More Flavor in a Cob Than My New Briar. Breaking In = More Flavor?

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PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
Hello! I first got into piping around 5-6 years ago when I was 15 (I know, kind of young to be smoking anything) and had a MM Washington with OGS and Frog Morton Cellar. Eventually, I got caught and my mother took it away, understandably so, but anyway, I remember being able to pick out the flavors easily and it was very enjoyable. I just bought a few pipes recently. A Savinelli 614 Roma, a MM Washington, and a Nording Freehand. I've been enjoying my English blends in my Savinelli, and Va/Per(s) in my Nording. I have had probably 4 bowls in my Savinelli and 1 bowl in my Nording so far. I don't know if I somehow lost my tastebuds, but the flavors are not nearly as apparent and distinguishable as I remember them to be when I smoked out of the cob I used to have. I've smoked C&D Black Frigate and H&H Blackhouse in my Savinelli and all I've really been getting is a generic tobacco flavor without any subtleties or nuances. I was able to pick out some flavors, but they were extremely subtle, and I had to really pay attention/think about what I was tasting (I know this is part of the art of piping, but it was much more thinking than I feel like I should have had to do). The same went for the bowl of OGS I had today in my brand new Nording. I remember Orlik having a pretty apparent sweetness and brightness in my cob, but I didn't get these flavors at all in my Nording. Other than the very first bowl I had, I really have been paying attention to the moisture of the tobacco, how I pack (handshake method), and having a slow cadence while smoking. That being said, I know cobs don't really need to be broken in at all and that they will generally smoke well from the first bowl onward, but do briars need time to break-in, in order to maximize the flavors of tobacco?
 

Country Bladesmith

Preferred Member
May 2, 2020
2,133
9,578
Louisiana
To me, tobaccos usually taste a bit fuller in a pipe that has seen multiple bowls of that tobacco. I think the tar and oils that accumulate on the chamber walls kind of help to intensify the flavor. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t think so. Blends always taste a bit bland/flat in new pipes in my opinion.
 

PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
To me, tobaccos usually taste a bit fuller in a pipe that has seen multiple bowls of that tobacco. I think the tar and oils that accumulate on the chamber walls kind of help to intensify the flavor. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t think so. Blends always taste a bit bland/flat in new pipes in my opinion.
Interesting, I'll have to see how this works out over the next month or two. I'm sure I still have some inconsistencies/issues with the way I've been drying, packing, smoking, etc, and all the fine mechanics of them. Let the journey begin! Lol. Thanks for the reply!
 

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Country Bladesmith

Preferred Member
May 2, 2020
2,133
9,578
Louisiana
Interesting, I'll have to see how this works out over the next month or two. I'm sure I still have some inconsistencies/issues with the way I've been drying, packing, smoking, etc, and all the fine mechanics of them. Let the journey begin! Lol. Thanks for the reply!
No problem! I started tobacco when I was too young also. Chew and snuff mostly, then I moved to cigars, dropping the snuff mostly, then altogether. Then I moved to pipes and stopped chewing. I still have a cigar every blue moon, but pretty much just smoke pipe tobacco now.
Just remember, it’s pretty much impossible to smoke too slowly, or dry too much when you’re starting out, or starting out “again“ in your case. You can adjust later after you get back in the swing of it. Slow and dry usually helps flavor-wise.
 

PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
No problem! I started tobacco when I was too young also. Chew and snuff mostly, then I moved to cigars, dropping the snuff mostly, then altogether. Then I moved to pipes and stopped chewing. I still have a cigar every blue moon, but pretty much just smoke pipe tobacco now.
Just remember, it’s pretty much impossible to smoke too slowly, or dry too much when you’re starting out, or starting out “again“ in your case. You can adjust later after you get back in the swing of it. Slow and dry usually helps flavor-wise.
Noted. I watched a MuttnChop Piper video about drying and he recommends to dry until you think it's too dry, or a little crispy. I applied this "method" to a couple of the bowls I smoked and the flavor was better, but still not to where I think it could be. I could still not even be drying it enough because sometimes, I'm just too eager and excited to pack and smoke! It's like the piping honeymoon phase 😂 I have to remember to be as consistent as I can with that part of the process. Cheers man!
 

PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
I think your palate changed. It happens. The physiology's complex. I had no end of trouble with mine. I would say to no get overly invested in what you're tasting. Smoked envision that your palate is open. Getting upset about it obscures the issue.
Definitely makes sense. I think I should let the flavors come to me rather than trying to find them. I did find that when I was trying to figure them out, I wasn't relaxed. I heard it takes time for some people to develop a palette to start really getting the nuances and subtleties, without making a strong effort to find them. Thanks for the reply!
 
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PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
Update: having a bowl of Black Frigate right now. It seems like my palette is adjusting, flavors are starting to come to me much easier now. Also, not lighting the bowl for too long seemed to help too, as well as tamping lighter so I don't compact it.
 

americaman

Senior Member
May 1, 2019
453
1,111
Los Angeles, CA
First and second bowl are usually great for me. Depending on the pipe, you can taste that great briar, which really adds to the flavor (my recent Castello acquisition was phenomenal the first two times, and continued to be great, but just lost a little bit of that fresh briar flavor).

In most of my pipes, though, there was a period of monotony after those first couple of bowls where I just had to get through it. But once you develop that carbon cake it all gets better. Flavors come alive once again, and you can smoke at a more regular cadence due to that layer of protection keeping the pipe cool.

At last year’s West Coast Pipe Show I was telling Shane Ireland how awesome one of my vintage pipes was. He sort of smiled and said: “That’s because it’s broken in.” I think the quality of the briar in that pipe is great, but I think he’s mostly correct. A pipe gets better after the break-in period.
 

desrtrat68

Member
Apr 27, 2020
104
259
Phoenix, AZ
I think it gets better when the pipe is broken in. The first time I got a new briar and smoked my first bowl in it, I remember it tasted like shit even though I was smoking a tobacco I knew I liked (glp quiet nights). I was also disheartened. But now, after at least 20 bowls in the new pipe, things taste the way they should, and i'm happy with the new pipe....still love my cobs though...
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
31,232
15,623
Yeah, you need that carbon layer in a briar to bring out full flavor in blends. Comparing a new briar to an MM cob is unfair, because cobs are just elegant easy smokers, often from the first bowl. They are inexpensive, so people don't want to compare them with their $300 briars, but cobs are just excellent smokers, let's face the intimidating fact. Some very plebeian briar factory pipes also are prodigies, not from the first bowl but soon. Its embarrassing to smoke my Yello-Bole and have it deliver as well as any of my "far better" pipes. The best things in life may not be free, but sometimes they only cost twenty bucks or less.
 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
1,377
2,225
I agree with all the other posters who have said, more or less, that new briar pipes generally taste like crap puffy

Also, there are some blends that just go really well in cobs - namely for my taste, burley (something about how the come somehow sweetens or brightens up the burley flavor) and any aromatic (because of the absorbency of the cob). Basically, depending on your preferences, some blends just go best in a cob.
 

PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
Yeah, you need that carbon layer in a briar to bring out full flavor in blends. Comparing a new briar to an MM cob is unfair, because cobs are just elegant easy smokers, often from the first bowl. They are inexpensive, so people don't want to compare them with their $300 briars, but cobs are just excellent smokers, let's face the intimidating fact. Some very plebeian briar factory pipes also are prodigies, not from the first bowl but soon. Its embarrassing to smoke my Yello-Bole and have it deliver as well as any of my "far better" pipes. The best things in life may not be free, but sometimes they only cost twenty bucks or less.
Although I haven't pursued the art for very long, I definitely agrre with you. I wasn't really trying to compare the two, but I think I made the title a bit misleading. So far, I've had 7 bowls in my Savinelli Roma 614 and it's starting to smoke better and better for each bowl. I love how pipes generally get better and better the more you smoke them (at least for flavor, to an extent). Thanks for the reply!
 
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PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
I agree with all the other posters who have said, more or less, that new briar pipes generally taste like crap puffy

Also, there are some blends that just go really well in cobs - namely for my taste, burley (something about how the come somehow sweetens or brightens up the burley flavor) and any aromatic (because of the absorbency of the cob). Basically, depending on your preferences, some blends just go best in a cob.
I just had some Erinmore Flake in my cob today and it was delicious! I found that the flavor, at least right now, is awesome in the cob compared to my Nording freehand, but the Nording has only seen a couple bowls, so I can't really truly judge it yet in that regard. Cobs are amazing for the price! Thanks for the reply!
 
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lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
1,377
2,225
I just had some Erinmore Flake in my cob today and it was delicious! I found that the flavor, at least right now, is awesome in the cob compared to my Nording freehand, but the Nording has only seen a couple bowls, so I can't really truly judge it yet in that regard. Cobs are amazing for the price! Thanks for the reply!
I'll also add that for some reason, some pipes just seem to mute or otherwise negatively impact the flavor. I've had a few pipes like this, and I get rid of them ASAP. I don't know if its an issue with the construction of the pipe, or the materials, and it doesn't really matter. It's just that some pipes, for whatever reason, are better than others. You'll find what you like as you add more pipes to your collection.,.. it's the only way!
 
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PsychedPiper

New member
Jul 30, 2020
17
47
I'll also add that for some reason, some pipes just seem to mute or otherwise negatively impact the flavor. I've had a few pipes like this, and I get rid of them ASAP. I don't know if its an issue with the construction of the pipe, or the materials, and it doesn't really matter. It's just that some pipes, for whatever reason, are better than others. You'll find what you like as you add more pipes to your collection.,.. it's the only way!
Very true! I would buy 10 right now if I could, but as all of us know, chasing for "the one" can be expensive. I'll stick to the 3 I have now, which in my opinion, still smoke fantastic, but just need some time and love. Cheers!
 
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lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
1,377
2,225
Very true! I would buy 10 right now if I could, but as all of us know, chasing for "the one" can be expensive. I'll stick to the 3 I have now, which in my opinion, still smoke fantastic, but just need some time and love. Cheers!
Agreed. I only have about ten briar pipes that I smoke with any regularity. I'm sure I'll add more to the collection, but most of us here have far more pipes than we need. It's really just a matter of enjoying the variety, but not at all necessary to have a lot of pipes to have excellent smoking experiences.

I'd recommend doing a google search on Fred Hanna and his book The Perfect Smoke. He also has a chapter in there about what he calls a "Magic Pipe" and he speculates about how briar characteristics (such as where the heath tree is grown, what the soil conditions are like, etc.) might affect the smoking characteristics of a pipe that is made from that particular tree, just like how those conditions affect grapes grown for making wine. I just posted about it in another thread here as well. It's an interesting concept, and is not really understood by anyone or accounted for in pipe making.
 

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