Checking in here to say hello. I have only one post thus far which concerns my not so great experience (so far) trying to pick up a Master Forge charcoal smoker from Lowes. It can only get better, that post is here for anyone who is interested reading about it. I still have the damaged smoker on hand so am looking at all the options on the table.
I've never owned a dedicated smoker, but have been doing indirect heat smoking on a gas grill for quite some time and want to take it up a few notches. Gotta love this hobby, everyone has an opinion ranging from "pretty much anything will work" to "you must control every aspect of what you do, and use only this equipment." LOL. For example, a service tech that works equipment at my current job post also happens to be a judge for the Kansas City Barbecue Society and swears by his offset smoker. I don't really want anything that large or expensive, and I won't be competing so I take it with a grain of salt.
I am on the fence about buying a Weber WSM, I know they're the Shiznit, but I think it may be better for someone like me who smokes 6-8 times a year to buy a cheaper unit and modify it. I've looked at UDMs as well but don't have the time to spend with TOO much fabrication... and size/storage is also a factor. I live in Iowa and Winter is an issue as well. At the moment I'm leaning toward a cheap unit I can modify to control air intake/output and get some control over temperature.
Long story short, I probably need to source a new grill before long so am not too keen on dumping a huge amount of capital into this smoker. I am not terribly interested in electric or gas smoking because for me, that defeats the purpose of what I want to do which is a really simply Human/Machine interface. I work with lots of software and production equipment every day, the idea of unplugging is not only romantically appealing but also what I think I'm after in this recreational activity.
So... Charcoal and Wood + Fire + Meat = Dinner is the equation I'm after.