Be Prepared this will be a long post... Hey guys, I'm part of the group who can't get it right. i've only smoked 2 briskets and both times have given me a dried out brisket.. However, i think i've figured out my problem. I kept a thorough log of what i did, maybe you guys can pinpoint the problem. Luckily i had some st louis to redeem myself.. a little background on my setup before i post an hour by hour play book.. I have a propane charbroil vertical box smoker with water in the pan which is an absolute pain in the ass to maintain a steady temperature for whatever reason.. i have to reload the water pan every 30-45 minutes and add more chips every 45 to an hour. luckily the pan has its own drawer so i dont need to open up the chamber everytime it needs to be refilled. im smoking with mesquite, cherry and pecan wood i'm using the maverick thermometer and the thermapen instant read. The brisket was an 11 pound packer choice grade, the only trimming i did was the rock solid fat that is on the lean side of the cut.(i wont flood this post with pics but ill link the full thread with pics.) i seasoned the brisket with a recipe from "Bama BBQ" i found that calls for 2 Tablespoons kosher salt 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar (i used light brown sugar) 2 teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon granulated garlic 1 teaspoon oregano leaves (dried) 1 teaspoons coarse black pepper (use fresh cracked pepper) the recipe also called for cumin and cayene that i decided not to add.. So the brisket went on fat cap down at 0430 chamber temp somewhat steady at @223 Internal 45 0500 Chamber 243 Internal 79 0530 Chamber 252 Internal 97 0600 Chamber 218 Internal 122 - smoker didn't wanna get over 218 for a good 20-30 minutes (at this point i started waiting 10 minutes letting the temps stabilize after adding water to the pan to log my temps) 0640 Chamber 228 Internal 140 0700 Chamber 235 Internal 145 0720 Chamber 225 Internal 151 0750 Chamber 225 Internal 156 0800 Chamber 217 Internal 160 - stall? 0830 Chamber 210 Internal 163 0845 Chamber 214 Internal 165 0920 Wrapped in foil @ internal 165 - at this point i ditched the water pan and put play sand in the pan 1015 Chamber 260 Internal 170 1115 Chamber 225 Internal 171 - ran a quick errand came home to my flame being out and Chamber dropping to 140, it wasn't out for more than 10 mins and i got back to 220 withing another 5 1215 Chamber 241 Internal 187 1240 Chamber 240 Internal 190 1300 Chamber 234 Internal 189 - Temp dropped while foiled..? - at this point i was staring at the thermometer losing my mind, then i thought back to all the info i had been reading and i realized i was over complicating this.. i meant its a piece of meat for christ sake.. so i stopped worrying about temperatures and just poked it every 30-45 minutes with a tooth pick waiting for it to soften up. 1500 pulled the brisket @ internal 187 - 187? wtf?!?! as you can see my temps are absolutely all over the place. I'm thinking the maverick probe must have been in a bad spot but i didn't want to open the smoker to fiddle with the probe. (only opened the smoker once to wrap in foil minus the toothpick testing) I'm thinking that i simply didn't cook it long enough based on this picture. Just a few questions.. 1. are my temperature fluctuates normal? i feel like they shouldn't be moving around that much. 2. when toothpick testing, are you testing the flat? or the point? and how easy does it really slide in? can you push the toothpick with your fingertip without the sharp end of the toothpick hurting your finger? (if that makes sense...) The bend test USDA choice Before trimming Before trimming After trimming After trimming Foiled Done (strange color..?) Not done? not done?