so i did my first smoke over the weekend consisting of ~4lb of brisket. i started at 1pm and went until ~615pm. i gave up after 615 and threw them on the grill for the last 15 min. after reviewing my performance, i came to the conclusion that the smoker was too cold. i was maintaining ~200 degrees consistantly, but I needed to get it up to 225. when i was cleaing the equipment afterwords, there was A LOT of ash from the charcoal, and that is what i think was killing my temp. the coals were buried in ash. is there any way to get rid of the ash or prevent it from stiffling my heat?
I have a vertical charcoal smoker - beginner rig, nothing fancy. the thermometer i used was next to the meet. i didn't use the one on the outside of the hood.