Customer Review

84 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect too much, November 11, 2009
This review is from: Brinkmann 810-5301-6 Charcoal Grill and Smoker, Black (Lawn & Patio)
Let me start off by saying I bought this because it was cheap, so I did not have great expectations for it. It was more something to start off with until I get my big one. Having said that, it is good for what you pay. Since you are probably wondering what the biggest issues will be, let me explain the issues I have had with it:
1. The bowl that holds the charcoal is too shallow, and there is no grate provided to allow ashes to drop. That means when you want to smoke a brisket right (i.e. 10+ hours), the coals will suffocate in their own ashes and the temperature will drop too low. I have remedied this problem by installing my own makeshift grate which allows the ashes to sift to the bottom. But, since it is shallow, it limits the total cook time you have until the ashes pile up and suffocate the coals anyway.
2. The little door on the side that allows you access to the smoker without opening the lid is entirely too small for its intended purpose. This means when you need to add wood or charcoal, there is really no way to add it evenly or quickly. I have had to resort to using tongs, heat-resistant gloves, and throwing the charcoal in order to get it evenly dispersed. Further adding to the frustration is trying to add water to the water bowl. It sits well to the top of the door, so there is no effective way to pour water in. I have resulted to using a folded paper plate to funnel the water to the bowl.
3. Limited access to the meat. If you have a full smoker going, the top rack actually blocks access to the stuff you have underneath. That means if you have anything on the top rack, there is no real way to get to what is underneath if you want to turn it, baste it, or anything else. That also means that if you have any mopping sauce etc. to add to anything on the bottom, there isn't any way to do it evenly. Further, if you do want to baste anything using the water bowl mixture, you will have to open the side door and use a baster to suck up the liquid, then go through the open top to apply it.

So, like the title says, don't expect too much. This is a great little smoker for small jobs, especially for the price, but don't expect to get any serious smoking done with it.

P.S. cleaning this thing can be dangerous. The metal supports that hold up the bowls/racks are really sharp.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 22, 2010 4:03:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 22, 2010 5:40:38 PM PDT
Trend says:
You may want to eliminate the water bowl. You really don't need it. Without it, you will be able to easily access the charcoal pan. With a long, sturdy tong, you will also be able to access meat on the second grate, Your meat will get tender without the water bowl. If you dry rub or wet soak your meat for a couple of day before smoking, you really don't need to baste. I also inject my meats with my special marinade right before cooking. I never need to baste. The last half hour or so, I add my BBQ sauce and it cooks into and adheres to my meat without crusting and burning......adds loads of flavor.

I've been using this smoker for 13 years now. It took me awhile to understand how it cooks....now, I don't need a thermometer. I just eyeball my charcoal. It doesn't handle a lot of meat very well. Much more attention to cooking is required if using in cold weather. It doesn't do well with Matchlight charcoal. It likes a basin full of charcoal at the start. I let my coals get good and hot before adding my meat. I make sure I have a good smoke going at the start of cooking. For what I tend to cook, 9 or 10 briquettes is what I use per 1-1 1/2 hours. Temperature can be risen by just opening the door. Often, I only use one grate. I start on the highest cooking level and after 2 hours I put my meat on the lowest level until it's done. I don't cook big chunks of meat. That's not my thing....at least not now, but if I ever get into that, I would purchase an upright smoker with pull out racks and a big door or a kettle with a separate charcoal compartment. I do ribs, chicken, and boneless shortribs of beef. I make some good BBQ on this smoker. As I write this, I have some ribs smoking in the back yard.

Thanks for the tip on drilling holes in the bottom. I may do that. It will be a good way to use less charcoal while cooking.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 4:25:48 AM PST
Save it all. I had one of these and it is full of engineering problems with all stated by the writers of these reviews, from charcoal and ash problems, no way to regulate the heat etc. Here is what I did. I sold mine after cleaning it up with some high temp grill spray paint, (made it look like new). Then, I added $5.00 to what I got for it and went on craigs list and bought the Brinkman Gourmet smoker. By first modifying the charcoal pan with three two inch bolts and buying some weber 13 1/2 inch grills (set cross wise one on the other) I eliminated the ash problem so that the fine ash only fall through the two grill grates. Then, I called weber and bought three dampers (they have nice dampers with lift two 90 degree handles), installing two on the bottom of the gourmet itself and one on the lid. Then I went online and bought a nice Thermometer (you can get one from Wal-Mart for $17.00 (google Walmart). You do need the water pan, helps with keeping meat moist so don't eliminate it, but replace it with a bigger one by calling brinkman and ordering a charcoal pan that is used for this very brinkman here in this post, as it will hold two gallons of water which is almost one more gallon then what comes with the gourmet for a water pan. I can now easily load up using the Minion Method (google it) the charcoal pan, regulate my heat very easily with all three dampers and know exactly what my temperature is as opposed to the cheapo little gauage (which I left in) that only tells you IDEAL Hot and warm on its dial. I installed the tru-temp thermometer with a 3 inch stem above the door opening approx. 4 inches. This now gives me a smoker with a total cost in it of about $80.00 total, and completely comparable to the $300.00 weber 18 1/2" model. Google smoker modifications for more ideas and pictures.
Pat the smoker in Nashville

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 4:27:52 AM PST
Save it all. I had one of these and it is full of engineering problems with all stated by the writers of these reviews, from charcoal and ash problems, no way to regulate the heat etc. Here is what I did. I sold mine after cleaning it up with some high temp grill spray paint, (made it look like new). Then, I added $5.00 to what I got for it and went on craigs list and bought the Brinkman Gourmet smoker. By first modifying the charcoal pan with three two inch bolts and buying some weber 13 1/2 inch grills (set cross wise one on the other) I eliminated the ash problem so that the fine ash only fall through the two grill grates. Then, I called weber and bought three dampers (they have nice dampers with lift two 90 degree handles), installing two on the bottom of the gourmet itself and one on the lid. Then I went online and bought a nice Thermometer (you can get one from Wal-Mart for $17.00 (google Walmart). You do need the water pan, helps with keeping meat moist so don't eliminate it, but replace it with a bigger one by calling brinkman and ordering a charcoal pan that is used for this very brinkman here in this post, as it will hold two gallons of water which is almost one more gallon then what comes with the gourmet for a water pan. I can now easily load up using the Minion Method (google it) the charcoal pan, regulate my heat very easily with all three dampers and know exactly what my temperature is as opposed to the cheapo little gauage (which I left in) that only tells you IDEAL Hot and warm on its dial. I installed the tru-temp thermometer with a 3 inch stem above the door opening approx. 4 inches. This now gives me a smoker with a total cost in it of about $80.00 total, and completely comparable to the $300.00 weber 18 1/2" model. Google smoker modifications for more ideas and pictures.
Pat the smoker in Nashville

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 7:55:46 AM PDT
buy a a small plastic gas can and fill it with water--much easier to use the spout on the can to fill up the water. Yes not an ideal smoker but I paid $40 for it. If I get serious, I can get a bettere one.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 23, 2012 10:09:46 AM PDT
What are the differences between the Smoke 'n Grill and the Brinkman Gourmet smoker? The descriptions aren't much help.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2013 10:58:05 AM PDT
Snooks says:
How is the smoker holding up? Seems like you have a great one after working on it. Thanks for all the info. May try this.
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