I have always had a casual interest in smokers and the process of smoking meats. I enjoyed backyard smoked meat and BBQ over dining out for Barbecue. After getting my own smoker and experiencing the process of smoking meats I have a greater appreciation for BBQ restaurants. If I am in a new city I try to find at least one BBQ joint to check out while I’m there. I love finding an old “BBQ Shack” where the Pitmaster likes to talk cue just as much as slicing brisket.
The big box stores had smokers that fit that order but I questioned their quality and durability. Plus, many of the retail smokers had doors that didn’t seal tightly or other areas where smoke could escape or unwanted air could get into the fire box. They were priced affordably and that was a consideration since I didn’t know if this would be something I would stick with.
Sometime in 2013 I began to shop for a smoker. I had decided I wanted an offset smoker but I couldn’t decide which one. I searched online for smokers, checked out the big box stores and even talked to some welding teachers at a couple of local schools about getting a smoker custom built. I wanted a smoker for my back porch that wasn’t too big and I could easily move around.
When I looked into getting a smoker built for me by a local high school welding class the timing was off. They had certain things they built during certain times some for competitions and some for education and grades. Plus, it was going to be on the expensive side so I tabled that idea for the time being.
The more I searched online and watched BBQ shows and videos I realized there was a steep learning curve to the whole process. Regulating air flow, smoke and temperature seemed like more work than I really wanted to put in. Especially just starting out. I just wanted to enjoy smoked meat seasoned, cooked and sauced the way I wanted from my own backyard.
About a year into the search I stumbled upon something called a Pit Barrel Cooker. It seemed to fit well with what I was looking for not in a smoker but in the activity of smoking. I watched a bunch of videos from backyard BBQ artists and they made it look so simple. It also had a good price when I looked at it as a smoker. When I thought about the actual parts that make up the PBC it seemed a little pricey.
So more months went by without choosing a smoker. I kept coming back to the Pit Barrel Cooker watching more videos and trying to get over the idea of a barrel instead of a pit. I finally decided to pull the trigger on the PBC after my upcoming birthday.
Apparently my family had been paying attention as I watched who knows how many hours of barrel cooking videos. They ordered the PBC for my birthday. A few days later I smoked my first brisket ever. I was hooked. The Pit Barrel Cooker has turned out to be the perfect choice for me to get started on. I couldn’t ask for a simpler cooker to learn the craft of smoked meats.
If you are wondering where BBQ Bark came from it stems from my love of a good bark or char on my BBQ. If it comes off a grill or out of a smoker I expect a good bark on my cue so it’s only natural that my persona reflects that.
Fast forward a few years and I’m still cooking on the Pit Barrel Cooker and still thinking about an off set somewhere in my future. I’ll add one to my arsenal one day but for now I’m just fine with my barrel.
There are all kinds of BBQ people out there. Some folks think only one flavor profile or cooking style is actually BBQ. Barbecue feuds can get pretty rough between pitmasters and fans. I think BBQ should bring you joy. That may sound corny but I like a lot of different styles and cooking processes. Yes, there are some things I don’t like but hey if you like it that’s all that matters.
Whether you are cooking or eating cue there is room at the pit for everyone. My hope is that we all find our place in barbecue and we can enjoy cooking, eating and talking about the CUE.