A pair of Yoder Smokers pellet grills stoked an already-burning fire for a father and his two sons; the pursuit for the perfect BBQ soon followed and brought an entire family together.
It all started when Aaron Daniels brought home his Yoder Smokers YS640 pellet grill in late 2017. His father, Dan, a long-time barbecue enthusiast accustomed to an offset stick burner, had been researching pellet grills and was immediately impressed.
“Right out of the gate, the quality of the build is excellent,” Dan said. “With how heavy that thing is, it’s going to hold its heat. Just online reading about it and looking at photos and YouTube videos, the quality is impressive. It’s a freakin’ big ol’ bombshell. I knew it was something that was going to last forever.”
It wasn’t long before Dan decided on a YS640 for himself.
FANNING THE FLAMES
Now with two Yoder Smokers pellet grills in the family, Aaron and Dan were inspired to up their BBQ game to competition level.
Aaron’s brother, Evan, joined in and the father and sons got to work on their craft, spending a good part of their evenings and weekends perfecting techniques.
Most Sundays, Dan and his wife, Lisa, would host a barbecue in the backyard of their Tenino, WA, home. Friends and family became impromptu BBQ judges as the three men worked the two pits.
“IT’S INSANE HOW GOOD THE FOOD IS.”
And then it got serious.
Evan’s longtime girlfriend, Tiffany, heard about an upcoming local competition and thought it might be time to turn things up a notch.
“They have done so well with mastering timing and everything on the Yoder,” Tiffany said. “It’s insane how good the food is.”
The father and sons registered in March as “The Three Pellets” for July’s Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally in Yelm, Washington, leaving four months to prepare. They decided to hold a practice competition not unlike so many of those Sunday afternoons, but this time pitting Dan, Aaron and Evan against each other.
“Next thing you know, 50 people are in my backyard and there’s a big bonfire and three smokers going,” Dan said. “But it was a total blast.”
The contest was structured just like the real thing, with Dan, Aaron and Evan turning in competition-style boxes conforming to standard entry guidelines. Retired and with decades of experience grilling and smoking, Dan might have had the advantage and took the gold.
READY OR NOT
The day of the competition finally came, and Three Pellets didn’t know what to expect. Dan, Aaron and Evan were so focused on prep work, they hardly slept the night before.
“When you’ve never done it, you have nothing to go off,” Aaron said. “Me personally I was like, ‘Man as long as we don’t get last, then we did pretty dang good.’ ”
Evan was skeptical their turn-ins would even compare to those more-experienced competitors and their boxes. Dan felt the same, but would ultimately be happy with any outcome.
“No matter what, I’m the winner,” Dan said. “I don’t care if I get last place. I’m here with my two boys just having a blast. It’s fun, and it’s a family thing.”
But intimidation set in as Three Pellets arrived at the contest pulling a motorcycle trailer carrying Aaron’s and Dan’s YS640’s. The contest was stacked with 10 other experienced competitors, and some teams were cooking on smokers that cost upwards of $12,000.
Even with more expensive smokers on the grounds, the Yoder Smokers pits stood out.
“Throughout the event, we had a lot of people come over to check them out,” said Dan. “They said they always see them online, but hadn’t seen one in person. One guy wanted to look over the entire rig.”
A BIG WIN
A host of family, including Tiffany’s parents and grandparents, attended the competition to support the Three Pellets and their dual Yoder Smokers pellet grills throughout the day.
Once the turn-ins were complete, the time had come. As the results were announced, family and friends erupted in cheers and excitement. The competition trophies were awarded and Three Pellets learned they’d earned 1st place for their chicken and ribs, as well as 3rd place for brisket.
Dan said he already knew the Yoder Smokers pits produced the best BBQ, but he was surprised they were able to beat competitors who spend every weekend participating in competitions.
“Words could not describe how proud the family was of them,” Tiffany said. “They worked so hard and did not sleep the whole night before. All the boys kept saying was how much fun they had and how they got to do it with their dad.”
The Three Pellets plan to continue competing in contests and in their own backyards, and soon they’ll be adding another Yoder Smokers pit to their team as Evan prepares to purchase his own Yoder Smokers pit.
As for the rest of the family, they’re looking forward to more perfectly-cooked BBQ.
“I truly believe your smokers are by far the best out there,” said Tiffany, “and this family couldn’t be more pleased with how these amazing smokers make such delicious food.”