While a scientist in industry, my toughest challenge was doing a control experiment. Receiving a procedure for development, the immediate urge is to read through it and start tweaking and changing immediately. That urge continues to this day. It's more exciting to try to improve things than start with a baseline/control.
I'll dispense with tedious details, but I've never done the mini minion method properly. Finally, I did. I've been wanting to let my kettle go overnight forever.
It's better to start these long cooking sessions the night before dinner. If started in the morning, cooking time can run short. If the meat's done a couple hours early, just wrap it up and no problems.
Here's few clean control runs.
1. The top image is a simple indirect setup; briquettes banked against the side using bricks to keep them in place.
2. The second image is the temperature profile using Kingsford's mesquite briquettes. I'm able to achieve a steady 200+ temp with a max around 320°F (acceptable) for 7 straight hours using only about 40 briquettes. Nice. No waking up at 3 am if I start at 11. Kettle has slightly opened vents on the bottom and half open vent on top.
3. The next is a run with nearly identical conditions to #2 but using "natural" Kingsford Competition briquettes. A tad less residual ash, but nearly identical temperature profile.
4. The 4th image shows one more run using a nearly closed top vent, everything else the same. This is pretty fascinating (to me). I've always had a hard time maintaining LOW temps with the kettle. In this case a relatively steady and controlled 195 ± 20°F is maintained for 10 straight hours using only about 40 briquettes. For low 'n slow, I actually need the top vent opened somewhere in between. That run will commence Saturday night when I cook beans beneath the brisket.
Sunday night's dinner will be a celebration of these efforts.
Another run with the top vent shut down more.
This run has an expanded Y-axis, temp was actually pretty stable over time.