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    WSM vs PBC

    I have a reason for creating this subject which I'll get to, but first a little background:

    I am on my second Performer (the handle rusted off the lid of the first one) and have been using the Performer for roughly 10 years. Up until this past year I've done a modicum of low and slow on it using indirect cooking and had good results. 5 years ago I asked for a WSM for Christmas. My Mother in Law bought me a Bradley Electric, it was highly recommended to her by a good friend. I've produced real good smoked food with it. Then, last spring I was tinkering around on Youtube and I typed "Smoked brisket on Weber" and a bunch of videos popped up. I clicked one and the guy started the video in mid cook. He lifted the lid to spritz the brisket and I noticed an accessory in the Weber kettle that I'd never seen before. I looked at the top of the Youtube screen where it names the video and I saw "Smokenator". So, I did some research and concluded that I had to have one. In the course of my research I stumbled across a website called "Amazinribs.com". So, I asked for and received a Smokenator with hover grill for Father's Day. I used it several times this summer and fall and was extremely pleased with the results. I checked out the Smokenator forum and came across a link to a WSM forum. On the WSM forum I saw a subject thread called "Smokenator". Seeking validation for the Smokenator I read all of the posts. Most of the people had positive things to say about it but the one recurring theme was that those who started with a Smokenator and then added a WSM pretty much never (or rarely) used the Smokenator again. They just liked the WSM better. That has always been in the back of my mind.

    For Christmas, I asked for a mini WSM 14.5. The thought was I could use it for smaller cooks, tailgating, overflow for bigger cooks and could take it "up north" (That's a Michigan term). Well I've used it 3 times and this last cook I did a side by side with my Bradley (you can see my pictures on the "what's cooking?" thread p. 70). The WSM produced better ribs than the electric. Ernest made a comment that once you use a WSM you realize just how horrible of a smoking experience the Smokenator is (his words). Personally, I think the Smokenator is a very good smoking experience but I am thinking that the WSM is a better smoking experience.

    All of this brings me to the point of creating this thread: I can already see that I am going to want to add a larger smoker to my arsenal, probably a WSM 22.5. I know that the WSM has a huge, dedicated following and I am beginning to understand why. However, I also see that the PBC has quickly developed a huge, dedicated following. So, my question is, which one is better and why?

    Please note, I did a quick search before creating this subject to see if it had been discussed before but I couldn't find any evidence of it being discussed.


      I have a PBC and love it, that said I think the WSM is very similar, so much so that the comparisons get pretty tough. From my experience and reading I think the PBC is easier and more straightforward, but there are some disadvantages as well, primarily for me it is rack space. I can hang all kinds of stuff on my PBC, but can only fit so much of that on the grate. I think the WSM with the mods i've seen on the site to allow hanging is the best of both worlds and a very good choice. With your experience I don't think you could go wrong with either choice, but you might end up paying a bit more for a WSM and the aftermarket door you will likely want.


        To me, it's Apples and Oranges really. You'll want both. There's definitely a lot more fiddling with the WSM, and that's not a bad thing. I use the PBC for ribs, small briskets and steaks - the grill works well. The WSM does not grill as well, but for Butts and larger pieces of meat with long smoke times you can't beat it. For 90% of what I do I use the PBC, but it depends on your style and what you intend on doing.


        • JeffJ
          JeffJ commented
          Editing a comment
          Mr Porch,

          You said there's more fiddling with the WSM in terms of temperature control. Are you talking about the up-front process of hitting the mark or are you talking about maintaining temperature? Or both? I am totally cool with up-front fiddling but once it's been stabilized I prefer 'set it and forget it'. While I enjoy fiddling with my devices, during bigger cooks when using multiple devices simultaneously, being able to rely on a low/slow cooker to maintain temp without intervention is a key feature.

        • scorched_porch
          scorched_porch commented
          Editing a comment
          I meant that you CAN fiddle with it via vents, water pan, etc. Just more control over your cook - if that's what you want. With the PBC you really don't need to do anything.

        I too started with a Weber with a Smokenator, I then moved on to a PBC. No regrets at all. I have never used a WSM, so I am hoping some WSM owners chime in.


          From Ernest...

          I have both and I find myself cooking with the PBC quite a bit.
          PBC would suit you better. Easy to use right out of the box, you can do low and slow, grill on it.
          PBC can go toe to toe with the WSM 22.5.


            OK. First off, thank you all for so many replies in such a short period of time. The conclusion I am beginning to draw is that they are both great but for different reasons.

            The one comment that a couple have made is "grilling", which I define to be a shorter cook using higher heat that usually consists of a combination of indirect and direct cooking (for sear) or, one some occasions, direct cooking.


            What attracted me to the Smokenator was that it effectively turned a "grill" into a pretty darned good smoker. I never thought about applying that logic in reverse. I have always viewed smokers as single-mission devices.

            I would love to expound on this aspect of the discussion.


              The grilling I do on the Pit Barrel is minimal, but great. I have a little Smokey Joe Gold with grill grates that gets the nod for hamburgers and what not. But bacon wrapped sausage and all that good stuff, it gets a ride in the PBC.

              I can hang 5 briskets in the Pit Barrel, at least to start with, until I have to wrap, in that case, one goes in the oven. I want to try and hang 6 later this month, with 2 going indirect in the 22" Weber for a brief period of time (once I take off the hooks), while 2 others get "barked up" for wrapping.

              I don't think you can lose with either one.

              I know the quality of product I produce has gone through the roof since I went from smoking on an offset, to cooking in the Pit Barrel. The offset stuff was really good, this stuff is "off the chain/hook." good!


                When I looked at the PBC it looks like it only has one grate. Hanging meat is fine but it's problematic if one wants to apply sauce during a cook. Also, when I cook outdoors I prefer to minimize the number of cookers I use and try to maximize capacity.

                Further, ease of use isn't an issue for me with these 2 cookers as it sounds like the PBC is easy to use and I know from personal experience that the WSM (at least the 14.5) is easy to use. What is important to me is ease of temperature control, set it and forget it potential, and the ease of adding fuel, unless their fuel capacity is so great that they can both smoke for 12+ hours without adding coals.

                What is of paramount importance to me is which one produces better food. The PBC doesn't have a water pan. The counter argument is that without having a top vent and the bottom vent being so small it maintains humidity. This makes sense and it also explains why electric smokers are humid. However, I just did a side-by-side between my electric and my mini WSM and at roughly the same temperature the WSM produced ribs that were a bit more moist and a bit more tender. Can any Pit members compare/contrast what comes out of the 2 cookers? Given the rave reviews both have received I am guessing that the differences are so subtle that they are irrelevant, but that's just an assumption.

                I also recognize that the WSM costs roughly 25% more, so certain compromises, if there truly are any, need to be weighed against that.


                • Ernest
                  Ernest commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I apply sauce on PBC ribs all the time, Lay the ribs on a cookie sheet, apply sauce and hang them back on the rebar.

                  Sometimes temperature control issues are brought up by ourselves. Folks want to lock a cooker dead at 225. It's not going to happen. Even with the PBC, it will cook at whatever temperature it settles at.
                  I've never had problems with any of my WSMs. I just let then cook between 220 - 260. There's no fiddling, no headaches.
                  I've gone 14 hours on a full charcoal basket on WSM 22.5.
                  Got 8 hours on PBC, did ribs, wings and chicken from Sunday morning until around 6 pm.

                  I've used water once in a WSM. I honestly do not see the need.

                Take the WSM 18.5 off the list of choices and go with either the WSM 22.5 or PBC.
                Once you take that heat diffuser off the 22.5, you got yourself a bigger PBC.

                These two can cook enough food to feed an army. PBC does have an added advantage of being a very grill as well.


                • JeffJ
                  JeffJ commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Good point regarding saucing, Ernest. Even with the WSM in order to sauce on the lower grate the top grate has to first be removed. That's not a whole lot different than taking meat off a hook, saucing it and then re-hanging it.

                Just a foot note to this discussion. I added a DigiQ to my WSM and I'm at 255 for as long as I like. I can set it and forget it.


                  I don't own either but I'm extremely familiar with both. To sum it all up it's asking which is better a truck or a van? There's no right or wrong answer there. What are you primarily going to do with it? Both will haul a trailer and a bunch of your friends, but each is designed a little different for what you plan do mostly do with it. You get the drift. It sounds like you have a grasp on the similarities and differences between the WSM and the PBC. If I had to buy one (or if someone offered me one) or the other I personally would opt for a WSM, and that is simply preference. The PBC is easier for the less-inclined-to-tinker types, and the WSM has more versatility IMO. I love tinkering, I primarily burn logs, and I like to have control so I'd want one I could mess with more, and I'd want more horizontal grate space vs hanging. Pit Boss has been working lately on perfecting steaks on the PBC and has done very well (he is the steak king here at The Pit, so it's not surprising he nails it each time). So great steaks & other grilling items can be done on them with a little effort, as Jerod Broussard has alluded to above. The trouble comes with the sear and a little ingenuity is needed for that with either machine.

                  It is not surprising to hear you say your ribs came out better with the WSM than the electric. Electrics just don't have much combustion, and this is due to their great insulation and efficiency. While this is good on temp control and fuel use/cost of operation, it causes less heating up of the element and in turn a lower combustion and less frequent combustion, and this transfers over to the smoke flavor on the meat. Charcoal and wood chunks is the closest thing to cooking with all logs, and this is where arguably the better flavor comes in to play. Electrics make great tasting food, but it can be argued that charcoal and/or wood is simply better....but "better" is in the mouth of the beholder as always. My BIL has an electric and we did a rib-off a few months back. His were great, I could eat them til I got sick..... but mine were still better in my taste prefence

                  Tough choice you have there!


                    Wow. Thank you all for the feedback. Given everything I read coupled with the research I've done on both cookers I would say that I am leaning toward the WSM. The PBC sounds really cool but I know, by virtue of using my mimi WSM that the WSM is really cool. It sounds like I'd be similarly happy with either one, so it kind of comes down to brand loyalty and I am very pro-Weber (my stable of cooking devices bears this out).

                    Thanks again.


                      Jeff you need to get a signature filled out so we can check out you line up of cookers and cool tools. : )


                        I am waiting for the snow to melt, Jon.

                        My Performer is sitting under a bunch of snow on my patio and the rest of my cookers and accessories are in the garage at the moment.

                        As soon as I have a chance I will line them all up and snap a picture for my signature.



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