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    Advice

    As much as I hate to say it, I think I made a mistake in purchasing my Humphrey's smoker. Let me explain the situation and I am open to advice on next steps.

    I was intrigued by the Humphrey's smoker for a little over a year. At the time I first saw it, I had my Webers and a COS. I was fairly happy with what I could produce. Winters were a bit of a problem and since I started to cook for more people at a time, capacity was becoming an issue too. Nevertheless, I had not made up my mind on what my next steps were. I had been dreaming of a EOS since 2015.

    Well in February, (not due to the stimulus), I decided I was going to stop hesitating and just buy a smoker. I admit, I was a bit impulsive and chose the Humphrey's. I had been hesitating off and on for years on a smoker and I didn't want to get cold feet.

    I was happy with the smoker initially. After getting more cooks under my belt with it, I can't help but think it just simply wasn't worth it. I don't think what it can produce is enough better than my Weber's. Sure the capacity is great, and it will perform well in the winter.

    Here is the kicker, I joined this fine club after getting the Humphrey's. I have learned about all the wonderful other options out there. I cant help think I would of been happier with a large PBC or a 22 WSM for far less cost. Or even other cookers for that matter.

    Moreover, even owning a COS has somewhat conditioned me to prefer food from offsets. Sure, I'm not really motivated to cook many briskets on an offset even if I had an EOS but other food I've made on my COS was much more memorable than the Humphrey's or Weber.

    But for me, producing good BBQ on a weber makes me happy because its a good value. My first weber 22 I got for $25 and made very good Q! who can argue with that?

    At this point I'm leaning toward cutting my loses before the Humphrey's gets much more use. I would use the proceeds to buy an EOS. Or possibly just a WSM or PBC.

    At the same time, I wonder if I should stick it out some and give it more time with the Humphrey's.

    What do you think?

    #2
    Coming from a WSM owner, just add a WSM, they aren’t that expensive, and keep both for a while. After a few months then decide what to do with the Humphrey's. It’s not like you bought the wrong car or house.

    Comment


      #3
      Forget that WSM and get yourself a PBC!

      PBC, PBC, PBC!

      Comment


        #4
        If you can't be with BBQ you love,
        Love the BBQ you're with.
        Give it a chance.

        Happy Grilling to you.
        Last edited by bbqLuv; May 13, 2021, 10:46 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          It's not the Pitt it's the Pitt Master. A good Pitt Master can make very good BBQ on almost any Pitt (I don't include myself in that category).

          Humphrey's Cabinets are great smokers. You did not buy a bad cooker. You are trying to factor value into the proposition. You did not buy the Humphrey's because it was a good value. A Humphrey's offers capacity, consistency, and ease of use. Will you get better BBQ off the HCS? Possibly, but marginally. If you do not value the capacity and ease of use of the Humphrey's then the higher cost may not be worth it for YOU. I owned one but sold it because I no longer needed the capacity and rarely used it. It was an excellent smoker. I used the money to buy a Pellet Cooker which I use constantly.

          My advice would be use if for a while. If you don't need the extra capacity sell it and try something else. That's a fun part of the hobby for me. Trying out cookers and keeping the ones that work for me.

          Comment


          • SchweinStein
            SchweinStein commented
            Editing a comment
            To be clear, I am not criticizing the Humphrey's as a smoker. I think its an excellent charcoal smoker. For sure the best smoker I've owned.

            I do think you bring up a good point. I didn't buy it for value, I bought it for capacity and ability to cook in all sorts of conditions.

            I will likely keep it for awhile. Just wanted see what others thought. Thanks for the feedback.

          #6
          KBQ?

          The remaining piece I want to add to my arsenal is something that burns sticks. I haven’t decided what that will be or when it will happen yet. KBQ is one of the top contenders, but I haven’t ruled out a Horizon or Yoder yet either. I’d love a Franklin pit or a LSG, but just don’t see using it quite enough to justify that jump in price (when the food will probably taste the same as a Horizon or Yoder).

          That all being said, for most situations I agree with others it’s the cook more than the cooker. With practice, most people can make just about equal quality food on a 22” kettle with SnS as most other charcoal smokers costing even 10 times as much. I’ve experienced the same with pellet grills with my first Traeger Junior produced almost every but as good of end product as my MAK. Pellet grills are a little different in that some just produce more smoke than others due to physical and controller designs. My WSCG can produce food every bit as good as my MAK and vise versa. However, the food tastes a little different due to the fuel sources and airflow differences. That’s why I want a stick burner of some fashion.

          Enjoy the journey, hope wherever you travel next is enjoyable!

          Comment


          • SchweinStein
            SchweinStein commented
            Editing a comment
            Yea the KBQ is intriguing. I've had a stick burner. It was a COS but I loved the food it produced. Found I didn't have time for longer cooks.

          #7
          There are very few cookers that are mistake. Most of em do just fine to outstanding, just some take a little more learnin. Yers is a high quality mochine that takes work. Most would dream to have a smoker like yers. Talk to it, feed it, enjoy it. Get excited about it just the way you thought about it when you decided to get it. Learnin can be fun.

          Comment


          • SchweinStein
            SchweinStein commented
            Editing a comment
            I really appreciate this feedback. Helps put things in perspective.

          #8
          SchweinStein I had to go google to see what a Humphrey's Smoker was! Now I see its an insulated cabinet smoker, similar to a Backwoods smoker, which I am more familiar with.

          I cannot see this as being a mistake, although it is a lot for a charcoal smoker. It's certainly not a replacement for an offset, since its made to be charcoal fired and not wood fired. That said - you are right, in that the food from this will pretty much taste the same as the food off your Weber kettle when used as a smoker, or a WSM, or any number of other smokers fueled by charcoal and wood chunks. It won't be the same as an offset running straight wood. In theory the insulated cabinet smokers can run longer on a load of fuel than an uninsulated charcoal smoker, and with the wire racks, they can provide a lot of capacity. Are they worth it? Only you can answer that.

          I have an offset, and find myself using my Weber Performer with Slow 'N Sear, or more recently, my SNSGrills Deluxe Kamado to smoke most of the time, as they are much more hands off than my offset. I can run 10-12 hours on a load of fuel in the kettle (7-8 pounds), and I can run 18+ hours on a load of lump in the kamado. With the offset, I have to feed the fire every 30 minutes or so.

          Personally if you decide to sell the Humphrey, which I imagine will incur a loss for you, and wanted a large capacity charcoal fueled smoker, I would look hard at the various drum smokers, as well as the Weber Smokey Mountain 22. The Pitbarrel Cooker and OKJ Bronco are interesting if you want to hang stuff. And the cheapest bet is just get additional kettles and SNS's, or a 26" kettle.

          Comment


          • SchweinStein
            SchweinStein commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you for the feedback! I bought the Humprey's in large part because other people were commenting on my BBQ that I was producing from my webers. Everyone who's had the food from the Humphrey's has really enjoyed it. Maybe I'm spoiled but its only marginally better than the webers. I don't blame the cooker or myself. Its more of the technique (Charcoal). Maybe I'm just coming to terms with the fact that I know wood fired truly is the best and I want the best for myself.

          • SchweinStein
            SchweinStein commented
            Editing a comment
            I've found that most people I've fed are very happy with the food but don't care as much about it as me in terms of the details. What temps to you run on average with your cabinet smoker? I was wondering if running hotter in my Humphrey's would be an improvement.

          #9
          Soooo - there's nothing wrong with it or the food it produces other than the perceived value? Then get rid of it because the perceived value probably won't change.

          But what were you expecting different from the new cooker compared to the old cooker? Was it supposed to produce vastly superior product compared to your other cookers considering the price difference? As far as I can tell, most all charcoal cookers produce food with a similar food profile, (PBC excepted ). What you are buying is capacity, fuel efficiency, and possibly an easier, (more enjoyable), cook.

          You have already spent the $$. If it does everything you want, what's the point in selling it - especially if you do start doing larger cooks. However, if you get that bad taste in your mouth every time you use it, buy something else. Cook on them for some time and you will come to the point where you know which is the best fit for you.

          Comment


          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            I think he will get an even worse taste when he has to sell it for half of what he paid for it in February, considering that it is a used smoker...

            My money is on your advice. The money is spent - just enjoy it and learn what it can do.

          • SchweinStein
            SchweinStein commented
            Editing a comment
            Good points. To be honest, if I had joined this site before buying the humprey's, I might not of bought it. It doesn't have much to do with the smoker itself, its just that there are so many options. Cant help but think if I could do it over again with the new knowledge I have, would I? Probably not.

          #10
          SchweinStein you posed a couple of questions and comments I want to address:

          1. Would running hotter in your Humphrey's cabinet help?

          The issue may be CAN you run hotter. I think many of these cabinet smokers like to run in the mid 200's, and don't really run hotter than 300 or so at the most. The Humphrey's web page indicates the highest temp they are designed for is 400F. Getting there may require lighting more charcoal, versus using the "maze" they offer, or using minion or whatever other method you are using for the fire.

          That said, I've done brisket and butts at 225, and I've done them at 300 to 325. I don't see a huge difference, and in fact feel that its a little more moist when done in the 225 to 275 range. I tend to go 250 to 275 most of the time.

          2. Food tasting different on Humphrey's versus Weber kettle.

          I am not sure how this would be, but many cabinet smokers are sealed up better than most kettles, so it may be more humid and moist in there. Technically if I setup my kettle using a Slow 'N Sear to keep the fire to one side, and the meat to the other, smoke and heat are going to be the same as in a Humphrey's with its "reverse flow" design, which is really just a heat deflector between the fire and the meat. Personally, I find some slight differences when smoking on my kettle, my kamado, or my offset (using charcoal and chunks versus straight wood), but would be hard pressed to tell the difference myself when doing a blind taste test. And I've smoked for large parties where I had 3 cookers going at once, and a load of butts on all of them. No one complained about any of the pulled pork or pulled chicken.

          I speculate your friends who claim to taste a difference and pushed you towards the Humphrey's may have already owned such a smoker themselves, and were pushing you towards spending the money, as there is "no way a $25 kettle beats my $2000 smoker" could be a factor. Maybe I am wrong...

          3. Folks don't care as much as you about how you produced the results.

          I find this to be true. I am my own worst critic on BBQ results. The ribs I felt were sub par when I smoked 4 racks for the family a while back were in their words the best I had ever made! Why? I overcooked them, and they were too fall off the bone for my tastes. They felt that it was the best due to the fact you could literally pull a bone cleanly out, leaving a hunk of meat on your plate.

          My wife, kids, parents and inlays don't care if I make it on the used Weber Performer I bought for $100 5 years ago, or if I make it on the $1400 SNS Deluxe Kamado, or if I make it on the 37 year old offset smoker one of my dad's welders put together in 1984. Its really about results, and having fun while cooking in my book.

          Enjoy your cooker, and I envy you having something that will hold full size steam table (hotel) pans. I would like a cabinet smoker for that alone. I was going to buy a Camp Chef Smokevault 24 as an overflow smoker and a warming/holding place for steam table trays before my daughter's May 2020 wedding was canceled due to COVID restrictions. She had asked me to smoke pork and chicken for the event, to save money when feeding 200 folks, and I was going to get the Smokevault 24 based on capacity. Your cooker would put it to shame.

          4. Joining this site.

          I have learned SO much since joining here. It's certainly led to me doing more with the cookers I have, but also led to acquiring more cookers too!

          Do you mind my asking which model you got?

          Jim

          Comment


          • Old Glory
            Old Glory commented
            Editing a comment
            You can run the Humphrey's up to 500. They are good pizza cookers. Amazing turkey cookers. They run on charcoal and chunk. Taste will be the same as a Weber and SNS. The key benefits over a Kettle is the insulated box which gives you consistent temps, efficient burns, and allows you to easily manage the fire in all weather in all seasons. These things are built in Maine and used Year Round. It is an upper tier cooker.

          • Old Glory
            Old Glory commented
            Editing a comment
            Just like cars, a Chevette will get you from point A to point B, but a Cadillac will get you there in style.
            Last edited by Old Glory; May 14, 2021, 01:51 PM.

          #11
          jfmorris I really appreciate your time in writing back. Let me respond.

          1) How hot to run a cabinet smoker:

          All my cooks thus far have been at 225. Full water pan. I was thinking of running my next cook at closer to 275 to see if I better bark formation and possibly how it changes the flavor. I typically run my weber cooks a bit hotter. I saw a youtube video of a humphrey's owner who never uses the water pan at all. Says that due to the size and type of smoker, there would be enough moisture in the air because of the amount of food. I'm new to using as much water as this thing holds. Thinking maybe using less water IE, enough water for first 1/3-1/2 of the cook time, maybe the results would be better/different. Worth a try.

          2)My friends didn't push me to the Hump because of taste difference between them. It was more of thinking: if people love the BBQ from the weber (IE charcoal) then its good enough. So why not up the capacity instead of running multiple kettles as I had been. I only have one friend who smokes meat and he uses a Traeger. My main conclusion from this was that I could make good BBQ that people loved and it didn't come from an offset wood burner.

          3)I got the Humprey's Down East Beast.

          After all the great feedback I received here, I feel better about my purchase. I plan on keeping it for at least the summer and then go from there. If I do eventually sell it, I will loose money, but I thankfully bought mine just before they increased their prices so I think that might help ease the pain.



          Comment


          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            I think you hit on a key point. The bbq result will be the same or similar, but you got the capacity thing licked, and that Humphrey’s will run more stable and longer than a kettle for sure. I would just play with the water pan - try a cook of say a single butt with no water or less, and see what happens.

            I bet chicken would be better at 350 with no water. Pork and brisket - try 250-275 with the water. I think a water pan limits your upper temp, since steam is about 212F...

          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            Wow! Just looked at the specs on that bad boy. It *IS* a beast! Huge!

            There's been a lot of times I would have killed for a smoker like that, when cooking for 80 to 120 folks. Sure would have been easier than manning the offset and multiple kettles all night long...

          #12
          May I suggest that you experiment with different fuels? I recently used B&B Oak Lump for the first time, and it really made a difference in the Pork butt. Also a woodier flavor than the Kingsford Professional ....

          Comment


          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            This is good advice. There is a lot of difference from one brand or type of charcoal to the next. Having bought many hundreds of bags of KBB over the decades, I've now gravitated to B&B lump, char logs, and briquettes.

            A bed of char logs topped by a layer of B&B lump and some wood chunks would probably make for a very long burn in an insulated cabinet smoker.

          #13
          I was seriously looking at Humphrey's for a while and joined their facebook fan/owners page. If you're on FB, go ask them questions, they all own and most all of em love em. I bought an offset reverse flow, because honestly I wanted the one I ordered and couldn't see myself jumping ship. Otherwise, I was gonna buy a Humphrey's. They're beasts and they work great. Rio Valley Meat just won the American Royal in 2020 and he definitely uses one of em. Go ask one of the guys using em and they'll give ya some advice on what you're looking for. Good luck!

          Comment


            #14

            It doesn't have much to do with the smoker itself, its just that there are so many options.
            Why do you think so many here have MCS?

            It sounds like it does what you want it to do. I have two great cookers already (M grills M1 Stainless and Kamado Joe Jr) and still find myself watching and reading smoker reviews constantly. I've bought and sold multiple cookers just because. I bought a Yoder YS640 a few years ago and sold a year later because I didn't like it, even though most people here love it.

            At the end of the day, you can make great BBQ on a weber kettle. Harry Soo wins competitions on a WSM. The quality of food is mostly determined by the cook. We pay more for cookers because of a few objective measures (capacity, longevity/durability, convenience) but mostly because of subjective factors. A $40 Timex will tell you the time just the same as a Rolex.

            If you were previously running multiple kettles at once, to me it would be worth it to have a cooker with the capacity to do it on one. Don't feel guilty about spending some extra money for those subjective things, either. Build quality, looks, fit and finish can and do have value.
            Last edited by Walt Dockery; August 26, 2021, 02:01 PM.

            Comment


              #15
              After reading your posts it seem like the real issue is buyer’s remorse. You simply regret spending the money when you now believe you could have accomplished the same thing for less money. I don’t think there is a cure for this, so just call it up to experience. Next time you are considering a purchase ask the Pit, and they will give you some great things to consider as you think it through. It was a good decision when you made it, but now you are looking in the rear view mirror.
              Last edited by LA Pork Butt; August 26, 2021, 02:12 PM.

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