Why buy an upright/cabinet style smoker? For many people, the offset smoker is the epitome of the backyard cooker.  The cylindrical shape and chimney allow for smoke, air and heat to pass over the meat to impart that nice smoky flavor that people associate with good BBQ. 

I make tremendous offset smokers and love to cook on them.  However, they do have their drawbacks.  First, they have a large footprint.  If you have a limited cooking area tor want to maximize your space, the offset may not be for you.  The offset has a cooking surface area limited the length of the unit.  You can maximize that by adding a second shelf but the other shelf limits the overhead space in the unit.  Heat in the units tends to be uneven.  Whether you have a reverse flow unit or a direct flow unit you will experience hot zones in the cooker.   This can make managing a cook more intensive. With a cabinet or upright unit you can turn in the same quality product in a much smaller cooking space.  Upright units are smaller side to side because the firebox is directly below the grates.  Multiple shelves are built up.  This gives you the ability to put more surface area into a smaller space.   Because the shelves are removable, you can create as much head space as you need for things like large roasts, turkeys and even a suckling pig.  All of my standard upright units come with a recessed grate above the firebox so that it can double as a grill.  All of my standard upright units can accommodate a water pan. 

Some of my customers are using today’s digital thermometer technology to monitor their cooks.  They have reported that when my units get to the desired cooking temperature, there is only a 5 degree difference in grate temps from front to back and from top to bottom.  This is exceptionally important when you are cooking for large groups and want the finished products to come off of the BBQ at about the same time.    It is also important if you are staggering your cooks and want to ensure consistency. Something that is unique to the cabinet smoker is the ability to create smoke zones.  My units come with one or two chimneys.  Because of the size of the firebox you will be allowed to get enough oxygen to burn a clean fire while still using the chimney damper to create as much smoke in the unit as you need.  Fully open, the smoke will wisp away giving your food a nice feint taste of smoke.  Partially closed, you will create a smoke zone, giving you more smoke towards the top of the unit and less towards the bottom.  This will allow you to cook items you want more smoky at the top and less smoky at the bottom.  Closed even more at the chimney, you can get an even dense (but clean) smoke throughout the entire unit.  With many offset units, the firebox is smaller and the energy needed to create a good flow and clean smoke is created with an open chimney.  This does not give you the ability to create the smoke zones that my uprights do. 

Finally, the upright works on simply physics.  Heat rises.  With an offset unit the energy it takes to go up and sideways results in greater fuel consumption.  I have customers report that they use less wood to keep my upright units at temp than they did with much smaller offset units.   Remember, I build all of my units custom to you.  If one of the standard units looks right for you put your order in.  If you say to yourself, “I would like an extra shelf” or “I would like it fitted for a fan regulator” just let me know and I will make it to your specifications.  A majority of my uprights begin with the standard unit design and become a custom unit after consultation. 


Face it.  Grilling over an open fire is fun.   On the West Coast the Santa Maria BBQ has become a “must have” for many outdoor cookers.  Its’ large cooking surface and height adaptability make it ideal for cooking and searing.  What makes California Custom Smokers’ Santa Maria grills so special?  We understand how they work and listen to you to make every one of them not just a cooking unit, but a piece of art.

How they work – The Santa Maria grill uses an open fire to provide heat to the food.  With a crank system, you can raise or lower the grate to the optimal height for cooking.  Whether you like front or reverse searing, or both, it is easily accomplished on the Santa Maria grill.

 How are we different - If you look around you will see a myriad of choices on the market that may make the prospect of a custom unit seem needless.  Look at the units carefully.  Most do not have vents and charcoal or wood rests on the bottom of the unit.  This is style is not conducive to achieving that hot fire that optimizes the efficiency of our units.  All of our Santa Maria grills have a raised fire grate as well as two vents to optimize air flow and temperature.  Imagine putting a griddle set-up for fajitas on the top of the grill without these features.  You fire would suddenly get cooler, your smoke would get darker and you would not get the hot, clean cook that you expect from a Santa Maria grill. 

 What we offer – All of our units come standard with wheels for easy maneuverability.  They all come standard with a diamond shaped grate and a wire pulley system.  However, whatever size grill size and style you want, we can make it.  If you want a double height system we can make it.  If you prefer a chain pulley system, we will do it.  If you want an ash catcher underneath the grate to allow for easy clean up after the cook, we can make it.  If you want a small solid strip of metal to go across the top of the grate to measure surface temperature, we can make that as well.  If you want a logo on the unit we do that.  If you want it made to accommodate a small roof, no problem.  If you want the ability to mount a rotisserie, we can do that.  We will work with you to also make sure that grate dimensions are consistent with accessory products on the market today.   Look around the standard BBQ market.  Many people are selling accessories for BBQ’s in an attempt to replicate the Santa Maria cooking method.  Why try to adapt something when you can have the real thing?