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Have you heard the term vertical smokers and scratched your head and said, “Huh.” Basically, there are three types of barbecue smokers for making real smoked barbecue. The first is what is called the offset smoker. With the offset smoker, the firebox of the smoker is off to the side of the smoke chamber. A fire is built in the firebox, smoke and heat from the firebox travel into and through the smoke chamber, and out through a chimney ventilation system at the top of the smoke chamber. The meat that is to be smoked (and eventually, eaten) is placed on grates inside the smoke chamber. As the smoke and heat pass around the meat on the way to the chimney vents, the meat is flavored by the smoke. This is what makes for great smoked barbecue.
The second main type of smoker category is the kettle cooker (think Weber Kettle.) A kettle cooker can be set up for smoking by building the fire off to the side of the kettle, and placing the meat not directly over the heat source, but off to the other side. When the lid is closed, smoke from the charcoal and any added wood chips will flow around the meat giving it that great smoke barbecue taste before exiting the kettle lid through the vents. The third major type of barbecue cooker is what is known as a vertical smoker. With a vertical smoker, there is only one chamber for everything. The fire is built down at the bottom of the unit, there is a pan with soaked wood chips directly over the fire area, and then there are 2,3, or 4 horizontal racks above the smoke pan where the meat is placed. The smoke will rise in the smoke chamber, go around the meat giving it that great flavor, then exit out the top of the unit. Some of the vertical smokers also have a water pan directly over the smoke pan. This pan will hold water throughout the cooking process and will help the meat stay moist and not dry out.
A vertical smoker can use various fuels. Some burn charcoal or regular wood chunks. Some are fueled by propane, and some even use electricity to create heat, and burn water soaked wood chips to create smoke. The electric vertical smoker is often a good choice for the novice barbecue smoke enthusiast as they are very easy to regulate the temperature, and do not require a lot of attention while cooking.
These three styles of smokers will all have the barbecue enthusiast smoking good quality product, as long as they adhere to the basics of good barbecue preparation.
How to Buy a Barbeque Smoker – My Top Three Tips
Here are my top three tips to save you time and money when deciding what type of barbecue smoker (cooker) is right for you. There are a few different styles of smokers, and various ways to create heat and smoke that must be considered. I have broken this down into three general categories:
Physical set up of a offset smokers. There are basically five types of for cooking real barbecue:
Type of Fuel. Smokers can be fueled by various types of fuel. The most common would be charcoal which is really just processed wood. Also, in most offset smokers, the fuel of choice would be wood, and in competition cooking, propane can be use to get the fire going, but after cooking starts, only wood or charcoal can be used. The hobbyist/backyard pit master can use wood, charcoal, propane or even electric to fuel their cookers. The important thing to remember is that you need a smoke source, so you are going to need some types of wood, logs, chunks or chips to provide the smoke for your cooker. Many vertical smokers use propane or electric as a heat source and have an area on the heat source where the soaked wood chips are placed to create the smoke.
Cost of a good smoker. There are various price points for a barbecue smoker. Good ones, although simple, can be had for around one hundred dollars. You can get one for free if you use the kettle type grill or your gas grill which you already own. As with most things though, the sky’s the limit when it comes to barbecue smokers. Some of the units used in competition cost tens of thousands of dollars. The best thing to do when shopping for a barbecue cooker is to first determine what type of cooker you’d like to have, offset, vertical, ceramic egg, kettle or gas grill. Then determine how much you are comfortable spending on this item. After you have your budget, there are many choices within your price range. Many of the large home-improvement stores carry all types and styles of barbecue smoker/cookers. Also, there are many choices for shopping online.
Of course these tips are just the beginning of what could be a whole new cooking life for you. I would suggest that you read as much as you can on smoking meat and everything barbecue related. A good place to start is with an e-book that I have reviewed, Competition Barbecue Secrets, by Bill Anderson. He goes into great detail about what it takes to be a success in competitive barbecue. Of course, his secrets can be used by the backyard barbecue chef to produce drop dead delicious barbecue.
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