Barrel House Cooker 18C Review

Maybe I have a smoker fetish. It started when the little lady’s family gave me their old stick burner — a vertical offset Brinkmann Trailmaster. Her dad switched over to a horizontal offset and the one they gave me had been sitting out and not being used. Rather than allowing it to just sit there, they fixed it up and gave it to me! I will always be grateful and appreciative of that act of generosity. I loved using it, but the effects of weathering produced rust and eventually holes and cracks that rendered it unusable for long smokes. Sometimes I feel like I let them down by not being able to take better care of it. I digress.

In June 2017 I bought a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. It is the holy grail in terms of set it’n’forget it smoking that involves charcoal and wood (I specifically mention that last part because pellet grills might be the ultimate cooker for those in the game for set it’n’forget it cooking). My appetite for collecting different types is insatiable, however.

The rise of barrel cookers seem to be on the up and up, but the UDS (“Ugly Drum Smoker”) design has been around for seemingly eons, with people creating a smoker from the ground up. However, there are two UDS style smokers on the market right now that are more popular than the others. There is the Pit Barrel Cooker, which is the most popular if you count the amount of people touting it on social media (namely Instagram, which is my favorite), and then there is the Barrel House Cooker. There is some kind of legal bullshit going on between the two companies. I won’t get into it because I’m not a lawyer and feel no obligation to talk about the nitty gritty, but apparently whoever was working on the Pit Barrel Cooker, originally, decided to go and assist in the creation of the Barrel House Cooker — that caused shit to hit the fan, and that’s all I know. I don’t really care, and most of the people you see on the web proclaiming they do are drama lovers who enjoy spinning their wheels from what I can discern.

The main attraction to the barrel style of cooking, for me, was the prospect of hanging meats, faster cooker time and less charcoal (compared to the 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain cooker that I have; I love my WSM, but it is a charcoal hog and a half). Basically, you hang meats above the charcoal and, in the closed cooking environment, the drippings (read: grease!) from the meats fall onto the charcoal and the smoke from the vapors give the meat a flavor to die for.

For me, it came down to either the PBC (Pit Barrel Cooker) and the BHC (Barrel House Cooker). As you can see by the title of this post, you already know which one I purchased. It basically came down to the ease of adding charcoal during a cook or getting it started more efficiently (the removable middle section from the charcoal base makes it extremely easy) as opposed to the PBC. Furthermore, you can take the grate that the cooker comes with and use it as a hibachi insert by removing the middle section and sitting the grate directly over the coals. For my very first cook, I hung a 3.8-lb. beef Tri-Tip that I purchased from Appalachian Meats in Lebanon, Virginia (hi, Brandon and Victoria! Great people! If you are in the area, check out their shop), cooked it until about 120-125 degrees and then seared it over the grate, hibachi style.

Before purchasing, I watched a good bit of videos of the BHC on YouTube. Something I found to be a common theme was that a few of the folks mentioned that Barrel House Cooker Company sent them their cookers for free because they wanted feedback on the cooker. Objective feedback. Well, opposite of the users on YouTube, I purchased mine at the regular price point ($249 plus tax) and feel even more obligated than those users to deliver a full-fledged objective review given that I pumped cash into it. There is no sunken cost fallacy going on here. Just a dude giving his thoughts on the cooker he bought. By the way, there are two models currently available: the 14D (14″) and the 18C (18″). I like cooking a good bit of food most of the time, so I went with the 18, but the 14 sure is tempting in the future.

The first thing I noticed when I was putting my BHC together was there was a weird lookin’ spot on the charcoal base that looked like a spot of rust. Not a huge deal, but it isn’t something you want to see out of your brand new cooker that you spent good money on either. I contacted them over this and Jeremy Cunha (who I believe is the head honcho of the BHC Co.)* responded by basically saying to use it for a while and, if I run into any problems, contact ’em. I wasn’t so much complaining when I emailed them as much as I was making them aware of a quality control issue. The YouTube user Meathead, who also received a free cooker from the company, told me in a comment that Barrel House is coming out with some stainless steel charcoal baskets and that they would send me one for free if I asked them. I asked Jeremy about this, but he did not address it in the replied email. Hmm… hopefully the stainless steel charcoal baskets aren’t only sent free to the YouTubers who were already sent free cookers… again, I emphasize, hopefully that isn’t the case as that would be pretty disappointing for BHC loyalists who splurged and spent a great deal of moolah, but I digress… the customer service is solid. You can expect responses in a timely manner. I’ve dealt with them via email and phone.

(*Quick retraction here: an embarrassing one, actually, but I’ll leave it since it is hilarious and I can poke fun at myself. I genuinely thought Jeremy Cunha was the man behind the Barrel House Cooker. Alright, alright, I’ve learned from the man himself that he is not. Jeremy is a brand ambassador for Barrel House Co.! So, he is a brand ambassador. Still, a cool dude and you can tell he loves the cooker or else he wouldn’t be doing what he is doing. I bet the BHC team had a laugh about that one. Looking back, I will, as well! Apparently the owner/president behind the product is a low-key guy. Dude must be like Charlie (i.e Charlie’s Angels). Either way, he is the braintrust behind the company and is the man with ideas. I’m probably on his shitlist for getting the ‘head honcho of BHC Co.’ wrong. Ha.)

Assembly was extremely easy and hassle-free. The only thing I hate about putting things together is keeping up with screws, washers, nuts and bolts. I have a phobia about losing small parts when putting things together. Maybe it is just my cooker, but the first thing I noticed is that the middle section does not snugly sit on the charcoal base. Maybe that was the intended design, but I can kinda rock it back and forth on the charcoal base by barely moving it. If it is intended to be that way, fair game, but I thought that would be a point worth noting.

I had to wait four days before I could actually use my BHC, but by cracky, I finally had my chance. First cook: that beef Tri-Tip from Appalachian Meats that I was talking about.

Tri-Tip on the Barrel House Cooker Hibachi.

Everything went better than expected. I rubbed the tri-tip with Hardcore Carnivore Black and hung it in the Barrel House Cooker with some hickory wood and Kingsford charcoal (good ol’ KBB — Kingsford blue bag). At 125-130 degrees or so (as monitored by my Thermoworks Smoke thermometer), I removed the tri-tip from the H-frame and removed the hook from the tri-tip, added the grate to the charcoal base and used it as a hibachi to sear my tri-tip on both sides, about a minute and a half per each side. I let it rest, and well, as you can see by the above pictures, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare and it was delicious!

The semi-boneless leg of lamb that I hung in my Barrel House Cooker.

The next day, I hung a whole chicken and a semi-boneless leg of lamb. Again, I used KBB as my fuel source. I can’t, for the life of me, remember what the hell I rubbed the chicken with, but I was in luck with the semi-boneless leg of lamb. I had never consumed lamb before prior to this experience. I was seeking opinions on what rub I should use, when luck would have it that I received my recently ordered package from The Killer Cook and they, by chance, sent me a sample of their Mediterranean Spice blend. I consulted with TKC on Instagram about this choice of rub for lamb, and whattya know, it pairs perfectly with it (Mediterranean and lamb goes hand in hand anyhow, but I wanted to confirm). The chicken was awesome, but the lamb was fantastic. It was super tender; I cooked it until about 140 degrees, if I recall correctly.

Before wrapping spare ribs.

The third day, I hung four racks of spare ribs. On two, I rubbed ’em with Caribeque Honey Heat and on the other two I used Meat Church Holy Gospel. No much to say about these ribs except that they were phenomenal. The smokey flavor was tremendous. I’m used to ribs on my Weber Smokey Moutain. They come out virtually perfect on the WSM, but the smokey flavor that comes from the Barrel House Cooker, with the juices hitting the hot coals and creating a distinct flavor profile, you just can’t beat that.

Since then, I’ve even tried a trial of grilling on the BHC… sat the charcoal ring on the H-frame and grilled some all-natural beef dogs a few days after my first few cooks. It passed the test, but for grilling, I love my Weber kettle.

I used both my Weber Smokey Mountain as well as my Barrel House Cooker for Mother’s Day. Ribs in the BHC and pork belly burnt ends, a pork butt and mac and cheese in the WSM. My family, and some of my family’s friends loved all the food, which is the most important thing to me.

The unfortunate chipping/flaking issue. Hopefully it is simply cosmetic/superficial and nothing that will produce anything that will shorten the life of the cooker such as rust.

A few cooks in, I noticed some chipping/flaking around the handles on the sides of my BHC… a little disconcerting, but as long as no rust produces from it, I don’t care. Seems to be a bit of a quality control issue, but again, if it is only a superficial mark, I couldn’t care less. This is an outdoor cooker/grill/smoker… it’s going to get filthy even with a cover. I just want the cooker to last several years without any hiccups, because I know I’m going to use the hell out of it.

In the future, I’m going to use lump charcoal in my BHC, for the most part, because it doesn’t handle the ash fallout from KBB as well as my WSM does. The insane amount of ash produced from the Kingsford seems to smother the fire worse than what it does in my WSM. Strange, but it happens. I’m going to try different things. All in all, you have to learn your cooker and its kinks… they (by ‘they’, I mean different types of grills and smokers) all ‘behave’ differently’.

Whole chicken rubbed with Reload Rub Packin’ Heat.

I hung another whole bird in my BHC today, using the brand new Reload Rub seasoning, “Packin’ Heat”. I have come to the conclusion that you can’t have chicken from anything better than this Barrel House Cooker. It was tender, juicy and full of flavor (and delicious spiciness, thanks to the Packin’ Heat from Reload)!

If I haven’t made it clear, I’m going to unabashedly state it now: I’m in absolute love with my Barrel House Cooker. It is everything I have wanted it to be. I’ve been asked by people, “Well, can’t you do the same type of cooking in your WSM by removing the water pan?” Sure, but I like that the BHC is a little bit smaller, and if I was going to consistently do the same thing with the WSM I would have to create some modifications as well as find something, or create something, that mirrors the H-frame or something like it from the BHC, and quite frankly I’m too damn lazy to do that. Also, going back to the BHC being smaller than the WSM, the WSM is a proverbial charcoal hog, while the BHC definitely is not. I love both of my cookers for their own purposes, but I think hanging meat in the BHC is badass and puts it over the top.

I’m sure the other barrel cooker is pretty awesome, but I love my BHC. If you are in the market for a smoker, I absolutely recommend the Barrel House Cooker. The customer service will take care of you if you have any problems, and you’ll have a full-fledged smoker that is about as fail-safe as a smoker can get. I can’t wait to eventually smoke a pork butt and a beef brisket in mine. It’s just too bad that a beef brisket costs 1/4th of a car payment where I live.

Barrel House Cooker: Buy or pass?

BUY. BUY. BUY. Then BUY some meats and HANG IT! (And then buy some beer and invite your friends over.)

An Update and an Apology (Blackstone Griddlin’ and Weber Grillin’)

No excuses. I’ve neglected this blog and not on purpose. Call it laziness, call it whatever. I should have been posting at least once a week or once every ten days minimum, but it’s been over four months since I’ve posted anything while I still lavish my Instagram with content.

A little over a week after my last post, I bought a 36″ Blackstone griddle on sale at Wal-Mart. The hype reverberated throughout the social media walls on Instagram and curiosity got the best of me. Overall thoughts: It’s a badass cooking gadget. My mother, who is a burgers-cooked-over-charcoal fanatic, thinks smashburgers is the greatest thing ever (she might not be wrong). Being able to cook a horde of food in one fell swoop is fantastic. Using the Blackstone was my first experience bothering with using propane for cooking. If you catch it on sale, snag it!


I received the brand new limited edition red Weber kettle grill a few weeks ago, and I’m loving it. There are a couple of minor blemishes in the finish, but it’s no big deal. It’s a grill, it’s outside, it’s going to get cooked on and it’s going to get dirty. With that said, a lot of customers are receiving damaged grills. I believe they are the vocal minority, as I think most people who received grills in good shape are quiet and/or busy cooking on ’em, but it is a bit disconcerting that so many people are receiving these damaged grills which are purportedly limited edition.

It’s my first Weber kettle, so I’m just enjoying it and having a good time. Removing the ash catcher is a little strenuous, but the more I do it I guess I’ll be developing bodybuilder-esque grip strength soon enough.

All in all, since receiving it a couple weeks ago, I’ve cooked on the kettle about five times now, most recently cooking up a couple of flat iron steaks with some peppers and onions yesterday.

Caribeque AP Rubbed, Grilled Chicken Wings

I love Caribeque. I’ve tried three of the seasonings/rubs so far, and none of them have let me down.

And damn, that STOK drum grill has churned out some delicious food for my family and I so far. I can’t be more satisfied with it. My only problems are, 1.) the bottom damper vents get easy stuck, and 2.) the ash pan has ash that is pretty much stuck to it! No idea what to do about that.

I’ve played around with the brand new Caribeque AP (All Purpose) rub here and there, but they were fantastic on these wings. Even more so the next day, when I mixed some cheap Louisiana hot sauce and butter and tossed it on ’em.

Like I’ve said, Kurt Halls has something special going on with Caribeque, and I’m glad to be alive in this day and time with the opportunity to try the seasonings and rubs out. They are all terrific.

Grilled Tacos on the STOK Drum Grill

My buddy Brad grilled tacos on his Weber kettle grill about a week and a half ago. The pictures made me pretty hungry, and I knew I had to try it. Tacos might be Dana’s favorite food, which is a plus. I love feeding people, so having the chance to throw something on the grill (as outdoor cookin’ is something I seem to have an affinity for) that is a favorite food of somebody I love is a plus.

I can’t say it enough: I love my charcoal chimney starter.

Those taco shells tasted wonderful after taking on the grilled flavor.

My lighting with food pictures needs work, but it was more beautiful than this.

Old El Paso is a highly used seasoning. Whenever I smell it, it has a blast of cumin, a scent that is well used in the southwestern region of the United States. My girlfriend and I wasted a Chili’s gift card earlier this year; I should have ordered the “Big Mouth Bites” (sliders), but I got some southwestern brisket bowl, which was plain putrid. I say that, because it tasted like all they did was throw a smidgen of an avocado, some onions and other vegetables in there and drenched it in Old El Paso seasoning… hence why I say it’s a highly used seasoning!

Anyway, that’s what I used on my ground beef yesterday when I browned it on my STOK drum grill. After draining the majority of the fat, I added a whole big onion diced fine. I added two packets of Old El Paso sauce as well as a tiny jar of medium Taco Bell sauce I had in the closet. This was my mistake. It wasn’t a mistake to mix the sauces; it was a mistake because I didn’t use enough sauce. I didn’t have enough sauce on hand to make saucy tacos. I typically use Pace picante sauce. I love that stuff and it’s a favorite in my household, but I didn’t have on hand.

The tacos were delicious in spite of what I wrote in the above paragraph, but they could have been better, which is why I say that I’m definitely going to try this again in the future but with a big, whole jar of Pace picante sauce.

Happy grillin’. Have you ever cooked tacos on the grill? What was your method? Comment below!

Building Connections and a Network on Social Media

My family occasionally likes to poke fun at me for posting food on social media (Facebook and Instagram), but I enjoy it. I’ve delved more into Instagram than I ever have in the last few months. Ever since I finally joined the smartphone foray, I’ve occasionally posted pictures of miscellaneous stuff like VPX Bang energy drinks on there. It’s an easy way to keep up to date with news of what’s going on with VPX products (particularly their Bang line).

Their cooking, grilling and barbecue community is pretty damn cool, though.

I’ve made quite a few connections with people in the ‘Q community on Instagram since May. It’s been a fun experience. While I’ve been practicing on my picture taking skills with food, I’ve had fun browsing others’ culinary creations.

Kurt Halls from Caribeque has been nothing short of spectacular towards me on Instagram, whether it’s reposting a couple of my photos or talking it up about his kickass products through DMs/comments. He’s even inquired about the VPX Bang energy drinks.

I just decided to try out a brand new rub, as of today: Reload Rub & Seasoning’s “Fully Loaded”. The company is based out of Knoxville, TN and they just released this brand new product today. I see on Instagram that quite a few folks received early versions to test it. There’s been unanimous praise. I like to support kickass people and kickass products, so I figured I’d do something quasi-kickass myself and get some.

I’ve enjoyed making these connections over on Instagram, because it’s genuine. I’m not following or liking people’s pages and posts in an attempt to bait them into liking my posts or following me. I appreciate what they have to share, and as a food fiend, it’s pure food porn.

It’s like one big family. But nobody argues. Everybody is celebrating the taste of delicious foods and the process of cooking them in whatever method it may be. That’s the kind of movement and community I can get behind.

Spicy Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers and Smoked Goodness!

My girlfriend’s family came in to visit us on Friday night. A weekend of cookin’ was planned for both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, we grilled, and Sunday we smoked. Despite the weather calling for thunderstorms (nothing happened), we were all in.

Kurt Halls and Caribeque released the brand new rub, the “AP Rub” (All Purpose) on Father’s Day. I’d been wanting to try it and mentioned to my girlfriend’s dad, Eric, that we need to try it soon. The thing about mentioning something to Eric is, he’s going to want to do it, 100%, all in the very first time. I felt guilty after I mentioned to him, because he said, “Guess I’ll order some”. As you can see in my previous post, I’d ordered three Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick seasonings from Caribeque. I gave one to him, as well as an extra container of McCormick’s smoked sea salt.

Yep… not only did he hook me and the little lady up with the all-new Caribeque AP Rub, he got us two more bottles of Caribeque Smack Sauce. Listen, if you haven’t tried Smack Sauce on some French fries or other potatoes, you are missing out, folks. That should be on everybody’s bucket list. That stuff is amazing. We only have a little bit left from our first bottle, but that’s only because we were trying to stretch it out and make it last! We almost finished that bottle in the first couple of days of using it. It is that good.

Happy as hell, running on five hours of sleep. Saturday morning (July 1st).

That morning, we went grocery shopping for the weekend feast!

That evening, I busted out my STOK drum grill for burgers and a slew of smoked sausage. We had a pack of Johnsonville jalapeno cheddar and a family pack of Johnsonville “Beddar with Cheddar”. Everybody fell in love with the “Beddar with Cheddar”. I don’t have pictures of either, but they were awesome.

The burgers, though, man oh man were they good! I was eager to try out the Caribeque AP Rub. For three burgers (for me, Eric and family friend/my quasi-brother Robert), we took a big ass amount of 73/27 ground beef and added Kraft jalapeno cheddar cheese, Mrs. Renfros ghost pepper salsa and sprinkled AP Rub inside and on the outside. To say it was incredible would be an understatement.


The burgers were so flavorful and juicy! We grilled more burgers for our crowd, but these were over the top in flavor! I would love to do these again.

On Sunday, our smoke featured a variety of things. I didn’t take pictures of everything, but we smoked: trout, a pork shoulder, bologna, chicken quarter and bacon-wrapped jalapenos.

I can’t rave about the bacon-wrapped jalapenos enough.

We took another package of Kraft jalapeno cheddar cheese and stuffed it in there along with ground pork sausage. We smoked the jalapenos longer than usual to ensure the pork sausage would be done. This was all Eric’s idea, and holy hell it was good. The reason we get along so well is because we are food fiends. We appreciate damn good food, and I appreciate his ideas!

The 11 lb. pork shoulder was smoked for about five hours before we threw it in the crockpot and made a modified Mississippi roast with it, using a little bit of vinegar and pepperoncini peppers. It wasn’t ready until the next morning (for breakfast), but it was just as awesome.

Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick-Rubbed Chicken Wings (And More)

Kurt Halls from Caribeque is making magic happen with his seasonings and rubs. Even his smack sauce. I haven’t tried the buffalo barbecue sauce he released over the last year or so, but I eventually hope to.

I bought a 3-pack of the Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick seasoning.

I’d never tried the Spicy Calypso Kick (nor the original Calypso Kick), but I bought the 3-pack on the merits of Caribeque alone. I love the Caribeque Honey Heat rub for pork and chicken as well as the Caribeque “Honey Heat” Smack Sauce that is incredible with just about anything (but with French fries or potato wedges is my favorite).

I gave one of the seasonings to my girlfriend Dana’s dad, the man who is responsible for giving us the Caribeque Honey Heat rub and Smack Sauce.

I was so eager to try out the Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick seasoning that I cut up three chicken breasts, liberally seasoned them with it and pan-fried them in my cast iron skillet with coconut oil. To my tastebuds, the seasoning isn’t very spicy; it’s more sweet than anything (even though it’s sugar free). I don’t know what kind of flavors are at play, but it has a delectable flavor profile that is generous to the tastebuds.

We made chicken tacos/burritos. I should’ve added some diced onions to mine, but I forgot (at the time) because I was so impatient, wanting to try this kickass seasoning! For some spice (I’m a spice fiend), I added Mrs. Renfros habanero salsa to the mix. What a great combination right there ~~ Mrs. Renfros habanero salsa and Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick. One company is based out of Texas (Mrs. Renfros) and the other is out of Florida (Caribeque), but they should collaborate on something!

Indoor cooking, using Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick: a success!

Firing up my STOK drum grill!

This past Thursday, I fired up my STOK drum grill!

I’d purchased a 14-ct family pack of chicken wings from Food Lion since they were a manager’s special item at about $7 bucks.

I’d planned for Thursday to be the day I’d do the grilled wings. You might think it’s blasphemy to grill wings instead of deep frying them, but who gives a shit? Good food is good food! I added some cherry wood to my coals for extra flavor.

I also cooked for my mother and my aunt. My mother despises chicken, so I grilled some burgers for them.

What happened was, I ended up being the only person eating the wings! That was fine by me. They turned out to be delicious. The cherrywood worked out perfectly with them. The Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick gave it a nice flavor all over the skin. It was some fine bird eatin’.

I love Caribeque products. Kurt Halls knows what he’s doing. I’ll be doing another post about them soon.