Barbecue/BBQ no smoke

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Question
I just bought a Weber 18" BBQ and I've done two cookings with it. In both cases there was very little heat and virtually no smoke. I don't know what I've done wrong - I feel like a complete moron. I used a pile of briquets - about 30-40 of them. After they turned ashen I spread them out on the bottom grill, and I could feel there was lots of heat. I put four ears of corn on the top grill and put the cover on. No smoke. Almost no grilling happening. I tried it with bottom vents open and then partially open on the bottom. I tried with cover on, cover off. After about an hour, the corn was barely cooked. Today I tried again with veggies on wooden skewers. Same result, hardly cooked after 45 minutes. I was expecting to see smoking and visual evidence that real BBQ cooking was happening, but no dice. Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong?  Thanks.

Answer
I am assuming that you're using a Weber Kettle grille. I have used one for decades, so I have a good sense of what works best with the things.

What you are describing is extremely odd, and not something that I have ever observed. Some questions:

1. What brand of briquettes?
2. How are you lighting them?
3. When you spread them out, how thick is the layer of coals? I generally recommend 1 1/2 - 2 briquettes deep.
4. How far is the grille from the coals?
5. What is the outdoor temperature?

A suggestion -- try using natural lump charcoal rather than briquettes -- it burns much hotter and without all the additives and fillers typically in briquettes.

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Expertise

I can answer questions having to do with grilling or barbecuing meat (but not pork), poultry, fish, and vegetables over charcoal or wood. I also have some expertise in marinades and spice mixes. I cook only with charcoal and wood, so please do not ask me any questions about gas or electric grills.

Experience

I've been cooking with fire and smoke for 25 years, using charcoal and wood almost exclusively. While I do not usually cook with gas, I'm willing to try to answer cooking questions in this area. I cook meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and I've experimented with a lot of different recipes and techniques. I am not able to answer questions about grilling or barbecuing pork. Most recently I've been using slow-cooking (indirect heat) techniques, and have been very successful at it.

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Not applicable to this area of expertise.

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