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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

3,006 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,006
Reviews: 1,243
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 70
Gots: 176 | 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: 3,006 | Reviews: 1,243 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lolki
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice pour, reddish black color with two fingers of rich, creamy foam. Foam disappeared nicely -- not too quickly, but enough to not coat the first taste.

S - Molasses, although clean and not too thick, hints of caramel and overripe fruit. A very crispy odor.

T - Strong and heavy on the tip of the tongue, though lightening to a nice sweetness at the back of the tongue. Just enough bitter flavor to wake you up, but not enough to hide the sweetness underneath. Smoky flavor of dark cherry chocolate throughout; the beginning of this beer is bold, but ends very subtle.

M - Creamy and soft without being too thick. Again, the feel on the front of the tongue is a bit deceptive to as how this beer goes down -- it spreads on the tongue to stimulate.

D - Not a beer I would drink for an entire night, but certainly a good rich addition to any night of tasting.

lolki, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of scottyshades
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a rich deep mahogany color that produces a small coarse looking head that retains pretty poorly. The color is very nice though. Lacing is decent as well.

S: Very interesting aroma, not exactly indicative of a Belgian brew, but hell. Raisins are pretty predominant as well as a heavy molasses and malt backbone. Alcohol is somewhat apparent. I'm also picking up a slight chocolate and coffee note...its almost like a mild spicy porter or stout.

T: Similar to the nose. All the notes are dark, but light in flavor if that makes sense. Chocolate, raisins (a lot of them), caramel, figs, prunes, toffee, molasses, and coffee. All of these are stout characteristics, but the spiciness of the yeast really adds a new level of complexity. At the end, you get the classic New Belgium breadiness and biscuit goodness to balance the spices.

MF/D: Medium in body, smooth carbonation, alcohol is a little prickly, but other than that, smooth and creamy!

I believe that this beer is misclassified because it is obvious that NB was trying to brew an oldschool black ale...Nicely done...really mild, but there is a great deal of complexity under all of the dark fruit.

scottyshades, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of jadpsu
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle that had best before date of 03/??/10. At least 6 weeks past the date.
Pours a slightly less than black and has a red hue that peaks through.
Pours a tan head that renders excellent side lacing and decently solid retention.
Aroma: Leads with burnt malts. Aroma also includes some molassses, licorice, cocoa beans and some distant spicy (pepper) hops.
Taste is smooth, on the sweet side and has a dry finish.

Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side. Expected more body. All in all a very good beer that I enjoyed.
This actually an edit of a prvious review. First time I rated it at 3.7. It also was my 100th beer review.

jadpsu, Sep 30, 2009
Photo of Mavajo
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color - hues of red when held up to light. Thin off-white head - less than a finger thick. Faded almost immediately to a thin crown around the glass.

Smell yielded a nutty scent. Taste reflected that smell, but also added a roasted malty/biscuity flavor. Very tasty. Medium mouthfeel - a bit watery. Sessionable, but I think it's best when allowed to stand on its own.

Mavajo, Sep 30, 2009
Photo of techtatu
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It poured a nice amber color with a cream colored head. I kinda expected it to be as dark as Guinness or darker. Taste was unique, it had a blend of spices with a walnut and coffee background.

I would definitely drink it again, and I may try it over a cigar this time around rather than a steak. In addition, this would be a good starter beer for those who are looking to try darker beers.

techtatu, Sep 29, 2009
Photo of vdread
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1554 Enlightened Black Ale pours a deep reddish brown color with a thick tan foam. looks almost black unless held against the light.

smells of baker's chocolate, roasted malt, sour fruit.

taste is primarily of roasted malts, baker's chocolate, and dark fruit. the taste gets richer as the glass warms up a bit, revealing more caramel and roasted coffee characteristics. hops minimal, only very slightly bitter.

mouthfeel smooth, creamy, lingering. overall very pleasant.

i only got one of these and it's a shame. i would love more. low ABV, great taste and mouthfeel make this a keeper. i would like to try this again in order to do a better review. this one was sort of rushed.

+ one of new belgium's better beers (and it doesn't taste of apricots!)

vdread, Sep 26, 2009
Photo of Kraken
3.15/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes. Consumed 08/5/09

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard water glass. Firm pour yields a 1/4 inch of slightly off white head. Nice lacing. Color is a dark ruby brown, almost black.

Nose- Mild roasted grain, caramel.

Pallate- Somewhat stoutish, I guess I should have expected as much. Lighter than a stout. Nice chocolate/coco presence. Some molasses and dark fruit. Not heavy or boozy as it would appear. Some caramel sweetness underneath. Finishes a bit dry.

Mouthfeel- Nice carbonation.

Drinkability- moderate.

Kraken, Sep 23, 2009
Photo of hardy008
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish brown with a one finger off white head. Smells and tastes of chocolate and coffee malt with bananas. The flavor is slightly sweet mixed with slight coffee bitterness. Medium bodied, smooth, creamy, and nicely carbonated. This is a nicely drinkable beer.

hardy008, Sep 23, 2009
Photo of wertperch
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh, this is a yummy beer. In brief, it's the dark beer lover's dream - scrumptious, versatile and generally a pleasure to drink.

Poured into a fluted glass, it's a rich dark chestnut brown, almost black. The head is a fingers-depth and whilst it fell quickly away into the brew, it's a good colour - tan and creamy.

The nose is wonderful - there's the chocolatey aroma you'd expect, a little espresso and malt, with a very faint hint of banana fruitiness and a whiff of spice. It really whets the appetite for the main event, which is a roasty-toasty malt-and-cocoa extravaganza, which fills the mouth with flavour.

There's a spiciness to balance the sweetness, and just enough hop to make it interesting, but this is a robust beer that is all about delighting the palate without being overly complex.

It's a great beer to enjoy either by itself or with food. I've drunk it with winter stews, strong cheese and also with lighter dishes. Let it warm up a little when you take it out of the fridge - it unleashes a full range of flavours when you do, and will delight even more than served well chilled. Think of it as akin to a robust red wine, that you'd serve at close to room temperature.

Getting to the end of the glass, the rich reddish-brown colour looks warming, and that last swallow stays with you for quite a while.

In all, it's a wonderful brew, one that I could well imagine supping for a long time as a winter beer, but equally refreshing in our early California autumn.

wertperch, Sep 17, 2009
Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a black color - ruby when held up to the light - and a thick consistency. There was a somewhat small amount of head and good lacing.

S: Smelled of malt, fruit and an almost nutty quality.

T: Tasted of roasted malt, chocolate, a little bit of apples and that nutty quality. A decently done, complex flavor.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a smooth finish. Medium- to heavy-bodied.

D: A drinkable American version of a Belgian Dark Ale.

avalon07, Sep 16, 2009
Photo of parkeak0
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I had wanted to taste this beer for some time. Finally found it at a gas station in town. I have to say... I was a bit disappointed. While this pours a pretty dark brown, it really falls short on nose and flavor. Sure, there is enough roasty malt and coffee to keep me interested, but quite honestly, I was expecting something a bit more out-of-the-ordinary. This is, most unfortunately, quite ordinary. Drinkability is high due to the low ABV, thus making the brew quite sessionable. Worth trying? Sure. Will I buy it again? Probably not.

parkeak0, Sep 16, 2009
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to fretlessman over at realbeer for this one. Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my nonic pint glass. 1554 appears a dark chestnut color with about an inch of creamy tan foam. Nose and flavor are of rich roasted and toasted grains, bittersweet chocolate, lightly roasted coffee notes, slight hints of smoke, caramel. A tad better than medium bodied with adequate carbonation for the style. Quite nice.

ClockworkOrange, Sep 14, 2009
Photo of kels
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. Liquid is a dark reddish brown, slightly opaque, with a 2 finger off-white, fluffy head. The head fades pretty quickly to a thick skim. Slippery spots of lace slide off the walls of the glass back into the brew.

Smell: The smell of this beer is surprisingly complex and hard to describe. The first aroma is of chocolate - not sweet, milk or dark chocolate, but more like the dry, rich aroma of cocoa powder or baking chocolate. There's a lot of caramelized malt and a deep, yeasty breadiness. There's also an indescribable brightness to the scent, which I assume is from the hops, but I can't really describe not place it.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The taste and feel provide an odd combination of full, rich taste and bright, thin feel. The flavors represent a lot that's in the smell. There's a slightly bitter cocoa note, dry roasted and slightly caramelized malt and some dark fruitiness kind of like prunes or cherries. Not particularly thrilling - all the flavors seem muted. The hops are slightly citrusy - not terribly bitter, but somewhat bright. The feel is bright yet thin - the carbonation that shows so well in the head is present, but leaves the beer more quickly than it leaves my mouth. The feel on the palate is somewhat clean while leaving distinct stickiness on the lips.

Drinkability: Pretty high due to the low ABV, but I'm slowed a little by the moderate mouthfeel. Good beer, but not amazingly so.

kels, Sep 14, 2009
Photo of gabemasiulis
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear tobacco color with a light tan head with fine bubbles. Medium retention
Ripe fruits, currants, sweet with a tinge of spices, probably from the yeast. A slight alcoholic scent, with some roasted (but not burnt) malts.
Fairly malty up front, an interesting fruity tang, Counterposed by a bit of choclatey malts.
Crisp, light, a medium gravity level of slightly syrupy viscosity.
I'd have another. definitely drinkable, I can remember more than one party where I swigged down one after another of these (the New Belgium UAR) My new belgium of choice.

gabemasiulis, Sep 13, 2009
Photo of jacobseyb
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A=Deep, deep, dark amber/black colors with a one fat finger of head, tan/khaki in color

S=some spiciness, with some intriguing smokey notes. Malts and yeast prevalent

T=smokey, banana, with the yeastiness and maltiness expected.

M=great carbonation and light bodied feel, refreshing.

D=extremely sessionable and enjoyable.

jacobseyb, Sep 10, 2009
Photo of burnerfinger
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: poured from the 12oz bottle into my goblet. Tan head of one finger dissipated quickly.

S: very light aroma - but pleasant stout - style smell

T: oooh. nice. Choclate - malt - coffee. I cant find the hops at all but I dont mind. finishes right along the same lines. leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste.

M: carbonation seems to add to the appropriatley heavy body.

D: not too heavy for the style - alcohol is well hidden (5.5) could go for another easily.
This Beer Is One Of My Favorites.

burnerfinger, Sep 08, 2009
Photo of bsp77
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Flat Earth Pint glass.

Appearance: Dark brownish-red with very thin head that leaves bubbly receding lacing.

Smell: Light roasted malts, dark fruit and earthy spiciness.

Taste: A lot flavors going on here. Tastes almost like a cross between a Schwarzbier, an English Brown Ale and a Belgian Ale. Roasted malt character (with a hint of coffee) competes with sweet fruit and an earthy yeast character. Overall I like it, but it is a little bit of a mess.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, strange finish. Slightly thin but not as bad as many other New Belgium brews.

Drinkability: Quite nice unique beer. Very much worth trying and would have again every once in a while. Probably the best of New Belgium's normal line-up, which, unfortunately, isn't saying much.

bsp77, Sep 08, 2009
Photo of tronester
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown, with a medium tan head. Smells strongly of roasted malts. Taste is very sweet up front, chocolaty, a hint of coffee as well. There is a bit of artificial sweetener sweetness that is a bit odd in the finish. Mouthfeel is smooth, nice low carbonation. Pretty drinkable, this is a good beer from NB that is a unique style. I would drink this again, though it is not my favorite from them.

tronester, Sep 06, 2009
Photo of frequentgear
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

pours a dark looking ale with an inviting fluffy head. light reveals it to be an auburn blood shade. good lace and good head retention. smells like chocolate and roasted malts. tastes like a milder smoked porter, coffee like and cocoa, finishes sticky. aftertaste gets a little to smokey too. good carbonation mix, pretty easy to drink save the finish. not bad!

frequentgear, Sep 04, 2009
Photo of youngleo
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured to a nice caramel colored head. Had some very nice lacing that left rings with every swallow. Brew itself was very dark brown to almost black in color. Had a slightly sweet caramel smell also of roasted malt and coffee. Tasted like it smelled. Had that roasted malt, slightly sweet caramel, and a little of that coffee flavor. Had a dry aftertaste. All tastes were mild and not overpowering. I think it was pretty well balanced. Felt good in the mouth. Carbonation was right. This Ale reminded me more of a Porter. That wasnt a bad thing. I wouldnt want to make this a session beer. But a few would sure taste good now and then.

youngleo, Sep 03, 2009
Photo of Foxtrot
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. bottle in to Chimay chalice. This is my very first Belgian Dark Ale.

Pour produced a very dark brown body, accompanied by a small white head with little retention. Some light lacing is all that is left.

Aroma is huge on the malts. Smell is of bitter chocolate espresso and mocha, and some yeast to pan the sweet notes out.

This beer was a pleasant surprise. The aroma had led me to believe that this would be a chocolate intense beer, but on the contrary it is quite balanced with roasted and chocolate character a nice hop presence, and belgian yeast to pull it all together. This is a very good beer. Tastes like a Brown Ale and Porter with a good yeast spike. Superb.

Mouthfeel is medium body, and slightly creamy.

I'm very impressed with 1554. Great taste, mouthfeel, and decent carbonation makes this a great session choice. Cheers!

Foxtrot, Sep 01, 2009
Photo of flagmantho
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 22 oz bomber into a wine goblet.

Appearance: very dark ruby brown, nearly black, with a very thin light head.

Smell: dark roasted malt with a distinct coffee aroma with notes of chocolate. Reminds me of a mocha espresso. There is also a bit of a "watered-down" characteristic in the aroma, however, of which I'm not a fan.

Taste: earth, chocolate, coffee, but again a bit watered-down. There's also a particular quality of the malt which I cannot describe but which I do not like; Fat Tire has this similar unfortunate characteristic but in greater abundance.

Mouthfeel: medium-bodied with relatively little carbonation.

Drinkability: it's drinkable to a certain extent but because of the flavor issues I can't rate it very high.

flagmantho, Aug 31, 2009
Photo of Zebus0
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I have to be honest I really enjoy 1554, and I'm not even an ale fan. Trying to be pretty fair here though.

Appearance: Doesn't really keep the head long, granted this is out of the bottle but it's kind of a downer. However, the dark brown color it pours is great, very rich.

Smell: Malt with a sweet finish, good combo.

Taste: The balance is something, it is pretty smooth, has a really subtle bite on the end, almost tart.

Mouthfeel: Really smooth, well balanced.

Drinkability: One of those beers I can go round after round, a good standby since the price doesn't hurt much and it is drinkable, it's a top contender for my go-to.

Zebus0, Aug 30, 2009
Photo of nsmartell
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer from the comfort of my own living room. From the bomber bottle with a best by date of October 9, 2009 to a snifter glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with a thick off-white head that sticks around for a while. The color is much redder when held to a light.

Smell: Caramel malts dominate, but there is some fruitiness and sweet chocolate in there.

Taste: Just as the smell suggests, this a malty beer but ends slightly bitter. An interesting balance of flavors.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium-bodied and goes down smooth with a nice dry, crisp finish.

Drinkability: Very drinkable brew. Would seem to pair well many different foods. Not a bad beer to have on hand for any type of beer drinker. Not sure if I will have many more, but still good to have around.

nsmartell, Aug 27, 2009
Photo of jdg204
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When my buddy and I were out on the town in Buckhead GA, I was pleasantly surprised to find our bar had a nice selection from New Belgium. I'd heard good things about 1554 and was excited to give it a shot.

A: Dark brown color with a modest white head that leaves some lacing.

S: Dark fruit and a bit of chocolate

T: Starts with sweet dark fruits followed by hints of coffee and chocolate and a well balanced, lightly roasted finish.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D: Very nice brew overall which met my expectations. I really enjoyed the balance and the subtlety of the flavors, a very nice sipping beer. Haven't tried too many New Belgiums at this point and I know they've got a mixed opinion, but I was impressed they got a Belgian Dark in wide distribution. A rock solid brew with good distribution, a sanctuary beer in scarce places.

jdg204, Aug 22, 2009
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,006 ratings.