Tag Archive for ‘barbecue’

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.)

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.

Spareribs, Baby Backs, Pork Shoulder, Chicken Thighs, Mac’n’Cheese, Oh My!

I finally had the chance to smoke again on Tuesday. It was heavenly.

I received my Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks on Monday. I’m still undecided about it. I’ll write more about it in a future post.

I smoked two racks of spareribs, two racks of baby back ribs, a 4.5 lb. pork shoulder, bologna, chicken thighs, mac and cheese, corn on the cob and cabbage.

A couple of the pictures aren’t great, but I never claimed to be a professional photographer!

Uncle Yammy’s Memphis style chicken & rib seasoning was sprinkled liberally on all the racks of ribs except for one, which I used the KC Masterpiece habanero rub… dry rub that could have also doubled as a sauce if I would have mixed it with beer. I’m not much of a sauce guy, so I used it as a dry rub by default. It was OK… I’ll give it another shot. It tasted like the Lays barbecue potato chips, something I crave every now and again, and reminds me of summer school from my elementary school days.

Tony Chachere’s Creole was sprinkled on the bologna. So good. Don’t write off smoked bologna until you’ve tried it. It’s fantastic.

Garlic Jalapeno by Weber on the chicken thighs. I’m just about out of my favorite — Garlic Habanero — so I went with the jalapeno option. I may have slightly overcooked them, but they were still juicy and flavorful, so it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world.

I used Caribeque Honey Heat on the pork shoulder. I love that stuff. I ordered some Calypso Kick seasoning from Caribeque the other day, and I can’t wait to hot’n’fast smoke some wings seasoned with it on my Weber Smokey Mountain.

Nothing but salt and pepper on the corn on the cob (not pictured). It was a favorite.

I added butter and Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning to the cabbage.

The mac and cheese was pretty good, though that needs some experimentation in the future. I only left it in the smoker for a little over an hour.

It was a successful smoke, albeit I’m still learning the ins and outs of the Weber Smokey Mountain. It ate up my Royal Oak charcoal (briquettes) pretty quickly, but the guys over at TVWBB (The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board) said that I didn’t use enough charcoal to fill the ring completely, and to try a different variation of the Minion Method. Their points were noted.

I used applewood for this smoke.

BBQ Myths: You Have to Season Your New Smoker

Credit to @aguyindallas (Instagram handle)

When I first received my Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, I posted about it on a page on Facebook, excitedly writing about my enthusiasm for my first smoke on the ol’ “WSM”. A few comments were from people saying to season it to “get remove any of the manufacturing materials inside”.

Every day or so, I see people on the same Weber Smokey Mountain page asking about what food to use to season the smoker with, and there are guys and gals wasting a chimney or two of charcoal to season their new smoker. I even saw one guy asking what food to season his smoker with, and that he’s only going to throw the food away when it’s done. What a waste of food and a time smoking!

My first smoke on my Weber Smokey Mountain was two racks of baby back ribs (pork loin back ribs), a bacon-wrapped pork loin, a medium sized tube of bologna and a family pack of chicken thighs. That is how you season a Weber Smokey Mountain for the first time. Each and every bit of the food was consumed rather than thrown out and wasted.

Oh, and the manufacture residue? It’s going to be burned off and replaced with grease during your first cook, anyhow.

Bottom line: The idea that you have to run a quick smoke session with charcoal to “season” you or “burn off the manufacture residue” of your Weber Smokey Mountain cooker is complete hearsay and a myth. If you want to, then by all means do it, but at least eat the food you ‘season’ it with or accept that you are wasting charcoal if you are running a load without food.

There is no reason to season. Repeat after me: “with my new Weber Smokey Mountain, there is no reason to season”. You’ll develop a natural seasoning in your smoker over time… y’know, by smoking food that you will eat and not wasting charcoal.

The Massive Smoke on Mother’s Day

Here are pictures from the massive barbecue meal we had on Mother’s Day that I cooked. These pictures are imported from my other blog, Troy’s Thoughts on Sports. I smoked two pork shoulders, a sirloin pork roast, two chuck roasts, two whole cornish hens, 12 chicken thighs, 15 country pork ribs, about eight or nine skewers of thick cut bacon, 11 bacon wrapped cheddar cheese stuffed jalapenos, and about 17 potatoes.

Needless to say, I was exhausted that night, but damn, everything came out great! I used my grill to smoke most of the country pork ribs (sans three) with a mix of pecan and cherry wood. Everybody loved them, as they were gone faster than anything else.

The Beginning of Grizzly BBQ

My girlfriend’s family gave me their old, offset vertical Brinkmann Trailmaster smoker in December. They usually cook for a decent sized group and they moved off to a horizontal smoker where more can fit without having to cut and separate (like a big beef brisket). I appreciate that they were/are so generous, because I can’t get enough of the flavor of smoked food. Here’s what I smoked in December: a 5 and a half pound Boston Butt (pork shoulder), an itty bitty brisket (just to try) that was about a pound, smoked bacon wrapped cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers and chicken drumsticks. Also, not pictured, but I smoked a chuck roast for my family a couple days after Christmas along with some potatoes. Here’s some pictures from the first batch:


Update (February 15, 2020): Looking back at this post almost three years later (since the cook that I posted in the featured photos above; it has been just a touch under three years since I posted this), I was a complete and total barbecuing newbie, fresh to the game of grilling and smoking meats outdoors. Now, with some time under my belt, I want to take a moment to reflect.

I did not own a meat thermometer back then. Well, that isn’t totally accurate. I bought a non-digital cooking thermometer from Wal-Mart back in December 2016, and it wasn’t top notch at all. It failed to accurately read the temperatures of meat and it was slow. In June 2017, I picked up a Thermapen Mk4 digital thermometer from Thermoworks, and it is hands down the best meat thermometer I’ve ever used, with its quick and accurate readings.

The first ever pork butt that I smoked, all by myself and without assistance, I got lucky in regards to hitting the proper ‘doneness’ temperature of 200-202 degrees. When the bark fully set in, I placed the pork butt onto an aluminum foil pan and popped it into the oven at 400 degrees for a little over an hour. Nowadays, I always try to avoid using electricity by finishing my meats on the pit. When I pulled the pork butt out of the oven, it was ready to shred and I felt incredibly accomplished because of that feat, at the time.

The second time I smoked a pork butt, shortly afterwards, the results were less than thrilling because of my lack of attention to detail. The first one was around 6-7 lbs. while the second one was a few lbs. bigger. I used the same method of trying to finish it off in the oven due to having a house full of hungry guests, and it didn’t shred. Now, it was done in terms of safe cooking temperatures, but it didn’t reach the point to where the collagen in the meat is supposed to give way to tenderness. Everyone still enjoyed it, but I was frustrated over my failure. That was the last time I butchered a pork butt, because I was embarrassed over serving it to my guests when I ‘advertised’ pulled pork to them only to deliver, uh, sliced pork. Thankfully they still enjoyed it due to all the almost-quiet lip smacking that commenced.

Barbecue is a journey. We all have our own ways, techniques and efforts when we put the work into creating the magical, smokey grub that we love and enjoy. The only way to make great barbecue, when you are a beginner, is to do your due diligence — as far as literary research is concerned — and go through the painful endeavors of trial and error as you do the actual work of trying it out yourself. Practice makes perfect.