terrible tough brisket... where did i go wrong?

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Original poster
Sep 1, 2013
took a small brisket 3.5 pound seasoned it with a rub and put it on at 2pm at 220 took it off at 6pm with the temp being 170, it was so tough!!! ive eaten beef jerky that was easier to chew. Where did I go wrong?

Thanks for the help!!

A bit more, I have an electric 30" masterbuilt smoker and I had water in the water pan and I used mesquite wood. So frustrated!

You pulled it too early. 170 is not near enough. 195 to 200 IT then double wrap in foil with a little liquid, and wrap that with a towel or blanket then in a cooler for an hour or two. Undercooked brisket can be....well, you already found out.
If you weren't able to chew more than a piece or 2, you can still bring it up to the 195 - 200.  Just put in a pan with some broth and foil.  Oven at 250 degrees until it reaches proper IT.  Rest as described above and it should be much better.
170 is the magic number where tough meats START to tenderize.  I keep track when my butts, shoulders, chuckies, and briskets climb above 170 on their way to my target temp.  Three to four hours above 170 and you'll have tender meat, even if part of that time is resting on the counter insulated in towels. 
The temperature is a guesstimate. When it hits 195ish IT, start probing with a temperature probe or ice pick. It shoud go in with minimal resistance, like going through soft butter. I've seen some briskets take to 215 IT to get tender.
Everyone else nailed it.  You didn't cook it to a high enough internal temp.  If you want to slice it put it to about 195 and if you want to shred it closer to 205.
wow...... I GREATLY appreciate everyone's input!! I will definitely start it sooner next time! im still learning and I love this site!

Thanks again everyone!

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