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    Charcoal smoke flavor

    I've had my 26" Weber kettle for a few months now. Done pulled pork, ribs, tri-tip, brisket, chicken and steaks on it. Last night we did three racks of Costco ribs again. I used B&B briquettes with a couple of small (~ 1" x 2") Weber brand apple wood chunks. I put the chunks on the bottom of the Slow N Sear, dropped in 8 lit briquettes, filled the Slow N Sear with unlit briquettes and gave the grill about an hour to settle in and stop making bad smoke. While everyone liked the ribs, my wife and I thought the smoke flavor just wasn't as good as what we get on the pellet grill. It wasn't overpowering. It wasn't bad per se. Just different and we preferred the pellet grill smoke flavor. Same on a previous rib cook. Haven't really noticed on other cooks.

    One of the reasons I got the kettle was because I wanted more smoke flavor than we got from the pellet grill. We definitely get that. There's just something to the flavor of it that I'm not crazy about. I am wondering if I am doing something wrong. I have read that the charcoal itself shouldn't really add any flavor. It should just be the source of heat. I don't know if I believe that. It's not a flavor I get from my favorite local barbeque place. I assume they use stick burners. Is this just the nature of smoking with charcoal?

    #2
    Your favorite BBQ place probably either uses wood, or they use gas with wood. Charcoal does lend its own flavor regardless of wood chips/chunks used. Maybe try lump charcoal and your wood chunks of choice?
    Last edited by ItsAllGoneToTheDogs; November 22, 2021, 10:15 AM.

    Comment


    • CandySueQ
      CandySueQ commented
      Editing a comment
      I would agree with this. Lump charcoal is just pre-burnt wood. No telling what holds briquettes together.

    #3
    Nope, you are not alone. This is a pretty common thing. Kingsford and briquettes do have a special flavor.

    Burning lump with change this, I would look at using FOGO or B&B Lump. Also, I would not add any wood chunks to the fire. You really do not have enough heat in there for chunks. You are better off using chips or some of those pellets you have laying around. They will light up faster when the heat gets to them, and they will smolder less. This will give you a much cleaner smoke profile.

    Comment


    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah chunks smolder. Which is what you want, them giving off smoke. OP is using B&B Briquettes, so yah I agree with you on KBB but I don't think it's an issue.

    • smokin fool
      smokin fool commented
      Editing a comment
      Agree with @Spinacker KBB gives off a funk that Turns me right off. No other briquette I've tried gives off this funk. I've to using lump only right now.
      I like what I get with pecan chunks and maple bourbon chips burnt at the same time, but depends on one's tastes in the end.

    • Spinaker
      Spinaker commented
      Editing a comment
      Smoldering chunks tend to give off white smoke as they smolder. Chips burning up fast give off a much cleaner, thin-blue or clear smoke. Which is more of what I look for. rickgregory

    #4
    With the SnS I get a better smoke profile with wood chunks on top. I have been lighting my 25 startup briquettes (KBB) in my Weber mini chimney with 1 of my wood chunks on top so it’s already going. When I add those to the SnS I use tongs to place that chunk back on top of the lit briquettes. The rest of the briquettes are Weber until I run out and remaining wood chunks are also on top and placed very close to the one that’s already going. I do this for ribs, chuck roasts and pork butts. I’m usually 30 to 40 minutes from starting the chimney to pretty clean smoke and adding my meat.

    Comment


      #5
      I load the COLD meat. Dump hot coals on a BIG wood chunk. Run wide open until near target temp. Goood smoke flavor.

      Comment


        #6
        I'm focused on this

        put the chunks on the bottom of the Slow N Sear, dropped in 8 lit briquettes, filled the Slow N Sear with unlit briquettes and gave the grill about an hour to settle in and stop making bad smoke
        If too many of the unlit coals light, you get that aroma. But giving it an hour should avoid that.

        I can't really help because I've never had a pellet grill and don't really consider the smoke flavor in my kettle as bad or off. Can you describe the flavors that you don't like in any detail? What temp are you running at?

        Reread your post:

        It wasn't overpowering. It wasn't bad per se. Just different and we preferred the pellet grill smoke flavor.
        And I see you're not saying it was bad, just different and not what you want. This might not be resolvable and just the way the two kinds of cooker work, and you and your wife like the pellet results.
        Last edited by rickgregory; November 22, 2021, 10:51 AM.

        Comment


        • IdahoJim
          IdahoJim commented
          Editing a comment
          rickgregory, I started the cook at 200 just because that's what it settled in at after adding the lit coals with top and bottom vents about half open. Was shooting for 225 to 250, which I got to after opening vents. The lit coals were to one side. I did put a couple on top of the lit ones, but they were going good before I put the meat on.

        • IdahoJim
          IdahoJim commented
          Editing a comment
          tbob4, the grill is relatively clean. Scraped the inside of the lid not too long ago. It does smell a bit "charcoaly" if I open it now and smell it. However, it has charcoal in it. I would kind of expect that...

        • rickgregory
          rickgregory commented
          Editing a comment
          Hmm. well, you might try Spinaker chips method. I find that they burn up too fast when on a long smoke, but you can add more. If that's the smoke quality you like, then there. you go. Otherwise I'm stumped and it might just be a difference in smoke between the 2 things and you like pellet smoke and not charcoal smoke.
          Last edited by rickgregory; November 22, 2021, 05:14 PM.

        #7
        Only a couple of small apple wood chunks? Maybe use more apple wood and a chunk of hickory or something else with more of a punch. Spray the meat with water at hour 2 so the meat takes on more smoke flavor. Pellets have oak in them as a base plus whatever wood the bag says.

        Comment


          #8
          Wood smoke is a challenge on a kettle. Very easy to get creosote from smoldering wood, or too high temps when it’s burning clean.

          As I went down this path I kept reducing the amount of charcoal and increasing the amount of wood chunks.

          …ended up with a stickburner.

          Comment


            #9
            I will second other advice, and say to put your wood chunks on TOP of the charcoal in the SNS. And I sure don't have to wait an hour before putting the meat on. More like 30 minutes. If you are smoking, you light maybe 10-15 briquettes, let them get going good, pile them up in the corner with your tongs or rake, then fill in the rest with charcoal, and stage 3-4 chunks of wood across the TOP of the charcoal, so that it ignites as the fire goes across.

            I've also decided that if I want smoke flavor, I am better off with stronger smoking woods such as hickory. While I keep some fruit wood around, I tend to smoke my pork these days with hickory chunks. Beef I smoke with post oak chunks (or mini splits in the offset).

            I've got an offset and while there is a difference, there is not a huge difference from the results I get for ribs, butts and brisket on the kettle with the SNS. The only time I get a "charcoal" taste if from grilling over the charcoal, when fat/grease drips and sizzles on the coals.

            Comment


            • Murdy
              Murdy commented
              Editing a comment
              "The only time I get a "charcoal" taste if from grilling over the charcoal, when fat/grease drips and sizzles on the coals."

              According to the PBC logic, isn't that supposed to be a good thing?

            • jfmorris
              jfmorris commented
              Editing a comment
              Murdy I was just trying to point out that the "grilled" flavor from fat dripping on the charcoal or fire yields a different result than you get from smoking indirect with the charcoal burning in the SNS beside the food. I had that happen this year with my turkeys, as they were done on the SNS Kamado in kamado mode, and there was a different "grilled" flavor than my past smoked turkeys, due to fat hitting the deflector plate and burning off on it.

            #10
            There is definitely a difference in taste when comparing pellets to smoldering chunks. Pellets and stick burners tend to produce a very clean and pleasant smoke seasoning to the meat, still allowing the rubs and meat itself to shine through. Stick burners tend to add more of this smoke seasoning than pellet munchers do, but require a lot more involvement. Regarding kettles… I do love my kettle, but as far as producing the same light clean wood flavor I get from my MAK (or previous stick burners)… I have never been able to do that. Can the kettle produce excellent results? Yes! Just different. Taste is highly subjective… not all of us will agree on preferred end result. That’s half the fun of BBQ… making your cooker(s) dance to your liking

            You have some excellent advice in this thread. Keep playing and I have a hunch you’ll find what works best for you and yours 👍🏼

            Comment


              #11
              I think I am going to try one rack of ribs soon with just the B&B briquettes and no smoke wood. That will let me know if I am tasting the charcoal or the smoldering/burning wood. Then I'll try some variations from there. Getting all scientific and stuff...

              Comment


                #12
                When cooking on my WSCG I tend to prefer the taste of food cooked around 275 vs 225. When I cook at 225 I sometimes detect some bitterness. I only use chunks and put on top when I use the SnS.

                Comment


                  #13
                  Well, even though I cleaned the lid good after I got this thing a few months ago, there was a lot of black yuck built up on the vent/indirect side of the lid. Pretty sure that is the cause. Sure smelled like it...

                  Comment


                  • jfmorris
                    jfmorris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    That black build up on the inside of the lid is carbon. It should not be contributing to food flavor or aroma, and can be knocked off periodically with a plastic putty knife or even a wire brush. I "detail" my kettles about once a year with a razor blade scraper, which doesn't scratch the interior finish if done properly.

                    You may also experience "grease" build up around the vent if all you do is low and slow cooks. I do enough hot and fast cooks as well that all that tends to get burned off.

                  #14
                  Check out The Weber Virtual Bullet. A wealth of info there and a lot of expertise with the kettle.

                  Comment


                  #15
                  I did a turkey on the kettle this year with B&B lump running pretty hot instead of Kingsford briquettes, and just a handful of cherry chips on the hot coals at the very start. My wife was very pleasantly surprised at the lack of smokiness, very different that previous efforts with briquettes and Hickory. I figured it would be less, but I was surprised at how much less smoke. Almost none, with a little sweeter flavor from the cherry. I assume it was the cherry, anyway?

                  Comment

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