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1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,986 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,986
Reviews: 1,243
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 68
Gots: 170 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-02-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,986 | Reviews: 1,243 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by brother_rat:
Photo of brother_rat
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

Down in NC for work, glad to finally get my hands on a beer that's not sold up in my parts. Poured cold from a bottle into (unfortunately) a 4" tall hotel water glass. I then had a second, from another bottle that had been left unrefrigerated some 15 minutes to warm up a bit.

A: Poured a nice, delicious dark, with highlights of solid reddish-brown when held up to the light. I got a solid, one-finger head of creamy tan, even pouring into my sad hotel glass, but the bubbles were uneven (for both bottles). The head faded fast, but the lacing maintained as I continued to drink. 3.5

S: Upon cracking, a burst of dark cherry mixed with a swirl of smokey chocolate. There are hints of hops, but you mostly get a nice, thick nose of sweet malt. 3.5

T: Flavor-wise, there's a lot going on, and the mix makes for one fine-tasting beer. The sweet, dark malts predominate and keep the feel light, but you can pick out a bunch of flavors mingling: dark chocolate, candied fruits, moss/earthiness, sweet tobacco, and dark breads, and the aftertaste is dry and bitter, reminiscent of espresso or roasted nuts. 4.5

M: Despite the delicious taste, the mouthfeel for me was just so-so. The sweet malty front makes your mouth water, but the aftertaste left my mouth dry--almost in a chalky way. There was a good level of carbonation, a little on the light side but perfect for the beer. 2.5

O: Fantastic beer, and very drinkable, and it had the hallmarks of the beers I really crave: sweet, dark malts, a dry aftertaste, and repressed hops, but it seemed to lack a floral depth and juiciness that I get with my usual Belgian Blacks from Unibroue. And yet the 1554 is usually considered the gold standard for Belgian Blacks, eh? Terrific, but it doesn't quite make the pantheon. 3.75

brother_rat, Feb 27, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.25/5  rDev +11%
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.

oberon, Mar 05, 2009
Photo of mojohawk21
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%

mojohawk21, Sep 21, 2014
Photo of RoyalT
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

RoyalT, Aug 04, 2003
Photo of DaPeculierDane
3/5  rDev -21.7%
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.

DaPeculierDane, Jun 18, 2006
Photo of Turbo
3/5  rDev -21.7%

Turbo, May 19, 2013
Photo of tectactoe
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

tectactoe, Dec 29, 2012
Photo of MadScientist
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

MadScientist, Jun 13, 2013
Photo of Zakk
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Zakk, Jun 18, 2012
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

JudgeRoughneck, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of tbryan5
4/5  rDev +4.4%

tbryan5, May 29, 2013
Photo of J2L
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

J2L, Oct 26, 2012
Photo of Parke
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Parke, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of Breen
2.75/5  rDev -28.2%
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.

Breen, May 26, 2012
Photo of SIRIUS2
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

SIRIUS2, Jul 24, 2009
Photo of joemetric
4/5  rDev +4.4%

joemetric, Jul 10, 2014
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.

blackearth, Jul 16, 2009
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.

BJ1833, Sep 16, 2004
Photo of tuckevalastin
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

tuckevalastin, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of markallmon
5/5  rDev +30.5%

markallmon, Oct 18, 2012
Photo of bulldogg915
4/5  rDev +4.4%

bulldogg915, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of jpwadd
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%

jpwadd, Sep 25, 2013
Photo of danthehopslamman
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

danthehopslamman, Aug 10, 2013
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

lordofthewiens, Apr 29, 2008
Photo of SD-Alefan
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

SD-Alefan, Jun 10, 2014
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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,986 ratings.