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Difference in flavor between WSM, Kettles, and other charcoal smokers

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    Difference in flavor between WSM, Kettles, and other charcoal smokers

    Not sure if this is the right channel for this question, but here it goes. I have a WSM with a pit viper for temp control. I use lump charcoal and a handful of whatever type of wood is appropriate for the food I'm cooking. It's been working great for me the past few years. Then I see Huskee review of the Masterbuilt Gravity 560 Smoker, and I say to myself, "Wow, I want one of those." My question is, would my food taste basically the same whether I was using a WSM, Kettle w/SNS or this gravity smoker? I know there are a lot of variables, but my Pit Viper controls my temp, so I don't need the convenience that the new Masterbuilt gives me. It does look like the Masterbuilt can save me some time getting the fire going, but I don't mind the 45-60 minutes it takes to get my WSM to temp. So, in the end, are all smokers (from the cheap cheap to the very expensive) where you can keep the temps stable and that use charcoal/wood chunks going to produce similar flavors? Thanks in advance for the knowledge!


    #2
    It depends how you use your WSM. Water pan in place (empty or full) or water pan removed? If you use the water pan as a buffer in your WSM then they are all indirect, convection, charcoal+wood cookers. So flavor-wise, I'd say yes they will all pretty much be in the same neighborhood. Maybe some subtleties based on fire temp and how that temp affects the burn of the wood and therefore the smoke. Where you'd likely notice a difference is if you didn't use the water pan in your WSM and allowed the drippings to sizzle in the fire, like in a PBC or other barrel, then the drippings would add a strong "grilled" flavor more so than purely convection smoke flavor.

    Comment


      #3
      I do the same with two kettles and two WSMs. Even though I opined in another post that I love the gravity fed design, I don’t see it as really any better then the Weber/Pit Viper/Fireboard setup. It’s just another way to achieve the same result.

      And, as Huskee just said, the dripping producing flavor almost puts a WSM setup over the top. I threw my water pans away a long time ago.

      So what you have should be more than adequate for your needs. If you’re looking for another toy, I’d look long and hard at the MB Gravity Fed. For the price and because it appears to be better than any pellet out there in that price point.

      Comment


      • Smoking77
        Smoking77 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks Troutman. Got a RecTec Stampede last year. Really enjoying it after buying the Heavy D heat diffuser you recommended. Seems like a replacement for my pellet in a few years. By then, I would imagine the technology for these gravity fed smokers will get even better.

      • Hulagn1971
        Hulagn1971 commented
        Editing a comment
        Troutman I really need to try smoking on the WSM without the water pan in place. One day I'll get the courage.

      • surfdog
        surfdog commented
        Editing a comment
        Hulagn1971 Most definitely try it!
        I didn’t get rid of mine but certainly stopped filling it with water once I discovered that could be done.
        Without the pan at all it leans a bit more towards a PBC...but with adjustable vents. (Now I’m talking myself into another one. LOL)

      #4
      No.

      I personally feel that every cooker tastes different. Different airflow, different space Inside, different distances from the heat, maybe you don’t need the viper, less wood, more wood, FOGO V the cheaper stuff etc...

      I don’t feel my neighbors kettle chicken tastes like mine. Not bad just different.

      my 26 produces a better single rack of ribs than my 22.
      my 22 nails 6 thighs and a few wings like nobody’s business and tastes different than 6 thighs on my 26.

      maybe I’m crazy but I don’t believe it’s gonna be the same.

      I have no quantifiable evidence but that my story and I’m sticking to it!

      Crud, I think I just realized I’m way off the point here. I think.

      Did I mention that the 80’s and 90’s are a blur?

      Comment


      • Troutman
        Troutman commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't know, I'm thinking methadone may be the answer here.

      • Smoking77
        Smoking77 commented
        Editing a comment
        Troutman Never heard of methadone. Must be a new product from Weber.

      • surfdog
        surfdog commented
        Editing a comment
        Smoking77 Not a new product but they refer to it as MethodOne. And while one is used to fight an addiction, MethodOne is used to create one. They’re the masters of MCS.

      #5
      Originally posted by Huskee View Post
      It depends how you use your WSM. Water pan in place (empty or full) or water pan removed? If you use the water pan as a buffer in your WSM then they are all indirect, convection, charcoal+wood cookers. So flavor-wise, I'd say yes they will all pretty much be in the same neighborhood. Maybe some subtleties based on fire temp and how that temp affects the burn of the wood and therefore the smoke. Where you'd likely notice a difference is if you didn't use the water pan in your WSM and allowed the drippings to sizzle in the fire, like in a PBC or other barrel, then the drippings would add a strong "grilled" flavor more so than purely convection smoke flavor.
      Thanks for the info! For my WSM, I use an empty water pan for chops (pork and beef) to reverse sear. Once I get to the IT I want, I take apart the WSM, let the charcoal get nice an hot, then put then the cooking grate on the lower section and sear. For low and slow, I always put water in the water pan. And for chicken, no water pan. Just let 'er rip and get the chicken nice and crispy.

      Comment


        #6
        Now I want to cook the same thing on all my cookers at once.

        Comment


        • Razor
          Razor commented
          Editing a comment
          Chicken thighs.

        • HouseHomey
          HouseHomey commented
          Editing a comment
          Lmao!!

        • Attjack
          Attjack commented
          Editing a comment
          If I could throw a party I might do tri-tip but parties and social distancing don't work out that well.

        #7
        This will be a long post, but bear with me. I always believe in providing context. You have to decide what your going to use the 560 for. Will it be purely a smokes only or will it a smoker and replace the grill you use for short or small grilling. I've had a WSM 18.5" for 4 years. I've had some great smokes off of it but my one complaint has been temperature control. I've experienced some wild fluctuations that has me overly concerned about being within a certain range and not trusting the process. When I saw the Masterbuilt 560 I thought this could be the answer to my problems. Since initial reviews, including Huskee's, were positive, and since we were in a lock down in Michigan, I decided to order one through Walmart online with free shipping. Big mistake. I posted my shipping experiences under Cabinet Smokers, Water Smokers, and Gravity Thread. Briefly the package came totally trashed and I refused to accept it. It took me 4 weeks to finally work out the return with Walmart and the shipping company but I did get a refund. While waiting for my refund I went over the reasons for buying a 560. Besides my WSM I have a Weber Q200 gas grill that's about 15 years old. It's got a single burner that's doesn't allow for offset cooking. I use it mostly for burgers, brats, chicken breast and pork chops. I also researched modifications through Amazingribs.com for temperature control for the WSM, probably something I should have done in the first place. In the end I spent $220.00 for a Flame Boss 400 and $625.00 for a Weber Spirit E330. I love the Flame Boss 400. I've done 3 cooks with it and total trust the process now. I've only had the Weber E330 for a couple of weeks but have been happy with the results. In the end I've upgraded my smoker and my gas grill and been very happy.

        Comment


        • Razor
          Razor commented
          Editing a comment
          A temp controller is the ultimate upgrade to a WSM. While some will argue its not needed, I can somewhat agree, I enjoy sleeping soundly at night. 😉

        • TripleB
          TripleB commented
          Editing a comment
          What Razor said. ATC is gold.

        #8
        So to be clear -- some of you use the WSM and DON'T use the water pan ?!? I do , and I think we nail it. But regardless, if I take the water pan out and don't use it, what would you expect the difference to be ??

        Comment


        • mountainsmoker
          mountainsmoker commented
          Editing a comment
          I also use a water pan in my charcoal cookers. Don't have a SNS it takes up to much room but use a Smokenator which was out long before the SNS came along and was praised as much as the SNS is now.

        • BFlynn
          BFlynn commented
          Editing a comment
          If you take the water pan out, and have the meat juice dripping on the coals, it's going to have more of a PBC flavor.
          It's a little more of that "cooked over fire" taste, but it's a subtle difference.

          Within 3 days, I smoked 3 racks of ribs on my PBC with BB briquettes and hickory chunks and 2 racks on a WSM with water using BB lump charcoal witb apple chunks.

          The flavor profiles were slightly different, but not THAT different. All the ribs were delicious.

          Just get cooking! It'll be great
          Last edited by BFlynn; June 15, 2020, 07:50 PM.

        • BFlynn
          BFlynn commented
          Editing a comment
          I've got a buddy that makes amazing brisket on a WSM. He leaves the water pan in but doesn't put water in it.
          I asked him why he didn't use water..... And he said
          "oh! Is that supposed to hold water?"

          His brisket is still super moist.

          Lots of ways to skin a cat

        #9
        Pretty much w/ you Bones --- I'm a water guy. And for the sake of the unchurched -- myself -- what's SNS ?!?

        Comment

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