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Author Topic: Advice on startup for a long smoke please!  (Read 1672 times)
Brisket Billy
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« on: October 28, 2017, 12:31:36 PM »

Hi there.  I have a BK keg 5000.  I've only done one long smoke on it before (pulled pork) and had some issues maintaining temperature.   Basically my temp was spiking over 250, I panicked and closed the vents to 1/2 which slowly cooled the unit but pretty much my killed my fire and hence my smoke.   They worked out ok anyway but am going to attempt brisket tonite and wanted some advice on keys to success for holding 225-240 temp for 12 or so hours.

My plan was to fill the firebox just shy of where my diffuser will be.   Light one fire starter in the centre of the lump charcoal.   I was going to use 5 large chunks of smoke wood radially around the charcoal pile with one close to the initial lighting point (will be soaking the wood chunk).  I'll let the charcoal light for about 16 minutes or so to get a few coals going then drop in the diffuser, a drip tray and the cooking grate.  Diffuser is filled with sand.  Then close the lid and set both dampers to setting 3.  I have a thermoworks smoke remote thermometer - when the probe for the cooker temp hits 175 I'll drop the vents to setting one and then hopefully slowly close in on 225f.  Will let this heat soak for at least 30 minutes and stabilize and then quickly get my brisket on.

Outside temp is around 0 Celsius.  Anyone have a tried and true means of getting to 225 and holding for 12 hours?   

Was also wondering if anyone had a means of effectively sealing off the joint between the ashtray and also the knobs for the ashtray.  Was thinking duct tape but worried a bit about the heat and leaving a sticky residue on my keg.

Any help is appreciated!  Thanks!
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bel4_20
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2017, 05:26:13 PM »

 Let me try my hand at the question. I'm going to start by saying i never really had any great success doing low and slow on my keg UP until i bought my temp controler, that being said there are lots of guys on this forum who can/have done it. I can tell you that 1 starter cube is probably too much of a fire. There is not much, if at all heat soaking going on in the Keg as the insulated steel radiates heat extremely well hence why i think i always have had issues holding for a long period of time. Sorry i can't be of much more help you may want to consider a BBQ temp controller in your future after that you'll never look back.








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Here's to alcohol: The source of, and answer to, all of life's problems. --Homer Simpson
ModernMan
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2017, 04:20:56 AM »

I"ve had many, many frustrating, similar experiences with my 5000, just like yours, and have posted about them in the past.

I'd agree with bel_4, for the leakier 5000, an ATC may be the only way to truly "set and forget".

Otherwise, a TTT (sort of an analogue, simple ATT) certainly helps a lot,... At least it helps me significantly , but still requires keeping an eye on it sometimes , especially if windy. Uncle - a regular 5000 keg user and poster on the forum has lots and lots of success w his 5K used in conjunction w his TTT.

Btw, I also think starting to throttle down your  vents at 175* may already be too late and chances are you'll overshoot your intended 225*

As a last ditch option, I sometimes use the 5000 only fir the first 2-3 hours while babysitting it ...to get the initial smokey absorption ... then put the brisket in oven at 225 for 10-12 or more hours to continue "automatic temperature controlled" cooking!  Works like a charm every time...
 for brisket

Good luck w your brisket, I'll let others chime in...
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Brisket Billy
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2017, 08:10:58 AM »

Hi all, thanks for responses thus far.

Well, here I am, bleary eyed sitting with a vibrating cup of coffee at 9:40AM.  Its been a journey.

Took notes during the cook, maybe they'll be useful for someone attempting this.  Learned a lot on this cook, particularly the wisdom of purchasing a temp controller of some kind.

- 10 PM: Set up basically as described in my original post - piled lump charcoal nearly up to diffuser, drip pan on top of diffuser, grate on high setting, mixed in 3in chucks of hickory (about a 5:1 ratio charwood to smokewood), lit a single point and allowed to sit a while til some coals were nicely alight.
- 10:10PM: Closed smoker lid and opened both dampers to 3
- 10:50PM: Smoker temp at 170F, lowered both dampers to setting 1.
- 11:08PM: Temp at 221F, closed bottom damper to 1/2, left top at 1.
- 11:08 to 11:30 - temp gradually rose from 221F to 233.3F
- 11:37 - Closed lower damper to 1/4, upper to 1/2, internal temp at 236F and generally stabilized.
- 11:47 - MEAT ON.  I left the meat out for about an hour an half to get closer to room temp, initial temp reading on the brisket at the thickest point was 47F.  The recipe I was using called for doing an hourly mop after about 4 hrs.  I really didn't want to open the BK lid every hour and mess with the temps (and also didn't want to wake up at 4 AM, 5AM etc...) so I elected to inject the meat at about 2inch spacing with beef broth and worchestershire sauce.
- 12:10 AM -  Had to open smoker vents to 3 to recover temp, back up to around 220F, moved vents back to 1 and 1.
- 2AM and 2 episodes of Stranger Things Season 2 later (great show!) - again had to open vents to recover temp back to around 220F, cranked lower vent open to around 4 or 5 for about 5-10 minutes to get back up to temp, then back to 1 and 1.
- 5AM:  I set up a "meat bed" in my basement to prevent waking my wife.  Good thing I did.  Set my "low" alarm to 195F.  Thermopro started beeping around 5AM.  After stumbling around to put some pants on, cranked up lower damper to 5 and let the temp climb back to around 220F (took around 20 minutes) then dropped upper damper to 1, lower to 2. Meat internal temp was 152F at this point, The Stall Begins.
-8:41AM: My 3 year old decided it would be a great time to play kitchen around dad's head.  3 floors in this house, 10 million toys but had to play kitchen right...by...dad's...head. In any event, BBQ temp was down to 211F, meat was at around 165F.
-9:30 AM: BBQ temp started dropping steadily despite opening vents.  Swallowed my pride, pulled it out of the smoker, wrapped it in 4 layers of foil with half a beer and tossed it in the oven.  Sweet, sweet consistent oven.

Just some general observations/things I might do differently:
1: Dial gauge on my keg was pretty consistently 25F higher than the temp at the grate, which is to be expected.
2: Outside air temp was around 33F.  When trying to recover temp at 2AM etc..., opening the upper damper seemed to just lead to a rush of our cold air entering the unit and dropping unit further so I started just keeping upper damper around 1-2 and adjusting using lower damper.
3: After opening the keg, i was a little disappointed in my bark.  Definitely a nice dark bark in some areas but in a lot of areas were not barked up. 
4: If I do this again, I'll think I'll make my target temp around 240-250 instead of 225F.  I was so concerned about overshooting my temp I ended up having to scramble at several times during the night to get back up to an acceptable temp.
5: Where do they sell these temp controller things?  Wink  Christmas is coming, maybe Santa will be kind...

Anyway, will post later on how this thing turned out.  Hope this is at least marginally interesting information.  Going to refill my IV bag with coffee now...

 
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Brisket Billy
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2017, 09:30:38 AM »

...further to this.  Apparently I'm a complete moron.  Just looked up the Tip Top Temp on the Internets.  35 lousy stinking bucks.  After ramming my head into my counter for a few minutes, ordered one up.

11:30 and my brisket is at 170F.  C'mon baby...
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Brisket Billy
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2017, 11:43:32 AM »

Well, here we are at 1:20PM in the afternoon. Stall broke in the oven around 11:15AM. Meat hit 195F, pulled it out and checked a few spots with my Thermapen, looking good!. Unwrapped it to drain off any excess liquids, re-wrapped in foil, and its currently in the cooler wrapped in towels. Not entirely pleased with the bark, but hopefully it doesn't suck.

So, after this ordeal, I did a bit of looking on these and some other forums and have elected to order at Tip Top Temp controller - for 35 bucks, can't go wrong, I hope.

Daughter's taking a nap, papa following soon....
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SmallBBQr
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2017, 01:00:59 PM »

I hope the TTT works for you...I never had much success with it in cold weather (works OK in the summer).  Once it get's cold here, the condensation from the moisture coming up through the vent creates a lot of liquid residue on the TTT damper and eventually glues it in place.  I have to keep cleaning it.  In really cold temps, it freezes shut.

It's funny - I've never been able to use "1" on the top vent.  if I set my top vent (and yes it's nice and clean) anywhere below 2, my keg will eventually fizzle out.  At 2, it will usually hold temp steady, and at 2.5 will very slowly rise...and of course rise faster the higher I set it.

I've never found much use for the bottom vent...I've either got it opened a tiny bit (when the top is 2-3) or wide open for searing etc.

The bottom line with the keg, is that it is TOO efficient IMO to be a great smoker.  I truly believe the mark of a any good product is if you were asked, would you purchase it again.  I wouldn't buy another keg (sorry forum!).  I don't want a heavy ceramic one either though.

When the keg finally rusts out or I get rid of it, I'll probably go pellet grill for smoking and "oven" cooking, and use the new Uuni Pro for my searing needs at 1000 degrees.
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Kick Ash Divide & Conquer Kegger
RandomPointer
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 03:45:10 PM »

TTT does not work for me.

I am able to maintain a stable temperature for a long time by sealing all gaps with heat resistant caulk, cleaning the ash before smoking, and closing the bottom vent before opening the lid.

I found it very beneficial to do multiple dry run with my grill. I set everything up, adjust the vents, and just wait for hours. I monitored the temperature every 30 minutes with a remote themometer, and I have a decent understanding how to adjust the vents, so I won't panic if the temp goes wild. I have notes for the vent configurations if I want to hit ~250F or ~350F.

The temp usually spiked a little bit if I open the lid without closing the vent. I had fewer problems if I close the bottom vent before opening.
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ModernMan
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2017, 06:57:51 PM »

I would agree w Small bbQr; although I may try a cetamic ....not pellet when my keg dies.
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