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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

2,947 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,947
Reviews: 1,238
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 68
Gots: 150 | 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: 2,947 | Reviews: 1,238 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ommegoose


3.53/5  rDev -7.8%

Best before 10/24/08.

Pours out black with some clarity and no cloudiness. Garnet color when held to the light. Head retention is uninspiring. Falls to a cap after a few sips. Makes up for it with a full sheet of lacing.

Aroma of black malts, like a schwarzbier. Coffee and chocolate aromas are present but void of any sweetness. For a beer that bills itself as Belgian, there's a real lack of fruitiness in the nose. Dry red wine character is interesting. Slightly sour notes come out later, as does more sweetness.

Flavor is rather like a schwarzbier as well. Not much in the way of sweetness, or yeastiness, or hops, leaving you to try and dig as much as you can out of the black malt. Has some of that cracker/biscuit flavor like other NB beers. Chalky baker's chocolate. Grape or dark cherry, if any fruitiness. Acidic and a touch of sour. Burnt and roasted flavors are buried. Finishes with a mild espresso bitterness.

The body is nice. Smooth, with unobtrusive carbonation.

This beer goes down well enough, but seriously leaves something to be desired in terms of complexity. I did not get what I thought I was with this beer. I would not expect this to match the best Belgian brews, but it doesn't even really compete with Unibroue or Ommegang. A lighter, less boozy, more drinkable Trois Pistoles in a six-pack would have been great. But alas. Plenty of people seem to like this beer well enough, so go out and try it, but I think I've had my fill for now. Might be miscategorized. I have a hard time believing Rare Vos and 1554 are the same style.

09-09-2008 05:12:00 | More by ommegoose
Photo of sleazo

New York

3.58/5  rDev -6.5%

A_Pours a very deep dark brown, not unlike a porter. The frothy tan head easily settles into a large bubbled cap. This leaves plenty of lace however.

S_The yeasty esters dominate the smell here with a slight bit of roasted malt.

T_The inital sip is malty sweetness. This is followed up by a fruity yeast note reminscent of baked apples. The finish though is pure deep roasted coffee and charred grain husks.

M_Slightly on the thicker side but with a bright carbonation to jeep things lively.

D_A fairly different beer. Porter like in most regards yet with a nice yeasty note that one does not find in that style. Enjoyable all around.

09-07-2008 04:30:50 | More by sleazo
Photo of willyumlong


3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

Nice and black like its supposed to be. Good thick head that stick around for a while.

Good chocolate/coffee smell.

Hearty roasted flavor. Has a definite coffee characteristic. Slight bitter chocolate comes through with very little sweetness.

On the thicker side and very smoothe.

Easy to drink. Good flavor and nice finish. A good example of shwarzbier. Probably will have another some time.

09-07-2008 00:36:08 | More by willyumlong
Photo of msolar


4.72/5  rDev +23.2%

Update: There's a label update, and it's titled "1554: Enlightened Black Ale".

Pours very dark - almost pitch black, with just a bit of light coming through the glass. Very even lacing. It smells sweet, with a bit of coffee and chocolate notes. Great flavor - nice bitter flavor with a sweet flavor that lingers. Certainly a medium-Great drinkability, it makes an excellent fall or winter beer.

One of my favorite beers from one of my favorite brewers. I'd certainly consider putting this on tap... if only New Belgium distributed to the east coast.

Disclaimer: I'm bias to New Belgium, due, in part, to their huge support of biking and conservation.

09-02-2008 23:59:10 | More by msolar
Photo of cdkrenz


3.4/5  rDev -11.2%

A - Straight from the original dark brown bottle that is labeled in red. It has an ivy framing the top of a barrel with notes and a full snifter. Looks good to me.

S - Chocolate and caramel notes over a firm, long roasted malt base.

T - More of the same but instead of the nose, the mouth is my gauge. The beginning is watery but in the finish the flavor is full.

M - A bit on the coarse side but it assists in bringing out some of the flavor.

~ Thanks to my mother, I'm able to sample the New Belgium brew. She picked up a sixer for me from her local brew store in Lacrescant, Minnesota. I'm glad to have been able to sample this beer. The next time I have one I hope it comes from a tapper.

09-02-2008 00:05:36 | More by cdkrenz
Photo of PatronWizard


4.08/5  rDev +6.5%

Grabbed a bomber at random. Let's see what's inside...

Kinda cola looking. Thick big bubbled head. Deep deep ruby hued.

Nice chocolate aroma. Not super strong but definite.

Well now, not bad at all. Creamy chocolaty. Very very smooth. Almost zero bitterness. Carbonation just tickles enough to let you know it's there.

Overall: quite enjoyable, absolutely worth a try, nice surprise

08-29-2008 20:56:12 | More by PatronWizard
Photo of champ103


3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

A: Pours a very dark brown with some ruby highlights around the edges. A two finger head forms and leaves a bit of sticky lace behind.
S: Kind of musky. Some old coffee and burnt wood. A touch of roasted malt and chocolate.
T: Very malty. The signature New Belgium biscuit flavor is present. A nice dark roasted coffee and chocolate flavor as well.
M/D: A medium body that is rich and creamy. Carbonate to my liking. So smooth and easy to drink. I quaffed a few of these during a session.

A unique beer. Kind of a cross between a stout and a brown. It has the flavor of a stout, but the creaminess and drinkability of a good brown ale. Something I would recommend.

08-28-2008 03:52:52 | More by champ103
Photo of jamiejohnson


4.2/5  rDev +9.7%

I had one of these when it first came out (as a seasonal?) years ago. I remember it as a pleasant experience but somehow managed to avoid it for the next decade. What a waste, this is an excellent beer, sorta like a German black lager twisted together with a stout. It's not heavy despite its dark color, but it ain't no lightweight either. This one's perfect for a long evening where you want to down a few without excessive alcohol, but you want to keep that good taste a'rollin all night long.

It's not heavy,
It's not light.
Tween the two
Makes it right.

08-26-2008 23:24:08 | More by jamiejohnson
Photo of Onibubba


3.68/5  rDev -3.9%

My first beer from New Belgium. Pours a nice dark black with a tight beige receding head - Very stout like. Nice roasty, chocolatey stout smells...Know what this reminds me of? a Belgian Stout. Seen a lot of these lately, but not a big fan. I hate to say, this follows suite. The appearance is there, the smell is there, the taste is there. What's missing is the body and the alcohol. The former is the issue I have had with every Belgian styled stout I have sampled. Too thin, not enough body to support the tastes. The later is actually a positive. It is a welcome departure to be able to enjoy these tastes without the alcohol kick of a big stout.

This is a mixed bag for me. Nice taste, lackluster body, yet sessionable. A nice option to have when craving something dark and roasty without the heat.

08-26-2008 16:12:15 | More by Onibubba
Photo of rshwayder

Rhode Island

4.35/5  rDev +13.6%

This is one of my all-time favorite beers. Dark and delicious, this is an easy-to-drink beer any time of year. 1554 has a smooth, creamy, and sweet feel to it. It's also one that I truly miss out here in Massachusetts, so every time I head back to Colorado I pick up a 6-pack or so of 1554.

08-23-2008 20:13:14 | More by rshwayder
Photo of cjgator3


3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

A- Pours a dark brownish black color with a thick creamy light tan head that leaves a good amount of lacing.

S- The aroma is definitely on the malty side and very pleasant. Along with the malt, there is some chocolate and hints of coffee.

T- The taste follows the aroma with dark roasted malts, along with some chocolate and coffee flavors with a dry finish.

M- The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a perfect amount of carbonation.

D- Not bad, not bad at all. Not something I would want to drink every night, but a good change-up beer.

Overall, this is a pretty solid beer from New Belgium that is definitely worth a shot.

08-22-2008 05:18:00 | More by cjgator3
Photo of orcasteve

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +5.2%

carmal and coffiee are the flavors that jump out at me, the malt is nice, light carbonation and the ballance is almost purfict, this is a easy drinking beer that i would buy on a reagulsr baseous if it were avalable neer me, if you find this one get it.

08-21-2008 14:12:47 | More by orcasteve
Photo of ClavisAurea

New York

4.4/5  rDev +14.9%

12oz bottle served in a tulip glass.

Appearance: poured a very dark mahogany with a thin head than vanished within a few minutes, very little lace on the side of the tulip glass

Smell: chocolate, malt, raisins

Taste/Mouthfeel: hops bite and spice, chocolate, malty sweet, creamy and luxurious mouthfeel

This is a weird one. It is more like a smooth stout than a Belgian Dark Ale. There is something about the way New Belgium brews beer that imparts a chocolate flavor to their beers. I'm by no means complaining, I really like the cut of their jib.

08-21-2008 00:12:02 | More by ClavisAurea
Photo of nrbw23


3.8/5  rDev -0.8%

A- Pours a dark brown color with a creamish colored head that leaves a fair amount of lacing.

S- Some roasted malts and a touch of chocolate but overall a lot lighter than I expected.

T- Taste is of roasted malts, with chocolate like tones. Earthy and a little grainy. Overall pretty solid.

M- Medium to full in body, light carbonation.

D- Pretty easy to drink.

08-19-2008 08:31:45 | More by nrbw23
Photo of Gehrig


4.13/5  rDev +7.8%

The big 22 oz. bomber poured three healthy fingers of slightly tan head on a black cherry body; good retention. Fine aroma of coffee and vanilla bean, mild chocolate smell, and a hint of berry. The taste is subtly complex as a nice spiciness (mostly pepper and coriander) emerges slowly but surely, characteristic of a Belgian. Coffee is most prominent, followed by a bit of chocolate. Smooth and delicious with a bit of spicy bite, the mouthfeel is solid. 1554 is easy to drink and quite enjoyable, an unusual but enjoyable Belgian Dark Ale. I'm not sure what Black Ale is, which is what 1554 is advertised as, but this will be something I revisit.

08-15-2008 00:44:35 | More by Gehrig
Photo of jwc215


3.98/5  rDev +3.9%

Thanks to russpowell for this one!

Best before 24 Oct 08:

Pours mahogany/brown with ruby highlights. A thin off-white head almost immediately becomes a few, lasting, thin wisps. Some vanishing lacing slides down the glass.

The smell is of molasses, bread (pumpernickel?), slightly smokey, some over-ripe cherries. Interesting.

The taste is of cherry fruitiness, some fresh-baked dark bread, smoked (slightly charred edged) wood. Sweet with just a touch of spicy, bitterish, balance in the candy-ish finish.

Medium-bodied. Very smooth.

Different/unique. Quite a bit of subtle complexities, very easy to drink.

Thanks again, Russ!

08-14-2008 17:05:58 | More by jwc215
Photo of beersheppard


4/5  rDev +4.4%

Appearance: almost-black-dark-brown, with a foamy tan head that held its own and some nice lacing.

Smell: brown sugar and toasty malts.

Taste: more of those toasty malts, chocolate, and a little coffee.

Mouthfeel: smooth for a dark beer and adaquately carbonated.

Drinkability: A well crafted beer. Delicious, NB has done it again. I haven't sampled a beer of theirs that didn't like. A nice dark ale, when you want something robust, but not too heavy. A nargain Belgian-style beer.

08-13-2008 05:55:42 | More by beersheppard


4.38/5  rDev +14.4%

Three fingers of two toned rocky tan head leaves scattered lace as it fades. Body is what the mame claims = black. Nose is invigorating and zesty laced with lots of dusty, peppery spices and some cinnamon topped pie crust. There is a whole lot going on with this beer right from first sip. Dry attractive spices like paprika, cinnamon, and toasted rye are up front. The body yield biscuity malt that is even and nicely rich. Complex and super well balanced. Sessionable from start right through to the mouthfeel. Very drinkable, I would love to have a six pack of this on hand at all times.

08-13-2008 01:05:13 | More by SPLITGRIN
Photo of drxandy


4.05/5  rDev +5.7%

Got in trade thanks to Ben4881, and after trying a good number of NB stuff, I only continue to wish we could get it here, thanks again man!!

12oz to goblet, pours a deep dark brown with hints of red, creamy eggshell colored head retains nicely but fades eventually into nice lacing.

smells of roasty chocolate malts, heavy on the malt scent, smells good

tastes of smooth, dry roasty malts, chocolate, nice yeastiness, light on the palate but still deep with loads of flavor, sweetness plays out with a slight appley crispness, light lingering bitterness at the finish, probably hops just saying goodbye, very sessionable due to low abv, easy drinking, i would love to pair this with a meal.

mouthfeel is nice and smooth, creamy almost, light, a nice low carbonation that just adds to it, very nice!

08-10-2008 17:55:57 | More by drxandy
Photo of rxdrewthejew


3.48/5  rDev -9.1%

Got this at the New Belgium place in the Denver Airport. Thank goodness for that place...kept me entertained during a long delay.

A: Dark reddish brown and fairly opaque. Good one finger whitish-tan head and decent lacing.

S: Roasted malt and perhaps a touch of coffee.

T: Opening is strong roasted malt, followed by a mild coffee/chocolate sweetness. Finish is just a tiny touch of bitterness.

MF: Thin bodied but very smooth and the carbonation complements it well. Moderate alcohol makes this an easy to drink beer.

D: Nice sessionable beer, but the flavor is pretty basic. Not the best NB brew, but certainly worth a try and usually pretty easy to find (at least on the west coast).

08-10-2008 04:50:29 | More by rxdrewthejew
Photo of froghop


3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

pours brown with a ruby tint, medium foamy light tan head, excellent lacing.

smell is cocoa, slight smoke, dark fruit, caramel, some sour, earthy, some malt.

taste is thick, sour malt, some chocolate, roasted nuts, some fruit, some spice, touch of caramel, end is slightly bitter and dry.

08-10-2008 00:07:26 | More by froghop
Photo of Georgiabeer


4/5  rDev +4.4%

A very nice beer, and one of New Belgium's best offerings that is readily obtainable. Pours a very dark garnet color, which appears close to black. Relatively decent head, but it settles pretty quickly. Nice aromas. This is an unusual style, and I believe I've only had one other- Rare Vos. There is a nuttiness in the aroma, almost like wild rice, as well as a chalky smell. This is followed by cocoa notes and a touch of black pepper and a deep roastiness. The taste is similar, with some very dry malt up front, followed by an earthy bitterness, a dry nuttiness, and a chalky cocoa taste at the finish. A deep roastiness is throughout, and everything is well integrated. The mouthfeel is a bit prickly, even spicy, and bone dry. There is a nice lingering bitterness, but none of that sourness you sometimes get from deeply roasted grains. The whole package is quite intriguing. Some of the chocolate tastes in the beer dry out and become more bitter and dry as you keep drinking. Really a marvel- very different than almost anything else out there. I like it both for its unusual nature and for its simple directness.

08-06-2008 09:03:35 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of pokesbeerdude


4.13/5  rDev +7.8%

From Notes:

A: Poured an almost black dark brown with a light tan head, very filtered and clear.

S: Rich and very malty, faint hops as well, faint chocolate smells as well, they become very apparent as the beer warms:

T: Very chocolatey up front, nice hops at end to balance the sweetness with a hint of bitter. Very balanced beer. Nothing seems out of place.

M: Thin, smooth, and crisp. This is a black ale, not a stout, and very perfect in the mouth.

D: Very drinkable for the flavors, lots of different things going on, but it isn't very heavy at all. Great session beer. One of my favorites from New Belgium.

08-06-2008 02:28:18 | More by pokesbeerdude
Photo of SickBrew


3.73/5  rDev -2.6%

Black Beer. Like a Schwarzbier. There are similarities and those boys in Colorado can brew.

Appearance: Looks quite nice a but with more garnet tones than perhaps a true "Black Beer". Fair head.

Flavor: I've been sipping on these for a few weeks now and the brew is growing on me. Not a big time favorite but it seems to get better.

Mouthfeel: Nothing special, but nicely balanced.

Overall: Give it a try, its definitely worth it.


08-02-2008 01:58:18 | More by SickBrew
Photo of diabecktic


3.85/5  rDev +0.5%

Great head formation with moderate retention and excellent lacing. It's hard to see any carbonation since the color is so dark; the beer is a very dark shade of brown/red (it's almost black). It's really quite a sight.

The scent is kind of a mix between roasted barley and chocolate. Even though it's a black ale, it reminds me of a stout. It's a very inticing aroma that's quite clean.

Chocolate seems to be the main flavor, though there seem to be hints of roasted barley and a subtle sweetness that remains after a long sip. The aftertaste is mainly remniscent of the roasted barley flavor; the mouth is slightly dried after sipping. Pretty good.

Unlike a stout, this beer isn't too creamy and it's suprisingly light for how dark it is. It feels great on the tongue even though the beer dries the mouth a bit.

This beer goes down very smooth. Finishes clean and leaves me wanting more. Since it doesn't fill me up as much as a stout, I could easily have several of these.

It basically resembles a stout in both flavor and appearance, but goes down more smoothly and isn't nearly as filling. Since I've never had one like this, I didn't know what to expect in the way of "identity." However, it's a very good beer for what it is.

08-01-2008 06:28:47 | More by diabecktic
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,947 ratings.