My first smoker was a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) 14.5” (37cm). I was in love, it was so shiny and like all the best purchases, you had to assemble it yourself. So, I dug out my trusty Ikea Allen key and got to work.

This tiny bullet shaped machine oozed potential to me. So much was going to happen in this outdoor cooker; the parties, the girls, the rock star lifestyle that would come along with it. It’s fair to say, I was excited.

But, what to smoke first?

Ribs. Obviously.

I’d done my research, made a dry rub, covered 2 racks of baby back’s I bought from my local butcher, I had to cut them in half to fit in the 14.5” WSM, I banged them in the smoker for 4 hours, with a metric s**t tonne of wood chips and loads of charcoal. The temperature of the smoker was going wildly all over the place, most of the time it was running at around 300F.

But there was some lovely smoke chuffing out of the top vent, I had a beer open, the garden smelt of wood smoke and me and the misses were hungry (she was mainly a little perplexed as to what the hell was happening). I pulled them out after 4 hours ready for some spectacular rib action.

They looked great, had a lovely bark, a nice dark colour and when you cut them they had a bit of a smoke ring. But they were dry. Oh God, they were dry. A few things these ribs were dryer than:

  • The Sahara
  • My friend Dr Dunford’s sense of humour
  • Ghandi’s flip flop
  • My tongue in anticipation of a visit to Stroud Brewery (check it out, it’s amazing)

I have a log store in the garden, it needs a little bit of attention, I was tempted to use the opportunity of the new blunt tool I had inadvertently created to hammer some of the screws back in. I texted the dentist – “standby, one of us will probably be in to visit you in the morning”.

Did I mention how dry they were?

But all that helped spur on the consumption of beer; you see, that’s one of the wonderful things about BBQ, its acceptable to drink beer while you are doing it. In fact, it makes it all the more pleasurable. The good news is, sometimes you’ll be starting a smoke at 3am (yes you will, believe me…), so logic says, crack open a cold one!

I have since learnt a lot more about the wonderful process of smoking ribs. I’ve learnt about charcoal, wood, rubs, wrapping and saucing. I have my favourite cut, process and time. I will write it up one day, but for now, you will just have to invite yourself around for some.

Bring a beer, mines a Pistonhead lager.