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Pit Barrel Cooker vs Weber Smokey Mountain

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    Pit Barrel Cooker vs Weber Smokey Mountain

    Hey y'all! I need to get a new smoker after my last one was stolen (bastards!!) but I'm really struggling between a replacement 22.5" WSM or the new girl on the block, the PBC?

    I'm a long time satisfied WSM junkie and with my Pitmaster IQ110 I can keep the temp steady for days. I live in Austin and throw some regular shindigs so it's not uncommon to feed up to 30+ people at a time - usually with a couple of 10-12lb Packers and 6-8 racks of ribs, so being able to handle large cooks is critical. With a crew that size, my concern is that the PBC just won't be big enough...

    I also smoke between 225f and 350f depending on Brisket or Chicken and am accustomed to the flexibility of that range (crispy skin!). On top of that with only 1 grill grate how can you foil 2 packers (for the stall_ and fit them both on the grate while not disturbing the Ribs?

    Edit: I've also seen there are mods to enable hanging in the 22.5" WSM as well, although it seems from research on the PBC that vertical hanging starts to loose it's power in anything wider than 18.5". There is a great write up of a hanging mod on the 22.5 here though. http://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/for...t-with-the-wsm

    So my question is, based on my needs of volume of food and flexibility of temp, and how does the PBC stack up against the WSM? I really want to get the PBC as I reckon she looks real cute, but I have reservations. Help me choose!
    Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5"
    Pit Barrel Cooker
    Last edited by DrDey; February 10, 2015, 11:38 AM.

    Welcome Doc, Ya know this is like asking which child is your favorite.


    I agree with Jon... a few of us here have both. They are different animals but each has it's place.


      Tough call, I have a PBC and think my next will be a WSM. While it can't fit it all on the grate, the PBC will cook much much more than the WSM and can handle the crowd you are talking about no problem. I'm giving the edge to capacity and ease though if you want the grate space to do everything on the grate (even if its not as much as hanging) with the control you have I would go WSM. These things are very similar, but PBC will win for shear volume even if you have to cheat a bit.


      • DrDey
        DrDey commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow there really is that much capacity in the PBC? Even Vs the 22.5" WSM?? What about the idea of hanging the meats in the WSM the same as in the PBC? It looks like a few people here have rigged up some good hanging sets to get the meat vertical in the WSM.

      • _John_
        _John_ commented
        Editing a comment
        I like the idea of hanging in the WSM, you still have to put in the grates eventually but at least there is room.
        As capacity goes Jerod regularly hangs 5 packer briskets, and it is not uncommon for me to do 30+ pounds of pork butt. If you cut an extra grate you can still hang 4 racks of ribs while something cooks on the grate.
        My reasoning for wanting a WSM next is just grate space, there just isn't enough in the PBC for me, though that is only the case when cooking for 50+.

      You'll end up with both cookers eventually. So your choice right now largely depends on which one do you want to buy first. Get the PBC first


      • Guy
        Guy commented
        Editing a comment
        Get the WSM first since you are already familiar with it. And I agree if you cook for that many you will need another cooker anyway. PBC or WSM

      I had both and made the choice to jettison one of them when I moved my family from Maryland to Louisiana. After a lot of hand wringing, I chose my WSM. I have the 18.5" version but if I were going to pick one cooker from scratch I'd go with the 22.5" WSM and would buy some of those cast iron grates with the removable quarters to hang meat. http://www.cast-iron-grate.com/ Best of both worlds! Here's how I see it...

      Why the WSM?

      -Set and forget cooking with the versatility to control your temperatures for different meats (225 vs. 250 vs. 300)
      -You can use the water pan as a heat sink, to add moisture, or to simply catch drippings
      -Can easily maintain a 10+ hour cook on one bag of charcoal
      -Lots of after market accessories (silicon heat jacket, Cajun bandit rings, Gurus, doors, etc.)
      -Large following and huge knowledge base
      -Can modify it so that it is compatible for a Guru or some other blower for extended cooks
      -Some break in (seasoning) and slight mods are required to get it to hum, but once you learn it you can deliver good Q on a consistent basis
      -You can experiment with different charcoals (lump vs. briquettes) and wood combinations
      -You don't care about aesthetics - it's pretty plain jane

      Why the PBC?

      -You are looking for awesome BBQ but don't want to invest a lot of time learning your pit
      -You want consistent results using a simple system
      -You don't want to tinker with your pit or spend a lot of time managing your fire, checking temps, etc.
      -You can hang A LOT of meat and the grill grate gives you options for wings, pizzas, breads, pies and anything else you wan to cook on a traditional grate
      -You don't care about using lump charcoal (it was designed to burn briquettes, specifically Kingsford Blue)
      -It has style and curb appeal! Seriously, the horseshoe handles are sweet.
      -Easy to clean and maintain (I LOVE cleaning the hooks vs. the grill grates)

      I've cooked on both for a couple of years and it's a toss up. If you are a family guy who is just looking for an easy to use backyard pit that will make you the most popular guy in the neighborhood, then I'd go with the PBC. If you are really into BBQ and this is more of a hobby where you want to experiment with different meats, cooking techniques, temperatures, etc. then I'd go with the WSM.


      • Guy
        Guy commented
        Editing a comment
        Great post here Beefchop.

      • troymeister
        troymeister commented
        Editing a comment
        Great comparison Beefchop! You have answered many of my questions.


      • Drbearsec
        Drbearsec commented
        Editing a comment
        I thought the cast iron grates weren't considered that good... doesn't Meathead have a whole page on that?

      DrDey, welcome to The Pit and thanks for your support.


        It really feels like Android vs Apple or PC vs Mac!

        The WSM is a little more customizable and has more things it can be 'hacked' to do.

        The PBC works perfectly out of the box and has little in the ways of things that can be adjusted or tweaked on it.


        • Guy
          Guy commented
          Editing a comment
          Not sure the PBC works perfectly out of the box. I think there is a learning curve there from the post and questions I have seen. The WSM has been around longer and has more info available to learn from. I still think they are two different beast like someone said. Your problem would be solved if you just brought both of them. I don't think you would be disappointed with both. If I had the space I probably would.

        Well I ordered the PBC! I figured I know the WSM so well that if the PBC is no good for me I can always sell/return it and grab a WSM instead. I'm just so darned curious about the PBC. Will let y'all know how my first cook goes when it gets here tomorrow. I can't wait it's like xmas!


          Congrats Doc! WTG Cant wait to see you cook!


            +1 on what others have said, you'll end up owning both. I do and they both get used regularly.


              Dr Dey welcome to The Pit! You by far have the largest nose ring of any member here. I hope that thing doesn't get in the way when you're hanging meat!


                Lol it's a not a nose ring its a megaphone but you're the 2nd person that's said that, hmm perhaps I should change it.

                Anyway the first cook was how shall I put it, interesting. The PBC is indeed easy to setup and use, it keeps the temp super steady at 275f. It's totally set and forget, and the hooks and hanging are a lot of fun. Unfortunately there were some first date blues. After 4 hours although tasty and perfectly smoked my spareribs were still very tough for my liking. Also my greatest fears were realized...

                Right at the end of the session literally at the last minute with everyone gathered around for the big reveal as I was lifting one of the racks, yep you guessed it, they broke at the hook and feel into the coals!!! Before I could grab them the coals flared into a raging fire, I couldn't recover them and they burnt to a crisp!

                So yeah first experience not so good but it shows promise and I'm sure with a couple more runs I'll have it down. The flavor it creates is amazing but the texture leaves a little to be desired.
                Last edited by DrDey; February 14, 2015, 11:25 AM.


                  Sounds like they needed to cook a bit longer if they were still tough. Did you do a bend test on them? Could be that your best effort was the rack that was cooked enough to fall from the hooks. Consider it a fitting sacrifice to the BBQ Gods so that all future cooks will be blessed with ease and deliciousness.


                    Cant believe you guys are getting the new PBCs so fast... I had to wait 4 weeks for mine.

                    Two things to help your rib technique... double hook the rib.. IE hook one lower through the meat and the upper hook - I have a pic in the 'What are you Cooking' thread somewhere.

                    Also... you can try wrapping for 30 to 60 in the middle of your cook somewhere... others have tried it and say it produces a more tender experience. There is a thread around here that talks about wrapping ribs.

                    Another thing you can do is just cook them normally then at the end wrap them and place them faux cambro for 30-60 min
                    Last edited by smarkley; February 14, 2015, 10:57 AM.



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