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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

2,973 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,973
Reviews: 1,242
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 67
Gots: 165 | 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
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Ratings: 2,973 | Reviews: 1,242 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

PhillyStyle, Mar 01, 2010
Photo of cosmicevan
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.

cosmicevan, Feb 28, 2010
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.

elgiacomo, Feb 24, 2010
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.

WJVII, Feb 20, 2010
Photo of allforbetterbeer
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Appears to be a dull copper body until held up to a strong light when a vibrant red illuminates the glass. Head is a dirty cream color that fades quickly but laces fairly well.

S: Dried dark fruits encircling toasted malts and something woody make up the bulk of the nose. Some alcohol notes and foam on the side.

T: A passing hint of blackberries usher in the taste and are gone before they bloom fully as the slightly tart, somewhat dry malt fills the palate. There is definitely something woody and "old" about this flavor, but it is balanced well with sweetness and some dark dried fruit flavors. Overall minimal hops. Almost too sweet (some sips seem full of honey) but never over the top.

M: A bit of carbonation bite exists with this mouth experience and fits well.

D: Medium to good drink-ability, (a good session beer for the style).

Overall: A functional and less costly version of this style. Good work from New Belgium, but not world class. If you can get your hands on one (or many), try it.

allforbetterbeer, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of Shumista
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a beer mug.

Dark brown with a small off white head. Smell is roasty malts and dark fruit. Taste starts off with a subtle dark fruitiness, followed by coffee and bitter chocolate. Finish is a bit metallic. An interesting brew that is unique and drinkable enough to have a few in one sitting.

Shumista, Feb 18, 2010
Photo of ThaBobfather
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with a lighten hue near the edges with a thin ring of off white head.
Smell is heavily malted with sweet and roasted elements present.
Taste first hits me with a roasted coffeejava flavor then smooths into a sweet malt experience.
Finish wet with a sweet malt after-taste which transits back to roasted flavor.
Drinks well-definitely sessionable here.

ThaBobfather, Feb 14, 2010
Photo of bnes09
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, opaque brown which shines ruby when held to lit. Two inch frothy head forms which sticks around and leaves patchy layers of lacing.

Smell is bold with roasted almond notes.

Lays down a hickory smoke spice on the palate as well as a roasted character of dark chocolate which sticks around well into the aftertaste. Can also taste a hint of toasted wheat bread. Very bold and complex flavor.

Fairly light-bodied with a low level of carbonation. Leaves a dry, bitter, and slightly toasted aftertaste.

Light body makes it go down easy. Lots of flavor and leaves me craving another sip. Best choice from New Belgium I've tried so far.

bnes09, Feb 07, 2010
Photo of unHipHopHead
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

A: light brewed coffee with an inch head of foam

S: malty caramel, minerals

T: a smooth coffee, bitter chocolate

M: very smooth and carbonated, like most ales

D: quite drinkable, if you are craving a stout or porter but want the drinkability of an ale.

Notes: My all time favorite porter on the market. It's so well balanced and not too syrupy or sweet. Also, as mentioned the best version of this is cask.

unHipHopHead, Feb 05, 2010
Photo of dbossman
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown with a prevailing amber tint; small, frothy head that dissipates to next to nothing; lacing is good

S: Sweet malts--slightly burnt though; subtle chocolate, toffee, and caramel; also, somethin earthy/ hay-like going on

T: Slightly sweet; some chocolate and toffee undertones; but the roasted malts are dominate--something a bit burnt in the flavors

F: A bit thin for my taste but does have a fairly even mouth coat

D: This is session worthy although the brown sugar-like sweetness begins to be slightly grating; I don't know that I could drink these consecutively

dbossman, Jan 30, 2010
Photo of bgreg3
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

App-3.5-Looks black from far and throughout most of the glass. But when shone to the light, very dark amber comes through. Very low head retention.

Smell-3.5-1554 has very subtle notes of chocolate, roasted malts, and some sweetness. It almost reminds me of a type of brandy the way all the scents are so gently blended. Difficult to smell, you really have to agitate it.

Taste-3.5-Initially roasted malt comes to the tongue complimented by notes of chocolate. Small amount of bittering hops were used. Toasty coffee is tasted as the beer sits in your mouth and gives a really warming feel after a bigger sip. Very much reminds me of a scotch ale with a very dry finish all and all pretty good. This is expected from the New Belgium Company. This is not very daring, but still a pretty good ale. I wish there was a bit more flavor though.

Mouthfeel-4.0-Tingly carbonation attacks the entire mouth on first contact. A pretty light mouth feel for the type of brew. The finish is incredibly dry making this a good beer for a meal.

Drinkability-4.0- Drinkable beer, goes down good, easy to pace with. It's not overwhelming in any way and that's kind of nice and relaxing. 22 oz is just about the right amount for a post meal drink.

bgreg3, Jan 30, 2010
Photo of SamN
4.68/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a dark, robust brown, almost black.Thick head from a hearty pour, but it has staying power, leaves thick lacing along the side of my NB glass. Up to light it shines a deep ruby red. Interesting dual character of the look, from far away a black and foreboding looking ale, up close it becomes a magnificent ruby red beauty.

S- First is the uplifting Belgian scent-- fresh floral notes, backed up with sweeter malts and bittered hops. Again, the twin nature of this beer-- is it a "dark" beer or a "light" beer? The smell only adds to the mystery...there are a lot of earthen smells here; twangy scents I can't quite place, incense and patchouli perhaps. But they just add to the wonderfully unique smell of this ale.

T- Man, this beer just defies description. Such a intriguing flavor spectrum working in here! First taste brings the slight hops character up, only to be quickly replaced by lightly toasted malts, followed by a mellow coffee flavor and, finally, finishing on just the slightest hops bitterness. Throughout, this beer keeps it's head low, great subtle beer.

This is such a contradictory beer; it's appearance belies it's true, complex nature. The smell leads some people one way, others another way, while the taste brings them all back with such a wide variety of tastes that everyone can find something to enjoy here.Is 1554 a dark, malty ale? Is it a slightly hoppy red? Is it a Belgian-style beer, or an American dark ale? So much going on here and all from a little brown bottle, overflowing with the delicious and thought provoking contents.

M- Excellent; so smooth and with a thicker body than one would expect. Structured and firm, spot on subtle carbonation.

D- Drinkability remains high, despite it's less than sessionable nature. It's so so damn good and multi-faceted, I can't put it down. That's high drinkability in my book!

SamN, Jan 29, 2010
Photo of Gatch
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I believe this is my first drink of a Belgian Dark Ale.

A - Dark brown/amber with a thick, frothy tannish head.

S - Malt, sugar, some kind of grilled meat or earthy smell.

T - Nicely roasted malt, brown sugar, and a strange irony, lake water taste that I find in a lot of Stouts.

M/D - Very enjoyable to drink and great mouthfeel. The malt balance is great. Recommended.

Gatch, Jan 29, 2010
Photo of ffejherb
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bomber into tulip on 1/27/10.

A - Poured a deep red wine-like burgundy color with purple hues and a beige head that transformed into a bubbly island in the middle with a murky moat around the outside. Head dissolved, placing spots of lace around the glass.

S - It's apparent that malt is going to dominate this beer. Initially, my senses are greeted with sweet caramel, toffee, molasses and chocolate/cocoa powder, with perhaps a hint of coffee in the background. There's something else in there that eludes me... perhaps a slight floral character? Mild sweet lactic notes also emerged as the liquid warmed up a bit.

T - Hmmmm... chocolate-covered grapes? Interesting flavor here. I pick up on sweet caramel and milky lactose with perhaps a hint of hazelnut. However, the flavor ultimately resembles chocolate, but more of a confection of some sort. Whatever it is, it's pretty damn tasty!

M - Medium bodied and softly carbonated, but ultimately kind of flimsy. However, it remains quite smooth and silky. Finishes sweet on the palate.

D - Light and chocolatey, 1554 isn't too sweet or bitter. I enjoyed its flavor and subtle complexities. Nicely done.

ffejherb, Jan 29, 2010
Photo of jhoban19
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Sam Adams Perfect pint glass.

A: dark brown with ruby hues. 2 fingers of foamy off-white head with good retention. Strong lacing forms at every level of the glass as I drink and holds it place throughout.

S: strong aromas of roasted coffee and dark chocolate, with hints of earthiness and rye bread. Even more subtle floral, somewhat grassy hops pop up from time to time. As it warms I detect some dark fruit, mostly cherries.

T: taste is mostly of roasted coffee and dark chocolate, with an emphasis on the coffee. As with the aroma, subtle cherry flavors come and go with each sip and become more consistent as the beer warms.

M: medium bodied, smooth with a bit too much carbonation at the outset, though about midway through the pint the carbonation settles down to appropriate levels. 1554 kind of flattens out on the finish- not really dry, bitter, sweet or anything- it is really leaving me hanging. I was expecting some bitterness and perhaps a longer finish, but I'm not getting much. It's as if all those flavors exhaust themselves between the lips and the back of the throat- 1554 needs to start a regimen of endurance training.

D: Despite the somewhat disappointing mouthfeel, 1554 is a drinkable brew. You could definitely throw back with a few of these without being overwhelmed.

jhoban19, Jan 28, 2010
Photo of baseballrock
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a - the color is about the same as a cola, the head is i inch and bleach white with loads of lace.

s - small amount of grassy hop aroma, with chocolate.

t - crisp sweet chocolate notes with a slight dry hop finish

d - medium bodied beer. it is similar to a schwarzbier, but this is a little heavier on the palate.

m - not what i expected but it was very good non the less.

freshness date 04/10

baseballrock, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of acelin
4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First tasted this beer out of the New Belgium Folly Sampler Pack. Had a few bottles of this last August, then bought a 6-pack for my girlfriend ( she drinks this stuff like water) last weekend.

A little above average as far as looks go, had a pleasant head that stayed around longer than most of the New Belgium brews. Very dark, with a slight amber tint. Mostly black.

This beer to me is somewhat like a Belgium porter - you've got strong hints of coffee and caramel.

It tastes a lot like this too. Compared to an English porter however, it's much lighter on the palette and smoother. Not very bitter at all, somewhere between a hefe and Pale Ale in bitterness to my tastes.

As for mouthfeel, it's got a thickness to it that ranks right below a porter. Its mouthfeel really helps out in the drinkability department, making this a somewhat of a session beer to more experienced drinkers (and my girlfriend).

acelin, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of BeerDrinkerDave
5/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Great tasting beer all around. Great head, great lacing, it is real smooth to drink. I would definitely recommend this beer to everyone. I was reluctant to try this beer after tasting the "Mother Ship" from New Belgium. I do love their "Fat Tire" beer. I finally tried the "1554", it is great, definitely on my list of must-haves when I have a little extra cash.

One thing I wish New Belgium would do, reduce the price of their 6/12 pack bottles by a few dollars, they would sell non-stop.

Love New Belgium beers!

BeerDrinkerDave, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of tuckevalastin
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep ruby coor with a light tan head

S: Roasty malt flavor, not unsimilarly to other NB offerings, with a sweet chocolate smell.

T: A light toasted bready malt with a chocolate/caramel note. There is a bit of bitterness on the backend. The trademark NB toasty malt works very well here.

M: It's a medium beer and isn't overly carbonated.

D: Smooth, no heat, and little bitterness. It's quite drinkable.

Overall, this is my favorite NB beer so far. It's a nice easy drinker that isn't spectacular but is VERY solid.

tuckevalastin, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of Heavenisbeer
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle, into a Moritz tulip, on a dreary Sunday night, in Atlanta.

A: Jet black at first glance, but held up to direct light, its amber and auburn hues impress (guess this feature is its namesake). Light islands of lacing latch on to the glass and hang on until the last sip is downed. Skinny legs. Slender, off-white head with retention. Carbonation is conspicuous.

S: Sweet, roasted malts are strong upfront. Hops are undetectable. Some milk chocolate comes in and out. Espresso accents.

T: Taste is a lot softer than its "black" body implies. Mild malts, vacant hops. Intriguing leafy, grassy remnants linger. A shade of the espresso makes an appearance on the backend.

M: Not much there. Feel of a heavier lager.

D: This brew's drinkability may be its highlight--with enough taste to engross, and a relatively light body, this is undoubtedly a session beer.

Heavenisbeer, Jan 18, 2010
Photo of KOPBeerDrinker
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass. Not much of a head. Deep reddish brown in color.

Smells of burnt malt and maybe some chocolate.

Tastes of the same. Chocolate up front, dry finish.

Mouthfeel is rather light, with prickly carbonation. Easy to drink.

KOPBeerDrinker, Jan 18, 2010
Photo of tjd112
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation - Poured into wine glass

Appearance - Dark cola colour with small white head and negligible lacing

Smell - Chocolate forward

Taste - A mix of chocolate and malts, a little bit of booziness for good measure

Mouthfeel - Sticky, medium to full body, with a dry yet sweet finish

Drinkability - More for cold weather

Overall - A superb brew

tjd112, Jan 13, 2010
Photo of csmiley
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another bottle courtesy of colts9016

A - Pours dark brown with hints of cola and a touch of red in the light. The off white head comes to about a one finger depth and then fades after a couple minutes. Lacing is spotty.

S- Starts out with nuts and maple syrup. A somewhat dry and roasted aroma show up about midway. Some charcoal is mixed in as well. Bready on the end and reminds me of slightly charred toast. Not bad at all.

T - Flavor is mild compared to the aroma. Caramel and roasted nuts really stand out at first. Alcohol is noticeable but mainly as an afterthought. Bread comes through nicely in the flavor which adds quite a bit to this one. Again with the charred toast but it works. As it warms the nuts start to fade and more of the "black" beer characteristics come forward.

M - Lighter bodied with a fairly light carbonation level that keeps it smooth overall. It's a little creamy. Finish is on the sweet side and doesn't stick around for long at all.

D - Drinkability is good. This is probably my favorite category on this beer. I would have no problems having this over the course of an entire session. Granted, there is nothing really outstanding here and it probably doesn't fit the style too well but I would say it's a solid brew that is put together well.

csmiley, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of bruachan
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

where'd the head go? really nothing going up there, and no lacing. nice looking deeep chestnut brown. gotta deduct points for the head dearth. sorry

lovely dark mild brown aroma, as well as some more deeply kilned malts

cool, malt flavoring dominates the tasteful landscape...i can't imagine it was fermented very warm; in fact, there's very little belgian character from the yeast as well (very lagery, actually). cola and a brief hop vignette

you know, it's funny...this is one of those brews that may not stand up to detailed criticism YET it's a great drinking beer.

strange sensation late...chalky. reminds me of something i felt in a smoked beer recently (seemed metallic in that instance but less so now)

bruachan, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of gruberbeer
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This black beer had a nice soft fluffy head that tapered down into the glass slowly like a Guinness can do. Then the head dispersed leaving a sticky film on the sides of the glass that looked unappealing. However, the rich taste was fantastic. I was happily surprised by the strong chocolate malt hinted with smoke. This black beer did not disappoint and made me smile. Any fan of a black Russian Imperial Stout should try this on for size.

My wife felt that the malt flavor was a bit strong and too much like those chocolate malt candies, but I enjoyed it.

Will definitely have this beer again.

gruberbeer, Jan 10, 2010
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,973 ratings.