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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

3,013 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,013
Reviews: 1,244
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 69
Gots: 182 | 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: 3,013 | Reviews: 1,244 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Irishtexan
4.83/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

At the first sip all I could think was...SMOOTH...and then the nice chocolate malt kicked in. A VERY nice drinkable blacl lager that looks as dark as a robust porter but without the overwhelming burnt/roast aroma and taste.This beer is a party in a six pack for the discriminating drinker. I'd love to try in on tap.

Irishtexan, Jan 16, 2011
Photo of CooperEllis
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz into a small chalice

This ale is always good drinking. I can name fewer that I'd be happy to walk into anyplace, at anytime, and see waiting for me.

I also really enjoy the Flavor Attribute Flower on the New Belgium page for this as it highlights 'clear' and 'malty'. Yes. Yes it is. As clear as brown liquid can be. And it had certainly better be malty because the FAF doesn't seem to have a 'hoppy' score at all, which probably makes the Target Hops a little sad.

This is a nice, light, balanced ale that has a lighter body and fewer yeast notes than the roasted malt notes. The pour is bright, with a soft billowy head that leaves lacing thin across the top.

It tastes better than it smells, with a more intricate set of flavors within the roasted maltyness that makes up the smell.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are what this experience is about, for me. I enjoy the feel of this brew to such an extent that I presume it may subtly raise my taste score.


CooperEllis, Jan 15, 2011
Photo of wmtxbb
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into chalice

Appearance: Dark brew with lacing on top.

Smell: Crunchy dark malt akin to popcorn.

Taste: dark burnt malt, like a stout, but with amber malts. Not a ton of hop character, but the hops present add a little spiciness.

Drinkability: This is my favorite New Belgium brews. Some small things need to be modified to enhance the drinking experience, though. New Belgium might want to consider bottle conditioning for this beer to enhance it's head and maybe adding more malt to 1554 more mouthfeel. Overall, not a bad beer.

wmtxbb, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of gurpapete
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dabbling this beer at my desk in Santa cruz California the first this I notice is the sweetness I wouldn't normally expect from a dark ale (not quite as sweet as guinness but something comperable). I really enjoy this beer. The flavors are a little watered but this makes for an extremely drinkable beer and at 5.60 ABV it's an easy going drinking beer or could easily complement a marinara sauce or sausage though this is definately an ale taste. I'm peeved when a dark ale or stout beer is too bitter and not malty enough. This beer has exceeded my expectations.

gurpapete, Jan 11, 2011
Photo of GBB
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One Thousand Five Hundred Fifty Four. This beer is fun. A dark larger brewed at warmer temperatures. Pours a close to black but more of a really dark brownish color with red highlights. A soft pour with good head retention and lacing to the glass.

The smell is sweet with a nice blend of malt with chocolate. Similar to a swartzbier but with more esters and phenols. A hint of rose peddles and herbal flowers. A minor toasty note almost bready and biscuit. Some minor metallic but I think this comes from the malts. Not overly yeasty but good.

The taste is unique as well. Nice malty undertones with hints of coco-coffee. There is a slight toffee taste to it on the back end. Very clean and smooth but noticeable yeast notes. A light ester that gives more of a flowery herbal note. The hops come out with a noticeable bitterness, but not over the top. Some yeasty notes but mostly clean.

The body is moderate. Some hints of astringency but no where near what should be with this dark of a beer. Some lingering yeasty notes but overall very clean. Good beer.

GBB, Jan 10, 2011
Photo of stompwampa
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 16oz pint glass. Almost pitch black with a nice dark golden brown shine at the bottom of the glass.

The head as a rich cream color. Not to thick and it dissipated quickly.

It has a nutty smell with hints of chocolate and a little smoky.

The taste is fantastic...especially for an ale of this variety, which are normally not favorites. It has that familiar tinge that you taste in other New Belgium brews. Lots and lots of flavor and pretty easy to drink. Certainly not something to drink rapidly, but I could see myself having a few of these in succession. It has a very slightly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is thick and heavy. It feels like you're drinking a beer much stronger than it is. Not sure if that's good or bad, but it feels more filling than it really is.

stompwampa, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of jsdunlop
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pitch black with a slight amber hue that shines through lightly. Nice looking white head that recedes to a minimal covering and manages to leave some decent lacing. Some roasted malt in the nose with some slight sweetness as well. Bakers chocolate and roasted malt come through in the taste, along with a peculiar nuttiness that seems common in new belgium's ales, followed by a slight hoppy bitterness that quickly retreats. Mouthfeel is a bit watered down,carbonation is on the low end, while the beer itself is extremely smooth, creamy, and refreshing.

jsdunlop, Jan 03, 2011
Photo of augustgarage
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Best before April 10th, 2011. Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Bruery tulip.

Auburn and bole body, very dark yet clear with glimmering cardinal highlights. Dark beige creamy half finger of lasting foam creates a multi-layered head. Thin dense lacing adheres like a paste.

The nose suggests a fairly complex malt bill - mixing pale and a variety of specialties (e.g. chocolate, black, etc) - some crisp while others are darkly toasted. Toffee, vague esters, and river stones are suggested as well.

Bitter chocolate, ovaltine, faintly tart, becoming mildly bitter, earthy, and spicy (Target hops have a unique English flavor - which hints at a Dark Mild or a Porter further conflating styles). The lager style yeast isn't doing this beer any favors though - the flavor seems watered down and flacid.

Light bodied, moderately carbonated, but not effervescent. Rather thin for the style.

As drinkable as this is, I'm happy that Belgian ales evolved since the age of Spanish rule in Flanders.

augustgarage, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in color (close to near black) and poured with a two finger high off white head that slowly died down and left a tick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass as well as lacing down the edges. No carbonation is evident in the form of rising bubbles.
S: There are light aromas of chocolaty malts in the nose. The smell isn't very strong, even after the beer warms up.
T: Moderate flavors of chocolate malts dominate the overall taste, although it's somewhat one dimensional because no traces of bitterness from the hops are perceptible. The chocolate flavors intensify as the beer warms up, but never become very strong.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied, silky smooth and quite creamy on the palate. There is a light to moderate amount of carbonation. The finish has a hint of dryness.
D: The beer is very drinkable because it has a low amount of alcohol and isn't filling at all.

metter98, Dec 27, 2010
Photo of Transatlantic
2.8/5  rDev -27.1%
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.

Transatlantic, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of plfahey
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a shaker pint.

Appearance-Dark Brown, slight reddish highlights. Very clear. Moderately large, somewhat moussy, very light tan head with moderate retention and some lacing.

Aroma-Malty upfront-lightly roasty and coffeelike, with background notes of chocolate. Very light hop aroma. Aroma is good, but a little bit weak.

Flavor-Similar to the aroma, but much fuller. Roasty, coffee, chocolate malt flavors take the forefront. Low initial earthy, piney hop flavors grow in the finish as the malt flavors fade. Moderately low hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel-Medium body, medium high carbonation. Not astringent, but a little bit drying, probably from the dark malts. Relatively smooth.

While I wouldn't necessarily want to knock back a bunch of these, it is a tasty brew, and I definitely enjoyed it.

plfahey, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of velosuds
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a clear pint glass. Best before 08May2011.

A-Pours a deep garnet with a one finger beige head with fantastic retention that slowly recedes into ample lacing. Very nice looking.

S-Roasted grainy malts and faint spice from the yeast. Aroma is not robust enough.

T-Mostly roasted malts with some bitterness. Not quite what I expected for a Belgian. Improves some as it warms with subtle spice notes.

M-Smooth with a medium body.

D-Very easy drinking, but not especially impressive and not like any Belgian I've had. Seemed more like an altbier, bock, or schwarzbier (although I'm certain lager yeast was not used) than a Belgian.

velosuds, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of dataskatt
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a mug. Gorgeous black beer with over an inch high head that lingers. Lots of creamy sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. Smell is malty and toasty with hints of coffee and chocolate. Taste is wonderful! Roasted malt with coffee accents, and just a touch of chocolate...not too much. Very drinkable beer. Not heavy and chewy like a stout. Surprisingly light for such a dark beer. You could enjoy several of these easily. If you like a stout, especially a chocolate or cream, you have got to try this. It is similar, but without the heaviness. Definitely recommend!

dataskatt, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of midwestbrewers
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served per instructions on bottle (45 F)

A: Pours very dark but with some color around the corners. Very thin head that dissipates quickly. Looks to have some decent carbonation.

S: Very malty and roasted smell. Not too much of a chocolate smell. Coffee and toffee are very present.

T: Taste is pretty good. It has a very carbonated, and bready start. The roasted comes in at the very end but is pleasant. Not bitter at all and very smooth.

Overall this is an OK beer. I'm glad I've tried it, but I'm sure there are better beers in this category out there. I'd buy it again, but not before trying others. Great Beer New Belgium Brewing!!!!

midwestbrewers, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap in a tall pilsner/weizen glass.

A: Bready, foamy head. Near black with cola-esque amber rouge around bottom edges of glass. Okay lace

S: Malt, charcoal, cocoa, tree bark, smoke.

T: Wow! Soy sauce, tobacco, charred meat, smoke, unsweetened cocoa.

M: Bubbles carry this one nicely from front to back.

D: Great. I forgot how mush I like 1554. I am not a huge fan on New Belgium products but this is a stand-out. Dark but way too drinkable. Still one of their best!

ForWhatAlesYou, Dec 22, 2010
Photo of harrymel
2.48/5  rDev -35.4%
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.

harrymel, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of bound4er
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Dark brown with a fast breaking tan head. Minimal lacing.

S. Some dark roasted malt aromas along with baking spice aromas of brown sugar and cinnamon. Nice but not very strong.

T. On the simple side with bready malt leading the way. I assume this beer is made with hops but I can't really taste them.

M. Medium bodied with adequate carbonation.

D. There is nice drinkability here - I like this a lot more than Fat Tire. That said, it is nothing to get excited about either.

bound4er, Dec 17, 2010
Photo of Scotchboy
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle.

A: Very dark brown but not opaque; caramel colored head recedes and leaves some wisps of lacing. Carbonation is visible throughout the glass.

S: Muted; roasted malt characteristics, caramel, and some spicy/fruity sweetness. There is a decent amount of chocolate on the nose for a Belgian.

T & MF: The yeast and the malts work together very well...light medium mouthfeel and a wet, refreshing body...slightly creamy. Hits of chocolate, some darker fruits, a touch of tart sweetness, and (surprisingly) peanut butter...which gets even more dominant the more I drink and the more the beer warms.

O: A good stand by and a beer that serves a purpose, especially as the weather cools...as someone who prefers American stouts/porters, I can see the merit of this beer.

Scotchboy, Dec 14, 2010
Photo of lstokes
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark pour with foamy tan head, this smells like spicy roast malt with a touch of soap. I found the taste pleasant--sweet, fruity malt with some roast character and some cocoa at the end--but also curiously flat-tasting, although the carbonation is creamy and it's very drinkable. A nice beer but nothing extremely memorable.

lstokes, Dec 14, 2010
Photo of ScorpyX
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very dark pour with a small, tan head. The light allows a dark amber color through.

S: A toasted and smokey smell. Some sweetness.

T: Smokiness dominates, though hints of sweeter flavors and alcohol are apparent.

M: Rather light bodied and smooth, hence the name I suppose. There is something of a creamy finish, but it still goes down well.

D: Quite drinkable, more than one might expect. It goes down rather well. There is some lingering taste, but it's light enough for multiple. Certainly one of New Belgium's better brews, in my eyes.

ScorpyX, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of yaegerje
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown, very little head that dissipates quickly. Nice smell, slightly hoppy with some caramel smell. Tastes pretty darn good, nice and malty, can't taste any hops. Really smooth, no bite with appropriate levels of carbonation. Totally drinkable, a little pricey for what you get, but it's the first black ale I've ever had so I think it's pretty good.

yaegerje, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of mikeg67
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle at Shellfish in Port Lavaca, TX. Pours dark brown with a thin, short lasting tanned head. Aroma is light of brown sugar, dark fruits and some nuts. Medium body with dark fruit and espresso coffee fill the mouth. Finish is medium. Taste like a good porter to me.

mikeg67, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

I figured this was worth a return visit after a few years. It pours a clear garnet-brown topped by a finger of ecru foam. The nose comprises figs, brown sugar, nutmeg, Belgian yeast, and rye bread. The taste brings more of the same, along with an underlying flavor of cocoa. The body is a light-ish medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly grainy feel. Overall, a nice little Belgian Dark, a decent inexpensive alternative to more impressive and involved Belgians.

TMoney2591, Dec 03, 2010
Photo of jlandis
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich deep brown black with thin tan head that slowly fades. The aroma is nice and roasty with a bit of chocolate and molasses. The flavor reminds me of a nice roasty stout. Slightly bitter with a hint of sweet dark fruits. The body is light to moderate with solid carbonation.

I'm struggling with why this is called a Belgian Dark Ale - reminds me more of a stout, but whatever you want to call it I find it tasty.

jlandis, Nov 29, 2010
Photo of Brent
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not what I would consider a classic example of the style, but an enjoyable beer, nonetheless. Poured a dark chestnut. Some moderate caramel and brown sugar sweetness, that went a bit dry with creeping astringency. Finish was a distinctive unsweetened cocoa powder note that was quite interesting.

Brent, Nov 29, 2010
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
85 out of 100 based on 3,013 ratings.