Thanks in advance... WSM newb here. Just got, after waiting all winter (this is Alaska), my 18.5" WSM. Installed my Cajun Bandit door, latch, and Nomex seal kit, then ran a first seasoning run yesterday... about 8 hours at 250-275 with some greasy old freezer burned beef from the chest freezer(!). While that was cooking away (and man was it easier than doing low and slow on a Weber kettle!!), I watched a bunch of YouTube videos ...and have questions:
1. One guy claims that he can get 12+ hours out of an 18.5 WSM if he uses Kingsford blue bag briquettes and an empty water bowl, and about 4 hours less if you use water in the bowl. Because I'm not a big fan of the asphalt-like chemistry in briquettes, I've been leaning towards American-grown (oak etc) hardwood lump charcoal ...but will it do an overnight burn if I use a minion method like he did ('donut' of charcoal around perimeter, small well in center where a dozen list briquettes go)? Or should I mix the briquettes with the hardwood to at least reduce the chemistry a bit, still using as much hardwood charcoal as I can? I'd like to do some overnight brisket runs...
2. Minion method ...I see 2 kinds. There's the camp where lit coals are spread over the top of a bed of charcoal, and there's the camp where you put a few lit chunks in the middle and let the charcoal burn outward as it goes. What are the pros and cons?
3. With water, about 5 or 6 lbs of 90% frozen beef (2 chunks, one on each grill), and the 'spread lit coals over a bed of unlit' minion method, all vents wide open, my gasket kit and Cajun Bandit door (nearly zero leakage), my new unit ran 260-275 F or so ...seems cool, but is this expected for the water and frozen beef load that I put in it? Even after the beef was thawed and apparently cooked (mahogany colored, shrunk up in shape), the cooker still ran at about 275 F. Seems like it ought to have gotten hotter once the meat was hot ...but then again, my gasket kit results in very little air infiltration other than what's supposed to go in via the vents ...so maybe mine will not get as hot as some other folks'?? Is this normal?
Putting on the lid hinge and maybe some caster wheels tonight ...new door latch from Cajun Bandit coming soon. Planning on side handles too ...and yes, taking pix of my pimping-out of the Q as I go :). Will post a qview soon...