Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork

So, you may remember from First time Smoking Ribs that I recently got a new grill / smoker.

The ribs turned out really good. There are some improvements I think I can make, but I was pleased with the result. And my family liked them.

After the success of the ribs, I decided to try smoking a Pork Butt. You probably all know this, but a Pork Butt is actually the shoulder of a pig. I'm a little unclear as to why the shoulder is referred to a butt. I think it has something to do with Boston - area people not being all that bright.

But don't quote me on that.

So, I bought a 9 pound pork shoulder (8.92 pounds to be exact) from Sam's Club last week. I had Monday off work for MLK Day, and I used that day off to smoke some pork.


Based on research, I decided to smoke at a temperature between 220 and 250 degrees (Fahrenheit) and that I should give myself 13 hours to cook and probably another hour to let the meat rest before pulling.

This meant I needed to have the meat on the smoker before 4AM.

The night before, I put together a rub loosly based on the Basic Barbecue Rub on Some useful Recipes for Barbecue.

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dry onion
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground pepper
Good stuff.


I woke up around 3AM to start preparing the grill.

I filled my charcoal chimney about 3/4 of the way full of charcoal and lit it on the little side burner of the grill (see picture above).

Once the charcoal was nicely lit, I placed it in the smoker box, and let the grill warm up.

I used a water pan under the grate that doubled to catch the drippings of the meat.


At 3:42, I added a hickory log for smoke.

My temperature was up to 282, which was higher than I wanted to cook at, but I decided to go ahead and get started. I placed the pork shoulder on the smoker at 3:50.

And I played with the damper on the fire box to try to control the temperature.

About an hour into the cook, I sprayed the pork with Cherry Pomegranate Kombucha. I did this every hour on the hour (more or less) until the shoulder was wrapped.


In the early morning hours, the cooking temperature was up as high as 300 and as low as 200, but I think I did a pretty good job of keeping the average between 220 and 250 for the most part.

And the meat cooked. And cooked. And cooked.

I'd add hickory logs when the heat got low and closed the damper some when the heat started to climb above 260.

I did a decent job at fire management. I think I still need practice.


Around 5:50, I turned the meat and put a meat probe into the butt. (that sounds naughty ... but it isn't)

And it cooked. And I added wood. And I played with the damper. And I sprayed the meat every hour.

And I watched Netflix.

At 6:40, the meat temperature was 115. At 7:40 the internal temperature of the meat was 132.

And it cooked. And I added wood. And I played with the damper. And I sprayed the meat every hour. And I watched the temperature of the meat.

Good news ... the internal temperature was steadily rising.

At around 9 (a little over 5 hours in), I decided to stop with the wood knowing that it would probably not take much more smoke flavor into it.


And it cooked. And I added charcoal. And I played with the damper. And I sprayed the meat every hour. And I watched the temperature of the meat.

At 11:50, the internal temperature of the pork hit 160. I had decided (based on research) that I would wrap the butt in foil when the meat hit 160.

And I did.

I put down onion and jalapenos on the foil, put the meat on top of that, and wrapped the butt.

Then, I put it back on the grill.

My internal temperature reading actually went down a few degrees after wrapping. It took awhile for the temperature to get up to 160 again.


But eventually, it started rising again.

At 12:40, the meat temperature was 164.

And it cooked. And I added charcoal. And I played with the damper. And I sprayed the meat every hour. And I watched the temperature of the meat.

At 1:40, the meat was 182.

At 2:40, the meat was 192.

And it cooked. And I added charcoal. And I played with the damper. And I sprayed the meat every hour. And I watched the temperature of the meat.

At 3:40, the meat was 195.

And it cooked. And I added charcoal. And I played with the damper. And I sprayed the meat every hour. And I watched the temperature of the meat. And ... it didn't rise as fast as it had been rising.

At 4:50, the internal temperature read 201. I had originally told myself that 205 is what I was shooting for, but I decided 201 was close enough to pull.


I put the wrapped pork shoulder in a cooler and let it rest for about an hour.

After an hour, I pulled about half of the shoulder into a pan and shredded it with 2 forks. I added in some of the juice and onions and jalapenos from the bottom.

This is what it looked like:




And the family ate pulled pork sandwiches.

Delicious pulled pork sandwiches.

Yummy pulled pork sandwiches.

Awesome pulled pork sandwiches.

I was pleased with these pulled pork sandwiches.

9 pounds of pork is a lot. We had shredded pork left, and we still had about half the butt that I had not pulled.

I decided to freeze the half that had not been shredded. It is sitting in our freezer.

This past week, I've had a few pulled pork sandwiches for lunch at work.

Delicious pulled pork sandwiches.

Yummy pulled pork sandwiches.

Awesome pulled pork sandwiches.

I was pleased with these left over pulled pork sandwiches.

So, I'm calling my first smoked pork butt a success.

A couple of lessens / observations:

13 hours of smoking on my setup takes a lot of charcoal and a lot of wood. It also takes a lot of effort and is tiring.

I think next time I do something that takes this long, I might get the meat to the wrap and then put the wrapped meat into the oven to finish off where in a controlled environment that I don't have to watch for the last part of the day.

My clothes smell like smoke after I spend all day around a smoker.

Smoked pulled pork is delicious.

Fire / temperature management is not really as easy as most youtube pit masters make it seem.

Anyway ... that is my story of smoking pulled pork. Feel free to comment below.

Go Blackhawks!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fizzy and Pink Cherry Pomegranate Kombucha

So ... do you remember that I've gotten into brewing homemade Kombucha?

I like kombucha enough to drink. I like it a lot more than soda, and it is a good alternative to water or coffee for me to drink at work with my lunch. However, it is way too expensive for me to want to actually buy it.

It is easy and inexpensive to brew at home, so I just make it myself.

My process is simple:
  1. Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in enough water to brew 8 to 10 tea bags worth of concentrated sweet tea.
  2. Pour the tea into a gallon glass jar with a little ice to cool it down. Fill the jar the rest of the way with water.
  3. Add a SCOBY and a little kombucha from the last batch to the jar.
  4. Let the tea ferment for a couple of weeks. 
  5. Pour the fermented kombuca along with some fruit juice or other flavoring into bottles.
  6. Let those bottles carbonate for a few days.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

First time Smoking Ribs

I got a picture of a grill / smoker for Christmas.

My wife did everything she could to get me an actual grill / smoker, but due to a delivery SNAFU, the picture was all I received.

While waiting for the delivery SNAFU to get fixed, I spent a significant amount of time reading books and websites about smoking various meats. I also watched lots of youtube videos on the same.

I think my favorite videos came from BBQ Pit Boys. Those guys amuse me, and I think they do a good job clearly explaining the process of smoking meats.

Anyway ... last week, I finally got the grill delivered. Separately, I got the smoker box delivered.

Saturday morning, I attached the smoker box to the grill.

Sunday, I smoked my first meat ... a rack of pork spare ribs.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

2018 Arctic Vortex Winter Saison

It is winter. Time to brew a Winter Saison.

Arctic Vortex Winter Saison

Yes, here at SheppyBrew Brewery, we brew at least 4 saisons every year.

Winter Spring Summer Autumn.

I call them my Seasonal Saison series of beers.

The Arctic Vortex Winter Saison happens to be a black saison, because winter is generally dark ... and it would be boring to make all my saisons look the same.

This weekend, I brewed this year's Arctic Vortex Winter Saison.

When I went to buy ingredients last week, my Local Homebrew Shop didn't have my favorite Saison yeast (WY3711 French Saison). I ended up picking up WY3724 (Belgium Saison) instead.

I'm a real fan of WY3711, and I almost decided to wait to brew this beer until they could get more in, but I had already crushed my grains. It doesn't hurt to try new things. I guess we'll see how it turns out.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Cryo Muggled

Last week, I decided that I wanted to brew over the weekend.

I feel like it has been a long time since I've brewed anything real hoppy.

I didn't really feel like coming up with a completely new recipe, so I looked through my previous recipes for APA's.

The recipe that jumped out at me was Muggled Pale Ale, and I decided that is what I would brew.

This would be my third time brewing this beer.

Muggled Pale Ale isn't a real complicated recipe.

The grain bill is simply 90% Standard 2-Row malt and 10% Dark Munich.

Then, it has a couple of hops. The first batch used Cascade and Chinook. The second batch moved to 100% Mosaic hops, and was my first time using that hop.

This time, I decided to try out LupuLN2 Cryo-hops.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Brewing the 2017 X-Mas Ale

It is late in the year, but I brewed my 2017 X-Mas Ale last Sunday.

Ideally, if have my X-Mas Ale ready to drink by Thanksgiving. Last year, I brewed at the beginning on October.

At least, I'm a little ahead of what I did in 2015.

This year's version of X-Mas Ale is designed to be a bit lower in ABV. It also has a bit less in Crystal malts.

Color should be pretty close to previous years. It will be a couple srm lighter than last year. It will be a couple srm darker than two years ago.

This year, I plan to add a couple of ounces of blueberry flavoring at kegging time, mostly to use up the flavoring I used last time I made a blueberry beer. I don't expect the blueberry will come through real strong in this base beer.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Some useful Recipes for Barbecue


Basic Chicken Rub Makes 2 cups
  • ⅔ cup chili powder 
  • ½ cup sugar 
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt 
  • 4 tablespoons onion powder 
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely.

Beef Rub Makes about ¾ cup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper powder 
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon granulated dried onion
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely.

Basic Barbecue Rub Makes 3 cups

  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder 
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard 
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder 
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder 
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely.
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