Offset Smoker Review
An offset smoker, or stick-burner is often considered the mark of a real BBQ’er – the need to manage a live fire escalates an avid fan to a true Pitmaster. Not too long ago, I put on my big-boy pants and took delivery of my first offset: a Radar Hill Smokers Vertical Offset. I’ve lived with it for a few months now, taken it to a few comps, and here is my Radar Hill Smokers Vertical Offset Review.
There are two variants of the Radar Hill Smokers Vertical Offset: the 20 inch and the 24 inch. The one I have is the 20 inch. Here’s the quick version of the specifications:
- Height: 1950mm
- Width (Body): 1100mm
- Width (Wheelbase): 1350mm
- Depth: 550mm
- Weight: 260 kgs
- 4 cooking racks
- 0.77m² of cooking space (same as a 20 inch horizontal smoker)
- 5 mm steel thickness
Both of these Radar Hill Smokers Vertical Offsets have the same features. These include:
- Polished wooden handles
- Stainless Steel Grill
- Stainless Steel Hotplate
- Twin Tel-Tru thermometers
- Water rack in the bottom
- Hanging rack in the top
- Tuning Plates
- Chimney Handle
- Relocatable shelves in 3 positions
- Optional logo plate
- Lockable castors
Build Quality / Appearance
If you’re familiar with Radar Hill Smokers then you know that they are the best looking and most well built smokers out there. The vertical offset is no exception.
Firstly, it’s incredibly unique. You are unlikely to find another smoker like this currently on the market. It absolutely gets a lot of attention at competitions. The first words out of my mouth when I saw it were ‘That’s sexy.’ This is the most common response from Joe and Jane public too.
It’s difficult to separate build quality and appearance, as poor build quality often results in poor appearance and vice-versa. As you would expect from a Radar Hill, this smoker has obviously been built by a master craftsman, no matter which angle you look at it from. There is barely a seam to be seen, and the workmanship that’s gone into the metal work is clear when looking at the corners. Even though three individual pieces of steel are meeting to form a corner, the seams are continuous, rounded and smoothed almost to the point of appearing like the smoker was cast rather than built. I could go on and on, but you can see this for yourself in the photos.
Radar Hills have a reputation for high performance and this is no exception. Firstly, everything works as it should – the cooking chamber draws the heat and smoke across from the firebox very efficiently, where it then exits out the chimney on top. The chimney is opened and closed with a very nifty slide handle.
Secondly, most people are concerned about consistency of temperature across a pit. In this case, we’re looking at temperatures bottom to top. This is where the tuning plates come in. With a little experimentation, it is very easy to have it set up so that the temperature is withing 5F from the bottom to the top. I have discovered that the cooking chamber is hotter at the back than the front, probably because there is no opportunity for heat to escape. My way around this is to periodically pull the shelves out, turn them around and put them back in. Due to the design of the shelves, this is a breeze and takes two seconds.
Thirdly, we need to discuss fuel consumption. The firebox is not insulated, so it will require more wood than some others. However, heat naturally rises, and so the natural flow of the vertical smoker does make for less fuel consumption than most horizontal offsets. At the BBQ & Beats Competition, I ran the smoker for 14 hours and used only 30 kgs (66 lbs) of Iron Bark. This was also in the middle of winter, so a summer cook would use less.
If you think I’m hopelessly in love with my Radar Hill Smoker Vertical Offset, you’d be right. However no marriage is perfect. Firstly, this smoker is tall, so if you’re vertically challenged, opening and closing the chimney and using the top shelf might be tricky. Personally, I’m 185 cm (6’1) tall and so this smoker is perfect for me, as I rarely have to bend down, thus saving my back.
The only other issue I could pick with this smoker is its weight distribution. Because it’s tall, it’s very top-heavy. This make pushing it up ramps difficult as if you push from the back (the cooking chamber side) if feels like it might topple over on you. Turn it around and push from the cooking chamber and you’re good to go!
As discussed above, this thing is dead sexy and has exceptional build quality: with proper care, this is a life-time purchase. There is no argument that you’ll be buying one of the best smokers on the market. There are however, a few more things that need to be pointed out.
Firstly, I love the flexibility of the design: the relocatable shelves on the outside and the easy-operation shelves inside are a dream to use. I can warm my sauces just by putting the container up against the chamber: very useful. The easy-remove ash tray is a very welcome addition – making clean up a breeze.
I really, really love the hotplate and grill built into the top of the firebox: even if I am not using it for cooking, it makes a great access hatch for loading in more logs. Moreover, the shelf running along underneath the cooking chamber is an excellent place to warm your logs before putting them on the fire.
However, the single biggest Pro for this smoker has to be its footprint. The chassis for this smoker is the same as horizontal models. As this is a vertical design though, the entire smoker fits within the footprint of the chassis. This is excellent if you, like me, are short on space. In this case, I can fit the entire cooking area of a 20 inch smoker into just a 1.04m² space!
Radar Hill Smokers have a reputation for smart designs and outstanding build quality. The new Vertical Offset is no different. It has the looks and performance to put a smile on anyone’s dial. And of course, delicious brisket in their bellies. If you’re pressed for space, a fan of vertical smokers, or just looking for something different, the Radar Hill Smokers Vertical Offset Smoker is for you.
You can contact Radar Hill Smokers on 0412 723 720. Ask for Rob, and tell him I sent you!