Even though this is my first post to the Charcoal Smokers section, I have posted several to other stick burners and Old Country Wrangler smokers threads. I’ve been smoking meat for a lot of years, and have been using an Old Country Wrangler stick burner for the past 3-4 years. I have smoked a lot of good meat on the Wrangler, but I’ve been looking at adding a smoker that doesn’t take up all my time fiddling with it.
I can’t afford $2-$5K on a good stick burner. I don’t like the pellet smokers. I don’t like the propane smokers. And, I think the $1200 for an XL BGE is ridiculous. So, being a Weber fan from way back, the WSM 22.5 seems to be a good choice. And, after much deliberation, I went ahead and ordered a WSM 22.5 from Home Depot yesterday. It is supposed to be in by Saturday.
I smoke a lot of brisket, beef ribs, and beef sausage. (Hey! Beef is what we do in Texas!) But, I also do some turkey breasts, spare ribs, chicken, and an occasional pork butt. Here are a few links to some posts I’ve added to on the forum.
So, basically what I want to learn to do is to be able to produce the same quality of smoked meat on the WSM, as I’ve been able to do on the Wrangler…but without all the time required to sit and watch the temps on the Wrangler. I’m getting too old to sit out on the patio for 8-12 hour smokes, almost constantly watching temps, stoking the fire, adding wood, etc. And, forget starting a butt or a brisket the night before…there’s just no way, as I have way too much fluctuation in temps. So, I have to get up at 3:00am to put on a long smoke, then sit there and watch it all day…when I need to be doing something else. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I enjoy that part of it…but occasionally I’d like to throw the meat on and forget about it for a couple of hours, at least.
I’ve read where some people say the 18.5 WSM is easier to hold temp than the 22.5. Is that true? How about it, WSM 22.5 owners? What is your secret to keep your WSM 22.5 holding temp?
I’ve also read where some people say they didn’t season their WSM at all. I don’t know about that, as I normally season anything…from my 26” Weber Kettle grill, to my Weber Genesis propane grill. BTW…the $800 I spent on the E-330 Genesis was a total waste of money, as now that I have the 26” kettle, I never use the propane grill. And, since I’ve had several 22” Weber Kettles, as well as several other Weber propane grills through the years, I’ve become accustomed to Weber quality, and that’s why I started looking at the WSM.
How much wood do you use? Does the size of the wood chips make it burn hotter? I know lump charcoal makes any of them burn hotter. One thing I’m worried about is getting a good smoky taste and smoke ring on my meat. With the Wrangler, I only use about ¾ of a Weber charcoal starter of charcoal, just to get everything started. After that, I use wood for the entire smoke. I keep a 1/3 cord red oak splits, 1/3 cord of post oak splits, and 1/3 cord of hickory splits, just for smoking. Those splits are about 14”-16”. Will they be too large to use in a WSM 22.5? Of course, I can saw off a lot of chunks for use in the WSM from my smoking wood splits stacks. I’m just wondering how much to use, and what size? I’m sure I’ll learn what I can do, but just looking for a good starting point.
What temp does the 22.5 WSM like to run at? I’ve heard they like to run around 275*, while the 18.5 WSM like to run around 225*. You can’t just shut off a couple of bottom vents and maybe halfway on the top one to get it down to 225* or so? I will say I’m used to running around 275*-290* on my Wrangler, which turns those 12-hour brisket smokes down to about 7-hour smokes. I’ve kept it running hot and fast on purpose, because I don’t like sitting there watching it for 12 hours. Unless I’m doing a pork butt, then I will make it stay down at 225* for 12-14 hours.
And, I’ve read where everyone is saying the 22.5 uses a lot more charcoal than the 18.5…which sounds normal to me. I’m not worried about that.
I’ve also read complaints about the temp gauge not working properly. I don’t care about that either, as I use a Maverick for the grate temp. For my Wrangler, I know when the temp gauge on it is sitting at 200*, it’s actually 275*…as it’s always a good 75*-80* off. I hardly ever look at it.