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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

2,919 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,919
Reviews: 1,237
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 65
Gots: 135 | 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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 1554 Enlightened Black Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,919 | Reviews: 1,237 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BobJustBob

New Mexico

4.93/5  rDev +28.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2010 17:31:27 | More by BobJustBob
Photo of Onenote81

North Carolina

3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2010 19:03:19 | More by Onenote81
Photo of TXAggie


3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
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

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2010 21:45:03 | More by TXAggie
Photo of SickGnar


3.83/5  rDev 0%
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?)

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2010 03:29:21 | More by SickGnar
Photo of hefe300


3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2010 02:52:50 | More by hefe300
Photo of dpodratsky3

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2010 02:43:44 | More by dpodratsky3
Photo of stewart124


3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2010 01:44:11 | More by stewart124
Photo of weasbri


4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2010 01:43:35 | More by weasbri
Photo of WhiskerWrangler


4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2010 02:15:51 | More by WhiskerWrangler
Photo of iuhophead87


3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2010 23:29:22 | More by iuhophead87
Photo of Soilworker


4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2010 06:26:23 | More by Soilworker
Photo of Flashsp2

New Mexico

4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2010 16:28:15 | More by Flashsp2
Photo of OlRasputin989


3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
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

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2010 02:33:35 | More by OlRasputin989
Photo of TheQuietMan22


3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured a deep black, though not opaque, into my Allagash logo tulip. Two fingers of tan head developed and dissipated to a spotted lacing and an ring around the edge.

Smell: A little dusty (maybe it's the glass), but it's mostly chocolaty. Major cocoa presence. Smells a lot like hot cocoa powder.

Taste: Creamy chocolately malts, but there is also a nuttiness and caramel factor that balances the sweetness. No hop bite.

Drinkability: Smooth brew, though not as flavorful as I would like.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2010 08:11:09 | More by TheQuietMan22
Photo of BeerBear80


3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Old Chicago - Boise Town Square

A - Dark with a caramel appearance when held up to the light, resembles a dark coffee. About one finger of head with excellent lacing.

S - Sweet flowery aroma with a hit of a pleasing citrus

T - A smooth balance of sweet and hoppy flavors.

M - Smooth bodied with a buttery feel on the tounge.

D - Good to average drinkability. This was not excellent making me beg for more but it was not bad either. I probably have to be in the right mood to drink more than two of these in a sitting.

Serving type: on-tap

03-27-2010 06:38:51 | More by BeerBear80
Photo of ocelot2500


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

Pours an opaque deep brown with a small, off-white head that leaves little lacing on the glass.

Smells of a touch of toffee and a bit of biscuit.

Tastes of the toffee and roasted malts leading the way with a bready malt sweetness. Some spice and yeast makes an appearance. Very brown ale like.

Mouthfeel is light and thin, giving a watery feel.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2010 01:52:02 | More by ocelot2500
Photo of zoso493

North Carolina

3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

Appearance: The bottle promises an "Enlightened Black Ale" and while I can't speak to the degree to which this beer has been enlightened, it is not truly black. Rather, it pours a deep mahogany which because scarred with garnet streaks when held to the light. The beer is crowned by a foamy two-finger head that subsides quickly.

Smell: To my nose, this smells almost indistinguishable from an American brown ale. The only thing keeping it in category is the minute but unmistakable scent of Belgian yeast. Aside from that, the smell is rounded out by some buttery malts and unsweetened chocolate, neither of which were applied with a heavy hand.

Taste: This is not a bad brew, though it deviates very much from the traditional style. The taste still retains a huge similarity to a brown ale and the Belgian strain of yeast is almost indiscernible. However, it is crisply put together, with notes of the toasty malts and unsweetened chocolate coming out most prominently.

Mouthfeel: This is a nicely carbonated beer and is pretty crisp and refreshing. The body is just a touch too thin, I think, but it is adequate.

Drinkability: Not a bad drinking beer by any means. It's not high in alcohol and is honestly pretty refreshing, as I find a lot of New Belgium's beers to be. I wouldn't make a session of it, but I'm enjoying the bottle.

Overall, 1554 is a refreshing example of an underemployed style. Though it's not the perfect example of a Belgian dark ale, it is a good beer and not something you'll drink everyday. I've never been too impressed by New Belgium, but this is one of the betters beers of theirs that I've tried.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2010 04:42:25 | More by zoso493
Photo of mdwalsh


3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Not a true black, but a deep brown/red. Thin head, maybe one finger but it doesn't stick around for a long time. No active carbonation.

S: Roasty. Pretty much all I get is roasted malt, no hops, no Belgian Yeasts. It's rather disappointing. I would consider this closer to a porter or dunkel than anything else. There's some of the stereotypical New Belgium Biscuit malt smell, like a fresh piece of bread, but not as strong as in Fat Tire.

T: Again, dry roast. No yeast esthers, no hops, nothing. Just a light, burnt toast or eggs kind of taste. Maybe just a hint of dry caramel on the back of the tongue. Not the smooth easyness of a Belgian Dark Ale. And of course, there is a little bit of the New Belgium Biscuit malt taste.

M: Light, which is nice, but dry, not the smoothness it should have

D: Drinkable, yes, black, yes, but not what I feel it should be entirely.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2010 23:29:06 | More by mdwalsh
Photo of BostonJohn


4.45/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - Dark amber to black in color. Develops airy head upon poor but only lasts ~1 minute.

Smell - Chocolaty smell with very slighty smokyness.

Taste - Hints of chocolate and a toasted/smoked malt undertone. Very well balanced and flavor lingers on the tongue for quite some time. Full in flavor without being overpowering.

Mouthfeel - Very light and almost watery, yet full of flavor. Carbonation helps create a light feel.

Drinkability - Very easy to drink. The 1554 is full in flavor yet very light. Definately a good session beer. After my first tastes I was very impressed with the balance and flavor. Definately a beer i'd buy again.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2010 06:21:20 | More by BostonJohn
Photo of Beerandraiderfan


3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad effort from New Belgium. Good dark look to it, a little thin, but good nonetheless. Nothing aroma wise.

Taste, nuts, coffee, chocolate, but nothing like a stout. Minimal coffee. Lots of nuts. Still thin bodied, recedes throughout the bottle. One of the most drinkable dark colored beers made in America.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2010 00:33:25 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of SpecialK088


3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at old Chicago

A-dark Brown yet very crisp color. Head is minimal about half finger but laces very well. Good looking beer

S-lacks alot in the nose. Can get a little roasted barley and very subtle hops

T-very crisp and clean malt flavor capped of with a small kiss of hops. Very clean beer roasted nuttyness and a slight biscut flavor.

M&D-mouthfeel I'd pretty thin but not watery. Very smooth and easy to drink a good down the middle of the road beer for when u want something a little dark and richer as well as clean and crisp.

Serving type: on-tap

03-05-2010 00:10:36 | More by SpecialK088
Photo of PhillyStyle


2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: The beer appeared to be an opaque black with some hints of red when held up to the light. The beer poured a nice off-white/light brown head that quickly evaporated, but left a small spotty/blotchy cap. No real lacing to speak of.

S: Aroma was decent, nice strength to it, mainly roasted malted barley with a hint of yeast or bread. No hops to note.

T: The taste of the beer was about in line with the other New Belgium brews that I have tried, slightly weak, nothing that really set the beer apart that would make me remember it in the future. The taste is mainly the roasted malt with a slight undertone of sweetness.

M/D: I felt that the beer felt lighter than it should have, almost watered down a bit. The carbonation felt right, which helped. As for drinkability, I poured some of it out, simply because I forgot about it. Overall, a less than average beer and one that I would not buy or order again.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2010 20:55:39 | More by PhillyStyle
Photo of cosmicevan

New York

3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A - Poured very opaque black with an amber tint along the side.

S - That new belgium roasted malt smell...very earthy.

T - Roasted malts dominate the flavor. A bit of burnt chocolate. Smokey caramel taste.

M - Very smooth. Even carbonation.

D - Not my favorite beer. Easy to throw a bunch back. I won't be seeking this one out, but if available, I'd grab another.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2010 00:44:10 | More by cosmicevan
Photo of elgiacomo


3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, best by Mar 2010.

Pours thin dark brown with ruby highlights, a one finger light beige head. Retains a small cap and leaves a few large spots of lace.

Aroma is of moderate strength and features sweet caramel, a little chocolate, roasted malts, some smoke, raisins and other dark fruit, molasses, some yeast & bread. No noticeable hops.

Flavor is underwhelming, light bitter chocolate, dark roasted malts, a little caramel, a touch of sweetness.

Mouthfeel is on the full side despite the thin body, medium carbonation.

Easy drinkin', just needs more flavor.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2010 02:22:38 | More by elgiacomo
Photo of WJVII


3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass this brew has a dark brown color with a 2 finger light brown head. The aroma is of light roast malt with some raisin and some chocolate. The taste is a little lighter than I thought. There is a sweetness of dark cherry and caramel and a chocolate finish. It is more thin that I would have expected but decent carbonation. All in all a decent brew, but not the top tier I have had in other Belgian brews.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2010 00:53:52 | More by WJVII
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,919 ratings.