Saturday, June 10, 2006

BBQ Smokers

The debate over whether offset smokers such as Lang, Klose and Bates are better cookers than upright smokers such as Backwoods and Stump's continues.

I have nothing against either type of cooker. They're all good. Both have their advantages and disadvantages in certain situations.

Let's list some of the advantages shared by the offsets:

- lots of cooking area
- a more "traditional" cooking method
- flexibility for moving meat closer/farther from heat source

Here's some advantages of the upright design:

- more efficient in more types of weather
- heat rises so they reach cooking temps faster
- insulated for cooking in cold weather (Backwoods and Stumps)
- use less fuel per cooking session on average
- once they're hot they stay hot longer
- require less monitoring when cooking

Disadvantages shared by offsets:

- most cost more than uprights, takes more materials to construct them
- big, heavy, require a tow vehicle to transport them more than a few feet
- require a larger area to store them when not in use
- not "ideal" for apartment dwellers
- not ideal for folks that don't own a truck or SUV to tow them with
- you have to haul lots of wood or other fuel with you when cooking
- offsets require closer monitoring when cooking
- possibility for setting the grass on fire is greater (I can attest to this one)
- tires, wheel bearings and maintenance requirements
- since they're often stored outdoors, require painting more often

Some manufacturers have been compensating for some of the disadvantages shared by offsets by relocating the fire box beneath the cooking grates and installing a rotisserie mechanism to "rotate" the meat, but this brings into play an entirely different set of possible downside risks, which I'll save for another post.


Ugly Gourmet said...

Ok, but which do you have the best results with. I presently, use a Great Outdoors charcoal cabinet water smoker and a WSM. I love them both. I have recently been contemplating upgrading with the hopes of working up the courage to actually compete. I have my eye on the Backwoods "Fatboy". But the purest in me wants to trek down south and buy a Lang...I live in New England. I am also considering building my own. Granted I have never used an offset, but you've got to start somewhere.

Great blog and site... UG My Blog

The BBQ Guy said...

The Lang is a nice cooker and a lot of bbq teams have used them with great success on the contest circuit. I used to cook with the team and we used a Lang with few complaints. But, I should offer this disclaimer: the team has recently switched over to the Fast Eddy by Cookshack pellet cookers that have become very prevalent at contests. My personal belief is that the cook has so much more to do with the quality of the bbq product than the cooker, that it really doesn't matter which one you use. It's a matter of personal preference.