I decided to pick up grilling last year and started off with a Weber Kettle Grill. I wanted to start with something affordable to see if it was something I’d even enjoy as I have a history of buying things only to lose excitement soon after.
Once I began using my Weber Kettle to grill and smoke different meats, the thrill of it really began to hit me even more. There were probably more mess-ups than successes but that was part of the fun for me. Soon after, I picked up a used Bradley smoker from a friend. It wasn’t long after, I knew I wanted to invest in a pellet grill.
The hunt was on and lasted roughly three weeks. All that time was spent reading reviews, forums, and Facebook group posts about every single type of pellet grill there was. I was asking questions everyday. It got to the point, I could tell you details and pricing for nearly every major one in the market. There were a couple of times, I was still up at 4am watching YouTube videos. It was becoming an illness.
One of the biggest deciding factors for me was I had to be able to physically see and touch the grill I was purchasing. So that quickly nixed a Rec Tec off of my list.
I narrowed down my search to Green Mountain Grills, Traeger, Weber and Yoder. Having the ability to use Wi-Fi (while some purist may call cheating) was big for me especially with a baby at home 24/7. Webers were soon marked off the list as their pellet grills were fairly recent to market and I didn’t want to be a consumer of a first generation product. Having a large base of consumers familiar with whichever model I ended up on was big for me.
Originally my budget for a grill was set at around a thousand dollars. So knowing that I started looking at Traegers and Green Mountain Grills (GMG for short) all over town at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wichita BBQ Store, Ace Hardware and anywhere that sold grills. I was back and forth but no salesman or employee was really able to sell me on their product.
Even though it was out of my original budget, my gut kept telling me to look at Yoder Smokers more and more. If you’ve messed around with GMG or Traegers versus Yoder Smokers, it wasn’t even a comparison which one felt more durable. If I was going to drop some coin on a grill, having it last for a long time was very important. Everywhere I read talked about how Yoders were built like tanks. Those smokers could be found at All Things Barbecue. Unfortunately I had to wait another week to see them for myself as their showroom was closed due to COVID-19.
The night before they reopened, I watched video after video from their in-house chef Tom Jackson via All Things Barbecue’s YouTube channel. I loved his demeanor on camera and how he spoke to the viewers. I was glued! Then I started making this really nerdy excel spreadsheet with both Yoder models I was looking at. I had the specs listed out along with all the accessories and prices. By 3am the night before they reopened, my heart was set on a Yoder Smoker.
So hours later, I walked into All Things Barbecue and looked at both their YS480s and YS640s models. The number stood for square inches available on the main grate. There was a big debate at home over which one to get. The price difference was $220. But once you started to add in all the accessories, it began to balloon up to roughly $300. The other difference besides cooking space was a damper in the YS640s which allowed you to control the temperatures on both sides of the grill. I’m an idiot when it comes to grilling as is so the last thing I needed was to learn something else. Regarding the cooking space, we decided there would be few times we would need the extra space with our small family. Plus, the money we saved in going with the YS480s model meant more accessories.
When I arrived to All Things Barbecue, I was kindly greeted and given their full attention. My nerdy spreadsheet had a list of questions that were all answered. The single biggest difference in my visit to All Things Barbecue versus every other retailer I stepped into was the customer service I received. Everybody I spoke with wasn’t pushy to make a sale or annoyed by my questions. I felt very comfortable throughout my time there which was important especially with such a high dollar purchase. It was a huge night and day difference there versus many of the big box retailers. They were extremely down to earth; even the guy who delivered my smoker was a cool cat.
Upon settling on my decision to go with the YS480s model, I was told there was a showroom floor model that I could purchase which also came with a free grease shield. I looked at the born on date of the grill and it was two days younger than my daughters. I was sold.
My original budget was literally thrown out the door, but I was more than satisfied with my decision. By all accounts, the customer service with All Things Barbecue and Yoder Smokers far exceeded everything I read about in competitors. The product was U.S. made and found here locally in Hutchinson, KS. “Built like a tank” was just as advertised. Knowing it was a durable product with customer service in my city’s backyard was another positive. Over time if issues occur, that’ll be the true test of everything. But for now, I have been happy with it.
Aside from the grill, more purchases were necessary. Like any suit, I had to properly accessorize. Over the next few days, I purchased the 2-piece diffuser, grill mat, front stainless steel shelf, a cover, GrillGrates and the griddle. Oh, and then I had to purchase more pellets and a shopvac to get the ashes out. With that, I found my financial drive to finally eat at home a tad bit more. Making this big investment worthwhile is a huge goal of mine this summer. There’s going to be LOTS of backyard BBQ’s, I hope my family is ready.
I’ve used the smoker a few times now and am excited to explore of all the possibilities. The Yoder Smoker has been a wonderful addition to our family. This past week has been really pathetic for me though. Every night, I have found myself wiping down the grill, covering her up and wishing her a good night. Yes… her. She’s my second baby.
As I begin to use it more, I plan to share my favorite recipes I’ve found here on the blog. Until then, I need to start planning my smoker’s first birthday party.
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