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Need help selecting first Kamado for smoking!

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7 hours ago, DWFII said:

I don't know where I could buy a Vision grill for $500.00, unless it was pretty small one. I could probably afford that. But I have a custom made (by a local potter many, many years ago)  16" pizza stone. That dimension more or less defines the size of grill I need. The Akorn is, what? 19".

 

I did not mean to be rude or accusatory by using the word "incapable." I just couldn't think of another that would describe what I thought (still kind of think)  I was hearing. 

 

The almost contradictory thing I keep running across is that given the Akorn has less (almost none?) thermal mass, few use or recommend remedies--such as lining the firebox with fire brick or a heavy clay flowerpot. Why is that?  And one of the most expensive grills out there is the Blaze, which, AFAIK, doesn't have a ceramic firebox, either.

 

The main reason I posted my initial question/remarks is just what I said in the last sentence of that post--I don't know how to choose. Where's the sweet spot of value vs. affordability?

 

PS...I started on a WSM as well but even there with all the care in the world--minion method heat sink, etc., it's butts at 275° (+) or stay up all night.

For a couple months in late summer/early fall, you could get a Vision for $400(sometimes even cheaper? on sale just about every other week. I haven't seen them at the price lately and the models advertised look a little different but they are still showing on sale at $500. I bought my Diamond Cut Vision B for $400 and I would bet they will be back on sale again for that at some point.

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3 hours ago, CarolinaCooker said:

For a couple months in late summer/early fall, you could get a Vision for $400(sometimes even cheaper? on sale just about every other week. I haven't seen them at the price lately and the models advertised look a little different but they are still showing on sale at $500. I bought my Diamond Cut Vision B for $400 and I would bet they will be back on sale again for that at some point.

 

Where? Sam's Club seems to carry them but I am not a member and I don't have a Sam's Club anywhere near me...nowhere in Oregon that I know of.

 

Walmart might carry them but they are unavailable at this time and Amazon likewise is out of stock and not promising to carry them in the future.

 

A 22" Pit Boss seems to be available at Walmat for just a little over 5 bills which I might swing if I could be assured the quality and the warranties were there. Any thought son the 22" Pit boss pro or con?

 

And honestly...is the extra @ $200 over the price of the Akorn worth it?

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Can't testify on the Akorn, never had one.   I did have a Pit Boss k24 for almost a year  and I liked it.  Unfortunately it cracked on the outside and Costco wasn't going to get any in, in the foreseeable future and it worried me some so I returned it and got a KJ.   If it hadn't broken I'd still have it.    Costco did have some great prices when they first started carrying them.   Where in the highlands of Oregon are you at?   I'm just outside Vancouver but I was born and raised in Oregon.  

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DWFII. Just a thought...Look at the classified here or even make a post asking if there is an availability ( in your price comfort range )of a Kamado. There have been a few who have restored to working order Kamados that they may want to part with. I saw a guy once moving, and flat out selling for a moving sale price.  Maybe nearby.

 

The Gurus have a far reach.

 

Opinion. This is a better time of year to see such posts as the"season" for some (maybe loss of interest)  has come and gone and they are ridding themselves of a Kamado they don't use anymore.

 

M.

 

 

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7 hours ago, BURGER MEISTER said:

Can't testify on the Akorn, never had one.   I did have a Pit Boss k24 for almost a year  and I liked it.  Unfortunately it cracked on the outside and Costco wasn't going to get any in, in the foreseeable future and it worried me some so I returned it and got a KJ.   If it hadn't broken I'd still have it.    Costco did have some great prices when they first started carrying them.   Where in the highlands of Oregon are you at?   I'm just outside Vancouver but I was born and raised in Oregon.  

 

Thanks for the insights.

 

I'm in Redmond...15 miles north of Bend.

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1 hour ago, mike echo said:

DWFII. Just a thought...Look at the classified here or even make a post asking if there is an availability ( in your price comfort range )of a Kamado. There have been a few who have restored to working order Kamados that they may want to part with. I saw a guy once moving, and flat out selling for a moving sale price.  Maybe nearby.

 

The Gurus have a far reach.

 

Opinion. This is a better time of year to see such posts as the"season" for some (maybe loss of interest)  has come and gone and they are ridding themselves of a Kamado they don't use anymore.

 

M.

 

 

 

Thanks...I check every day. Craigslist too. Unfortunately, I'm a long way from major city or anywhere really. And "free shipping" doesn't seem to be in the cards for used kamados. :-D

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Taking a different tangent here, but if you are REALLY interested in PRIMARILY smoking vs the general purpose of a kamado, you should really double check some of the pellet grill options available now.  Maybe you've already ruled them out.

 

I love my kamado, but after some recent cooks on my son's new pellet grill (and how ridiculously easy they are to use), if I was doing more smoking, I would choose a pellet burner.  Amazing soft smoke flavours, set it and forget it functionality etc. 

 

I'm still eyeing the Timberline 850...

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I don't have experience with KJ or anything except the Akorn and the Komodo Kamado. I can't really speak to the longevity of an Akorn. I've had mine (uncovered but I live in a dry climate) for 2.5 years with no issues. I got my Akorn for around $300 because I couldn't imagine spending over a grand on a grill and I wasn't sure how I would like the transition to charcoal. It seemed messy and gross and I'm a girl who is easily put off by grossness. (Side note this is also why my husband thinks I need to make cooking videos- I squeal and make grossed out faces and comments constantly). I also wanted to primarily smoke things (I thought I'd use it about once a month) and that I liked the idea of the potential for versatility. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I became obsessed. Everything tastes better that I made in my Akorn- and I used it probably 5 nights a week. I already was a pretty good home cook. But this just upped my cooking game in every way. I am the type of person who reads food science books obsessively in my spare time so I considered myself to have a pretty good knowledge base, but this rocked my world. Plus it was kind of fun learning to manage a real fire and make it do what I wanted. At this point I still thought anyone who bought a ceramic grill was crazy.  I kept seeing posts about messed up gaskets, cracked firebowls, and to top it all off it seems that using a ceramic grill uses more charcoal than my Akorn does. I was making everything that anyone with a ceramic kamado was making and I was having such great results that I still didn't want to go the ceramic route. Then I came across Komodo kamado. I ended up getting one mostly because it didn't have this disadvantages that I saw in other ceramic type kamados. And the difference in ease was huge. I imagine a typical ceramic kamado is somewhere in between when it comes to ease of use.   I would never recommend a KK to someone that it would put in a financially difficult place. Ease of use isn't worth compromising a relationship or financial security. No way no how. I love it and yes it is significantly better than an Akorn. I believe other ceramic would also be better than an Akorn. But, I was turning out tremendous food on an Akorn and so could you. For me, it was a way of deciding if I would like this kind of cookery. If you already know you would and don't want to replace your grill every 5 years then go ceramic. 

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37 minutes ago, JDEaston said:

I haven't read the whole thread (yet) but I had no idea that char-griller had a ceramic Kamado? Is it available in the states as well?

 

Its not listed on their US site only seems to be listed on their Australian site. Maybe we’re the test rabbits. 

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32 minutes ago, Kimura said:

 

Its not listed on their US site only seems to be listed on their Australian site. Maybe we’re the test rabbits. 

I hate being a test rabbit. 

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7 hours ago, shuley said:

And the difference in ease was huge.

 

For us newbies, could you maybe tell us a little more about why its easier?

 

I got the Akorn Kamado a few months back as my first charcoal grill, and it's been amazing so far. The challenge is adjusting the vents every 15-20 mins to keep the temperatures consistent, and it takes some practice not to overreact when the temperature strays from your target temp.  Perhaps that's where the difference lies?

 

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13 minutes ago, lavamantis said:

The challenge is adjusting the vents every 15-20 mins to keep the temperatures consistent

 

Bingo. I have done overnight cooks without worrying about adjusting vents and I do not use any devices to help maintain temps. 

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25 minutes ago, lavamantis said:

 

For us newbies, could you maybe tell us a little more about why its easier?

 

I got the Akorn Kamado a few months back as my first charcoal grill, and it's been amazing so far. The challenge is adjusting the vents every 15-20 mins to keep the temperatures consistent, and it takes some practice not to overreact when the temperature strays from your target temp.  Perhaps that's where the difference lies?

The biggest challenge with that is actually being patient enough to not change the vent settings when you see a slight temperature change. Leave the vents alone and the Akorn will correct itself. Once you start chasing temps though, yes, you'll be doing it every 20 minutes or so. The key (with any Kamado) is to learn what vent settings yield you a certain temperature. A lot of people start freaking out over 10/20/40 degree temperature swings. It's not that big of a deal if it fluctuates a bit over a long cook, you're still going to see the same result in the food quality, with a lot less headache than you'll have if you start chasing temps. 

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On 11/17/2017 at 9:31 AM, John Setzler said:

I would go with one of the ceramic models.  They are much easier to control and maintain temperature.  The Akorn (which is the kamado I started with) is temperamental. ...

This is were I started, and were I'm going to end up. It's only a matter of time and money... and the more time, likely the more money. 

 

It comes down to which hobby you want. If you want to do the esoteric stuff, the Akorn has to become something of a hobby in itself. After a few months using one, there are times I'd rather just cook. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

 

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