Worth it?

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
I know there are folks who like to cook really large briskets, especially for competition, but there are lots of home cooks with just a couple of people in the household and they have no idea what to do with so much leftover brisket. So a 12-14 pound brisket not only fits in their 18.5" WSM just fine, but it also fits their needs better, too.
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
I know there are folks who like to cook really large briskets, especially for competition, but there are lots of home cooks with just a couple of people in the household and they have no idea what to do with so much leftover brisket. So a 12-14 pound brisket not only fits in their 18.5" WSM just fine, but it also fits their needs better, too.
You must be talking about me and Barb. Cooked a 14 pound brisket a week after smoke day on the 18.5 WSM and it fit perfectly. I still have the whole point and half the flat in the freezer. Point will become smoked chili in January or February. The rest of the flat is for sammies as needed. Smoked two 3rds of pork a belly and two full pork loins for Canadian bacon with ease, the 18.5 WSM is perfect for those that don't have to feed herds of people.

Good choice Gwen, you're going to love it and don't hesitate to ask for help or advice, lots of people here will be glad to assist you with any questions you might have.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
...but there are lots of home cooks with just a couple of people in the household and they have no idea what to do with so much leftover brisket. So a 12-14 pound brisket not only fits in their 18.5" WSM just fine, but it also fits their needs better, too.
Leftover brisket?

Never heard of it.

My wife and I can eat a 14lb brisket in a couple of days.

Maybe up to 2 lb get Frozen for future sandwiches. it's not really that much meat after all the fat is trimmed and the meat renders during the cook. Probably take 3 lb of fat off of 15 pound brisket and then you get 50% yield after that.
 
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KToliver

TVWBB Fan
Wow, i didn't expect so many relies, appreciate this!
Hello everybody,
I read everything you'd written, and i decided to buy 18,5'' WSM. Special thanks to Chris Allingham for detailed response.
We're buying it next week and I'm looking forward to this.
Many thanks!:wsm:
Welcome, Gwen! You will love your 18.5 WSM. I’ve had mine since July and am now addicted to smoking!

You will always have great support on this forum; very friendly and mature members here.

A few points based on my experience;
1) You will start out trying to control temp within a tight band; don’t sweat perfect temps. The meat will cook and a swing of 20-30 degrees either side of your target won’t hurt things. Stick with small changes to those vents and give it time to settle.
2) IMHO the 18.5 is very efficient on charcoal. Plain old Kingsford blue works excellent...don’t bother trying out premium brands in the beginning.
3) Yes, you will see some smoke leaking out of seams. Much of that will stop once some greases build up and seal things.
4) The door is a bit on the flimsy side; and may also leak which allows too much air IN and will can cause your fire to burn a bit hot and fast. I replaced mine with a Cajun Bandit SS door. There are also gasket kits out there if you are really concerned about it. I don’t see the need for those.
5) Start out with some bagged wood, but local area firewood suppliers often have better stock.

Get yourself a good handheld temp probe for probing temp and tenderness, and think hard about a multi probe monitor so you can relax inside without having to constantly check your gauge. The temp at your lid gauge is likely 20-30 degrees lower than your cooking surface.

Looking forward to your first pics!
 

KToliver

TVWBB Fan
By the way...it is true that the 18.5 won’t allow you to lay a full rack of ribs flat...unless you simply trim them.

Competitors trim them down to the largest 10 ribs...the meat on either side is trimmed off. Once you’ve done that, they fit perfectly! I either fit the trimmed pieces long the edges, or you can freeze them until you have a bunch and smoke them all at once.

Regardless, you will make great ribs on your 18.5. Here is a link to the great Harry Soo with a complete tutorial to trim and cook St. Louis ribs like a champ:
https://youtu.be/JIdEeZ7x094
 
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Brett Fields

TVWBB Fan
So...
Nobody has touted the 14" yet so here we go.

I have all three. By FAR the most used for home cooking is my 14. For ribs, i cut a Weber rib rack (p/n 6605) down one slot so that its now 4 instead of 5 slots. I'll make two racks of spares cut in half. After wrapping, I take out the rib rack and just lay 2 foiled halves on each grate until done. (I switch the top 2 to the bottom and visa versa midway through) but wait, there's more!

It's not all about ribs, Butt & Brisket. How about a nice piece of fish with your favorite rub on 1 grate with some seasoned veggies on the other? Wrap a couple potatoes in foil and toss those in too. Wrap a head of garlic in tin foil, toss it on the charcoal and roast it. Mix that in with the potatoes to make a nice garlic mash! How about the next day making some awesome smoked meatloaf with cauliflower au gratin. The only limitation is your own imagination. Whatever you can do in an oven, you can do in the WSM. Sometimes better.

In the end it's this...

If it's easy, you'll do it. If it's a hassle, you won't. The little 14 is plenty for a family of 4. Temp management is easy, cleanup is SUPER easy. Pair it with a little 14" Smokey Joe grill and you're set. The whole thing is table top and easy. BTW, the Smokey Joe is also where you set the charcoal chimney while you're starting it. Buy the little Weber chimney (p/n 7447), not the big one sold at HD or Lowes.

These days, if I'm using the 18 or 22 and it's not at a comp, it's cuz I'm cooking for a party. I can do 10 racks of ribs in the 22. I'm gonna buy another 18 for competition cuz the 22 is just harder to travel with.
Anyway, good luck. I'm so excited for you to join the family! You're gonna love it no matter which you choose.

Brett.
 

Richard Garcia

TVWBB Super Fan
Harry Soo has 100+ first place wins in competition on wsm 18. Beating teams with $15000 equipment.

Thats a pretty good testimonial there.

Check out his videos and website.

I cook 3 racks of baby backs all the time on my 18, on edge in a rack on top grate. Ive done 6 hanging, and could easily do 8 or more.

For big brisket, you put wood chunk under middle and squeeze in. It shrinks in a couple hrs and take wood out. People have done at least 19lb this way that i read, my biggest is 15.5.

But yeah, id like to lay all ribs flat. To glaze them in place really. It would be simpler and faster. Brisket is a non-problem to me.

Other workarounds for ribs flat on top grate..stacking grates with one rack on each, cutting in half or shortening some, etc.
I have a WSM 18" "Classic" that I bought new in the year 2008 and it has served me well. Question, how do you set-up your WSM for doing the "hanging Ribs Thing"?
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
I have a WSM 18" "Classic" that I bought new in the year 2008 and it has served me well. Question, how do you set-up your WSM for doing the "hanging Ribs Thing"?
Homemade hanging rack
I put drip pan under them (foiled clay saucer). Mine sits lower than the original water pan, a little more clearance.

I tried it with the meat dripping in the coals and I wasn't crazy about the taste... As you might expect, kind of a burnt fat taste....or maybe odor...Who'da thought? it was very subtle and my wife actually liked it but I was kind of turned off by it. Note catch grate....

Hanging works if you dont wrap, or glaze in smoker
Ive contemplated a thinned sprayable sauce to glaze with while hanging, havent tried it yet.

 
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Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Along with my 18.5 I have what is commonly called a mini which is a smoky Joe top and bottom with a stock or tamale pot in the middle. This was a big item on the forum before Weber came out with the 14.5 WSM. It still is my favorite because it's so easy to set up, clean up and holds temperature perfectly. I have two racks in mine and can easily do a whole pork belly of bacon when cut up properly.
So any of the three WSMs will work fine depending on what you needs are.
 

Brian (Mass.)

TVWBB Fan
Wow, i didn't expect so many relies, appreciate this!
Hello everybody,
I read everything you'd written, and i decided to buy 18,5'' WSM. Special thanks to Chris Allingham for detailed response.
We're buying it next week and I'm looking forward to this.
Many thanks!:wsm:
I see you are from Mass. A great place to get full size briskets is Walmart! Believe it or not if it's a super walmart with full grocery they will have up to a dozen of them at a time. They are very reasonably priced, usually around $3 a LB. I get a 13-15lb one for $45-50. That same brisket in an inferior cut will cost you $6-8lb at other places. I just look for one that's 18" across, the biggest I can find with good marbling. BJ's for Ribs - St. Louis $2.50/lb Baby Backs $3/Lb all 2 racks per pack so two 2 packs fit perfectly on the 18.5" WSM with the rib rack and some finesse. Just cut the full racks of ribs in 1/2 and arrange...

Sometimes BJ's run a coupon (Like right now) for $2 or more off the St. Louis 2pack so you can get one for less than $15. I use Wegmans or Shaws for pork buts and sometimes BJ's. A good price is $1.5 or less /Lb. Sometimes Wegmans has them for $1/Lb. Shaw's sells ones that have the skin and a large section of the upper humerus still attached.
Here is a thread I did with a 13Lb brisket.
https://tvwbb.com/showthread.php?74048-Made-a-beautiful-Brisket-but-melted-my-Weber-iGrill-Mini
 
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RyanS_MN

TVWBB Member
I know this was resolved but I also agree the 18.5” is perfect. Literally the only thing you can’t do easily is lay ribs flat without trimming but that doesn’t bother me. I’m amazed at how often people tout the 22” given how many times I’m also reading about ppl admitting the 22” is too big and heavy to move all the time.

All that aside I can do probably 7-8 racks of ribs on an 18.5” which is insanity for me. I guess some of you might cook for 50 but I don’t like people enough to deal with that 😂
 

Lew Newby

TVWBB All-Star
Wow, i didn't expect so many relies, appreciate this!
Hello everybody,
I read everything you'd written, and i decided to buy 18,5'' WSM. Special thanks to Chris Allingham for detailed response.
We're buying it next week and I'm looking forward to this.
Many thanks!:wsm:
You can't go wrong learning BBQ with your choice. I don't know if you're aware of it but there's an Amazon Shopping tab at the top of this page. If you buy using it Chris gets a pittance from Amazon to support the site. Welcome to the Asylum and enjoy your toy. Lots of knowledgeable folks here to answer your questions.
 
I’m amazed at how often people tout the 22” given how many times I’m also reading about ppl admitting the 22” is too big and heavy
I tried to talk my neighbor into an 18.5, but he just had to go big (even though it's just two people in his house) and get the 22. He probably would have bought a 44 if they made it.

Well, it eats a ton of charcoal, and he hasn't used it in years. Most cooks are done on his 26" kettle.

He finally admitted that the 22 was too much and he may sell it.
 

GilFisher

New member
To each their own. I went with the 22" because I sometimes cook for a few more people than just the family, and so far I don't regret it at all. But the 18.5" seems to be just right for most people's needs, and I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I didn't have my 22" already.
 

MikeLucky

TVWBB Fan
I tried to talk my neighbor into an 18.5, but he just had to go big (even though it's just two people in his house) and get the 22. He probably would have bought a 44 if they made it.

Well, it eats a ton of charcoal, and he hasn't used it in years. Most cooks are done on his 26" kettle.

He finally admitted that the 22 was too much and he may sell it.
I went with the 22 for my first WSM as well and I will admit that it is a damn beast. But, if I'm going to fire it up, I just make a day of it and will do a pork butt, several racks of ribs, and a whole mess of chicken wings. But, I do find that I probably use it less than I'd like because I won't fire it up unless I'm going to do the whole mess of meat. So, I'm looking to acquire a 14 as well to use for smaller smokes and to use it more frequently. In conjunction with my 22 I can handle small cooks and also make enough for the whole block. But, for the folks that only want one smoker, like everyone else has said the 18.5 is the perfect compromise and is probably better suited for the majority of folks looking to smoke meats like a normal person. lol
 

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