Opera Fudge beer
The new Opera Fudge inspired-beer at Snitz Creek Brewery in Pennsylvania. Photo provided. 

A brewery in Lebanon, Pa. has taken inspiration from a popular candy for its latest beer.

The origins of Snitz Creek Brewery’s newest beer comes from a local treat known as opera fudge. The idea for the beer surfaced when the brewery began started selling opera fudge from Wertz Candies, which is owned by Richard Wertz and is only two blocks away.

“I wanted to make a beer unique to Lebanon County and to create more camaraderie between local downtown businesses similar to the collaborations between some breweries,” says Adam Szajda, co-owner of the brewery.

For those not familiar with the Lebanon County treat, opera fudge features a rich creamy fondant center flavored with a hint of vanilla that’s covered with dark chocolate.

While there’s no actual opera fudge in the beer, it’s brewed to taste like there is, Szajda explains.

He developed the recipe by first creating a base malt that reflected the stout style Szajda was going for. Then, he added a small amount of dark chocolate syrup during the boiling process and at the same time, he also added some bitter hops to mimic the slightly bittersweet taste of dark chocolate.

“The rest of the flavoring was added during secondary fermentation,” Szajda points out.  “I added cocoa nibs, and a combination of dark chocolate syrup, dark chocolate baking powder, and lactose.  The lactose or milk sugar adds creaminess and helps to thicken the stout, to give it more of a fuller flavor similar to the rich creamy fondant. I also added homemade vanilla extract from Madagascar vanilla beans to provide the hint of vanilla.”

The beer has a chocolate aroma, and tastes like a cream stout blended with flavors of dark chocolate and a subtle hint of vanilla during the finish.

“It is a very delicious and drinkable beer,” he says. “At one point in the night, everyone at the bar had an opera fudge stout sitting in front of them!”

While Szajda originally only made a small batch of the beer, he is planning to make more.

“I'll make another small batch, and if the response will be as positive and overwhelming as the first, then we will make plans to scale this recipe up to full production,” he says.

As for the partnership between Szajda and Wertz, there’s reciprocity. Szajda says the candy maker is planning to, “take unique flavors derived from beer and infuse them into their candies and chocolates.

“Wertz Candies is only two blocks away from our brewery so we are very excited about the possibilities,” Szajda says.

This isn’t Szajda’s first candy-flavored beer. He’s also brewed a Wilbur Bud stout beer that, “smelled and tasted just like a Wilbur Bud,” he says. Wilbur Buds were developed by H.O. Wilbur in 1894 to resemble a chocolate flower bud. They are manufactured by the Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Co.

“It came out much sweeter than the opera fudge stout and it had people coming into the brewery pub asking for a "Bud!” he says.

Snitz Brewery also produces an apple Weiss wheat beer — “Snitz Creek” means “apple creek” in Pennsylvania Dutch.

“We thought it was important to incorporate the apple flavor into one of our beers,” Szajda says. “The Apple Weiss Wheat is currently one of our best selling beers and is one of the seven beers we offer on tap year round.” 

And, they’re also working on another beer with a company that’s been in Lebanon County for more than 100 years. Although he’s not ready to reveal the details, Szajda did say that both companies are very excited about the prospects.