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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 SFBeerGuy


4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass

A- Deep dark brown color with a pleasant glow. Fleeting 1/4 inch head which quickly disappeared leaving almost no lace.

S- Subdued bready yeast and banana aromas accented by mild bubble gum and sweet caramel notes. Slight clove spice.

T- Toasted malt hiding a surprisingly bright fruit carbonation. A bit empty on the pallet but finishes with plenty of complex subtleties of toast, banana, clove spice and perhaps chocolate.

M- Very light. Overwhelming carbonation cuts through initial malt goodness, temporarily undermining a tasty complex malt profile. Finishes very pleasantly.

D- Due to its light bodied structure this ale is very drinkable and in no way undesirable.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2009 07:16:01 | More by SFBeerGuy
Photo of Psilo707


4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Eager to try the 2009 Enlightened Ale from New Belgium, I picked it up and hurried home to pour it in my clear Rieder mug. A frothy head formed and lacing was present and thick but dissipated down the sides after a few minutes. The color was very dark red, almost a deep fuschia color inside the glass. Small dark bubbles could be seen rising to the surface. A very nice scent rose from the top of the liquid; one of chocolate/cocoa and nutty sweetness.

Taste is extremely pleasant. A malty and thick, almost buttery semi-chocolate taste, backed with a piney aftertaste. Stays left on the tongue for minutes after taking a sip.

Mouthfeel is creamy and thick, and drinkability remains high as the rest of the New Belgium ales do.

Overall I'd say this is my favorite choice from the entire brewery - and that's saying a LOT!

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2009 02:03:44 | More by Psilo707
Photo of nms1987

North Carolina

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

More of a dark brown beer than black, some ruby Coca-Cola like coloring in there too.

Not a real intense nose but it is pleasant enough. Somewhat sweet aroma, not any hops to be detected smell-wise.

Tastes like a really malty brown ale with some Belgian flair in there. I'm not well versed enough in Belgian beers to say what exactly it is, but I'm getting some of the sweetness that many Belgian beers have.
It is rich and sweet tasting, veering ever-so-close to cloying without ever actually being cloying.
It is a very nice beer, I'm just not sure if it is my style.

Fairly thick bodied and full mouthfeel.

Too thick and sweet to be especially sessionable, but it is certainly enjoyable to drink,

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2009 21:41:29 | More by nms1987
Photo of SFLpunk


4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz brown glass pry-top. BB 24JUL09. Thanks to Val for this one!

Appearance: A thick (1.5 inch) creamy tan head atop a deep mahogany , clear body.

Nose: Dry toasty dark malt, but there's something light and airy about it, like forest breeze on a dry autumn day.

Palate: Medium-bodied and somewhat bright. High notes from a moderate hop bitterness balance a slightly creamy texture. Nice "edges" from the bitterness. Flavors of bitter chocolate, roasted malt, black malt, and something a little like burnt wood.

Notes: A really drinkable dark ale. Reminds me of the better Schwarzbiers. Lighter in body, but huge on taste. Incredible for the price!

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2009 00:52:44 | More by SFLpunk
Photo of coasterfreak75

North Carolina

4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The pour from a 22oz bomber into a stem glass was pitch black with a nice one finger head that quickly dissapated and left little or no lace on the glass.

The smell was heavy with burnt caramel and light floral hops in the background.

The drink starts with a sweet malt kick followed quickly by a fast hit of light hops. The finish was lingering sweet caramel.

I am a fan of Fat Tire so I was really looking forward to trying this one. It didn't let me down. Quite drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2009 00:45:35 | More by coasterfreak75
Photo of dustinTN


3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I like this beer. Fat Tire (being the most popular New Belgium brew) does nothing for me, so I came to this beer with low expectations. An aggressive pour from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass resulted in a quickly disappearing one finger head. The color is a gorgeous burnt molasses dark brown. The smell was a very pleasant malty chocolate with a little coffee in the mix. The taste was pleasant and very in line with the aroma (sweet malt with some chocolate) but was a little more subtle than I hoped for. Still very good, though. Very, very drinkable and a great session candidate.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2009 05:04:22 | More by dustinTN
Photo of Proteus93


4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Not quite literally black, but it's getting close! Very deep with a lot of deep ruby red highlights. A short white head sticks around briefly, but leaves a little trim and some sparse lacing.

S: Softer chocolate scents - almost like a milk chocolate, in some ways. Pleasant toasted malt aromas and something slightly sweet - sugary, are even a little fruity.

T + M + D: Lots of mild chocolate flavours. I seemed to pick up on a little touch of smokiness in the beginning, but that appears to have gone away so it may have been in my head. Some light, almost fruity flavours adding a little tang. The body is a little lighter, and does well with the taste. It's very flavourful, but nothing is explosive, nor is the body extreme or lacking. It's simply a nice, delicately balanced brew. This could even be a fantastic session candidate... it drinks incredibly smoothly - and, in my case, quickly!

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2009 02:52:10 | More by Proteus93
Photo of charlesw

New York

4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First off... Let me just say that I'm pretty impressed that NB has made a beer that I like. I mean... I've had a lot of their beers and I was SO not impressed. This one... This one I like. A lot. I am impressed. They can make good beer! It's reassuring to know that a highly rated brewery isn't highly rated for nothing!

Ahem. I guess that already tells you where this review is going. So why even bother to finish it? I wonder... Oh, yeah, well, ok, I will. It's not like anyone will read it, anyway. Unless I run for president or something and then I'll have all of my reviews deleted anyway but, alas, the Internet has a long memory and I'll probably be screwed anyway!

Dang. What a way to start a beer review!

It's beer. Looks nice. Dark ruby/brown. Not as dark as my english barleywine but, duh. Smells earthy and chocolate malts. Drinks earthy and chocolate malts. Maybe a little coffee. It's a pretty good beer. Great body for the small alcohol - you'd never guess it was so low in ABV. Nicely balanced. A good beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2009 23:14:55 | More by charlesw
Photo of cnjohn19

North Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

so glad new belgium decided to venture to the carolinas...love the bombers, but ready for some of these great brews on tap...

pours a dark brown/almost black...looks heavy with a contrasting off white head...a constant lace to the new belgium goblet given to me upon purchase (big ups to Hope Valley Bottle Shop: http://www.hvbottleshop.com/index.html)...

smells toasty with an espresso touch...sort of what i'd expect from my experience with new belgium...

strong malts with a touch of distinct yeast dominate...bold and rich in toasted malt flavors...in short, this beer is absolutely delicious...in my opinion just a tad tastier than fat tire (i can't help but compare)...just a bit of an undesireable aftertaste tough to describe...

all in all, i highly recommend this beer for the dark belgium lovers...cheers

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2009 02:51:22 | More by cnjohn19
Photo of Kromes


3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark brown with reddish fringes. Small head that disappeared to a thin line. There was lots of lacing down the glass. Aromas of sweet coffee malts, smells a little fruity and tangy. Sweet coffee, chocolate, and black licorice flavors. There is also a fruity or hoppy background behind the strong coffee flavors. A bitterness shows up in the middle and end. There is also a nice chocolate coffee flavor that lingers in the dry finish. Good mouthfeel and carbonation. Good taste.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2009 03:28:54 | More by Kromes
Photo of Offa


4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a smooth and balanced, yet fairly rich, tasty ale.

Deep, dark red brown, it has a big, long-lasting light tan head that leaves good, lasting lace.

The aroma is sweetly earthy, like rich, damp soil and leaves, with a fruity element.

The taste is also mostly a sweet, full earthiness with a hint of chocolate and toastiness that fades to leave a pleasant, mild earthy aftertaste. The palate is thick and full.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2009 23:55:46 | More by Offa
Photo of rtratzlaff

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1554 pours a translucent ruby brown body with carbonation bubbles steadily rising to the top to creat an almond colored head that leaves sheets of lacing down the tulip glass.

The aroma is exactly what I imagine it would be. A slight caramel malt aroma that is nutty as well as slightly fruity.

The flavor is a bit sharper than expected with a Belgian spice kick mid way. There is also a slight acidity or perhaps sourness in there as well. There is enough hops in the finish to keep the malt at bay but not really anything to add flavor.

The mouthfeel is that signature fluffiness of Belgians.

Although this isn't the type of beer I would typically go for, the low abv makes it a Belgian style that you can enjoy in larger amounts.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2009 15:44:24 | More by rtratzlaff
Photo of kemoarps


4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the one. This is the beer that started me on this odyssey; the beer that showed me that beer was more than a consumable beverage, it could be an artform. This is the beer that took me from, 'oh, there's some good beer out there I enjoy,' to, 'oh shit, there is some DELICIOUS beer out there.' This is the beer that got me into craftbrewing. and for that, New Belgium, thank you.

It pours a beautiful dark ruby chestnut, a shorter head to start but solid lacing.

The nose is very clean, a little weak, but toasty. the initial malt is caramel, and the yeast pokes through just a bit.

Once it hits your palate, that's when you really begin to get a treat. Just enough subtle spice to enhance the sweet chocolatey malts. Backed up with caramel some caramel as well, but not overly sweet. A little bit of that doughy yeast comes through on the tail. Almost somewhat earthy as it all comes together. Makes me think of a deep forest as the sun peeks through after a cleansing rain. /end hippie vignette

It dances across the tongue, and does not overwhelm, nor does it expand too heavily to fill the gut, allowing me to do what I'm about to do and reach for another one.

Overall, as you may have gathered, I'm a fan. For a while this was my favourite beer (it has since been usurped, but it will always hold a special place in my heart), and it is one that I try to use to introduce my friends to tasty brews, as opposed to tolerable swig. Please try it.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2009 05:19:05 | More by kemoarps
Photo of jjanega08


3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A= After a somewhat vigorous pour I yield just a small wisp of a head that falls quickly to a layer on top followed by just a small ring around the glass. Dark dark brown color venturing on black Actually for some reason, it's been a while since I had a coke but, it looks like a flat coca cola a little bit.
S= Malty and bready. It smells very doughy and a little toffee on it.
T= Sweet malt flavor. A small amount of yeasty doughy flavor comes through on the back of the tongue but it really is quite sugary on the tip. Like a chocolate and caramel mix almost.
M= Finishes a little dry but still very good. Not enough carbonation in my opinion
D= Pretty decent. I've heard a lot of ppl say they like this over fat tire but I would disagree. Fat Tire I think tops this one. Granted I haven't had too many Belgian Dark's but I think this is a little quiet for a belgian.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2009 03:33:39 | More by jjanega08
Photo of SilentSabre

North Dakota

3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I wasn't particularly impressed with this one, not right off the bat, anyway. It poured up a crystal clear, dark red colour with a huge 2 and a half - three finger foamy cap that stayed in place for several minutes. Smell, honestly, reminded me of BMC. Perhaps a notch or two above, but IMO, I couldn't really detect anything of much quality present in the smell. Flavour, luckily, was a bit better. There was a lovely woodiness present here which to me, tasted like freshly sawn, damp timber smells, along with some modest malt flavours. Mouthfeel was okay, I suppose, in regards to weight and carbonation; again, nothing really impressive. Overall, not a terrible concoction, and certainly several notches above Fat Tire. As always, glad I had the opportunity to have a go at this one.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2009 18:38:57 | More by SilentSabre
Photo of drtth


3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lightly chilled and served in a Duvel glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: Deep rich dark reddish brown. Thin off white or light tan head that dissipates quickly. Sipping leaves spots of lacing on the sides.

Smell: The soft mild aroma contains roasted malt, a bit of caramel and hint of yeast.

Taste: Flavors include dark chocolate malt, some caramel sweetness and hints of spice.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with light creamy carbonation. Finish is long and lightly bitter and dry.

Drinkability: Goes down easily and would work well session beer (but the ABV is a bit high for that).

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2009 00:32:07 | More by drtth
Photo of sillyswa


3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

dark mahogany with reddish hightlights. little head that dissipates quickly, little or no lacing.

nose is moderately light. whiffs of chocalate, rosted nuts and earthy hops.

yummy, smooth rich malty sweetness. i'm getting oatmeal, nutty notes with brown sugar. a tad dry i'm assuming it's from the chocalate notes.

smooth medium body with a dry finish. not too shabby.

overall it's fun to drink, very inviting especially for chocalate lovers. funny i can't taste the alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2009 02:54:00 | More by sillyswa
Photo of cvstrickland

North Carolina

4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The 22-ounce bomber bottle pours clear and brownish-red with a soft cap of pale tan foam. The bubble crown fades in short order, resting at a beady-collared sheet that leaves drippy freckled bands of lacing stuck onto the sides of my Delirium Tremens tulip.

The aroma is caramel-sweet and quite roasty, with dark notes of chocolate and fresh ground coffee beans wafting from the glass. A mild, non-descript fruitiness becomes more noticeable as the drink warms a bit.

The taste is a touch fruity with a solid backing of cocoa-dusted dark chocolate truffles. A splash of apple juice infused with caramel and mellow banana showcases a bit of yeasty Belgian handiwork that fits in just fine. A twist of bitter citrus rind and mildly drying, earthy hop notes help balance the finish.

The drink has a firm medium body and a spritz of carbonic liveliness that pushes 1554 into an echelon of near-highest drinkability. The best brew I've enjoyed from New Belgium to date.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2009 02:06:44 | More by cvstrickland
Photo of Japerrault


3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear, dark rootbeer colored with a tan head. The head was thick and left nice lacing as it retreated.

S: Cocoa, sweet roasted grain, Dark toffey

T: Sweet mild chocolate and roasted malts up front, smokey carmely flavors in the middle. No hops to speak of. The flavors are all rather smooth. Nothing rough or overpowering. The beer finishes somewhat dry. No real aftertaste.

M: Nice texture. Smooth, properly carbonated

D: Mild flavors and decent mouthfeel make this an easy drinker.

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2009 21:43:50 | More by Japerrault
Photo of Rayek


3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep mahogany color has good clarity. Off-white head starts rocky, but fades fairly quickly. Leaves a complex lace down the glass.

S: Cocoa, cherries, oak and smoke. Very interesting. A little like a good English Porter.

T: More cocoa. Oak and smoky aromas become part of the beer's taste. Bitterness has a clove like spiciness. Slight bread quality. Finishes very dry and with lingering oak flavor.

M: Medium body is dry and a little grainy. Carbonation is just about perfect, if a touch high.

D: A good beer to be enjoyed by itself. Very complex. Might pair well with well cooked meats.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2009 18:43:05 | More by Rayek
Photo of twelvsies


4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a solid beer from New Belgium. Served in a nice rounded New Belgium tulip glass it's on the dark end of the spectrum, with a nice inviting head. I had this beer at a number of different places on a trip to Colorado and sometimes it came in a pint and looked pretty much like an American porter. The best way to describe this beer is the word "nice". It's just a nice beer. It's got a nice soft feel to it, a nice creamy-ness, and a nice but not too sweet dry chocolatey-ness to it. Not like a chocolate added type of beer, but a nice strong sense of chocolate coming through in the malt backdrop. Real smooth and pleasant and again, just nice to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

03-17-2009 03:29:30 | More by twelvsies
Photo of oldhippie247

North Carolina

3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown, but is not opaque--dare I say transclucent? Slightly off-white head lingers, leaving average lacing. Clear.

Aromas are not quite as roasted and chocolately as I was expecting from a black ale, but decent.

Palate is a little disappointing. Super-smooth mouthfeel is the highlight here, as flavors fall a little flat. A bit more roastiness would have been nice. I'd almost place this more in the brown ale category than black ale. Nothing offensive.

Overall an above average beer, but nothing makes me want to buy again. After looking forward to having this brand in the area, this beer is a bit of a let down...not to mention their distribution decision...

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2009 18:26:11 | More by oldhippie247
Photo of wedge

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best Before: 14AUG09

Dark, coppery brown with a creamy, sticky head. The aroma is initially roasted dark malts, caramelized sugars, and coffee beans. Deeper down is a softer, fruitier, more floral aspect that takes the edge off of the drier, charred malts. The flavor, like the smell, is a balance of chocolate and lightly burned malts with mellow sweet fruits like berries and cherries. There a definite Belgian yeast character, but not so much that it takes control. Light in the mouth with a drying finish. Lingering cherry candy. Pretty tasty and interesting...

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2009 23:52:08 | More by wedge
Photo of mugglesandhops


3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Had an extra bottle left over from a trade I sent off so I figured I would try it out. Pours a dark brown with ruby red highlights, little head fades fast, almost no lacing. Smells of chocolate, toffee, little coffee, and some fruits but I cant make out what exactly. Has a burnt/roasted taste to it almost like Guinness. Thin Watery Mouth feel was a little disappointing. But it was easy to drink

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2009 15:05:51 | More by mugglesandhops
Photo of StarlightSeraph

North Carolina

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

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my New Belgium globe glass.

Appearance: Pours an opaque, dark brown, almost black in the glass, with three-fingers of off-white, frothy head. Left a decent bit of lacing.

Smell: Muted hints of banana and clove. A roasted/bitter note in the background. Almost can place hints of rye.

Taste: A surprisingly strong chocolate/roasted note right away, which fades into a caramel smoothness. There is a bitterness that lingers into the aftertaste. I swear I taste rye in this, as there is a very distinctive bitterness throughout the glass. The overall taste is a little watery, as well.

Mouthfeel: Decent thickness, high carbonation. Maybe a little too highly carbonated, but no real complaints here.

Drinkability: Good beer, but a little too bitter without much support to drink this too quickly, or to have more than a glass or two. Maybe it's just not my style of beer. I smelled entirely different things than I tasted, which was slightly off-putting, and confusing. I probably won't seek it out again, but wouldn't refuse it if offered.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2009 22:21:07 | More by StarlightSeraph
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,919 ratings.