Smoker Mod, Smokin’ a Butt, and Beer and BBQ Pairing Throwdown

Today was too nice a day to bother myself with working. So, with a new smoker modification in mind, a butt (Boston) in the fridge, and me never having posted about beer with bbq, I’m gonna make some pulled pork and try some different beers with it.

As always at beerbecue HQ, we need our blues. Today’s selection is Junior Kimbrough. His blues legitimacy is high: He didn’t get national attention ’till he was about 60, he sired 36 children, he died with a common-law wife, his mid-tempo and droning-thumb-on-the-bass-strings style exemplifies north Mississippi hill country blues, and he looked like this:

Son, he’s got more blues in one forehead frownline than you got in your whole damn body.

I decided to fashion a charcoal ring for my Weber Smokey Joe modified smoker. The Weber Smokey Mountain has one, and it seemed that piling fuel on the charcoal grate wasn’t working very efficiently. So I made this:

Metal lathe, four washers, two nuts and bolts, and some aviation snips.

You can also use a heavier gauge expanded metal. In any case, make sure to use gloves, as metal lath and expanded metal can cut the crap out of your hands. Then you load up your fuel and just use the Minion method to get things rolling.

Today, I’m smoking a 5 1/2 pound Boston Butt with my usual rub. I was planning on using the usual vinegar-based sauce. However, last night I came downstairs, and my wife, the BBQ sauce diva, banished me from the kitchen as she tweaked her old vinegar-based BBQ sauce. I have been authorized to release the new recipe on the sauce recipes page. My native-South Carolina wife may be a vegetarian/pescatarian now, but her BBQ-Sauce-Fu remains strong.

Then after about 6-8 hours, there will be a BBQ and beer pairing throwdown. I am pitting the following beers (sampled with and without sauce on the BBQ):

The Duchess de Bourgogne: This may seem odd. In fact, after extensive Internet searching, I have not found anyone who even remotely recommends this. What do they know? Sweet and sour is good with BBQ.

Tröegs Troegenator Double Bock: Bocks and double bocks are usually a good BBQ pairing. Sweet and malty.

Oskar Blues Pale Ale: Pale Ales are generally good with BBQ. And this one will push the hop and BBQ envelope at bit, as it is a fairly hoppy pale ale.

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum: If some hops are good, more must be better. Let’s see how hoppy we can go.

Stay tuned…


Modified Weber Smokey Joe (Mini Weber Bullet)

Lately, a couple friends have been posting pics of their new smoking equipment. So, I thought I would share my set-up, and its recent modifications. Of course, my set-up is not this from outbehindthewoodshed; nor is it like my friend’s automated, wood-pellet-fed Traeger.


But my set-up does store easily in a 900 sq.ft. condo. And it’s modular, so I can use it for regular high-heat grilling or low-and-slow smoking. So suck it, show-offs.

First I took a regular little Smokey Joe Silver:

Awwww. It’s cute.

Then I got a 32-quart IMUSA tamale steamer from Wally World (which I very romantically requested from the Haybag as an anniversary present). IMPORTANT: The one made in China fits, and the Colombia-made one does not. Presumably, the Colombian specs are modified to better accomodate bricks of cocaine.

Like a glove.

Then, I drilled four holes near the bottom of the pot to place the screws that suspend a 12″ terra cotta plate that acts as heat sink/heat shield. I used four #8-32 1 1/4 screws, with nuts and washers. Note location of screws in pics above and below.

Next, you can drill holes for a bottom cooking rack, or just rest the bottom rack on top of the heat sink/shield. I rest it on top of the lip for tamale pot’s false bottom. What you do will likely depend on your placement of the heat sink/heat shield screws.

Then I drilled holes for a second cooking level. Note placement in above pic. I am sure you could fit 3 levels total if you were so inclined.

Then I cut the bottom out of the tamale pot. Make sure to not cut so close to the outer edge that it compromises the strength of the pot.

The dremel took a long-ass time. I think tin snips with a drilled starter hole might be faster.

Then I installed the heat shield/sink: A 12-inch, unglazed, terra cotta saucer. Each time I smoke, I wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil. Actually, I found that because I placed my heat shield/sink so low, I have to wrap the bottom of the saucer with a big heavy-duty foil drip pan, and the top with foil.

Then, I installed the racks. I used the Smokey Joe’s old cooking grate and bought one replacement charcoal grate for an 18″ Weber kettle grill.

Overhead view of the deal (heat shield/sink unwrapped).

I typically use the Minion Method, which works well on this setup (as it is basically a mini Weber Smokey Mountain). The only problem I have run into is that the Smokey Joe bottom vent gets clogged easily.

Not cool, Weber engineers.

Even with lower ash producing lump charcoal, after a couple hours this mother requires regular clearing (by poking a skewer up through the bottom). So, I got out the dremel again and did this:

BSP-free can, so I don’t turn into an asexual fish.

Four little gun-turret looking cut-outs.

F U, ash!

Then you are ready to roll. I drilled a small hole in the side of the tamale pot for an instant read thermometer. I also use a remote dual readout thermometer that my Moms got me for my B-day.

It’s aliiiiiive! I shall call him SMOKE2D2.

I welcome any comments or suggestions.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can link here to see my subsequent, simple charcoal ring modification.