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1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

3,106 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,106
Reviews: 1,254
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 73
Gots: 222 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-02-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,106 | Reviews: 1,254 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.41/5  rDev -11%
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.

Photo of BeerBear80
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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.

Photo of zoso493
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

Photo of mdwalsh
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

Photo of BostonJohn
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
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.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Photo of SpecialK088
3.81/5  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.

Photo of PhillyStyle
2.62/5  rDev -31.6%
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.

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.

Photo of elgiacomo
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

Photo of WJVII
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

Photo of allforbetterbeer
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

Photo of Shumista
3.51/5  rDev -8.4%
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.

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.

Photo of bnes09
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Photo of unHipHopHead
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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

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.

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!

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.

Photo of ffejherb
4.1/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of jhoban19
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

Photo of baseballrock
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
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

Photo of acelin
4.27/5  rDev +11.5%
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).

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,106 ratings.