Coming from a smoker box and gas grill... just wow! Finally a real smoker.
I used no coals basket, just built a fire in the barrel with some oak and hickory and once things were going good I cut the air supply and installed the grill grate (Weber 22.5).
Where the smoker box would get the chicken sort of tan and never quite looked like a smoked chicken and with crisp skin, this went all the way to a nice rich brown/red. Also the level of smokiness was a lot better than the gas grill and smoker box ever did.
What surprised me is that the wood was easy to smoke with. Just get the fire going and away it goes.
What I would do different on smoke #2 and onward is to let the wood turn to just coals. I'll probably get it going good with small splits then feed it a good 4-6 splits of oak and let that burn until all I see is heat waves (no smoke) and glowing embers. Then I'll add a few choice (maybe hickory) chunks of green split firewood for smoke flavor. I think the lack of complete coals imparted just a little bit of a bitter flavor. I could smell in the smoke also that it had the smallest hint of exhaust from an old car with a bad cat converter smell for lack of a better description and between white and blue smoke. The bad smoke smell seemed to be the white smoke.
But I was very surprised at the ease of use and the taste from the UDS. Glad I built it! Thanks to all for the pointers.
Edited by 777funk - 10/29/15 at 4:36pm