1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

2,896 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,896
Reviews: 1,237
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 59
Gots: 123 | 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: 2,896 | Reviews: 1,237 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of froggyfrog
froggyfrog

Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is packaged in an classy embossed NB 12 oz. bottle. The label provides a brief history of the brew, serving instructions and a best before date of 22SEP06.

The beer is a dark plum color with low carbonation. It is somewhat translucent with a thin film of lace.

The nose speaks of roast and subdued Belgian spices with wisps of truffle chocolate and the smallest hint of alcohol.

The taste is quiet but complex. Dark fruits float on the tongue. Dark plum, cherries and blackberries mingle. The undercurrent is medium-roasted malted grain. A fleeting earthy hop spiciness closes.

Satin-textured with a dry medium body and a pleasing roastiness, this beer is a pleasure to drink.

There is a somewhat intangible "Belgian dark ale" quality. It calls to mind a chocolaty version of Tröegs Mad Elf with the honey, cherries and alcohol toned down.

It's easy to imagine myself sitting in a Belgian inn half a millennium ago quaffing this beer. Hats off to NB for this fine specimen.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2006 02:51:42 | More by froggyfrog
Photo of malty
malty

Michigan

4.6/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Best before 12/16/05 (kept in my beer fridge since my friend brought it back from the brewery 1 yr. ago).

Pours a midnight brown, but when held against a 75-watt bulb; it shows a gorgeous dark ruby hue with cola edges. Healthy. fluffy 3/4" sturdy head. Thick lace rings all the way down the glass.

Powdered cocoa scents with dark roasted malts billowing forth. Fermented Maduro tobacco wrapper notes also. Dark fruits akin to chocolate covered cherries.

The flavors are well replicated from that of the scents. A dusty cocoa flavor is very prevalent with medium roast gourmet coffee tagging alongside. The dark roasted malts are still very fresh tasting but the hop profile has definitely diminished from when I drank this fresh last July.

Mouthfeel is still spot-on. On the lighter side of medium bodied with semi-fine healthy carbonation. A somewhat dusty, dry but very cocoa-like finish.

Drinkability is out of this world. The ease of a lager with the hearty roastness of a porter, c'mon, are you kidding me?

Overall a spectacular Belgium black lager that I definitely must try fresh from the motherland of Ft. Collins. If you like Kostritzer, you'll love this. Top notch.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2006 21:31:42 | More by malty
Photo of Realale
Realale

Missouri

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

Black, revealing translucent deep burgundy when held up to the light. Creamy extremely fine mocha head settles to a complete cap.

Roasty bitter chocolate leads the nose, supported by a delicate fruitness and some fresh brown bready malt. Lovely and very appetizing.

Thin side of medium in the mouth. The bitter chocolate leads the way with some browned cookie maltiness. Richer malt kicks in on the mid-palate, and gently fades to leave the crisp, roasty goodness to end things on the long finish.

Modest carbonation suits the style well and gives a lovely mouthfeel. Extremely drinkable in quantity and an excellent and flexible companion at the table (another is doing very well with a wild mushroom lasagna as I type). A staple in my DBF. Best before October 6, 2006. Bottle 6 from a 6 pack.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2006 23:30:52 | More by Realale
Photo of scooter231
scooter231

New York

4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, almost opaque, reddish color, little head. The nose on this guy is weird... barbecue, definitely, and kinda portery. Barbecued Ommegang, though that doesn't cover all of it. Smoky. I want to eat this, not drink it! Taste is smoky and charred. Coffee. Bitter. Un-sweetened cocoa. Lots of stuff. Harmonizes pretty well- it's deep. Mouthfeel is striking- sudsy and light, frothy and chewy- teeth-licking, lip-smacking good. Drinkability- good for the style, but I can see it being too heavy for more than a couple. This would be a nice night cap.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2006 04:17:04 | More by scooter231
Photo of ommegangpbr
ommegangpbr

New York

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

Everything, or most everything about this, strikes me as a bit of a watered down porter. Pours black but still transparent in the light; thin, offwhite head.
Smells quite smokey and charred. More of a smoked beer in style? I haven't had one but I imagine one being something like this beer. Bitter chocolate notes.
Not nearly as sweet as many other examples of the style... which is kind of a good thing. Quite dry. Those that enjoy stouts and porters (maybe even brown ales) are likely to find something to like in this. Toasted, sweet caramel flavors, with an underlying smokeyness defining this brew.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2006 04:14:13 | More by ommegangpbr
Photo of guitarmage
guitarmage

Oregon

3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a near black dark brown, black coffee, barely any light passes through. A good tan, frothy head that reduces into a creamy lacing that leaves a few rings around the glass.

Smell: Notes of molasses, coffee, roasted grains, mild hop character.

Taste: Tastes like burnt coffee, some flavors I can't place. Pretty complex, notes of unsweetened chocolate. Hops are very subtle, malty.

Mouthfeel: Creamy at first, medium to low carbonation and a little watery on the palate.

Drinkabilty: This beer is definitely distinct and has a lot going. It's pretty malty but seems well balanced and built.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2006 00:26:21 | More by guitarmage
Photo of Golden2wenty1
Golden2wenty1

Wisconsin

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

Leftover from my trip to Lake Havasu City over Spring Break.

Pours a thin black with garnet highlights under a finger of rocky tan foam. Nose starts off with a blast of lactose, succumbing to bready/toasted malts and a whiff of roasted coffee. Taste starts off, like the nose, with a light yogurty lactic sourness, followed by toasty barley malts and flickers of nut and cocoa. Mouthfeel is light and drinkable. An interesting beer in an interesting style. All the roastedness of a schwarz with the sourness of a Flanders. I wish I could get New Belgium stuff out here, a very innovative brewery.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2006 17:17:17 | More by Golden2wenty1
Photo of DeGrog
DeGrog

California

4.72/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of the best American Belgians! This beer is welcome in my ice chest three out of seven days of the week. The color, the smell, the drinkability of this brew is top notch. I feel so akin to this brew that on occasion I call it De Grog. But be for warned, it's 5.6% can sneak up on you.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2006 03:09:17 | More by DeGrog
Photo of pibbxtrasucks
pibbxtrasucks

Texas

2.5/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I did not care for this beer too much really. it poured very nicely, and a very nice rich black color. as far as smell goes... its hard to say, I've never had a beer in this style so I'm not sure what it should smell like. That in mind, it had a very old fashioned smell... at least what I think a beer would smell like if it was made in 1554. (granted the only reason I think that is cause I read the label I'm sure) The taste was the same. it was a bit too rich and smokey for me I fear, but if that is your thing I would say get this beer. I would imagine it does a good job at its style, only I have noting to compare it to. But, New Belgium never let me down before (this) so you may like it.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2006 23:53:29 | More by pibbxtrasucks
Photo of hoffman
hoffman

Nebraska

4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a damn fine beer. Poured on tap by a waitress who could not pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel, and still this beer manages to come to me with a perfect two finger head that refuses to go away comprised of smallish bubbles which lock in huge pockets of air. The tan head is a cap for the motor oil black body of this beer. A chocolate and creame aroma wells out. The taste is smooth, chocolaty up front, smooth again and sweet in the finish, then a dry kick at the end for good measure. A thick and inviting mouthfeel rounds out this amazing offering.

An incredibly drinkable beer. Try it!

Serving type: on-tap

05-23-2006 00:14:35 | More by hoffman
Photo of beertastegood
beertastegood

Texas

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

Pours a deep, deep mahogany, not quite black, but not quite red either. Minimal head that disappears soon after pouring. Aromas of burnt toast, biscuit and coffee. Slight hop aroma, very herbal when I do pick it up. Very few esters, a bit surprising for a beer that is touted as a Belgian ale.

Taste: Very smooth coffee flavor dominates, followed by a distinct chocolatey taste that is very rich and full. Biscuit-like malt flavors are there as well, but harder to notice. Low bitterness that comes through in the finish to keep the beer from being too cloying. Leaves a slight herbal layer to the chocolate taste that lingers on the tongue. Definitely a malt-dominated beer, but the hops are just present enough to provide balance.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, medium-full body.

Drinkability: This is a good quaffing beer if you are one of those people who can drink coffee all day long. Definitely a session beer for those who like roasted.

A good beer from NB and a nice departure from what we think of as "true" Belgian beers.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2006 15:02:37 | More by beertastegood
Photo of JayTheFinn
JayTheFinn

California

3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had my first 1554 at Winchesters in Ventura, CA.

I believe this is my first Belgium Dark Ale. I thought it was an Irish stout when I saw it. It's got the same ultra dark look with a solid two finger tan head. It was definitely not as sweet as say a Guinness or Beamish, so I guess I should have had an idea that I was drinking something of a different nature. It was very smooth, to the point of being watery, but not unpleasantly so. I found it quite drinkable. If you "kind of" like stouts but feel the taste is too much for you, try this.

Serving type: on-tap

05-14-2006 23:47:41 | More by JayTheFinn
Photo of DogFood11
DogFood11

California

2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On reccomendation from some fellow Colorado BA's that have noticed I haven't taking a liking to the first two New Belgium brews I've tried. I hunted this one down at Wally's in Westwood. Fresh sample as the best before date is 5 months from now.

Pours a dark brown with a purpleish pinger around the edges. Sticky off white lacing sits above a medium range of carbonation and a solid body.

This has some stout qualities to it, in that its heavily malted, dark, chocolate and dry at points. Chalky finish that lingers, no real cleansing to this at all. I was hoping for that belgian yeast that is so evident in their beers or something spicey along the way but I just didn't get any of that. Once again to each their own, but for some reason the malt presence in this breweries beers comes across with a slightly musky, wet cardboard deal, although this one is masked a bit by being more roasted.

Notes: Seemed like a stout but whatever, style classification is not important, what is important is it was uninteresting.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2006 04:41:54 | More by DogFood11
Photo of bennetj17
bennetj17

Arizona

4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap, arrived with a nice fluffy head of off-white foam, about 1/2 inch with nice retention. Color is dark black but held up to the light can be seen right through. The aroma is a bit faint, toasty and chocolatey, with a hint of coffee. The taste has notes of molasses and chocolate with a nice toasty, almost slightly smoked flavor. It's like a porter, but not. Interesting. Alcohol seems low. The mouthfeel is not overly thick, it goes down very nicely with it rich smoothness. I have always enjoyed 1554 for its drinkablility. It is a great dark beer, but its certainly not heavy like many darker beer tend to be.

Serving type: on-tap

04-30-2006 18:57:59 | More by bennetj17
Photo of IntriqKen
IntriqKen

California

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

ok...this is yummy.
Pours a deep black color with only the slightest hint of amber with a nice full 2 finger tan head that melts ever so slowly to thick lacing.
Aromas of chocolate, coffee,and heavenly toasted sweet malt.
Taste is much like the aroma...initially sweet...then toasted malt...then chocolate and coffee with a nice nutty brown taste....I sense almonds.
Surprisingly full mouthfeel with wonderful carbonation and smooth malt coating but no cloying sweetness.
Aftertaste is slightly sweet and fulfilling....definately a nutty aftertaste that lingers pleasantly..
More like a sweet (not dry) swartzbier.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2006 04:30:08 | More by IntriqKen
Photo of mooseisloose
mooseisloose

Florida

3.38/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another great find at the bar waiting for my wife to finish up in the national bowling tournament. My 1554 arrived in a pint glass with a slight head, good lacing. Translucent brown color. Taste has great malt-to-hop balance. A sugary sparkly taste, finishes sweet and tangy. Not high viscosity like a stout but with stout like characteristics, although sweeter. A true pleasure to imbibe.

Serving type: on-tap

04-29-2006 14:55:36 | More by mooseisloose
Photo of IrishRedRock
IrishRedRock

Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A nice Friday afternoon sipper on this most perfect of April afternoons. Poured into my La Chouffe tulip damn near black as advertised, glowing hints of ruby beneath a thin ring of lace. Herbal grassy hops and coffee in the nose. Flavor imparts a subtle spiciness, from the yeast I presume, but mellows and becomes sweeter with notes of nuts, coffee and dry, grainy wheat. Toasted almond aftertaste lingers on the tongue with just enough balance from the hop bitterness as well. Certainly is not lacking in carbonation - a bit fizzy. Nonetheless, a flavorful and enjoyable brew. Schwarz + nut brown ale = this. Nice.

Serving type: bottle

04-28-2006 23:04:35 | More by IrishRedRock
Photo of Gusler
Gusler

Arizona

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

The beer departs the 12-ounce brown bottle a deep ruby brown, the modest in size head is semi-creamy, the color a nice light tan, and after dematerializing, the lace forms a thin sheet upon the glass. Nose is rich in malt, hints of caramel, fresh and clean, start is slightly sweet, the grain profile adequate. Finish is pesky in its acidity, the hops apropos to the style; chalky dry aftertaste lingers long on the palate, a drinkable beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2006 22:44:35 | More by Gusler
Photo of czoch75
czoch75

Illinois

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

pours very dark with very little head but maintains it. Smell is somewhat burnt with some sweetness to it. Drinks very smoothly and is not too carbonated. Taste is kind of earthy and toasted. A very fine offering from New Belgium, too bad it isn't sold in IL!!

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2006 19:07:41 | More by czoch75
Photo of jhammerly
jhammerly

Nebraska

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

Pours what appears to be black, but as it is held up to the light, a dark brown reveals itself around the edges. A decent head that retains well and slithers down the side after each sip. A burnt, sweet aroma, maybe some chocolate undertones. Toasted malt, that lingers ever so lightly on the tongue, rounded out by a touch of sweetness. Nice carbonation makes this very drinkable. One of the finer offerings from NBB.

Serving type: bottle

04-20-2006 04:16:24 | More by jhammerly
Photo of Mitchel
Mitchel

Texas

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

1554 pours a very dark ruby-brown with a cappuccino colored head. The head is somewhat thick and creamy looking and leaves pretty good lacing. It smells sweet like malt and caramel with just little roasted quality to it. A little fruity, a little floral.

It is moderately hoppy with a medium body and medium mouth feel. There are undertones of brown sugar and molasses. Nice and creamy with, again, a little bite of hops. Finishes just a little bitter and with a hint of chocolate.

This is a good beer not fantastic, but a very well rounded beer. New Belgium seems to put out a remarkable line of beers. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

04-20-2006 03:16:08 | More by Mitchel
Photo of shbobdb
shbobdb

Indiana

4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In fourteen-hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the Ocean blue.

Good thing too, because without valuable information he brought back with him the flavour of this beer would have been *mighty* difficult to describe. This beer is like drinking a fine, carbonated, chocolate drink. Not the super-sweet milk chocolate, but a more pure, bitter chocolate.

I swear, they put some baker's chocolate in this brew. It's really quite amazing. Very drinkable and highly refreshing.

I'm rather jealous of the Intelligentsia of that by-gone era if they were able to routinely drink a beer as fine as this!
Thanks ColoradoBob. This is a mighty fine beer. I loved every sip.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2006 22:54:01 | More by shbobdb
Photo of cheers2beers
cheers2beers

Texas

3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This beer pours a dark brown,almost black liquid with a light tan colored head. The head rose up rapidly to a staggering four finger height, and slowly fell leaveing behind alot of web-like laceing.

Smell: The aromas are molasses and caramel malts with a hint a wood notes. Even a touch of cinnamon and a mild clove can be noticed.

Taste: The flavors are very nice indeed. No typical Belgian yeast flavors here, just some totally unexpected notes of chocolate, a sweet molasses caramel maltiness with a vague hop bitterness in the finish. Not much alcohol is detected but just enough to say "hello".

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is also quite nice. Medium to thick body with a medium level of carbonation. Not slick,but not watery either. Right in the middle of the two catagories. Leaves with a semi-sweet cocoa and hop bitterness in the end.

Drinkability: This beer turned out to be much more than I had anticipated. This is definitely one of my favorite black ales now. I look forward to purchaceing it again, and of course I would recommend 1554 Black Ale to you.


Cheers2Beers

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2006 20:57:21 | More by cheers2beers
Photo of ReDave
ReDave

California

3.15/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very Dark! Nice creamy slightly tan head that left a nice lace all the way down. Smell... slightly sweetish malt smell. Tast.. Had a very slight sour tast to it. After taste was a little off as well.. I'm guessing that i am a dyed in the wool hop Head, and need to stick to IPA's

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2006 01:57:32 | More by ReDave
Photo of benito
benito

Oregon

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

1554 has been one of my favorite New Belgium beers since I first moved to Colorado two years ago; though, only now am I finally getting around to adding a review of this great brew.

Style-wise, this is a cool beer--this is not a typical Belgian dark, sharing much more in common (in appearance and taste) with both schwarzbiers and stouts. That said, there is something distinctly Belgian about the brew. It is black with a nice head and a roasty and earthy bouquet. It tastes of roast coffee and chocolate (very stout like in that sense), but it also has a distinct banana flavor as well. There's also a hint of pepperiness on the back of the tongue that gives this a unique mouthfeel and sets it apart from its Anglo and Germanic dark bretheren.

In spite of its darkness, it's rather light bodied and very drinkable. I had one today after a long day of spring skiing and found it to be as refreshing as NB's Sunshine Wheat!

Highly recommended--a unique and fun beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-16-2006 14:24:57 | More by benito
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,896 ratings.