1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

3,139 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,139
Reviews: 1,260
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 83
Gots: 248 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Dark Ale |  5.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-02-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,139 | Reviews: 1,260
Reviews by BeerAngel:
Photo of BeerAngel
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a very dark brownish-red that is nearly black. It has a nice light brown head that dissipates fairly rapidly. The smell consists of roasty malt with a hint of sweet spice. The taste is mostly a smooth roasted malt with a slight raisin type flavor with just a small amount chocolate and tapers to slight hops towards the end of each swallow. The mouthfeel is just right in this medium-bodied beer.

If there's ever a session beer from the belgian-style beers, this one will work! Cheers!

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.21/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice to see New Belgium stuff in the supermarkets aroung Greensboro.Poured into an overiseized wine glass a deep brown like cola color with a great one finger off white head,just creamy looking with great definition,nearly a five.Aromas were a little light but pleasant,bitter chocolate,clove,and black licorice were what I picked up most.Highly drinkable with subtle complexity on the palate,bitter chocolate and dry earthy tones with some licorice-like flavors,the sweetness is kept in check well but lends good balance.A damn fine brew,I liked it more than I thought I would.

Photo of RoyalT
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Nice, darkened head which fades a little too fast but leaves a nice lacing inside the glass. The color is a deep, dark maroon - almost black.

Smell – Pleasant cocoa fragrance with a hint of coffee.

Taste – The cocoa comes out in the taste as well, followed by a coffee/malt flavor and a slight nutty tone. The dark nature of this beer compliments the burnt caramel at the end.

Mouthfeel – A little flat. Even though this is not a carbonated style of beer, I thought it could be a tad livelier.

Drinkability – This beer goes down smooth. Its complexity keeps one entertained, but the mediocre mouthfeel makes it a touch bland.

Comments – New Belgium puts out a lot of good brews, so I was somewhat disappointed with this bottle. It has some good flavors but was flat and uninspiring, a step down from some of their finer efforts.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.01/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Deep dark brown that hints at ruby. Thin off white head with ok lacing. Big-huge black malts dominate smell and taste. A blend between a Schwartz and a Belgian Dark? Sweetish of the brown sugar variety. Medium bodied. Mild acidity and medium to assertive chalkiness. Drinkability is low for me. Too malt driven and sweet yet uncomplex. I would prefer a real Schwartz or a more complicated Belgian. This one is stuck in the middle.

Photo of tectactoe
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, ruby red color; allows quite a bit of light to shine through. Tan head, nice staying power, leaving a little bit of lacing on the way down. Some toasted caramel malts on the nose, mild grape sweetness; bready, yeasty, a bit dry with a touch of toasted grains. A mild, nearly wine-like character comes out on the first sip, possibly from the mesh of the light grape flavor and the warmth from the alcohol. It slowly turns into a dry and toasted bread and malt profile with a bit of caramel appearing in the latter half. Some dry cocoa and chocolates are heavy in the aftertaste. Hops are surprisingly vibrant, more so than I was expecting, remaining leafy and ashy in character and providing a slightly bitter bite to balance out the sweetness from the malt overload. Some very faint spice is detectable as well, especially as the brew warms up; similar to clove, it is most likely a characteristic of the Belgian yeast used, although it is still very toned down. Medium body, medium-heavy carbonation.

Tasty little brew here; BSDAs are usually more my speed, but this is a very solid non-strong interpretation, and I could definitely throw back a few of these, one after another.

Photo of MadScientist
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: A creamy, tan head that leave fine lacing on the glass with good retention. A dark brown beer with good clarity.

S: A lightly fruity and spicy, yeast aroma with a medium-low chocolate and coffee notes. A low earthy hop aroma and a light malt sweetness.

T: A smooth, medium chocolate and coffee malt flavor with some malt sweetness in the middle balanced by an equal hops bitterness. A light earthy hops flavor. There are light fruit esters of plum and apricot with a mild spice flavors, mostly a black pepper, maybe a bit all-spice like. The balance is a about even but the beer is fairly dry on the whole with a dry finish.

M: A medium-full bodied beer with a medium level of carbonation. A cool crispness to the body.

O: There is a lot of porter character in this beer with a light Belgian-like twist which made a lot more sense when I read that the yeast is handled like a Steam Beer by fermenting a lager yeast at higher temperatures. A hard to place beer but hard to forget, I've been looking forward to another bottle of this for almost four years.

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is a black to dull maple to ruby colored beer with a thin layer of malted-milk head that leaves spider-webs of lace on the sides of the glass. The smells are cherry skin, a tickle of acrid burnt grain, light brown sugar, slight yeastiness, and earthy hops. It reminded of scotch ale on a sniff or two and the entire bouquet had a kind of fresh-baked quality.

The taste starts with tounge-bracing burnt grain and then coffee and milk chocolate smooth things over, blending with a pronounced nutt flavor and well-played hop bitter. Once again that baked feeling comes out in the aftertaste, on the heels on New Belgium's signature toasted character. Mouthfeel starts light but fluffs up in the mouth with a burst of carbonation. Kinda cool. This is a must-try for any fan of schwarzbier. It isn't nearly so mellow, but you'll love the flavor.

Photo of Breen
2.74/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pour/Appearance: Black sitting, deep chestnut brown when held to light. Minimal head disappears quickly.

Smell: Roasted malt with a hint of a spicy fruit bouquet.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat on the watery side for a dark beer. Light mouthfeel and carbonation.

Taste: Dark fruits from the hops and a smokey flavor from the malt.

Not bad, but a little too watery for me.

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.72/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a chalice style glass.

Pours sort of heavy, as black as it's namesake, with practically no head to speak of. There is a thin ring of light brown bubbles that persistently cling to the sides of the glass. No lacing noted.

Aromas are very malty with hints of coffee and dark fruit. Perhaps a little bit of smoke in there too. It just has an implication of "sweet" about it, but this isn't derogatory... rather pleasant in fact.

Heavy on the tongue, sweet and malty, with some complicated darker flavors reminiscent of, say, figs. Chocolate notes are there too, working well with everything else but especially with the complicated sweetness. Honestly, this sort of reminds me of a heavy black lager or lighter milk stout. Interesting. Finish is cleaner than expected with lingering chocolate & coffee.

Smooth texture, very light carbonation, and some weight from the residual sweetness makes the overall mouthfeel rather smooth and 'creamy', if you will. It's a bit heavy, but very pleasant and goes down incredibly easy.

Very nice brew. Recommended. This is a very interesting brew and rather enjoyable.

Photo of blackearth
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, reddish brown with an off white head. Aroma of toasted nuts and milk chocolate. Medium bodied with light carbonation and sweet caramel taste with a light chocolate after taste. Gets a little cloying towards the end, but overall a great beer.

Photo of BJ1833
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz bottle with date of 12/1/04

Appearance: Thick light brown two-finger head. Dark brown color that almost appears black until held to the light.

Aroma: Very sweet and malty with faint coffee aroma. Smell of plums is slightly noticable.

Taste: Sweet roasted malt flavor floods the palate. An earthy flavor with a slight coffee finish. A bit of hop bitterness is present in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation and medium-full body. Goes down very smoothly.

Overall: This would make a great session beer. Very easy to drink that's full of flavor, but not overly complex.

Photo of tuckevalastin
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep ruby coor with a light tan head

S: Roasty malt flavor, not unsimilarly to other NB offerings, with a sweet chocolate smell.

T: A light toasted bready malt with a chocolate/caramel note. There is a bit of bitterness on the backend. The trademark NB toasty malt works very well here.

M: It's a medium beer and isn't overly carbonated.

D: Smooth, no heat, and little bitterness. It's quite drinkable.

Overall, this is my favorite NB beer so far. It's a nice easy drinker that isn't spectacular but is VERY solid.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very good beer. Poured from a bottle with Best By 11/08 on the label, the beer was a very dark brown with red highlights. The head was off-white and thick, and dissipated fairly quickly. I wasn't too impressed with the aroma, sweet chocolate, not much else. The taste, though, made up for the relatively mild aroma. Fruit, chocolate, a little coffee and roasted malt. Easy drinking, and at 5.5% ABV, one could put a few of these away.

Photo of SD-Alefan
4.19/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic pint.
Pours a dark, cola color with a single-finger, foamy, tan head. The head persists and leaves a lovely lacing down the entire length of the glass.

The aroma is very pleasant, lots of yeasty bread, with a hint of chocolate and dark fruit.

The taste is excellent. Caramel, toffee right up front with alittle yeast. Then some coffee notes, a little raisin and finally, a little late dark chocolate bitternes. Reminds me a bit of a good doppelbock.

The mouthfeel is amazing. It's smooth, almost creamy and a little sticky.

Overall, this is a wonderful beer that is surprisingly complex.

Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best by 11/13/11

A - Pours very dark brown with tinges of red. Almost two fingers of creamy tan head. Head fades pretty quickly, but leaves some decent lacing.

S - Lots of caramel, some chocolate and roasted malts. Rather sweet smell with a hint of bubblegum.

T - Taste is also predominately caramel malt, with nice roasted malts, very faint chocolate notes, and a nuttiness reminiscent of a brown ale.

M - Medium mouthfeel, actually a bit on the light side. Pretty creamy, but a bit watery as well.

O - I find most of New Belgium's year-round offerings pretty underwhelming, but I enjoyed this.

Photo of Beaver13
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours a dark ruby brown with a thick creamy off white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is nutty, lactic roasted chocolate and some medicinal notes.

The flavor is sweet nutty toffee and chocolate malts with a roasted, lightly bitter finish. It is a bit sharp and acidic. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly creamy.

Overall, an enjoyable malt-driven beer. It's not too exciting for me, but makes for a nice fall-back beer.

Photo of babyhobbes
3.2/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Jhammerly for this one via BeerPowerball!!

Pours a deep chocolately red-brown with a decent half-inch beige head. Head dissipated before I got a chance to take a sip but there is a ring of lacing.

Smells rathery beery, with some malty sweetness. Taste is good, malty with a sort of fruity taste, that I can't describe, maybe plums? It's good, though.

Mouthfeel is bubbly and warm. This is reasonably drinkable, I don't really want to have another. This is something to try, maybe a single or two.

Thanks again, Jhammerly.

Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It's always a treat to sample a recreation of one of the older, historical styles such as this. Thanks to mntlover for bringing this bottle by. Pours a very dark mahogany body with ruby highlights. Head quickly falls to a lasting film and some spotty lace. Body has excellent clarity. Aroma is roasty malts, with notes of chicory nuttiness and a prominent Munich malty character. Mouthfeel is light medium bodied. Taste is dominated by roasty dark malts, with notes of scorched coffee, bitter chocolate, and soy sauce. Hops and yeast contribute an understated earthiness. A hint of black cherries adds a welcome fruitiness. This is a dark ale that defines its own style. Tastes more like a Schwartzbier than a Belgian Dark Ale. Very well crafted and a pleasant sipper. Another fine brew from the folks at New Belgium.

Photo of warriorsoul
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A "enlightened black ale" thanks to bennetj17...
Yup..black in color with some light able to pass thru and a full finger off light tan head...most dissipates quickly and leaves some web-like lacing.
Quite an earthy yeast smell coming from this one...a smoked scent too.
Very tasty indeed...a helty malt presence up front, sweetening it up with that smoke quality hanging on too. Dark chocolate in the finish...very dry and even a bit bitter.
Mouthfeel is thicker than average, but the carbonation is a bit much...certainly not a sipper at 5.5% and goes down quite easy.
Another solid brew from NBB...

Photo of nem2006
3.22/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured a dark brown with a very small head and very little carbonation. What little head it had faded fast.

The smell was toasted, coffee and a little chocolate.

The flavor started a little sweet, followed by a coffee flavor. It finished with a mild bitterness from the hops. I was a little disappointed at how flat the beer was.

I have had this beer before and thought it was not as good as it has been. So for now this is my score, but I will give it another shot later on down the road.

Photo of erikjon
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was referred to this beer by my brother, as it is one of his favorites. I put it off for a while, and finally broke down and bought some. Maybe I should have waited longer. I poured it into a glass, and the thin head quickly dissipated and disappeared altogether. I will say the coffee-black appearance was quite appealing, as I prefer to not be able to see through my beer, but that's all it really had going for it. This was my first black ale, and it tasted very much like a lighter bodied smoked porter. The label said something about a chocolaty flavor, but I was getting more of a smoky flavor than anything. It was really lacking in the body and mouthfeel department... a little more maltiness and body and this could be a winner. Until then... next!

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a black color with a tan head. The aroma is heavy on the roasted malt and chocolate. An extremely malty beer that smells like a stout. The flavor is a mix of chocolate, ash, roasted malt, coffee and cream. A great mix of flavors that all meld very well together. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A very nice Belgian-style stout. One of the better year-round New Belgium beers.

Photo of maki88
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


12 oz bottle poured into a tumbler. Enjoyed at home.

A: Dark ruby color. About three fingers of tan head, which dissipated slowly leaving substantial lacing on the glass.

S: Strong toasty malt aroma, with significant chocolate scents. Toffee and nutty undertones are also evident. Very much resembled a porter.

T: Strong toasty, malty flavor on impact, with a somewhat sweeter chocolate/nutty finish. Very little in the way of aftertaste -- I was pleasantly surprised at how minimal and pleasant it is.

M: Medium body, but on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation seemed a bit much.

O: A good beer. Flavors aren't terribly complex, but they are executed well. The rich flavor without an overpowering aftertaste makes for a nice drinking experience. I would certainly have this again, but wouldn't go out of my way to do so.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Single bottle from Merchant's Fine Wine in Dearborn, MI.

Poured into my Duvel tulip. Dark chestnut brown, about a half inch of head that recedes into a thick ring. Nice lacing on this.

Nose is chocolate, malt, a dry grain, bit of herbal hops.

Surprisingly chocolatey, and with a nice dryness to this, I have to say I'm enjoying this brew. The 'Belgian' quality is mild, but certainly there, with some fruit, faint wine, and bit of yeast. Good malt, with a touch of cola flavor. Medium bodied, mild carbonation.

Tasty brew from New Belgium, probably my favorite from them so far. Interesting blend of styles, dry and chocolatey for a Belgian dark.

Photo of mattster
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened 12 oz bottle, poured into snifter glass.

Pours nice dark opaque ale with very little head. Some lacing and bubbles across the top of glass.

Smell is of nice caramel malts, some mocha, hits of chocolate. Taste follows through with the aroma. It is a nice rich beer with taste that are followed by a clean finish. Bubbles are just right making this beer pleasant on the palate. Very drinkable.

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,139 ratings.