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Smoke Of The South Rising Up In Central Iowa


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I'm excited to be here to share, but mostly to acquire the wisdom of the gurus. I'm in middle-central Iowa and have been smoking pork, brisket, and chicken since 1989. At that time I had move from WV to Memphis, stopped in Corky's BBQ my first week there, and my life was  turned around. I craved the deliciousness and sought out locals who knew what they were doing. My first smoker was a metal garbage can mod, and it was from there that I spent the next 8 years trying to perfect the craft.


Years later, after moving to Ohio, I bought a Brinkman horizontal smoker with chimney and firebox from a Lowe's sale for $150. I though it was the best (how little did I know! :-)). Found an unlimited source for free hickory wood and, I've got to say, I pretty well mastered that rinky-dinky Brinkman.


A year or so ago my wife bought me an Akorn - the red kind with its own wheeled stand and black metal folding shelves. I affectionately call it R2D2 because I'm about 25% nerd.


I really struggled with the Akorn. I loved everything about except one thing - I couldn't keep the right fire for 10-14 hours's worth of 200-375 degree heat. I was frustrated. I thought "If I can master the Brinkman, I'm not about to let this quality smoker kick my SmokyButt. 


I first found a great YouTube video by "BEER-N-BBQ by Larry" instructing me how to build and regulate the fire. I had trouble keeping it going, though, and Larry (who is also on this board) was selfless in helping me through dialog on that video's discussion area. But I still couldn't quite get my Akorn to do what I needed. I tried several times, sometimes getting an edible shoulder or brisket by relighting the fire in the middle once or twice and finishing in a 250 degree oven. Edible, though. That's about all I could say about it.


I'm no quitter. Until yesterday, my record for keeping a 200-275 degree temp in the Akorn was 4 hours.


Yesterday - after reading and really digesting the 7-page discussion here on Kamado Guru, "Can't control temps on Akorn". Yeah, I know that is over 3 years old, but it is awesome! I think it should be pinned! I'd read it before, but this time somehow something clicked.


No, I've still not be successful - yet - but yesterday I managed to hold a 200-275 degree temperature for a full 9 hours before it started it's permanent decline. That 9 hours was without any meat in the smoker, and during the daytime, and with a lot of fidgeting with the vents. But I never once opened the smoker and never once went too high or too low in temp.


I'm in Iowa, now. And in my small town there is a little BBQ restaurant that the locals think is great (it's name starts with "Smokin'" but I don't want to call it out. How sad. Seriously. It is the worst excuse for "smoked BBQ" I've ever experienced. My new community needs to know what it should really be like, or at least my closest friends should.


I'm bound and determined to master this Akorn and rock their world.


Glad to be here!



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Sounds like you are on your way.


Having a good grate level  thermometer was a big help because the dome one responds too slow.


I also had a lot of touble with the Akorn. For me getting the air slide to run tight and not flop was the final key.


There is a practical low point that  it will go out. It is so well insulated at at the low temp range the fire is hardly there.


Try a setting and just leave it and see what you get.


You can use a temp controller.


A lot of people love the Tip Top Temp and it is cheap.

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