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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,840
13,956
Humansville Missouri
Some people swear off Algerian Briar and its "cinnamon taste" but I for one like it. Nose warmers are a different breed of pipe I tell you. I've never smoked one, but I can’t imagine it’s the greatest smoke out there. I always saw them an interesting novelty pipe. Maybe I should buy one and see. Who doesn’t need another reason to buy a pipe?

To the construction point...100% agree. You truly notice it only when its poorly done.

This is not ancient 400+ year old Algerian briar but it’s good Algerian briar, only $20.

IMG_6405.jpeg

That’s a billiard about twice or more as high as wide with a six inch overall length. If it’s not open enough I own drills.

It will taste spicey and stout and robust, using strong tobaccos.

This one was ten bucks and it really is 400+ year old Algerian. I can’t make up a lie better than it smokes, the same as all other Algerian briar but with stars, bars, and gold leaf clusters.:)



IMG_6466.jpeg


They aren’t expensive, but you might like em.
 

BenMN

Lifer
Jun 21, 2023
1,207
22,489
St. Paul, MN
You guys made me smoke the cob again.
I smoked a bowl with the castello and then with the cob. Same tobacco, same dryness, same everything.
Does the castello smokes 400 euro better? Absolutely not. The only difference is that the cob has an undertone of corn maybe because it's not broken in yet.I need to remind that I am a newbie and my palate is not trained.
The overall experience, the feel and feeling? Well, maybe it's worth 400 more.
That's a cool Castello. I sincerely hope you enjoy it. And your cob.

*fan of both Castello and cobs here.
 

BenMN

Lifer
Jun 21, 2023
1,207
22,489
St. Paul, MN
Like anything else, it’s a process.

With pipe smoking I find that it’s 25% equipment and 75% technique. Learning what blends you like and how to get the best out of them requires some experimentation. An expensive pipe isn’t going to compensate for poor technique. As one becomes more familiar with the process, one also finds the tools best suited to one’s needs.
One of my favorite pipes to smoke is a humble Brebbia that I picked up for $2. It suits me better than many of my more expensive pipes, including many of my Dunhills, Barlings, Comoys, etc. And there are high end Britwood that I smoke often. Over time one learns what works. A great smoke is where you find it.
Well said.

Play around. See what you like. Spend a little money. Join a forum. Join a pipe club.
 

Tom-202

Lurker
Jun 23, 2023
44
67
I always start cheap. That is common logic. I need to see if a new hobby, sport, interest, experience is right for me.

Then I associate with experienced people and become a member of a nice forum and here we go. Forums are a real disaster. They drain your pocket.

Quality aka expensive equipment works better. That is true with all my other activities and in general. Road bikes, road running shoes, mountain running shoes, trekking shoes or boots, fishing rods, airguns, bows, r/c airplanes.

When I started pipe smoking 25 years ago, I bought some basket pipes. I quit shortly maybe because I never had someone to teach me how to smoke.

Now I found this place and, in a few weeks, I bought a MM cob, a Chacom, a Savinelli, a Dunhill, a Radice and a Castello. In that order. I still have the old Fe.ro.

Long story short I almost always reach for the expensive pipes. As a newbie I am not in the position to appreciate and tell which smokes the best but I certainly like the pricey ones much more.

So, do expensive pipes really smoke better?
I think all answers are right here and it’s always person dependent. That said, as a generalization, a briar pipe (new) in the $70 and above range will almost always have classic construction and an easy draw.

To be sure I have terrific cobs at less than this price point. And incredible meerschaum pipes at 5x that price point. Estate pipes offer terrific value and there are great videos on restoration.
 
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Mar 1, 2014
3,650
4,923
I used to be a member on bladeforums and britishblades for years. I bought, traded and sold hundreds of folding knives. Great hobby but I quit years ago. Now I only have a cold steel lawman, a doug ritter mini grip and two SAKs. Ah and a mora.
This hobby can also be very expensive.
I tried the mm legend cob but hated it. I used a crappy tobacco and additionally I had no clue how to smoke it. I fried my tongue badly. Then I bought the nice briars and forgot about it. I must give it another try.
After a decade on Bladeforums I pretty much traded my knife collection for pipes at a 1:1 ratio.
The love of steel hasn't gone anywhere but the realization that 99.999% of my knife sharpening is due to destructive edge damage, both in food prep and in opening packages, means all the fanciest steel in the world is meaningless, the best knives are inherently the most disposable.

Somehow my pipe collection doesn't get the same logical scrutiny, I think half the reason is Pipesmoking is such a dying art that it gives purpose to just "collecting" pipes, almost as an act of preservation.
 

proteus

Lifer
May 20, 2023
1,249
2,131
53
Connecticut (shade leaf tobacco country)
I've found with any pipe larger airways are a big improvement in any pipe. A pipe is a chamber to load tobacco and draw air from the bottom. Everything else is aesthetics. A pipe can be made from just about any material. One could smoke a briar block from a kit unfinished and uncarved. The essence to a good pipe is a proper draw. The rest of the presentation of a pipe is art.
 

bersekero

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 29, 2023
118
234
Greece
After a decade on Bladeforums I pretty much traded my knife collection for pipes at a 1:1 ratio.
The love of steel hasn't gone anywhere but the realization that 99.999% of my knife sharpening is due to destructive edge damage, both in food prep and in opening packages, means all the fanciest steel in the world is meaningless, the best knives are inherently the most disposable.

Somehow my pipe collection doesn't get the same logical scrutiny, I think half the reason is Pipesmoking is such a dying art that it gives purpose to just "collecting" pipes, almost as an act of preservation.
Nice to meet a knife guy from the old good times.
I have a farm with edible plants and no animals expect my dogs so my knives had a good use. It took me a decade to realize that all I need was one folder, one fixed blade, a SAK, a couple of axes and a leuku (for cutting thin branches). Without the farm a folder and a SAK would be enough. After Britishblades suddenly disappeared I lost interest in knives. I was a very active member and I am still missing the great time I had there. I still have an RMJ tomahawk and a waki for the zombie apocalypse though.
With pipes it's different. A couple of months and I have already found that the six pipes I already have are enough. Actually there were seven but I have already sold one. I was never a collector of anything anyway.
 

minerLuke

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 2, 2023
239
484
Vancouver BC
I had a big long write up on this topic but I lost it, probably just as well.

My own experience can be summed up as my pipes, in general, were worth exactly what I paid for them. As a rule, my $50 pipes smoked about as well as I ought to expect and so have my $100 pipes and $200 pipes and so on. Taken as whole group together or by Brand X, Y or Z they have smoked as well as could be expected for that price point. This is judging from a pool of perhaps about one hundred pipes. Yes I have had some exceptions, a few cheap pipes that smoked far better than their price point would suggest and also a couple pricier pipes that didnt perform, but they have been the exception and not the rule.

I have only made it into the very bottom of the Dunhill/Castello etc 'higher end' factory pipes, so about the $300-400 range. I have no experience with the highest end of the market nor do I have any experience with the high end artisan pipes so I can't comment on those. But I am extremely happy with my low end Dunhills, my one Castello and Upshall and acouple of high end Savinellis, they have all been truly excellent smoking pipes and have been worth every penny I spent on them.
 

minerLuke

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 2, 2023
239
484
Vancouver BC
For a truck pipe, my 30 dollar Grabow’s look good and smoke great. For a 100 bucks a Peterson looks and smokes great. YMMV.

In my post which I lost, I detailed my sad luck with Peterson pipes. I got two which were absolute duds for smokers, put dozens of bowls thru for break in but still only made it to barely ok. I just said #$%$ it and binned them, life is too short and tobacco too expensive to waste time with mediocre pipes. After swearing off buying any more Pete's this summer I broke down and bought one of the short army pipes, that one is quite good. So I tried my luck on a Christmas pipe and after a few bowls the finish started to turn a sickly yellow color!?! It actually smokes very well so I didn't ask for an exchange but I'm totally done with Peterson now.

Dr Grabow have been very good smokers for me as well. My only complaint is that I seem to chew up the soft plastic stems in a year or two. I got a Royalton with an acrylic stem so I'll see how I like it. Seems to be holding up so far.
 

OverMountain

Lifer
Dec 5, 2021
1,322
4,803
Western Caccalack Hinterlands
In my post which I lost, I detailed my sad luck with Peterson pipes. I got two which were absolute duds for smokers, put dozens of bowls thru for break in but still only made it to barely ok. I just said #$%$ it and binned them, life is too short and tobacco too expensive to waste time with mediocre pipes. After swearing off buying any more Pete's this summer I broke down and bought one of the short army pipes, that one is quite good. So I tried my luck on a Christmas pipe and after a few bowls the finish started to turn a sickly yellow color!?! It actually smokes very well so I didn't ask for an exchange but I'm totally done with Peterson now.

Dr Grabow have been very good smokers for me as well. My only complaint is that I seem to chew up the soft plastic stems in a year or two. I got a Royalton with an acrylic stem so I'll see how I like it. Seems to be holding up so far.
Agree. Supposedly they will replace stems if you mail them back to Grabow. The royalton line is pretty tops IMO.

Hate to hear of your experience with Peterson. I have a 106 and a 313 and have had good luck with both. (Same thing for 3x the price of a Grabow 🤣)
 
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cachimbero

Starting to Get Obsessed
Apr 9, 2019
244
288
55
Cordoba, Spain
In my experience, expensive pipes usually are nicer finished and drilling is less of a toss up than with cheaper pipes. Apart from that, the bigger difference for me is in the quality of stems and, especially, the care given to the shaping and confort of the bit. And this, for me, is a really important thing, as the bit is what puts in contact the smoker (you) with the pipe.
Smoking qualities, in my experience, are very related to drilling and the care given to avoid turbulences between stem and shank. When these are properly taken care of, the pipe usually smokes well.
All of the above can be found in a cheap pipe, but probabilities increase the higher you go in price, but nothing guarantees that a cheap pipe will not outperform a more expensive one.
 

JackOrion

Can't Leave
Feb 3, 2023
307
2,912
West Yonkers California
I certainly apply the buy once cry once philosophy to fly fishing. My collection of top shelf rods, reels, boots and waders is all kinds of ridiculous especially when considering where I live.

Pipes, I’ve yet to go new Costello big, but the pipes in my collection I’d consider nice and I don’t think I want to know what they accumulatively add up to. They have definitely stumped my fishing gear habit.
 
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Coreios

Lifer
Sep 23, 2022
1,630
2,697
41
United States Of America

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,840
13,956
Humansville Missouri
I just smoked back to back a bowl of Borkum Riff Original in Three Star ($10) and Five Star ($25) Lees. To convert 1946 dollars that would be a $150 and $400 pipe roughly, today.

IMG_6611.jpeg

Both are sweet smoking, wonderful pipes, flawlessly finished.

The top grade pipe is polished and finshed a little more.

The top grade pipe came with no stain and the cheaper one came darkly stained, both are pretty.

And neither has any fills or obvious defects and the grain figure is good, and not much different in beauty.

The top end pipe has far, far denser grain. The briar used was top of the top grade probably Italian briar, instead of merely top grade.

It’s far more insulating of heat. No taste difference to speak of, but a cooler pipe, like smoking a thermos jug, and the cheap one isn’t bad, just not superb.

Both pipes likely came from the same bag of the same top grade of briar, but one was from ancient moubtain grown briar.

If those pipes were artisan made today they’d both have the very top of the top grade briar.

Back then there were at least a hundred to one more pipes sold. They were less particular in grading, as there was a terrific demand for briar.

There really isn’t a market for less than the best of the best brair for a luxury pipe today, I don’t think.