Barrel House Cooker BHC 18C BBQ Charcoal Barrel Smoker Review
If you were to travel back in time half a century or so, you would see a lot of vertical barrel smokers intermixed with brick smokehouses. In this field, you would certainly see a bunch of homemade barrel smokers, but you would also see the earliest models in the Barrel House line.
Today vertical barrel smokers are enjoying a vigorous renaissance with a bunch of traditional grill manufacturers trying to offer new models amongst the classics like the reinvented Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C. It’s proudly made in the USA from heavy-duty materials. This includes a 20-gauge steel barrel with a porcelain nonstick coating and a variety of stainless steel racks.
Yet for all its robust construction the Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C only weighs in at 45-pounds. This means you can easily take it with you in the back of a pickup truck, or simply store it in a shed and bring it out when you want to use it.
The lid of the Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C has a built-in thermometer. There are 8 meat hooks, a standard grill grate and an H-shape smoking hanger included in the purchase. They allow you to dangle meat inside the vertical barrel, overtop of the charcoal bowl at the bottom.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
This barrel-style smoker and grill might look basic at first glance, but Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C is stout, with a 20 gauge steel barrel that’s protected by a nonstick porcelain coating. The stainless steel hooks, hangers, and the rack is commercial grade. Barrel House is also proud to make all their products in the United States.
Assembly can be a little fiddly, as there are more washers and fasteners than you might expect. Mostly in the bottom feet of the stand. It’s not overly difficult. Even if you have a minimal amount of technical skill and some basic tools you should be able to get the Barrel House Cooker Smoker BHC 18C fully assembled in 15 to 20 minutes.
Barrel House designed the Cooker Smoker BHC 18C to be versatile. While it’s primary focus is geared toward smoking, it can be adjusted to act like a direct fire grill.
It’s probably easiest to fire up the charcoal in a chimney starter, rather than lighter fluid. This helps the pure charcoal smoke come through without lingering hints of butane.
Barrel House claims that you can get up to 6 hours of smoke from only 8-pounds of charcoal, but this is pushing the limit to the last wisps of smoke at the lowest burn. If you want to add smoking woods, it’s better to use chunks of wood, or split logs cut int eighths or quarters. If you only have access to wood chips, soaking them in water overnight will reduce the chance of flareups.
The Barrel House BHC 18C comes with 8 meat hooks, an H-style hanger grate, and a standard grill grid. This lets you smoke just about anything. Brisket, whole chickens, and pork shoulders can be laid directly on the grate. Pork belly and ribs can be suspended by the meat hooks. You can even use the H-style hanger rack to infuse a beautiful amount of smoke to homemade fresh sausage. Barrel House includes a hanger wand to let you raise and lower the meat without having to stick your head straight into the hot, smoky barrel.
Set up a smoker the Barrel House BHC 18C can handle a temperature range between 275 to 310-degrees. Though a smaller amount of charcoal could potentially yield an even lower fire. Just don’t expect to be able to “Cold Smoke” in the 150-degree range.
This vertical barrel body and grill grid can be adjusted to let you improvise it as a direct flame grill. The only problem is you will have to get crafty with the hanger wand, or you’ll need to stick your face into the smoke chamber with a long pair of tongs.
The grill grate offers a modest 254 square inches of cooking space. When you take into account the hangers and hooks, the maximum capacity of this vertical barrel smoker can hang up to 8 racks of ribs, hold 4 chickens, a15-pound brisket, or even a large whole turkey.
The thermometer built into the lid might not seem all that exciting, but there are some competitors who don’t have one. It lets you know what the temperature is inside the barrel, without having to lift the lid, which will inevitably alter the internal smoke and heat dynamics.
Ease to Clean
Not only does the porcelain coating on the 20-gauge steel barrel protect it from corrosion it also makes the Barrel House BHC 18C easy to clean. Soot tends to wipe down easily, which is very important for preventing a sooty film from falling loose onto the food in the future.
The stainless steel racks, hanger, and grid can be a little bit sticky if you are smoking lean meats like pork tenderloin pea bacon, or pork loin Canadian bacon, you might want to lightly grease the grid before placing them.
The Barrel House BHC 18C comes with a 1-year warranty, which is a little bit light compared to some of the competitors who offer 3-years of coverage.
If you want more coverage, there are some online retailers who offer inexpensive three and four-year protection programs.
Vertical barrel smokers are enjoying a robust renaissance, though Barrel House has been there all along. The BHC 18C has the volume you need to make a staggering amount of food in a single smoking session. It has all the hangers and grids you need to smoke up just about anything you can imagine. You can even improvise it for some direct flame grilling.
Just keep in mind that it’s not technically designed for cold smoking applications. There also isn’t any sort of water pan. So, you’ll need to add one of your own or soak your smoking woods overnight in water to add some steam.
- Includes hangers, hooks and a grate
- Heavy-duty material selection
- Thermometer built into the lid
- Only weighs 45-pounds
- Only a one-year warranty
- No water pan
- Can’t consistently hold cold smoking temperatures