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Old 02-21-2010, 06:56 PM   #1
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Default Tweaking a Nut Brown. Maple Syrup? Honey?

Hi folks,
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!

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Old 02-21-2010, 06:58 PM   #2
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BTW, yes I did search the forum for similar topics, but nothing that was quite specific enough. Thanks again.

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Old 02-22-2010, 03:31 PM   #3
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To get what you are describing for boosted ABV, especially with a stronger alcohol taste, it sounds like brown sugar would do the trick. You already have some in the recipe so you better mean what you say, as adding more will start pushing it towards an alcoholly, cidery realm (making up words is fun).

Maple syrup or molasses will usually give a slightly burnt flavor although the brand and amounts will affect this a lot. Using it generally requires a lot of practice to get it just right. If you like super roasty, malt bombs like Sam Adams Imperial Doppelbock then you may want to try this.

Honey actually looks like it may work well with the other specialty grains, but like the above the water/sugar amounts vary so much it may take some practice to get it the way you like. Also, make sure you like honey's flavor because it tends to leave in more of the original flavor.

In general, this is hard question to answer because it depend on your tastes and they all generally do what you are asking, but with different flavors added. Bite the bullet on whichever flavor you like most and see what happens. Also, get Beersmith or use an online recipe calculator to tweak the recipe to the ABV and other attributes you are looking for.

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Old 02-22-2010, 03:51 PM   #4
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g-bus,
All of these different forms of sugar (maple syrup, honey, molasses, etc.) will typically not make your beer sweeter, if anything just the opposite. The sugars in these syrups/etc. are fermentable and will just make more alcohol and will actually make the beer taste less sweet (i.e. more dry). But they will leave behind their signature non-sweet elements of their flavors.

Also, FWIW most brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added.

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