Fudge | Tree House Brewing Co.
People love fudge. If you have a sweet tooth, fudge is the next step up from a candy bar or brownie. I think of it as concentrated chocolate. How do I know people love fudge? Every tourist place in America seems to have a fudge shop (Navy Pier does). Heck, people make a point of going to Mackinac Island just for it. Google’s search predictor agrees, ranking Mackinac Island fudge higher than Mackinac Island. I love it and all the varieties as I’m a choco boy, so a fudge beer is right up my alley. Tree House decided to scratch that itch with their Fudge Imperial Milk Stout, thankfully not containing that needlessly cheap plastic knife that comes with absolutely every purchase.
Maybe I’m not paying attention, but fudge as an adjunct rarely happens. Chocolate and cacao nibs are everywhere, but it never seems to be used nearly as much. Maybe fudge has too much sugar in it? Whatever the case may be, fudge hasn’t had its Instagram beer moment. And it won’t start with Tree House’s version, as this one contains chocolate malt, cocoa powder, and lactose, meaning no fudge was harmed in the making of this beer. Imperial version means higher alcohol and Fudge clocks in at 9.2%.
Fudge pours very thick with about a finger and a half of dark brown head. No highlights when held up to the light and somehow it stains the glass briefly. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that in a non-barrel aged milk stout ever. No highlights means no light getting through so no seeing your finger on the other side. A slight film seems to rest atop the beer, most likely from the lactose.
Fudge predictably smells of chocolate – but not the chocolate you think. Milk or sweet chocolate never comes off on the aroma. Instead a dark, bitter baker’s chocolate absolutely dominates everything. A little hit of vanilla creeps into the nose, but it’s all dark chocolate all the time. It does smell like a confection, but since the chocolate skews dark it keeps things from going to pastry land. Digging even deeper some dark fruits like raspberry and cherry show up along with some baking spices, but really nothing supplants that baker’s chocolate.
Much like the aroma, if you go in thinking Fudge will taste like a block of that sweet chocolate stuff you’ll be severely disappointed. Between the cocoa powder, chocolate malt and lactose, Tree House manages to impart some sweetness mixed in with a delectable bitter chocolate. That combination proves formidable as the bitterness keeps the sweetness in check allowing you to repeatedly go back in for more. And you will. At 9.2% I absolutely destroyed the can. Some little vanilla flavors roamed about the tongue, but this one’s all bitter chocolate, baby. No fruits or spices present on the aroma showed up either.
Fudge sits in the medium carbonation zone. It briefly coats the tongue and then moves off into the depths leaving behind some lovely bitter chocolate notes. The fact that it gets out of the way quickly and has that bitter chocolate linger makes it extremely easy to throw back. Be careful.
Balance describes Fudge best. That’s not usually something I say about an imperial milk stout with lactose and chocolatey things, but Tree House makes it work. The balance between the bitter chocolate and sweetness makes this an easy one to finish. If you keep an open mind about it not being a sweet pastry stout you’ll enjoy Fudge all the more.
Fudge is not on the level of something like Julius or Good Morning (or insert your favorite Tree House banger here), it definitely is something to try and get. If you happen to stop at Tree House and it’s available, it’s a sure-fire purchase. I would even try and trade for it because not many breweries can pull off the balance and keep it easy to drink.