Mixed results need critique, my first attempt smoking ribs and chicken

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Original poster
Nov 13, 2020
Made my first try at smoking some St louse style ribs and some chicken quarters in my new MES 40
Watched a few videos online to learn how to use this particular smoker. I got a few rib recipes and same with the chicken. I have been cold smoking Salmon for years with good results, so Im not completely new to the smoking process.
Prep: So I brined my chicken overnight in a simple garlic brown sugar and kosher salt liquid blend. I took both racks of ribs removed the membrane and rubbed them down with mustard let them sit over night.
Smoke: I covered the ribs with a dry rub threw them in the bottom two racks at 250 deg. for 2 hours. Pulled them out wrapped them in foil with butter and honey and threw them back in for an hour.
At the same time I dropped the temp to 225 added my chicken to the top two racks just covering them with a dry rub. I pulled the ribs unwrapped them and covered them with sauce and threw them in for another hour or so until the chicken reached 160.
Wood: During the entire process I was using a combination of apple wood chips and traeger apple wood pellets. I must say I didn't care for the smell of the traeger pellets. The smoke from the chips smelled sweet and the pellets were just like a basic campfire.
Results: The chicken was mouth watering and juicy with amazing flavor but the skin was soft and bitter. Is this normal? The ribs were on the chewy side almost a little tough but some were tender. I only got the St louis style because the meat market had just run out of BBR. I will go with those next time for sure.
I would appreciate any critique I definitely thought the ribs were edible but not what I was looking for.
if i figured right you smoked your ribs for about 4 hours not nearly a enough time for st. louis, when i do mine i usually smoke at 225-250 and they take 6-7 hours. i also don't wrap i just let them roll with the dry rub, lots of people do wrap though there is no right or wrong way. chicken will take on a lot of smoke quickly and give it that bitter taste also the skin won't crisp up at those lower temps. i don't think your mes will go over 300 so i would smoke them for an hour then finish on a hot grill or a 350-400 degree oven to crisp up the skin. i think i would give the st. louis another try before switching to baby backs in my opinion st. louis taste better and are much more forgiving when smoking. also your top vent should be wide open.
I would stick to one protein at a time until you get proficient at one. Good info so far and as was said, no right or wrong way. Here's my take on:
Ribs: rub and rest overnight, smoke until 195F, pull. Rest a few days, sauce and sear on the grill to serve. Grilling is MANDATORY for ribs to me.
Chicken: rub a few days in advance. I use my propane grill and heat to around 300F with pouch of pellets. Take to 165F IT. I am NOT a fan of smoked chicken on the MES and prefer the flavor on the grill. Think wood fired grill. If you still want to smoke them, rest overnight in fridge uncovered and skin will dry a bit. This is called pellicle. Skin won't get crispy but will be bite through at least.
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The guys have you covered. Ribs need to go longer and switching to BB’s would not help. In my opinion St Louis trimmed spares are way more forgiving due to being more fatty. Chicken in the same smoker as ribs will always present issues due to the higher temp requirement. The solution would be to seat on a super hot grill at the end. Relative to the bitterness were you perhaps feeding it to many chips?
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Forgot to post it. Here is a clip of TBS. When I first started I was rolling WAY too much smoke.

Thanks for the advice. I probably didnt smoke the ribs long enough as well as too much smoke for the chicken. I liked the way the chicken turned out so I probably will just do the same brine and rub method and take your advice on the hot grill finish at the end.
I have plenty to learn and cant wait to hone my smoking skills all advice is welcome.
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