With any of the large chunks of meat internal temp. is critical. Basic brisket method is this:
1) Put unlit charcoal in the pan with 5 or 6 fist sized chunks of flavor/smoke wood in the charcoal pan. Then dump about 1/2 a chimney of lit charcoal in the middle on top, let it go for about 10 minutes then put the middle section of the body on and put HOT tap water into the water pan, put on the lid. Watch the temps close and when it gets up to 200° damp down all the lower air intakes to 3/4 closed (leave the top vents 100% open). Watch the temps. if they don't level off close the bottom vent(s) more. You are looking to stabilize the temp before you put the meat on.
2) Once you have achieved the 200-225° chamber temp. put the meat on racks and put the probe in it. Put the lid back on, there may be a temp. spike when you open the lid and put the meat on, but is should settle back down. Leave it alone for 2 or 3 hrs., unless your chamber temps. start to drop below 180°, if that happens add a half chimney of lit coals. But you want to leave the smoker closed as much as possible, any time you open it to peek or anything you add 10-15 mintes of cook time due to heat loss and recovery time.
3) Once the internal temp of the meat has reached 165° place it in the foil pan and dump either a can of low sodium beef broth in the bottom of the foil pan or a beer. Cover with foil and then let it go till the internal meat temp. hits 190-200°.
4) Then remove the meat from the pan and double wrap it in heavy foil. Then wrap that in a towel and place into a clean dry cooler, fill the rest of the space in the cooler with more old towels, and leave the meat alone for 1-2 hrs.
5) While the meat is resting take all the juices from the foil pan and place them in a container in the freezer just till the fat on top sets up. Remove the fat, then re-heat the juices.
6) Once the meat has rested for at least 1 hr. pull it out and slice it across the grain into 1/4" slices, put them in the foil pan and then dump the warm broth over them.
7) Eat and enjoy!
Now a little bit about smoke and woods. Yes the wood chunks are what produce the smoke flavor and smoke ring, what you want to achieve is called thin blue smoke, meaning it is almost invisible to the naked eye and has a light gray/blue color to it. If you smoke is billowy and white it is creating creasote in the smoker and on the good, which tastes nasty and bitter. Rule of thumb is if you smell smoke, you are getting smoke, whether you see it or not. Now when you first start the smoker the smoke will be billowy and white, but that should settle down to T.B.S. within 10 minutes or so, also every 2 hrs. or so you may need to add more wood chunks to the coals to continue the smoke, it will billow when they are added, but again they should settle down to TBS quickly.
Differant woods have differant flavors. Mesquite and Hickory are the most common wood chunks to find a Home Depot, Lowes, ect. Hickory you can add 3-5 chunks at a time and be OK, but mesquite is a much stronger flavor. I would suggest a mix of 3 chunks hickory and 1 or 2 chunks of mesquite, added every 2 to 3 hrs. for the first 6 hrs. or so.
Last but not least - DON'T RUSH IT! Brisket is done when brisket is done, if you run at higher temps., don't cook it all the way to 190-200°, don't rest it for at least 1 hr, or any combo of the three, you are going to end up with a tough chewey piece of meat. Brisket when done correctly can be cut with fork and is super tender and moist. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!