Test run on Weber Kettle

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by mattsmith379, Jun 27, 2015.

  1. mattsmith379

    mattsmith379 Newbie

    I did my test run on my new 22" Weber Kettle using the snake method and with three hickory wood chunks along the process.  I feel pretty successful with the test run so far.  I started the process around 11 am this morning and kept a pretty consistent temp of 275-300 degrees until 7:30pm tonight, without doing too much the outside temp got to around 85 today.  First thing I noticed is I think I put too many coals within my snake.  I kept trying to close the bottom vent as close to closed as possible but never could get the temp below 275. I may try another short run tomorrow and see if I can keep it closer to that.  I also kept the exhaust vent at about 3/4 open.  Questions I had during the run are below.  Thanks for any help.

    Does the amount or thickness of snake affect the temp?  I had planned on doing a semi circle of the snake two wide and two high but it probably ended up closer to 3x3 with 18 bricks to start.

    The lid has the exhaust on one side which I kept on the side where the food would be and the temp gauge was above the snake, how much of a variance in temp would I have had at the exhaust area?  I forgot to put my digital thermometer within the grill prior to starting.

    I also didn't do a run with a water drip pan how much does that affect temp?  

    I noticed when I hit one of the wood chunks that were above the temp gauge that the gauge went up to 400 and then I adjusted the bottom vent to further closed and that helped.  Is that normal?

    Anything you think I could have done differently I would appreciate it.  
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'll bump this up so the snake method folks can chime in.  Sounds like you are doing everything right.   

    When you are checking the temp of the chamber, are you checking at grate level or the top of the dome?  There can be quite a variance in temp between the two locations. 

    I only use my Kettle nowadays for short smokes and often don't use my temp gauges any more in the Kettle.  Just a quick temp probe to check IT when I think the meat is done.  I load cold charcoal and wood on one side of the Kettle, add some hot coals to the top of the pile, then put the meat and the exhaust on the other side of the Kettle.  Sometimes I'll use my Smokenator, but mostly I just build the fire off to the side.  I've got 20 boneless, skinless chicken thighs I'll be loading on the Kettle today that will be done in less than an hour.  No water pan involved.      

    If you use a water filled drip pan you'll notice quite a drop in temperature.  Its a physics thing.  The water acts as a heat sink.

    And yes, you can get temp spikes if the wood catches fire.  If it warms and carbonizes without catching fire you won't see the spike. Burying the wood in the charcoal instead of laying it on top helps that happen. 

    Also, you can smoke beautifully at 275-300F, even tough cuts like brisket, chuck roasts, and pork butts.  I've moved into the hot n fast camp for pretty much everything these days except pork spare ribs.   
  3. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Exhaust vent open all the way at all times when I am cooking. You might get some black tar creosote dripping on your food one day doing it like that. I can run mine at 225 all day. I don't mess with the top vents at all. Even in the winter time. I also do not use a water pan but will use a drip pan for pork butt or chuck roast to catch the good stuff.
  4. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have the 18" and I use a charcoal ring,to regulate how much coal is in the snake.


  5. mattsmith379

    mattsmith379 Newbie

    Thanks for the advice.  I just used the temp gauge at the top of the dome.  I have a meat thermotere that I will use specically for at the grate level, just forgot to use it.  I would assume there is variance of the temps from at coal level, grate in-direct heat level, and dome vent and temp guage levels.   
  6. mattsmith379

    mattsmith379 Newbie

    Is there a specific place to buy the charcoal ring or did you make it?
  7. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I made that it is expanded metal and some SS Screws.

  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Matt

    A row of good quality briquettes that are 3 wide by 2 or 3 high are fine. They should stretch around about 1/4 of the circumference. You can put any pellets or chunks on top for flavour

    Unless you have a problem restricting the air flow then, within limits, the number of briquettes will not significantly affect the temperature. Check that your bottom vents are a tight fit and have not been lifted away from the body.

    The air flow is controlled best by finely balancing the top and bottom vents. With the top vent wide open the bottom vent will be less sensitive, and as you close the top vent the sensitivity of the bottom vent increases. I can get a nice stable 120 C (150 F) by 3/4 closing the top vent and cracking the bottom vent. With some types of smoker this may be a problem but with Weber kettles you will not get black tar dripping on your food by restricting the top vent. The double layer of foil over the cooking grate helps to deflect the heat into the centre of the Weber and helps reduce the internal temperature gradient. The Top vent should always be positioned on the opposite side to the snake to encourage the heat flow is across the cooking chamber and not just up one side. This will naturally put the lid thermometer directly above the heat.

    Always measure the temperature at the cooking grate level. There is likely to be a 20 Deg gradient (or more) between the top and the bottom. Do not rely on the thermometer in the lid. If you do then, if it is reading 230 F in the lid then the cooking grate temperature may only be at 210 F

    Putting in a water pan will help to keep the temperatures lower. For beginners this can help if you are trying to maintain 230-250 F. Once you get used to balancing the vents then you will find that you will not need one.

    My advice would be to continue to do what you are doing. Keep trying and leaning the specifics of your Weber - they will all behave slightly different. You will also find from experience that some meats are more sensitive to temperature variation than others. One important piece of advice is to use quality (premium) briquettes. Cheaper briquettes are usually a false economy when smoking in the kettle as they try to burn too hot and too quickly.

    I hope this helps.
  9. mattsmith379

    mattsmith379 Newbie

    Is there a type of charcoal that you recommend?  I saw on this site there are some rated and everyone is different but was curious what you like.  Thanks for your help!
  10. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    In the UK we can buy a brand that is manufactured in Australia called Heat Beads - but I do not think you can get them in the USA. Ones you can get there are Weber Premium Briquettes. These are very hard briquettes that burn long and slow without any odour.
  11. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    My thoughts are... You started out with to many and/or to hot of briquettes ... It only takes 6-10 briquettes (and only half lit, not screaming red hot) to get started with... it's easier to bring temps up to desired temp than it is to start to hot and try to bring temps down.... usually my bottom vent is just barely cracked with top wide open to maintain 225` @ grate level ... a good calibrated therm is suggested .... Kingsford blue works for me ...
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2015

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