The crockpot is fine it just takes a while. I like my beans cooked down thick and tender. For me, it takes about 7-8 hours for them to be ready. It sounds like you are kind of doing the reverse of what I do. I put my red beans in the water bowl of my smoker when I'm smoking meat, after adding the mix of spices I use, usually for about twelve hours. I finish them off on the stove to get nice them and thick. I don't like watery bean soup. I also smoke some andouille sausage to go in the beans. Top with sharp cheddar and serve with jalapeno and cheese cornbread.