Tag Archive for ‘BBQ’

Back to the Stick Burner for BBQ: Humble Beginnings and a Labor of Love

As I’ve referenced a few times on this site, the first smoker I ever used — the one I learned how to barbecue with — was an vertical Brinkmann Trailmaster offset smoker. It was adopted by myself, as the folks who were kind enough to give it to me had moved on to a horizontal style offset pit while this one was sitting out, experiencing the effects of weathering and the lack of use. It was a tough one to use, because anyone who has ever cooked grub in an offset smoker understands that you must tend to the fire virtually at all times, making sure that your pit isn’t oversmoking with billowing white smoke, chasing the thin, blue smoke perfection of proper cooking that won’t result in your food tasting like bitter, creosote-laden meats.

Nowadays, so many people have switched over to electric smokers or pellet grills, which are as close to set it’n’forget it as one can be, and I can understand why: less hassle. With an electric smoker, you use a smoker tube filled with wood chips to achieve a light smoke flavor. With a pellet grill, you use.. well.. pellets. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I’ve never tasted any food that has been cooked on a pellet grill, despite my curiosity, but I’ve read countless posts on both Instagram and BBQ-dedicated forums where users express a lack of smoke in their grub as it pertains to food made on pellet grills. I can’t speak to that, though, due to my tastebud’s devastating void when it comes to tasting meat smoked on a pellet grill. However, pellet grills must be doing something right, given the popularity of brands like Traeger (which has a huge social following, as the brand appears to pump a ton of money into its marketing endeavors by anointing a myriad of Traeger users as ‘brand ambassadors’), REC TEC, Green Mountain Grills, Pit Boss, etc. I have spent a great deal of time debating on whether or not to save my money for a future pellet grill purchase, but if the rumors are true in regards to the food from them only featuring a light smoke flavor, I’m conflicted as I am a man who enjoys the taste of heavy smoke-infused meats when barbecue is on the brain.

You would think that with the popularity of pellet grills, stick burners would fall to the wayside, but stick burners will never exit the spotlight when it comes to barbecue, because it is tried and true barbecue. It is a labor of love tha hardcore barbecue fanatics delve into, not in an elitist way that denounces the efficacy of other smokers, but because it is a classic, proven method to — when done right — produce incredible barbecue. While there are detractors of pellet grills out there who call ’em ‘pellet poopers’ or ‘outdoor easy bake ovens with a weak hint of wood smoke,’ stick burner faithfuls are in the game due to their love of traditional barbecue, and I don’t fault anybody for that.

The only reason I stopped using my Brinkmann Trailmaster is because it rusted so badly that holes were formed. I’m not a welder, and I might as well be the least craftiest man on the planet, so that ended my run with it. I subsequently bought a 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain and eventually purchased my Barrel House Cookers, all the while occasionally barbecuing with my Weber kettle, but I never spent a day without missing my stick burner.

Yesterday, I added a new member of my grill/smoker family. A long-time family friend upgraded to an electric smoker long ago, and he had placed his old horizontal offset stick burner in his garage. It was wasting away, as it was being unused, and for him (as he stated) it was in the way, and he offered it to me. I could only utter an emphatic, “YES.”

After impatiently waiting, he delivered it. It had rust on it, and the grates were filthy, but I fired it up with some cheap Kingsford match light charcoal and some wood I had lying around, to see how it would run, with the intake and damper vents wide open, and it reached 700 degrees. I tossed the grates into the scorching hot fire that I built in my fire pit before scrubbing them down and ensuingly rubbing them with cooking oil. The additional reason I fired the pit up to 700 degrees, asides from seeing how it would run, was to sanitize the inside of the cooker. It leaked smoke from the lid, but that’s alright. I’ll roll with it that way for a while, but eventually I will invest in a gasket kit to line the lid to prevent smoke from leaking so heavily. After the fire cooled and I removed some ash, I used a can of Rustoleum to rid the smoker of the rust that had been built up.

It’s all ready for its first Grizzly BBQ smoke session, which I plan on throwing down some ribs soon enough. As for bigger cuts like pork butts and brisket, I’ll stick with my WSM and Barrel House Cookers for the time being, but I can’t wait to finally get back to tasting the amazing flavor that a stick burner provides, starting with the ribs, and then I’ll move onto other favorites like chicken wings and thighs, as well as bacon-wrapped cheese stuffed jalapenos (or, er, poppers).

Are you a stick burner fan, or do you find that tending to the fire is tedious and aggravating, preferring the set it’n’forget it route? Let me know in the comments!

Poorly Chosen Brand Ambassadors in the Instagram BBQ Community

I should learn to keep my mouth shut before I become somewhat of a pariah in the Instagram barbecue community, a community that I dearly love due to the amazing amount of people I have met on there during my time posting since 2017. That lesson of learning to keep my trap shut will have to happen another time, because I have another bone to pick with the outdoor cookin’ community on Instagram (here’s the first post). At this risk of sounding like an entitled brat (and I will sound that way; don’t worry — I’ll admit it because I’m aware of exactly what it is), I’m going to drone on for a few minutes. Bear with ol’ Grizz for a few minutes.

There are companies I have shown clear biases in favor of when it comes to the barbecue/outdoor cookin’ community on Instagram. Chief among them is Caribeque. When I first delved into barbecue, the first business with rubs/seasonings — outside of the Weber seasonings you can pick up at virtually every grocery store in the United States — I ever used were ones by Caribeque. First, it was Honey Heat, and then the All Purpose rub that Kurt Halls (the creator of Caribeque) dropped in July 2017, and later that year I gave the Big & Bold Beef rub a shot. They are all incredible rubs that I use regularly. I support Kurt and his vision for Caribeque, because not only are the rubs amazing (and so is the Caribeque Honey Heat Smack Sauce), Kurt is an awesome, down to earth guy who is all about throwing down delicious grub and sharing that grub-concocting work with others around the world on Instagram.

But this post has nothing to do with Kurt or Caribeque. I only mention Caribeque as a precursor to say this: I only will ever use products I truly believe in and actually use. I will never use a product in my cooking that I think sucks, because why else would I? I don’t want to eat something featuring a rub that sucks, and neither does anybody else. I only endorse what I truly believe to be high quality as confirmed by my tastebuds.

In July 2017, a new start-up small business joined the barbecue world: Reload Rub & Seasoning. I remember the very first time I ever even heard of that name; one of my favorite members of the barbecue Instagram family, @bigjohns_bbq AKA John, posted a video using the rub in a pre-release video. I can only surmise that the creators of the rub sent out the product to various folks on Instagram to test it out. “Sweet,” I thought. I was curious, so I did some digging for some background as to what the hell this new rub was about. Fully Loaded, Reload’s first seasoning, is an all purpose rub purported to be delicious on everything, especially eggs (it is). In my quick research, I noticed that the company is based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m from southwest Virginia, which is only a couple of hours away from Knoxville, and not only that, I was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, which is only a little over an hour and a half away from where Reload Rub & Seasoning is based out of!”

I think the company officially launched on July 7, 2017. Based on such reasons of location, the desire to support a brand new company as a method of giving a new product a shot and derived from Big John’s praise of the new rub, I woke up that morning and placed an order for a bottle of it (I still have my order confirmation from when I ordered my first bottle at 9:55 a.m. on that day). I would bet an inordinate amount of cash that I was one of the first twenty people to place an order… to place an order of a rub that I had never tried before, from a brand new company whose product could either be hit or miss!

And so the order arrived a couple of days later (hey, the luck and privilege of living close by) and I posted about it immediately. Again, keep in mind, I bought it only going by the reasons mentioned. There were no official reviews other than ones dished out by those who received free pre-release bottles.

Reload Fully Loaded

Reload Rub & Seasoning Fully Loaded

Reload Rub & Seasoning Fully Loaded with kielbasa, peppers and onions.The first thing I tried Reload Rub’s Fully Loaded on was, as you can see, kielbasa with peppers and onions! It was delicious.

A few days later, I hit up some burgers with it. Amazing. The first time I ever used my 36″ Blackstone griddle a month later, when I screwed up and forgot to properly season it first due to my extreme excitement to test out the flat top cookin’ station, I made burgers with Fully Loaded!

I was hooked. Reload Rub’s Fully Loaded is a delicious, mouthwatering blend that is dominant in sea salt, garlic, onion and paprika among other spices. I became a proud fan overnight, or immediately upon the use of it as my tastebuds were met with a dose of deliciousness in every bite with any food I used it with.

Towards the end of 2017, Reload Rub & Seasoning announced their second rub. Double Action. It is sweet and smoky. I ordered it on release day. Another hit by the small business. In May 2018, out comes their third rub: Packin’ Heat! Another release day buy by yours truly. It might be my favorite from the line given that I’m a lite chilihead and love spicy food. It is amazing on everything, especially fries! Their most recent release dropped in late 2018: High Caliber — it is a chipotle garlic rub. I bet you can’t guess that I also ordered it on its release day! It is fantastic on wings and burgers, but I’m also sure that it’s spectacular on everything.

Everything Joel and Stacy — the creators behind Reload — create under the Reload Rub & Seasoning label is money.

Reload Rub & Seasoning Hat
When they dropped the first Reload Rub apparel — the Army green t-shirt — I bought it. The hat? Well, take a look above! I bought it!

Reload Rub’s seasonings, to this day, is only second to Caribeque’s rubs/seasonings when it comes to what I’m tossing on my food. If it ain’t Caribeque, then you would have the odds in your favor if you are betting on my use of Reload.

Last summer, Reload Rub & Seasoning began advertising for their ‘Reload Squad’, basically looking to find brand ambassadors for their rub. All one needed to do was email them with an explanation as to why they should be part of the Reload Squad. I think one of the perks included with being part of the Reload Squad involves a big get-together in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is a place I’ve been to at least a hundred times in my life, given that I used to get up early in the mornings with my family, go down there for the day and come back home in one day’s time. I emailed them my application on August 30, 2018.

Hey guys,

This is grizzly_troy from Instagram. My case for being partnered up with you guys goes way back to July of last year, when you released the first Reload rub: Fully Loaded. Prior to its launch, 'Big' John Anselmo, one of my favorite people from the Instagram food family, posted using your rub while using his outdoor flattop griddle. I was intrigued. I trust the people I highly respect from the 'Q-munity, so the very first day you guys launched your product (at the time a singular one), I bought it, no questions asked. This rub became love at first taste for me.

If you have noticed, I usually am using only a few rubs (in rotation) most of the time when I make a post, and 99.9% of the time it comes down to Caribeque and Reload. I also snagged both Double Action and Packin' Heat on the days they were launched, because my affinity for the rubs was evident from the get-go. I knew that they, too, would be excellent, and they are.

You guys know me by my username handle, but I think you also know that I am very close by you guys. I'm in Richlands, Virginia which is only a couple of hours away from Knoxville. I was actually born in Tennessee (Johnson City) and I'm frequently through those parts (a big reason is because this area here in southwest Virginia is weak in things to do, honestly). The Grizzly Troy handle is for two reasons: I'm a fairly big, hairy dude (Greek/Italian genetics?) and, well, the gray hair. In addition to my Instagram page, I have a work-in-progress site over at http://grizzlytroy.com

That's what you do know, as well as the fact that your rubs have flavored the hell out of my food tenfold. I'm 27-years-old (yeah, the salt'n'pepper hair can fool people) and I'm just about to get my bachelor's degree in business administration in December from King University. I'm always on the go. I have a fair amount of personal marketing experience on the web, mainly in writing, from all the blogs I've delved into over the years.

The biggest thing that I feel I bring to the table is that I am a genuine, keep-it-real kind of 'feller'. I only use products that I truly believe in. I don't spew nonsense to my followers or have I ever tried to promote or sell anything that is not an extension of my beliefs. I'm passionate about food, flavor and community. I believe in building and sustaining relationships, and I'd like to believe that I am capable of representing Reload Rub with gusto. The close proximity to where the magic is made over in Knoxville, my place here in the mountains of southwest Virginia and that same passion for food and flavor that I just described above is my strongest case for this. I am also not afraid to get in front of the camera and talk, which you can see on my page. I would like to eventually set up a YouTube channel if I can get into a groove.

No, I don't have several thousands of followers, but I only hopped into the cookin' community on Instagram last summer, shortly before Reload launched. At the time, I barely had any followers and now I'm just a couple hundred away from a thousand. These are all genuine followers who I believe in connecting and engaging with. I will never, ever buy followers like so many on social media do. What reloads me? I'm an active, caffeine junkie of a man who enjoys being outdoors, often no matter the time of the year. Being a part of the Reload Squad, for me, seems about as natural of a fit as there can be, like wings and beer or even burgers and Fully Loaded.

I think it was in late September or early October when Reload announced their Reload Squad. I’m going to sound like the most entitled idiot in the world, so forgive me dearly here, but I thought that I was a shoe-in. I was one of the very first people to buy it on its launch day (without even trying), tirelessly supporting the brand with posts and purchases of each subsequent rub on its launch day, buying seasonings to pass out to friends and family, bragging about how excellent it is, conversing with Reload regularly, featuring the rubs in various videos, etc. Furthermore, the Reload brand is rooted in outdoor activities, especially hunting (hence the name ‘Reload’); I’m not a hunter but I’ve expressed explicit support for hunting, because 1.) venison and elk is delicious (to name two things), and 2.) there are too many deer roaming around here, causing vehicular accidents. If that’s not enough, I’m closer to Knoxville than the Reload Squad members that were chosen (except for maybe one or two), and southwest Virginia is a rural, agricultural haven for hunting.

Needless to say, Reload Rub & Seasoning goofed up by passing me by. I was not selected as part of the Reload Squad. Initially, I was deeply hurt by being picked over, because I felt like yours truly and Reload was (is) a match made in heaven for all the exceptionally valid reasons I’ve mentioned throughout this entire post. I expressed this discontent with a close friend who said, “They flubbed up. You will have better, more prosperous opportunities in the future.” (In trying to keep this site a bit clean, they used a different F-word other than ‘flubbed’).

I began rationalizing their ultimate lackluster choice, however, by considering one big factor: I had under a thousand followers on Instagram. Perhaps if I had a couple of thousand followers, they would have chose me. It is a no-brainer that any company on Instagram who chooses brand ambassadors wants to bring on members with a decent amount of followers due to the desire for such members to post about and bring attention to the brand, but I’ve also witnessed Instagrammers with less followers than me become brand ambassadors for other companies. I have no interest in playing some sketchy ‘game’ on Instagram. I’m in it for the long haul by accruing followers the old fashioned way; I refuse to ever pay for followers or engage in fishy tactics to increase my follower account other than by building genuine relationships and honest networking.

Still yet, I parted with all the salty feelings I felt because I felt ridiculous to feel so entitled despite what I feel to be valid reasons, foolish or not on my behalf.

Let me not forget to mention that perhaps it was a positive thing I was not chosen, because my life became exceedingly difficult in November of 2018, when my mother had a stroke. A minor stroke in a major region of her brain, something that she is still dealing with the side effects from over seven months later as she slowly, but surely, heals. This naturally coincided with me posting less and, shortly after, I spent half a year away from the ‘gram. I would have made a terrible brand ambassador during that time, to be frank, because of my absence, even though I was still using Reload in my cooking multiple times a week. I want to express deep appreciation for Kurt from Caribeque, Chuck (@c_train707), Ron (@cptnron302), Wes (@sunnysidebeachesbbq) and Jimmy (@borderbangerbbq) for reaching out to me over my time away to check in with me to see how things are doing.

This has nothing to do with wanting anything for free. I can buy my own Reload Rub products just fine, as I have. This is more-so about wanting to be part of the Reload family as I find myself to be a natural fit (hence my use of the saying, ‘a match made in heaven’ a few paragraphs back) for the business as a natural brand ambassador due to my outdoors loving background, the location to where I live in close proximity to Knoxville as well as my legitimate love for the rubs/seasonings and what the company stands for. I’m as natural of a fit to that family as salt & pepper is to a smoked beef brisket.

Anyhow, when I saw the final Reload Squad roster that was announced, I had an audible laugh that escaped out loud.

You see, again, Reload is rich with patriotic pride and outdoor hobbies (once again — hunting included) in its brand. When I saw the roster, most of the members chosen to be their brand ambassadors fit that mold, which is excellent — something I have no qualms with — and the same choices I would have made if I were Joel and Stacy, because if you look at their Squad roster, you will see it littered with hunters and/or outdoorsmen/outdoorswomen. Perfect choices.

However, my chief complaint lies in the fact that one of their members is… is… is from New Jersey. Who, wait, what, huh? Exsqueeze me? I took a look at this person’s Instagram; there’s no mention of Reload Rub in their Instagram bio, and I took three minutes to quickly peruse their last 60 (!!!) posts and saw that Reload is only mentioned three times. Obviously it would be shortsighted to only ever use one rub in each dish (one of my favorite combinations when making smashburgers on my Blackstone griddle is to use Caribeque Big & Bold on the burgers and Reload Rub Fully Loaded on the caramelized onions and mushrooms), but this is a supposed brand ambassador — a city slicker who seemingly is bereft of outdoor hobby-related activities — who hardly ever posts about the brand.

But I get it. I’m no dummy. I understand how things operate. This person has ever 17 times the followers I do, so obviously they were chosen due to being a big name in the community, but my annoyance over this selection is rooted in the fact that everything about them, asides from being involved in culinary ventures, is the antithesis of everything the Reload brand allegedly stands for. It is like Jess Pryles from Hardcore Carnivore asking a vegan to be a brand ambassador. I’ve struggled to make sense of this selection other than summing it up by the company wanting to use a random popular big name to pump out the fine name of Reload Rub & Seasoning. Despite that New Jersey native’s massive following, I would bet every penny from my checking account that I have influenced and sold more people on Reload’s products than them by virtue of my own genuine passion and excitement for the brand’s culinary friendly goodness.

I’m not attacking that person’s character by any means; I’m only stating the glaringly obvious from my perspective, biased or not. That person has a wonderful page with photos of delicious food and homemade recipes featuring products that are easily accessible rather than obscure items. They are a fantastic asset to the Instagram cooking community as a whole because of their contributions. However, from what I can tell, they have nothing in common with anything the Reload Rub & Seasoning brand stands for other than a desire to cook (which everybody in the community inherently has), and their fit in the family is very much like a beef brisket in a crockpot. I also have a sneaking suspicion that they did not even send an application to be a part of the Reload Squad but rather Reload contacted them due to their big following, but I definitely could be wrong and I’m willing to admit it as soon as I find out if that is the case, if I ever do.

Signing up a city slicker as part of a rural, outdoors-heavy brand is like me — little ol’ small town, rural southwest Virginia livin’ Troy — being a brand ambassador for a BBQ company from New York City whose brand’s personality is rooted in living up in the expensive streets of NYC. Fits like a round peg in a square hole.

Yes, I’m being unabashedly judgmental, but I find every bit of this to be valid. I find that ‘Squad’ member choice to be disingenuous.

I learned the majority of what I know about business from my late father. He owned a business selling coal mining parts in Oakwood, Virginia. He believed in genuine honesty and creating long-lasting relationships with customers. He conducted a great deal of his business at mining sites in Kentucky who ordered a horde of parts from him; he would often thank them by buying them bourbon and tickets to Kentucky Wildcats college basketball games. He believed in expressing unfettered appreciation via such means. Maybe I’m old fashioned and look at the bigger picture of things rather than quick solutions or short-term goals that are temporary and tantamount to a fart in the wind in the end.

Keep in mind that I’m writing this post while wearing Reload’s latest t-shirt, comically enough. I love the company and have an overwhelming love for both Joel & Stacy for being good-hearted people who created my second favorite line of rubs/seasonings in the world with Reload, but it’s just another bone I have to pick with the community at large. I still use their products weekly due to my extreme enjoyment of them.

I considered scrapping this post altogether, but this has been stewing in the back of my mind for nine months. If you think I’m over my head and these qualms are ridiculous, feel free to let me know, because I know how outrageously entitled I sound. I’m fully aware of that, but I still feel that way, anyhow. I’d rather be transparent as myself.

In relation to my last post in regards to having a bone to pick with the Instagram barbecue community, I understand that everyone is trying to make a name for themselves in the game. Businesses want to expand, make more money and grow their brand as much as humanly possible.

Give me authenticity all day, every day. There’s so much crap that goes on in the outdoor cooking community on Instagram that turns me sour. I want to once again emphasize that I’m not spiteful. Aggrieved? Absolutely. Jaded? You bet. Envious? Damn straight. Overly entitled? Too much so. Confused? Oh, you know it — over 4500 words of confusion in the word vomit blurted into this post.

I love Reload Rub & Seasoning. Go buy some, because their rubs are amazing and among the best the world has to offer.
————————————————–
Potential retorts to what I’ve written above:

Jeez, Troy, you shouldn’t just expect a brand to make you an ambassador just because you post about them a lot on social media; besides, your follower count doesn’t lend itself towards being a marketing powerhouse or anything.

Those are fair points. However, I have an argument against the first part of that, in regards to the ‘not expecting a brand to make you an ambassador because you post about them often on social media.’ I didn’t make my case to be a brand ambassador just because I post about products a lot. I love Kurt and his Caribeque brand, but I don’t expect him to ever reach out to me and ask to be a brand ambassador, because he is in Tampa, Florida; I’m in southwest Virginia. His seasoning/rub company is called, “Caribeque” and is entrenched in the ideas of promoting ‘authentic flavors from the Caribbean islands’ (from the About page on the Caribeque website). Yeah… Caribeque is number one in my heart as far as the best rubs in the world go, but I’m Grizzly Troy, a rugged a hairy son of a gun from the country in southwest Virginia; while I would emphatically say, “YES!” if Kurt came to me and asked if I were interested in becoming a brand ambassador for Caribeque (because I genuinely believe his rubs are top notch and the best I’ve ever used, hence why I talk about them so often in addition to using them almost every day of the week in my culinary journeys, not to mention my strong belief in Caribeque and its values), I would never think one way or another if he never did, because there is nothing even remotely ‘Caribbean’ about myself other than my love for food, Caribbean dishes included.

Reload, on the other hand, was founded on the ideals of the outdoors, rural retreats, living out in the country and being in the sunshine among friends family while engaging in delicious food via its seasonings/rubs in the act of cookin’ while enjoying the nature-packed activities of the world. Reload is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. East Tennessee. I’m in southwest Virginia. We are neighbors. I genuinely love their products and believe in their vision as a company. I believe I have made a solid case as to why they missed the mark by passing over me.

As for my follower count, I appreciate everyone who follows me. While I am interested in growing the Grizzly BBQ brand, I prefer building authentic, long-lasting relationships and connections with those who follow me and who I follow in return versus having a super high follower count that I would have a hollow bond with. All I’m saying is that it would have been a perfect match for Reload to bring me onto the squad, and I don’t think I’m wrong by saying such a thing given all the aforementioned reasons.

This post reeks of entitlement. You are better than that, Troy.

This is also a fair point, and I’m typically the last person to express entitlement in any way, because I know how you have to earn everything you chase after in life, but I’ve blatantly stated over and over and over again in this post that it would reek of entitlement, so if you have chosen to read this far, to go that deep into my inane rambling, not only do I appreciate it, but I can’t help but emit the words, “Well, you knew what you were getting into.”

I’ve gone back and forth in my head as to whether or not I should post this.

If you post this, be sure to know whether or not you are OK with burning bridges.

What? I told one of my close friends about this post the other day, about how I was thinking of posting it, and that’s what they told me. I’m not burning any bridges. The Reload Squad was chosen almost a year ago and I’ve still been using Reload’s rubs virtually nonstop since that time.

Joel and Stacy, I love you guys. I’m not interested in burning any bridges whatsoever. Your rubs are incredible and I’ll continue to support the both of you and your awesome company, regardless of my transparency in these harshly expressed thoughts. I just wish I were part of the Reload Squad. It would have (it would still) mean a lot to me to be a proud, official member of the Reload brand, but regardless, I will still tirelessly support Reload Rub & Seasoning because it is something I avidly use to flavor up my grub.

What about the person you called a city slicker?! You attacked their character!

The person who mentioned the ‘burning bridges’ thing said this. Hey, I don’t mean ‘city slicker’ to be an insult whatsoever, even if it reads like it has undertones to it. That person is an amazing human being who is kind enough to share homemade recipes from their own personal concoctions, and that is phenomenal. However, much like I stated above about how I, a rugged ol’ hairy dude living out in rural southwest Virginia, am tantamount to ‘Caribbean food’ in nature by the same way the carnivore diet has vegan elements to it, somebody who is living out in a metropolitan area, or in the suburbs, of New Jersey is as related to Reload as Michael Jordan was to baseball. Needless to say, Reload and I could be Jordan and the Bulls. Yeah, I said it. The #23 Michael Jordan, too; not the #45.

Why say anything? Why not just move on and stay quiet?

I’ve done so for the last nine months. I can’t stand when things are left unsaid.

Lamb Chops on the Barrel House Cooker (Recipe!)

Freshly smoked lamb chops right out of the Barrel House Cooker 14D.

I never tried lamb until last April. I’m from rural southwest Virginia, and it just isn’t very popular here! This is an agricultural haven in the United States, yet beef and pork reign supreme, and lamb? Good luck finding it unless you find a small business to buy from (shout out to Victoria and Brandon Gent from Appalachian Meats in Lebanon, VA for selling lamb!)

You just need three things
— Lamb chops
The Killer Cook Mediterranean Spice Blend seasoning
— A smoker (I used my Barrel House Cooker 14D)

Instructions
— Optional: I sprayed the lamb chops with duck fat spray as a binder before applying the Mediterranean Spice rub.
— You can use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal; I’ve used both when smoking lamb. For this cook, I just used trusty ol’ Kingsford blue along with a small chunk of cherrywood.
— Fire up the charcoal in a chimney starter (if you don’t have one, I recommend that you purchase one).
— After 20-25 minutes, once the charcoal has turned white hot at the top, dump into the charcoal base of your smoker (if you are using a grill, just cook on indirect heat)
— Allow 15-20 minutes for your smoker to heat up.
— I just had the intake vents on the Barrel House Cooker barely cracked open, although you can leave ’em wide open if you’d like.
— Add the lamb chops to the smoker

This only takes me 25-30 minutes for medium rare lamb. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Just remove, let the meat rest about five minutes and dig in!

The Mediterranean Spice Blend seasoning by The Killer Cook is so good because it is a perfect pairing with lamb. It is a match made in heaven. Of course, I guess that is an obvious statement given the name of the seasoning, but still. You can tell me I’m narrow minded, but it is the only seasoning I trust in using when it comes to lamb because it works so perfectly well with it.

If you can’t get ahold of The Killer Cook’s Mediterranean Spice Blend seasoning for lamb, I highly recommend you try this combo:

— Kosher salt
— Black pepper
— Garlic powder
— Dried rosemary
— Dried oregano
— A dash of paprika

The Mediterranean Spice Blend I keep bragging about features mint, too, so if you can get your hands on some dried mint, add a little bit of it to your lamb seasoning mix.

Frauds in the Barbecue Community on Instagram

Last year, when I posting like a madman on Instagram, slanging and hanging meats in the Barrel House Cooker all spring and summer long in the middle of taking classes for the degree that I finished up back in December, I was approached by one of my closest friends in the barbecue community over on the ‘gram. Ron. Captain Ron! (@cptnron302) He asked me if I would like to join his private messaging group where each member of the said group would send their posts to the group chat and each member involved would click like and leave a comment. The reason behind this idea is that the likes and comments would boost the posts and allow them to be seen.

The Instagram algorithm is a little shaky, because people with a small following may have posts that won’t show up on someone’s feed due to a low number of likes and comments. Being involved in this group would yield a higher chance of one’s posts being seen, introducing more likes, comments and ensuing followers.

It worked. My posts started receiving traffic they never had before.

The problem? I have genuine love for Ron and a few others in the group for being authentic, down to earth people with a knack for outdoor cooking, but there are two members of that particular group who didn’t care to follow the unofficial ‘rules’ of the chat, because they wouldn’t like or comment on everyone in the group’s posts. I won’t name any names, but this was frustrating to me. I considered sending Ron a one-on-one message to discuss this discrepancy I felt, but I figured there’s no use. I was involved in the group not only to help myself but to help the others, especially Ron, because he’s a nice, generous guy who will not hesitate to like and comment on your posts, and he throws down some seriously good lookin’, delicious grub. There were others in this group that I held (hold) in the same regard as Ron for similar reasons. The two other members who are the antithesis of everything that little group stands for? They are the plague of the community, in my mind.

Why post in the barbecue community on Instagram? “I want to make a name for myself.” Some people just want to post photos of their gorgeous, mouthwatering food every couple of weeks, but by and large, most people who are posting want to create a social presence with their posts and make a name for themselves, attracting advertisers and companies who may hire them to become social influencers or brand ambassadors. I would be blatantly lying if I told you I did not have such intentions. I have culinary-related business goals. I want to turn Grizzly BBQ into a full-blown business, but I also want to genuinely network, reciprocate any love I receive and add value to people’s lives if I can help it.

Far too many people are out there who are feeders rather than givers. They’ll feed on the likes and comments they receive, but they pick and choose who they give their likes and comments to, and I resent that greatly. I can’t help but roll my eyes when I see the two aforementioned members from the above paragraph go and like/comment on one of the bigger accounts in the barbecue community. They’ll slobber all over the big names who have 10,000+ followers, yet they’ll scroll on past other accounts with a smaller amount of followers. I know this happens because the proof is in the pudding. You’ll see them out there posting comments on every big name account’s posts as they pass yours by. It is difficult to not feel a varying level resentment over that kind of crap.

I don’t have a big account; I have less than a thousand followers, but I do have a passion for what I do (outdoor cooking), I enjoy sharing my photos with the world and wield an extreme appreciation and high level of gratitude for every like and comment that I receive.

I just find it annoying when these selfish individuals come out of the woodwork for their own personal gain. It would be beautiful if we (we as in the barbecue community as a whole) gave back to one another, working together to selflessly promote one another and harnessed that in the community. I have so much love and respect for some of the big name members of the barbecue community who like and comment on my posts, because they don’t have to. They have no reason to. There’s no gain for them to like and comment on my posts other than to create and sustain a real, genuine connection and relationship by the means of networking, but they do it anyway. It only takes a few seconds to like and comment on someone’s posts. Why can’t these obviously selfish members that I speak negatively of do it?

I felt this post was necessary to write because it is an overwhelming pet peeve of mine.

The barbecue community is incredible, as a whole. There are so many awesome people with a veritable love for delicious food who want to share it and support others. I have a great deal of love for each of those people. For such reasons, I want to give a big shoutout to some great members of the Instagram BBQ community who selflessly dish out love via likes and genuine comments:

Kurt — @caribeque
Chuck — @c_train707
John — @bigjohns_bbq
Ron — @cptnron302
Jimmy — @borderbangerbbq
Jeff (we might be related since we have the same last name! Haha) — @backwoods_kitchen
Matt — @bluetravelz
Adam — @thisjewcanque
Justin — @utetastic
Robert — @moons_bbq
Pam — @pam_persinger_walker
@zzzzote
Wes — @sunnysidebeachesbbq
Ralph — @revin_it_up_bbq

There are so many more…

Smoking 35 Pounds of Pork Butt on the 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain

An acquaintance asked me to smoke some pulled pork for her son’s high school graduation party. She said there would be twenty to thirty people attending. With that said, I rushed to a couple of trusty barbecue communities (forums) on the internet to look into just how much pork would be needed for that amount of people, and when it comes to pork I’ve come to find that it is a given average that there will need to be about one pound of finished product per 2.6 people (without knowing each person’s individual appetite).

So I headed over to my local Food Lion, bought roughly 35 pounds of pork butt and, at about 10 p.m. I got the smoke rolling in my 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain cooker.


I used a mix of hickory and apple wood. Personally, my favorite fruit wood to smoke with is cherry, especially for ribs and bologna. However, I feel like pork butts cry for hickory; there is just something about it when it comes to smoking pork butts where it fits the bill perfectly. As for the apple wood, it is the first type of wood I ever used to smoke anything with when I began my barbecue journey, and you can never go wrong with it.

One might say that pork was shoddily rubbed, particularly on the sides, and that one wouldn’t be wrong, but you really don’t need to go all out, especially if you are doing more than one pork butt at once. Let me know in the comment section if you think I’m wrong about that. I used the tried and true Caribeque Honey Heat Pork & Pultry rub by the man, the myth, the legend: Kurt Halls. Kurt released a brand new pork rub at the end of last year, as part of his Caribeque Signature Series, a dedicated pork rub that features more sweetness than anything. The Caribeque Signature Series Pork Rub is fantastic, but I still like Honey Heat on any and all kinds of pork as my go-to.

I woke up at around 8 a.m. the following day and the temperature of my WSM was sitting pretty at around 230 still, riding high on the Kingsford charcoal briquettes from the night before. Checking the temps of the pork butts, they were all in the 170-175 range and had a little ways to go, so I began cranking up the heat by opening all three of the intake vents as well as adding a little bit of fresh Cowboy lump charcoal to the charcoal ring.


I was curious about how much meat you could add to this big cooker. Back in November, I competed in my first ever barbecue competition in Castlewood, VA at Gent’s Farms, hosted by Brandon and Victoria Gent, the fine folks who run Appalachian Meats in Lebanon, VA. It was a blast and I had a fantastic time. There was another competitor there who was actually using a 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain (I used the Barrel House Cooker 18C on that day); he won the smokeoff for the ribs. Anywho, he told me that he had smoked 80 lbs. of pork butt in his WSM one time, and I can imagine that. As you can see, I had my WSM full on the top grate; it would have likely been more optimal for me to use both the top and bottom grates to my advantage, but I didn’t want inconsistent temperatures for my meat (even if that wouldn’t have been the case), so I opted to arrange them on the top grate. I can see how 80 lbs. could easily go down in the WSM, tight as a fit that it may be, however, with the pork butts arranged properly.

By the time the pork was ready to pull, I would estimate the overall shrinkage to be about 40 to 50 percent of the original weight of the pork.


Freshly smoked, freshly pulled.

I needed to have the pork finished by 3:30 p.m for their party that began at 4; it was picked up at 3 by two happy campers who walked away after giving it a sample first. “Awesome!”, they both said in unison.

If you are in the southwest Virginia area and interested in having fresh barbecue catered, contact me!

Is Barrel House Cooker Going Out of Business?

Major Update on 6/18/2019:
Great news, as Barrel House Cooker has updated the BHC users with this information:

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Recently, Barrel House Cooker ran a sale for Memorial Day where its cookers’ accecessories were marked down 50%.

Barrel House Cooker 14D

Directly afterwards, they made a few accessories unavailable, such as the extender that fits at the bottom of the base for the 18C to allow meat to hang a little higher from hot coals at the bottom.

The other day, I learned that Grill Beast, who was a licensed carrier of Barrel House Cookers, stated that BHC ended its contract with them and they are no longer selling the cookers.

If the rumors are true that Barrel House Cooker Company is going out of business, it is a damn shame. I find it superior versus the competition, but its main competitor has such a high influence and following, its heraldedness reigns supreme over the lack of marketing that has been done lately by Barrel House.

If the company does fold, I will still use my Barrel House cookers until they falter, as I find them to be easily the best drum smokers in the game. If they ever deteriorate to the point they are unusable, I guess I will buy a Pit Barrel Cooker, although while I find them to be sound cookers I will feel like I’m downgrading due to its lack of features and useability compared to the Barrel House Cooker. I feel a semblance of resentment towards PBC over its legal issues with BHC, because while I refuse to comment on the contents of the legality matters, competition makes the world go round, and with the outcome possibly eliminating Barrel House in due time, that narrows the market.

This is all conjecture, however, but here’s to hoping Barrel House Cooker Company stays afloat.

Reasons to Buy a Barrel House Cooker Instead of a Pit Barrel Cooker

It was early April 2018 and I was on the prowl for a new smoker. Being an avid member of the barbecue community on Instagram, I was intrigued by all the barrel/drum type cooking I noticed, from homemmade ‘ugly drum smokers’ to the Pit Barrel Cookers I saw everybody posting.

One of my all-time favorite people from the aforementioned BBQ community, monstrous sandwich constructor and all-around good dude John Alselmo (@bigjohns_bbq on Instagram) began barrel cooking sometime early last year (maybe the year before). I may be iffy on the timeline, but I noticed he was hanging ribs in his barrel cooker. When I started to look into those types of cookers, of course I reached out to him, given the immense level of respect I have for the man’s cooking prowess and knowledge. The people who I admire and love in the barbecue community are the ones that I will continue to seek knowledge from if I have questions.

“That looks awesome, John!” I stated in one of the comments on a post he made that was a video of him checking out the progress of a rack of ribs he was smoking in his 18C Barrel House Cooker. “Yeah, Troy, the ribs out of this cooker is the best I have ever had; the flavor is amazing and rich from the way the juices from the meat drips onto the coals” (paraphrased).

I am going to admit my naivety: when I first messaged Big John about the Barrel House Cooker, I… didn’t know it existed. I thought everybody just used the Pit Barrel Cooker. He is currently not on Instagram, so I cannot go back and check out the message at this time, but based on my memory of the conversation I told him I was interested in buying a PBC and basically asked him to, well, enable me to go ahead with the purchase. He told me, “I have a BHC instead of a PBC and I love it”. He went on to tell me about its hibachi feature and easy charcoal access. I was mindblown. Immediately I went into researching the BHC and found out about the alleged legal side of things the company is in with PBC (again, I am not a lawyer nor experienced enough within legal matters to comment on this, as I stated in my review of the Barrel House Cooker 18C). However, the superior features of the BHC wooed me. I told John I was going to pull the trigger on the cooker, and he — again, paraphrasing — said, “Hell yeah! Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about it.”

After becoming a full-blown Barrel House Cooker addict for almost four months and owning both the 14D and 18C models, here are the top five reasons you should buy a Barrel House Cooker instead of PBC:

1.) The Barrel House Cooker costs less than the Pit Barrel Cooker: $250 for the BHC compared to $300 for the PBC.

2.) Easier access to modify your coal/wood positioning or remove ash. On the Pit Barrel Cooker, access to your charcoal basket is rather limited, since you have to sit the basket inside the cooker, at the bottom, and being able to access the basket of coals while in the middle of a cook is next to impossible barring some unnecessary, aggravating inconveniences. With the Barrel House Cooker, you can remove the middle base of the cooker from the bottom, remove the charcoal basket and empty ashes (using some heat resistant gloves) and resume cooking once placing the base back onto the cooker

3.) Perhaps it is the bigger competitive advantage of the two, but the Barrel House Cooker has made the bottom part of its cookers to where you can place the cooking grate over top of where you have your charcoal and use it as a hibachi! As far as I know, this cannot be done on the Pit Barrel Cooker. There is nothing like smoking a tri-tip until you hit about 120-125 degrees on the internal temperature before removing the base, adding the cooking grate to the bottom, over top of the coals, and searing that delicious tri-tip to perfection. The options are virtually unlimited as far as what you’d like to reverse sear by par-smoking a particular piece of meat(s) and finishing on the hibachi insert..

The better, added features are why I chose the Barrel House Cooker over the Pit Barrel Cooker. If I could get my hands on a PBC, would I? Absolutely; I’m always looking to add to my cooker collection, although I want to add a pellet grill (eventually) next. If BHC shut down tomorrow, would I look into getting a PBC? You bet. The Pit Barrel Cookers are damn fine cookers, I’m perfectly sure of, given how popular they are, but as of now I prefer the BHC due to the extra features. I just believe, plain and simple, that it is a superior cooker given what it can do vs. the PBC based on the features stated.

These opinions are my own. I am simply an advocate and an enthusiast. I do not work for Barrel House Cooker in any way. I’m just a barbecue fanatic expressing opinions of my own.
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I originally wrote the above back in August 2018. I have a couple of updates, now that I finally have a chance to publish this post.

The cost of the Barrel House Cooker 18C has gone up to $300. I found that was unfortunate to see. Allegedly it is because the inside now features a ‘rough’ porcelain coating. I didn’t see anything wrong with the original ‘innards’ of the 18C that I have, but there must have been complaints emanating from some source. However, I have my suspicions as to why the cost was driven up.

The feller behind Pit Barrel Cooker sued Barrel House Cooker a while back. I mentioned this in a previous post on here. I am not educated in law, therefore I’m not going to give any opinions on what has gone down, the reasons behind the lawsuit or anything like that, but I will post about the conclusions of the lawsuit being settled, which happened sometime last year:

Pit Barrel Cooker Co, LLC, the world’s leading premium vertical barrel cooking brand, agreed to settle a lawsuit concerning Pit Barrel’s confidential business information and trade secrets filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado in December 2015. In the lawsuit, Pit Barrel also alleged that the Barrel House Cooker infringed upon its U.S. Patent (No. 8,919,334).

The lawsuit was resolved on May 25, 2018 with the entry of a joint stipulation to dismiss the case. As a part of the settlement, Barrel House Cooker, LLC and its parent company M.D. Manufacturing, Inc. of Bakersfield, California agreed to make a financial payment and then future royalty payments under a licensing agreement.

Pit Barrel’s President Noah E. Glanville stated, “We’re pleased with the results that we achieved in this case. We will continue to defend our innovations and intellectual property which simply cooks some of the best food you’ve ever tasted, with no hassle. Amber and I appreciate the support of our loyal customers and the dedicated fans of the PBC.”

That is my personal two pennies as to why BHC raised the price of its 18C cooker to $300, especially if Noah, the feller behind PBC is receiving royalty payments on all Barrel House Cooker sales.

I don’t have an opinion on the findings. I will continue to support Barrel House simply because I find their cookers to be superior in comparison.

I have a simple philosophy: always, always, always buy the better product. I’m sure there may be folks who read this, roll their eyes and have a counterpoint that involves the reasons behind the lawsuit making one of the two companies out to be painted in a negative light, and whether or not that is a valid thought is not up to me, but ‘picking’ with my wallet, I’m voting for what stands out as a better cooker.