Some people use foil, others think its a crutch. Some people swear by mesquite only, others bury mesquite in the yard (thats almost a DrBBQ quote ) Now I would like to start a discussion here that has strong advocates on both sides. Fat Cap, up or down. I spent my first couple years smoking an a ECB $40 Brinkman water smoker. I then graduated to bigger units (A Bandera, then a WSM) and gradually joined more forums and discussion groups. I spent those years always doing what I was told (or learned early). Fat cap up, that way the juices can work their way into the meat as the sinews break down. Makes sense. Or so I thought. Then, in a discussion thread like this, Jim Minion suggested that he always does fat cap down, especially on butts. Butts are already such a high fat content, that they don't need any more rendering. Brisket is a bit leaner, but he still likes them fat cap down. Then he posted a comment that instantly hit my "duh" bell (why didnt I think of that) "Fat cap down protects the down facing meat from the heat" he said. BBQ alarm bells went off in my head. For nearly 3 years, as I cut into pork loins (this was also before I started using foil) or briskets, the meat side that was down was clearly more "seared" or affected by heat (re: dryer) than the meat on top (which was obvious, cuz it was under the fat cap). So to take what seemed to now be a perfectly logical thought, that the fat cap down would prevent "heat damage" to the meat, the "have your cake and eat it too" moment comes next. Now that your meat, and not fat, is facing up, that is the side getting the sprays and the mops, not the fat side. So not only is it getting any juice it needs, it is getting something with each and every spray/mop: BARK!! The nirvana of briskets, butts, and loins, is in that deep rich bark. Now the bark in on the meat, and not on the fat cap. And those burnt ends that will inevitably dry out anyway, those are now barked nuggets of gold. Not only that, but I save alot of rubs. I never rub down the fat cap on any cut of meat. Why bother. Your going to either leave some on the grates (fat that is) or pull it off when you pull it (pork mostly) Now my bandera is a vertical smoker. So once I put a few things in there, whatever fat from the top ends up basting stuff below anyway. But the bark, and the never having even the slightest toughness to the meat side down, is worth an experiment, don't you think To be honest, I have not done fat cap up in almost 2 years. My brother in law came up from Texas "nope nope nope, your all wrong. Fat cap MUST be up to render the meat". Um, whose house is this. "It ain't gonna work, nope nope nope." about 18 hours later, sheepishly, "hey, I'm gonna have to try that when I get home. One of the best damned briskets I ever had. And I'm not even in Texas!" So add you .02 here, and maybe give it a try some time. My way is not the only way, it is but one way. Heck, I know people that flip the briskets a few times, so they go both ways.