I just got my BGE on Friday and smoked my first pork butt (7 lbs) on Sunday. I joined the forum over the weekend and found the advice in the archives extremely helpful. So first, let me say thanks to all that had posted previous advice on how to smoke pork butts! Now to the questions... I found that the meats internal temperature initially rose pretty quickly for the first 4 hours and then increasingly slowed down until it plateaued at 165 and did not budge. Is that normal? I had been holding the BGE at a pretty consistent 250 up until that time but after 20 minutes of no temp change I brought the BGE up to 270 and then the butt temperature began to slowly rise again. When the internal temp hit 175 the butt had been in the BGE for 10.5 hours (and my wife and I were getting hungry) so I raised the BGE temp again to 300F and maintained that temperature until the butt hit 195 -- this happened a little more than 12 hours after the smoking began. I read that you should plan on 1.5-2 hours per pound but figured as the butt was on the small size I would be more on the 1.5 hr/lb end. Turns out that I likely would have been well over 2 hrs/lb had I not raised the BGE temp twice. Am I likely to have the same experience next time I smoke a pork butt (e.g., ~2 hrs/lb) or will that change from time to time?
In the course of smoking the pork butt, there was not a constant stream of smoke coming through the top vent -- is that normal. If not, what should I do differently? I also noticed that some (but not all) of the time that smoke came out the top vent that some smoke also came out the bottom vent. Is that normal? I also noticed that about 8 hours into the project that there was some liquid on the screen of the bottom vent and it also accumulated in the bottom track for the sliding vent. As it was slightly brownish I thought that it could be meat drippings but a quick peak inside confirmed that it was not. Is this normal? If not, what should I do differently?
FInally, when I removed the plate setter I was amazed at how little charcoal had been consumed! Also, I had started the egg in four locations (12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock) with each place getting 1/2 firestarter and one it was going I placed a long thin piece of charcoal over each. I let the fire get going until I was sure it had taken and then closed the lid and vents to maintain the 250 temp. After 1/2 hour I added the soaked wood chips, plate setter, drip pan and grip and again let the temps stabilize for 1/2 hour. Then I added the pork butt. So when I removed the plate setter at the end of the smoking it appeared that only the location at 9 o'clock had consistently burned. I noticed that this location was closest to the bottom vent. Is this normal? Should I change my procedure?
I'd appreciate any advice as my wife has signed me up to smoke two more pork butts for a party this Saturday. I've already decided to start the smoking Friday night and I'd like to try and maintain the 250 temp throughout.