Backyard barbecue aficionados will soon have the opportunity to purchase a handcrafted smoker designed by Aaron Franklin.
The local barbecue guru has plenty of experience building smokers — he learned to weld out of necessity in order to modify a pit purchased from an ex-employer of his wife, Stacy, who got it when John Mueller closed his Manor Road location. To better suit his needs, Franklin cut out the smokestack and changed the size of the doors. This is the pit he used to hone his craft in a series of backyard parties that started eight years ago and led to the award-winning barbecue emporium we know today.
By 2009, when the couple opened their first trailer on I-35 in Central Austin, Aaron had built smoker No. 2. “The No. 2 smoker was built with the design he took from modifying No. 1,” says Stacey. “Our restaurant pits have been almost identical to No. 2, with small changes in size and the insulation of fireboxes.”
These wood-burning pits will be offset cookers (known in barbecue parlance as "stick burners") about 6-feet-long, made from 1/4-inch virgin steel, with insulated fireboxes that will fit three briskets. Franklin will oversee and participate in production alongside Caleb and Matt Johnson in their Bastrop welding shop. The emphasis is on attention to detail with a focus on internal air dynamics and high convection cooking. The team already produced about a dozen smokers that were used successfully during Franklin's first-ever Hot Luck festival.
If you are chomping at the bit to get your hands on one of these babies, you will need to simmer down. The smokers won’t be available until summer 2018, but you’d better get yourself on the waiting list now.
“We will likely have 100-plus ready to go when we open up sales,” says Stacy. “We have had 2,000 people sign up for our email list in the past week. That being said, these will be similar to our barbecue in that we want to make sure that the quality and craftsmanship is there, so we are not looking to mass produce Franklin Barbecue pits.”