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Until I discovered cooking, I was never really interested in anything – Julia Child
It takes some people a lifetime to discover their passion and purpose and that one special thing that makes their soul sing and their heartbeat a little faster. We’re fortunate, we found our raison d’etre early on and we’ve clung to it tightly ever since.
Like Julia Child before we found the undertaking that changed everything for us, we weren’t really interested in anything and ambled aimlessly from one meaningless waste of time to another without interest or joy.
While Julia found her happiness in cooking, we found ours in the not entirely unrelated world of smoking.
Some of our friends and family like to grill, others have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of perfecting barbecue by experimenting with endless variations of rubs and spice concoctions.
And while we’re happy that they’ve found their ardor, just as we’re sure that they elated that we’ve found ours, we’re locked in the same drive for excellence that they are.
Early in our smoking career, we were confronted by the irrefutable truth that there is always room for improvement and that we can always do better. And that truth has driven us to try and find the consummate smoker to help us improve everything that we do.
Louisiana Grills – Brand Overview
Ever since we first started hearing whispers about this vertical pellet smoker and what it was capable of through the smoking grapevine, we wanted to lay our hands on one, either by hook or crook, spend a couple of days using it to smoke the Louisiana Grills way.
Owned by the world-beating and all-conquering pellet company whose brief and staggering ascent to corporate success has taken less time than most companies devote to planning their next major product launch, Dansons, Louisiana Grills are a fairly new name on the smoking and grilling scene.
More famous for their incredible wood pellets and the Trager controversy and lawsuit (which, if you’re interested in knowing more about, you can by heading here) than their smokers, Louisiana Grills could be about to change the smoking world as we know it and seize the throne occupied by the long-accepted alpha dogs of the wood pellet smoking kingdom, Traeger Grills.
That said, through rather more fair means than foul, which is a nicer way of saying that we bit the bullet and used our hard-earned dollars to purchase it, we finally managed to cross paths with a Louisiana Grills Vertical Smoker.
And as soon as it arrived, we prepared to do what we love doing more than anything else in the world and started smoking with this incredible machine.
Louisiana Grills pride themselves on designing and engineering the best pellet grills in the world, and while we took their claim with a pinch of salt before this vertical pellet smoker arrived, after firing it up and smoking to our heart’s content over a long weekend, we’re forced to admit that they may well be right.
This could very well be one of the best smokers in the world.
We have to admit that the first time we started using this smoker, we were a little discombobulated by it. It has a glass door. You can actually see it smoking and cooking whatever it is you’ve lined its shelves within real-time.
It was fascinating to see the thing that we’ve been obsessed with for most of our adult lives, actually happening in front of us, and finally being able to watch the smoke swirl around was almost worth the price that we paid for the smoker.
The Hopper System
As it’s a pellet smoker, it uses a hopper delivery system, and the hopper that this smoker uses to fuel its fire and make smoke is staggering.
It’s huge. Louisiana Grills states that it holds close to sixty pounds of pellets, and wanting to make sure that they weren’t fudging the truth and blurring the lines of what this smoker can and can’t do, we decided to test its capacity before lighting it up.
They weren’t lying.
We emptied a bag and a half of their own brand Tennessee Whiskey Barrel pellets (we figured if we were using a Louisiana Grills smoker, we might as well use the best, in our humble opinion, pellets that they make), which means that the hopper must hold close to, or around the figure that they stated it would.
The manufacturer also says that a full hoper will return thirty-five hours of smoking time, and even though we weren’t going to have anywhere near that amount of time to cook with, we set the temperature low, put a couple of briskets in the smoker, set the controls, stood back and let it do the rest.
How Much Room?
As we’ve already mentioned that we threw a couple of brisket joints in the smoker before we pushed go, we thought it might be an opportune moment to mention the amount of space that this smoker has to cook with.
Are you sitting down? Okay, take a deep breath and get ready. This smoker has two thousand square inches of smoking space, and while, admittedly, it’s spread out over six shelves that’s still an amazing amount of space.
We tried figuring out how many people we could actually feed if the smoker was filled to capacity and while we got lost somewhere in the math, we did end up coming to the conclusion that it was a lot.
It’s definitely more than our family and friends could eat over the course of a weekend, and that’s just from a single smoker full.
Setting Your Smoke and Heat
Louisiana Grills uses a fairly straightforward, simple to follow and operate digital control panel to regulate the amount of heat and smoke you can generate, and if you can use your television remote control, you’ll be able to get to grips with this unit in under five minutes.
Temperature-wise, it’s capable of generating close to a three hundred-degree, fully controllable range, that’ll let you go from one hundred and fifty to four hundred degrees Fahrenheit at the touch of a button.
Okay, so it isn’t instantaneous and takes the smoker a little longer to raise and lower the internal temperature than it took to set it, but you get the picture, It’s easy to control, makes a lot of heat, and just the right amount of smoke.
But as we’re die-hard smokers, we set it low and slow and just let it go.
Tell Us About The Brisket
What can we say? It did exactly what it was supposed to do. The level of heat was just right, the smoke was just right and the brisket was incredible.
And that deep, rich whiskey taste that the pellets infused the meat with? It was as near to perfect as we’ve ever had.
So, over two separate smoking sessions, we ran the machine for close to fourteen hours in total and it didn’t suffer one misstep.
And as the amount of time that we were smoking for was just under half of what Louisiana Grills said we’d get from a full hopper, we decided to check how much fuel was left in its tank.
Sure enough, a brief visual inspection of the hopper revealed that we had more than enough pellets left to fire it up again, and while we were tempted to do just that, we were stopped dead in our tracks by real-world stuff like jobs and having to spend time with our families.
Sometimes being an adult really does suck.
It Isn’t All News
Nothing is perfect, not even this vertical smoker. It comes close, and it’s one of the best smokers that we’ve ever used, but it falls short in a couple of areas.
Like most wood pellet smokers it’s mains powered, so you just plug it in, switch it on and it’s ready to go. In theory, that means that it’s portable and it doesn’t just have to live on your patio or in your yard.
After all, if you have access to a socket and wood pellets, you can use it anywhere, right? Wrong.
The problem is, this smoker weighs close to one hundred and fifty pounds, and even though it’s on wheels and fairly easy to push from one place to another, when you hit a bump in the road, or more accurately find your self facing a couple of steps or want to load it into the back of your RV, that’s when you’re going run into trouble.
If you do try to lift your smoker, tell your other half to be on stand-by with painkillers, as there’s a good chance that you’ll throw your back out.
It isn’t exactly easy to clean either.
The hopper doesn’t have an easy dump system, and once you’ve got the “easy access” door open, it’s like jumping back in time to the beginning of the millennium, it just feels slightly old fashioned and out of place on a smoker of this caliber.
And the grease pans are a little bit difficult to remove as well, especially when they are full, and while we know that it sounds like we’re whining like a bunch of spoiled kids, these things matter.
No-one, no matter what they say, enjoys cleaning a smoker after they’ve finished using it, and the more difficult it is to clean it, the less you’re going to look forward to using it to smoke with again.
While we’re on the subject of things that bugged us about the Louisiana Grills smoker, the lack of any sort of WiFi or app control is a demerit, especially given the price point that it’s set at, and the fact that similarly priced Traeger grills are net ready and use their patented WiFire system and Alexa voice control.
We guess we just expected a little more for our money.
The Final Verdict
Even though it wasn’t as perfect as we’d hoped it might be, this vertical smoker was still one of the best smokers that we’ve had a chance to play with for a long time.
Yes, there are some minor issues that slightly dog its overall performance and appeal, but they’re little things when it comes to the smoking crunch.
Because, at the end of the day, the Louisiana Grills smoker does what it was made to do almost flawlessly.
Would we use it again? We have and we will, and we’ll continue to use it to smoke our weekends away with.
And even though we still don’t like cleaning it and it’s still awkward and difficult to move around the decking, we can’t help admitting that we have fallen just a little bit in love with this wonderful smoker.