Jump to content
Wade

Callow Smoker - Low cost bullet smoker

Recommended Posts

When I was made aware of the Callow smoker I must confess to being a little skeptical. It is being sold for ~£85 and in the pictures it looked quite small. It is being marketed as:

Quote

We have taken all of the design flaws form the Brinkmann range of smokers along with their good designs and created our own, which is a fantastic cost and will suit new comers to food smoking and the experienced alike.

I ordered one and 2 days later it was delivered...

What was in the box?

The smoker was well packed and came in a surprisingly small box. Although it needs to be assembled there are relatively few components and the whole smoker can be assembled within about 20 minutes using only a cross-head screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

Unpacking

The build quality of the unit is very good and compares favourably with the  WSM and ProQ Frontier. The Callow only has a 14" cooking cooking grate though which may restrict using some of the larger cuts of meat. The smoker is only powder coated though and so is unlikely to last as long as some of the more expensive alternatives.

The fire basket has plenty of air holes which enabled an even charcoal burn and the bottom and top vents were of good quality which allowed for simple fine temperature control. The positioning of the bottom vents do appear to be a little higher than I would have expected as the top ones of these are above the holes in the fire basket.
 
The water/sand pan was a good distance above the coals with sufficient gap around to give a good heat flow into the cooking chamber
 
One possible negative point was the small air gap around the door when it was closed. However during the temperature profiling this did not appear to cause any problems.

598074945dd06_CallowSide.thumb.jpg.9fb268feb6b5500c1d4774e428f8fb59.jpg

Below are pictures of the smoker layers

59807546c1c95_CallowFireBasket.thumb.jpg.51cae0146b6cbf48593bd417a9a96e99.jpg5980754ee4efa_CallowWaterBowl.thumb.jpg.6626f37843ec8de431d1f2eeef6f6c31.jpg

5980762edd212_CallowBottomGrate.thumb.jpg.a56496ea5b86093609f53aed9cea1072.jpg

598076328d6d2_CallowTopGrate.thumb.jpg.48fc82d2d7d91d264320aed6b357e56c.jpg

5980764765538_CallowHangingRack.thumb.jpg.cc870f2ea6cb1d5dd8be4f0ff8193513.jpg

Firing up the Callow

I used only 2 Kg of Heat Beads in Minion for the initial test, with hot water in the water tray. With all vents fully open the smoker took about 60 minutes to get up to temperature (100-110 C) by which time the bottom vents were 7/8 closed. Without any adjustments it maintained this temperature for over 8 hours. At one point there was a period of gusty wind that caused the temperature to rise slightly.

59807765b0fec_CallowTemperatureLog-Copy.thumb.jpg.496f1dae5beac011d390db6a1ab0f97a.jpg

The following morning when the smoker was taken apart it was clear that the fire had burned evenly and almost completely.

Cold Smoking

The callow worked very well as a cold smoker using both the AMNPS and the ProQ smoke generators

598078257752f_CallowAMNPS.thumb.jpg.7d0b84d14936e5aa12cbb108143c4902.jpg598078381a5c9_CallowProQ.thumb.jpg.d1c2f940485b1ebb00c50b4a13418ca3.jpg

5980788c8e78c_CallowColdSmoke.thumb.jpg.086ae4e0590f347054d3bd890bd852e8.jpg

Lid thermometer

This was the only part that let the smoker down - however this is a common weak point with many models of smoker. With the thermometer that was originally supplied with the Callow, when the smoker was up to cooking temperature (based upon the measurement from a calibrated Thermadata Smoke, the lid thermometer was indicating a temperature that was 35 C too low. If this thermometer had been used to regulate cooking temperature then this would have resulted in the temperature in the cooking chamber being much too high.

This was reported to Callow and they have now sourced alternative, more accurate, lid thermometers which will be supplied with new units shipped. The new thermometers are the same units that are supplied with Weber BBQs and the ones I was sent to test actually had the Weber branding still on them. These proved to be much more accurate when calibrated over boiling water.

59807a88ed4da_CallowNewThermometer.thumb.jpg.1d871ac959e25d62e311a18b5c72179a.jpg

Summary

I was really impressed with both the build quality and usability of the Callow Smoker and would recommend it to anyone starting out smoking or for established smokers who are looking for some inexpensive additional cooking space.

 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who is new to the world of smoking I didn't want to shell out for a Weber or ProQ (especially since ProQ discontinued their lower end range) so I went for the callow having spoken to Wade about it and got his thoughts. I've now used it a good few times and have to say I've been Impressed, for low and slow cooking at around 110C it's been really simple to keep the temperatures where I want them and I have produced some lovely brisket, ribs and pulled pork!

I would definitely recommend it for someone who is just starting out on their smoking journey!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has got me thinking.  My wife is going to hate this forum. I really like the look of this smoker at that price. Would lover a WSM but just can't justify that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Great, thorough review! I've been smoking pretty much everything on the weber 57 but was toying with the idea of a cheap ish bullet that I could cold smoke in as well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Liomer said:

I see you have a Thermoworks Smoke thermometer.  Do the probes fit through the probe-holes on the Callow?

 

I am using my Smoke in another smoker at the moment so I will check later today and let you know. I usually just run the wires between the section joints.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 25/08/2017 at 11:18 PM, Dan said:

Wow! Great, thorough review! I've been smoking pretty much everything on the weber 57 but was toying with the idea of a cheap ish bullet that I could cold smoke in as well. 

Yes, the Weber 57 is a great all rounder as you say. You can do some limited cold smoking in it too but heat dissipation can be a problem even with the coolest running cold smoke generators. There are some innovative external "mail box mods" though that allow the smoke to cool before it enters the smoker. Placing a tray of ice inside the Weber can also help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes I use both and they both work well. I use more pellets than chunks though as I have a lot of them available for my FEC-100

Here is a minion photo I use for training that shows using both pellets and chunks

59a5c4a75277b_ProQMinion.thumb.jpg.092c70130ff86f0e820c25e8f3cf5cfb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Built this morning.  Would have been a bit easier if the instructions for attaching the clips and the grate holders in the middle body had been included! 

Further question.  In the pic, is the ProQ CSG on one of the grates on top of the charcoal basket?  Bit difficult to see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What cheese are you going to smoke?

Remember that 2-3 hours smoke is usually sufficient. Afterwards let the surface of the cheese dry in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) before packing and don't try to eat it for at least 2 weeks as it takes time for the smoke flavour to penetrate and to mellow. If you eat it too soon it will taste like you have just wiped the cheese around an ashtray. After a couple of weeks the magic happens and it is transformed into something exquisite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just cheddar tonight, done it many times on the Weber kettle, and it's a favourite with friends.  One gives us eggs in exchange, another looks after our greyhounds when needed (wife has cancer, and we spend quite a lot of time at hospitals).  Do other cheeses as well, but tonight I wanted something simple to look for smoke leaks, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Breaking News... There is an updated version of the Callow smoker expected soon - hopefully before Christmas. They have added holes to the side of the charcoal basket and have upgraded the bottom and top air vents. They also have a new, more accurate, lid thermometer. Factory tests have shown that the updates have made the temperature even more controllable and as soon as they arrive in the UK I will do an updated review.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey ho, just after I’ve bought the earlier one!  So far I’ve only used it for cold smoking with the ProQ CSG, so I don’t know about temp maintenance.  One thing I do know, though - quite often I have to relight, which I very rarely had to do when using the Weber 57.  I think it’s because of airflow restrictions with the existing charcoal basket. I thought of using one of the grates directly on top of the basket, which means sacrificing a grate for holding cheese etc.  I’ve got it on the go right now, but had too much cheese for just one grate, so had another bright idea - turn the charcoal basket upside down so the vents are below it, so I can use both grates for the cheese.  This seems to be working, but it was a right devil to get a good angle with my flamethrower, because it’s too near the top of the door-space.  So, Wade, here’s the question - do you know if it’s possible to get spare grates,  so I can have all three in the smoker?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd just drop Callow an email, the guy there that runs it (Scott) is a really good guy and Im sure he'd be happy to sort you out an extra grills. I had an issue with my rib hanger - one of the small right angle pieces that keep the folding sides located came off - I emailed about possibility of repairing it and he just sent out a new one along with two new grills, I received them about 3 days after I'd emailed, really good customer service!! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Liomer

When you say "relight" what do you mean? The sawdust/pellets in the cold smoke generator? If that is the case then place them in a glass dish and microwave them on high for 4 minutes, stirring half way through. This will both warm the dust/pellets and will drive off most of the moisture. That should help the burn consistency.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...