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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

2,819 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2819
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: 2,819 | Reviews: 1,235 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of cfspartan


4.48/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Delicious, dark and complex. Amazingly there is not a trace of bitterness, only smooth complexity on the palate from beginning to end. For such a dark beer, the lack of bitterness was as surprising as it was awesome. It is better on tap than in the bottle, but over here on the East Coast, I'd take either!

Serving type: on-tap

09-06-2013 23:32:16 | More by cfspartan
Photo of Jdbateman83


4.64/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

OMG. I love this. My all time favorite beer.

Appearance: Very Dark, as in bitch black with creamy looking head.

Smell: Excellent, smells of dark malty, coco richness.

Taste: Big on chocolate, malt, coco, cream, vanilla. NO hops, almost zero bitterness which is unexpected cause of how freaking dark it is.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, easy to sip or slurp.

Overall: I know it wont be everyone's cup of tea, but if you drink beer, and enjoy trying al of them, you must add this to your portfolio of beers you have had. I had zero expectation because it looks like Guinness, and I hate Guinness... But this is no Guinness, this is heavy in a glass made out of cute puppies licking you and acting cute every sip.

Serving type: on-tap

09-01-2013 04:04:13 | More by Jdbateman83
Photo of magictacosinus


3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Well, it's about time I reviewed this. Is this an ale, though? It was listed as a "black lager." Poured on-tap at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe into a shaker pint glass. Paired with cherry pie under my insistence to the bewildered bartenders that it would taste awesome. (It did.)

Pours a brownish, slightly blackened color complete with about 3 fingers worth of an off-khaki head. Leaves behind some decent lines worth of lacing on the glass, especially as the head dissipates. Retention is quite good. Carbonation is not too present, even here, but in terms of looking like a Belgian dark, it's pretty spot on. I only wish it were a little more thickened in feel.

The aroma yields mostly dark fruits and toasted, caramel forward flavors from the barley. Notes of dark cherries, dried figs, and slight molasses abound, followed by the caramel and toasted barley cereal flavor that is - you guessed it, fans of NB - biscuit-y. However, rather than feeling like Fat Tire spiked with Belgian yeast, this is far more aromatic than their beers usually are, and sustains a light yet pleasant herbal dried hop aroma at the back. Pretty balanced, actually, although I wish the yeast employed were more funky and lively.

The flavor immediately starts with the roasted character that reminds me of coffee and toasted brown bread, and finishes with some bitterness and light dark fruits. Very bready on the flavor, in fact, and slightly fruity with notes blackberries and figs... When the caramel kicks in, maybe even light dates. However, there's barely any notable sweetness here, and it's really the bready bitterness from the grains that shine. Relatively balanced, and pretty well carbonated, as well as slightly dry at the finish. Surprisingly not very thickened in terms of body, and I can't remember if my past experiences with this were as such. If I review it as a "lagered" beer, I'd say its pretty hearty for what it is. Could use more of the fruit character, but hey, that's what the cherry pie is here for!

Years ago this was what my friends and I would purchase for parties and events nearly all the time due to its low price, its robust flavor, and its highly drinkable character. It's still a beer I'd revisit from NB whenever possible, but my palate's definitely changed over time towards it. Still, at the low ABV, I can't complain, and it still does the trick even now. For people who wanted to see better malt-focused beers from NB, give this a whirl.

Serving type: on-tap

08-13-2013 18:57:09 | More by magictacosinus
Photo of elNopalero


3.89/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle 1554 pours with an inch of foam & a dark amber hue. It has a malty aroma with lactic sharpness, and a malty flavor with some caramel sweetness. There’s a mild roast and some coffee undertones. I preferred this from the bottle vs. the draught.

Previously (on-tap):
A Belgian style black beer? I’m not sure what category this fits in, exactly. It pours a deep amber, not quite black but fairly opaque. There’s a big, malty nose on it, almost cloyingly sweet. That’s your cue to be prepared. 1554 has a rich, thick sweet caramel malt flavor with some tartness to balance it out. It’s not a bitter beer, nor is it roasty, so save it for dessert.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2013 07:48:27 | More by elNopalero
Photo of Donnelj


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

This beer was served in a pint glass from a tap. The color was absolutely gorgeous with exception clarity. The 2-finger ivory head held up well with very nice lacing. While this beer looks like a stout in the glass, the feel in the mouth is very much an ale. A nice crisp feel with notes of malty sweetness. A hint of dark chocolate and molasses with nearly no bitterness. This is a very drinkable beer and a must try!

Serving type: on-tap

01-01-2013 00:07:52 | More by Donnelj
Photo of adam1z2z

3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A note on this beer; I just attended beer school at New Belgium brewery and learned that 1554 is actually a LAGER - it is called an ale for legal reasons [texas requires all lagers to be under a certain ABV].

Anyway, most noticed its lager traits in their mouthfeel reviews. It is a very light beer and incredibly sessionable.

Serving type: on-tap

12-13-2012 20:15:25 | More by adam1z2z
Photo of Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Buffalo Wild Wings.

The beer is dark brown, approaching black, with a quarter inch of beige head. The aroma brings some Belgian style malts, chocolate, a touch of grain. The flavor brings some sweet milk chocolates and some bready malts. Not the most refined flavor, but easy enough to throw back a pint of this. Light to medium in body and fairly creamy on the palate. I drank a lot of this beer in college, so it was nostalgic to return to it after a long hiatus.

Serving type: on-tap

11-06-2012 01:43:45 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of clemtiger8202


4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown/walnut, nearly opaque. Small, tan head that had good lacing and lingered. Aroma was of roasted malt, coffee, and maybe a hint of charcoal. Taste was of coffee, roasted malt, and a sweetness of dark fruit, maybe like raisin. Beer was initially served cold but aroma and flavor improved dramatically as it warmed. The beer had a lot of body and lingered well after swallowing. Paired quite nicely with my steak and was good with desert as well.

Serving type: on-tap

09-13-2012 19:04:28 | More by clemtiger8202
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 TheRealBigC


3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1554 so far stands alone in my history of beer drinking. It's too smooth to be a black ale and I don't really get anything particularly Belgian out of it either. To be fair, this is the only beer I've had under this "Belgian dark ale" category. Based on this one, I'm certainly curious to try some others if I can find them.

It's not heavy like a porter or stout, but it's still slightly thick with a creamy head and everything. Enlightened, I guess. It's definitely a maltier beer and a great choice on a cool evening any time of year.

Serving type: on-tap

07-31-2012 18:26:46 | More by TheRealBigC
Photo of klmcmachen


4.83/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

New Belgium knows beer. 1554 is no exception. I received this beer at a restaurant. It was presented in a tall thin glass. It was very dark and only semi-transparent. It had a 3/4" head which it sustained for about ten minutes. The smell was earthy and sweet. The mouthfeel was nice. It had a heavy feel but really smooth, like silk. The taste was earthy and fruity with a hint of something sweet, perhaps chocolate. As with most of New Belgium beers, I give 1554 two-thumbs-up!!

Serving type: on-tap

07-17-2012 13:21:37 | More by klmcmachen
Photo of bump8628


3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the brewery. Black with a creamy tan head. Smooth notes of smoke, charred sugar, and coffee are quickly washed away by a mild sweetness and lingering spicy hop note. Bitterness is mild. Not much in the way of any Belgian yeast notes, save for a subtle cherry and plum fruitiness and a hint of clove. The goal seems to be a drinkable, approachable, and easy-going dark beer, and I would say New Belgium hit that mark.

Serving type: on-tap

05-17-2012 20:01:18 | More by bump8628
Photo of Merkur


3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer pours an almost pitch-black color with a slight amount of white creamy head.

Beer smells slightly of chocolate malts, but not much exists in the nose.

Beer tastes very roasty and malty. Mostly a slight chcolate taste, followed by some mellow caramel.

Mouthfeel is slightly too carbonated, but makes for easy drinking with its thinness.

Overall as solid easy drinker.

Serving type: on-tap

01-29-2012 15:28:10 | More by Merkur
Photo of hopfacebrew


4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

Pour poured on tap at the Red Lion in Vail to a pint glass.

A - The beer is super dark and opaque similar to a stout or porter. Had a nice 1.5 finer creamy white head - not a color I was expecting.

S - Not an overpowering aroma but hints of heavy malt character with a bit of chocolate malt.

T/M - Complex flavor with a lot of roasted malt character including chocolate malts and caramel flavors. The beer is crisp and smooth and is medium bodied with adequate carbonation.

D - Very very drinkable.

Overall, this is a very good beer. Very easy to drink and not really what I expected based on the presentation. Will buy again and recommended. My 2nd favorite New Belgium brew.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 01-31-2011 03:22:43

Serving type: on-tap

01-27-2012 21:38:27 | More by hopfacebrew
Photo of tjsdomer2


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

Appearance: Solid brown molasses. Pretty good foam and ok lacing. Color is the best thing overall.

Smell: Nice caramel sweetness and light fruitiness. Some good yeastiness as well. Wish it were a bit bolder.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Great sweetness. Mostly brown sugar. Slightly roasted nuttiness as well. Mouthfeel is generall good, but a bit flat. Still above average due to decent carbonation.

Overall Drinkability: A pretty good American take on a Belgian ale.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2012 05:24:41 | More by tjsdomer2
Photo of argock


3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap in a clear Shaker pint at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Very dark almost black with light beige cap of small-bubbled head with a few formations of lace.

S: Roasty malty character is most prominent. Pretty blaze on the aroma front.

T: The flavor is also dominated by roasted qualities with some slightly sweet caramel notes.

M: A super-drinkable beer with relatively light carbonation and medium body.

O: I enjoyed this beer overall, but I wish there were more distinctive qualities.

Serving type: on-tap

01-02-2012 04:36:46 | More by argock
Photo of paulginva


3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: This beer, poured from the tap into a pint glass produced a 1/2" foamy, off-white head with good head lacing that dissipated quickly. The body was a sparkling deep black with ruby highlights around the edge when held up to the light. There was no carbonation that I could see.

AROMA: A bit roasty and boozy, but really very little smell that I could detect.

TASTE: Much better. An earthy malt taste comprised of fresh baked bread, roasted coffee, and dark chocolate, with a light taste of green leafy hops.

MOUTHFEEL: This beer had a moderately full body and a very smooth texture, no carbonation and thin body lacing that dissipates at a modest pace. The initial flavor was sweet and chocolaty, proceeding to a short finish of sweet light chocolate and coffee with a light hoppy bitterness and a very lightly bitter aftertaste.

DRINKABILITY: This is a very agreeable, appealing sipping beer and as a result of its fullness, I wouldn't have more than two at a sitting. It is easy to drink, gives excellent value for the cost and I'd definitely buy it again. I wouldn't put it in the first tier of black ales, but it's definitely high in the second tier.

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2011 19:02:16 | More by paulginva
Photo of jjboesen


3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Based on a 16th Century Belgian recipe (hence the "1554), this "enlightened" beer has a pitch black body beneath a filmy vanilla crown; there is very little lacing throughout the quaff.

The nose picks up an iota of cocoa powder and raisin; the palate detects bits of dark chocolate with a quick shot of toastiness at the end.

While not an overwhelming beer, this does bear the criteria for a pleasant sessional, though I could not establish anything resembling an IPA as this neat little beer is void of any hoppiness. Dark, mild and malty would be the three stooges stumbling around in the glass with this one. Still, I do like it as a mild quaff for any time of the year.

Serving type: on-tap

11-21-2011 02:40:45 | More by jjboesen
Photo of bmwats


3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pulled from a tap into a pilsner/pint thingy.

a: very dark brown. slight brown white head with just a bit of a beer ring. substantial and persistent lacing.

s: toasted malt with a bit of pungent hop. nutty and woody.

t: very woody toasted malt. pecan shells, butterscotch, and a little peat.

m: robust, full flavored, and great bittersweet balance.

d: very solid sipping brew.

atmosphere is really solid. nice head and lacing. nose is a really fine toasted malt with bitter and sweet components. flavor is a great balance of grains with a little pungency and a subtle sweetness.

Serving type: on-tap

11-16-2011 01:04:09 | More by bmwats
Photo of mrfrancis


3.2/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a near black with subtle amber highlights and a creamy, smooth tan head. Looks good in the glass.

S: Nothing really stands out on the nose. Aromas of coffee, cream, dark chocolate, and earthy hops are just barely noticeable after several sniffs.

T: Opens creamy and smooth with notes of earthy hops, dark chocolate, coffee, heavy cream, and roasted grain. The finish is very short and very smooth with notes of chocolate and coffee being most noticeable.

M: Light-bodied, smooth, and a little slick. Dries out a bit on the finish. Very drinkable.

O: This ale is nothing special and really contributes nothing new to this style. It's really quite bland. Not worth going out of one's way to try.

Serving type: on-tap

11-02-2011 14:23:33 | More by mrfrancis
Photo of gatornation


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

on tap in pint glass

A-poured a dark garnet color with a small head a tan collar that is fresh sticks around

S- is chocolate roasted malts,coffee,a touch of dark fruit

T- follows nose.. malts and chocolate prevail with coffee and toffee some plum and spice .. not alot of belgian notes however

M- medium carbonation with a touch of bitterness but finishes smooth

O- a tasty dark ale with a touch of funk and fruit smooth on the palate with just a touch of funk

Serving type: on-tap

10-17-2011 22:41:43 | More by gatornation
Photo of DCon


3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on-tap @ the Wolf Public House in Ballwin, MO for $2.25 (normally $4.50 but get an employee discount). Tapped from the Blue/Red New Belgium Tap Handle into a 12oz Snifter Glass. Does not have a Keg Date but know its from August (all New Belgium's kegs are left without dates).

Aroma- Begins with a light coffee/roasty aroma but not strong. The malts however are the main attraction here and pop out well.

Appearance- Received with a 3 finger head that is frothy and stays for what seems like forever! Has a deep brown color body and leaves thick ole lace behind.

Flavor- Has a roasty beginning and hints of coffee come across. It is very porter like with its tasting but not as robust. Not much hop comes through in the taste.

Mouthfeel- Light-Medium Body, Medium Carbonation, Smooth, but doesn't have much to offer on the palate. Almost like a coffee aftertaste you don't find appealing.

Overall Impression- While people are thused about this brew, I just think its good and drinkable. I never really go for this if I see it in a 6-pack but had to give it a try on-tap. Enjoyed it and will be again I'm sure.

Serving type: on-tap

10-13-2011 23:13:21 | More by DCon
Photo of clayrock81


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

Poured a dark brown w/ two-finger head that dies quick but left lace patches on top of a roasted and sweet aroma, yet I detect a decent presence of yeast and I'm getting some orange hints from citric-like hops. TAste is more of the same as I get a light bodied beer that is simple yet goes down easy and gives off some minor citric fruitiness and a balance of dry, roasted and sweet malt and has a hearty dry finish. Another not perfect but pretty damn good (and inexpensive) belgian ale from New Belgium.

Serving type: on-tap

09-28-2011 21:45:57 | More by clayrock81
Photo of FanofHefe


4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite regular offerings from NB; grabbed a glass tonight on-tap in a pint glass. Deep black/brown body with a two-finger creamy tan head. Good lacing.

Not a big aroma, but good notes of lightly roasted malt, chocolate, and toffee.

Excellent blend of flavors, including a mix of caramel and roasted malt, light chocolate and toffee flavors. I could almost mistake this for a milk stout.

Medium mouthfeel and very drinkable. Solid overall beer.

Serving type: on-tap

09-26-2011 22:37:43 | More by FanofHefe
Photo of layinbrix


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

On tap at a local pub, by suggestion

A: Dark, dark, dark reddish brown. It wasn’t black as promised by the name, but what did I care, it still looked good. Just a bit of brownish white head. Practically no lacing.

S: Appetizing chocolate smell.

T: Roasted malts, dark chocolate, slight nuttiness. Zero hop note.

M: Smooth at first, sort of drying after.

O: A pleasant surprise since I'm not a fan of Fat Tire. Good recommendation for an early Winter brew.

Serving type: on-tap

08-23-2011 15:26:01 | More by layinbrix
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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,819 ratings.