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wesza

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Hi all.
Been using the online kits to brew for a while now. Always follow instructions to the letter and only add what it tells you too. I’m now wanting to branch out a bit and start trying to create my own brews by tweaking the kits, adding different malts, hops etc. Only thing holding me back is all the time and effort it takes to brew to then create something in undrinkable. I have twice made Mangrows Juicy fruit IPA which I absolutely loved. Would like it to be stronger than 4% tho like Brewdogs Hazy Jane (9%). I was thinking of just adding two juicy fruit kits together with both yeasts and maybe a bag of Hopped spray malt. Would this make it stronger but still keep the favour? Would the two kit yeasts be enough or would I need an high alcohol yeast? Would this even work??

All help and advise much appreciated

Thanks
 

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You don't have to double everything to get higher ABV. Just add dry malt extract or even sugar. If you doubled the hops in 5 gals it could get ugly.
 
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wesza

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You don't have to double everything to get higher ABV. Just add dry malt extract or even sugar. If you doubled the hops in 5 gals it could get ugly.
That’s true. I didn’t want to mess with the favour to much tho. I have read that just adding sugar to raise ABV can thin the beer out? My thinking was instead of adding a bag of malt to the kit or sugar was to add the exact same kit to it again so raising the ABV but not changing the favour (maybe even making it better because double the favour?). Good point on the Hops, maybe just add one kits Hops.

Cheers for the advise 👍🏻
 

Snuffy

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That’s true. I didn’t want to mess with the favour to much tho. I have read that just adding sugar to raise ABV can thin the beer out? My thinking was instead of adding a bag of malt to the kit or sugar was to add the exact same kit to it again so raising the ABV but not changing the favour (maybe even making it better because double the favour?). Good point on the Hops, maybe just add one kits Hops.

Cheers for the advise 👍🏻
You don't want your wort so loaded with sugar that your yeast can't process it all. Once you reach the max alcohol tolerance the yeast will shut down and your brew could end up too sweet. You could add some wine yeast then to finish it out if you had to, but it could end up more barleywine than ale. I think you could load the recipe in one of the online builder apps and play with the alcohol to see what adds it recommends.
 
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Snuffy

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You don't want your wort so loaded with sugar that your yeast can't process it all. Once you reach the max alcohol tolerance the yeast will shut down and your brew could end up too sweet. You could add some wine yeast then to finish it out if you had to, but it could end up more barleywine than ale. I think you could load the recipe in one of the online builder apps and play with the alcohol to see what adds it recommends.
Are you brewing extract or grain?


 
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One thing I found helpful for modifying recipes was using an online calculator to see what certain changes would do. Something like Brewer's Friend. You can create a free account, enter as much about the recipe as you know, then add more DME or LME until you hit the ABV you're looking for. After that, try to increase the hops until you get the IBU value back to where it was originally. Or change the IBUs to something you may enjoy more. They're also useful in determining whether or not you'll need two packets of yeast or if one will do. If nothing else, the calculators do help in figuring out what adding more or less of an ingredient will end up (likely) doing to the finished beer, which I found interesting information.
 

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Let me be blunt:
Dirty-Harry.jpg

Just do something simple like adding more malt extract like @Snuffy said. Try one pound and see what you think.
BTW; in general, beer is not about high alcohol. And it's Mangrove Jack.
 
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duncan_disorderly

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One factor to consider is bitterness. That kit is designed to have a certain OG and the IBUs to balance it. Thats achieved by adding a prescribed amount of plain extract to the kit extract. So if you want to double it you'll need to double the plain extract too to maintain the balance.

But you could busk it a bit and add extra plain extract to one kit. Buy some hops and boil some to obtain bitterness, using a brewing calculator to work out the IBUs, and steep and dry hop some too, for extra aroma.
 

madscientist451

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Hi all.
Been using the online kits to brew for a while now. Always follow instructions to the letter and only add what it tells you too. I’m now wanting to branch out a bit and start trying to create my own brews by tweaking the kits, adding different malts, hops etc. Only thing holding me back is all the time and effort it takes to brew to then create something in undrinkable.

All help and advise much appreciated

Thanks
If you're just starting out, trying to make your own recipes is a great goal, but when it doesn't go as planned, its a major setback. Now there is no homebrew to drink! I've been there, done that. I've been brewing for years and these days I stick with established recipes that come with some tasting notes that describe the pros and cons and maybe even thins they would do differently. There are thousands and thousands of great recipes floating around out there you can get for free. Sure, I'll tweak the recipe somewhat, but then I'll use that as a base and make changes that suit me.
Note: If you want to brew really good IPA's you really need to be able to minimize oxygen contact with your beer. I accomplished that by fermenting in a keg and then doing a closed transfer to another purged serving keg. IMO, it makes a big difference.
 

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It's worth taking the time to research and plan out a recipe (and order additional ingredients) in order to improve your chances of making a good beer. As opposed to just totally winging it.

The kit instructions for most kits are usually available online and include the recipe, grains, hops, and brewing instructions. So just review a few that seem similar to what you want and start combining the parts you like. The base malts will probably be very similar for the same beer styles. And then once you have basic ingredients worked out, you can use free recipe software to fine tune quantities/details. - I use Brewer's Friend app for that.
 
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I looked up the kit you enjoyed making but want stronger. As far as I can tell they offer no ingredients or quantities included in the kit. Unless you're willing to potentially make some poor quality beers, I wouldn't modify their recipes too much. Adding a bit of DME / LME will up the ABV but it's unclear what's already in the kit and what the result might be. In my opinion it would be better to find a recipe that is exactly what you're looking to make, and there are plenty of resources for this.

Not related to what you're making, but just in general after reading their instructions, I'm also curious about why they say to let lagers ferment between 8–22°C (68–72°F). What actual yeast are they providing for lagers?
 

duncan_disorderly

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I looked up the kit you enjoyed making but want stronger. As far as I can tell they offer no ingredients or quantities included in the kit. Unless you're willing to potentially make some poor quality beers, I wouldn't modify their recipes too much. Adding a bit of DME / LME will up the ABV but it's unclear what's already in the kit and what the result might be. In my opinion it would be better to find a recipe that is exactly what you're looking to make, and there are plenty of resources for this.

Not related to what you're making, but just in general after reading their instructions, I'm also curious about why they say to let lagers ferment between 8–22°C (68–72°F). What actual yeast are they providing for lagers?
They use M54.

There's a difference in the home brewing culture of the USA and that of the UK and Australia. Many UK/Oz homebrewers make up kits that are simply hopped extract to which water is added, Cooper's being the best known example I guess. So an American forum is probably not the best place to ask this question as it is often not properly understood. I think Americans understand kits to be pre prepared all grain kits, generally speaking?

I actually think the best solution here may be to embrace extract brewing. Use unhopped extract, boil hops to get your bitterness, steep hops and dry hop for aroma. You can buy 1.2L Mangrove Jack's extract in the UK for £5. Get three of those and some hops like Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic, and a packet of yeast and create your own simple beer. Lots of recipes and guidance available online. YouTube is good.
 

bwible

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They use M54.

There's a difference in the home brewing culture of the USA and that of the UK and Australia. Many UK/Oz homebrewers make up kits that are simply hopped extract to which water is added, Cooper's being the best known example I guess. So an American forum is probably not the best place to ask this question as it is often not properly understood. I think Americans understand kits to be pre prepared all grain kits, generally speaking?

I actually think the best solution here may be to embrace extract brewing. Use unhopped extract, boil hops to get your bitterness, steep hops and dry hop for aroma. You can buy 1.2L Mangrove Jack's extract in the UK for £5. Get three of those and some hops like Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic, and a packet of yeast and create your own simple beer. Lots of recipes and guidance available online. YouTube is good.
Yes there aren’t a whole lot of brewers here using hopped extract. I don’t think. Mr. Beer kits are sold here, which I am pretty sure is hopped extract. And some guys start out that way.

I used to own a homebrew shop years ago, in the early 1990s. I sold some hopped kits made by Edme and one or two others. They weren’t big sellers and I stopped buying them because they would almost always expire on the shelf before anybody bought them.

The problem with hopped extract is you don’t know whats in it. What hops or how much. And it would be made to a certain style and not really allow much for flexibilty. If you bought an Edme Red Ale kit, you were pretty much making red ale.

You are right that you would be better off starting with unhopped extract and using your own hops. I’d highly recommend dry malt extract over liquid.

To create your own recipes, a recipe calculator tool really helps. Brewers Friend was mentioned earlier, BeerTools is another one online.

You should have a basic understanding of specialty grains, what they contribute and why you want to use them to build your grain bill.

For your hop bill, you should have a basic understanding of hop types, at least as far as what is an American hop, what is an English hop, etc. You also need to be aware of a few rules for balance, such as BU:GU ratio and perceived bitterness vs calculated bitterness.

BU:GU ratio is the relationship between the recipe’s starting gravity and the amount of bitterness. For example, for an IPA you might want a BU:GU ratio of .85 So you would set your starting gravity, then multilply by .85 to determine what your bitterness should be. If you make your OG 1.065 then 65 * .85 means you want to set your IBU at about 55 or 56 to balance. There are online calculators for the perceived bitterness too.
 
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CascadesBrewer

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I think Americans understand kits to be pre prepared all grain kits, generally speaking?
From my view, the most popular "kits" in America are extract-based kits that come with un-hopped extract. Often these kits will have a combination of Liquid Extract and Dry Extract, usually some crushed specialty grain, a couple packs of premeasured hops, and a pack of dry yeast. Yes, all-grain kits are also popular. The quality of extract kits varies quite a bit from cheap boxed kits that have been sitting on a shelf for months, to vendors offering freshly packed kits based on quality recipes with yeast options.

But to @wesza: There has been some good advice here. In my opinion, the best first step in creating "custom" recipes is to start with a recipe or kit that you enjoy, and tweak it towards your preferences. I see either starting from scratch with a recipe modeled after the kit's ingredients as an option, or buying one kit and adding some additional ingredients both as viable paths.
 
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wesza

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One thing I found helpful for modifying recipes was using an online calculator to see what certain changes would do. Something like Brewer's Friend. You can create a free account, enter as much about the recipe as you know, then add more DME or LME until you hit the ABV you're looking for. After that, try to increase the hops until you get the IBU value back to where it was originally. Or change the IBUs to something you may enjoy more. They're also useful in determining whether or not you'll need two packets of yeast or if one will do. If nothing else, the calculators do help in figuring out what adding more or less of an ingredient will end up (likely) doing to the finished beer, which I found interesting information.
Thanks for the reply and advise 👍🏻 I have looked at those online Calculators before by they all way over my head. Seemed more aimed at gain brews with steeping times and boil times etc. I just open a can, Pour it in the fermenter, add hot water to 23 litres and it’s done 😂
 
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wesza

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One factor to consider is bitterness. That kit is designed to have a certain OG and the IBUs to balance it. Thats achieved by adding a prescribed amount of plain extract to the kit extract. So if you want to double it you'll need to double the plain extract too to maintain the balance.

But you could busk it a bit and add extra plain extract to one kit. Buy some hops and boil some to obtain bitterness, using a brewing calculator to work out the IBUs, and steep and dry hop some too, for extra aroma.
Great advise thanks. Seems this might be a lot more complicated than first thought 😂
 
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wesza

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If you're just starting out, trying to make your own recipes is a great goal, but when it doesn't go as planned, its a major setback. Now there is no homebrew to drink! I've been there, done that. I've been brewing for years and these days I stick with established recipes that come with some tasting notes that describe the pros and cons and maybe even thins they would do differently. There are thousands and thousands of great recipes floating around out there you can get for free. Sure, I'll tweak the recipe somewhat, but then I'll use that as a base and make changes that suit me.
Note: If you want to brew really good IPA's you really need to be able to minimize oxygen contact with your beer. I accomplished that by fermenting in a keg and then doing a closed transfer to another purged serving keg. IMO, it makes a big difference.
That’s what holds me back. Do I just make the same kits time again to instructions but Safe in the knowledge that it will work or do I push the boat out to create something more interesting and rewarding but at the risk of it going horrible wrong? Thanks for the tip with IPA’s will bear that in mind. Great advise. Thanks
 
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wesza

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It's worth taking the time to research and plan out a recipe (and order additional ingredients) in order to improve your chances of making a good beer. As opposed to just totally winging it.

The kit instructions for most kits are usually available online and include the recipe, grains, hops, and brewing instructions. So just review a few that seem similar to what you want and start combining the parts you like. The base malts will probably be very similar for the same beer styles. And then once you have basic ingredients worked out, you can use free recipe software to fine tune quantities/details. - I use Brewer's Friend app for that.
Absolutely want to give it the best chance of turning out something decent. Some great advise on here already from my one post. Will continue to do a bit of reading up first before jumping in head first. Thanks 👍🏻
 
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wesza

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I looked up the kit you enjoyed making but want stronger. As far as I can tell they offer no ingredients or quantities included in the kit. Unless you're willing to potentially make some poor quality beers, I wouldn't modify their recipes too much. Adding a bit of DME / LME will up the ABV but it's unclear what's already in the kit and what the result might be. In my opinion it would be better to find a recipe that is exactly what you're looking to make, and there are plenty of resources for this.

Not related to what you're making, but just in general after reading their instructions, I'm also curious about why they say to let lagers ferment between 8–22°C (68–72°F). What actual yeast are they providing for lagers?
I see what you are saying. Hard to know what to add if you have no idea what you are starting with! Not sure what lager yeast they use I’ve only done the juicy ale from the range. Think someone far more experienced than my self has answered your question tho.
 
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wesza

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They use M54.

There's a difference in the home brewing culture of the USA and that of the UK and Australia. Many UK/Oz homebrewers make up kits that are simply hopped extract to which water is added, Cooper's being the best known example I guess. So an American forum is probably not the best place to ask this question as it is often not properly understood. I think Americans understand kits to be pre prepared all grain kits, generally speaking?

I actually think the best solution here may be to embrace extract brewing. Use unhopped extract, boil hops to get your bitterness, steep hops and dry hop for aroma. You can buy 1.2L Mangrove Jack's extract in the UK for £5. Get three of those and some hops like Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic, and a packet of yeast and create your own simple beer. Lots of recipes and guidance available online. YouTube is good.
Oh right, maybe some confusion on what I’m referring to when I say “kit”. Think you are absolutely right, only so far I can go with these UK “kits” and maybe time to embrace extract brewing. Just start of slow and simple 👍🏻 Thanks
 

duncan_disorderly

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Oh right, maybe some confusion on what I’m referring to when I say “kit”. Think you are absolutely right, only so far I can go with these UK “kits” and maybe time to embrace extract brewing. Just start of slow and simple 👍🏻 Thanks
The Mangrove J kit is just liquid extract that's been boiled with hops. You can buy unhopped liquid extract and boil the hops yourself in a pan. Choose whatever hops you like.
-Steep some crushed crystal malt in a pan of hot water for 20-30 mins
-Take the malt out
-Put hops in
-Boil for a fixed time to extract bitterness
-Add the liquid to the FV with the liquid extract
-top up to the planned volume with cold water
-Sprinkle yeast on when it's cool enough.

Simples. More control over your outcome, vary the hops each time, and the steeping grains. And use different liquid malt.
 

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Do you have a hydrometer? If not I strongly recommend getting one and your problem becomes a simple one to solve. Once you know the original and final gravity you get with the kit the difference is going to be about 30 points which corresponds to 4% ABV. For 9% you'll want a difference of about 66 points so all you have to do is add dextrose to your wort to increase the original gravity by about 36 points. You're probably also going to want to double up on the yeast or make a starter out of what you have and give it an opportunity to multiply.
 
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wesza

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The Mangrove J kit is just liquid extract that's been boiled with hops. You can buy unhopped liquid extract and boil the hops yourself in a pan. Choose whatever hops you like.
-Steep some crushed crystal malt in a pan of hot water for 20-30 mins
-Take the malt out
-Put hops in
-Boil for a fixed time to extract bitterness
-Add the liquid to the FV with the liquid extract
-top up to the planned volume with cold water
-Sprinkle yeast on when it's cool enough.

Simples. More control over your outcome, vary the hops each time, and the steeping grains. And use different liquid malt.
Ok. That’s makes prefect sense. Sounds pretty straight forward too. This definitely sounds like my next logical step, rather than try to tweak a ready made kit just make my own 👍🏻 Bet the quality of beer is much improved too from the shelve bought ready made pre hopped extract?
 
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wesza

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Do you have a hydrometer? If not I strongly recommend getting one and your problem becomes a simple one to solve. Once you know the original and final gravity you get with the kit the difference is going to be about 30 points which corresponds to 4% ABV. For 9% you'll want a difference of about 66 points so all you have to do is add dextrose to your wort to increase the original gravity by about 36 points. You're probably also going to want to double up on the yeast or make a starter out of what you have and give it an opportunity to multiply.
Yep I have a hydrometer. I used to check the OG when I first started using the kits. Don’t bother these days because I normally brew
Similar ABV kits (4-5 ABV). I find the estimated ABV with the kits are normally there or there abouts so it’s an unnecessary step. Will definitely dig it out tho for my quest to make the Juciy kit stronger and will take reading. Thanks for the readings needed 👍🏻 When I first considered this experiment I did wonder if it’s as simple as just dump a load of sugar in till it reaches the right reading but than read all about how this can change the favour of the beer, I was then worried this would just ruin a good kit 🤷🏻‍♂️
 
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wesza

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If you like the kit I wouldn't try to go all the way to 9% abv right away. Make a smaller adjustment. Adding 14 points to your OG should give you about a 6% ABV.
That’s a very good point. Not that fussed about getting all the way to 9%. That’s the ABV of the supermarket brew dog beer Hazy Jane that I think they are trying to imamate with the Mangroves juicy IPA Kit. I would just like the Mangroves juicy IPA Kit ( that tastes like Hazy Jane ) to have a little more kick to it like the actual Hazy Jane. If I could get it to 6-7 ABV without changing the favour I’d be happy.
 

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That’s what holds me back. Do I just make the same kits time again to instructions but Safe in the knowledge that it will work or do I push the boat out to create something more interesting and rewarding but at the risk of it going horrible wrong? Thanks for the tip with IPA’s will bear that in mind. Great advise. Thanks
Kits are a good way to limit variables while gpu develop the basic skills. You can learn how to brew/ferment/bottle/keg while not also having to worry about recipes/ingredients/amounts. But once you have the basic skills figured out (i.e.repeatedly produce good beer from kits), there is no reason not to start experimenting with recipes. I would just plan your recipe out in advance and use other comparable kits/recipes as reference points.
 

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Ok. That’s makes prefect sense. Sounds pretty straight forward too. This definitely sounds like my next logical step, rather than try to tweak a ready made kit just make my own 👍🏻 Bet the quality of beer is much improved too from the shelve bought ready made pre hopped extract?
The MJ kits are good, probably the best hopped extract kits I've tried. By making an extract beer, steeping grains and using hops, you should improve on an MJ kit though. The steeping grains provide fresh hop aroma and you can choose whatever hops you want and use as many hops as you like. It's much more rewarding and you should get better beer. You certainly will with practice.
 

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Thanks for the reply and advise 👍🏻 I have looked at those online Calculators before by they all way over my head. Seemed more aimed at gain brews with steeping times and boil times etc. I just open a can, Pour it in the fermenter, add hot water to 23 litres and it’s done 😂
Ohhh. Pre-hopped extract.
miss-emily-litella.jpg
 
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Thanks for the reply and advise 👍🏻 I have looked at those online Calculators before by they all way over my head. Seemed more aimed at gain brews with steeping times and boil times etc. I just open a can, Pour it in the fermenter, add hot water to 23 litres and it’s done 😂
I only recently started brewing, so I have very little experience to draw upon. Take what I say with a massive grain of salt.

I agree the calculators can appear very complicated when you first start looking at them. But once you've fiddled around with ingredients for a while they're just as complicated.

Start off with just adjusting the ingredients while watching the SG and FG, the IBUs, and the BU/GU ratio. Since you're concentrating on extract brewing for now, you don't really need to worry about steeping times, efficiency, mash temp, etc. The best thing about using extract (either liquid or dry) is that the efficiency is well known. It's difficult to mess it up... in fact, I'm not sure that you can without diluting it with more water than is called for in a recipe.

Getting away from the liquid extract that's already hopped is probably the biggest change you can make to improve your craft. It's better to start with a blank slate, even using extract, than to take what someone else has already partially started for you. Then you can really branch out and customize the recipe to your liking.

Extract brewing can still be extremely enjoyable. As has been suggested already in this thread, it's possible to find recipes from kits and other resources that result in great beers. Personally, I used some well rated kits or recipes, plugged them into online calculators and then substituted the base malts for extract until the numbers came out fairly close. I have no way of knowing whether what I made was close to what the original recipe intended, but the beers were fantastic. I used this forum, Brewer's Friend recipes, and recipe kits that specified their ingredients to draw from. I'm in the US and many of the suppliers of kits are specific about what their ingredients are.

Having also just recently joined this hobby I don't have much to offer, except that I've made some bad beer. I've poured out a few bottles (experimenting with one gallon recipes, thankfully). I don't think that trying something new and failing is a bad thing by any means. Every batch that doesn't come out exactly as you wanted is an opportunity to learn something about your process and improve upon it. Or I keep telling myself.
 

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That’s a very good point. Not that fussed about getting all the way to 9%. That’s the ABV of the supermarket brew dog beer Hazy Jane that I think they are trying to imamate with the Mangroves juicy IPA Kit. I would just like the Mangroves juicy IPA Kit ( that tastes like Hazy Jane ) to have a little more kick to it like the actual Hazy Jane. If I could get it to 6-7 ABV without changing the favour I’d be happy.
For a 5 gal recipe, 0.75 lb of dextrose should add about 14 points to your OG. Remove your wort from heat and stir in the dextrose until it is dissolved, then return it to the stove and boil for at least 5 min more.
 

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Remove your wort from heat and stir in the dextrose until it is dissolved, then return it to the stove and boil for at least 5 min more.
There's a variation on this approach that @D.B.Moody talks about briefly in the "I brewed a favorite recipe today" thread in the "Extract Brewing" forum. The strength of this approach is that one knows that the extract dissolved or it's still on the bottom of the 2nd kettle - so pretty close to zero chance of scorching.
 
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