It seems that much of the above is the universal truth. Foil softens bark, foil makes for quicker and more tender juicier results, moving a butt after it gets close to finished tends to cause it to fall apart and so on. Been there and done that. I have never really been able to get the unfoiled bark effect on a foiled meat, plain and simple, there seems to be a trade off. I am wondering though....... What if the bark was firmed up a bit with say.....maybe, a propane torch? I mean I see the chefs on TV brown cheese on soups and such with a torch, maybe it could help the bark dry out? Just a thought.
The foil pan method seems to be about the best bet at trying to firm up the bark after cooking foiled. Maybe unfoil in the pan or peel away as much foil as you can to expose the bark and raise the temp to try and toughen the barkfor the last leg of the cook. My only concern is that I like for the meat to be foil wrapped in juices and towel wrapped for a long rest. This would seem to soften the bark again. Back to that trade off it seems!
Just to stir the pot, so to speak. I cook fat side up, logic in my head is that gravity will pull the juices down around and meybe even into the meat under the fatcap. There is a minor problem doing this, any crust/bark that forms on the fat is usually not eaten and it is not really the same kind of bark that forms on the lean meat. The bark on the lean tends to be intergrated with the meat and much tougher while the bark on fat is really more like a crust formed by cooking the rub at the surface. Soooooo, I end up with a crust covered fat cap on the top (that often will just slide off) The edges from the fat cap to somewhere around to the bottom of the meat will have the "Perfect bark" and then the bottom never reaches the state of dry bark because that is where the juices are dripping from and it is too wet to form a good bark.
Hmmm, next time I will have to try fat side down. It is scarey to try change sometimes.