The Offset Smoker ExplainedOctober 24th, 2011
Believe it or not, I remember when I didn’t know what an offset smoker was. Maybe you’re new to barbecue smokers too and don’t know what all the terms mean. In this post, I’m going to explain what an offset smoker is, how reverse flow draft works, and why you might want to invest more up-front.
An offset smoker is simply a meat smoker with a firebox beside the cooking chamber. There are of course several other common types of barbecue smokers, such as vertical smokers or even regular grills modified for smoking. But offset smokers are my favorite when it comes to cranking out authentic, southern-style barbecue.
You can pick up a cheap thin-wall offset smoker at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot. I don’t know exactly what it would run, but I think a couple hundred bucks or so would put you in business. Or you can invest in more quality (and perhaps size), such as the Meadow Creek SQ36 Offset Smoker for around a thousand dollars. The cheaper ones might last a few years before they rust out. A higher quality smoker such as a Meadow Creek, is a long-term investment that you can hand down to future generations.
Either one will take maintenance and repainting because of the grease in the smoker and the extreme stress on the firebox paint. But it’s a lot more fun maintaining something worth keeping than a piece of junk.
Also, on a cheapo offset smoker, you will probably be destined to sitting on it trying to maintain a consistent temperature. This can get tiring after five or six hours. I like a charcoal smoker that is easy to maintain during a long cook.
Meadow Creek has a full line of offset BBQ smokers that are easy to run and built to last a lifetime. They range from the SQ36 Smoker I mentioned to the TS500 Trailer Smoker with a 500 gallon tank. Each of their tank smokers are made out of a propane tank and have reverse flow draft for a more consistent heat throughout the cooker and your cooking time.
Reverse flow draft is not the only way to go, but it makes a lot of sense, and it really does help even out the temp. The heat enters the smoking chamber and travels under a sealed plate in the cooking area. It enters the smoking chamber on the opposite end and drafts back toward the firebox end. It exits through the stack on the same end as the firebox. Here is an illustration that shows how it works.
There are many brands of offset smokers on the market, and it can take hours of research before you really know what you want. Make sure you check out Meadow Creek’s revolutionary offset smokers.
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