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Reverse flow / horizontal vs vertical brick smoker - advice/thoughts

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,


I’m looking for some advice over the pond in England.


After travelling around America and Canada for 6 months a few years ago, and falling in love with your BBQ food, I built a horizontal offset wood smoker out of some oil drums with a lot of advice from this forum. Everything went well and I’ve had some great times with it, including a couple of hog roasts that fed our whole village (250+) people and has now turned into a yearly event. (Pics in my gallery.)


Anyway, the oil drums were not the best solution as they are really thin walled and lose a lot of heat and it means I am constantly monitoring the fire. I have insulated and tried other solutions, but I need a change from the oil drums.


It is almost impossible in the UK to get a decent sized propane tank. All of the tanks seems to be owned by the gas companies and when their lifetime is up, they get destroyed. I’ve lost count of the number of scrap merchants I have contacted, so I have given up as a non-starter.


I am toying with the idea of building a complete outside kitchen area (in brick), complete with open BBQ, pizza oven and a smoker. Got quite a bit of building experience, but I am not sure whether I should go for a vertical or a horizontal/reverse flow smoker?


I’ve been reading as many threads as I can in the Brick Smokers section, (absolutely love the vertical smoker by Wes and the horizontal smoker by DBGA) butI can’t find that much information regarding reverse flow brick smokers. Is there any advantage over just a standard horizontal smoker? Is there anything I should consider before planning/designing?


I don’t have an issue with a vertical smoker, other than the fact it would be nice to be able to do a whole hog again from time to time. But I could always fire the oil drum up for that.


Any advice is greatly appreciated.


All the best,


Edited by pottsm6 - 6/11/15 at 1:49am
post #2 of 4

Good evening Matt,


A few of us have talked about a reverse flow brick smoker.   We really couldn't figure out how to make it all work.   It would at best be a complex build with steal and brick.   

post #3 of 4

Hey Matt did anything ever come of this, I am thinking about doing something along these lines too and have a few ideas in my head and a great space for it.  I too am interested in building the mother of all grills.  I was hoping to be able to smoke, grill, pizza oven, and rotisserie a full pig, all in one thing.  I currently have been using a MES electric smoker with great success.  I love the ease of use and with a bit of learning I have been able to do most things with it, can smoke butts or brisket overnight, just get it going and let it go with just one check in the middle of the night, ribs work great, and have done great salmons.  But 1 it is too small, 2, it doesn't have very even smoked 3) temp controller is pretty cheap and inconsistent, 4) it is very hard to cold smoke, the electric burner basically cycles on and off and at the low temps it never cycles on and burns the chips.  Would like to move up to wood smoker but not looking forward to staying up all night feeding wood every hour.


So my idea is in the center have a large rectangular wood burning area that would act as a grill surface, and have a lift system like on a santa monica grill to raise and lower the grill grate, the metal work for that could also be fitted with a rotisserie motor to spin a whole hog, attached on one side would be a smoker box so a wood fire could be started in the center and heat/smoke directed into a large smoker box and out a vent, directly under the box too could be a homemade electric kit too.  My thought would be to be able to start a wood smoke for 4-5 hours then after I go to sleep, switch over to electric until I wake up. Also the electric could be set up to do cold smoking of fish and cheese.  Then on the opposite side would be an attached pizza oven for wood fired pizza. 


The Grill grate area would be large enough to also put an optional griddle plate on it for who knows what else, and I already have natural gas to the area so I was trying to figure out a way you could use the same area for natural gas grill and heat to quickly do burgers or use the same area for wood or charcoal.  Only thing is for the smoker I think a reverse flow horizontal would hold better even temps across the whole area better than a vertical smoker box, but surely we could figure something out.  Problem with my MES 32 is the smoker is in the back corner and the cooking is not consistent, I have learned to work around it but often my larger pieces of meat have uneven heating.  Anyone have any input on vertical vs horizontal smokers?  I see a lot of verticals that are wood burning so surely there is a way to make this monster.  I am assuming it would be mostly brick with some metal doors, grates, venting, etc.


Might try to draft some ideas in Google sketchup.



post #4 of 4

Bill,  I'd love to see sketches of this.   Sounds like a good start for a new thread.    

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