Pros: Very sturdy/stable, stainess is a cinch to clean, even and consistent heating
Cons: discontinued so I can't buy a second!! smallish wood-chip/chunk box, not cheap
My first and only experience with smoking meats was on a very large (the size of a small bedroom!) outdoor commercial, rotating-rack smoker.. it was amazing but obviously I needed something for home use, camping trips, etc. After a bit of research it really came down to a few features that I required:
- Sturdy, well made and not one of the 'tin can' smokers that sway back and forth if you lean on it!
- Large enough to hold a good qty of product, without being so large I couldn't take it on camping trips, etc.
- Easy heat control - although I love all wood fired smokers, I simply didn't have the time to manage one for smoking small amounts of meat.. so, i decided to go the propane route even though I'm not a big advocate of it
- Affordable. I don't mind paying for quality.. but it needed to be under $1,000 and preferably closer to $500.
So, after a ton or research and going to nearly every local store that carried smokers and grilles (Portland, Or area).. what I found was most 'affordable' smokers were cheap, flimsy and poorly made... most were too small for what I wanted and almost all were fairly affordable (a great thing).. So, I continued to research and that is when I came across the Vermont Castings Smoker. There were no retailers in town that had own,. I actually had to drive about 30 miles to a Vermont Castings stove retailer to find one.. and finally get a look at it. I was sold on the spot. The sales lady just stepped back and didn't say a word,.. it spoke for itself. It's solid. Well built. Can hold 8 racks of ribs OR 16 chickens (butterflied) OR 4 large briskets.. etc.. it was still small enough to fit in the cargo area of our ride and was within budget. I'LL TAKE IT !
I've taken this on camping trips where we enjoyed applewood smoked chicken breasts and baby-back ribs.. have smoked more brisket, ribs and pork butt than I can count.. and every time.. it's the same. To combat my dislike for propane fired smokers I simply turned the gas to the lowest flame possibly, while still being able to retain temp and good smoke and kept the dampers only about 25% open... worked great.
The only thing I regret about this smoker is not buying two.. I know, I know.. I didn't need two when I bought it.. and still don't. But, apparently someone else liked this smoker more than I did, and decided to relieve me of it.. and now they are discontinued !! So.. with my favorite smoker stolen and no chance of replacing it with a new one of the same model, I am on the hunt for a good, vertical smoker.. maybe a reverse flow,.. maybe wood, coal.. not sure. One thing is for sure. You don't know what you've got until it's gone. Next time.. I'm buying a chain and lock with my smoker :)