I know the debate over electric vs. propane vs. charcoal vs. wood will never end, but I thought I'd give you my the results of this weekend's highly unscientific taste test.
Bottom line...using meat from the same place, the same rub, and feeding the same family...ribs from my propane smoker won handily. Now, before you electric fans take to your keyboards with torches and pitchforks (and tongs), I fully admit that this is a subjective claim. And I know that techniques need to change for electric. I did a lot of research and completed about a dozen smokes, each with two full BB racks in the SI3. The first the first six or so cooks improving each time before leveling off. Eventually, I learned that putting BB's in the SI3 for 6 hours using the no-peek method with a small container of apple juice touching the smoker box yielded results that were closest to 2-2-1 on my MB propane. My first try doing 2-2-1 in the SI3 resulted in ribs that were under-cooked. Then I learned that most people use the no-peek since the cooking dynamics of the SI3 hold moisture better...so I stopped doing the foil deal.
Don't get me wrong...the SI3 ribs were tasty. But they lacked the depth of flavor from my MB propane using the 2-2-1 method. And I suppose it's way different than charcoal / wood. The bark was also very thin, but that was to be expected. On some cooks, the ribs didn't taste smoky enough and in the SI there's a very fine line between the right amount of wood and fire. You really need to weigh the wood before placing it in the box.
For the record, no one wanted the electric to win out more than me. Not only did I spend a lot o' dough on the SI3, but I really like the idea of lazy-Q. I'll probably keep the SI3 for those days when I have to feed a lot of people and still socialize...but when I need to wow the tastebuds, I'll go with the MB propane.
If someone out there has other suggestions to narrow the flavor gap, I'm totally open!