I gave brisket a shot for the first time over the weekend. I didn't have time to babysit the smoker for 14-16 hours, so I cheated and cooked it most of the way sous vide using an immersion circulator I've recently gotten, a day and a half in the water bath at 147 degrees (a rough time and exact temperature I settled on after some googling). I had a 6 lb flat from BJ's ($4.59/lb for USDA choice!) that got down to a little over 5 lb after trimming, and I had to cut it in half to fit in the vacuum seal bags, so I had a thicker half and a thinner half. Then late yesterday morning it went on the smoker (well, Weber kettle that I use for all my smoking) that I kept around 275 degrees, I was anticipating it needing 5-6 hours to get the meat up to the 200 degrees I was aiming for, but there was no stall at all and the skinny half got there in only about 3 hours, and the thicker half about 30 minutes later. So I pulled them, wrapped in foil and a towel and rested in a beer cooler until it was time to slice and eat. I was adding about twice as much wood as I usually...would...if I was only smoking, figured since it wouldn't be on as long I'd use a lot more smoke, and I think that helped get plenty of smokiness into the meat despite the shorter smoke time and the higher starting temperature.
I think it tasted really great, the smoke flavor definitely came through. The thicker half was cooked beautifully, it was just north of fall apart tender, had fully rendered fat and was very juicy. The thinner half didn't get fare as well. It didn't have as much marbling so I think it got a bit dried out on the smoker, was still tender and tasty, but not juicy. But it still was ok and I diced up the leftovers afterwards for burnt end sandwiches for lunch today. The thicker half I would say was better than most brisket around here, it was much better than Mission's and even Dinosaur (which I prefer to Mission for most cuts), but not anywhere near as good as real brisket, like from Franklin's out in Austin (I haven't had the brisket at Andy Nelson's, need to try theirs I bet they do it really well).
I need to nut up and do it the right way, the entire time on the smoker. Ideally I'd like to find a full packer brisket, or at least the point to get that extra marbling fat. I'd also give a whirl to smoking first for a few hours until it gets to the stall, then finishing for a long time sous vide basically standing in for the "crutch", and then maybe back out over some hot coals just before serving to firm up the bark. I'm willing to put in the time and hours for great BBQ on occasion, but if I can hack it to greatly reduce active time and still come out with a good result, that's a nice weapon to have available as well.
Also made some jalapeno cheddar grits as a side that were great.