The New Weber Spirit II Has Arrived!

The Weber Spirit II arrived fully assembled and delivered by Lowe’s.

My new Weber Spirit II three burner grill has been delivered. I’ve never paid this much for a gas grill before, so I am hoping to get many years of use out of it.

The Lowes assembly and delivery service worked pretty well, although the delivery guys seemed a little hesitant when I asked them to take my old grill away (as advertised). They did end up taking it. The old grill left a trail of rusty metal in my yard that I had to clean up. The other issue is that they didn’t deliver the manual with the grill. I didn’t check while they were here, but I expected it to be inside on top of the grates. When I found that they didn’t bring a manual, we made a trip to Lowe’s and they had to pull one out of another grill.

I look forward to writing up a full review once I’ve had a chance to cook on the Weber Spirit II a few times!

Tomorrow Is The Day

After much research and deliberation, we’ve finally decided on a new gas grill. A new Weber Spirit II E-310 will be delivered by Lowe’s tomorrow.

The four year old Charbroil is on its last legs. The underside has completely rusted out and the grease pan has collapsed into the cabinet.

Good riddance, Charbroil!
This Charbroil grill wasn’t built to last.

We narrowed down the choices to the Weber Genesis E-310 and the Weber Spirit II E-310 a few months ago. We were so locked in to those two models that we even picked up a cover on an Amazon Lightning Deal back in March. The cover was advertised to fit both the Genesis and Spirit models. The price was too good to pass up. The cover has just been setting aside waiting for us to pull the trigger on the grill.

We got a great price on this grill cover on an Amazon Lightning Deal.

The Genisis is definitely the premium model, but the Spirit II offers the best value. Based on my research, you can’t go wrong with either model. I can’t wait to cook on the new Weber this weekend!

What is the best wood for smoking chicken?

Chicken and most other poultry is best smoked with fruit woods such as apple, cherry or peach. Other woods commonly used in smoking meat such as oak, hickory and mesquite can overpower the flavor of chicken. Fruit woods tend to provide a lighter, sweeter smoke that accents the flavor of chicken instead of overpowering it.

Apple wood is my usual choice for smoking chicken.

Of the available fruit woods, my typical go to is apple wood. It is typically the easiest fruit wood to find on store shelves or online. However, chicken is relatively inexpensive and it doesn’t hurt to experiment with different woods or combinations of wood. It is actually kind of fun to mix and match to find your own signature combinations.

For example, when preparing smoked chicken wings that will be sauced, I like to add a small amount of hickory to the apple wood to add a little extra smokey flavor. This extra flavor provided by the hint of hickory helps adds a little extra complex smokiness to wings that will be covered in BBQ or hot sauces.

First Tri-Tip Roast

I pulled this three pound tri-tip beef roast from Blonde Farm, LLC out of the freezer this morning. I’ve never had this cut before, but I understand it is pretty lean.

My plan is to let it thaw for another day, then rub it and smoke it. Based on my research, a tri-tip this size will take 4 hours to cook low and slow. This isn’t a tough cut like brisket, it’s more like steak. I will really only need to get it up to about 145 degrees. Whatever happens, I’ll share the results!

Que Review – Beef Brisket at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia

BBQ Reviewed: Smoked Beef Brisket
Establishment: Smokey Bones
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Visit Date: 03/23/2019

Beef brisket at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia

The beef brisket at Smokey Bones was disappointing. The meat was tender and moist, but it lacked flavor. The rub that had been applied to the brisket was bland and soggy.

Most importantly, there was little to no smoke flavor on the brisket. The lack of any perceptible smoke flavor was somewhat surprising for a place with “smoke” in the name. The only real flavor came from the KC style BBQ sauce that had been spread on top of the brisket.

If this brisket had been served along with gravy and mashed potatoes at a Cracker Barrel, you could have easily convinced me it was just roast beef out of an oven and not smoked brisket.

I’m actually very curious to know how Smokey Bones smokes their brisket. Outside the restaurant, there was no sign of smoke in the air. To me, this is bizarre. Even outside most steakhouses you can smell the steaks being grilled inside from quite a distance away. It’s strange how they are are smoking brisket, wings and pulled pork every day without a hint of smoke outside the restaurant.

If we ever find ourselves at a Smokey Bones again, I will skip the brisket and try the smoked wings. I’ve heard from several different people that their wings are fantastic.

Read our full review of our visit to Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia.

Change of Plans

So originally, the plan was I was going to pick out a new dedicated smoker for Father’s Day. Unfortunately, we just realized that our gas grill is on its last legs. The priority now is to get a replacement grill first.

This is actually going to be a pretty easy decision. Sara and I are both tired of buying cheap gas grills that last three or four years max. We are going with a Weber. We’ve already narrowed it down to two Weber models. The Spirit II E-310 and the Genesis II E-310. Both are three burner models. The Genesis has a bit more cook area and some upgraded features. However, the Genesis also costs $350 more than the Spirit.

The smoker is going to wait until the end of summer. Hopefully I can find one on clearance as the big box stores start clearing their inventory.

Disclosure: BBQ Yeti is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

BBQ Joint Review: Smokey Bones – Roanoke, VA

Establishment: Smokey Bones
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Visit Date: 03/23/2019

We were recently in Roanoke, Virginia for my daughter’s travel volleyball tournament. The Team Mom made reservations for the entire team and parents at Smokey Bones which was in walking distance from our hotel. I had never heard of Smokey Bones before, but I was excited to have our first BBQ restaurant to review on BBQYeti.com.

Background of Smokey Bones

Since I have never heard of Smokey Bones, I did a little research prior to our visit. The first thing I learned is that Smokey Bones is actually a chain of restaurants in the Eastern US. The first Smokey Bones opened in Orlando, Florida in 1999. According to Wikipedia, the Smokey Bones chain currently had 66 locations in the US.

It was good to know going in the Smokey Bones was a chain and not a local Roanoke BBQ joint. I set my expectations accordingly.

The food at Smokey Bones

My Smokey Bones beef brisket meal on March 23rd, 2019 in Roanoke, VA.

I ordered the BBQ beef brisket and selected steamed broccoli and coleslaw as my sides. The meal also came with a piece of toasted garlic bread.

When my plate came out, I immediately noticed how empty it looked. The amount of brisket was fair for the price, but I definitely could used more broccoli to fill out the plate (and my appetite).

The sides were good enough. It’s really difficult to mess up steamed broccoli. The slaw wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was perfectly acceptable. Slaw is such a subjective side. I think every person has a different opinion on what makes the perfect coleslaw, so I won’t dwell on it in a review unless I find it absolutely repulsive. The garlic Texas toast was generic. It’s the same product you will find in any grocer’s freezer case.

So how was the brisket? Disappointing. It was definitely tender and moist, but it was simply missing flavor. Whatever rub had been applied did little to add flavor to the end product. There was little to no smoke flavor on the brisket which was kind of startling for a place with “smoke” in the name. The only real perceptible flavor came from the KC style BBQ sauce that was slathered on top. If this brisket meat had been served with gravy and mashed potatoes at a Cracker Barrel, you could have easily convinced me it was just sliced roast beef and not smoked brisket.

I did hear from some of the other volleyball parents that we dined with that the smoked chicken wings were quite good. If we ever find ourselves at a Smokey Bones again, I will definitely give the wings a try.

The drinks at Smokey Bones

Bourbon is right on the sign out front.

The sign outside of Smokey Bones advertises “Ribs. Quality Meats. Bourbon.” How could I not try some bourbon?

The restaurant has a full bar and an extensive drink menu. There is a whole section of the drink menu dedicated to bourbon. Several different bourbon flights are available.

I chose the Kentucky Bourbon Flight. Bourbon flights come served in four tiny Mason jar style glasses. The Kentucky flight includes selections from Angel’s Envy, Makers 46, Evan Williams and Woodford Reserve. The Angel’s Envy was the standout of the bunch. It was smooth and sweet. At the other end of the taste spectrum was the Evan Williams selection. It just tasted like cheap, harsh booze. Not good.

Kentucky bourbon flight at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia.

My wife prefers the sweeter, fruity drinks. She chose the Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea. Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea is Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace Bourbon + Aperol Liqueur + peach purée + hand squeezed lemon juice + house brewed sweet tea and topped with a peach skewer and fresh rosemary. She told me she really enjoyed her drink. I tasted it myself, but it was just too sweet for me.

Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia.

The service at Smokey Bones

We showed up as a large party of about 25. Our reservations had been made in advance for 5PM. Two sets of tables had been pushed together to accommodate our group. One set of tables was for the team and the other set was for the parents. We were all seated promptly upon our arrival.

The food preparation took a acceptable amount of time for a group our size. Food was served to the team’s table first and then the parent’s table a few minutes later. I thought that service tactic was a good idea. It allowed everyone at each table to eat together at the same time. Nothing is more annoying than being the only one at your table without your meal.

The wait staff was friendly and attentive. They never let my soft drink run out. It was impressive how they were able to provide such great service to our large party.

Another group at our hotel said that their service was much slower. However, their reservation wasn’t until 6PM which I think put them right into the dinner rush. My pro-tip would be to make your reservations for 5PM (or earlier) if you are expecting Smokey Bones to accommodate a large group.

Summary of our visit to Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia

The food at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia was just okay. Nothing I had was ostensibly bad, it was all just unremarkable. Smokey Bones has a large drink selection and the bar service was very good.

I was impressed with the overall service and the way that the staff accommodated our large party. If you have a large party, you should book in advance and plan to eat earlier to avoid dinner crowds.

Based on the service we received, I would at least try a Smokey Bones again if the opportunity arises. However, I’ll definitely avoid the beef brisket and try another BBQ entree to see if they can redeem themselves.

The Good Hurt Fuego Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce Review

The Good Hurt Fuego Whiskey Habanero sauce.

The Good Hurt Fuego’s Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce is one of seven sauces that I received in the The Good Hurt Fuego Sampler Gift pack.

Flavor of The Good Hurt Fuego’s Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce

This sauce has a great flavor. The heat is not overpowering, but definitely noticeable. This sauce is definitely great on thing like eggs. I added it to a California omelet and it was fantastic. I’ve noticed that these Fuego sauce have a bit of tanginess to them. This is especially noticeable in the Whiskey Habanero sauce. The whiskey part of the flavor is extremely subtle. If it didn’t have “whiskey” on the label I would have never guessed there was supposed to be a whiskey flavor.

California omelet with The Good Hurt Fuego Mango Habanero sauce.

Presentation of The Good Hurt Fuego’s Whiskey Habanero Hot Sauce

A big part of hot sauce marketing is in the presentation. Creating innovative packaging and an eye-catching label helps your sauce stand out on the crowded store shelves.

The Good Hurt Fuego absolutely killed it when it came to the design and packaging of their sauce sampler pack. The gift pack comes bundled like a pack of TNT. Very clever. Inside each stick of TNT, the bottle label is plain white with black lettering. It is very reminiscent of the old “generic brand” labeling though you saw in grocery stores in the 80’s. Younger folks may recognize it as similar to the Dharma style packaging in ABC’s lost.

A lot of creativity went into the packaging of The Good Hurt Fuego sampler gift pack.

The Smoker Hunt Continues

We’ve been traveling to a lot of volleyball tournaments over the last few weekends. That hasn’t left much time for smoking or grilling. However, the volleyball season is starting to wind down so I’m looking forward to some much needed BBQ time.

In the meantime, my search for a dedicated charcoal smoker continues. I’ve spent a lot of time researching and reviewing the Bronco Drum Smoker from Oklahoma Joe’s. This smoker really caught my eye at Lowes because of its unique profile. I like almost everything about the Bronco, but during my research I did learn that some early adopters are reporting a manufacturing defect. I will need to see how Oklahoma Joe’s responds to these reports before I consider buying a Bronco. You can read my detailed review of Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker here.

The next smoker that I’m going to focus on is the Char-Griller AKORN 20-in Kamado grill. Right from the start, I’m not convinced the AKORN is is going to be a real option for me. The cook space just seems too limited. I know the Kamado style grills are super-popular and I want to know why.

Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker Review: A Horse of Different Color


  • Manufacturer: Char-Broil
  • Brand: Oklahoma Joe’s
  • Model: Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker
  • Model#: 19202097

Char-Broil has introduced a new smoker to their premium Oklahoma Joe’s line of smokers. The Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco drum smoker is now showing up on the sales floors of the big box retailers across the US.

The official marketing video from Oklahoma Joe’s sure makes it look like an attractive new option.

Initial impressions Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker

The first thing you notice about the Bronco Drum Smoker is the shape. At distance, you could easily mistake it for a trash can. That doesn’t mean that it is unattractive, it just has the same form factor. In fact, the novel design is pretty eye catching as you get closer and begin to see the engineering that went into the development of this smoker.

One thing that immediately caught my attention however is that there is just a single opening for this smoker – the top. Of course, right away I started wondering how you would maintain your charcoal/wood throughout the cook. We’ll touch on this more a little further down in the review.

The Unique Design of Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker

I describe the design of Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker as unique, but it was clearly inspired by the Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS). UDS’s are revered by DIY folks as a fantastic way to make great BBQ without buying a commercial off-the-shelf smoker. A UDS is basically a 55 gallon steel drum that has been converted to a smoker with a few modifications.

Beauty and the beast?

The UDS is certainly a great option for a cheap drum smoker if you have skill. Although I’ve seen some really nice looking UDSs, it has the name “ugly” for a reason. It’s easy to imagine that an HOA or a significant other might not appreciate the look of a repurposed industrial container on the patio.

With their Bronco Drum Smoker, it appears that Oklahoma Joe’s is trying to fill the market niche for consumers who don’t have the time or skill to build their own UDS and want something a little more aesthetically pleasing.

Key differences between the Bronco Drum Smoker and a DIY Ugly Drum Smoker

The BDS is not a perfect substitute for a UDS. The are two primary differences that should keep in mind.

Cooking area size comparison

A 55 gallon drum UDS will accommodate a 22.5 inch grill grate for 363 inches of cooking space. In comparison, the Bronco Drum Smoker can only take an 18 inch grate which gives you about 254 inches of cooking space. That means you are losing about 30% of the cooking area by with the BDS.

The caveat here is that the Bronco Drum Smoker has two grate positions. One right at the top and another a bit further down in the drum. 18 inch grates are readily available online. So potentially, you could cook on both grates – giving you over 500 inches of cooking space.

The lower grate position is designed to allow grilling in the Bronco Drum Smoker. To grill, you remove the included heat deflector and use the lower grate to cook closer to the coals. If you purchased a second grate for the purpose of two tier smoking, there may be some trial and error involved to make sure food on the lower grate (closer to the coals) is not getting too much direct heat.

One other thing to note is that Oklahoma Joe’s does offer a pricey, but innovative modular add-on grate. The modular design allows sections of the grate to be removed to allow space for hanging meat on the included hooks. If you are considering buying a second grate for your BDS, the modular grate may be with considering.

Oklahoma Joe’s offers a modular grate with removable sections to allow you to hang ribs alongside a pork butt.

Charcoal capacity and cook time

Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker advertises that the included charcoal bin will hold eight pounds of briquettes. This is significantly less than what will fit into the bin of a DIY UDS. While Oklahoma Joe’s claims that their smoker is designed for all-day cooks, it is hard to say how many hours of annual cooking you will get out of a full Bronco charcoal bin. There are a number of variables at play – including cook temp and the thermal efficiency of the smoker.

As I mentioned in the initial impressions, there is no access to the charcoal bin through a separate door on the side of the smoker. This means that adding any charcoal or wood throughout the cook will have to be done through the top. That would mean removing the grill and and food, which isn’t really practical or convenient. This may be a non-issue if the Bronco Drum Smoker is capable of sustaining a 250 temperature for 10+ hours. Only time and experience will tell.

Other key features of Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker

The lid of the Bronco is concave to allow food to be cooked on the uppermost grate position. The edge of the Bronco lid is equipped with high-temperature gasket material to form a seal between the lid and the body lid of the smoker.

Lid gasket

The gasket is a nice addition to ensure that the lid forms a good seal to the body of the Bronco Drum Smoker.

Airflow controls for temperature management

Both the air intake that feeds into the bottom of the Bronco Drum Smoker and the vent at the top have specially designed flanges to control airflow. These adjustable flanges are numerically gauged so that you can document the the precise setting for specific temperatures.

The airflow controls on the Bronco Drum Smoker are gauged.

Built-in thermometer

Like most smokers for the home BBQ enthusiast, Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker includes a built in thermometer. However, the accuracy of built in thermometers tends to be hit or miss. Most users will still want to use a dedicated electronic meat thermometer. Still, the addition of the built-in thermometer is a nice touch.

The Bronco Drum Smoker includes an integrated thermometer.

Disclosure: BBQ Yeti is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Reports of manufacturing defects

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few reports that I found about manufacturing defects that have been identified with the Bronco. Apparently, the mount bolt on the tubing used for the air intake is in the wrong location. You can read more about it here and here. I trust that on future production runs, this issue will be resolved. This stuff happens. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it is disappointing to hear about this issue with an otherwise impressive new smoker.

Disclosure: BBQ Yeti is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.