New to smoking and wanted to introduce myself. I'm John from Milwaukee, WI. I currently have just a gas grill that I use for the basics like burgers, brats, steaks, and chicken breasts, but I wanted to start cooking some different meats like brisket and pork shoulder. Also, don't really care for the way gas grills cook chicken. I remember when my Dad would make chicken on the old Weber years ago and it tasting phenomenal. So that has brought me here and trying to figure out which route to go for my first smoker.
I like the idea of the WSM seeing as it seems to have great reviews and can just jump right in and start smoking, however, the price seems a little high to me for what it is. Looks like all they did was take a regular Weber grill and elongate it. Considering you can pick a Weber up new for about $100, the $299 and $399 price for the 18.5" and 22" WSMs respectively seem very high for just an extra cylinder of metal. What's everyone's experience with the WSM? Would you recommend 18.5" or 22.5"?
The other option I'm looking at is building an UDS. Most difficult part for me so far is trying to find a barrel. Nothing on CL in Milwaukee area. I called a local place that reconditions them and they were at $25 for a reconditioned barrel (they said they burn off the inside), but was still painted on the outside, so I would need to remove that. Perhaps they could burn off the outside for me as well for an extra charge. I was looking at SS barrels online, but they seem to be quite pricey even for used ones, but then I don't have to worry about burning off paint at least. Once I have the barrel, I think I can easily handle the rest of the UDS build by myself or with the help of a friend that knows how to weld. Also wondering whether to build it out of 30 gallon or 55 gallon drum. Any pros or cons to either size? I'm thinking 30 gallon will probably require less fuel to run, is that correct or not really any appreciable difference? I won't be cooking for huge amounts of people, just friends and family, so not worried about being able to fit tons of meat on there.