I'm just getting into brewing, but I'd like to try experimenting a little bit to customize some recipes (just using a recipe kit doesn't sound all that exciting). I've brewed a batch of oatmeal stout, which I'm about to bottle, and an IPA, which is about to go to secondary. These have all been from recipe kits. I just picked up a True Brew Nut Brown Ale kit and was thinking about making some modifications to it, hopefully adding an interesting flavor element and boosting the abv a bit. I'm a really big fan of the Tommyknocker's Imperial Nut Brown, with maple syrup, so my first thought was to add some maple syrup. I've read into adding maple syrup to recipes and it looks like it can be a bit tricky, but I'm still considering it. Also, honey looks like a good option as well, and might give it a bit of a Honey Nut Cheerios flavor (or not). Or maybe adding some additional brown sugar, which I know will make it a little sweeter, but wouldn't stray too far from the original ingredients. I am concerned with making it overly sweet, but I do like fairly sweet beers. So I'm looking for suggestions of what to add, how much, and how to do it. My goal, again, is to add a new flavor component to compliment the existing taste, and boost the abv. According to the recipe this will probably average somewhere in the 4.8% range. I do really like beers that have a fairly strong alcohol taste, and look for beers that are at least 7%. Raising this 2% would probably alter the taste drastically, but I'd like to at least bring it up a little. Here's what's in the kit:
1 can hopped LME
1 lb light DME
1 lb amber DME
1 lb special dark brown sugar
Grains: chocolate, dark crystal, and roasted barley
1 oz hops pellets
I should probably mention that the nearest homebrew store is pretty far from me, so I was hoping to do this with ingredients that I could find at most grocery stores or health food stores. Thanks!