The key to achieving real smokehouse barbecue taste is in two things: the quality of the meat and the method of preparation. Simple as that. This article is not going to be overly wordy so just a warning to not get comfortable.
Key One to Smoke House BBQ : Quality of Ribs
Spend the extra time or money on a good rack of ribs. Do not buy packaged ribs because then you will be getting undesirable parts that the store has hidden by folding the ribs or turning then face down. Ask the store butcher to cut your ribs and to let you pick them out. Price should be the same because they always price by the pound. You will want to choose your racks of ribs based on thickness and marbling. Do not let a thicker membrane discourage you from picking that rack; just choose them based on meatiness and and even distribution of fat marble and you should do fine. Another tip is to always buy the ribs fresh. Do not buy and freeze and I would not recommend purchasing the ribs more than 2 days prior to when you plan on doing your rib smoking.
Key Two to Smoke House BBQ : Preparation Method
I have read hundreds and hundreds of recipes for preparing good smokehouse bbq ribs and I always laugh whenever I see that the preparation is done completely indoors in the oven or a slow cooker. My fellow barbecue ribs lovers: this is not Smokehouse BBQ ! This is against bbq code and all that is right and decent in this world. If you are snowed in by a twenty foot high snowdrift and cannot escape for 7 and half weeks but you have 2 racks of ribs that you could slow cook in the crockpot, Don't Do IT!
You must always use real wood and real smoke (not the liquid kind!, by the way, isn't 'liquid smoke' a oxymoron?) if you want to have a genuine smokehouse barbecue taste. Smoke your spare ribs using indirect heat but keeping the smoker hot enough for safe cooking (250). You can soak the wood if you like but if you are using a large smoker and the barbecue ribs are far from your heat source then it won't make much difference. Soaking the wood in advance is a method to ensure that the heat won't be too intense and that instead it will only smolder instead of burning; but this 'hotness' of the fire can also be controlled by the airflow and the placement of the ribs. If you do this method then you will most likely have a great barbecue experience as the meat will tenderize as you smoke it. The final stage of cooking can be done either outdoors on your grill or inside in the oven. This is the part where you really get the barbecue ribs tender.