Jacob: Agreed. And legitimately smoked cheese - not that liquid smoked junk - is a real treat. Even many boutique dairies and cheesemakers have trouble finding the resources to smoke their own product.
Paul: It was with this spirit that we started our most wing-nut project yet.
Jacob: We were five or six home-brews in, and reminiscing about Norm's Smokehouse, in Haliburton. We've taken day-trips to his old-school smokeshack whenever we're at the lake.
Paul: You had also done a few smokes last year.
Jacob: Yeah, last year, we did a few bacons, some duck breast, and whole whack of ribs using a rickety gas barbecue on our three square foot balcony. But smoking meat on a barbecue isn't really all that practical.
Paul: With all of our dist-stink-tive projects, we've become pretty used to strange odors floating around the apartment.
Jacob: Yeah, but perhaps smoking meat on a 'balconette' directly connected to our living room was not the best idea.
Paul: But the results were tasty.
Jacob: So, with succulent pork product in mind, and alcohol in blood, we began our foray into the world of smoking.
Paul: After a solid 10 minutes of poor internet research, we decided that we were experts on all things smoke, and started acquiring building materials the next day.
Jacob: You mean, you "borrowed" bricks from a demolished house the next day.
Paul: Yes. Actually, it was pretty funny - Dave and I were walking up and down the street, with batches of bricks across 2x4 planks on our shoulders. One construction guy said, "What, the pharaoh's got you building that damn pyramid again?"
Jacob: Dave's penchant for, "winging it", and "rigging up" meant that we proceeded without any plans. Not exactly an expedient process...
Paul: Dave's constant assurance of, "it'll all come together" was not always re-assuring.
Jacob: But, it did. And despite our total lack of bricklaying experience and terrible roofing skills, we soon had most of a smoker assembled, ready to lift onto the brick foundation. The thing was about five and a half feet tall, sitting on the deck.
Paul: It looked like a reasonable size, and seemed light enough to pick up.
Jacob: At first. By the time the last shingle was attached, it required four skinny men (and a full case of beer) to move onto it's moorings. And once it was assembled...
Paul: ...It was HUGE. The thing is eight feet tall. We did not anticipate that.
Jacob: Damn right. We started to get a bit nervous - we had told our landlord that we would be assembling a, "small barbecue structure", not a mammoth-sized outhouse. That being said, actually having something material to look at, dreamed up by us, and actually followed-through to completion: very cool.
Paul: Well, that's not to say that it was a complete success. Our first smoke was... touch and go?
Jacob: More go than touch. Perhaps bringing a wooden structure up to 350 degrees fahrenheit was not the best idea?
Paul: That thing was hot. And leaky! Smoke pouring out everywhere. And despite our "expertise", more extensive research would have shown...
Jacob: And by "extensive research," you mean Jenny looking at a Reader's Digest for five minutes?
Paul: Exactly... would have shown that we needed a baffle, a grease catch, and a much smaller source of ignition.
Jacob: In our enthusiasm, we had decided that a 65,000 BTU burner would be sufficient.
Paul: Sufficient for NASA.
Jacob: Right. Anyway - Brick; Wood; Fire. Smoker: Done.
Paul: Well, not really. We still need to fill the holes, deal with the indirect fire-box...