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1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

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

2,817 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2817
Reviews: 1235
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%

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: 2,817 | Reviews: 1,235 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of SHODriver


3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: poured into a tulip to a blackness with a finger of dense and slightly rocky tan head that is quick to fade and leaves some lacing
S: smells of roasted malts with some chocolate notes and a bit of spice
T: taste is somewhat light with some good roastyness and chocolate with some spice notes. Swallow is more roasted malt , chocolate and a slight lingering bitterness.
M: the beer is medium on the mouth with apparent but not overpowering carbonation and a slightly drying finish
O: Not a bad beer at all. It isn't extremely heavy and has good flavors which make it surprisingly sessionable. It would be nice if they made a one off Imperial/Double version of this to make things shine a little brighter

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2014 04:26:32 | More by SHODriver
Photo of falloutsnow


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

From: Piccadilly, Champaign, IL
Date: Best by 2014-03-26
Glass: Tulip

New Belgium's Black Ale is an interesting mixture of brewing traditions: lager yeast, US and German-styled malts, and US hops. The result is a black lager that is not as smooth as a traditional Dunkel Lager would be, but nowhere near an ale, either. This was easily drinkable, and one I could see myself returning to if it were available and other options were not there.

Pours a 1cm tall mass of foam of light beige-colored foam, composed of small-sized bubbles, fading within one minute to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass and a few very small islands of lacy residuum atop the body. Lacing is modest, a few medium-sized dots and lines cling to the walls of the glass. Body is a dark brown to black color, with light bringing out only a slight amber-red highlight around the perimeter of the beer. Carbonation visible only along the edges of the glass in small numbers and activity, the body being otherwise opaque.

Aroma of burnt toast, low base malt sweetness, and light basement-like mustiness.

Overall flavor is of blackened toast with a bit of light caramel-like sweetness, somewhat peppery and smooth phenols and musty yeast. Front of palate tastes light burnt toast and base malt sweetness with smooth, slightly peppery phenols and mustiness. Mid-palate of smooth, burnt toast with modest phenols and slight mustiness. Back of palate tastes blackened toast, slight cocoa, modest base malt sweetness, and mild phenols. Aftertaste of blackened toast and slightly caramel-like base malt sweetness: clean.

Beer is medium-light in body, with carbonation of medium-low intensity, resulting in a mouthfeel that is balanced between foaminess (1/2) and smoothness (1/2) that works for the beer and is within stylistic guidelines as well. Closes dry, with moderate stickiness on the palate.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2014 07:15:48 | More by falloutsnow
Photo of whatthehull


3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a white wine glass (still at work)

A - A deep dark black, one finger dark tan head and a bit of lacing

S - vanilla, bourbon, sweet Hawaiian rolls, cinnamon, sugar, homemade bread, very yeasty and rose/other flower notes

T - toasted dark malts, toasted grains, red wine blend, molasses, light vanilla, fruity/floral hops, dark agave nectar, dry wood, bready yeast, slight musk and tons of soil notes

M - Medium body, well balanced, decent complexity, medium acidity and a long sweet roasted malt finish

D/O - I'll give it to NB, VERY drinkable beers and most of them are more than refreshing. Another one I could suck down all day and be happy about it. Not to much or to little, just right on the flavor side. If you like Guinness draught or stout, you'll enjoy this one. All leveled beer drinkers should enjoy this one

Final thoughts - Another I can't believe I haven't reviewed. A bit on the expensive side $8+ a sixer and a decent 5.6% abv

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2014 20:01:14 | More by whatthehull
Photo of brutusmuktuk


3.25/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark mahogany with a small white head. Has a chocolate and coffee aroma. Flavor is also chocolate and coffee, with a touch of malts and bitterness. Taste and feel are both a tad light. Overall this is pretty decent, but not all that memorable.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2014 01:15:49 | More by brutusmuktuk
Photo of BeerKangaroo


3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottom lower corner stamped in white "04May14" (best by date).

I had all six of them in a tulip.

A: dark brown/somewhat black colored body with a slim half fingered white foamy head and barely any lacing, but what there is spider webs a bit

S: earthy sugary maltiness, light Belgian yeasty notes but super subtle and one really has to let this warm as I think I may have picked this up just a bit too cold

T: the smells showcase themselves in the flavor and gives off a sugary yet somewhat Belgian yeasty aftertaste that comes across in the finish and ends up adding a light chocolate in the finish as well

M: she sits about a medium on the body with a slim soft carbonation that comes across pretty well for the style and to me

O: I'd say this is a pretty good Belgian dark beer that I think I would have again if offered.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2014 06:10:48 | More by BeerKangaroo
Photo of Nick-K


3.59/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an American pint glass from bottle
Very dense, molasses black, low carbonation, inch and a half of vanilla cream head with low retention

Subtle, nutty and musty

Nutty, subtle alcohol note, lingering finish that is not unwelcome

Medium body that seems out of place given the very dark color

Overall a good dark beer, I would have liked the weight to reflect the color and the flavor was quite good but simple. Simple is not automatically bad but this review comes from the perspective of someone who's favorite dark American beer is Point 2012 Black Ale which has about ten thousand flavors going on.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2014 21:17:52 | More by Nick-K
Photo of Weston19


4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Looks like a porter with a blackish red color and mocha colored head. Leaves good lacing around the glass.

S: Very malty with subtle roasted notes. Some light piney notes as well.

T: The taste is much better than the nose hints and you get a nice refreshing taste of hope followed by the slight bitterness you'd get from a porter. Has a buttery aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied but very refreshing and well carbonated. A semi dry finish.

O: This beer is very tasty and what I love is how refreshing it is. I can take long drinks and it feels great. Would definitely recommend this.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2014 05:02:24 | More by Weston19
Photo of Boneheadmx


3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a dark brown with a cream-colored 2-finger head that subsides slowly, leaving a lot of lacing on the glass.

Smell is noticeably malty with hints of toasted grains.

Flavor is really nice, with a the flavors of the sweet toasted grains and the long malty finish as hinted by the smell. This reminds me of a porter, but it's a bit sweeter than what I was expecting.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, and not too carbonated.

Overall, a fairly drinkable beer for the style but a tad bit on the sweet side.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 09:29:36 | More by Boneheadmx
Photo of usafboy

North Carolina

3.15/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I've drank this beer before but never got around to reviewing it. So here I am with beer in hand, ready to review.

Appearance: A drink by date reveals Feb 4th 2014 and today is January 22. Poured from a bottle into a no-nic glass and it was by no means a delicate pour so I was fairly surprised at the lack of big beautiful suds considering this beer is classified as a Belgian dark ale.

Smell: I have somewhat of a stuffy nose so the fact I can smell a faint coffee and chocolate aroma is impressive.

Taste: An "instant coffee" flavor is at the forefront. If you know the flavor of instant coffee you know what I mean: almost like you pop a coffee bean in your mouth and swallow it. Just as fast as it arrives, its gone. Tiny amount of chocolate with a vanishing finish that leaves you wanting more in order to feel that fleeting moment where the palate says oh hey this is good but is gone in a nanosecond.

Mouthfeel: I mentioned the drink by date in the appearance due to the mouth feel. Its slick and tastes a bit flat. Maybe something happened during transportation. I don't like it.

Overall I feel like its unimpressive. I go to my local grocery store when I want something dark but not salty like Guinness. (all they have is 1554 and Guinness) Sure it hits the spot when you need a satisfying dinner beer but this is nothing to write home about.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 01:12:19 | More by usafboy
Photo of donscott


5/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1554 has become a regular staple in my house. I am a huge Fat tire fan and figured I would try some of New Belgium's other beers. They are quickly becoming my favorite brewery and is always in my house. They have a great variety pack at Costco. unfortunately 1554 is not apart of that pack. Good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2014 23:14:08 | More by donscott
Photo of jawlessbody


4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Poured a dark, cola-esque brown with a creamy, persistent 3 finger head that left a delectable amount of lacing.

Smell: Sweet and chocolatey filled out but a very inviting earthiness and topped off with hints of sweet caramel.

Taste: Chocolate and caramel sweetness on the front of the tongue that fills out wonderfully into a nutty, earthy body reminiscent of a darker roasted Peruvian coffee. Small amounts of toasted flavors and just a kiss of tangy bitterness from the hops are present as well.

Mouthfeel: There was definitely more carbonation than I would have liked, but it still felt heavy, thick, and smooth going down. Very, very drinkable.

Overall: Wonderfully thick and smooth ale that perfectly balances a sweet body with nutty earthiness. I can only describe this beer as delightfully charming, but satisfyingly complex. I will soon be picking up more.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2014 18:32:02 | More by jawlessbody
Photo of Pintofbrown


3.69/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served in a snifter. Best before Feb. 09, 2014 bottle date.

Almost a truly black body, slivers of cola highlights are at the bottom of the glass. A thin and tawny head does not last long, but leaves behind considerable soapy lacing.

A chalky and cocoa powdery sweetness lies heavy on the nose, almost like Tootise Rolls. A subtle earthiness also comes out with toasted pumpernickel notes. Generally, the impression here is sweet, earthy, and musty.

1554 begins with that sweet cocoa and chalky yeast flavor. The yeast gives a banana bread - like flavor that builds in the finish. The earthiness is back, now with a bit more edge to push it to a roasted chestnut flavor. There is a slight tang in the finish as well, bing cherries or plums is close.

More watery on the tongue with a building creaminess when the beer is swished around. This Enlightened beer finishes very crisp.

1554 is an eye-opening beer. The combination of toasted, nutty malts and sweet, chalky yeast characteristics make for an interesting pairing. It may be hard to convince some that the flavor mesh is worth tracking down a bottle. Still, this is a well crafted beer that I would certainly have again on a cold winter night.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 19:34:50 | More by Pintofbrown
Photo of ssarah


3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: dark and clear, with a thick, tan head. The brown- approaching black- color is inviting, especially on a cold day!

Smell: Chocolate, with hints of coffee. Not overpowering.

Taste: Malty and with hints of caramel. Flavors of roasted coffee and malts come through. Tastes more stout-like than belgian dark ale. Rich and warming.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as one would expect from such a dark beer. Light to medium carbonation.

Overall: Good beer for winter. Not a typical dark belgian style- expect more of a stout or porter when purchasing. I would have it again, but would not be my top choice beer from New Belgium.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2013 01:43:27 | More by ssarah
Photo of ZoomanCru


3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

App: Very dark with a deep almost purple hue like that of poke berries. Nice two finger tan head clings high to the edges of the glass.

Smell: Deep, roasted chocolate nose with hints of lilac. Sweet and with no notable hops nose. Earthy with a slight salty aroma.

Taste: Smooth creamy chocolate coupled with some other more nuanced malt flavors. Some notes of caramel high in the foretaste. True taste is sweet and grainy without seeming green. After taste is that of milk chocolate and Cafe au Lait creaminess. Hops is almost completely absent, contributing only a slight lingering bitterness after the swallow.

Mouth: Rich and heavy bodied, this beer is fairly heavily carbonated for something with such a significant malt presence.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2013 20:34:19 | More by ZoomanCru
Photo of BeerWithMike


4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this one a few times and last sampled on 11/27/13. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a brandy snifter.

Pours a very dark brown in color with a small tan head. Leaves a good amount of lacing when sipped. Perfect carbonation. The aroma is of roasted malts, chocolate and dark fruit. The taste is about the same with a slight dry smokey finish. No harsh or bitter aftertaste. This is my favorite brew from this company by far. Great brew for the colder months.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2013 03:27:43 | More by BeerWithMike
Photo of adxss


3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Serves from a bottle around 55 degrees. I do not refrigerate my beer
Rich color but a little thin texture wise. The head was a beautiful coppery tan color, but only 1/4" tall.
Excellent flavor. A little roast, coffee, and maybe a touch of citrus.
Mild and very drinkable. Very smooth.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2013 21:20:36 | More by adxss
Photo of DenverHopHead


3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance - mahogany against the light, very thin beige head. Lacing is scattered.
Smell - roasted barley, some chocolate, sweet caramel malts.
Taste - a nice creamy, coffee taste.
Feel - medium body, fairly complex and flavorful.
Overall - great for the price point, so I give credit to NB for that!

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2013 21:34:27 | More by DenverHopHead
Photo of Davidvols


4.26/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

At first sip you notice a bitter taste. By the second tasting you notice the chocolate. Not usually a dark beer drinker, but picked this up in a variety 6 pack. Glad I did, may have to try and brew this one myself. I love Belgian beers, with abv closer to 6% as was this one. Must try this one if you haven't. Low carbonation, but very tasty - great after dinner drink.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2013 01:59:20 | More by Davidvols
Photo of baos


4.11/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into large snifter.

A: Nice dark brown body, good clarity with nice tan head and good lacing.

S: Chocolate and rich malts.

T: Munich and Chocolate malts. Bits of coffee and toffee and unsweetened chocolate. Finishes nice and dry.

M: Nice medium feel.

O: Great beer. I would like to take this recipe and make a Dubbel. Making the other half of malts all wheat.. Great beer. I love it

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2013 23:08:49 | More by baos
Photo of Deanosaurus


4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

I bought a 6 pack mix from Dirt Cheap so I could try several beers over the past week and this was one of them. I was intrigued mainly by the date, I guess you could say I'm a sucker for old-timey things; also the fact that I had never had a "Black Ale" before.

- Appearance (4/5)
It came in a dark bottle and poured out about the color of the bottle itself, if not a little thicker. On pouring it was a dark chocolate sort of color with a caramel glow and then collected into a thick black cloud in the glass.

- Smell (3.75/5)
Not very robust, almost the sort of smell you would get from a lighter beer, which is deceptive.

- Taste (4.25/5)
This beer was bitter on the nose with a mild flavor of hops then leveled out into a thick malty stout-like flavor. I don't know if Black Ale is another name for stout but if you poured this in place of a stout I ordered I probably wouldn't think otherwise.

- Mouthfeel (4.75/5)
...like a stout. Hardy and thick without lingering too long. Smooth finish.

- Overall (4/5)
Decent beer. My first black ale and I was pleased. If I'm feeling up for a malt taste without feeling like I'm drinking molasses this would be my go to.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2013 19:02:52 | More by Deanosaurus
Photo of KYGunner


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

Deep brown with a chocolate hue this ale had a thick head and it laced spottedly but thickly.

The scent is nicely diverse with chocolate malt dominance, Graham cracker, marshmallow, dry grain, and even a little hops.

I really like this beer with its chocolate qualities. There's the chocolate malt but then a dry chocolate bar flavor. Some smokey flavors come from the charred malts and really accent this well. Graham cracker maltiness and some grain finish this out.

The feel is dry, smooth and very easy, yet full enough too create an exceptional experience. I think this is one of New Belgium's finest ales and one of my favorites.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2013 00:16:25 | More by KYGunner
Photo of brewskifan55


3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, Gus.

A: Rich cola brown with a tan half-finger head that dissipates fast to foam. Frothy lacing.

S: Caramel malts, dark fruits (dates, plums).

T: Very smooth and malty. Sweet and robust. Dark fruits shine but the malt pulverizes, in a good way. Toasty with a dry, smokey finish. I feel like I'm drinking an American Brown.

M: Light to medium with low carbonation. Kinda watery; the only thing that takes my scoring down a notch.

O: Very sessionable. Wish it was more carbonated. But overall, a great malt experience.

Serving type: bottle

10-13-2013 01:04:19 | More by brewskifan55
Photo of DmanGTR

New York

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

Poured a deep maroon, almost completely brown, but showed some beautiful garnet tones in the light. Cream colored head that lasted a very long time. Nose is clean, but abundant with deep, dark fruits, a hint of cocoa powder, and raisins. The flavor is much similar, but surprised me with the cocoa, which added a nice complexity to the beer. Rich body, nicely carbed.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2013 04:33:20 | More by DmanGTR
Photo of JamesMN


3.79/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Best before 1/5/14. I used to think this beer was the bee's knees before getting into craft. We'll see what two years of hindsight has to say about that.

Appearance: Pitch black body with a thin light tan head.

Aroma: Toasty malts and toffee. A light grassy hop note. Similar to a brown ale.

Taste: Upon first sip I understand why I liked this beer so much back in the day; it's a malt bomb. Toasted caramel, toffee, and nutty grain cascade over the palate. There is a tingling hop bitterness to balance things out. Real flavorful for 5.6% ABV. I'm not sure I get any flavors here that constitute a belgian stylization. More like an American Brown Ale. Fizzy finish and chocolate aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Just under medium in body and a little much on the carbonation. Good drinkability and sessionable.

Final Thoughts: Going in to this review I was expecting to find 1554 unable to hold up to the memory I have of it, but as it turns out it was just as good if not more enjoyable than the memory. A great beer by New Belgium, albeit a wrongly categorized one. Would I drink it again? Yes.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2013 01:52:19 | More by JamesMN
Photo of Chiefy770


3.64/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a Snifter glass.

A tan head, slightly less than two fingers thick, formed and quickly dissipated leaving fairly moderate lacing. The beer itself was dark brown, almost black and non-transparent.

The aroma was toasty with strong scents of fruit.

Much like the smell, the taste consisted of toasty malts and mild notes of fruit. It was slightly sweet, not so bitter. Light to moderate carbonation.

Overall I enjoyed this beer. I am not too familiar with Belgian Dark Ales so I do not have much to compare this to. This was mild and light compared to some full body porters or stouts. This was part of the New Belgium Folly Fall combo pack which was very fitting. A flavorful dark beer to bring in the colder weather.

Bottom Line: Worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

09-24-2013 23:59:50 | More by Chiefy770
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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,817 ratings.