Howdy folks, I'm new here and I could use some help. I have a barrel smoker with an offset firebox and I've only used it twice. As far as cooking and usability (I hope that's really a word) it's great, the only problem is that there is a terrible taste to the end product. It's not at all what I'd call smokey, just bitter and nasty. I didn't use any dry rub or sauce, I wanted to get an idea (baseline) of the taste before I got fancy. Could it be the wood? I used wood from a pear tree I cut down and it was seasoned but had been outside and uncovered over the winter. Does wood "go bad" or could it be that I need to season my smoker? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Welcome to SMF PerryD!
Sounds like you are putting meat in a smoker filled with dirty smoke and getting an ash and/or creosote coating on your meat. Cold wood that is just starting to burn will be filled with all types of nasty tasting particulates. You may need to let that smoker run for an hour or two to get into the hotter, cleaner "thin blue smoke" phase of the burn where the wood carbonization is more complete and the nasty stuff is burned off.
Also, the size of the wood you add makes a difference too. In the beginning of a burn you can start with larger pieces to build up a nice hot coal base. Later when you add more wood during the smoke, add smaller, thinner pieces so the wood carbonizes faster on the hot coal base.