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KBQ - The "POPPETS"

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  • BBQ_Bill
    Club Member
    • Jun 2017
    • 409
    • Phoenix, Arizona

    KBQ - The "POPPETS"

    How do YOU get the flavor and bark you want with the poppet settings?
    Last edited by BBQ_Bill; June 21st, 2018, 08:21 PM.
  • BBQ_Bill
    Club Member
    • Jun 2017
    • 409
    • Phoenix, Arizona

    #2
    I've been giving some serious thought to the use and settings of the KBQ poppets.
    Been experimenting as well...
    -
    Bill Karau's ( KBQ ) inverted flame design is meant to draw the wood smoke through the hot coals, then through the coal tray holes, (where it goes through the BOTTOM poppet) and into the cooking chamber.
    There, it circulates around and attaches to the food product inside.
    -
    We know that his ingenious process more thoroughly burns the large smoke molecules and produces the highly desirable smaller molecule "Blue" smoke.
    (Some call this smoke the "Holy Grail" of BBQ)
    Bill stated that his design was built with the idea of creating...
    "Blue Smoke on Demand"
    His invention, the KBQ, was built for those of us that have a hard time with controlling temperature and smoke quality as we cook/smoke our products.
    -
    A true pitmaster develops his or her skills at fire management to where they are so in tune with the fire and their smoker(s) that they know intuitively what to do and when to do it to obtain the correct temperature and smoke quality.
    -
    Although Mr. Karau gives some instruction as to the setting of the poppets, I have learned quite a bit about the setting of them since my first cook using my 1st KBQ.
    -
    Am hoping my friends in the "KBQ Club" will post their thoughts and experiences here.
    There are currently 70 members in this club.
    ComfortablyNumb's Roll Call for that club can be found HERE.
    Last edited by BBQ_Bill; October 27th, 2019, 03:16 PM. Reason: Updated the Number of KBQs in the "Club's Roll Call"

    Comment

    • lostclusters
      Club Member
      • Jul 2017
      • 302
      • Oceanside, CA
      • Mak 1 Star
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      #3
      I use the bottom port open all the time. I open the top port 1/8" after the wood on top starts to coal. So far I have used mostly scrub oak wood. It has a thick bark that I believe is imparting an off flavor. It also blocks the ports at the bottom of the fire box when it burn down that far. So I started removing it. I have seen other KBQers use mesquite with only the bottom port open. I plan on trying that the next time I fire up.

      Comment


      • BBQ_Bill
        BBQ_Bill commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you kindly Sir.
        That was my basic setting early on, which for me in my KBQ's produces incredibly clean smoke, and a light smoke flavor profile on my brisket and beef ribs.

      • EdF
        EdF commented
        Editing a comment
        See, my wife - she likes light smoke. So I haven't ventured beyond just the bottom poppet. Because if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Sometime when she's off on a trip or something!

      • Livermoron
        Livermoron commented
        Editing a comment
        Same here. Haven't yet moved beyond the bottom poppet, but I've noticed that when I cook for friends they want a more "traditional" taste, which means I need to find a better setting for the top poppet (or a combination...)
    • JakeT
      Club Member
      • Mar 2018
      • 428
      • Northern California
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      #4
      I will be pulling the trigger on a KBQ in September, but currently on my rectec I use smoke tubes while making brisket, pork shoulder, reverse sear etc. It still is a fairly light smoke flavor, I wonder how this amount of smoke flavor compares to bottom poppet only? I find it very difficult to get a good strong smoke flavor with pellets.

      Comment


      • Spinaker
        Spinaker commented
        Editing a comment
        Congrats brother! You are going to love it. Soooo much fun to run and the food is next level.

      • lostclusters
        lostclusters commented
        Editing a comment
        To answer your question it is most likely similar in flavor, the smoke profile that is. But as I said above, I have not tried it with mesquite wood yet.

      • JakeT
        JakeT commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you! I only hope the MCS can be controlled until then!
    • BBQ_Bill
      Club Member
      • Jun 2017
      • 409
      • Phoenix, Arizona

      #5
      Possibly, the flavor might be similar in taste to some individuals JakeT
      In my way of thinking, if one performs a taste test by eating a product coated with a small amount of heavy molecule or poorly combusted (white or black) large molecule smoke... and then that same individual tastes the same product coated with a larger amount of more completely combusted blue smoke, it just might taste the same to them, no?
      More discriminating palates however, might find them quite different.
      -
      In the past when using my cast iron smoke boxes (with hardwood chips, sometimes soaked in water) the smoke that they produced compared visually to the smoke from popular smoke tubes.
      It looked like they "pumped out" a small amount of poorly combusted smoke, which was mostly white in color.
      -
      Now, the KBQ on the other hand, by using the bottom poppet only, will produce a fairly large quantity of small molecule blue smoke.
      Also note that the flavor profile of KBQ smoke has been described as "different" by several that have tasted the product coming from it.
      I've seen odd names like the "Karubecue Bouquet"
      So, each individuals sense of taste, can obviously vary, but in my many years of experience, heavy smoky profiles are generally associated with creosote or poorly combusted smoke.
      They can taste good if not too heavy, but can also be a problem for the eater later on.
      Last edited by BBQ_Bill; October 27th, 2019, 03:18 PM.

      Comment


      • JakeT
        JakeT commented
        Editing a comment
        Good info, definitely the smoke from the tubes is large molecule white smoke. Still am excited to experiment with the KBQ when I get it!
    • Spinaker
      Moderator
      • Nov 2014
      • 10376
      • Land of Tonka
      • John "J R"
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      #6
      I run mine wide open on the bottom and closed on top. I think I get great smoke, the exhaust fan runs almost clear.

      Comment


      • BBQ_Bill
        BBQ_Bill commented
        Editing a comment
        Very long smokes, like a brisket smoke benefit from clean small-molecule Blue Smoke.
        I am told that short smokes like chicken, are better with high temperature and more smoke from the top poppet.

      • Spinaker
        Spinaker commented
        Editing a comment
        Yep, I f I am doing wings or something like that, I go poppets wide open and full heat. BBQ_Bill

      • carolts
        carolts commented
        Editing a comment
        My experience and method is the same.
    • BBQ_Bill
      Club Member
      • Jun 2017
      • 409
      • Phoenix, Arizona

      #7
      When Bill Karau built the original KBQ models, they had only clean smoke drawn from under the coals.
      He then added the over the fire smoke poppet to give the option for a stronger flavor profile as well.
      -
      I am reminded that Aaron Franklin uses all of the smoke produced by the wood and has incredible results.
      Think about this...
      The Offset Smokers that Aaron Franklin uses produce "Top of the Fire" smoke ONLY.
      To ME, that would equate to running my KBQ's with the TOP Poppets open all the way, and the bottom Poppets CLOSED!
      Wow!
      Last edited by BBQ_Bill; June 21st, 2018, 03:28 PM. Reason: Added another odd thought there at the end...

      Comment

      • BBQ_Bill
        Club Member
        • Jun 2017
        • 409
        • Phoenix, Arizona

        #8
        I am starting to like this latest discovery for the poppet settings, ESPECIALLY when it is warm weather.

        To get more smoke flavor and better bark without the worry of creosote, try this:
        Set the bottom poppet to full open, top poppet closed until your fresh add of wood stabilizes and the smoke dies down a bit.
        Then, reverse, and go with the top full open and the bottom closed.

        For me, this procedure plus using the lid builds a stronger flavor profile and builds better/faster bark.
        Just focus on the volume or heaviness of the smoke and you will not have any problems.
        -------------------------------
        Go HERE near the end of the post for the results of a beef rib cook using this new poppet procedure for the KBQ.
        -
        UPDATE:
        Very early this morning I was thinking about an oddity that I noticed on this latest rib cook/smoke.
        This happened over and over again and puzzled me a bit.
        While observing a fair amount of gray smoke coming from the slight openings around the lid on the firebox, I changed the poppet positions.
        I fully closed the bottom one, and then opened the top poppet fully for over-the-fire smoke only.
        The oddity was that when the draw fan kicked in, I did not see this heavy smoke coming from the exhaust like I thought I would.
        In fact, there were several times that I could not see any smoke at all!
        So... what was going on here I said to myself?
        -
        The answer that came to me this morning was actually simple and at least twofold.
        For one, the lid smothers the flames a bit at the top of the fire when the draw fan is off.
        This is pretty evident as when the draw fan stops, smoke billows out of the top, nearly every time.
        However, when the draw fan turns back on, the oxygen deficit is replaced with good airflow again as air is drawn across the flame and into the top poppet.
        Plus, I am thinking that the flames moving through the poppet and down the manifold help to burn the smoke and purify it.
        -
        Am pretty sure that keeping the wood shorter and farther from the top poppet is helping with reduced ash in the cook box as well as the flames seem to travel a farther distance before they are sucked into the poppet hole at the top.
        -
        I may be way off base here, but maybe KBQ can chime in and give me his thoughts.
        Smoke On!
        Last edited by BBQ_Bill; October 22nd, 2018, 09:11 AM.

        Comment

        • BBQ_Bill
          Club Member
          • Jun 2017
          • 409
          • Phoenix, Arizona

          #9
          I am currently using binder clips to hold my poppets in position.
          Photos of the settings and clips can be found HERE
          -
          Also...
          One of our fellow KBQ "Brethren" has added a modification to their KBQ poppets.
          The explanation as well as some photos of that can be found HERE
          -

          With my latest discovery as explained above in post # 8, I need quick changes... Fully Open and Fully Closed.
          So more thought is needed to make this happen easily and accurately.

          Comment

          • BBQ_Bill
            Club Member
            • Jun 2017
            • 409
            • Phoenix, Arizona

            #10
            Since my last post, I have pushed a large amount of two different meats through this wonderful invention, the KBQ.
            -
            My two poppet settings for brisket have been as follows:
            1) 3/16" top poppet and fully opened bottom poppet for the entire smoke.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	Top Poppet.jpg Views:	1 Size:	1.59 MB ID:	605215
            Note that this small clip fastened inside as shown allows for very quick adjustments:
            Fully Closed (when adding wood)
            Partially Open (about 3/16" after the wood add and the lid has been replaced)

            2) With each wood add, a fully opened bottom poppet with the top poppet completely closed.
            When the smoke dies down a bit, then the opposite.
            A fully opened top poppet with the bottom poppet completely closed.

            -
            In both instances, I DO NOT see a lot of difference in the bark, not enough to even tell, really.
            The end result bark from a short smoke is okay, but not really as dark and thick as I like it.
            After reviews, the end results regarding smoky flavor is pretty much the same as well.
            The beef has a light and pleasing smoke profile, but not as smoky as I actually want it.
            -
            Now, a look at the fans and fan port tell another story...
            With the Number 1 poppet procedure, the fans are a tan color and the port is the same, a light tan color.
            On the other hand, by switching back and forth using the number two poppet procedure, It looks like I must be getting white smoke as my fan blades and fan port have a definite lighter color leaning towards the color of white instead of tan.
            -
            Again, I cannot taste any difference in the end product.
            -
            In both instances, whether I am using the number 1 "static" setting, or using the number 2 "dynamic" poppet setting, I am NOT getting that "Brisket that Fell from the Heavens ("meteorite") type bark color.
            You know the color, it's the super black Aaron Franklin brisket type bark.

            It is looking like TIME in the smoke is what it takes to get super thick, black bark.
            Of course, I do not want "Mr. Hyde creosote" so settings and processes must comply with preventing this bad creosote from happening.
            -
            Your thoughts please?
            Last edited by BBQ_Bill; December 9th, 2018, 10:54 PM. Reason: Add a photo from another post to clarify.

            Comment


            • EdF
              EdF commented
              Editing a comment
              I'm not so sure meteorite black is what we want to aim for. BBQ God, notwithstanding.

            • BBQ_Bill
              BBQ_Bill commented
              Editing a comment
              Understood EdF
              When using the number 2 poppet settings/procedure, one fellow said he thought it was more smoky tasting. I went with that but personally cannot tell with absolute certainty.
          • BBQ_Bill
            Club Member
            • Jun 2017
            • 409
            • Phoenix, Arizona

            #11
            I am thinking that a good study of the fan port including photos is what I want to do next.
            The fans tell a story too, but the port is generally one consistent color.
            -
            The fans and fan port really do bear witness to the last poppet setting that was used in a smoke.
            If the poppet settings throughout the entire smoke are constant, like for example the above poppet setting number 1, then from that I get a tan color in the port and on the fan blades and surrounding area.
            This is only true if the operator of the KBQ is vigilant in keeping a solid thick coal base and checked the poppets after each wood add.
            -
            To me, this center photo shows a clean smoke, and the result was a product that had a very mild smoke flavor or profile.
            All eaters agreed to that saying that it was mild, even hard to tell it was smoked.
            -
            Attached is a composite photo.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	image_78439.jpg Views:	1 Size:	1.92 MB ID:	605064
            Last edited by BBQ_Bill; December 9th, 2018, 06:07 PM. Reason: Add a photo and amend a statement.

            Comment


            • Santamarina
              Santamarina commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for your continued research and reports. Your diligent work is a big help to all.

            • BBQ_Bill
              BBQ_Bill commented
              Editing a comment
              Happy to try and very serious about making it work better and better.
              Thank you for your kind compliment Santamarina
          • BBQ_Bill
            Club Member
            • Jun 2017
            • 409
            • Phoenix, Arizona

            #12
            Notice with the alternating of the poppets, (Poppet setting using procedure #2) I was getting what I thought was a coating of white smoke on the fans, or at least it looked like it was to me.
            -
            I have read in several places that black smoke is bad and in others that white smoke is bad, whereas blue smoke is good and what we want.
            Twas thinking that this white color in the photo there above on the right may be this bad white smoke, I simply did not know, and so just a bit ago I called and spoke with Mr. Bill Karau, the man who designed these incredible machines.
            (FYI he is KBQ here in The Pit)
            He assured me that white smoke is very hard to get with the KBQ, and that he thinks what I am seeing on the fan blades and area around them is nothing more than a "Fly Ash" coating.
            This would be the very light white colored ash that is simply "flying" through the top poppet after I open it fully and close the bottom poppet.
            Basically, the majority of smoke was going through the top poppet until the time would come for the next wood add.
            -
            The product flavor from this long smoke that produced the white color on the fan blades as seen above, turned out great as usual.
            Mr. Karau went on to say that the black colored shiny "shellac" is the creosote that is what we need to try to avoid in long smokes.
            An Oyler smoker is notorious for producing this type of smoke if the operator is not "on his or her toes" when running product through it.
            Long smokes with this type of heavy dark smoke is what causes "after-the-meal-distress" in my system as well as in the digestive system of many others that I have spoken with.
            -
            Bottom line is that I will probably go with the 3/16" opening for the top poppet, and the fully open bottom poppet for my future long smokes.
            And... my firebox lid will be on to accomplish the three things mentioned at the KBQ web site.
            There, you will find using the lid as an answer to a FAQ.
            Here below for your convenience is a copy/paste from the KBQ web site.
            Question: Should I use the firebox lid?
            Answer: Yes. It reduces fuel consumption, limits sparking, and significantly improves flavor and bark.
            HERE is a link for your convenience.

            Comment

            • Ericm
              Club Member
              • Sep 2015
              • 74
              • Minnesota

              #13
              I played with the poppet positions on my last cook. Learned that I need to keep both poppets open during the cold MN winter, otherwise it struggles to keep temp (250 degrees in 25 degree weather with 13 mph winds).

              Comment


              • goldp18
                goldp18 commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for the tip! This will be good to keep in mind as I'm sure many of us are thinking about upcoming New Years cooks. I'm wondering how significant of a difference a wind block would make in similar conditions. Did you keep them both fully open?
            • Ericm
              Club Member
              • Sep 2015
              • 74
              • Minnesota

              #14
              Thanks goldp18. Yes, I had the poppets fully opened. I normally do it this way since my family loves the smoke flavor that comes out of the KBQ. For my last cook however, I was cooking a prime rib for a big group, and was worried that the smoke flavor might be too heavy. Once I discovered that I needed both poppets open in order to keep the temp, I decided to let it ride and I put both poppets back to fully opened. The meat turned out great and everyone loved it, including my brother in-law who is a butcher by trade.

              Comment

              • Timbo54
                Club Member
                • May 2018
                • 138
                • Roseville , Ca

                #15
                I've recently been experimenting in order to get a little heavier smoke. My last 3 cooks (Prime rib yesterday) I have closed off the coal tray with aluminum foil on both sides. This directs the air and smoke to be drawn completely down through the top. I had to wonder how much "clean air" was being drawn in through the sides of the coal tray. I think this improved the smoke profile somewhat. This also eliminates any possibility of embers falling out that some have worried about. I also keep the lid on a little off center and that slows down on the wood usage. More testing needed !

                Comment

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                GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone

                grill grates

                GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill needs them.

                Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


                PK 360 grill

                Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?

                The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it's easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado. Beautifully designed and completely portable. Meathead says it is his preferrred grill.

                Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

                Click here to order it direct from PK and get a special deal for AmazingRibs.com readers only


                kareubequ bbq smoker

                Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

                The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.

                Click here for our review of this superb smoker


                Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

                masterbuilt gas smoker

                The First Propane Smoker With A Thermostat Makes This Baby Foolproof

                Set ThermoTemp's dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin'.

                Click here to read our detailed review


                Professional Steakhouse Knife Set

                masterbuilt gas smoker

                Our founder, Meathead, wanted the same steak knives used by steakhouses such as Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, Morton's, Kobe Club, Palm, and many others. So he located the manufacturer and had them stamp our name on some. They boast pointed, temper-ground, serrated, high-carbon stainless-steel, half-tang blades with excellent cutting edge ability. The beefy hardwood handle provides a comfortable grip secured by three hefty rivets. He has machine washed his more than 100 times. They have never rusted and they stay shiny without polishing. Please note that we do not make, sell, or distribute these knives, they just engrave them with our name.

                Click here to read our detailed review and to order


                Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

                fireboard bbq thermometer

                With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.

                Click here to read our detailed review


                Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker

                Green Mountain Davey Crockett Grill

                Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

                Click here to read our detailed review and to order