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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

3,041 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,041
Reviews: 1,245
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 70
Gots: 187 | 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: 3,041 | Reviews: 1,245 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of righthereisay
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As a fan of dark beers and also a fan of Fat Tire I thought this may bea good fit.

The smell was nice but nothing to write home about...smells like your average dark ale.

The taste was a little overpowering of nutty/chocolate, not complex at all, so I was pretty dissappointed.

It had a nice body and maybe a little too much carbonation, not not too much more.

I got a 6 pack for the beach one day on vacation. So drinkability was good, I think I finished the whole 6 pack in about 1 hour. For some reason the last few went down quicker than the 1st few.

So bottom line. Good beer. Just not complex at all for tasting.

righthereisay, Sep 04, 2010
Photo of OneDropSoup
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Mavajo for the extra -- another Want taken care of!

Poured into a stemmed tulip: Black body that reveals its hidden ruby essence when illuminated, under a finger of cottony, tan head that drops to a rocky, meringue coating. Leaves tight lacing.

Smells of raisins, licorice, nutmeg -- those warm, spiced smells. Some yeasty bread dough. Not powerful, but assertive.

Taste is an interesting interplay between plums, apricots, raisins, & a restrained cocoa presence that gives it a little depth. Not bad. Ends dry, with just a little booze note that's linked to that bready taste.

Medium-bodied, pretty smooth, just a little heat toward the end.

Can't say I loved it, but the cocoa presence helped boost it a bit -- wish there was even more. The typical Belgian dark mix of dark fruits, baking spices, & booze is not one I'm super-fond of, but it wasn't played up too highly here. Not bad, but I don't think I'd rush to have another.

OneDropSoup, Sep 04, 2010
Photo of mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark reddish/brown, reminds me of cola in appearance. Has a chunky one finger head. There is a release of a lot of bubbles in the center, forming a little patch in middle of the top.

S: A lot of roasted malts and barley. Also some dark chocolate on the back.

T: Tasted a dark fruit up front, especially dark cherries followed up by the dark chocolate and a little coffee. Finishes rather dry.

M/D: It is thicker than expected and very creamy. A pretty tasty brew that I would drink again, probably 1-2 max per night though.

mdaschaf, Sep 01, 2010
Photo of kflorence
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark, reddish brown in color, almost black. Not much head, only a thin, off-white layer that dissipates. Some lacing around the glass as you drink. Dark beers have always looked inviting to me, and this one is no exception.

S: Smells of dark fruits: prunes, raisins, grapes... also some cloying sweetness in there... dark chocolate, caramel. Overall a sweet, pleasing aroma, with a slight tartness in there (almost like wine). The alcohol is not completely masked and comes in a bit on the backend.

T: Starts out sweet with the fruits and dark chocolate dominating the flavor, much like the smell. Finishes nice and toasty with a roasted caramel and nut flavor -- very tasty.

M: Great body for the style. Not overly syrupy or thin and a good amount of carbonation. Feels good on the tongue.

D: Quite drinkable for the style. Tasty, easy on the stomach, fairly light. I wouldn't go as far as calling it sessionable, but it is very enjoyable and a great example of the style. Another great one from New Belgium!

kflorence, Sep 01, 2010
Photo of woosterbill
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle, best by 12/15/10, into a shaker pint.

A: Clear, dark reddish-brown body with an inch of creamy, chunky off-white head. Good retention and light lacing. Not bad at all.

S: Nutty, chocolatey. Lightly sweet malts and just a hint of citrus hops on the tail end. Interesting and enjoyable.

T: Opens with caramel, chocolate, and nuttiness, then displays a bit of fruity yeast and a balancing bitter finish. Tasty.

M: Medium body with lots of carbonation that's just slightly on the prickly side.

D: Easy enough to drink, but not terribly sessionable for its strength.

Notes: This was a very interesting, enjoyable beer, but never really managed to capitalize fully on its uniqueness. While it tasted good, it just wasn't quite great. Still, it's a solid choice that's pretty easy to find in many states (not CT, sadly). I wouldn't be averse to revisiting it.


woosterbill, Aug 30, 2010
Photo of DKMonroe
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was dark, not black, I guess that's what they meant by "enlightened" Smell was good sweet with chocolate of course little coffee and some kinda fruit, which was back seat for sure. Taste was awesome, and was very easy to drink. Will go here again for sure. getting to like this stye

DKMonroe, Aug 29, 2010
Photo of Bfarr
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost black with a tan frothy head with okay retention and good lacing. A nice floral and nutty aroma. A bite of dark chocolate to begin with the leads to a toasted hazelnut flavor with a bitter hop finish. Great balance never is overtaken by sweetness or bitterness. A smooth yet almost effervescent feel with a dry finish.

Oh boy, I could certainly imagine knocking back a few of these in a dark pub four and a half centuries ago... or right now.

Bfarr, Aug 27, 2010
Photo of cbak999
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep, dark brown, not quite black, with a tan head that quickly fades. I notice some nice lacing on the glass with each sip.

S - Smells like a Belgian - characteristic of this style beer. I smell fig and roasty malt.

T - This drinks like a Belgian porter. It has the roasty, malty body with the spice and sweetness expected. There is also a little hop bitterness after taste.

D - Nice session Belgian. Great carbonation. Very nice beer.

cbak999, Aug 26, 2010
Photo of andrenaline
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

One of the recruits from a mixer pack obtained on a trip to the US of A, and the continuation of BlackBerry tasting notes.

A - Pours an almost opaque black, with a nice dark brown colour along the edges. Finger of off-white head and some fine lacing.

S - Chocolate and fresh ground coffee, with a bit of bitter lemon noticeable on the finish. Unique indeed.

T - Bitter chocolate dominates the flavour, lemon also being present, and coffee beans lingering on the tongue.

M - Medium to heavy feel with decent carbonation, but a little dry on the finish, leaving a tacky feel on your cheeks.

D - Some unique flavours, but a little too bitter and sour for my liking. Wouldn't drink a ton of these, but I wouldn't turn it down.

andrenaline, Aug 25, 2010
Photo of duhbled
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

After having the pleasure of tasting this at the New Belgium Brewery in Colorado, this soon became my favorite beer. Preferring dark ales, I was pleasantly surprised when the bottle was much like the draft.
The pour is dark and slightly reddish with a nice 1/4 head and left some lacing.
The smell is intoxicating to me. Slight coffee scent with the hops chiming in too.
The taste is what I love about this dark ale. It's not overly complex with a slightly sweet and chocolately start that melds into a nice dry, hoppy ending.
The mouthfeel isn't overwhelming, which is a good thing. Makes you want another one immediately.
Pure drinkablity from ever bottle. I like to serve this slightly warm as the flavors are more pronounced.
Overall this is in my opinion the best drinkable beer that New Belgium has put out thus far. It's a beautiful thing.

duhbled, Aug 24, 2010
Photo of smokeypeat
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally got to try some New Belgiums while on vacation. Really enjoyed the 1554. Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Appearance is very very dark brown, practically black except when backlit. Nice aroma, more nutty in both smell and taste than I was expecting. Malt dominant with some nice chocolate and coffee undertones. The nuttiness is present throughout and adds alot. Really enjoyed the alcohol level as I was able to session a few during the evening with no effect. Good mouthfeel helped it go down smooth. Wish I could get this on a regular basis.

smokeypeat, Aug 21, 2010
Photo of dgilks
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Earthy nose with a light roast character. A little dull.

Very dark brown with a small, light tan head. Good.

I suppose you could call this a Belgian Dark. it has a few underlying dark fruit characteristics and some light chocolate. Not bad.

Medium-light body with moderately-high carbonation. Very spritzy.

Easy drinking, tasty but lacking a bit of depth.

dgilks, Aug 16, 2010
Photo of evilkalla
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving: 12 oz bottle into an ale glass

A: Pours a clear, very dark brown color with about 1/8 inch of head which dissipated fairly quickly. Left some decent lacing on the side of the glass.

S: Smells of toasted, chocolately malts. Very good

T: Tastes like coffee and bitter chocolate. Has a smooth, dry finish. Very good.

M: Has a clean, smooth, crisp character to it.

D: I like this one, so does the girlfriend. That's high praise, since she's a finicky b****.

evilkalla, Aug 14, 2010
Photo of bagpiper2005
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour: Dark brown, when held up to the light, it's a very deep red-amber color. About an inch of slight off-white head that retained decently and left all sorts of lacing on the glass.

Smell: A combination of caramel and chocolate malts combined with floral, fruity, and spicy hops.

Taste: Starts off with a slight bit of a hop spice, moving into a caramel malty sweetness which then fades into a semi-sweet chocolate malt character. The middle of the palate has a dark fruity taste. The back end finishes up with a coffee overtone and leads into a light hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, creamy, and with a fair amount of carbonation, and very smooth.

Drinkability: I could sit back and drink these all day. They go down so well.

Final Notes: An excellent choice for a session beer, or to pair with food or even a dessert. This beer has so many potential uses, a great "utility beer."

bagpiper2005, Aug 13, 2010
Photo of BDJake
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a pitch black with dark ruby edges when held to a light, topped by a delicious inch of beige head that retains and laces extremely well

S- dark chocolate, nutty, rich, and with a good dose of caramel and even a bit of coffee

T- very much like the aroma, but also rather dry and with some spicy yeast character to it

M- medium bodied, fairly warming, and a decent amount of carbonation

D- will not go down very well if consumed too quickly, but at the right serving conditions, it is an excellent offering

BDJake, Aug 12, 2010
Photo of Soonami
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an okay beer. It's not great, it's not terrible, just well made and drinkable. The beer is a little bland for a brewery that makes interesting beers. The malt dominants the beer with German-style Munich malt breadiness being the predominant flavor. Hops are there just for bittering. There is a bit of belgian character, but overall it's lacking the complexity and interest I would have liked.

Soonami, Aug 10, 2010
Photo of Baraka
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark color, deep brown bordering on solid black with a slight head. Slight estery smell, probably the yeast, and a dark malr aroma dominate. The taste is malt dominated, with chocolate, smoky, and bready malts all combining into a rather delicious malt base. No hop bitterness to be found. The only flavor that combats the malt is the interesting yeast flavors of the beer. Moderate carbonation with a dry nutty finish. Very drinkable NB brew, maybe not as complex as their other Belgium-style beers (the Dubbel and trippel), but a very good and sessionable beer.

Baraka, Aug 05, 2010
Photo of TGates13
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found that this beer reminded me a little of Stone's Smoked Porter. It started with a really nice 1.5in head (poured in a Pint Glass). The aromatics were very woodsy with a hint of chocolate undertone. The first sip (the beer came straight out of the fridge and it was approximately 38*) was very nutty with a chocolate underlay. As the beer warmed up (it was approximately 50* when I finished) the chocolate underlay became more prevalent. New Belgium recommended that the beer be served at 45* in a snifner style beer glass. I can definately understand why. The temperature and the difference in glass ware will make a huge aromatic and taste difference.

TGates13, Jul 31, 2010
Photo of ronniebruner
2.65/5  rDev -31%
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.

ronniebruner, Jul 29, 2010
Photo of NeutroMan
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with printed freshness date of 9 July 2010. A little late but it should still be pretty much OK.

Appearance: Very dark brown with a reddish tint at the edge. Minimal tan head dissipated quickly.

Smell: Roasted and caramel malts followed by a slight hint of dark chocolate and coffee.

Taste: Mostly roasted malts with some dark chocolate. More nutty flavor than in the aroma, with an aftertaste that lingers for a while.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability: Medium bodied and chewy. Modest carbonation makes it easy to down this one.

NeutroMan, Jul 28, 2010
Photo of ExMachina1
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Let's get one thing clear: THIS IS NOT AN ALE!!!

Ok. Now I feel better :)

New Belgium is using a lager yeast and they're fermenting the beer quite cleanly, so there is not only no "Belgian-ness" about this beer, there is no "ale-ness" either.

This is a dark lager that I'd classify somewhere in between a Munich dunkels and and a schwartzbier (not as sweet as a schwartz but with a noticeable contribution of dark roasted malts)

I feel this is an important point to consider since several reviews are faulting this beer for not being what it says it is, rather than faulting it for being a bad beer. Yes, 1554 is in fact a *terrible* "Belgian" beer, but is at the same time a **fantastic** south German dark lager.

And, since dark, drinkable lagers are few and far between in the states, the 1554 is a god-send to someone like me, who loves the style but who has been forced to drink stale Spaten dunkels. Now I can can get a fresh dark lager that has a low enough ABV to enjoy over an evening. Yippee!!! :)

ExMachina1, Jul 28, 2010
Photo of ssalgado
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a. poured nice and dark with a light colored head.

s. light aroma, slight hints of chocolate but very very slight.

t. expected a thicker/strong punch. definitely taste sweet roasted malts with a coffee like after taste.

m. not very thick. a lot thinner than I expected for a black ale but it does have some substance. medium body that feels nice to the tongue and mouth.

d. very easy to drink, gives just enough flavor to be intriguing but is not overbearing or over powering. Could drink several pints if needed too....hah, if needed.

ssalgado, Jul 26, 2010
Photo of jwinship83
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle drank from the new belgium globe glass.

A- this one pours out a very dark brown colored body with slight ruby red highlights around the edges. a small khaki colored head forms. good retention. spotty lacing is left behind.

S- roasted malts are the first thing that i notice. after that comes caramel and a slight fruitiness. cherry and plum. maybe a little bit of fig. chocolate and coffee finish this one off.

T- the taste starts out with a surprising amount of roasted malts. after that theres some burnt caramel and the fruits i could smell. figs, cherries, and dates. a little bit of chocolate in the middle, and a decent amount of coffee at the end.

M- medium to full bodied with a nice level of carbonation. goes down easy.

D- this one is a little different. almost like a light belgian stout. very drinkable with an almost sessionable ABV. i liked this one more than i expected to.

jwinship83, Jul 25, 2010
Photo of CouchCobra
4.83/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber to snifter

A: Chocolate tar. It looks rich, and creamy. Head is not long lasting, (I drank it too fast to find out)

S: Malty, nutty

T: Wonderful. Makes me want to cry since I cannot get it in NY.

M: Almost warming to the tongue and throat. Not much, but enough to let you know its there.

D: Love love love. If one is good and two is better, 20 ought to do.

CouchCobra, Jul 24, 2010
Photo of donniecuffs
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At the Flying Saucer in Memphis, TN. Into a pint glass, it poured a dark cloudy brown, with one finger of beige, decent retention, and very good lacing. Lots of biscuit, caramel, and roasted malt in the nose as well as the flavor. Crisp on the palate with a nutty finish and aftertaste. Thick and modestly carbonated. Definitely a sipping beer.

donniecuffs, Jul 23, 2010
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,041 ratings.