Wood is favored over charcoal or gas
Smokers with a gas assist function have gained popularity in higher volume restaurants, but most masters still do it the old-fashioned way: a hardwood fire that's watched carefully overnight. The most common wood used in Central Texas is post oak, but you'll also see mesquite and hickory.
The fires burn low and slow
One of the hardest parts of barbecuing is the meticulous management of a fire. If you cook too hot and fast, the collagen won't have time to render and the inherent toughness of the cut of meat will prevail. Pitmasters subscribe to a low and slow philosophy that can take up to 20 hours for each brisket.
Many of the most legitimate barbecue operations happen outdoors
Based on regulations on indoor smokers, spatial considerations, and the low startup cost of trailers, cooking is often done outside. This further complicates the fragile ecosystem inside the smoker and tests a pitmaster's abilities.