Editor's note: The Brinkmann Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2015. This review is for archival purposes.
This is actually a classic smoker. This little unit is considered by many, the starter smoker. Want to know if you have what it takes to make barbecue? Many people will tell you to buy a cheap smoker and struggle with it until you know whether or not you want something better. On the other side, this smoker is good for the occasional smoker who might want to smoke a couple of chickens or a rack of ribs once in a while. The Brinkmann Gourmet is a simple smoker. Load it with charcoal (burning), fill the water pan and put on the meat. In several hours, you should have barbecue. Of course, you will need to monitor it.
- Inexpensive and simple smoker
- A good starter smoker
- Good sized capacity
- No vents or ability to adjust temperatures
- Limited construction quality
- Leaks smoke
- Two 15.5-inch chrome-plated steel cooking grates
- 375 square inches of total smoking area
- Top grate level hood mounted temperature gauge
- Painted steel construction with porcelain coated steel water pan
- Vinyl cover included
- Made in China by The Brinkmann Corporation
Guide Review - Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal Smoker & Grill
A vertical water smoker is a column with a fire in the bottom, food on the top and a pan of water in the middle. The water adds moisture, but, more importantly, it regulates the temperature. Think about it this way, since smoking barbecue is done within a few dozen degrees of the boiling temperature of water, it will take a long time for a couple of gallons of water to boil away, and since liquid water can't actually be hotter than 212 degrees F (give or take a few) the water pan will hold a very steady temperature. This is how water smokers hold a consistent temperature, which is a good thing since the Brinkmann Gourmet doesn't have any vents for you to adjust.
The Brinkmann Gourmet is widely available and is one of the most popular smokers on the market. The reason for this is because it is one of the least expensive smokers you can buy. This smoker is simple to use but can be difficult to fight with. Since you can't adjust vents you simply have to let the smoker go and hope for a good temperature. Actually, the best bet with this smoker is to just let it do its job. It's not a finely refined smoker, but it is a competent one.
One of the biggest problems with this smoker comes after it has been running for several hours, so while you might be able to avoid it with a chicken or even a rack of ribs if you are smoking for more than 6 hours you are going to have an ash problem. The vents in this smoker are in the bottom of the fire pan. As the charcoal burns ash blocks these vents putting out the fire. The solution is to lift out the burning hot fire pan and sift the ash out of it. A dangerous and difficult solution. Or you could make a number of modifications.
If you want a cheap smoker, and I mean a cheap smoker, this is certainly one to consider.