Spring is finally here! And with the snow just about all melted and outside temps between 30 to 50 F, I took advantage of a nice sunny weekend to compare evaluate the difference in smoking pork shoulders in the Big Green Egg vs the Weber Smokey Mountain.
So here are the Pork butts...one was about 8 lbs and the other 6 lbs. Both would have easily fit in my LG BGE or my 22.5 WSM but I have been wanting to compare both smokers for a while so decided that this weekend was it. Both butts were rubbed with a thin layer of mustard and covered in rub;
Woke up at 5AM to get both smokers ready;
I must say that I love both these units but both have some pros and cons. The BGE was very simple to prep; toss in some lump, add a few wood chunks (used Hickory), add a charcoal starter and wait for it to hit desired temp. The WSM was a little more painful as I had to place the briquettes in the minion method, light a chimney, foil the water pan and fill it with water, dump in the chimney, and close her up and wait til it hit proper temp (some may suggest filling the water pan with sand instead...could be another option I guess).
Where the WSM shined was in regulating temp fairly quickly. Due to the full chimney, getting temperatures up to 235F was fast and only had to tweak the vents a few times to stabilize. The BGE is a little trickier cause if it rises too quickly its a bitch to get back down...which is why I use a charcoal starter rather then a looflighter or blowtorch.
Once my temperature were right, I tossed my butts on both. I used my iGrill2 probes with the BGE and my trusty Maverick ET-733 probes on my WSM;
Was able to maintain initial temps without a problem on both units for the first 4 hours of the smoke;
Before this smoke I calibrated both the dome probes on both units and both dome probes ended up showing higher temps than the digital probes (I expected this, however found it curious that the BGE had a larger gap then my WSM);
THE FIRST 6 HOURS
Relatively uneventful for the first half of the smoke. I did not open the lid of either...both smelled wonderful and managed to get TBS from both. The WSM needed a few minor vent adjustments from time to time, but the BGE was steady pretty much the whole time without any adjustments. Must mention also that there was very little wind...which was a good reason why the WSM performed so well.
At around 11:45, both butts hit 165F and were ready to be panned (yup I'm a one of those!).
THE SECOND HALF
For the WSM...more of the same, simple tweaks to the vents to maintain proper temps.
The BGE was a little different. At some point in the afternoon, the temperature crept up past 300F...and boy was that a pain to get back down. I had to shut the bottom vent and the daisy wheel completely and even at that it took over an hour for it to get back down to the desired temp. Whereas the WSM never got hotter than 270F.
By 2pm the 8 lb butt on the BGE it 208F. I double foiled it and tossed in a cooler to wait for dinner at 5pm. Unfortunately the WSM was only done by 6pm (And I must admit that by 5pm I transferred the butt to the BGE because the full bag of charcoal briquettes that I used in the WSM was totally used up, whereas the lump used for the BGE (half bag) still had enough for another 4 or 5 hours easy;
Both where fantastic in taste, boy have I missed that wonderful pulled pork goodness!
First for the BGE: Nice bark (even though I foiled), came apart with ease, and was very moist. However hardly any smoke ring at all.
The WSM was incredible. I would say a little more moist, came apart almost by looking at it, and had great smoke color.
PROS & CONS
I love both of these smokers and can definitely see the benefit of each depending on the time I have and the weather conditions. The BGE is incredibly efficient and needs hardly any babysitting. In the case of a pork butt, I preferred the taste of the one smoked on the WSM, however the BGE is not only a smoker and will be used very often for grilling and pizza. I will most likely use the BGE for future smoke where I do not have much time or some overnight smokes...because although I do prefer the taste on the WSM the difference is not that great.
As far as the WSM goes...its just more fun to smoke on...feels more old fashion and that the small changes I make actually have an impact. This in itself seems more satisfying then the set it and forget it approach. To fiddle around with it on a beautiful summer afternoon while sucking back a few beers is the perfect day IMHO....plus the taste was out of this world.
So BGE wins for efficiency and versatility....while the WSM wins on taste and funness!
A fun comparison...and its great to be back smokin'!