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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 davidvaz


1.3/5  rDev -66.1%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Drank straight from the bottle, so I rated the appearance average (don't Really know)

Smell: Malty scent, but no effervescecne of other flavors--except for stale soap water.

Taste: Stale soapy, yet malty, like if the bottle was re-used after washing but not thouroughly rinsing.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, fresh finish, no distinct aftertaste, kind of flat.

Drikability: Just barely finished one bottle. not much carbonation, like a flat beer on the verge of getting skunky.

I would not recommend this beer and I will not buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2011 05:01:22 | More by davidvaz
Photo of jdklks


1.78/5  rDev -53.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

ill just write a short paragraph about this one. NOT GOOD. i actually went into this beer thinking "you know what? this might be the first new belgium beer i actually like". boy was i wrong. its see-through dark brown body and tan head were the most impressive (though still not very impressive) aspects of this one. it smells sweet as hell with noticable malts. the taste is sweet fruit and black licorice, and ever-so bland. all i have to say about drinkability is that i knew i had made a mistake with the first sip, and i wanted so badly to pour it out.

Serving type: on-tap

01-27-2009 06:29:46 | More by jdklks
Photo of umustdrink


2.08/5  rDev -45.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - Deep brown color, ruby red when held to light. Off-white head fades to a thin splotchy film, thicker around the edges. Medium lacing.

S - Very faint yeasty smell with very faint roasted cereal malts.

T/M - Extremely thin with far too much carbonation, taste is faint yeast with dark malts. This has very little taste to it.

D - Very disappointed with this, I will not waste my money on it again and I definitely will not recommend it to anyone.

Why is this rated so high?

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2007 00:47:59 | More by umustdrink
Photo of Living816

Northwest Territories (Canada)

2.3/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Found this to be horribly unpleasant. Cloying, profoundly malty without any balance. The first one was passable. The second, a week later, worse. The third, 3 days later, just a nose pincher guzzler. The fourth a drain pour. The fifth I put in a beef and ale pie, which it was splendid in. The 6th stares back at me, daring me to drink it.

This beer is good for nothing except cooking. It works quite well in a slow cooker pot roast recipe, perhaps a 1/2 cup give or take, or to include in a nice beef and ale pie with some yorkshire puddings.

But as an actual beverage to drink, it's awful. Unbalanced, sickingly sweet, no hop character, horribly toffee flavored. It may be an old recipe, but not all old things are good.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2012 17:51:15 | More by Living816
Photo of marksto


2.33/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is one of those beers I hate to judge. Not because it's a bad beer, but because it's a good beer that does not match the stated style.

Simply put, this is an excellent schwarzbier. A coffee-like roastiness blends with smooth malt to make a very drinkable dark lager. It bears very little resemblance to a beer of the Belgian Dark Ale style.

Don't get me wrong, I love New Belgium and their beers. But I really don't understand why they want to masquerade a German lager as a Belgian "Brussels Black Ale" - whatever that means. They even admit on their website that this "ale" is brewed with a European lager yeast.

That which we call a schwarzbier by any other name would taste as smooth.... The low score here is strictly due to the wrong style parameters - don't let it stop you from trying this nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2005 04:07:50 | More by marksto
Photo of harrymel


2.48/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Reviewed 06/27/10

Poured from bottle to New Belgium tulip.

A: Deep cherry red/mahogany ale with excellent clarity. few thin ribbons ascend to replenish glossy, light tan sheet over top ale.

S: nutty, roasted barley nose. Very slight earthy hop.

T: tastes a hint astringent. Reminds me of a burnt, sour porter.

M: Med body, low carb. Slightly sticky.

D: I have no desire to drink this beer again. I can, however, see why it appeals to a larger micro drinking market. Falls into the 'dark' beer category for many folks.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2010 06:36:32 | More by harrymel
Photo of pibbxtrasucks


2.5/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I did not care for this beer too much really. it poured very nicely, and a very nice rich black color. as far as smell goes... its hard to say, I've never had a beer in this style so I'm not sure what it should smell like. That in mind, it had a very old fashioned smell... at least what I think a beer would smell like if it was made in 1554. (granted the only reason I think that is cause I read the label I'm sure) The taste was the same. it was a bit too rich and smokey for me I fear, but if that is your thing I would say get this beer. I would imagine it does a good job at its style, only I have noting to compare it to. But, New Belgium never let me down before (this) so you may like it.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2006 23:53:29 | More by pibbxtrasucks
Photo of jujubeast6000


2.58/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 10/23/2007 (bottle BB 22Feb08):

Pours a dark brown colored body, with reddish fringes, and a dull white head, diminishing. Has a chocolaty roasted aroma, along with some malts. Has a dry taste, a dusty chocolaty taste. Watery palate, with a dull taste. Some malts.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2009 05:31:32 | More by jujubeast6000
Photo of DogFood11


2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On reccomendation from some fellow Colorado BA's that have noticed I haven't taking a liking to the first two New Belgium brews I've tried. I hunted this one down at Wally's in Westwood. Fresh sample as the best before date is 5 months from now.

Pours a dark brown with a purpleish pinger around the edges. Sticky off white lacing sits above a medium range of carbonation and a solid body.

This has some stout qualities to it, in that its heavily malted, dark, chocolate and dry at points. Chalky finish that lingers, no real cleansing to this at all. I was hoping for that belgian yeast that is so evident in their beers or something spicey along the way but I just didn't get any of that. Once again to each their own, but for some reason the malt presence in this breweries beers comes across with a slightly musky, wet cardboard deal, although this one is masked a bit by being more roasted.

Notes: Seemed like a stout but whatever, style classification is not important, what is important is it was uninteresting.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2006 04:41:54 | More by DogFood11
Photo of Bagman007


2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served in a bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- Dark brown coloring with a couple of finger widths of head.

S- Nutty caramel and chocolate scent.

T- Strong chocolate caramel taste, not much as far as hops go.

M- Smooth and creamy feel. Not very bitter at all.

D- Very smooth, very drinkable.

Overall a decent beer. Not a big fan of this type, but this beer is one of the better I have had.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2009 04:31:20 | More by Bagman007
Photo of PhillyStyle


2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: The beer appeared to be an opaque black with some hints of red when held up to the light. The beer poured a nice off-white/light brown head that quickly evaporated, but left a small spotty/blotchy cap. No real lacing to speak of.

S: Aroma was decent, nice strength to it, mainly roasted malted barley with a hint of yeast or bread. No hops to note.

T: The taste of the beer was about in line with the other New Belgium brews that I have tried, slightly weak, nothing that really set the beer apart that would make me remember it in the future. The taste is mainly the roasted malt with a slight undertone of sweetness.

M/D: I felt that the beer felt lighter than it should have, almost watered down a bit. The carbonation felt right, which helped. As for drinkability, I poured some of it out, simply because I forgot about it. Overall, a less than average beer and one that I would not buy or order again.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2010 20:55:39 | More by PhillyStyle
Photo of impending


2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz into a tulip. Pours dark just shy of midnight black, minimal head yet decent lacing.

Aroma is subdued with faint worcestershire and an oakyness, no sweetness in the nose.

Taste lacks complexity. Peculiar in that the front end is nearly devoid of flavor, middle is nondescript and the finish contains what flavor there is.
does not improve with warmth
but it improves if you don't drink it out of a glass

Serving type: bottle

10-01-2010 21:37:22 | More by impending
Photo of BeerDocT


2.63/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served in a chilled tulip glass.

-Appearance 3.0: Pours out a slightly opaque, ebony brown-black. Slight head and I really cranked the pour. Large carbonation bubbles. Head is white and, sitting in my glass, it really looks like a Coke.

-Smell 3.0: I had to stick my nose almost in the beer to make out a bouquet. What I did smell was not that fabulous: just subdued toasted barley notes with a little chocolate in there, too.

-Taste 2.5: Front is flat, but a certain low-level chocolate flavor comes through. Middle is non-existent. Nothing there. Finish is a washed-out barley flavor; imagine what you would get if you used a grain-bag filled with stout grains for 50 brews and then bottled the liquid from that 50th dunking. Yep. Not good. Finish hit me in the top of the palate with this artificial-tasting, cocoa-powder flavor that stands out like a sore thumb.

-Mouthfeel 2.5: A higher level of carbonation could have really elevated the taste of this beer.

-Overall 2.5: This is one of the most schizoid brews I have ever had the displeasure of tasting. It's all over the place. There's some story on the bottle about the "intrepid researchers" of the brewery finding a recipe in Belgium from the year 1554 for this beer and how this beer is different than modern beers. Well, if that is true, perhaps history was trying to teach us something and there's a reason this poorly evolved ancestor of modern beers is extinct.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2012 03:17:56 | More by BeerDocT
Photo of denver10


2.63/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours black with a beige head. A kinda sweet and roasty aroma but not super distinct. Flavor didn't work for me; roasted, a slight touch of chocolate, and a healthy dose of candied sugar and bubblegum. Yuck, I'll give it a 3 because I think my reaction is more subjective than objective but I definitely did not like this and did not finish my glass. A nice medium, creamy body. Overall, not for me. A definite pass that I wont try again.

Serving type: on-tap

08-08-2012 21:41:33 | More by denver10
Photo of ronniebruner


2.65/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is an American version of a Belgian dark ale. While it is not bad, it pales in comparison to true Belgian dark ales. The ABV is pretty low for a Belgian (5.5%) and is relatively average. There is nothing to distinguish or differentiate this beer from the others in its category.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2010 05:37:04 | More by ronniebruner
Photo of kjyost

Manitoba (Canada)

2.7/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle BB 11/8/11 poured into a tulip at about 8C

A: Deep black - the edges are not opaque but rich red brown - body with a light tan head that dissipates much too quickly and leaves no lacing.
S: Light Belgian esters and charcoal from the roasted malts
T/M: I was expecting a Belgian. I got a stout. Tons of roast that finishes dry. No discernible yeast character. Some balancing bitterness and a residual sweetness.
O: Not a bad beer, just nothing like I expecting.

Serving type: bottle

07-05-2011 19:44:10 | More by kjyost
Photo of beertunes


2.73/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a straight pint glass. Poured on the still side, not much head or carbonation, minimal lacing. A shade of black that is just shy of being black, while being too dark to be any shade of brown. Nothing noticeable in the aroma. Slight roasted flavors in taste, but nothing that stands out. The body is light for an ale, but would be fulfilling if considered a lager.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2009 10:16:40 | More by beertunes
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac


2.75/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a clear brown color. It has a slightly off-white head that is very prominent.

S: Aroma is nutty with some coffee and bitterness, not extremely full but still nice.

T/M: Tastes smooth, and there’s a light nuttiness in there but it’s not extremely flavorful.

I feel like some black ales are misleading. Something so dark would appear to be full of flavor, but color is not always indicative of quality. The best thing about this beer is its texture but it could use something else. A higher ABV, some chocolate, I don’t know, something.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2011 19:06:50 | More by TheBeerAlmanac
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2012 23:13:24 | More by Breen
Photo of BrewmasterNPB


2.78/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I drank 1554 last night and don't remember it being so sweet. This is a unique beer, very complex malt character. It has a very low hop profile, which seems to be appropriate for style. The sweetness was overpowering though and made it somewhat difficult to drink. I do enjoy the malty aroma however.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2008 03:06:13 | More by BrewmasterNPB
Photo of StlHopHead77


2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-Pours out a coca-cola,blackish brown with some hints of crimson and a 2 finger,rapidly depleting,tannish head that left good sudsy lacing.

S-Very stout-like but muted.Soft sweet chocolate,weak coffee and dark roasted malt.

T-Nothing too assertive here.Toned-down American stout flavors.Nothing too bitter and nothing too bold.Bittersweet chocolate,sweet malt and coffee with cream.Slight dark roasted quality on the finish.

M-Thin and timid.

D-I can't see myself drinking more than one of these.There's just nothing there.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2010 11:36:35 | More by StlHopHead77
Photo of Transatlantic


2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice clear chocolate dark brownish red color. Nice fluffy head with great retention and lacing.

S - ...something must be wrong here. Either my nose is broken or there is literally no scent to this beer. I've tried about 10 times to smell SOMETHING in this, but i'm smelling absolutely nothing.

T - Okay, well at least there's some taste. Definitely a dark sweetness there, like caramel, brown sugar, or molasses. There's also the taste of chocolate present.

M - A slick light bodied beer. Goes down very well with perfect carbonation.

D - This is definitely a session beer but with some class. You can down plenty of these and feel better than the rest of the crowd, who might be drinking down PBR.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2010 23:02:31 | More by Transatlantic
Photo of kindestcut

North Carolina

2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I love Belgian-style beers. However, if it's not from the old country, I approach with caution. Unibroue and Allagash have allayed my fear of Non-Belgian Belgians but it's the New Belgium pseudo-Belgians that I most fear. I like the non-Belgian-style Fat Tire but it's not a tripel, or a dubbel or even a sacrifice bunt. And so all of NB's beers will forever be tainted by this beer, that from which all evil oozes according to some buffoons.

So I approached the BSBA with trepidation. I had tried the NB Trippel and was pleasantly surprised. It was good but not great. Since I liked the Trippel, I thought I'd give this one a chance. After all, it has a purty label.

Well, I have tasted the BSBA and it's not good. I wish I was more creative so I could find a nicer way of saying "this beer tastes like caramelized rat urine." Well, it's not that bad but when you present yourself as Belgian style, you have centuries of other breweries' traditions to uphold.

The BSBA pours a very dark brown, maybe even black, like the purty label says. I see browns...I see black...I see dead people...I don't see much of anything. A dark beer is what it is. Dark. The appearance hides everything but the color. That's why I like them. The murky depths may hide wonderful treasures or on they may be full of evil squids squirting damn bitter ink everywhere.

The off-white head is minimal. Nice lacing, though.

An obviously malty beer, I smell roasted malts. Yes, that's it. Roasted malts. What else do I smell? Not much. Maybe a hint of alcohol. The aroma is not very strong.

Here's a story for you. When I was a little kid, I woke up on a Monday morning in the summer in a daze, obviously still on a candy high, believing it was Christmas. I ran downstairs only to find nothing, nothing but my mom telling me to get ready for school. Now that's disappointment.

And so is this. This beer is the buzzkill of Belgian-style ales. My tasting of the BSBA started and ended quickly. This is indeed a malty beer, but the flavor is really subdued. I also found the BSBA to be a little musty...not dirty, but earthy, I guess. I didn't like that. Other flavors include coffee and caramel with no bitterness to speak of. The mouthfeel isn't bad, smooth and easy to drink...if you like drinking it.

Truthfully, this beer is not the worst in the world. However, for it's style, it isn't the best. It's not even great. I'd say a very solid mediocre. Kind of like Gromit's sense of humor.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2003 12:17:52 | More by kindestcut
Photo of cadenwhitaker


2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I feel like I'm slamming a perfectly good beer. But to be honest... this doesn't taste like a belgian dark ale. This is more like a porter.

Ok so maybe this is the exact recipie based off of something in 1554, so maybe I'm wrong. But overall I feel as if I"m just getting the same flavor profile that New Belgium ships with all their beers.

It pours a clear dark brown, odd choice of words I know, but with Belgians I expect something heavier in the appearance. This is very clear and very uniform.

The taste has lots of tastes you could pull from a porter; coffee, biscuit, etc. It is a bit watery.

Mouthfeel is also a bit watery.

Overall... is it good? Yep. Would I drink it again? Yep. Do I (in my uneducated opinion) think of it as a Belgian Dark Ale? Nope.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2009 01:40:27 | More by cadenwhitaker
Photo of cnally


2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

the pour is dark brown, and a fluffy, laced head sticks well.

mildly sour aroma, hints of malt, but slightly nutty.

the flavor is very nutty, malty and woodsy flavored.

very creamy texture. filling and decently carbonated.

well, ok but not spec. drinkable but not delicious.

Serving type: bottle

07-26-2009 01:18:14 | More by cnally
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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,817 ratings.