So I finally got everything together for my smoker and smoked a brisket on Saturday. Things didn't really go as planned, but in the end the meat tasted great! Since I ran into some trouble I ended up having to do the last 40 degrees wrapped in foil in the oven, but it was still some of the best meat I've ever had.
So I had two main problems and I'm hoping somebody has some advice for me.
1) I couldn't keep the temperature high enough.
I think I will use lump charcoal next time because it seems to have a better flavor, lights easier and is hotter. Also, somebody mentioned drilling holes in the bottom of the charcoal tray and I think I will definitely do that next time to keep oxygen coming in. Also, when the temperature did get high, it made the water boil in the tray above it and caused the water to fall on the charcoal.
2) I had some problems with the wood.
I mainly used wood chips and I think that was a mistake because they burnt out so quickly and I would have to keep refilling them, which is a pain when making something that takes as long as a brisket. I had a couple of wood chunks as well, but I don't know if I used them properly. I put them in with the charcoal, which caused them to just light on fire and sky-rocket the temperature and also make some unpleasant smoke. I've seen other people have wood chunks in a different tray, but I only have one other tray for the water and that's it.
Overall it was still a great experience and I'm hoping to improve on it for next time, so any help would be greatly appreciated.