Weber Smokey Mountain vs Pit Barrel Cooker | WSM vs PBC | Road to Ribtown Eps. 11
Today, on episode 11 a side-by-side
showdown between a Weber Smokey Mountain the Pit Barrel Cooker, because you asked for it. Now, before we get started on today’s cook, I want to talk about the Weber Smokey Mountain and the original Pit Barrel Cooker, which are similar in shape and size, but different in primary function by design. You see, one is a “smoker” and one is not.
Let me explain. If you take a look inside, you can see that the Weber Smokey Mountain it has two cooking grates and a water pan. The Pit Barrel Cooker has some rebar, an optional cooking grate, but no water pan. What the water pan does in the WSM is deflect and absorb direct heat from below to lower the air temperature
above. This allows the WSM to comfortably operate at temperatures below 275, which is ideal for traditional “low and slow” BBQ and because the WSM runs below
275, it is correctly classified as a “smoker”. Now, because there’s not a water
pan or heat diffuser the PBC, the heating not only comes straight up, it also equates the PBC operating at temperatures at or above 275; what we call “hot and fast”. And because it runs north of 275, it’s not a “smoker”. Now, I know a lot of folks call it a smoker, but it’s not. Even the PBC company website says
the Pit Barrel Cooker is between a smoker and a grill and they’re precisely right. It’s
kind of in this middle ground. But the missing water pan is part of the PBC’s unique manner in which it cooks food by hanging it, vertically in most cases,
directly over the coals. When you cook meat in this manner, especially ribs, the
rendered fat and juice is able to drip not only down the rack, basting it along
the way, but more importantly it’s permitted to drip directly onto the hot
coals which steams back into the air leaving your food with a unique flavor
you can’t get from an offset, a pellet cooker or even the WSM, when using the
water pan. But the water pan in the WSM is removable. Take it out, let the heat rise, drop in a rib hanger from Gateway Drum Smokers and you can cook ribs, vertically, just like you can on the Pit Barrel Cooker. This is exactly what I did in episode 10. But some folks said it wasn’t fair because I didn’t do a side-by-side cook. Well, today, we are going to do just that.
I’ve got a buddy coming over. We’re gonna see which one’s best, if there’s any difference at all, and since I own both of these cookers, I’m gonna tell what I think of them, pros and cons, and which one might be right for you. So, without further ado,
let’s get to the cook! Now, here I have removed the charcoal basket from the Pit Barrel Cooker.
Here’s an original charcoal ring for the WSM. As you can see, they’re both
roughly the same size I can almost fit the PBC… Well, I can. I can fit the PBC
charcoal ring inside this one. The ring from the WSM is a bit taller.
It probably can hold a bit more charcoal, than the PBC, but you can see they’re
roughly the same size. Alright, so I took the painstaking process of counting out a hundred and twenty briquettes in each of these baskets.
Now, the Pit Barrel Cooker manufacture’s recommendation is to fill the basket and
then remove 20 coals and heat them in a chimney and put them back in. As you can see, this basket is pretty well full. What I’m gonna do is take 20 briquettes out of the bag, we’re gonna light those and we’re gonna put them in the center of
these rings and get these fired up! Coals are white hot! Now for smoke today, we are gonna use a little cherry. I always love to use cherry with ribs. It’s really up to you what you want to use. Two good size chunks there… Alright, so here goes nothing… (fingers crossed) See if I can get this done here…. Alright, so here we got the Gateway Rib rack already in there. Take the water pan out we don’t
need it. Alright, so here I’ve got two racks of baby backs from Smithfield. I’ve already removed the membrane. we’re gonna go ahead and put on a base and binder, gonna put on couple seasonings, nothing real fancy here. The flavor of these ribs is not what we’re going for. I’m just letting
you know what I’m putting on these, so you can see that it’s the same thing
put on both sides. I’m starting with some jalapeno mustard, as a base and binder. For a base all purpose rub, we’re going to use some Weber’s own garlic jalapeno. It’ll
just give a little heat. Once we add all that sweetness with the next rub and the
sauce – that’ll change things. Now, this is a homemade rub that I’ve made. You can make your own rubs at home, it’s not very difficult. You may or may not be able to see it here, but the dome thermometer is reading just under 300 degrees and
the Pit Barrel Cooker… We have no idea what it’s doing. We do know that most people find it hitting just under 300. So, I’m gonna guess we’re probably pretty close to that. So, this is a pretty fair comparison right now. They’re running pretty equal. I think. I think. I have no idea what this is doing, but uh… So, there we go. Let’s get the ribs on and make this happen. Alright, we’ll come back here in one hour check on these things and see how they’re doing. Let’s take a look at these ribs. The last
time I cook them I spritz them every hour. I’m not doing that this time. Pretty good looking rack. See you guys back here in an hour. Alright? Let’s take a few minutes and talk pros and cons Here I’m gonna give you the pros and cons of each of these two cookers in comparison to one another. Let’s start with the Weber Smokey Mountain. First and foremost, it’s a smoker. Not only by name and use, but it was designed to be one from the ground up. It’s versatile. Not only can you do “low and slow”, but “hot and fast” too. You can also easily do a reverse sear, by
taking a mid-section off and lowering a top grate right over the coals. It has a
lot more cooking surface. With its two cooking grates, you can easily smoke six pork shoulders at once. Since, it has an access door and removable mid-section, refueling is easy. Because of its adjustable vents, you can close them down the end of a cook and save all the unused charcoal. Weber has back to w same with a 10 year
warranty, so it’s gonna last you a while Unfortunately at $329, it’s a bit more
expensive than PBC, but still a great price and very affordable. Initial assembly takes about 30 to 60 minutes, which is a longer than a PBC. Cleaning the water pan of grease and gross water is no joy. By design, the WSM’s lid, and how it fits into the mid-section, keeps grease from dripping on
your food and outside the cooker, but the flip-side to that – it allows moisture to come inside when it rains even with the cover on. Leave this thing outside the
summer and you’ve got yourself a mold factory in no time. Moving the WSM is possible, when cooking, but not that easy or safe for that
matter. Now, the last con, I guess, is because the WSM has a thermometer and adjustable vents, there is some brain power required to manage it. Now the Pit Barrel Cooker? Well, for starters it’s cheaper than the WSM by $30 and that includes shipping. It’s definitely cool looking, there’s no question. Because of the hook
and hanging method, there’s plenty of vertical space. You can do up to eight
racks of ribs – right out the box. Assembly is easy. Five minutes, maybe.
And set up in general operation is easy too. Because there is no top vent and a lid that doesn’t allow water on the inside, when rains, you can not only cook in the rain,
but you can keep this thing outside too. However, the flat lid will fill up with
water and because the grease has nowhere to go, once it collects on the underside, it will drip on your food. So you’ve gotta
keep it clean! The PBC does have a warranty and I’m not sure how long it is, but what I do know is that the PBC’s website says that the PBC will only last you maybe 3-5+ years. Which really isn’t a long time in my estimation. Other cons: it’s not a “smoker” No low and slow cooking. With that, and the fact
that you can’t easily reverse sear it’s just not as versatile as WSM. There’s no
access door or easy way to refuel this thing, but since it cooks a lot hotter
you may never need to refuel it. But if you do, you’ll be taking everything
outside to do it. Lastly there’s no way to extinguish your coals and save them once you’re done cooking. Now, one subscriber told me you could get some magnets online put them over the holes, but out the box, there’s just no way to do that, so that’s a negative in my book. Now, the thing I like most about the PBC,
besides it being cool and simple is this it’s made in America, it’s owned by a
veteran and it’s not huge corporation. The owner was putting a cell phone on
every PBC for the longest time. Probably not any more, but that’s awesome!
Either way both are great cookers similar in shape and size, different in
primary function, but equally turn out some great food 193 195 I think I might just go with the wrap for 20 minutes maybe…? Gonna heat up our barbecue sauce here. NC State’s barbecue sauce. It won some awards, apparently…. Woah! It’s hot!! These are off the PBC and then off the Weber Smokey Mountain. As you can see they’re pretty well done – Bone showing through 203 206 208 They’re definitely done. Man, that does look delicious. I will say. [laughing] You want to drink that don’t you? I do. They are a little darker than I
wanted, but you know still good. Alright, PBC on the left WSM on the right We’ll do the Malcom Reed trick and make a nice boat. Wish me luck! PBC, Weber Smokey Mountain I mean, honestly, I don’t see much of a difference. You know? Do you? I don’t know what’s what. Don’t tell me. Alright, this is the first one…. It’s pretty good. Why are you eating my rib? Did you see that juice fly out? Pretty clean bite. That’s really good! Now this one doesn’t have as big of a smoke ring. All right, I gotta be honest,
this one might be a touch bit tastier.. Really? …but they both are pretty equal. They’re both equally juicy. They’re not smoky though. No. So, what’s the verdict? Which one’s which? I can’t say one’s better than the other. No. I think they’re pretty much the.. So there you have it, in the end I
think we both agreed the ribs were pretty much equal. No losers, just winners. This
wasn’t about how to cook ribs. It was more; which one is gonna be better? I think answer that question is… …really neither. They’re both gonna be good. Now, if you’re just getting started into grilling, I think the Pit Barrel Cooker is a good start for you. If you’re looking to get into
more low and slow smoking, the Weber Smokey Mountain is probably your go to. There is a little more tinkering involved here, but I enjoy it. There’s a reason why a lot of us get into barbecue, because we want to spend time the backyard tinkering and messing with things. Well, that’s my video. I hope you
enjoyed it I hope you learned something. Be sure to hit that like button and
subscribe, if you have not. And like I always say… What do I always say?? I hope you learned something. I know I certainly did. Thanks for watching!