004 Chris Davey – Offsets vs Verticals

In Episode Four of the Comp Ready series of The Smoking Hot Confessions Podcast, I chat with Chris Davey from the Top 10 team The Smoking Hot Bros. Please be sure to Subscribe and leave a Review to spread the love.

The Bros cook on both offsets and verticals, so Chris was the perfect person for me to put on the spot and dive deep into the arguments for and against both offsets and verticals.

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Show Notes
  • The Bros were mates that got together to enjoy BBQ and beer
  • Their new trailer is called ‘Rockatanski’ after Mad Max as it’s a weapon for the road
  • What sets the Bros apart is commitment and a willingness to invest time and money
  • Advantages of cooking on an offset:
    • Real estate
    • Can cook on straight iron bark
    • For catering – the looks are important
    • Very versatile for directing heat, particularly in direct or standard flows
  • Cons against cooking on an offset
    • Weight
      • Transportation can be an issue – weight and real estate on a trailer/ute
      • A 20-inch weighs close to 300 kilos on its own (20inch by 1.2 metre)
      • Fires can take a long time to get to cooking temperature – for a quick meal at home, it’s faster to get a Weber up and running
      • A trailer mounted smoker takes a lot of storage space in a garage
    • Standard or Reverse flow and why?
      • They both work very well
      • For catering, reverse flow is probably better due to more consistent temperatures and quicker recovery times after opening a door
      • Also can be a problem – the heat zones can be very different and putting food in it changes the characteristics when cooking
      • They went to a standard flow to get more adjustability and consistency – can get within 5 degrees F across a 30 inch x 2.5m pit. 10 – 15F when fully loaded with food
      • Better moisture control throughout the pit in a direct flow
      • A lot of it comes down to the individual pitmaster and how much time and practice they put into their pit
    • Insulated firebox
      • 6mm steel inner skin, 30mm high heat foam and then 6mm steel
      • 42mm total thickness
      • Similar sized trailer, non-insulated, used 3 crates at a comp. Insulated firebox used 1.5 crates
      • For home cooks, probably not necessary
      • Better for catering and comps
  • Arguments for verticals
    • Affordability
    • Easier to transport – more real estate-friendly on a trailer or ute
    • The amount of meat in a BSG vertical is more than an average 20 inch offset
  • Cons against verticals
    • Can’t cook on logs
    • Buying charcoal is a bit more expensive than logs
    • Recovery time can be slower than an offset
    • Fat fires are more of a risk
    • Heat retention can be an issue as the metal is thinner than an offset
    • Not too many cons against verticals
    • Can do really long cooks without having to refuel the fire
    • Chris finds insulated offsets to be more fuel efficient and cost effective than a vertical
    • Transportation
      • Vertical is easier to transport unless you’ve got one on a trailer
    • The Bros divvy up the storage, usage, cleaning and responsibility for gear
    • Cleanup
      • Offset wins for clean-up
      • Cleaning the firebox in an offset is a lot easier than a vertical as the fats and waters are kept away from the ash
      • Chris uses a paint scraper and a wire brush to clean the cooking chamber of his offset
  • Bang for buck and recommendation for first time competitor
    • Vertical water smoker
    • Pro Q – they’re simple, and easy
    • BSG – so much real estate
      • Maybe invest in a blower and use a snake so it will go all night without having to touch it
  • Chris got into low’n’slow after a few founding members went to a demonstration and got hooked
  • Chicken and pork ribs have been the tricky cuts for the Bros
    • If you’re happy with a flavour and a style, stick with it
    • Don’t experiment at a comp
  • Bullockhead Creek vs Radar Hill vs BSG Offsets
    • BHC was a direct flow with a customised baffle plate
      • Good to use. More suited to catering than competition cooking
      • Excellent value for money
    • Radar Hill Smokers
      • Stunning pits, visual masterpieces
      • Rob the pit builder is an excellent guy
      • RHS doesn’t make Direct Flows which is what the Bros want
      • A lot of teams are very successful on them
    • BSG
      • It’s a left-handed smoker – opposite to most smokers
        • Runs better on Australian roads
      • BSG pits are very ingenuitive e.g. insulated firepits
  • New buyers need to look for
    • Quality of welds
    • Paint – needs to be able to withstand heat so it doesn’t fall off and rust
      • Look at Radar Hill Smokers – uses top quality paint. 2 year old smokers are still not showing any age.
  • 3 top tips for new teams
    • Fire management
    • Practice practice practice
    • Have fun