I have smoked at least thirty briskets since that fateful day in October 2017, and it still haunts me. Luckily, that has never happened again.
While I do smoke 99% of my briskets in one of my Barrel House Cookers these days, last May I did complete another overnight smoked brisket in my Weber Smokey Mountain, and this time it was a success. When I smoke up the morning after I began the cook, I wrapped the brisket in foil, added some more charcoal to my WSM, and allowed it to ride for a few hours until it hit 199 degrees internally. Afterwards, it rested in a cooler for over two hours. The results were much better than they were from that day in October 2017.
The key to smoking a great brisket: be patient, allow it to ride out for the full cook and yield it the proper time it needs to rest before you slice it up.
If you aren’t in the knowing of the swing of things, a legal battle was formed between Pit Barrel Cooker and Barrel House Cooker when the two were separate entities. PBC alleged that its design was duplicated as part of a contract dispute, with possible claims that BHC reneged on the contract in order to create its drum smoker. The result of the lawsuit featured PBC being paid payments (by BHC) and receiving royalties from future sales of the BHC, which was effective beginning around sometime in May 2018 (the time the lawsuit was resolved). From what I have heard, the original owner of Barrel House Cooker Co. chose to ‘hand over’ the company as a whole to Noah and Pit Barrel Cooker Co. as part of debt forgiveness.
As for what the future of Barrel House Cooker entails? This is a post by BHC on social media:
The Barrel House Cooker Company, LLC and Pit Barrel Cooker Co. are two separate companies and brands. We are always innovating and listening to our customer’s feedback. At this time there are no plans to consolidate nor combine the two cookers.
I am ecstatic to hear that Noah and PBC are going to continue to create Barrel House Cookers going forward. This is exceptional news. I have said it in multiple posts on Grizzly BBQ, but I can’t help but feel like the Barrel House is a superior cooker in comparison to the Pit Barrel. Sure, the PBC is more popular and was the first commercially successful pre-built drum smoker to practically take over the market in the realm of drum cookers, but the features of the BHC — thermometer on the lid, removable charcoal base, ability to use the aforementioned charcoal base as a hibachi by sitting the grates directly on top of it to sear things like tri-tip or thick cuts of steak — puts it over the top.
I have also stated time and time again that, if BHC were to quit producing cookers altogether and my two cookers were to wear out, I would have no problem purchasing a PBC because I am fully aware of how excellent they are. At the same rate, I would have been underwhelmed because the PBC simply has less features and is not as user accessible in comparison to the BHC, and that is an objective fact.
Ever since the beginning of 2019, I have been wary about the future of Barrel House.
I feel that I am safe to say this now, but in November 2018, a former employee of Barrel House — someone who I am friends with to this day — sent me a message telling me that he and a multitude of his colleagues had been laid off by BHC Co. He then told me that he had been told that the company was planning on selling the remainder of its cookers and was going to subsequently shut down. He had no information beyond that, as that was all the information he was told. He asked me for the conversation to remain between the two of us during that time. Now that Pit Barrel has acquired Barrel House, with granted permission I feel that such older news like that is now worth being mentioned, since the end of Barrel House did not reach fruition, thankfully.
Going forward, it is going to be interesting to see what Pit Barrel decides to do with Barrel House. I have my reservations and concerns. The two Barrel House Cooker models that I own, which I purchased in early 2018, are sturdy and have survived hundreds of cooks in the last two years, have proven to be sturdy and durable. However, I can’t help but wonder if Noah and PBC will begin using cheaper parts to produce them as time ensues. This is not me throwing any shade of Noah or PBC, but simply curiosity out of the prospect of wondering if that will happen in order to save money and overhead overall.
Furthermore, it was announced a while back that Barrel House has discontinued its original 14D model, and that is a crying shame. Speaking subjectively on behalf of my own opinion, the 14D model is superior to the 18C. While it holds less food given that it is a smaller cooker, I liked three of its features much better than the 18C: the 14D’s midsection can latch to the charcoal base which makes it more secure and airtight, the 14D has a lid hinge unlike the 18C and, finally, the 14D has intake vents on the lower side of the charcoal base which is different than the 18C as the 18C features the overall intake vent placed on the bottom of the cooker and is controlled by a ‘pull-in’/’pull-out’ handle. Asides from that, the tallness of the 14D is an advantage. With the 18C, it is shorter and things like ribs and big briskets can hang too close to the fire*.
* – A stainless steel extension kit for the Barrel House Cooker 18C was created in 2018. I received one and use it to this day. It works fantastically well in order to keep food further away from the fuel/heat source. However, for the time being, the extension kit has been discontinued and it is not being made, much to the chagrin of new users who are having to cut their ribs in half in order to hang them in the 18C cookers. Hopefully Noah and PBC will listen to all the collective requests being mentioned by users who do not have possession of the original extension kit, because it is a necessity to use one from where I stand.
I appreciate that Barrel House Cookers are still going to be produced going forward. They are exceptional cookers and I recommend them to everyone who is looking into buying a drum smoker. Perhaps now, PBC and BHC users can come together and enjoy the discussion of great barbecue rather than engaging in any types of pseudo-rivalries that could come about in a heated discussion over ‘which cooker is better’. It is all about sharing the love and creation of good grub, no matter how you see it.
I saw the name on social media and knew I had to check them out. It is only naturally, given that my handle features ‘Grizzly’ in it that I would check out a brand with bear in the name. I contacted the person, or the people, behind the brand to let them know my intention of giving their products a go.
One thing about brand new barbecue brands like this is that, when they first begin, a lot of them send out their sauces to certain big wigs in the barbecue community, not only for feedback but for the ‘big wigs’ to help spread the word of the new brand in order to help their marketing efforts for the said brand to become more prominent in the world of social media.
For the record, Bear Smoke BBQ did not supply me with these sauces. I ordered two of them on my own volition, fueled by the motivation to give them a fair shot of my own, much like I did for Reload Rub when they first arrived to the party in the summer of 2017.
I ordered two sauces and a t-shirt on a Friday evening. Immediately upon ordering, I contacted the person (or people) behind Bear Smoke BBQ to let them know of my overwhelming excitement to try their sauces. To my surprise, the owner of the brand had already boxed up my order virtually by the time I had contacted them, and it was ready to go in the mail! This was close to 10 p.m. I was blown away by the quick response to my order. The Bear Smoke BBQ owner stated that he usually boxed up all the orders during the mornings, but since they were still awake at such an hour, they went ahead and fulfilled my order. I appreciated that.
By the following Monday, my order had already made it to my local post office and was available for pickup. No surprise, since Bear Smoke BBQ — to me — is basically a local company with them being based out of Charlotte while I’m in southwest Virginia (only about a three and a half hour distance apart).
The two sauces I ordered from Bear Smoke BBQ:
— Bear Smoke Recipe No. 1: Everyday BBQ Sauce Description from the site: “Bear Sauce Recipe No. 1 is our take on traditional BBQ sauce with a mix of Texas, Kansas City, Memphis and Eastern and Western Carolina style sauces all wrapped into one. Hand crafted in small batches to ensure quality in every bottle.”
— Cam Cam Chipotle BBQ Sauce Description from the site: “Previously known as our Chipotle or Grizzly Sauce. This is a chipotle version of the Bear Smoke No. 1 Sauce infused with chipotle pepper to give this sauce just enough extra heat and smokiness to stand out in the crowd. Cam Cam Chipotle Sauces was a collaboration between myself and Campbell, my oldest daughter, so in return for her contribution to the sauce, all profits from this sauce will go to the charity of her choosing.” That’s nice.
The first of the two sauces I tried was the Cam Cam Chipotle barbecue sauce. How could I not? Asides from the fact that I always relish the prospect of adding any kind of spice to virtually all my meals, there was no way in the world I could pass up the opportunity to try out a sauce given that its name was once known as ‘Grizzly Sauce’ once upon a time. Grizzly Troy had to give the once-known Grizzly Sauce a shot.
With the smoked chuck roast I posted about previously, I tossed some in a plate along with a heaping dollop of Bear Smoke’s Cam Cam Chipotle sauce and gave it a try. The consistency of the sauce is not too runny and not too thick. Perhaps a perfect balance in a sauce. I don’t mind a sticky sweet sauce, but when it comes to barbecue sauces in general, I always prefer something smooth and dip-worthy.
In the first couple of bites of the Cam Cam Chipotle sauce, I didn’t detect any heat, but I definitely tasted the chipotle pepper note right off the bat. As for heat detection, I wasn’t expecting it, as chipotle pepper — to my tastebuds — is more mild than a regular jalapeno, but what I noticed after a few more tastes is that the heat began to build and settled into a comfortable level of spice that pleasantly lingered on my tastebuds as I continued eating.
I really appreciate the presence of the chipotle pepper flavor in this, well, chipotle-based barbecue sauce. It isn’t an overwhelming ingredient that dominates it to the point of making the base of the barbecue sauce unrecognizable. It is a prominent note in the flavor, yes, but it is there with enough purpose without overpowering the entire sauce, if that makes sense. It is a really natural flavor, too, so it doesn’t taste like it was infused with some cheap extract that may be in the usual run of the mill mainstream barbecue sauces at your local grocery store. You can tell that the person, or people, behind Bear Smoke BBQ worked hard to create this one and went through thorough testing to get it right. This is what I enjoy about small batch products, especially in the realm of barbecue, because the people involved are going to put their personal time and effort into creating the highest quality product they can concoct.
So, Cam Cam Chipotle is a win for me. It will definitely be a staple in my cabinet of sauces for the foreseeable future. I can’t wait to give it a try on chicken wings, as I feel that the natural flavor of the chipotle peppers is going to lend themselves to grilled wings in the future when I throw them down on my Weber kettle.
As for the Bear Smoke Recipe No .1: Everyday BBQ sauce? I gave it a go shortly after trying the Cam Cam Chipotle sauce, which may have been a mistake. Remember, I have a natural proclivity to prefer spice in my food, so when I gave the Everyday BBQ sauce a try, I knew better than to expect spice. Keep in mind that the Everyday BBQ sauce features the same base as the Cam Cam Chipotle sauce, but it is more palatable and easy on those guests who prefer little spice in their sauce.
Lacking the chipotle pepper flavor in the Everyday BBQ sauce, it features the same smooth texture that the Cam Cam Chipotle sauce does. It is rich in flavor and delivers a nice, complementary hit to food. This is going to be the one that I serve my friends and family going forward in the next couple of barbecues I host. I imagine that it is going to be well received on an upcoming cook of a big batch of pork spare ribs that I plan on smoking for a friends-and-family get-together. However, between the two sauces that I ordered, the Cam Cam Chipotle is unabashedly my favorite because I cannot under-emphasize the beautiful way that Bear Smoke BBQ incorporated the chipotle peppers as an ingredient in it.
In total, Bear Smoke BBQ features five barbecue sauces to choose from: Everyday BBQ sauce, Cam Cam Chipotle, Swine Sauce (North Carolina vinegar style BBQ sauce), Sticky Sweet (a thicker version of the Everyday BBQ sauce) and S.C. Mustard.
I would like to try the other sauces soon, although I’m not crazy about vinegar-based barbecue sauces, so I may save the Swine Sauce for last to try.
Bear Smoke BBQ also features three hot sauces:
— M.C. Hot Sauce Description from the site: “8 pepper hot sauce aged with the finest toasted Hungarian Oak. Yes, the same toasted oak that some of the world’s finest wines are made with. Hand crafted in small batches to ensure the finest quality.”
— Meesh Bear Pepper Sauce (a whopping $15.99 price point — yikes) Description from the site: “This hand crafted limited edition sauce is made in small batches of only 12 bottles at a time. Meesh Bear is a thick Roasted Red Pepper base touched with a speck of Heat, Mint and other ecret ingredients; it is the perfect compliment to almost everything. We recommend it to be served with Lamb, Chicken, Steak or Salmon.”
— Angry Bear Hot Sauce Description from the site: “This Hot Sauce is made with 10 different peppers including the 3 hottest peppers in the world — the Carolina Reaper Peppers, Chocolate Bhutlah Peppers and Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Peppers along with 7 other peppers for added flavor layers, that is if you still have a tongue left after trying it.”
I would definitely like to try out the Angry Bear hot sauce in the future. It sounds delicious and packed with enough heat to satisfy my tastebuds’ addiction to a high level of uncomfortable spiciness.
All in all, based on the two sauces I have tried up to this juncture, I feel comfortable in recommending Bear Smoke BBQ sauces on here as an official mode of advocacy. The Everyday BBQ sauce is a fantastic general barbecue sauce that is sure to please not only your tastebuds, but the palates of your hungry guests as well. The Cam Cam Chipotle sauce is also another one that you could get away with serving most guests, as well, since the level of heat will not overpower them (in my opinion) unless they have a natural aversion to a mild level of spiciness.
To end this post, I have to admit that I can’t help but feel a level of disappointment. Bear Smoke BBQ, the new brand, recently released its list of ten chosen brand ambassadors, and they did not choose me. At the very least, I was not contacted. I am rather dumbfounded by this, to be honest, because I have to say… consider the match-up. I am Grizzly BBQ. They are Bear Smoke BBQ. I am based out of swVA while they are a mere few hours away in Charlotte, NC. Asides from the relevant bear names apparent in both of our brand titles, our values in the realm of barbecue appear to link up well. Furthermore, I have a larger social following than half of their ten chosen brand ambassadors. I can’t help but raise an eyebrow over this. Not to mention, I can’t help but speculate that the parties chosen were given sauces to review and post about, while I shelled money out of my own pocket to support the company and freely advertise them before I could verify if the sauces were up to snuff. It is simply bewildering. I can’t help but also mention that I am the only person on the entire internet to write a review of any of the sauces on a website, but I suppose that is neither here nor there.
I just feel like there was a monumental opportunity missed out of shortsightedness, but I digress.
I will continue to support Bear Smoke BBQ, as I believe in supporting small companies, and I will only ever support companies featuring products that I believe to be of high quality. That goes for every product I use and post about in my recipes that I have featured and will continue to post about on here. I am excited to feature Bear Smoke BBQ sauces in my future recipes on Grizzly BBQ. In the meantime, you can check out all the products that Bear Smoke BBQ has to offer here.
The next morning, I fired up one of my drum smokers, my Barrel House Cooker 18C, with a combination of Kingsford’s charcoal briquettes, two chunks of hickory wood and two chunks of pecan wood, and when the smoker’s internal temperature gauge read 200, I added the four pieces of chuck roast to the middle grate and closed it up. This was at around 9 in the morning.
The reason I added the chuck roasts to the cooker at 200 rather than waiting for the temperature to rise even further is because I wanted to go ahead and allow them to hit some smoke, as the heat was coming up quite nicely, and the actual temperature of the middle of the grate was probably at 250 degrees since it was closer to the fire source. In a drum smoker, the cooking environment is hotter than other smokers since one is typically not using a water pan, so there is no type of heat deflector between the meat and the cooking source.
Just take a look at the bark on this smoked chuck roast!
I began checking my temperatures at around three hours into this cook. However, the total cook time was about five and a half to six hours, as I finally removed all four pieces of the chuck roast at about 2:30 p.m. when the internal temperatures of the pieces of meat were reading 200-204 degrees by that time.
I allowed the meat to rest for fifteen minutes before slicing it up like a brisket and subsequently cutting it up into bite size pieces. This was by far and away the juiciest chuck roast I have ever smoked up to this point. Serve on a bun, eat by itself or make tacos with it, like I did.
However, another item that was marked down was not only chicken leg quarters for $.55 cents/lb, but chicken thighs for $.50 cents/lb. I picked up a pack of the ground chuck, the chicken leg quarters and chicken thighs. Upon making it back home, with time to spare for the day, I fired up my vertical offset smoker with intentions of only smoking the chicken leg quarters and thighs.
In order to cook hot-and-fast in an offset smoker, you want both your intake and exhaust vents wide open. When I began this particular cook, I filled up a big charcoal chimney with original Kingsford charcoal briquettes, using two lighter cubes, and waited about 20-25 minutes for the coals to completely ash over before dumping them into my firebox. Directly afterwards, I added a log of hickory wood, a log of cherry wood and an extra chunk — chunks that I typically only use in my Weber Smokey Mountain and both Barrel House Cookers — of cherry wood.
It didn’t take long for the smoker to fire up to 350 degrees as the wood caught fire pretty quickly, and this is when I added the chicken leg quarters and thighs. After around 35 to 40 minutes, I probed each piece of the chicken with a meat thermometer and they were all in the 170-180 range (perfect for dark meat chicken) and removed them from the pit. By this time, my smoker’s temperature gauge was still reading 325 degrees, and I didn’t want to close it up and choke the fire just yet, and as I was considering what I wanted to do next, a voice inside my head emitted, “Burgers, Troy! Burgers!”
Some may consider it a sin straight out of the grilling and barbecue Bible to cook burgers in any other way than on a scorching hot cast iron pan, a flat top griddle surface or directly over a fire in a grill, so forgive me for this sin, but if it is a sin, I recommend you try committing this sin as well, because it is a delicious act of barbecue blasphemy if I have ever tasted one. Now, I love grilled burgers and smash burgers cooked on my griddle as much as the next pseudo-pitmaster and burger fanatic, but smoked burgers should have a place in the hierarchy of barbecue directories.
I have heard detractors of smoked burgers speak of their firm thoughts and feelings about how burgers should be cooked directly on a hot pan or over a fire, as they will defend this traditional method of cooking by stating that smoking will dry out a burger. My retort to this would be to say that their point of view is only valid if you are smoking burgers that feature a fat content of more than 80%. Remember: I had just purchased a fresh pack of 27% fat ground beef.
With a high fat content, unless you allow a burger to sit in your smoker for longer than an hour, it is next to impossible to dry it out. You would have to blatantly try your best to dry it out.
When I form my patties in order to shape ground beef into a burger, I form a ball and rarely measure it out. I usually make bigger burger patties than most people, because not only will a great deal of fat render from such a high percentage of it embedded in the ground beef, I am biased in favor of bigger burgers, especially one that will fit on a nice sized bun, like a brioche bun, which is what I ate this smoked burger on. Anyhow, after I form a ball, using both hands I smash it flat into a circle to the best my abilities (arguably questionable ones at that) and form multiple dimples underneath and on top of the burger to account for the shrinking that is inevitable when the meat is cooked. I seasoned the burgers on both sides of the surface with Caribeque Big & Bold Beef Rub.
Before I added the burgers to the smoker, I added a smaller log of hickory wood, which bumped my smoker’s temperatures back up to 350 degrees. As for when I ultimately placed the burgers onto the pit, I placed them as close to the fire source as possible. Again, I wanted to smoke these burgers quickly. Another thing that a smoked burger detractor might say is that this is tantamount to cooking a burger in an oven. Well, sure, I will accept that claim, as instead of an oven, the burger is being ‘baked’ in a smoker and infused with delicious smoky notes of heaven. That is not something that should deter anyone from giving this a try.
You could move the burgers further away from the heat source and smoke them longer, but closer to the heat source in my smoker? They cooked to 155 degrees in 20 minutes. They developed a beautiful, red-like color (from the cherry wood, I assume, as it is one of my favorite smoking wood sources for most grub, and it imparts a color I am all too familiar with, with other barbecued food) with a formidable crisp along the edges from being close to the fire.
I topped both burgers with a 4-cheese blend of cheese slices that I picked up from Kroger (their brand), which featured a mix of cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby and mozzarella cheese. On one burger patty, I forgot to top it with cheese while it was still in the smoker, so I added it afterwards, but with the other burger I topped it with cheese while it was still in the pit and closed the lid for 30-45 seconds until it adequately melted.
I must not fail to mention that I had some apple wood smoked bacon sitting in the fridge that I also added to the smoker, so you can consider it ‘double smoked bacon.’ This is something that bacon pundits might holler at me over, saying that bacon should be cooked in its own rendered fat in a pan, but I will ignore them after it is cooked when I devour the salty, smoky piggy sticks of glory.
Consider the above to be a smoked double bacon cheeseburger, held together with a brioche bun.
Don’t write off smoked burgers just because it is an unorthodox cooking style. It is a tasty treat, and not only will your taste buds wind up being pleased with the result, but your family will undoubtedly thank you after they bite into one.