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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.
very good

3,006 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,006
Reviews: 1,243
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 70
Gots: 176 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 1554 Enlightened Black Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,006 | Reviews: 1,243 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a opaque dark brown/black color with a 1 inch beige head. Light ring lacing happens.

S - Smells of roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and sweet malts.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, with a slight herb taste (licorice perhaps).

M - Good carbonation. Dry yet creamy.

D - Very good dark ale that is easy to drink. It is not as heavy as I thought it might be.

UCLABrewN84, Jun 26, 2010
Photo of Vixie
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a very deep red color. Not a huge amount of head, it is white, and leaves a bit of lacing on top and on the sides of the glass.

The main part of the smell is malt. There is a bit of smoke there, a hint of chocolate, and a little fruit.

There is roasted malt in the taste, also picking up some fruit, a bit like raisins to me. Starts malty and fruit, and the hops come in at the finish.

The feel is a bit thin, although helped by a decent amount of carbonation.

Not a bad beer, but lacking the complexity of a true Belgian ale. It does go down nice and easy, and the relatively low ABV means you don't have to be as careful with this one as some others.

Vixie, Jun 22, 2010
Photo of grittybrews
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep blackish-brown into a Chimay chalice with a minimal film of slightly tan head.

Mild aroma with some bready malts and a hint of chocolate. Low to moderate carbonation and a light mouthfeel. Intense flavor of chocolate up front followed by more toasty malts, cream, and a bit of caramel. Quick finish with just a hint of bitterness.

Highly drinkable and very pleasant, this was like a less complex version of Black Butte Porter (which ain't a bad thing!).

grittybrews, Jun 15, 2010
Photo of bobsy
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Found a bottle in the exhibitor's free beer tent at Mondial de la Biere.

Pours a deep oak with ruby highlights and a tan head that left a few touches of lace on the glass. The aroma has an interesting mix of sweet malt, Belgian spicy yeast, roasted malt and earth. Quite unique. 1554 is a malty little beer and tastes very much like an English brown ale with a dose of Belgian yeast. Decent bready malts, some caramel, coffee and nuts, raisins and a sweet spicy finish. Good for what it is, but not really to my liking. Medium-light body with a medium carbonation.

Okay, but not really my cup of tea (or glass of beer). Still very decent for a beer style that often struggles to impress.

bobsy, Jun 09, 2010
Photo of DefenCorps
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank you, Andy! This beer has a best by date of 30th July.

Pouring a deep reddish brown with a dense, light brown head with great retention and impeccable lacing, this beer looks near perfect. Great clarity too.

The nose is solid. Delicate and quite nuanced, there's a lot of malt character to it. I get cocoa, toffee, caramel and bread, and a definite yeasty character. Very nice roast character is present. Swirling the glass brings out some spice notes, there's a light dusting of nutmeg? Very nice

The palate opens with a moderate sweetness, quite caramel in nature. In some ways, it makes me think of a brown ale, with the caramel, toffee and cocoa very well balanced. Moderately spicy mid-palate, this beer dries off on the finish with a lingering toasted nut, caramel and spice character. Quite bready, the combination of spice and cocoa makes me think of pumpernickel bread (the American variant). Lightly fruity as well. The yeast character is light, and apart from the spice, I don't get much else. Medium light in body with a creamy carbonation, this beer is quite the pleasure on the palate.With a pleasant balance of flavors, this is a very enjoyable beer of this unseasonably cool summer evening. I'm not particularly enamored by Fat Tire, but this is one beer I wish we got here in DC.

DefenCorps, Jun 09, 2010
Photo of wnh
2.95/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a clear, brilliant scarlet-tinted chestnut topped by a large frothy, creamy light tan head.

Lots of earthy notes on the nose, almost acidic, with stale watery coffee, dried pine needles, and maybe a bit of unsweet oak.

Decidedly sweet on the palate, predominately caramel, with something of a generic dried fruit note, fresh grass, and maybe a bit of bitter cocoa powder. Underwhelming. Dry, somewhat astringent finish.

Light to medium bodied, moderately firm. I'm not a fan.

wnh, Jun 09, 2010
Photo of Dlish
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- it poors a cool black, and warm red-ish, brown hint bead at the top

S- smells alright, roast malts, coffee, a bit of smoke

T- I'm thinking french roast coffee with a lot of cream flavor to it. It malts, that linger, nothing huge or interesting is going on in this beer, but it has what you expect.

M- solid, thickish, good carbonation, but flavors trail off to quickly

D- For the price, bargain. and its not bad for a Belgium dark, there is could be room for a lot of improvement.

Dlish, Jun 07, 2010
Photo of SAtaMi
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Deep caramel to black in color topped with a 3" thick cream colored head. Leaves some lacing.

Smell - Malty caramel with a dark chocolate smell.

Taste - Roasted malt, coffee and dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Rich and smooth full bodied.

Drinkability - Creamy and smooth like a hot chocolate. Very drinkable.

SAtaMi, Jun 07, 2010
Photo of aristeros
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Toro Burger Bar in El Paso, TX. Served in a weizen glass, but I won't hold that against them. The ale is a dark brown, ruby in the light, with three fingers of off-white head from a vigorous pour. Some lacing.

Espresso up front in the nose gives way to caramel and biscuit. Sweeter than in the bottle, I think. Chocolate notes. More like a stout than a Belgian Dark. In fact, I never knew that was what it was supposed to be. Usually more fruit and alcohol in the nose in this style.

Semi-sweet chocolate and caramel up front, yielding to heavy roasted flavors. Sort of a reverse of the emphasis of the nose. Creamy, decent carbonation. High drinkability due to a very low ABV and a lot going on.

Overall, smells and tastes slightly sweeter, maybe slightly creamier, for being from a keg and not on the shelf. I'm not sure the sweet is a good thing.

This is actually one of my old go-to beers, due to its wide availability (in bottle, at least), sessionability, and complexity. On tap, it was different, maybe a hair better.

aristeros, May 29, 2010
Photo of BlackHaddock
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 Fl Oz bottle obtained from a Lee's Discount Store in Las Vegas, poured into goblets in the garden of our B&B just outside Zion National Park after a full day of hiking and staring at rocks!

Dark and moody looking, a thin off-white head sat on top, some to be a wisp and collar, no lacing appeared.

The nose was all chocolate, dark, rich and inviting.

Chocolate dominated the taste, some coffee hints tried to break through, but the dark chocolate beat that back into submission.

Different and enjoyable, not sure I could have drank the whole bottle though.

BlackHaddock, May 25, 2010
Photo of mytireisfat
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: 1 1/2 finger light brown head. A very dark red tent, almost black.

S: sweet roasted malt, chocolate or coffee flavor. hints of caramel.

T: same as smell, chocolate or coffee flavor. no sign of hops.

M: medium body which turns into a chewy feel from the carbonation. well carbonated.

D: Its a good beer, well carbonated, for a darker beer (which i dont drink dark beer very often) its very easy to drink for one or two. but after a couple it gets harder to drink. drinking these all night would be tough. the malted flavor is a very nice taste, and makes its a good beer.

mytireisfat, May 23, 2010
Photo of GENNER
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into NewB Globe Glass
Appearanced was black brown and amber tones w/ a colored head
Smell was faint, of chocolate and sweet maltiness
Taste smooth with a great roasted sweetness chocolate at the end
Mouthfeel carbonated with easy alcohol bite on the tounge
Drinkable, yes I lost track it was so easy to drink. 1554 is not a heavy dark ale. Enjoy!

GENNER, May 21, 2010
Photo of BobJustBob
4.93/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a globe goblet from a bottle.

The head was small, but something told me to inhale a bit of it. Whatever that something was, it was right. It tasted just like the sprinkles on top of a chocolate doughnut. Despite the non-aggressive head it laced nicely
Color was a deep root beer like brown.
To be honest, it's hard to compare 1554 to any recognized style as it's based on Beers that are now basically extinct, or so you would believe, reading New Belgium's description of the brew.
It has much in common with Stout, but with a much lighter character.
Strong chocolate-like malts dominate, with only the slightest coffee notes.
I detect a minimal amount of hops, but they could be slightly masked by the roasty cocoa flavors.
The drinkability of this one is horrendously seductive. Definitely what Brits refer to as "more-ish".
For those times I can't get Mogollon Apache Trout Stout (which is most of the time) 1554 is unbeatable.
I'm not always in the mood for this type of Beer, but when I am, this stuff is unbelievably good.

BobJustBob, May 20, 2010
Photo of Onenote81
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. Pours a deep dark mahogany/amber with a thin beige head on top. Disappears quickly, leaving behind some lace and sip rings. Some light toffee and molasses make up the nose. Not a whole lot going on there.

The mouth is firm. Some good carbonation backing, and a smooth finish. Nice. Nothing in the flavor really stands out. I don't notice anything that specifies this as Belgian in the flavor. It's got some semi-sweet toffee, light bitterness, and a mild finish. I rather enjoyed this one, but it was sort of bland in the process. Expected more from this, but I'd gladly have it again regardless.

Onenote81, May 19, 2010
Photo of TXAggie
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance 4.0: Dark amber color, low head retention head, normal to low carbonation, very little lacing

Smell 3.5: almost oak like aroma, reasonable hops scent

Taste 4.0: Smooth, bitterness not overwhelming or strong, nice subtle chocolate aftertaste

Mouthful 4.0: light carbonation and is somewhat smoother than the average beer

Drinkability 3.5: Could drink two or three of these socially, any more would probably be too filling

TXAggie, Apr 26, 2010
Photo of SickGnar
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Color is not really black - more of a dark ganet-brown. Very clear for the color. Alright size off-white head with ok stick and stay. Decent lacing.

S: Seems faintly similar to the base brown ale in NB Frambozen. Not as strong though, and generally on the lighter side. Darker roasted malts, thin yeasty fruity spiciness. Slight hints of coffee/cocoa and dark fruits as it warms.

T: A little bit fruity up front and almost faintly tart on the back end. Mostly a Belgium brown ale caramelly malt base. I'd say a good dose of Special B - almost burnt caramelly with dark fruits. Also prominent semisweet cocoa and super faint coffee. Not much sweetness after initial hit. Some of the fruity and spicy notes seem yeast derived. Hmmm...labeled an ale and the website says a "light lager" yeast was used. They don't give any hints at ferment temp though. Steam beer maybe? Herbal grassy hops are there, but shy. Fades to chocolate and dark roasted malts, and some sweetness returns and lingers a bit.

M: A bit beyond medium carbonation. I cannot decide if it is just soft enough or on the verge of being a bit much. Probably means it is fine - paralysis by analysis. Medium body. Slightly drying finish with a hint of a pucker.

D: Cleaner than I was expecting. That makes sense though, given that the a lager yeast was used. It does seem to have some yeast character though, but not stereotypical Belgium yeast notes. More like lager yeast fermented on the warm side. Not really sure what style this is, but it is tasty, interesting, and drinkable. Esoteric, approachable, and sort of piques your interest. Kind of like that nerdy chick in the library. (How is that for being enlightened?)

SickGnar, Apr 24, 2010
Photo of hefe300
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pilsner glass. Nice artwork and fancy bottle, as with all New Belgium products.

Eye: Dark, deep brown with a cream colored head about a half inch thick. Leaves a nice lacing as I drink.

Medium carbonation, more viscous than a session beer, yet still easy drinking.

Nose: Malty sweetness, maybe a little dried fruit but a heavy chocolate smell up front along with biscuit.

Dark caramel notes, a little chocolate, a little biscuit and I taste some char...and I like it (black patent malt?). There's a little hops here, just a good, malty beer. I love stouts and black lagers and this is right up my alley.

Delicious malty goodness.

hefe300, Apr 24, 2010
Photo of dpodratsky3
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Bright brown with hints of amber on edges, dark but very clear, very creamy looking light tan head with big bubbles, around 1 finger

S: Nutty, lots of roasted malt, but no sweentess, smells like fresh dark bread

T: Just like the smell, can pick-up some roasted malt but it all tastes like whole grain bread with nuts in it, some sweetness also comes through and lightens it up, an almost chocolate roast at times, very mild hop presence, adds balance

M: Tad shy of medium, very pleasant over all, not heavily carbonated

D: High, easy to drink

Notes: I really liked this beer. I love dark bread and this beer has that quality. I'm not sure if this is a true Belgian Dark Ale, but it has good dark roasted notes while being light.

dpodratsky3, Apr 23, 2010
Photo of stewart124
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with reddish highlights and a thin off white head.

Subtle malts nose with some dark candied fruits.

The taste is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation and a smooth feel on the tongue. Lots of bread character and a slight spice to go along with deep caramel notes.

This is an easy drinking black ale. It comes a touch closer to a big brown ale with bits of roast coming through in the aftertaste. Not quite a much "belgian character" as one would expect but this doesn't take away from the overall beer.

stewart124, Apr 23, 2010
Photo of weasbri
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter glass. Nice dark brown color, with hints of ruby red when held up to the light.
Let it warm a bit to release the aromas of the roasted malt.
I'd say it tastes like chocolate, but it is quite dry, so it's more like cocoa powder. Went nicely with my banana chocolate bread. A little bit of a burnt coffee flavor too (some would say Starbucks flavor).
Quite enjoyable, really.

weasbri, Apr 21, 2010
Photo of WhiskerWrangler
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my very first review... here it goes..

A: Dark, cherry oak color. Color of cola. Thin head is whitish carmel color, between 1/2 and 1 finger. Lace is fair.

S: Smell is light. Subtle wheat notes. Didn't smell as much chocolate as I had expected. Crisp.

T: Taste is almost dull fruity at first. From here it has a very delightful coffee grounds taste that stays in your mouth. An odd combination but it works well. Do not taste as much chocolate either. I have had this beer before on draft, so I dont know if that played a role in it or not.

M: Slightly carbonated but not bad. Very smooth and flat going down.

D: Has a heavy taste but is actually very light feeling. Not too filling. Could drink these all night. 5.6% abv which is not too bad.

Overall I love this beer. I had only had it in the past on draft and it is much better like this than from a bottle, but still very good. Heavy taste with a light feel is what I like about it most.

WhiskerWrangler, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of iuhophead87
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint glass.

A- Not sure what a Belgian dark ale should look like, but it appears to be a traditional brown to me. A light brown/Amber color with a light tan head. However, the head seems to be rather sticky and leaves a film all around the top of the cup.
S- A little different than what I expected! The smell is a little sweet yet chocolate and burnt malts can also be detected. Wait, I can now smell burnt malts for sure.
T- A little fruity taste at first, but then a spicy bitter finish. The cherry fruit is apparent because the beer is sweet at first, but the finish is very dry and burnt.
MF- Almost like a shot of a sour beer has been pored into a brown ale. Very dry in the finish.
D- Very drinkable. Would be better in the fall or winter for my liking. However, I can pick this up at the grocery story anytime and will drink it quite often.

I will say that Belgium beers are not my favorite style, but I like this one for sure. I was just at the brewery last month and wished I would have reviewed this beer fresh on draft. Good brewery, great beer, but nothing outstanding. This will be a great session beer when fall comes around.

iuhophead87, Apr 15, 2010
Photo of Soilworker
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: A thick three finger tan head and dark brown (almost black) in color. Some light does come through when held up to a strong light source.

S: Rich, savory bittersweet chocolate malts hit the nose right off the bat with light smokey hints and a touch of coffee beans.

T: Very similar to the nose: Starts out a little bittersweet and some smokiness. This quickly picks up to sweet chocolaty malt flavor with overtones of bittersweet coffee beens with some underlying bitterness. This soon tapers off into a somewhat dry finish which is predominately a bittersweet chocolate flavor with a little bit of burnt wood coming through.

M: Lightly carbonated and feels oily in the mouth despite the finish being a little dry. Feels chewy in the mouth.

D: This is a bold, complex beer with a reasonable ABV. I could definitely see myself drinking this for an entire night.

Overall a very good beer from New Belgium, perhaps one of my favorites of theirs. The smell and taste are complex enough to keep you interested but not so much that drinking a few is tiresome.

Soilworker, Apr 14, 2010
Photo of Flashsp2
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New Belgium 1554 12oz into medium chalice

A deep brown body that glows a dark ruby with golden highlights when held to light. There is a creamy one finger beige head atop which leaves nice stick.

The nose is dominantly chocolate, with some light roasted coffee and a bit of hop spice. A certain bit of earthy quality as it warms. I swear the yeast is kicking off some banana esters as well, which melds nicely with the chocolate notes.

Palette is heavy with chocolate flavors, creamed coffee, earth, a bit of dark caramel and toffee, and what seems like a bit of a plum tang on the finish, which I can't seem to point down to the hops, yeast, or the carbonation. This is very clean and dry, more akin to a schwarzbier than a dark lager. Not super complex, or intense, but certainly tasty and interesting. Although the label suggests serving at 45*, I would recommend serving it closer to 55*, or at least allowing it to warm to let it unfold a bit.

The mouthfeel is somehow light and creamy at the same time, with a medium-heavy carbonation. Again, it's very interesting. Toward the end of the glass the carbonation calms down and the beer has a bit more heft.

This being the first Belgian dark ale that I have tried (despite having many Belgian strong dark ales), I have to say this is an intriguing and enjoyable beer. Quite easy to drink, with lots of nuance, but it does take a bit a contemplation and search to find all the bits and pieces. Although this is only the second time I have had anything that was actually impressive from this brewery (La Folie being the other), I would happily purchase this readily available and cheap beer again in the future.

Flashsp2, Apr 06, 2010
Photo of OlRasputin989
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into New Belgium snifter...

A: Pours almost black, with ruby red coming through when held to the light, a big, tan, creamy 2 finger head, showing very good retention and leaving thick, loopy lacing

S: smell is faint, but i'm picking up the trademark New Belgium biscuity malt and belgian yeast aromas, with a hint of roasted grain and chocolate and cigar tobacco.

T: sweet, biscuity malt, nutty, caramel, and chocolate flavors upfront, with a roasted grain character following along with the chocolate, as promised on the label, belgian yeast and more of the biscuity character.

M: medium body and very crisp almost immediately after a good gulp. has a sharp, dry finish that is almost chalky. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it does encourage another drink.

Overall, this is a fairly straight-forward beer. Not saying that it is boring, it's just not bringing anything unique to the table. This is a great session beer for the stout lover(like myself) who crave something less filling

OlRasputin989, Apr 06, 2010
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,006 ratings.