Just stumbled on this site and lost sleep last night reading threads. I think I learned more about Q in the last 24 hours than I have in the last six months. What an educational and inspiring resource this forum is! Thanks to all of you for taking the time to give the newbies feedback, tips, and encouragement as we learn how to handle our pits (which I'm finding is as much an art as fly fishing).
We live north of Houston. On a whim I bought a Brinkmann offset smoker from Home Depot, several months ago, and have quickly become addicted to barbecue on a smoker. Initially, I struggled with getting the Brinkmann up to temperature until I made the typical modifications - now it heats up to 350 degrees if I push it. If you're newbie like me do yourself a favor and make the very simple mods that can be found on this site - makes a huge difference. I also used lump charcoal for the first time yesterday and it really helped pump up the temperature. I wouldn't use anything else now.
After much champagne I've convinced my wife to let me purchase a higher quality smoker (weather swings make it difficult for me to maintain cooking temps without a lot of work on the Brinkmann), and I'll probably be begging for advice on manufacturers and models in the near future.
Again - many thanks and very happy to be here....