Saturday, February 21, 2009

Drugstore Challenge #1 – Dr. Garbow Vs. No Name Italian Briar

Just as a point of interest I thought I would match boutique pipes, those sold through tobacconists, and mass produced pipes head to head to see how they compare, and which would be the better smoker. In this initial “challenge,” a featherweight ranking if you will, between a no name Italian estate bulldog, most likely sold as a basket pipe before being acquired by myself through eBay, and a Dr. Garbow purchased new at a local Rite Aid.

In order to somewhat level the playing field a bit I have smoked the Garbow “challenger” regularly over the past couple weeks, building a slight cake on the bowl, always smoking a cherry blend, either Boswell’s Cherry Smash or their Pennsylvania Dutch Treat. The “defending” Italian Briar is also a pipe dedicated to cherry aromatics.

Each round represents the elapsing of 15 minutes for the Garbow, and about 20 for the Italian briar. The discrepancy is for the larger capacity of the defending pipe.

Round 1- Both pipes come out hot. The Garbow’s veneer seems to make it feel hotter, but his smoke stays cool, only displaying a slight bite. Meanwhile his larger opponent struggles to keep things dry. There is gurgling as a precursor to some tongue bite.

Round 2- After a hot finish both gladiators slow their pace and cooled off considerably, making each pipe easier to handle. The doctor though, is still clenched between the teeth, using his light weight to dodge and deflect handling, while Italian briar has to be pulled from clenching teeth that stress under his weight. Oh and what’s this!? The Defender has gone down and is need of a relight!

Round 3- This has been an upset not seen by this sportscaster ever before. Going into the match money was heavy on the defender. The perception on Garbow was marginal at best, but after three rounds of fisticuffs only one relight was needed to clean his chamber while remaining warm to the touch after a hot start! The defender, in contrast, struggled to keep lit in the closing round. He seemed bulky, heavy, and without the grace of his opponent.

In all seriousness I am really surprised that I preferred the Garbow in a head to head comparison. As I built cake on the Garbow it always felt really hot to touch, but I also generally smoked while driving, so I was likely smoking faster, and not realizing that I rarely had to pick up the pipe. In this match up the value is still in Garbow’s favor, being 10 dollars less than the average basket pipe if purchased new.

Going forward I will remove his veneer and refinish the pipe to see if that helps with the heat. Even if I kept the pipe as is, I am truly happy with the purchase.

Click here to see more pictures of the main event.

Happy smoking!

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