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Pellet Smokers in Competitions - Your opinion

rogerwilco

Meat Mopper
167
19
Joined Sep 4, 2015
 Guys, the rules clearly allow one to use a pellet grill....no one is cheating in these competitions. So sayeth the judges. This kind of reminds me of the first time a forward pass was thrown during a football game. It stopped the play for some time, as the other team yelled "foul," right up till the officials stated there was nothing in the official rules debarring the use of a pass. The rest is history, even though many felt at the time that it was cheating or somehow unfair.

 Perhaps a new organization should be started, one that doesn't allow all the cheating......like metal cookers. Real barbecue is cooked over an open trench: none of that sissy pull-behind-an-RV stink-pot iron contraptions. And, great-granddaddy didn't have no thermometer, hell no,let alone some fancy digital number, so these should possibly be banned from competition as well. Propane torches for starting a fire? Aluminum foil? Power injectors?
 

smokinhawgbbq

Smoke Blower
118
22
Joined Apr 4, 2016
 
 Guys, the rules clearly allow one to use a pellet grill....no one is cheating in these competitions. So sayeth the judges. This kind of reminds me of the first time a forward pass was thrown during a football game. It stopped the play for some time, as the other team yelled "foul," right up till the officials stated there was nothing in the official rules debarring the use of a pass. The rest is history, even though many felt at the time that it was cheating or somehow unfair.

 Perhaps a new organization should be started, one that doesn't allow all the cheating......like metal cookers. Real barbecue is cooked over an open trench: none of that sissy pull-behind-an-RV stink-pot iron contraptions. And, great-granddaddy didn't have no thermometer, hell no,let alone some fancy digital number, so these should possibly be banned from competition as well. Propane torches for starting a fire? Aluminum foil? Power injectors?
Not that anyone's Cheating, It's just the major part of a Comp is Maintaining your pit temps and times, and they are regulated and adjusted by the pellet smoker or pit controller, not the compeditor, once programed. To me the whole purpose of comps should be maintaining the temps in your pits to get your results, you might as well be allowed to use gas, set the dial to the temp you want,no different than filling a hopper with pellets and programming the controller to maintain your temp. just hope you don't run out of gas, or your elec. go out

Mike
 

lcgc

Fire Starter
54
12
Joined Apr 8, 2009
Yeah, I'm not saying they are cheating at all. Like some people have said, the biggest challenge is maintaining your fire over the duration of the cook.
 

bauchjw

Master of the Pit
1,087
198
Joined Aug 3, 2015
I've never done a competition, but How much does sponsor's money factor in? I was under a very ignorant assumption, from what TV edits, that competition smokers did stay up all night and tend the pit? If all the big boys do it I am assuming they have sponsors who may influence?

Not to throw darts, but....
- For the football analogy a drone throwing forward passes in football is a better analogy. Human intuition, art, and knowledge of science verse a programmed algorithm.
- For real BBQ being in an open trench it's not a complete fact. There is plenty examples through history of BBQ being done on stink pot iron contraptions. However, the common theme, including open earth pits, up until recently is a Pit Master controlling heat and smoke.

While I'm not a competition person, as someone who admires the craft, it seems like pellet smokers should be for the backyard.
 
Last edited:

rogerwilco

Meat Mopper
167
19
Joined Sep 4, 2015
I've never done a competition, but How much does sponsor's money factor in? I was under a very ignorant assumption, from what TV edits, that competition smokers did stay up all night and tend the pit? If all the big boys do it I am assuming they have sponsors who may influence?

Not to throw darts, but....
- For the football analogy a drone throwing forward passes in football is a better analogy. Human intuition, art, and knowledge of science verse a programmed algorithm.
- For real BBQ being in an open trench it's not a complete fact. There is plenty examples through history of BBQ being done on stink pot iron contraptions. However, the common theme, including open earth pits, up until recently is a Pit Master controlling heat and smoke.

While I'm not a competition person, as someone who admires the craft, it seems like pellet smokers should be for the backyard.
 Not to put too fine a point on it, but....

 -The football analogy was was intended only to illustrate how people have, in the past,  misconstrued "the rules" as preventing an action which was indeed allowable. For some time after that first pass there were those who still considered it to be outside the spirit of the competition, and far removed from the art, knowledge and science of a ground-game; any drudge could chunk a ball to a guy some yards distant.

  I, rashly, jumped to the conclusion that posters thought the use of pellet cookers to be cheating, as in an actual violation of the rules, when no one actually used that term. But in a broad sense that is still the impression I'm left with: that it is an unfair advantage in the otherwise time-honored art of cookin' BBQ, and something akin to cheating, in spirit at least.

As for "real BBQ".....

 My statement concerning trenches was intended merely as tongue-in-cheek, hoping to convey that one can always reduce a thing to what can be considered a more "pure" environment. However, stink-pot iron contraptions, regardless of how timeless their use might seem to many, can only go back as far as the Iron Age. Man's widespread control of fire (and cookin" BBQ couldn't be too far behind that) goes back to at least the Middle Paleolithic period.

 I hear 'ya concerning pellet cookers in backyards. This is where mine is located. It produces very good food and in a completely boring manner: connect a power cord,fill a hopper, flip a switch, adjust a digital readout and watch the wisps of smoke rise. My wife loves it. I still prefer my horizontal iron contraption because it gives me a sense of connection with all those who have gone before, in maintaining a tradition of the pit master's art. The food tastes pretty darned good, too!

 I personally feel that competitions would benefit from a separation of technologies which can be used in various "classes," just as black powder shooters compete in different classes, or even whole competitions, than those shooters using modern smokeless arms.

 I think most of us would much rather contest a game of chess against another person, than against a computer.

 And lastly, I feel the biggest problem with BBQing is them sumbitches what uses molded charcoal briquettes: that just ain't right.......:)
 

bbqbrett

Master of the Pit
1,106
171
Joined Jan 17, 2013
Technically, the use of a remote thermometer could be construed in the same manner as a pit controller.

Hypothetical situation:
The remote thermometer alarm goes off, waking a competitor to a situation that requires a response. The competitor closes/opens vents, adds fuel, etc. How is this any different than using the alarms on a pit controller to do the same response? I really don't see any difference. 


Going off on another tangent:

Hypothetical situation #2:
Is it fair for a team to bring Kobe or Wagyu beef to the competition, when it may not be available to every competitor? Whether due to financial constraints or outside the "spirit" of the competition.



The main reason I purchased a pit controller was to make my overnight smokes easier and less stressful. I'm not 20 anymore and staying up all night isn't my cup of tea. I own my business and the effects of staying up all night are far from productive. If there is a tool that makes a task easier, and I can afford it, I'm going to use it, without any feelings of guilt that I circumvented the "spirit" of a competition.
[/quote]


In the first situation are you talking about one of the automatic fans that kicks on to regulate the pit temp or automatically drops more fuel to the fire?

If so there is a big difference between that and someone who has to get up and manually adjust. In one scenario the person is doing the actual work while the machine is doing it in the other. Also as you pointed out the whole sleep thing could make a difference as well.

The second scenario is an interesting question. I have known people that don't have the most expensive cuts of meat still place well and even win some contests. Really I think it is an advantage for some people and not others. Some people are good at the craft and know how to cook the food, use their equipment properly and have good flavor profiles. Other people are not as good at those things and would probably be at a disadvantage even with the best cuts of meat.

Good questions makes people have to think!
 

bauchjw

Master of the Pit
1,087
198
Joined Aug 3, 2015
 Not to put too fine a point on it, but....
 -The football analogy was was intended only to illustrate how people have, in the past,  misconstrued "the rules" as preventing an action which was indeed allowable. For some time after that first pass there were those who still considered it to be outside the spirit of the competition, and far removed from the art, knowledge and science of a ground-game; any drudge could chunk a ball to a guy some yards distant.
  I, rashly, jumped to the conclusion that posters thought the use of pellet cookers to be cheating, as in an actual violation of the rules, when no one actually used that term. But in a broad sense that is still the impression I'm left with: that it is an unfair advantage in the otherwise time-honored art of cookin' BBQ, and something akin to cheating, in spirit at least.

As for "real BBQ".....
 My statement concerning trenches was intended merely as tongue-in-cheek, hoping to convey that one can always reduce a thing to what can be considered a more "pure" environment. However, stink-pot iron contraptions, regardless of how timeless their use might seem to many, can only go back as far as the Iron Age. Man's widespread control of fire (and cookin" BBQ couldn't be too far behind that) goes back to at least the Middle Paleolithic period.

 I hear 'ya concerning pellet cookers in backyards. This is where mine is located. It produces very good food and in a completely boring manner: connect a power cord,fill a hopper, flip a switch, adjust a digital readout and watch the wisps of smoke rise. My wife loves it. I still prefer my horizontal iron contraption because it gives me a sense of connection with all those who have gone before, in maintaining a tradition of the pit master's art. The food tastes pretty darned good, too!

 I personally feel that competitions would benefit from a separation of technologies which can be used in various "classes," just as black powder shooters compete in different classes, or even whole competitions, than those shooters using modern smokeless arms.
 I think most of us would much rather contest a game of chess against another person, than against a computer.

 And lastly, I feel the biggest problem with BBQing is them sumbitches what uses molded charcoal briquettes: that just ain't right.......:)
You're Not putting too fine of a point! Very well said. My wife likes the low maintenance approach as well, I don't get to play with my Bar-B Chef horizontal offset as much since kids started dominating life.

I won't bite on molded charcoal briquettes!!!
 

worktogthr

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
2,931
1,029
Joined Nov 3, 2013
Hahah maybe a bit random but this reminds me of the anchored putter controversy in golf. Many believed it's not in the spirit of the game because it took away the need for a good, consistent putting stroke. However when it was allowed within the rules there were some playerswho won a lot of money with it. Anchoring your putter is no longer allowed in professional golf because the ruling body made it part of the rule book. Until pellet smokers are banned from competitions, you can't blame those who use them and have had success to keep on using them.

I am a purist, and in BBQ and golf there is already enough technology that makes things easier, a plug in set and forget smoker in my opinion takes the challenge out of it. Back to the golf analogy, that would be like a putter that swing itself with the same reliable stroke each time. It puts all the technique in the equipments hands rather than the competitor.

When you are at home or own a restaurant, you cook whatever makes your family/friends/customers happy because good food is good food, but at a comp it's about smoking, not cooking so I think some kind of live fire should be involved.
 

medic92

Smoke Blower
84
13
Joined Nov 19, 2014
 
 Guys, the rules clearly allow one to use a pellet grill....no one is cheating in these competitions. So sayeth the judges. This kind of reminds me of the first time a forward pass was thrown during a football game. It stopped the play for some time, as the other team yelled "foul," right up till the officials stated there was nothing in the official rules debarring the use of a pass. The rest is history, even though many felt at the time that it was cheating or somehow unfair.

 Perhaps a new organization should be started, one that doesn't allow all the cheating......like metal cookers. Real barbecue is cooked over an open trench: none of that sissy pull-behind-an-RV stink-pot iron contraptions. And, great-granddaddy didn't have no thermometer, hell no,let alone some fancy digital number, so these should possibly be banned from competition as well. Propane torches for starting a fire? Aluminum foil? Power injectors?
So what kind of pellet smoker do you have?
 

medic92

Smoke Blower
84
13
Joined Nov 19, 2014
 
 Yoder YS640. It works very, very well if the only object of the enterprise is to produce delicious foods.
I was just having fun.  Your impassioned response made it clear you were a pellet fan with strong feelings on the subject.  :)
 

rogerwilco

Meat Mopper
167
19
Joined Sep 4, 2015
 
I was just having fun.  Your impassioned response made it clear you were a pellet fan with strong feelings on the subject.  :)
Actually, I prefer using my ceramic cookers and the horizontal off-set. They just seem to be a more grassroots method of cooking, which I enjoy when afforded the time required to play with them. And the only thing requiring an electric cord during their use is the LooftLighter, which is just plain ol' fun. There is no denying, though, that the pellet cookers work well and allow one to cook with ease, which  is why I purchased one.   :)
 

gearjammer

Master of the Pit
1,473
172
Joined Apr 6, 2015
I guess a wattburner should be real quiet in here.

good discussion.

But da rules is the rules, does make you wonder why not different classes?

          Ed
 

jlcnuke

Fire Starter
51
11
Joined Dec 26, 2013
I'm of the opinion that the thing being judged (the food) should be the only thing that matters. If that guy over there is making the best BBQ with his pellet smoker, or an electric smoker, or a weber kettle, or an offset smoker, or a UDS, etc, then they should be the one winning BBQ competitions. I have no desire to do competitions, but a common sense approach would be that a BBQ competition would be about the best BBQ, not about the best BBQ with only a couple methods allowed so the best may be elsewhere.
 

mcloven1t

Smoke Blower
Group Lead
109
32
Joined Apr 26, 2014
I don't compete, but I am a huge PitMasters and PitWars Fan, one of the popular guys who has won A LOT of grand champions and reserve grand champions is the owner of PELLET ENVY.

and what do you think he cooks on???? Yup! only pellets!! He got into the finals and they had to cook a whole hog, n provided to them was a LANG Offset Stick Burner, n he had to ask Mr Lang himself like 100 questions to get a handle on how to use the pit. lol

He didn't win, but the hog did come out pretty damn nicely.

Not sure where I was going with this, but I guess you could definitely say cooks who have only ever used Pellet Smokers can definitely get rattled/confused if they're ever put in that situation where you now need to use a stick burner and actually do all the tinkering/monitoring to keep your box full & hott, or how to lower the temp if it's spiking on you.

I also hear a lot of others out in the world who claim that pellets just don't create the same kind of smoke as wood does, which I can definitely believe when you look at the two.  We all know what smoke looks like when you set fire to dry wood, but I've seen pellet smokers and it's just such a thin layer of smoke coming out. I don't understand how much flavor can really penetrate the meat.
 

lcgc

Fire Starter
54
12
Joined Apr 8, 2009
I'm of the opinion that the thing being judged (the food) should be the only thing that matters. If that guy over there is making the best BBQ with his pellet smoker, or an electric smoker, or a weber kettle, or an offset smoker, or a UDS, etc, then they should be the one winning BBQ competitions. I have no desire to do competitions, but a common sense approach would be that a BBQ competition would be about the best BBQ, not about the best BBQ with only a couple methods allowed so the best may be elsewhere.
Since you said you haven't competed, you have no idea the work it takes to at these competitions. We don't have a team of four people. It's normally my wife and I. My oldest son is there about half the time when he doesn't have things to do with his kids so that helps. I got an hour and forty five minutes sleep in 36 hours at my last competition. If that tells you anything.
 

garvinque

Meat Mopper
152
18
Joined Jan 23, 2015
I agree just because it uses electricity to fed the pellets, it is still wood being burn.
 

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