1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

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very good

1,249 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,249
Hads: 3,149
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 10.36%
Wants: 84
Gots: 252 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-02-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,249 | Hads: 3,149
Photo of WoodBrew
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby brown with a thick creamy off white head that retains well and laces the glass. The aroma is nutty, lactic roasted chocolate.Taste is favorably mild with a great dryish mixture of black malts and chocolate with just a hint of dried floral spices and yeast. Just barely sweet within and has a bit of roastyness. (328 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
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. (479 characters)

Photo of Flounder57
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle wad poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger head that has reduced to a thin layer and left some nice lacing. It is a dark brown with a little light passing through when held up to a light with signs of bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: I am picking up some fruity notes, chocolate, caramel, and toffee notes. There almost seems to be a creamy aroma to the beer too.

Taste: All of the above mentioned aromas blended together.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and silky smooth, low carbonation, medium to full bodied, silky, a little dry, and really delicious to drink.

Overall: Pretty solid black ale or Belgian dark ale. I was really surprised how tasty this beer was when I drank it. Pretty solid score and happy that my brother chose to bring this back from his trip to TN. Next time I am out in Colorado, I will have to hunt this beer down. (884 characters)

Photo of Lemke10
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours a dark brown with a slight off white head. There is a slight scent of roasted malts mixed with a mild yeast tone. The taste has a mild roasted malt taste. The texture and volume is perfectly done. Smooth, tasty, and refreshing! A rather boldly made brew that most will find very likeable. A great brew for those looking to start drinking dark beers but can’t quite handle a porter or stout yet. A great beer for the price! (435 characters)

Photo of maki88
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


12 oz bottle poured into a tumbler. Enjoyed at home.

A: Dark ruby color. About three fingers of tan head, which dissipated slowly leaving substantial lacing on the glass.

S: Strong toasty malt aroma, with significant chocolate scents. Toffee and nutty undertones are also evident. Very much resembled a porter.

T: Strong toasty, malty flavor on impact, with a somewhat sweeter chocolate/nutty finish. Very little in the way of aftertaste -- I was pleasantly surprised at how minimal and pleasant it is.

M: Medium body, but on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation seemed a bit much.

O: A good beer. Flavors aren't terribly complex, but they are executed well. The rich flavor without an overpowering aftertaste makes for a nice drinking experience. I would certainly have this again, but wouldn't go out of my way to do so. (833 characters)

Photo of vette2006c5r
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1554 Enlightened black ale pours a black color, with a nice lacing tan head. There is a nice sublet oakey aroma. A complex taste. A strong malty backbone, but with a profound oakey flavor, hints of chocolate, bits of Belgian candies. Good full flavor, everything blends well. Overall a very enjoyable beer. Easy to drink, good flavors, complex a lot going on and it comes together nicely. (388 characters)

Photo of rramsey
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really like this beer. Kinda reminds me of a porter. Some have said that they experience a ' burnt' taste with New Belgium beers. I do get a smokey smell and taste in this beer but not a burnt sensation. I can drink several of these while relaxing on a fall evening. I find it lighter than a porter, but still similar. The smell is lighter than a porter and the taste and mouthfeel is also lighter. If you read my reviews, I like dark beers, and this is a dark beer that I enjoying drinking regularly. I keep these in my refrigerator at all times. Even a new craft beer drinker will enjoy experiencing one of these as a lead-in to porters and then stouts. (657 characters)

Photo of rlee1390
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Clear ruby when pouring, brown in the glass, two finger off white head, with some lacing.

S-Roasted malt, toffee, nuts, spices, similar in nose to a brown ale.

T-Roasted malt, coffee, some chocolate, toffee, mild to no bitterness. Burnt, smoke along with caramel and candied sugar as well.

M-Medium bodied, not much carbonation but smooth.

O-Nothing really stands out in this beer. No glaring flaws but at the same time nothing to write home about. (454 characters)

Photo of Living816
2.36/5  rDev -38.9%
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. (725 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a New Belgium Globe glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark brownish mahogany with some amber and ruby red. Moderate bubbles and about three fingers of off white head that recede into a thin patchy layer. Leaves a good amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Smell is sweet, dark and roasty. Sweet dark roasted malts with good hints of chocolate, toffee, coffee, caramel, biscuit, and toasted bread. Some brown sugar. Some nice hints of dark fruit in the background with some raisin, fig, prune, and dark cherry. Subtle hints of Belgian yeast and candied sugar. Light earthy hops in the background. Smells like a rich Porter with a Belgian twist.

Taste: Like the smell suggests, a rich and sweet roasted taste with some nice Belgian undertones. Dark roasted malts with notes of chocolate, dark bread and biscuit, caramel, toffee, coffee, and toast. Belgian yeast along with some brown sugar and candied sugars. Undertones of dark fruits with notes of raisins, dark cherry, fig, and prune. Light hints of pepper and spice. Also some earthy hops in the background. A pretty rich and complex brew. A solid taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and somewhat syrupy. Finishes fairly dry.

Overall: A pretty good and interesting ale. Not really a "black ale" like we think of them now. Hops take a backseat to a sweet dark malt presence. Subtle Belgian elements. (1,443 characters)

Photo of clemtiger8202
4.41/5  rDev +14.2%
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. (453 characters)

Photo of BrownAleMale
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured in a Lake front brewery pint glass.

Appearance- Dark coke a cola like. When held to light amber streaks rip through the darkness.

Smell- Not a lot here. I'm getting a very sweet coffee and toffee smell with some caramel also.

Taste- Bakers chocolate with a almost grape like hops. There is a slight watered downess that is killing what could be an epic beer. All the right flavors are there just not prevalent enough.

Mouthfeel- Nice heavy mouthfeel. Goes well with what coffee and chocolate flavors that I'm getting.

Overall- So so close to being such a great beer. In my line of work we have something called near misses. This is a case of a near miss. Some things done phenomenally while others just lacking. (736 characters)

Photo of DaveBlack
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A full finger's worth of light tan head tops a dark beer with copper shades at the edges. The head lasts for a moderately long time and leaves a good amount of lacing.

S: Dark, roasted malts, caramel and a bit of chocolate. Very sweet smelling, but with a hint of malt bitterness and earthy notes. Quite a complex and delicious smelling beer.

T: For me, the taste doesn't quite live up to the smell. There is a deep roasty flavor, with notes of chocolate. the end has a kiss of hops and a slight spiciness as well, which balances it nicely. But the problem is that the beer also has a wateriness that pervades throughout.

M: moderate body and carbonation, lighter than the smell would suggest.

O: A good beer, but not a great one. The flavors are all there, but they're watered down. Despite that, it's well balanced, and delivers a lot of interesting flavors in one package. (882 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
3.44/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Cherry cola brown. Bone white, fine bubbled head. Ok retention and great lace.

S - Light nose. Raisin and cola. Slightly musky.

T - Milk chocolate, medium roast caramel malts, and a light woody hop.

M - Smooth medium/full body with nice carbonation. (256 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a dark burgundy color that shows traces of carbonation beneath the tint. The one finger offwhite head doesn't retain as well as I'd like in a Belgian-style ale, but it leaves a nice ring of lacing.

S: Chocolate, slight roasted malts, pumpernickel bread, and plums. Almost porter-esque in its aroma, and an impressive one at that.

T: Initially, there's a wave of coffee and light ash (not necessarily roast) that envelops the tongue. Whem given time to sit in the mouth, it will finish in a fruity manner, with both dark and lighter fruit esters. Some finishing dry, bittersweet chocolate also appears. Two flaws here; the coffee almost takes on a vegetal tone at times, and it's not particularly exploding with flavor.

M: It's hard to describe the general feel. It's smooth in general, but has a yeasty astringency to it on the finish, and is a little too heavy for its mellow flavors. Drinkable enough.

O: While it's good, I think it's too hard to drink given its mild flavor profile. It's still worth a try and I might even get it again in the future. (1,107 characters)

Photo of CHickman
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasting notes from 8/25/12: pours clear blood red color when held up to light, with a 2 finger foamy tan head that faded slowly leaving craters and great foamy lacing coating the sides.

Smells of sweet malt, syrup, yeast funk, grains, caramel, light brown sugar, biscuit, toffee and light booze like rum or red wine; nose is typical of a Belgian style ale with a fruity, funky sweetness that basically controls the aroma.

Tastes like it smells, with sweet malt, syrup, yeast funk, caramel, light brown sugar, grains, biscuit, wet bread, toffee, dark fruit like cherry or plum, herbs, floral hops and light booze like rum or red wine; the finish is funky and like licking cardboard, but has a fruity sweetness at the same time. Tart, bitter and funky, this has a very complex flavor that seems a little different with each sip.

Mouthfeel is very creamy, with a chewy medium body, light carbonation and a sweet funky finish that trails off with yeast, grains and brown sugar coating the tongue.

Overall it was OK, and a nice effort for recreating an old beer with a partial Belgian recipe, but I would not seek this out and deem this my least favorite New Belgium beer thus far. This beer was just off to me somehow, and while it was not bad, it really just didn’t excite me all that much. (1,297 characters)

Photo of PicoPapa
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with a Best Before date of 16DEC12. Pours a black color with dark brown hues and a thin tan head. Minimal lacing. The aroma is nutty chocolate with some malts and earth. Some hazelnut coffee as well. Taste is more of the chocolate nuttiness but with a bit more coffee flavor than the aroma. Malty finish. Creamy mouthfeel. This is a perfect beer for crisp Autumn nights. Overall, worth grabbing again. (413 characters)

Photo of mvanaskie13
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass, color is dark brown with amber hues on the edge of the glass, head is light to dark head, presents thick and bubbly but dissipates to less than 1/2 inch.

Smell is smooth chocolate, light roast, hints of light belgian yeast and phenolics.

Taste is smooth, chocolate and light caramel malts with some light bitterness - not overpowering. Yeast presents pleasant off flavors, subtle but deliscious.

Mouthfeel is well balanced, light carbonation and lingering sweetness mingle with light bitterness making this a very drinkable ale.

Overall, I really enjoy this 'mixed' style of ale, the chocolate and lightly roasted malts blend very well with the subtle belgian yeast notes. (711 characters)

Photo of denver10
2.64/5  rDev -31.6%
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. (438 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.41/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a New Belgium globe.
Serve at 7°C (45°F), 5.6% ABV, Best Before: 23SEPT12

A - Despite the dark nature of the beer, a deep cherry mahogany color can be seen when holding it up to light. A tall khaki head forms over the beer, decorating the glass in thick Swiss cheese-like lace as it descends.

S - With subtle undertones of Belgian yeast, this "enlightened" black ale is different right from the first whiff. Roasted malts impart a soft Mr. Goodbar aroma of chocolate-covered nuts and a pinch of cocoa. Mildly acrid, a pinch of bitterness pokes fourth.

T - Roasted malt pushes fourth, offering a heftier sample of characteristics than the more subtle aroma. Coffee grounds are gently sprinkled, with cocoa, over bittersweet chocolate and soft wood attributes. Yeast remains in the background, barely suggesting some sweet dark fruit nuances to offset the roasted bitterness of the malt.

M - Crisp yet smooth, 1554's medium body and moderate carbonation level keep this dark beer from feeling to heavy or overbearing, a treat when you're looking to have more than one. The balanced finish is compliments of the mildly acrid bitterness of roasted malts with some sweeter aspects of yeast integration.

O - A subtle nod to Belgian yeast throughout the beer is a brilliant touch to differentiate this dark ale from either a stout or porter, something that carefully pushes boundaries. The real shining point, though, is the balance of malt, suggesting some of the darker qualities without being aggressive or overpowering, leaving 1554 a quite drinkable dark beer! (1,590 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 10/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark, rich red brown with a thin head that leaves light lacing. Malty, dark fruit aroma. Tastes malty and nutty with dark fruit, some roasted malt. This is much closer to a brown ale that leans towards a Porter. Medium bodied. There is no Belgian character that I can detect. Worth revisiting as a brown ale. (382 characters)

Photo of TheRealBigC
3.76/5  rDev -2.6%
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. (538 characters)

Photo of BeerDocT
2.65/5  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. (1,435 characters)

Photo of AnalogReigns
4.43/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Just an outstanding Belgian-version of a Schwarzbier, or black beer. One of my favorite styles is Schwarzbier, of which Köstritzer brand (of Köstritz, Germany) http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/648/1774 is the best of the German versions.

For a Belgian take of dark malty beer--but not too heavy (like a porter or stout) this is IT. I haven't found any belgian-made beers of this style--that are as good. I'm sure they exist (probably) but, where?

If you are a Maltster (NOT a Hophead...) you will love this beer, period. (530 characters)

Photo of facundoCNB
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a nice dark reddish/brown pour with 2 fingers of tan head.. nice lacing too!
smells of nuts, dates, raisins, caramel. bitter, roastiness up front, followed by a sweet finish. roasted grains, sweet malts, cereal, toast, tobacco, nutty, slightly fruity.
light +, slightly creamy, mild carbonation.
overall good for a light black ale.. as far as belgian dark/strong ales go, this shit's weal. sorry. it's tasty and all, but it will never be up there with the big boys. (465 characters)

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 1,249 ratings.