So, after the hubby demanded to take the smoker on its virgin run, I got my try. Firstly, I will say mine was WAY more moist and tender than his.
He had nothing but the thermometer included, and I chose to do things like he did, though he stuck his newfangled thermometer to check the inside temps halfway through.
I used charcoal and pecan wood, adding the wood for the first time when I first placed the brisket on. I added wood chunks every 30 min for the first two hours, then once more at the third hour. I set the brisket fat-side up, I only used a rub of olive oil, pepper, salt, onion/mustard/garlic/chipotle/and chili powder, and I kept it completely dry (no mop or water or spritzing, etc). I kept the temps around 250F for about three hours, but by the fourth (when I wasn't adding wood chunks), the temperature started dropping and staying in the 190s. At hour four, the temp of the brisket was about 170, so I put it in an aluminum pan with a grill on the bottom (in an attempt to keep the bark; attempt failed due to steam and the whole thing was a sticky sort of wet at the end) and added half a bottle of Red Stripe which gave a thin covering of the bottom. Then I tightly wrapped the top with foil and set it back in the smoker. At this point, since the temps inside dropped to 180F, I added more charcoal and lighter fluid to kick up the temps with flames. About an hour later, the brisket was just under 190 and the temps in the smoker were around 210. Since I have no idea how to get a hot fire going without using wood, I 'cheated' and stuck the brisket (in its aluminum casing) in the oven at 400F for about 20 min.
The result was a decently tender brisket, but nothing like smokehouse restaurant quality, but it was definitely a cut above the stew-meat-tenderness that the hubby's brisket was. Also it felt that the meat was rather 'rubbery'. Not tough, but it wasn't a 'like butter' or 'sink your teeth into' and definitely not the 'fall apart' type. Almost like it was too moist.
In other news, his was WAY more smokey in flavor. We discussed that and came to the conclusion it could be because he used a half-and-half mix of pecan and hickory chunks, while I used only the pecan. Would this be a legit excuse? He also left his overnight in the rub (unknown ingredients), whereas I just slapped mine on about 20 minutes before throwing it in. He flipped his once and had a pan of water in the whole time. I never flipped mine and even left the fat-side up when I put it in the pan, and as I said, I had no liquids being added until then.
Sooooo, is there any advice you can pass on to me (us)? I'm feeling good because I topped the hubbyman in BBQ'ing, though I haven't mentioned the victory to him. He was a bit hostile when I said I'd be smoking a brisket after his, and I could do better (though he was very nice and said he liked it, but would have liked more smokey flavor). What can I say, I just rock the BBQ. But really, I've been reading up on a lot of different sites, though this one has offered the most help.
Also, if someone could explain the best way to get the smoker back up to a hot temperature, I'd be greatly appreciative. I know if you leave things open, the coals burn hotter and quicker, but then heat escapes faster. If you shut things down, it burns longer but lower too. Or am I wrong in some aspect there?
Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions!