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Brinkman Frustration

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by karenc, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. karenc

    karenc Newbie

    Hi y'all,

    My husband got a little Brinkman smoker last summer after I burned up the gas grill. He loves to smoke stuff in it, but can't keep the thing hot enough. Is there a different kind of smoker that's easier to use?

    I looked at some today at Academy and they had the firebox on the side. Would one like that be easier to keep at the right temperature?

    Just askin',

  2. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the party Karen - and are't you a great wife for doing the research!

    I started out with a brinkman and had the same issue - it was my first cooker and I was really just trying to figure things out as I went. There were no bbq forums when I started.

    Has he tried the minion method? I used to just light up the coals and fight with the temps.

    There are many different types of cookers out there - so here are a few questions...

    How much are you looking to spend?

    Do you / your husband prefer to cook with charcoal or wood?

    How much does he / you want to have to tend the pit?

    Not sure of your situation, but my husband cooks with me now and it's a great way to spend time together.
  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi Karen, and welcome to SMF!

    Here's a recent thread with the same topic discussion which you may want to look over:


    It's a slightly different smoker, but a vertical Brinkmann charcoal fired, and the problems associated with these types are pretty common...went through the same issues with one myself.

    Happy smokes aren't far away..the smoker just needs a bit of tweeking.

  4. karenc

    karenc Newbie

    Hey ellymae,

    Thanks for getting back to me!

    I don't have a clue what the minion method is, but he put the legs on the outside and picks the thing up to add hot coals. This seems like a lot of work and bother to me.

    I'd like to keep the cost at around $150.

    We've used charcoal in the past. My son put an outside plug on the patio for us so we could use the electric kit, but the voltage wasn't high enough or something and the smoker never got above 250 degrees. It took forever and we had to finish it in the oven. So, I guess I should say we'll stick with charcoal.

    He wants to go off and do other things for awhile instead of watching the temperature for several hours. We know we'll have to check on it occasionally, but with the Brinkman, it seems like he's having to watch it constantly.

    I love sitting out there with him while he's cooking. It is a good way to spend time together.

  5. I'm not familiar with your smoker but I'm dying to hear this story.  [​IMG]
  6. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  7. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Karen and WELCOME to SMF!!

    My very first smoker was a Brinkman Charcoal Smoker.  I installed the heating element and  the only way I could get to higher temps, was to wrap it in a moving blanket to keep the heat in.

    What's the outside temps when you're smoking?

  8. karenc

    karenc Newbie

    Hey Todd,

    The temps were in the mid to high 80s when we first tried to smoke something. The last thing we smoked was a Boston Butt. It took about 6 hours and almost constant supervision. I'm thinking about getting my husband a smoker for Christmas but don't quite know what kind would be best. It's just the two of us now so we don't need something huge. I was looking at smokers today and saw some with an attachment on the side.

    My understanding is that this is where the coals and wood chips go and it smokes the meat in the next section. Is this easier to deal with than the Brinkman?


  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    6 hours for a Boston is a really short smoke, unless it's a tiny one...maybe 4 lb or so. I've had 8-9lb butts take 12-16 hours @ 225-230* smoke chamber temp just to get to 170-175* internal, then several more hours foiled to bring 'em to 200*. I'd love to get a 6-hr butt smoke...ha-ha-ha!!!

    Anyway, the one you speak of having looked at is what we refer to as a horizontal with side fire box (sfb), or offset smoker. They do have many advantages over a vertical, IMHO. You can tend the fire or add smoke wood without opening the smoke chamber and letting any heat escape, or disturbing a water pan and possibly spilling onto hot coals by lifting the barrel off the fire pan assembly (my Brinkmann Gourmet is the same set-up).

    Also, when fire tending you can move coals carefully without stirring up a ton of air-born ashes which would float up into the smoke chamber in a vertical smoker. All in all, I'd rather use a horizontal with sfb than a vertical for a charcoal fired smoker. The only real drawback to the horizontal is they use more fuel than verticals do, as they suffer heat loss to atmosphere from the fire box itself, where as the vertical's fire is contained beneath the food, inside the smoke chamber, so mush less heat loss is noticed. Also, the lower smoke chamber grate in the verticals are too low for proper smoking on two grates at one time (unless you do modifications, as I have to mine)...the lowest grate position is more suited to steaming foods as very little smoke and a very high humidity are present there.

    If a budget of $150.00 and smaller horizontal smoker just large enough for 4-8 people (or more, depending on the cut of meat you smoke) is on your radar, then a Charbroil American Gourmet for $89.00 may be what you're looking for. It's a small grill/smoker combo with a 12" x 24" food grate (288 sq in, or just a bit larger than a 18.5" kettle grill @ 240"). It's not a heavy duty build, but I've been eyeing it up myself for awhile just for a new toy to learn. I did notice on one of the product reviews that it has a small fire box, but it is afterall a very small smoker. A few simple modifications to the charcoal grate and I think it would get temps up just fine, as well as have enough room under the charcoal grate for ash fall-out and clean-out on those longer smokes like butts or brisket.

    Here's the smoker, if you're interested:


    Edit: if your hubby is into tinkering, there are several modofications which can be done to the stock versions of the little bullet smokers which make huge improvements in the performance...think of it as super-charging your smoker.

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  10. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  11. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  12. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Can't get the ECB hot enough ?? I can have problems keeping mine cool



    You can try adding playbox sand instead of water. It will help control the temps better and give you higher temps also.
  13. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview. [​IMG]
  14. karenc

    karenc Newbie

    Hey Y'all,

    Thanks for all the advice and smoking tips. I went ahead and ordered the small horizontal SFB smoker from Charbroil. It got to my house in about 3 instead of 7-10. Unfortunately, my husband answered the door when he heard the UPS guy drop it off.

    "I don't think I was supposed to see that," he said,

    Darn. Well, it won't be a surprise, but I think he'll like it and I'm gonna make him wait. [​IMG]

    I am looking forward to many hours of smoky fun!

  15. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    First off Welcome Karen to SMF. You'll like it here for there are alot of really good folks here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking. Now there are alot of proven recipes for some amazing things here too. So if you need sign up for the E-Course it's free and it will give you the basics of smoking and some good methods to use also. So the next big thing for you to do is go out and get you something to smoke and if you happen to have any questions just post it here and we will be happy to answer them for you.

    Welcome To Your New Addiction