If you are looking for an affordable smoker that is easy to operate the Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal Smoker and Grill is a good choice.
This Brinkmann model (Model # 852-7080-0) is as inexpensive as smokers get so it’s a common choice for a first time smoker. I was first turned on to the Brinkmann line with the electric model and am now on my second Gourmet Charcoal model. My trick is to take advantage of the identical parts across the smoker line. The Gourmet line uses the same size ceramic coated drip pan (despite durability these pans can really wear) grill grates and lids. The charcoal model is available in black and dark green.
The smokers retail for less than $90 on Amazon – HERE and you can’t find a better deal.
One warning is that there is substantial assembly required. Give it an hour and you’ll be ready. See my assembly efforts here.
The smoker features a basic thermometer to give you a general idea on when to reload. However there is no real method to adjust airflow and temperature. Still, it does the low and slow job.
Use care to clean the charcoal pan, grates and drip pan as these will quickly corrode. The grates tend to rust quickly but are replaceable with grates for about $8 from Brinkmann. The affordable grill cover is also recommended.
Use caution swapping parts from the electric model for charcoal use as the paint on the electric smoker seems to break down with high heat.
I have used the Brinkmann in backyard cooking with ribs, chicken, turkey, brisket and pork butts as well as competition ribs and pork butts and it is a nice portable choice. Note: KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society) and other competition sanctioning groups require wood or charcoal so the electric model is not an option to compete).
Some seasoned cookers highly recommend the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker as a competition tool. It is also a good choice but available at a higher price point.
Brinkmann describes the smoker as:
The Gourmet Charcoal is our top-of-the-line double grill charcoal water smoker. It has two chrome plated steel cooking grills for a 50 pound cooking capacity. The smoker body lifts off the base for easy access to an extra-large charcoal pan, and also allows for quick and easy conversion to a waist high barbecue grill. A heat indicator in the lid eliminates guesswork. Features include porcelain coated steel water pan, front hinged door for easy access to water and charcoal pans, and wooden handles that stay cool to the touch. Includes heavy-duty outdoor vinyl cover.
In summary this smoker is a solid and affordable performer and is somewhat interchangeable with similar models. A good, easy to use, smoker for the beginning or intermediate BBQ cook.