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Old 09-11-2013, 09:26 PM   #1
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Default New to the hobby! Looking at Brinkmann 57" Vertical Smoker

Hey folks... I'm just barely starting with smoked meats, and all of a sudden I realize I should have done this a LOOOONG time ago.

I smoked a chicken about two weeks ago, without great results. I realized afterwards that my design of the smoker wasn't very good at all, and that I was relying on the grill dome thermometer. Well, a week of research at amazingribs.com followed by the purchase of a good dual-probe remote thermometer turned it around. I did a 4.5# pork shoulder last weekend and my wife's reaction was "so when are you doing another???"

Right now my rig is about as basic as one can get -- a propane grill with cast-iron wood chip trays that go over 1 burner while the other two burners are turned off, but it can hold 225 without a problem (though likely a big fuel waste). But I'm learning. I'll be doing a brisket this weekend or next, probably an overnight smoke while I make a batch of beer starting about 2AM alongside it. (Need to make use of time when my kids are asleep, right?)

I'm thinking I need to get some better equipment, though. My current rig is very capacity-limited, with only a single 16" x 18" cooking surface once I limit it to 1 burner. But I listen to, and agree with, the guy at amazingribs.com that says buying a cheap offset smoker is a bad idea. And I don't have $2000 for what I want.

That said -- he's got one "cheap" offset smoker on his site that gets a silver medal for value:

Brinkmann Trailmaster 57" Vertical Smoker

Available for $269 from Home Depot, and from everything I've read, a few simple mods should help make it nearly airtight and a pretty good rig. And with 5 ~18.5" circular racks, capacity shouldn't be an issue.

Thoughts? Anyone worked with this smoker?

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Old 09-11-2013, 09:31 PM   #2
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It's almost as addictive as brewing, ain't it?

I don't have any experience with that unit, but I sure have been happy with my 18.5 inch Weber Smoky Mountain, which was about the same price. Two 18.5 inch grates, and I've had it go almost 24 hours on one load of coals. I've also done 15-hour overnight cooks in the middle of Wisconsin January.

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Old 09-11-2013, 10:12 PM   #3
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It's almost as addictive as brewing, ain't it?

I don't have any experience with that unit, but I sure have been happy with my 18.5 inch Weber Smoky Mountain, which was about the same price. Two 18.5 inch grates, and I've had it go almost 24 hours on one load of coals. I've also done 15-hour overnight cooks in the middle of Wisconsin January.
Thanks, and yeah it's addictive. I've been scouring the web like I did at the beginning of my brewing career! This weekend (and that brisket) can't come soon enough.

I really like the idea of an offset rather than a bullet, which is one of the reasons this intrigues me so much. And while all the reviews suggest it might need a few mods to seal up nicely, I'm not too scared of that...

Sounds like the area of a single grate is about the same between this and the 18.5 WSM. Any trouble fitting brisket or ribs on the WSM?
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:25 PM   #4
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I do sometimes trim a little off of the flat of a brisket to make it fit. You can just as easily fold it over - I just like to grind my own beef for burgers and i just toss the brisket trimmings in with that.

You also have to kind of bend baby back ribs to make them fit. Although I did see someone here in HBT kind of coil up the ribs and stand them on their ends. Looks like a cool idea.

Other than that, no trouble. I can fit two spatchcocked chickens on each grate, or two pork butts. I've done a couple good sized hams, and even fit the Thanksgiving turkey on the grate with plenty of more room. Should be pplenty of room for ya on that Brinkman.

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Old 09-11-2013, 10:27 PM   #5
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Smokingmeatforums.com is another good site to do research through. I used a bullet smoker on and off for 10 plus years. Mine was the old kind you had to lift the top section to refuel or re chunk , etc. Any way I went on a hunt for a good quality smoker I didn't have to lift things in and out of all time, and room for only 2 butts wasn't gonna cut it anymore. I purchased a Master Built XL 40, propane powered and have never looked back. 1330 square inches of cooking area. That's 9 or 10 butts, 7 or 8 briskets, 24 racks of ribs standing vertical, well you get it. I bought it at Amazon for $199.00 and used Amazon Prime to get 2 day free shipping. Many people like the electric models as they are more of a set it and forget it thing, but I cant take an electric smoker camping very well.
Both models aren't perfect but I am glad I bought what I bought.

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Old 09-11-2013, 10:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MindenMan View Post
Smokingmeatforums.com is another good site to do research through. I used a bullet smoker on and off for 10 plus years. Mine was the old kind you had to lift the top section to refuel or re chunk , etc. Any way I went on a hunt for a good quality smoker I didn't have to lift things in and out of all time, and room for only 2 butts wasn't gonna cut it anymore. I purchased a Master Built XL 40, propane powered and have never looked back. 1330 square inches of cooking area. That's 9 or 10 butts, 7 or 8 briskets, 24 racks of ribs standing vertical, well you get it. I bought it at Amazon for $199.00 and used Amazon Prime to get 2 day free shipping. Many people like the electric models as they are more of a set it and forget it thing, but I cant take an electric smoker camping very well.
Both models aren't perfect but I am glad I bought what I bought.
Thanks. My brain told me "get a charcoal smoker, idjit!" even though I've loved the simplicity of the two smokes I've done on gas. And sharing the vertical design and front-door access should give it tons of capacity and easy access.

How well does it seal? Did you need to make any mods overall?
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:20 AM   #7
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MindenMan,

Reviews from a few folks on the MasterBuilt say that they can't get the thing to stay below 250 on low... A little concerning.

Now, I know most people are probably looking at the built-in (totally inaccurate) thermometer rather than a calibrated one inside at grate level, so this might be nothing. I'm just wondering your take on it.

Also, looks like it's only $157 on Amazon right now... I was thinking of holding off until November to get a smoker, but that's just at the very high end of "impulse buy" right now!

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Old 09-12-2013, 03:31 AM   #8
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. I love mine

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Old 09-12-2013, 04:01 AM   #9
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I've been using a New Braunfels like this one https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/i...qU4OaVQpJJDN6g
for about 15 years and love it. The temp. control is basically adjusting the main inlet vent and the stack's vent. I can usually hold the temp at 200 for hours and hours using a decent size piece of hickory or oak. I've had nothing but compliments and questions about why I don't open a bbq smoke house. There are some great books on smoking as well, "Smoke and Spice" by Jamison & Jamison is my bible.

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Old 09-12-2013, 04:21 PM   #10
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So the Masterbuilt GS40 has been ordered on Amazon and will be delivered to me sometime tomorrow...

Thanks for the recommendation!

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