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Getting ready to buy the WSM and have a few questions.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
As the title says, im in the market for a new smoker. I currently have a MES 40 and am not happy with it. It does make great Q but it's a PITA! Thought getting the AMAZN pellet tray would help but I can't seem to keep the pellets lit and the Q tastes like I baked it.. no smoke. Sooo.. all that said, the wife dropped a bomb on me and gave me a $1,000 budget. I started looking at the Treager pellet smokers but most reviews were not very positive. I've watched reviews on the WSM and I have read nothing but GREAT reviews on them so im leaning toward it. My questions are these. First thing first, what size? Generally when I cook, it is for a small group of people...ie.. 3 to 5 racks of ribs, (2) 9 lb butts or a large packer brisket. Im thinking the 18.5 is too small to do all this but I could be wrong so I figured I would ask the experts. I appreciate any info yall can provide.
post #2 of 12
The full packer would be an issue, I usally have to trim a little off. You can do the butts no problem and if you coil the ribs you could do six racks more if you tried. I thought about the 22 and at times thought it would be nice but have been very happy with the 18.5. I normally do three racks of ribs at a time and cut them in half generally laying 1&1/2 rack per level. I suggest a trip to a store and check them out size wise the 22 is most likely overkill for you from the sounds of it.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick reply b-one. On the packer, what if I split the point from the flat put each on a tray, I've not cooked a lot of brisket but I don't see why that would make it taste any different then leaving it whole.
post #4 of 12
If you want a pellet smoker look at the rec-tec ,I have one and love it.
post #5 of 12
The problem is the length, you could take a tape measure and measure before purchase or just cut a little off and cook the small chunk until tender and make hash out of it top it with eggs while the rest of the brisky cooks!
post #6 of 12

I've done many a whole packers on a wsm 18.5. No problem what so ever 

post #7 of 12

I have a 18.5" WSM which I bought in 2005.  Back then there was no such thing as a 22.5" WSM. 

 

If I was to buy my first one today, I would probably go with the 22.5".  Yes it will use more fuel for a given smoke than a 18.5" as you are dealing with a larger volume of air to heat, but the trade off is you can get a lot more meat in there.  You said you might do 3 to 5 racks of ribs.  The 18.5" will need the ribs to be either cut short or bent/curved to fit.  Yes you can get 5 racks in there, but not straight.  The 22.5" can handle it straight across.  Two 9 pound pork butts are no problem and I often do 2 per level (total of 4 9-10 pound butts) when I'm making pulled pork for the office.  Can't comment on the packer in a 18.5" as I've never tried it.

 

You can always cook a little food in the 22.5" but you can only smoke so much at a time in the 18.5".  There have been times I wished I had the 22.5" but I can't convince myself to own two (wife would make me sleep on the porch with them), or to get rid of the 18.5".  Buy it once, buy it right.

 

There are also a few aftermarket toys for the 22.5" format that are not available for the 18.5" (remember the 22.5" Weber grill parts will also fit).

 

The one thing I would suggest you get no matter which WSM you buy is a power draft.  I have a BBQ Guru DigiQ 2 and would not trade it for the world,  You can get different models and different brands, but they all do the same thing, regulate the airflow to mind the pit temps for you.  You can also get fancy and buy a model that is wireless or network enabled.  I've had mine since 2007 and again would not trade it for the world.  A power draft makes an 18 to 20 hour overnight smoke easy and will let you get sleep instead of fretting over the pit all night.  As long it has fuel to regulate, it should hold temps.  Now don't get me wrong.  A WSM is sweet and easy to use straight out of the box.  A power draft makes it as close to "set and forget" as possible with charcoal fuel though.  Also once you use a power draft, you will find that the smokes are very repeatable in both time and results.  Do you absolutely have to buy one if you own a WSM?  No, but they are really nice to own and you will get spoiled by them real quick.

 

Just my take.  Either way, you will be very pleased with the WSM.

 

Oh and one final thing.  You will not have your meat taste like it was baked in a WSM.  You can get absolutely beautiful smoke rings, bark and smoke flavor.   And you can still us the pellet tray for cold smoking or if you want to do snack sticks (also take a look at my eWSM mod post for a removable electric element mod just for snack sticks and sausage making).

post #8 of 12

Once you try smoking packers in the 14+ lb range, you'll have to be creative with a knife to get it to fit into an 18.5" WSM.

 

Personally, I wouldn't split the point from the flat before smoking. The rendered fat from the point lubes/bastes the flat as it drip/runs down and keeps the flat nice and moist.

post #9 of 12

Badbode, you've got a $1000 budget.  Get the 22.5" ($400), Nomex gasket seal ($25), and the BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 Complete Kit from Fire Craft ($277).  You've still got almost $300 left for fuel.  Wait until Labor Day to stock up and you won't have enough space to store all the charcoal and wood you could buy with $300.   

 

Now, the seal and the kit are absolutely NOT necessary for a WSM.  It works GREAT right out of the box just as it is.  Let me tell you though, with the gasket kit and the Guru, it is a set and forget smoker, practically like setting your oven, only there's smoke!  I only mention them because you've got the budget. 

 

You could always get the gasket kit and Guru later.  BTW, the Guru cut my charcoal use almost in half. 

 

The 18.5" is plenty big enough, but I never worry about space with the 22.5".  It is just my wife and I, and neighbors, and kids, and friends, and pot lucks, and block parties.  If you have a 22.5" Kettle, place it right next to the 22.5" WSM.  The lid of the WSM fits perfectly over the lid of the Kettle.  The lid of the WSM won't fit the Kettle because the lid lips are reversed, but it is the perfect place to put the lid with the Kettle lid in place when wrapping meat or basting.  But I digress.

 

Get the 22.5" WSM.  You won't regret it.  

post #10 of 12
I'll echo what the others have said.....get the 22.5" You won't be sorry....and since you have a thousand dollar budget get a temp controller too. This combination is as simple as it gets and it will make world class BBQ.....It is extremely easy with this setup.
post #11 of 12

I agree with what's been about the WSM so far but i would like to add my .02 cents (and a couple pics before some calls this thread useless without them!) I have been in the market for a new smoker recently and i've read plenty of places that say figure out what size you  need and get one size bigger. you determined you need WSM 18.5 so get the 22.5. I do small/short smokes on mine all the time and don't use a ton of charcoal doing it. If you use less charcoal at time while smoking you can maintain a lower temp in the smoker. I used about a third of a bag Sunday night  of royal oak (half of it in the chimney to light the fire.and i used a couple small sticks of apple wood for flavor, a little manual damper control and i stayed 245-250 for 3 hours with a couple hours of heat left over for good measure. I don't have a pic of that but i will tell you if you fill it up for a long smoke the temp will stay higher. WSM can get really hot if you aren't careful in cooking (they come out of the box brand new at 275 degrees it seems!)

 

I had it full for a packer a couple weeks ago and it stayed between the 275-295 area the whole smoke.

when i as about to light it looked like this

 

Here is the packer on the smoker should give you an idea of the size of a packer brisket on a WSM 22.5

 

 

And if you have the budget and you thinking of a good smoking duo the WSM pairs nicely with the Weber Kettle. I got mine at walmart for $99 and its been a real addition to my outdoor cooking here are miine getting both ready for cooking!

 

 

I am certainly sold on the Weber brand for outdoor grilling and smoking and i think if you bought them both you would be a very happy with your purchases.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I want to thank everyone for the replies. I ended up getting the 18.5 mainly because I could not find the 22.5 locally and didn't want to wait for one to be shipped. Even though it says you don't have to, I did a test burn in it to figure out how to regulate Temps before attempting to cook. Did the Minion method (which I learned from reading these forums) and was able to maintain 250ish degrees for 18 hours!! I have to say I was impressed.

Yesterday, at about noon, I couldn't wait any longer so I went and bought a 5lb brisket flat and cooked it hot and fast for dinner. First time I've ever done that too as with the MES nothing gets near hot or fast.

Ran the temp up to 305 - 325 put a little salt and pepper on the brisket and let her go. 5 hours later dinner was served. Other than me putting a little too much black pepper on it, it was fantastic! My phone won't let me upload a pic at the moment so I'll try again later. Thanks again all!
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