How to smoke meat with bourbon barrel smoking wood chunks and chips

By Midwest Barrel Co.

April 12th, 2023

Ribs, peppers, and seasonings next to barrel smoking wood chunks

There’s nothing better than smoked foods, especially smoked meats, that you have prepared using your smoker or grill. A lot of time and work goes into smoking meat and creating the perfect BBQ meal, but it’s always worth the effort.

But you have to know what you’re doing when working with smoked meat. What exactly goes into smoking depends on what type of grill or smoker you are using and, of course, the type of wood you’ve got burning low and slow – or hot and fast. Again, it all depends, right?

No matter what your home BBQ setup is, we’ve got you covered with tips, pointers and how-tos that will put you on the right track to create the best smoked meats and other smoked foods possible with our 100% authentic Bourbon Barrel Smoking Wood Chips or Chunks.

Get the right wood for your smoker or grill

barrel smoking wood burning in a smoker

So, you may be asking yourself right now whether you read that last bit right. Bourbon barrel smoking wood? Or maybe you already know all about Midwest Barrel Co. and know exactly why you’re here – because you love bourbon, barrels and BBQ, right? Join the club!

Either way, yes, we’re talking about wood sourced from freshly emptied bourbon barrels. All of our bourbon BBQ smoking wood – whether it’s in chip or chunk form – is completely sourced from bourbon barrels that have been emptied by a distillery and then sent to our warehouse.

You see, that’s where our wood gets all of those flavors associated with bourbon – vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, oak and more. They’ve aged bourbon for about four years, more or less, and the staves have been absolutely soaked in bourbon for the entire aging process.

On top of that, all bourbon barrels are made using American White Oak. If you’re into BBQ, then you know why oak is so popular. It’s got a moderate yet not overpowering smoky flavor and it’s absolutely perfect when smoking types of beef, pork and even lamb. Heck, oak can be used to smoke just about anything, including poultry, seafood and vegetables.

Add those flavor notes reminiscent of a fine bourbon and you’re well on your way to a mouthwatering meal.

Should I use smoking chunks or chips?

First things first, whenever you’re looking to start with smoking wood, you need to know what type is best for your equipment. Some smokers and grills can use chips or chunks, while others do better – or require – you to use a specific type.

The best way to find out what type of wood style you should use for smoking BBQ is to check your equipment’s instruction manual. Not only should that give you instructions for what you can smoke with, but it also should give you a good start on how best to use that wood.

However, some grills and smokers – specifically gas and charcoal models – can in fact use both chips or chunks. Many electric smokers, on the other hand, can use only smoking wood chips.

Now, we’re not here to tell you whether electric, gas or charcoal is better. We all have opinions. But here’s a rundown of some advantages and disadvantages for each type that we think covers all the necessary bases.

Since that’s settled, let’s get into some how-tos that will get you going with your bourbon barrel smoking wood.

How to smoke with bourbon barrel smoking wood chunks

Our 100% authentic bourbon barrel smoking wood chunks are made entirely from the staves of retired bourbon barrels. We source the barrels from a variety of American distilleries.

Once the staves have arrived at our warehouse, a member of our crew hand cuts the each stave to the perfect BBQ smoking wood chunk size – about 1 to 4 inches wide. That size makes our chunks compatible with most gas and charcoal-fueled smokers and grills. Please always check the manufacturer’s instructions before using, though.

Smoking instructions

There are two different methods when you are smoking with chunks.

First, there’s the dry method. This is the option that we typically recommend as our chunks come from freshly emptied bourbon barrels. Although they may not be visibly wet, there is still some trace amounts of liquid left in the stave from the years spent aging bourbon.

When using the dry method, add three to four chunks directly onto the fire or the heat source for a slow, steady smoke. Use a pair of tongs to move the chunks to the edge as needed to allow the chunks to smolder without igniting.

You can also use the wet method, which involves soaking the chunks in water for about 30 minutes. Beer or fruit juice can also be used if you’re trying to experiment with flavors. After the chunks have soaked, drain and add them to a box, smoker tray or foil and place on the hottest area of your grill to begin smoking.

How to smoke with bourbon barrel smoking wood chips

Just like our BBQ smoking wood chunks, our smoking wood chips are also produced at our warehouse in Louisville, KY. They are chipped into small pieces that are suitable for most electric, gas and charcoal smokers and grill. Once chipped, they are sealed in a bag to preserve freshness. And again, as with the chunks, there is a dry smoking method and a wet method.

Our go-to for smoking foods and meats with chips is the dry method. Simply add enough chips to a smoker tray, box or foil in order to create smoke but still allow for enough air flow. Place the tray, box or foil over the hottest area of your grill for a slow, steady smoke.

As for the wet method, you can soak the chips in water, beer or fruit juice for 30 minutes. Drain and add the chips to your box, smoker tray or foil and place over the hottest area of your grill to begin smoking.

Time to stock up on smoking wood!

Whether you smoke with wood chunks or chips is up to your preference and often the type of grill or smoker you own. Either way, you will be blown away by the fresh, bourbon aromas from the 100% authentic barrel smoking wood.

So, pick up a bag of chunks or chips and let’s get smoking!

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Midwest Barrel Company

Just your resident barrel slingers delivering some damn good content

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