Second brisket....what a chore!

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Jay Critchfield

TVWBB Member
I did my second brisket Friday night. The first one I tried last summer was a total disaster. It was a select cut (first mistake) with an odd shaped flat It ended up overcooked, too much smoke (mesquite, second mistake), creosote formed in the smoker…yada yada anyway it was nasty ((shudder)). So after many very successful pork butts and other various cuts of meat over the last year I decided to try another brisket. I believe the BBQ gods were not happy with me for ruining the first brisket because they made me work for this one.

At 8:00pm Friday night I pulled the brisket out of the fridge and placed it on the counter while I got the WSM ready. At 8:30pm I dropped 20 lit briquettes on a full load of Kingsford, placed my smoke wood (Pecan), added room temp water to the brinkman pan and assembled the smoker. My plan this time was to let the brisket warm up a bit and also preheat the smoker. I haven’t found this necessary with butts but I wasn’t taking any chances this time.

With the vents wide open, by 9:30pm the smoker was only at 180 measured at the grate. Hmmm…that’s strange. Normally it would be over 200 by this time. This was the first sign of trouble brewing.

Wanting to get to bed by midnight I put the brisket on anyway. A very nice looking 12lb choice packer that had been rubbed the night before. At 10:30 the temp was up to 220 so set all three vents to about 30% like I’ve done many times before. At 11:30 the temp was up to 245 and still climbing. Hmmmm…that’s strange. Thinking the light breeze was fanning the fire I shut down the upwind vent and closed the other two to 20%. By 1:00am the temp was a steady 235 and the breeze had subsided so I set the alarm on my thermo and went to bed. Being the machine the WSM is this SHOULD have been fine for a good 5-6 hours, easy.

For some reason at 3:00am I woke. Peeking at the thermo it read 275! Yikes! Oh crap….I forgot to set the audible on the alarm. Stupid stupid stupid. Shutting the lower vents down I waited for the temps to drop off. By 4:00am it had only dropped to 265. Hmmm….that’s strange. I opened the side door to find the charcoal 2/3 gone and the water pan EMPTY! ????????? What the ……..

I added water, stirred the coals and left the vents closed. By 6:00am with the vents still closed the temps had climbed back up to 250. Hmmm….that’s STRANGE!

By 7:30 the coals were almost gone. Less than 12 hours…. There was also a lot more ash than usual. I reloaded the charcoal, flipped and basted the brisket. The rest of the cook went pretty much the same. Lower vents closed and the top vent half closed just to maintain a temp below 250.

At 11:00am the brisket was done! Wrapped in foil and off to the cooler to rest while I heated some beans and prepared lunch.

I’m pleased to say the brisket was excellent but what a chore getting there!

I’m wondering if I got a funky bag of briquettes. I've never had so much trouble with temps and I can't believe how fast it burned and how much ash it left.
Hey, I've done that EXACT cook---right down to the "oops, forgot to turn the alarm on" and waking up to find the cooker at 275. Must be a magic number with the WSM. What's amazing to me is that somehow the briskets have made it thru my disasters and still come out tasty as anything. I credit the WSM working its magic.

I guess it coulda' been the coals. Some cooks just go...weird.

Glad it worked out, tho! I know how frantic one can get trying to nudge those temps in the right direction.
Jay, sounds like you might have had a leak. Are you sure the main chamber was on the charcaol bowl right. I had that happen to me once.The one side did not go down and seal properly. Bryan
i agree with Greg and bryan....there geniousous by the way....and i also
agree with perhaps investing in a GURU but if you still have a leak the guru will have a very difficult time controlling the temp.....if you still have probs try using a t-shirt to seal up the middle section....cuz cotton dont burn until 500...thats what the pros tell me.. adn it worked for me so it can work for you.

just wet some tshirt and make a seal around the middle section adn the bottom one.. and then try middle section and the lid....that should pretty much take care of the leak problem......
good luck
Uhh... Mords, I'm not a BBQ pro. I am a lowly engineer. I read in threads on this site that a cotton T-shirt works well, added a little research, and made a suggestion.

Engineers are generally not capable of original ideas. We combine the original ideas of others into practical solutions.

Did someone mention wet t-shirt contests? I'll be happy to participate as a judge.
good one chet i was reading susans post and i was like thinking theres a contest i KNOW i can judge..mmm......neways.....
lowly engineer or BBQ get the job done adn thats what counts!!!!!!! and no im not a spelling teacher......later.....let me know about the contest susan
ha ha you guys should be careful before volunteering so quickly to judge a wet T-shirt contest. I'd rather know who the contestants were first!

Nope the smoker was assembled the same as all my other cooks that went off with no problems. The center section on my WSM fits very nicely into the bottom and it was in straight. The door was on upside down as usual with a good seal. I’m still scratching my head on what happened. In the past I’ve been able to run the smoker as low as 200 with the lower vents partially open and I’ve never had to partially close the top vent before.

Oh BTW I highly recommend burnt ends chopped, mixed with BBQ sauce, spread on a toasted French roll with grilled onions and melted pepper jack cheese. Mmmmmmm……
Hey Jay...glad to hear everything ultimately went ok....if it helps, others on this forum have noticed more ash production than normal from may be a recipe change or a 2nd party one knows.

Tip: Using pre-heated water (Water Pan) will bring up your temps quicker.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Hey Jay...glad to hear everything ultimately went ok....if it helps, others on this forum have noticed more ash production than normal from may be a recipe change or a 2nd party one knows.
I do a lot of cooking with Dutch Ovens and speaking of Kingsford and their "hit & miss" quality it seems you can get a double pack of the stuff and have a good bag and a bad one

Some people have gotten very detailed on this topic in the "IDOS" fourm...Just do a "Kinsford" search at Personally I have never had a problem...Yet
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