I think we'll go with the same recipe, but, I'll add some darker steeping grains to change the appearance and the taste. Let me get out the stuff I have.
- Roasted Barley
- Belgian De-Bittered Black Malt
- Belgian Special B
I could use the Chocolate malt since I believe it is de-bittered as well, but, I'm not sure how the chocolate flavor would play with the hops. It might compete rather than complement. If I do use it, only a few ounces would be needed to provide a hint of chocolate, something distinctive and hard to pin down.
Belgian Special-B would add more intense dark dried fruit flavors. I don't want to change the flavor that much. Of course it probably depends how much is used.
For those of you who don't make your own recipes yet, my hope is that by explaining my process you'll find a way to build your own recipes. I like to use basic recipes as a foundation. In this case its an extract ale recipe containing pilsen malt extract, some caramel steeping grains, bittering hops, finishing hops and relatively clean yeast. Then you start adding and taking away things to build your beer.
In summary, I started with a lightly hopped American Ale and added some de-bittered dark specialty grains. This should change the color of the beer without changing the flavors in a negative way. Hopefully I've added smooth roasty dark flavors to this beer. I'm being careful not to change the basic sweetness provided by the malt by adding any other caramel or dark fruit flavors. We can save that for the imperial version ;-)
I use BeerSmith (Amazon referral) to estimate alcohol by volume, international bitterness units and color which means less practice batches ;-)