1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

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very good

3,067 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,067
Reviews: 1,246
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 70
Gots: 199 | 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: 3,067 | Reviews: 1,246 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of electricfields
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark dark dark red brown with a creamy head. Good lacing on the glass. Really, really pretty, actually.

S: Coffee and bitter chocolate above all else. A slight fruitiness hiding underneath.

T: Surprisingly smooth balance of bitter coffee and chocolate flavors and a subtle fruity sweetness with the taste of fresh bread holding it all together. There are some grassy hops in there, but they are not at all the emphasis here.

M: A medium body, which for this style, is unexpected. Thankfully, it adds to it with an increased drinkability. The carbonation is sort of creamy, and I really like it.

D: Take your time with this one. It's not much of a session beer. It's just an exceptionally good, unusually rewarding middle-of-the-road ale.

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

Heard lots of good things about this beer and finally went out and got me a six pack of my own...ahh, the power of suggestion

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

Pours a clear, very dark brown with cooked cherry highlights and topped with a two finger thick, sandy brown head. There is a slight crown of lacing that sticks to the top of the glass but is spotty otherwise.

Smooth and sweet toasted malt aromas greet the nose. Not sugary sweet, not husky or grainy. Toffee, light nuttiness, and sweet roasted malts.

Very toasty, little bit nutty with a slight fruit sugar (sucrose? that's the sugars made by fruits right, its not a fruit flavored sugar here, its more of a slight sweetness that comes from bitting into a ripe fruit, now what kind of fruit that is is hard to say. i mean it's easy to say what it's not. it's not grapefruit, orange, mango, guava, pineapple, or all those other fruits associated with hoppier beers. the fruitiness here is that found in Belgian beers, funny right? cos this is a belgian style ale, but I digress...fruitiness is like that found in St. Bernardus, a darker, herbal fruitness, like a date that you might find at the bottom of the bag of trail mix, that date taking on the flavors of all the almonds, cashews, and peanuts ) so yeah that's what that fruitiness is like in this beer. Mouthfeel is a bit thin but the creaminess displayed here is the saving grace for the beer. A very drinkable beer, has a lot to give and asks little. Would probably be a great beer to convert someone who is a little apprehensive about dark beers and is not ready to dive into a full on porter or stout.

Photo of Franchise
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This offering from New Belgium I picked up in my last trip to Portland, OR. The best by date on the 22oz bottle is dated 10/28/08. So I am a little late on this one, shouldn't be too much of a problem though.

1554 poured a chocolate brown, leaving a slim tan head that stayed a bit with the beer but not for long. The aroma is sweet, chocolate, candi, earthy grass, sweet ripened fruit, a lot of excellent flavors going on in the nose.

The taste starts malty, very chocolate, almost a powdery chocolate, milky creaminess, very smooth and delightful. The sweetness is balanced by some earthy hops, there presence is there but def more of a "walk through". The finish is again sweet, can get a bit much on the second half of this beer due to the sweetness but solid overall.

A great session ale to go along with Fat Tire, now I just need to get my hands on more of their other offerings.

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a tulip glass.

L - black color with a thick, creamy, beige-colored head that left lots of lacing behind.

S - musty, chocolate aroma.

T - sweet, chocolatey flavor upfront and then a bit of the funk mustiness comes out finishing dry with a light bitterness.

F - medium bodied with a crisp carbonation feel.

D - quite tasty and easy to drink.

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

Out of a bottle this beer was a very dark brown color with some ruby hues visible when held to light. The head was tan, one finger thick, retained fairly well and left broken sheets of sticky lacing .The aroma was were malty, roasted, toasty and earthy with some hints of spice. The flavors were similar, rich cocoa, hints of coffee, lots of roasted malt and very chewy in general .The finish was smooth. Mouthfeel was pretty good though the carbonation a touch high for a medium/full body. Very enjoyable and quite wintery.

Photo of skeetermoses
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

All in all a good dark beer. I am typically not a huge fan of the dark beers. I think of dark beers as too heavy but this one went down smooth with almost a chocolate feel to it, it was almost like drinking a milkshake. Overall this one was suprisingly good compared to the 2 below beer that new belgium offers. I will be reviewing that one in due time.

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

A-Huge pillowy head on a dark red/brown translucent body. Nice retension and lacing on head

S- Smells like roasted caramel malt, and chocolate

T- Great balance of hops and malts. Good semi-sweet chocolate taste

M- Moderate body that goes down like water

D- Very good for a dark beer

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

Bought a 6-pack of "1554 Enlightened Black Ale" from a local liquor store in Southern Illinois. I believe this to be the same as this beer even though there is a slight name difference... By the read reviews, everyone seems to be talking about the same thing. I'm a newbie though, so if anyone wants to correct me, I'd be glad to contribute a +Beer.

A: Dark brown... not quite black. Similar in color to a cup of "black coffee". Pours with a one-finger head that quickly disappears. Lacing is decent but the head just sits around the edges for the rest of the tasting.

S: Sweet and malty with slight touches of burnt chocolate.

T: Great taste! The aftertaste is of burnt chocolate just like the smell, except a bit stronger. I detect just a hint of caramel too.

MF: Average. Carbonation is pretty good. Doesn't sit too heavy or too light in the mouth.

D: Great drink. I seriously sat one night and had three of these in a row despite having plenty of other offerings to partake of. I could drink these all day. More of a winter drink though: The slight chocolatey taste fits perfectly with the current holiday season.

Photo of MTNboy
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It has a crazy amount of brown/tan head with some really nice lacing. It has an opaque black color that is true to the name. It has an aroma that is a lot like a porter. It has a deep roasted malt smell it very sweet and not much for hops. It has a roasted malt caramel chocolate taste. It has a wood and nut like aftertaste. Medium almost full bodied.

Photo of wcudwight
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown in color with some ruby highlights when held up to the light. Nice tan head with a good thick texture. Good head retention.
Heavy aroma of whole grain muffins. Not much else though.
Wonderful malt profile for this beer. Whole grain muffins or bagel taste. With some lightly blackened toast. Some caramel and just a touch of strong black coffee. Hops hide in the background and only present themselves in the finish. Hops add an earthy character. This is an excellent tasting beer.
Mouthfeel is medium. At first I thought it to be a bit light. But on further reflection I think if the mouthfeel were fuller this beer would become a light stout. I don't think that was the brewers intention. This is a delicious beer but a light stout it is not.
Wonderful drinkability. Great beer to have at the local pub with some good conversation.
Thanks to mugglesandhops for the beer. This had been on my wants for sometime.

Photo of sd42790
3.2/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into mug. Consume by date 12/26/08

A- Nearly opaque black with a decent 1.5-finger off-white head. Moderate lacing.

S- coffee and chocolate roasted malt predominately, a touch of that biscuity malt, the same that you get in Fat Tire. Could be allergies, but the whole aroma seems relatively subdued.

T- Big roasted malt, again with the coffee and chocolate. Can't seem to find much hop in there at all. Tiny hop bite on the end. Again, a bit subdued. I would have been okay with even bigger malt character if there was some hop to balance it out. Granted, it's not my most familiar style, but something is missing. The malt hits, but after that the beer has run its course.

M- Moderate, a bit thin for my tastes, but again... not my most familiar beer style. A little more body would have helped.

D- I could pound a few, but the one-note malt character would get old quick.

Overall- To me, this tastes like a poor stout, minus body and hops. Of the New Belgium's that I have tried, it seems that they are a bit malt crazy.

Photo of Yaz8
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle pours deep blood red/dark brown with a one-finger head that dissipates quickly to a thin ring. Minimal lacing.

Strong roasted, almost burnt, coffee aromas dominate, supported by bicuity malts and toffee.

Taste is similar: complex smoky, sweet malts with coffee, toffee and little in terms of offsetting hops bitterness.

Smooth, slightly thin mouthfeel, with a clean, dry aftertaste.

Photo of jhu1995
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is black, but to the lighter side, with a thin tan head. Aroma is bready, with hints of toasted grains. Caramel like flavors dominate, with some yeasty/bread-like flavors and smokiness in the finish. Very light-bodied and dry. Easy to drink as should be expected. Overall a decent beer for a change of pace but not one to specifically seek out.

Photo of deereless
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A little lighter than the color of a black raisin, the head hangs around on this beer, some lacing on the edges - 4.00, S: Lots of roasted and slightly charred grain aromas, some caramel and espresso, a little yeasty, a very enticing smell - 4.50, T: The aftertaste of this beer is heavy on the toasted grains, some chocolate pudding, mild date flavors, faint signs of Belgian yeast - 4.25, M: 4.00, D: A very drinkable and enjoyable beer, not a style with which I am overly familiar but one I would seek out - 4.50

Photo of tpd975
3.08/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on draft at the New Belgium pub in the Denver airport.

A: Pours a nice dark black with rather small head. Little retention and no lace. Must note the pour was way too cold.

S: Light aromas. Hints of roasted chocolate malt with a touch of smoke.

T: Not as good as I had heard. Light chocolate up front with notes of coffee. Dark fruit come in the middle and a touch of over roasted malt in the finish.

M: Medium in body smooth

D: So, so. I had heard great things about this beer. I was not overly impressed.

Photo of kkipple
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this early way before New Belgium hits our fair shores. 12oz bottle.

Going into this I really had no idea what to expect, other than that this is some sort of Belgian... porter? Who knows. But this is a thin, black-brown ale (not really black... go drink a Shakespeare Stout and get back to me...) with a small, spotty head. Clear, too.

Smells pretty good... very "beer like" to me. Getting cocoa and a bit of sweet coffee, a little metallic note (hops?), grain and a touch of dark burnt raisins, like the kind you crunch on in your grandmom's nigh-inedible fruitcake. This is actually reminding me of an English porter. It is a delicious smell; sweet roast and black-bread blend with a sourness that is really appealing.

Flavor is basic, yet good. Think a slightly sour, fruity thin porter and you are nearly there. Layered roasted malts alternate between singed-bitter and sweet and bready. Not as dry as I would have expected, the finish is mildly sweet and malty with a fine cocoa-bitter sour fruit twang. Almost (almost!) refreshing.

Mouthfeel is thin, but sufficiently carbonated to make this anything but a chore to drink. I wish I had more, to be honest. This is a fine brew and rather sessionable; though it would fare better with food... like anything beefy. Mmm.

I'll buy more of this if it makes it to our state. If folks really drank like this in 1554 it couldn't have been all bad.

Photo of Haybeerman
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: Deep, dark coffee brown color that showed red around the edges when up to th elight. Poured a 1-2 finger lumpy creamy tan head with fair retention. Medium broken lacing.

S: Roasted coffee and dark chocolate with well-balanced bitter bite; not sweet.

T: Coffee, hint of the chocolate. Finishes with kind-of-a charcoal/alcohol taste.

M: Big beer that is smooth and full. Low carbonation.

D: Big malt and big flavor limit dirnkability, but for one or two, its really enjoyable.

Photo of aforbes10
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from a local supermarket. Pours a dark brown crimson, nearing black, with a short-lived puffy white head and strong lacing. Roasted malt notes on the nose, earthy and slightly fruity. Taste is a plummy, bready mix with vegetal hops and a slight bitterness that mellows back to plums or prunes on the back end. Mouthfeel slightly thin for the style i think. Drinks well, especially once its had a chance to warm and release more of the fruit and deeper malt flavors.

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

Sitting back, enjoying the view from the New Belgium pub in the Denver airport, I ordered a pint of this to while away the layover time...

This beer poured a dark cola hue, with off-white head, and lots of lacing. The aroma contained a slight burnt malt essence, and a little bitter coffee. The taste showed a fair bit of bitter coffee, with a touch of floral hops. The carbonation was moderate, and the beer was a bit thin overall. It reminded me of many a brewpub stout that I've had, due to the light body and choco-coffee flavour. Nonetheless, a decent tipple with which to watch soccer and fill the time and soul gap of an airport layover...and cheers to the friendly bartender, "Meatloaf"...

Photo of canucklehead
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice to find this beer as I always enjoy New Belgium's more esoteric offerings. Pours dark brown with a malty, treacly nose. This a very tasty black lager that offers notes of toffee and caramel. Carbonation is downplayed a bit which IMHO makes it even more drinkable. Pairs well with a lot of food and is great for Winter evenings. Nice to see a well made US example of the style.

Photo of jushoppy2beer
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Very nice dark color with good persistent head that makes a great lacing. Coffee aroma on the nose, leading into a sweet roasted malt on the palate, and softly hopped on the finish with no appreciable aftertaste. The best thing about this brew is the mouthfeel, which is thick and expands as it moves across the tongue to the back of the mouth. Modestly drinkable, but with this great thick mouthfeel, it's one to be savored slowly.

Photo of birchstick
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - big, frothy head with a nice dark brown, almost black appearance
S - bready malts with a little bit of dark fruit
T - nice roasted maltness to it with a little bit of sweetness and burnt malt on the finish
M - very smooth and full
D - this is a great beer. This is what my definition of a session beer is. I will definitely be picking up a six pack of this in the near future.

Photo of abrand
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle with best by date of 11.14.2008 poured into a snifter

This is my first sample from this style and I was impressed.

This beer pours a dark brown color with little head. Very faint aromas but hints of chocolate and coffee. Taste is full bodied with lots of roasted malts. Overall I enjoyed this beer due to its drinkability mostly from low ABV. I could hardly taste the alcohol in this. After sampling this beer, I will definitely check out others from this style.

Photo of JBuff41413
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm not a huge fan of New Belgian, but I do enjoy their 1554 from time to time.

A- Very dark brown color with a 1/2 in off white head that fades to a film. Lacing is minimal.

S- When cold you don't get much, but when the beer warms up I pick up roasted malts and a little pit of coffee, I was expecting a little bitter chocolate, but it is not present at all.

T- Deeply roasted malts, with a slight coffee backbone and a little bitterness at the finish.

M- Fairly thin for the genre, and more carbonation than I was expecting.

D- This is very drinkable for a dark ale/stout. The thin mouthfeel and lower alcohol content help with that.

Overall this is a decent dark beer. It isn't one noted, yet it isn't very complex. If you are looking to get in to darker beers, or want a dark ale you can drink a few of this is a good starting point. If you like this, then try to move in to Russian Imperials, or one some of my favorites ( Storm King Imperial Stout, or Stone Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout). This is worth giving a try.

Photo of josiahschlender
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in color, clear. I had to give this a vigorous pour to get a decent off-white head which had moderate lasting power and left a bit of lacing on the glass.

Aromas, faint at first, improved with some warmth and time in the glass. Roasty malts, maybe a bit of light roast coffee.

It's harder for me than usual to pick out flavors in this beer than usual. I definitely detect some dark roasted malts, maybe just a little spiciness and yeast notes. Just a bit of bitterness at the end. Not that it tastes bad, but flavors to me are not exceptional but definitely have a subtle balance that is pleasing. Not a one-dimensional beer, but no exclamation points.

Feel is kind of thin, and maybe a bit to "bright," due to more than necessary carbonation. A more smooth, restrained feel would have better complimented the subtle flavors, in my opinion.

Overall, a pretty drinkable dark beer. Different than the typical stouts and porters. If you're looking for some variety, try this out.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,067 ratings.