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HI all, have a question, I'm new here and new with electric smokers, have smoked with pellet smokers, and a WSM. I did the seasoning, then smoked a rack of St. Louis ribs with 2oz. of hickory, ending slightly bitter, next I did a 8.5# butt with 3oz. of apple, 10 hour smoke, and wow, bitter again, I couldn't even taste the meat. I've read through the forum here and I can't find a thread with a clear cut resolution. Was wondering if the smoke would calm down once I get more of the shine out of the smoker, or are there other contributing factors, like moisture in the smoker helping grab more smoke? I'm really scratching my head on this one...
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You will learn to love your AQ. Just my $.02, but 3 oz seems like a lot of wood, more than I use in my AQ. My advice would be to dial it back to around 1.5 oz, and then work up from there in 1/4 oz steps. I typically use 1.5 - 2 oz for just about everything, and I like quite a bit of smoke. Also, you might want to check how much bark, if any, is on your wood. I've found that can also contribute to a "bitter" flavor. A little experimenting will help, I think. The AQ, in my experience, doesn't need much wood to produce a great product. Good luck!
If your smoker interior is showing smoke and grease stains and it smells strongly of smoke, then a new smoke with no wood will impart a slight smoke flavor, but if you have been cleaning it after every smoke (not recommended), you might not get the flavor you want. My personal rule is that only things that touch food get cleaned every smoke - just the grates in the case of the AQ. I just give the rest of the interior a quick wipe with a damp rag to clean up any loose grease, especially around the door seal areas and the drip hole in the bottom. I never had any chemical smell or effect with my AQ when it was new. Given that you did some early smoking with lots of wood, I'd doubt that that is still happening if it did in the beginning. So try Soleman's test and see if it is still bitter. If not, you should be good to start enjoying learning your new AQ.
Would you by any chance be using a tray with water during your smokes? The added moisture/humidity could cause some of the residue on the ceiling of the smoker to loosen and little droplets hit your food.

Also make sure the wood you use is from a reputable source for cooking/smoking woodand is free of pesticides, mold, insects, etc. I use wood from Cookshack.

I also air dry my smoker when finished using it. I just don't want a lot of moisture trapped inside to do whatever trapped moisture does.
i have never cooked anything in the aq without the wood turning into ash. i am sure you need to make sure your wood is dry. also if you use certain kinds of wood that will turn you meat bitter too. i cooked a salmon using a wood i thought was oak and it turned out to be ash and it made the salmon bitter and i couldn't even eat it. i tell people to start with apple and if you want more smoke go with hickory. make sure the wood is dryed or aged for a few years.i clean inside with dawn and water once in a while. thanks and welcome to the forum ...
Did you clean out your smoker before the first use? There will be mineral based oils on the steel to help with metal working. Probably doesn't taste good. I am on my 2nd CS smoker (AQ) and I was surprised how much oil came off of it from the factory.

+1 on the wood recommendations. Oak is very mild and start with less and add more if you think it needs it. Also don't add more wood near the end of the smoke - it just puts a bitter film on the meat. I use no more than 2 oz hickory for a full packer brisket.
Is ash the result I'm looking for with the wood? I haven't had that result yet. What am I adjusting to make that happen? The element or the support for the wood box? I did smoke some burgers with no wood and the results were ok, for flavor. I know it's not a long cook, but I then did a 3# chuck with 1 Oz of cherry and the smoke was very very mild, probably milder than my pellet smoker it seems. I know it's a process, it's a little frustrating, but I still enjoy it....
Thanks for all the input, and keeping my head up...
well, you wood should turn to ash if you are smoking for a long period of time unless like Soloman said maybe your wood isn't dried out enough. remember your meat will only take smoke for about 6 to 8 hours so if you add more wood after 8 hours it will not have more smoke flavor. to start over i would the smoker out with warm water and a little Dawn soap and than add a piece of wood and do a day run to start over. i'm sure you will be just fine than.


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