Just wanted to give some lessons learned from my first seven or so smokes. I had never really smoked any meat before purchasing my Cookshack AmeriQue. Maybe others can learn from my mistakes.
Use the forums. Read them once, read them twice. I found a wealth of information here even before I actually purchased my AmeriQue. Once you have the 1000 foot view use the search tool to research more specifics. Do not be concerned (like I first was) that one post says to cook ribs at 225 degrees for 4 hours and another says 250 for 3 hours. Foil, spray with juice, go left, go right. I found out that smoking is more of an art and not like baking a cake where times and measurements are meant to be exact. This might have been the hardest concept to overcome.
Practice before having guests over. I am now eight smokes in and now think I am ready to have a few close friends over who will tell me their honest opinions. The first 4 or 5 smokes were not very good. They weren't uneatable but I was not happy with the product. I am surprised however how much one can improve in just a few additional smokes. When a smoke did not work as well as it could I went directly to the forums to do research so that I could course correct the next try.
Take notes. When I started I really wasn't going to keep a log of my smokes but it turned out to be a huge help. I am a tech guy and used the Evernote tool. Evernote lets me sync notes and photos on my home computer, iPhone and iPad. Pretty handy.
Watch your wood. Start with less and work your way to more. I started using one 2 ounce piece and graduated to two.
It's done when it's done. Before my first smoke I really didn't understand what everyone one was talking about. After just one smoke I got it. Do not try and rush the smoke. Every meat is different. Weight, fat content, etc. I learned that by practicing (I have been smoking baby back ribs and full pork butts) you quickly get an education on when the meat feels done. I am by no means an expert (or even a journeyman) but I am a bit more comfortable experimenting with different temps and times. I even sprayed apple juice concentrate on my last pork butt... fancy Don't be afraid to experiment. Just another good reason to practice before having guests for dinner. Be patient.
FTC. Foil-Towel-Cooler. I do still struggle with having the food come out in time for dinner. Don't think I have this one quite down. I have been starting the pork butts way before I need them and then double foil, terry cloth towel and cooler them. I would like to become better at this.
Remote thermometer. I had a Maverick that I used on my grill. I also got an iGrill for a birthday gift. Both worked really well. While not a necessity it really made things easier.
Clean-up. Thank the good Lord for aluminum foil and beer. Use them both
Again just my first 3 weeks of being a Cookshack owner. Thanks to all the forum posters who take the time to answer questions. It made such a better journey for me.