Misc. Prepurchase Questions - Wall of Text Edition
Drum Smoking Big Poppa Smokers
The Best Grills and Smokers
Need Pellets?
Misc. Prepurchase Questions - Wall of Text Edition
Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 37

Thread: Misc. Prepurchase Questions - Wall of Text Edition

  1. #1

    Misc. Prepurchase Questions - Wall of Text Edition

    In my compulsion for new toys, I've now landed on smoker. These are mostly MAK questions, and I realize I'm deep in MAK territory around here, but since I haven't committed yet, please forgive any non-MAK comments/questions.

    After first looking around, I nearly bought a Yoder since it seemed like it offered the most in terms of space, build quality, [claimed] max temp, etc. at a decent price. Glad I held off though, because between the weight, thermal inconsistency, fuel burn, etc. it looks like there's more compelling options in that price range. I was initially rolling my eyes at recommendations like MAK and Memphis due to price, but became more receptive once I discovered you can generally grill on the better pellet units. So...

    • MAK vs Memphis... It appears MAK has better smoke and Memphis does better grilling? The Memphis is a fair bit cheaper once you consider that it comes with Wifi.
    • What are the actual differences between the 1 & 2 Star? I see FlameZone, warm/smoke box, full panel sides, and tool hooks. I'm sure I want the FlameZone, but unclear if the other bits are really worth another $600.
    • Is there actually enough space in the stock 2 Star smoke box to do any useful smoking like a large batch of jerky?
    • I've read a meager handful of negative comments about uneven temperature from one side to another on MAK, possibly related to drip tray design (or some heat diffuser plate or something). However, I noticed these parts were all redesigned in the 2017 models? How is everyone finding their temp consistency, on new or old units?
    • Please explain why Teflon sear grates and griddle are a good idea. I love that they offer these fitted options, but Teflon in a grill?? MAK's site says teflon coated, but I found an old post on this site from MAK stating they're teflon impregnated anodized aluminum. But TIA is kind of sketchy. At best the process traps some teflon in the pores to further reduce friction and improve durability, at worst it's a glorified coating. Either way, the bulk of the teflon will bake off after a half dozen high temp cooks, so what's the point, why even expose us to the PTFE risk, and what are we actually getting with MAKs grates? I'm probably making too much of this when I can just buy regular hard anodize GrillGrates if I'm really worried.
    • Is anyone successfully doing sears on the stock wire grates, perhaps using the flip every minute method?
    • Not important enough to influence my buying decision, but I'm curious what temp you're able to get a pizza stone to.
    • Is getting two 50% upper grates the best choice for flexibility?
    • What am I REALLY getting for the large price increase over say a RecTec? I have seen almost no negative comments about MAK, but the RecTec doesn't appear to have any glaring flaws other than being ugly as sin.


    I'm almost sold on MAK, but still have some concerns given the high price, and find the Porsche-like option pricing a bit off-putting. Spare me your "Well you wouldn't drive a Kia around the Nurburgring," comments. Look forward to everyone's input.

  2. #2
    We have the MAK sear grates and Grill Grates. We use the grill grates more often, because they can be flipped over and mimic a BBQ fat top. Now we have two of the MAK sear grates and when doing burgers or steaks we use them. A lot of the accessories can be added later too. We had the full size upper rack and ended up getting two half racks which we use more.
    MAK Grills ,BPS Drum Smoker, Ole Hickory Pits Ace BP, Hasty Bake Legacy KCBS CBJ

  3. #3
    This is long, so bear with me...


    First things first... Welcome to the forum!


    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post

    • MAK vs Memphis... It appears MAK has better smoke and Memphis does better grilling? The Memphis is a fair bit cheaper once you consider that it comes with Wifi.
    I don't believe this holds true any longer with the redesigned MAK FlameZone. Not only does the MAK produce good smoke, but they're also better than ever at grilling.

    I did a more detailed write-up about the 2017 FlameZone, searing grate & griddle, which may answer some of your questions, here: 2017 MAK FlameZone, Searing Grate & Griddle - Detailed Review!




    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post
    • What are the actual differences between the 1 & 2 Star? I see FlameZone, warm/smoke box, full panel sides, and tool hooks. I'm sure I want the FlameZone, but unclear if the other bits are really worth another $600.
    Besides what you've mentioned (FlameZone & Cold-Smoke chamber), the 2 Star has an all stainless cook chamber.

    The 1 Star cook chamber is aluminized steel with a 1200° powdercoat finish, and comes with a standard blank drip pan. You can add the FlameZone whenever you like.

    Yes, you are going to want the FlameZone either way you go. It rocks!


    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post
    • Is there actually enough space in the stock 2 Star smoke box to do any useful smoking like a large batch of jerky?
    I will let someone who has a 2 Star answer this one.



    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post
    • I've read a meager handful of negative comments about uneven temperature from one side to another on MAK, possibly related to drip tray design (or some heat diffuser plate or something). However, I noticed these parts were all redesigned in the 2017 models? How is everyone finding their temp consistency, on new or old units?
    My experience on both of my older MAK 1 Stars, as well as the new 2017: Because the grease tray is tilted down to the right to allow grease to drain, and heat rises, yes I do get SLIGHTLY hotter temps on the left side, but not enough that it's ever been a real issue.

    Keep in mind ALL grills/smoker have their hot & cool spots. The same goes for cooking on the bottom versus an upper rack. The temps are going to be different. A lot of folks like to cook certain things on the upper rack, and other things on the bottom.

    Overall, I have no complaints about evenness of temperature.



    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post
    • Please explain why Teflon sear grates and griddle are a good idea...
    Bruce (Mr. BBQ) or MAK DADDY can answer this one much better than I ever could. All I can say is I have the searing grate and griddle, and it's not a coating that can bake off like a teflon coated pan.

    I have GrillGrates, but on our MAK I like the MAK searing grate much better.


    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post
    • Is anyone successfully doing sears on the stock wire grates, perhaps using the flip every minute method?
    I have pics in the FlameZone review of some tandoori style chicken done on the regular wire grates. You can get some nice char for sure, BUT I don't keep flipping every minute. That Maillard reaction needs time with the heat.

    Also be sure to wear some gloves, unless you enjoy roasting the hair off your knuckles (don't ask me how I know)!

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post
    • Not important enough to influence my buying decision, but I'm curious what temp you're able to get a pizza stone to.
    We use pizza pans, so I can't answer this one.

    Either way, pizza is FABULOUS on the MAK!


    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post

    • Is getting two 50% upper grates the best choice for flexibility?
    This no longer an option with the newer MAK's. They now offer an upper 1/2, 3/4, or full rack which slides into a slot.

    A lot of folks like the 3/4 upper rack so they can reach food on the back of the bottom grate easier.

    We opted for the full upper rack, because I need full capacity for a few large cooks I do each year.

    We also have a half upper rack, which gets used occasionally.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post
    • What am I REALLY getting for the large price increase over say a RecTec? I have seen almost no negative comments about MAK, but the RecTec doesn't appear to have any glaring flaws other than being ugly as sin.
    A common question when people look at the MAKs. I can tell you that I have cooked on a couple Rec Tecs and while they are fine cookers, they are not a MAK.

    What you get for the price difference is: Higher quality, more versatility and better control.

    MAKs are built heavier, and with higher grade metal over all. The aluminized steel with a 1200° powder coat finish offers superior protection against rust. Even the screws are stainless steel. My original MAK 1 Star (now owned by my friend) is seven+ years old and has not a single spot of rust on it.

    MAK's Pellet Boss controller is, hands down, the best in the industry. And then there's the FlameZone... it rocks!


    A couple other things, which aren't so obvious:

    1) Shipping is already included in the price of a MAK.

    2) A lot of guys end up adding a third party downdraft baffle to a Rec Tec to get temps to even out better and keep smoke in longer, which adds another $100 to the cost.


    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by TentHunter; 01-12-2018 at 11:20 AM.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  4. #4
    Thanks for response!

    Quote Originally Posted by TentHunter View Post
    I did a more detailed write-up about the 2017 FlameZone, searing grate & griddle, which may answer some of your questions, here: 2017 MAK FlameZone, Searing Grate & Griddle - Detailed Review!
    Previously read this, thanks for review. Reminded me another question I had, but I just reread your post again and figured it out (use of indirect covers).

    the 2 Star has an all stainless cook chamber.
    The 1 Star cook chamber is aluminized steel with a 1200° powdercoat finish, and comes with a standard blank drip pan.
    This might be part of where I'm confused. Didn't they change the 2 Star so even though the whole unit is 304 stainless everything is powdercoated now anyway? I realize the 2* is still more durable, but it seems like we're talking about increasingly diminishing returns. Just want to be clear for weighing decisions.

    I have pics in the FlameZone review of some tandoori style chicken done on the regular wire grates. You can get some nice char for sure, BUT I don't keep flipping every minute. That Maillard reaction needs time with the heat.
    Roger, I see the chicken has some serious char. I wouldn't be flipping chicken thighs like that, but a thick steak to maximize crust while maintaining rareness--get that cast iron crust with grill flavor. Looks like it should handle this like a boss, and if not I guess an inverted GrillGrate would easily pick up the slack.

    A common question when people look at the MAKs. I can tell you that I have cooked on a couple Rec Tecs and while they are fine cookers, they are not a MAK.

    What you get for the price difference is: Higher quality, more versatility and better control.
    What sort of better control? Are you just referring to MAK's very narrow temp swings or is there something else I'm not realizing? I guess programming in different cook profiles is a nice perk--don't recall if RecTec does anything like this.

    2) A lot of guys end up adding a third party downdraft baffle to a Rec Tec to get temps to even out better and keep smoke in longer, which adds another $100 to the cost.
    This is good info. I was already considering the RT a $1200 grill (shipping), which led me to researching if a 1* adds enough. There seem to be lots of little QOL design additions that really appeal to a lazy person such as myself. FlameZone included on 1* would have made this a no-brainer.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    185
    FWIW, I recently upgraded my MAK 2 to the new Flame Zone and have used both the MAK searing grate and the stock grill grates , and they both work great for searing. The only difference I can see is the grill marks are wider on the MAK searing grate, as one would expect... They both get really HOT. BTW, I usually only flip once, as most things I'm searing have already been sous-vide'd or warmed to rare/med rare before I sear them. I used the MAK griddle for some sesame-crusted ahi steaks this weekend, and they came out perfect, too. I put them on the griddle raw with a bit of oil, and did 2 minutes per side.

    I have used a pizza stone a few times, and have been very very happy with the results. I figure it gets to the same temperature as the grates if you preheat it (which you should). I had an infrared thermometer at one point that showed my bottom grate at 625F with the Pellet Boss set on HIGH. That's significantly hotter than the internal thermometer was registering, as expected. I have not tried a pizza stone or a grate temp measurement with the new Flame Zone, but my guess is it would get even hotter now, based on what I've seen with general grilling.

    The warming drawer on the MAK 2 would be awfully crowded with a batch of jerky (2lb is my typical size), but the top shelf of the main chamber does a great job with jerky using SMOKE mode. I also have the Super Smoker box and it will hold a ton of stuff if you wanted to go that route. It stays 90-100F cooler than the main chamber in my experience.
    MAK 2 Star General #3001 w/Super Smoker Box
    Hasty-Bake Gourmet 256
    Oklahoma Joe 16" offset stick burner (90s vintage - gathering dust)
    Weber Go-Anywhere and Smokey Joe Charcoal (for camping)
    Former owner of: MAK 2 #1795, 27" Lynx gasser, 22.5" Weber Performer, 18" WSM, Smokin' Tex

  6. #6
    That's weird, I swear I posted a reply to Tent... Will have to try to remember my followup questions.

  7. #7
    Sptucker has added some good info!



    The whole MAK 2 Star is not all stainless. The cook chamber is all stainless, but the leg panels and such are the same Aluminized Steel with 1200 powder coat as the 1 Star. It is very durable and rust resistant.

    Here are MAK's specs: 2 Star General | MAK Grill



    By better control I mean the Pellet Boss maintains control better than other stock controllers AND gives you a lot more options such as being able to program in temps, times, etc.


    As far as flipping, everyone has their favorite way of grilling steaks. Even thick steaks, I only flip once.


    Hope this makes sense, and I can't wait to hear that you've ordered your MAK!

    Cliff
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  8. #8
    Moderator scooter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    3,468
    • MAK vs Memphis... It appears MAK has better smoke and Memphis does better grilling? The Memphis is a fair bit cheaper once you consider that it comes with Wifi.
      The new MAKs are better than ever at grilling but I still prefer to do all my grilling over charcoal. Plus I don't like the beating super high heat puts on the outside of the cooking chamber of any pellet cooker. Also I've never liked the low ceiling in the Memphis and that smallish upper rack. In contrast to the high ceiling and full upper rack of a MAK with room to spare up there to cook just about anything. I cook 99.99% on my upper rack simply because the new upper vents are lower allowing smoke to linger over the upper rack plus I want the meat to be as far from the heat source as possible.
    • What are the actual differences between the 1 & 2 Star? I see FlameZone, warm/smoke box, full panel sides, and tool hooks. I'm sure I want the FlameZone, but unclear if the other bits are really worth another $600.
      I use the cold smoker as a place to put meat to keep warm or on top as a platter warmer while waiting to pull meat off so I'm not putting hot meat on a cold platter. For that alone I'm constantly using the cold smoker side of the cooker. I do occasional small batches of smoked cheese in there but I'm constantly using it as a platter warmer while waiting for the meat to finish cooking
    • Is there actually enough space in the stock 2 Star smoke box to do any useful smoking like a large batch of jerky?
      Depends on your definition of large. They do sell a Super Smoker box that sits on top of the cold smoker box if your serious about cold smoking large batches
    • I've read a meager handful of negative comments about uneven temperature from one side to another on MAK, possibly related to drip tray design (or some heat diffuser plate or something). However, I noticed these parts were all redesigned in the 2017 models? How is everyone finding their temp consistency, on new or old units?
      I noticed it more with my 2009 model 2 Star where it was warmer on the left side but it doesn't really matter because you should be rotating your meat throughout a cook anyway which eliminates any concern for potential hotspots.
    • Is anyone successfully doing sears on the stock wire grates, perhaps using the flip every minute method?
      I used to get pretty good sears on my older 2009 model stock grates but have always preferred to sear over charcoal in my Weber kettle or drum
    • Not important enough to influence my buying decision, but I'm curious what temp you're able to get a pizza stone to.
      I never measured the heat on my pizza stone in the 2009 model. Just remember on high getting a very nicely browned crust using the stone. I use a Uuni3 pellet fired pizza oven for that now. As I mentioned before I have an aversion to doing really hot cooks in my pellet cooker. Just know it can be nicely done if you want to.
    • Is getting two 50% upper grates the best choice for flexibility?
      Again, I only ever cook on the upper rack so I don't see the need anymore for a 1/2 upper rack.
    • What am I REALLY getting for the large price increase over say a RecTec? I have seen almost no negative comments about MAK, but the RecTec doesn't appear to have any glaring flaws other than being ugly as sin.
      I actually think the RecTec is nice looking with those horns for lid handles. You're paying for build quality and quality of materials used when you buy a MAK plus at 100% certified American made you're putting Americans to work. Some care about that and others don't. RecTec (And Yoder) is a new entry into the pellet cooker market and as such they are on a learning curve. MAK has been doing it since 2009 when their production 2 Stars began rolling out the door. What you get with a MAK is a cooker that will outlast you and you'll be able to will it to a loved one. When you buy MAK quality you'll only have to cry once. Buy a cheaper grill and sooner or later you'll be crying again (So to speak of course).


    There is no other pellet grill manufacturer that I know of that has won more industry awards than MAK has. The Pellet Boss is the best quality controller on the market. Their MAK Mobile (WiFi) is superb. Their newly designed FlashFire starter is miles ahead of firerod igniters. The wheels never stop turning up there in Dallas, OR.
    And there is no customer service out there that is better than MAKs.
    Last edited by scooter; 01-16-2018 at 05:41 PM.
    - MAK owner for life! -
    2015 2 Star General prototype #0 with WiFi and beta FlashFire™ Ignition System
    2009 2 Star General #28
    2 BPS Engineered Drum Smokers, steel & stainless steel
    Smokin' Yankee's Competition BBQ Team
    CBBQA
    KCBS - MCBJ, CTC


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by TentHunter View Post
    I don't believe this holds true any longer with the redesigned MAK FlameZone. Not only does the MAK produce good smoke, but they're also better than ever at grilling.

    I did a more detailed write-up about the 2017 FlameZone, searing grate & griddle, which may answer some of your questions, here: 2017 MAK FlameZone, Searing Grate & Griddle - Detailed Review!
    I read and appreciate your FlameZone overview. Hitting 600*+ should be adequate for my purposes.

    and comes with a standard blank drip pan.
    2* has a different drip pan?

    I have pics in the FlameZone review of some tandoori style chicken done on the regular wire grates. You can get some nice char for sure, BUT I don't keep flipping every minute. That Maillard reaction needs time with the heat.
    Those certainly have some nice char. I read about the frequent flip technique in an amazingribs article and it actually makes a lot of sense. I gave up on grilling a while back and have been doing my nicer steaks in lower temp cast iron ('Ducasse method'). While the meat is much better this way, I sometimes miss the grill flavor (although not sure I'd get much out of high temp pellet cooking either). I'll have to play around with it

    This no longer an option with the newer MAK's. They now offer an upper 1/2, 3/4, or full rack which slides into a slot.
    Thanks for warning, missed that difference. Figured I'd just grab 3/4 then, but I assume it's mostly better to load the top grate first for smoking for more smoke + better temp control, so I guess I should get the full.

    A common question when people look at the MAKs. I can tell you that I have cooked on a couple Rec Tecs and while they are fine cookers, they are not a MAK.
    I did more reading and am now much more skeptical of RecTec's QC over the last 6-12 months. They're tossed off the list.


    TBH I probably would have ordered by now, but then I discovered the DigiQ addon for WSM/Kamados. That's just enough ease of use addition to make me seriously consider those units, and I get a superior grill. However, it's still not close to pellet ease of use. Those units would probably never get used on a weekday. I also think a comparatively lighter flavor wood smoke would be preferable to charcoal smoking.

    Forgive the analysis paralysis, but that's my nature and it's $1,800-$3,000.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by scooter View Post
    Plus I don't like the beating super high heat puts on the outside of the cooking chamber of any pellet cooker.
    Why? This thing is built like a tank. It's hard to envision any warping or heat cycle stress issues

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •