned. Temps and cook times will become more stable.

    Did you use your water pan with water? If so try it with no water, or fill with sand. Cover with foil. This will act as a heat sink and add thermal mass to your smoker, which in crappy weather will help with temp and temp swings. Water hinders the smoker temp as it boils at 212f producing steam.

    In my little Mini-WSM I can get 12-14 hours (40f outdoor temp) on a full load of coals. I can get 8-12 hours (20-30f). My mini holds quite a bit less charcoal. My UDS holds about the same as your WSM and I can get 20+ hours running 250f in 40f outdoor weather.

    The best method I've found for lighting my charcoal smokers is to fill the basket with charcoal. I use Kingsford Blue for long smokes, and when it's cold. I use lump for shorter smokes and when it's warmer. I place (4-6) 2"-3" chunks of smoke wood on top of the unlit charcoal. I take a propane torch and I torch one side of the basket, usually 3-4 pieces. I'll torch for 3-5 minutes. This is usually adequate to get the smoker up to 225-250. All vents open by the way. Sometimes I will need to torch again. Typically after no more than ten minutes total time I'm up to whatever temp I want. A friend of mine here has a 22.5 WSM and he too uses this lighting method. He gets great results and reports cook times of 16-20 hours at 250 using sand in the water pan. He does use a wind break made from reflectix insulation when it's really cold or windy.

    The WSM has a proven track record and I think if you take some time you'll be having excellent results. Eggs have the same problems as other charcoal smokers. If they're not sealed properly, or over fired the temps can be horrible to control especially in wind wet conditions.

Share This Page