or Connect
SmokingMeatForums.com › Forums › Smoking Meat (and other things) › Pork › Taste-off: Charcoal vs Gas - Spares, q-view
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Taste-off: Charcoal vs Gas - Spares, q-view

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Forluvofsmoke has a newly modded GOSM, converted to burning charcoal for fuel, and is doing a comparison smoke today.

He has three slabs of un-enhanced spares, all from a triple-pack, rubbed with Alison's Pantry Lemon-Rosemary Rub. I have used this rub as an addition to other rub ingredients before, so we have tasted the flavors, and experienced the heat level before. This is a no-sugar rub. Hope it's not too much for the ladies... I cut the large ends of the slabs and put them into vertical racks for the GOSM so as to have the same rack temp for all 3 slabs. The small ends and trimmings all went into the Smoke Vault 24. Both are smoking with Hickory.

I got a request for some light smoke today from wifey and sis-in-law, so I've only got a few very small chunks in the SV24's pan and I'll only smoke for about 2 hours, while the GOSM has larger chunks beside the hot briqs and will be smoking up to the brase.

You could say that this is a rigged test, as we all know who the winner will be!!! LOL-LOL-LOL-HEH-HEH-HEH icon_wink.gif

I just had to have a side-by-side smoke for comparison. No re-heated gas cooked frozen spares (I have some!)...all smoked up the same, same dry rub, same brase liquids, etc. Texture won't be an issue here, so I wanted more weight of the ribs in the charcoal smoker, hence the large halves.

He are a few pics from 1 hour into the smoke.

GOSM primed & ready:

Smoke Vault 24 with an ultra-light load:

Well, I gotta go grab a smoked chop from her first coal burn lastnight for lunch.

Back later with more.

Thanks for lookin'!

post #2 of 22
Another side by side comparison, I love these.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

3-3/43 hour update...still smokin'

While checking for some pull-back, I was greeted by the following views...very nice indeed.

The GOSM is going to produce my choice for the day, no doubt about it. It was running an average of 230* (210-250*), then, had a 300* temp spike about 3 hours in and put some really nice color to these ribs from good smoke/light searing:

GOSM pans:

The Smoke Vault 24 is coming in at a distant 2nd place, with running a fairly steady 220-235*...not much extra coloring/browning going on here:

These ribs were nearly frozen (too cold to hold for long) when they went into the smoke...smoke rings should be incredibly deep, as I'm known for. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

The drawback to this is that the smoke stage will take an extra 1.5 hours or more until much pull-back shows...I may be doing a 5-1.5-0.5 on these...we'll see how it works out between the 2 different smokers with the different pieces of rib sections.

Until the brase...

Thanks all!

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

Brasing time is here!

Pull-back looked better, but was still not as pronounced as I would like to have seen. The ribs must have been colder than I normally start a smoke with.

This was a 5.25 hour smoke and I decided to pan 'em up.

The charcoal fired smoke with the GOSM just looks dynamite!!!!:

Charcoal fired into the pan for brasing:

Gas fired smoke with the Smoke Vault 24:

Gas fired panned up for brasing:

The pans are seperated by 3 rack spaces to allow for heated air to return to the center of the cook grate under the top pan for more even cooking.

The 2nd space up, then the 5th (top) are where we're at:

Target temp for the brase is 250*, but difficult to gauge with pans in the smoker, as it deflects the heat towards the outside (walls) alot.

These are the 12" x 18" pans I recentlt acquired, in a 15"D x 24"W smoker, it's a bit snug on fit.

Playing the waiting game again.......

It's 50 minutes into the brase now, so bark set will be just around the corner, and then to the finish! I'll do the set on the Vault, as it's up to temp...the charcoal fired smoke has done it's job already...I really didn't think there would be such a big difference in the looks. I can hardly wait to taste the difference!

Thanks for lookin'!

post #5 of 22
Waiting for your UNBIASED Report...icon_mrgreen.gif
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

Brased, Firmed up Bark, Sliced & Plated...w/review

Sorry about it taking so long...had alot of bad gateways while I was attempting to upload these pics...took forever.

AT the point of brasing completion, it looked like a huge difference.

GOSM Charcoal fired:

Smoke Vault gas fired:

GOSM firmed bark:

Smoke Vault firmed bark:


Mashed Taters with fined grated cheese and chives:

My plate, to get started:

My wife had a couple of the gas fired and said they were perfect. Yeah, they're good, but not as good as the charcoal fired...no comparison. The flavor is so much deeper. The smoke penetration was alot deeper also, as I'm sure you already noticed. The slight searing during the smoke stage of the charcoal fired smoke was a nice unexpected touch and makes them look so much more delectible...and I think they are just that!

I just had my second charcoal fired rib and I'm going for another...don't want the gas fired ribs... icon_redface.gif

So, this is kind of a tough call, because the kid's didn't want to play the taste trials, but just went for what looked and smelled better to them. It does seem that the males in the house went for char PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif, the females went for gas fired icon_neutral.gif. I just looked under the foil and there is 2/3 of a slab of the charcoal fired left, and a full slab of the gas fired left.

I guess we're about 60/40 split, in favor of the charcoal fired...closer than I thought it would be...though my wife's gut's buggin' her again tonight, so she may have turned it into an upset if she felt better. I can say this though, I'll take charcoal fired, please!

Thanks all!

post #7 of 22
Interesting. Nice to know there are other Charcoal GOSM owners out there, although I converted mine to propane. I get the best of both worlds by putting some charcoal inside my wood chunk can. This imparts some charcoal flavor to the meats I smoke. At any rate, great test. PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif

post #8 of 22
So I guess your Unbiased opinion is Charcoal... LOL

I think they both look great, but then all Q does...PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #9 of 22
Great post.I have only ever used charcoal and wood.

I remember a comparison done years ago of charcoal vs gas.They didnt use any wood for flavor,but the gas liked charcoal and vice versa.

Nice JobPDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #10 of 22
If you added more smoke to the vault, what do you think the outcome would have been?
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
I still feel the charcoal would have came out on top...the flavor of the charcoal fire really carries the wood smoke nicely...I've found this to be the case with cold smoke & seared steaks, chops, chix pieces, etc. Don't ask me why, because I'm still trying to figure this out myself.

I'm not sure what a gas fired cold smoke & sear would be like. Maybe I'll do a side-by-side comparison of that sometime and find out.

There's just no comparison...I thought it was just me... a new found taste that I just had to explore in depth. There is a huge difference in flavor. The wood smoke actually seems to get smoothed out by the charcoal, because I was hitting the GOSM smoke pretty steady, and I had a few moments of the bellowing white smoke as well...I couldn't even tell that the wood smoke was strong.

I just got home from work, so I'll grab some out of the fridge and see if it tastes any different today (after not being around the smoke for 6 or 7 hours).

I'll let you know what I think of lastnight's ribs in a bit.


post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yep, there is no contest on this one!

I just smelled and ate a gas fired smoked spare, then proceeded with a charcoal fired smoked spare........man, that has got to be the biggest difference I have ever tasted. I would have never guessed it, after cooking 99% of my outdoor meals on gas over the past 25+ years.

I can hardly describe the flavor variation...I'm searching for the words here...hold on...

The gas fired smoke is milder, and lighter, which I expected, as I ran a very light & somewhat shorter smoke than on the charcoal fired, per wifey's request. The dry rub had a slightly more distinct flavor than the charcoal fired. It had a slight ham flavor from the hickory smoke wood.

The charcoal fired has a very deep smokey flavor, but not overwhelming. It's kind of rustic if you will, and I immediately noticed that it has much less of a "hammy" flavor from the hickory smoke wood. It's a taste that takes me way back to my younger years of cooking on an open campfire. This is where I think the charcoal fired smoker did a better job, smoothing out the smoke wood, and giving a very distinct flavor to the meat. The charcoal fired is an un-mistakable taste, but a very good one. I'm sure after experiencing it, anyone could grab someone else's smoked ribs, PP, SB or bird and know without hesitation whether it was a charcoal fired smoke.

The one major item I'll need to compensate for on future charcoal fired smokes is that the dry rub is much less pronounced. I would run a heavier coating if I used this rub again, but more than likely I'll change up one of my own dry rubs and see where I can go with it.

I can definately see alot of possibilities for future smokes...this is so cool!

Heh,. I guess the next step will be to get some lump instead of briqs...of course after I experience that, I'll probably want a wood fired smoke.

I can easily see why everyone here likes to run wood burners so much...that's gotta be an incredible taste sensation...I envy all of you wood burners out there!!!!! PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

My #1 suggestion for anyone considering buying a smoker: weigh the convenience over the flavor/qaulity of the food if you are thinking about going electric or gas. I'm convinced....now if only I owned stock in the charcoal briqueting plants.................. icon_wink.gif

post #13 of 22
I'm pretty much with Flash, I use wood and RO lump in the coffee can together.
post #14 of 22
Maybe next time you can compare Flash's combo method against charcoal/lump.
post #15 of 22
Thats it I'm gutting the GOSM and running out and buying the guts to make one of those there charcoal burning set ups. Those ribs look awesome. points.giffor sure.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Not a bad idea! I was thinking about doing a side-by-side cold smoke & sear sometime, too...just to get an idea how far the charcoal really goes.

Do you have another smoker to run as well? (I only noticed 1 on your signature). Once you do the conversion, you're not 100% commited if you don't alter the smoker itself, but it would be a PITA to switch from one to the other.

Just making sure you don't cuss me later...icon_mrgreen.gif

post #17 of 22
I still have my drum, of course it burns coals, but once I got a taste of the Horizon burning wood I haven't done a charcoal burn since. It seems going from charcoal to wood is just about as dramatic as you describe going from gas to coal.
post #18 of 22
Even teasing about his unbiased opinion, I have to agree with forluvofsmoke, the flavor from gas and electric smokers do not compare to charcoal or wood.

Until I purchased my Grand Cafe SS Propane smoker all I had used was charcoal and wood.

When I got the Grand Cafe SS about a year ago, I was going to go to an auction that had a Large Horizon listed and I figured I could get it for around $600.00. The day of the auction was nasty weather wise so we didn't go sadly, The Horizon went for $425.00 and the seller even delivered it.

The Grand Cafe popped up on Craig's List a few days later so I got It.

Then I got the Bradleys and they are electric and I still haven't done anything with them. Still not sure I will like them.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I can already see a possibility for me to take it to the top and go wood fired. We have alot of Cottonwood in the creek bottoms in this part of the state...I have a chainsaw and a phone to call landowners for permission...icon_smile.gif

I think I'd be in the hospital for DT's if I had to drop back from wood-fired to gas or electric...man, that's hardcore!

post #20 of 22
I should have stayed in the propane forum. I'm now questioning the new smoke vault purchase. icon_rolleyes.gif
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Pork
SmokingMeatForums.com › Forums › Smoking Meat (and other things) › Pork › Taste-off: Charcoal vs Gas - Spares, q-view