I recently made my first attempt at both baby back and spare ribs on my new to me Brinkmann Cimarron offset smoker which I restored. I was going for the 3-2-1 and 2-2-1 methods which had worked out perfectly when I smoked just using my weber gas grill. The results were far too smoky or just a real off flavor. After doing some research I think I have found my issues.
Highlights of the process
Started the coals with a regular charcoal chimney had some non lit in the basket I made that I poured them on. Also added two applewood chunks.
After about a half an hour I was at 235 which I thought was ok and put the ribs on 2 bb 1 st louis spare
cooked the ribs about an hour and a half and the temp was dropping. Threw some more cold briquettes on the coals and another chunk of wood.
Wrapped the BB at 2 hours wrapped the spare at 3. Unwrapped the BB after 2 and had to add more charcoal again. got a high temp and closed the firebox vent and the damper to 1/4 open.
unwrapped the spare rib. pulled the bb off. checked the temp of the oven thermometer and realized my main thermometer was way off saying 220 when the oven thermometer was saying 190. took the spare off and finished it on the grill.
the BB were a 3 out of 10 the spare was just awful. probably a -3.
Both thermometers at one point were reading the same temp when they were in the same vicinty so I'm not sure what happened to throw one out of whack.
I believe my issue with the ribs were multi layered (all found after using the search box). 1. I added cold briquettes to my fire during the smoke. I wasn't sure how this was done. It did bellow out white smoke which concerned me right off the bat. I will use lump in the future. I wanted to start off with lump but had the kingsford left over. 2. In order to keep the temp down there was a period where I closed off the firebox vent and left the damper at a 1/4 open I don't think there was enough flow. 3. The thermometer was not accurate. I put the oven thermometer in there to help but it was too late. 4. I do have to seal off the doors and am currently researching the best way. It doesn't leak that much but I still want it sealed.
Do these sound reasonable as to why the off flavor? I really think number 1 was the real culprit as I read the fillers in the charcoal can cause issue. But I also read about the minion method which might contradict this. I should have researched more about cooking with briquettes.