New MES 30, First Impressions - Build, Temp, and Cooking Results

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Original poster
Dec 29, 2013
I'm new to smoking and picked the unit up for Christmas.  I presume its a Second Gen unit, but I don't know how to tell.

Build: The door seems twisted with the lower left corner having about a half-inch gap.  MES sending new door but I'm able to pull it in with a heavy latch adjustment so the contact seems OK.  Otherwise the unit seems fine.

Temperature Test:  I noticed some oddities while smoking a 5-LB boneless prime rib for Christmas.  Afterword I ran a temp test with Maverick remote thermometer after first validating the temperature of the Maverick in boiling water and against a good dial thermometer at room temperature.  I set the smoker to 200 degrees, opened the vent, and logged the data. 

Temp Test Results: There is about a 15 degree difference between the lower middle part of the smoker and the upper middle part of the smoker.  Worse, the MES unit measures about 20-25 degrees lower than the Maverick. ( I put the Maverick temperature probe just inside where the factory probe comes out of the back wall of the unit).  The meat probe temperature lines up well with the Maverick probe.  I also inserted a good quality meat thermometer through the air vent as another reference. (See graph below).

It seems like the factory unit is not measuring the temperature of the air inside the unit, but rather the temperature within the insulation, perhaps, because when the unit is cold the temp matches up well with other thermometers.

Has anyone found a way to calibrate the temperature of these or am I resigned to setting my temp 25 degrees below what I desire?

Cooking Results:

Prime Rib:  The meat came out very nicely although I'd say it was a little sour.  I added modest amounts of cherry chips every hour or so and used no water in the tray.

Jerkey: Made up some Jerkey from an eye-of-the-round roast. Again, it seemed a little sour to my taste. I was surprised how long it took to smoke 1/4 inch slices and I purposely went easy on the chips. I used hickory this time and again no water in the tray and set the thermostat to get 190 (real) degrees in the unit.

Sausage: I ground up 5 LB of Pork Picnic from a 4-H pig we got from a local girl, added garlic, fennel, parsley, cayenne, etc. and stuffed it using the new Kitchen Aid stuffer attachment we picked up.  That was a ton of fun.  The sausage came out mealy, however.  I don't know if I ground it too finely (twice through the kitchen aid course die, then once through the fine die), or if should have added fat of some kind.  I only discarded the gristle and tendons that wouldn't go through the grinder but there wasn't a lot of outside fat on the roast.


I need to find out:

1. How to manage sourness

2. What to do with the factory temperature sender

3. The secret to making sausage.


Great post - as I too just got an MES 30 for Christmas!  It's coming out of the box tomorrow to "cure" it, then I'm putting in a brisky for New Year's day football.

I appreciate the notes you shared, and look forward to helpful feedback from others who have experienced the same temp issues.
There is no calibration for the mes controller. The temps you are getting are pretty much what many mes owners experience. Just set the cooker to your maverick.
As for "sour"..... not sure. Did you season and burn out the smoker before use?
I too am not sure what you mean by Sour. Lots of White Smoke will give a Bitter tar like flavor. You want Thin Blue Smoke (TBS). Mealy sausage is caused by the mix being too lean, should not be an issue with a Picnic, or you did not mix the meat to the point that it was super Sticky. I make Kielbasa and only make one pass through the large plate so it is really chunky. If it is not mixed well it just falls apart. The mixing develops binding proteins and emulsifies the water, fat and meat so the mix is uniform and gives a smooth finished product...JJ
New 2 -- I'll be interested to hear what temps your MES operates at versus its setting.

Chef JimmyJ and geerock, Maybe by sour I mean over-smoked.  I did an initial burn off the newness in the unit and then ran a few loads of chips through it before use.  At the risk of an "RTFM" reply, how does one achieve TBS vs white smoke?  I put in the chips and turn the loader handle and soon get smoke an didn't think I added all that much chips.  Maybe the chips are too fine and burn off too fast and too hot.

I'll have to try another sausage. Maybe the 4-H picnic that was raised with love and attention was too lean.  I did mix it well with the kitchen aid mixer paddle and it seemed well blended prior to stuffing.

My MES runs about 10° higher than the programmed set point. On further review, I noticed you didn't post the temps you Smoked the Sausage at and to what Internal Temp (IT). Uncured sausage needs to be smoked at 225° or higher. It gets smoked just until the IT is 165°F. If you let the IT get any higher the fat will completely melt out, an IT in the mid 170's and higher, and the sausage will be dry and crumbly. At the typical smoking temps of 225+ the chips will burn giving white smoke for 5-10 minutes then goes blue and after 30 minutes the smoke may not be visible at all but what comes from the exhaust still has the pleasant smokey smell. This is fine as well. After 40-45 minutes the chips are spend and reloading is needed. If you want a true Set and Forget MES, you need to get an AMNPS or AMNTS. The A-MAZE-N Pellet Maze smoke generator and Pellet Tube smoke Generator will give up to 10 hours of continuous TBS. They work at smoker temps from Ambient to 275°F. Check them out at...  ...JJ
Thanks, I suspect that I got the meat too hot and smoked at too low a temperature, probably at 200.  I'll just have to make some more!

I just loaded in a batch of 1/4 inch thick jerky and think I'll slice it thinner next time. So much for package directions.  Its in at 150 degrees (observed). 

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