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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

3,080 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,080
Reviews: 1,249
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 73
Gots: 206 | 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: 3,080 | Reviews: 1,249 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of iasanlee
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a thick dark chocolate brown with 3 fingers of dark tan creamy head. Creamy lacing abundant.

S- Toasted malts, coffee, and chocolate.

T- Bitter sweet chocolate, almost chalky flavor. Carmel and coffee. A faint sweetness. I was hoping for a bit more complexity.

M- Medium in body, with creamy smooth carbonation.

D-I could see myself putting a few of these back. Not as incredibly complex as I had hoped, but very drinkable.

Photo of cer40
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I samoled this beer out of a 12oz bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. It was dark brown with ruby highlights. small light tan creamy head that dissapates to a small cover patch.

Smell is of malts, some coffee comes through. Taste is the same without much of a hop flavor or bitterness. Tastes of roasted malts and coffee. Slightly sweet.

Mouthfeel is light and bubbly from the carbonation. Very flavorful but light and low abv. Nice session beer for drinkers of stouts and porters that want a lighter feeling beer but seek some of the same flavors.

Photo of BrewmasterNPB
2.87/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I drank 1554 last night and don't remember it being so sweet. This is a unique beer, very complex malt character. It has a very low hop profile, which seems to be appropriate for style. The sweetness was overpowering though and made it somewhat difficult to drink. I do enjoy the malty aroma however.

Photo of JDV
4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black pour with a cream colored medium head that fades very quickly for a dark beer. Smells of coffee, dark roasted malt, a touch of licorice, and some alcohol. A fairly unique nose out of a blend of seemingly common scents. Taste is very smooth, creamy, rich, dark, and roasty. Very nice taste overall. There is just a touch of bitterness, and I actually wouldn't mind a bit more, which is something I've never said about a dark beer before. A really nice , very easy to drink richer beer and one I would recommend and buy again.

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

22 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a nice black color -- neither too dull nor shiny -- with a solid and dense off-white head which leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

Smell: Heavy and dense aroma of caramel, coffee, cholcolate, and toffee. Not unlike a stout, but more subdued and compressed.

Taste: Not a strong, but a nice taste of creamed coffee and milder caramel and chocolate flavors. Aftertatse is pretty much the same.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with very light carbonation.

Drinkability: Easy to drink in terms of both alcohol content and flavor. Nothing overwhelming the senses.

This doesn't quite seem to go along with other Belgian dark ales I've had in the past, but it's still an enjoyable beer -- it fits somewhere between a stout and a Schwarzbier. Though it's nothing exceptional, I'll certainly get this again.

Photo of KarlHungus
3.47/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a black color. The head is small, and recedes quickly into almost no lacing. The aroma is of smokey caramel, with a hint of dark chocolate. The taste is like the aroma, but not quite as pronounced. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, and mildy watery. The carbonation is high. Overall, this is a decent beer. I would drink this if it were the best thing available.

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

A - Black as jet with a monster of a head that leaves dense cobwebs of lacing down the sides of the glass.

S - A coffee aroma. There is some fainter cocoa, very mild. Underneath that, there is a very faint hay and white pepper, but entirely dominated by coffee. Mild, but quite nice.

T - Very mild flavor. It tastes mostly like coffee and charred malt. There isn't any sweetness and it is pretty watery. A very faint medicinal flavor meshes with a coffee bitterness in the aftertaste. Pretty good. There might be a hint of metals, nickel to precise, but I could just be imagining it.

M - Smooth, medium body, pretty refreshing.

D - Pretty good. It is a mild and enjoyable coffee porter - not an archetypal Belgian dark ale for sure. Worth a try, and I am likely to enjoy the whole six pack. I recommend.

Photo of SiphonKing
3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle.

Found this beer to be quite quaffable. Pours with a tannish head atop a...well, black/brown beer (hence the name). Malty with a slight hop presence but not overpowering. I found it drinkable and a good choice for those friends who have experienced Fat Tire and are willing to move on to bigger, bolder territory.

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

12oz bottle served in a shaker pint. Poured a deep brown with a hint of red with about a finger of off white head with fine bubbles. Cocoa in the aroma. Light to medium body. Chocolate malt with a little sweetness. Dry malty finish with some lingering chocolate flavors.

Not a very complex beer, but pretty drinkable.

Photo of jar2574
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark purplish, black beer with an inch and a half of creamy head. Very nice.

Smells like a stout -- coffee and roasted malts.

Malts, chocolate. Similar to a stout, but less chewy. Kind of watery. Not sensing any hops.

I expected more. Not a very complex beer, for being 500 years in the making.

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

The 1554 pours dark as night. No foam head and no lacing. It has an aroma of roasted malts and chocolate. The flavor is dry and has is strong chocolate overtones. In the mouth it is fairly thin and leaves it mark on the middle of the tongue. It is a very smooth brew that I could drink six no problem. It has a number of similarities to a porter.

Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in my maudite snifter. Poured the color of night with a thick, dense off-white head that dissipated into a thin skim of foam; very little lacing present during the tasting. Fruity esters, yeast, malt, coffee and maybe chocolate. Strong flavor of coffee with earthy undertones. Pleasant mouthfeel, not too watery and not too effervescent. Reminds me more of a porter than a belgian dark ale, however.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz from the Coop for about $1.40.. shared with Brenda, mine from my New Belgium tulip.

3/4" lite tan head drops leaving some lacing and rings... dark brown..not black.. clear deep chestnut red when held to a light.

Aroma is fruity yeasty notes and chocolate dark roasted malts.. cold instant coffee.. no hops to speak of. As it warms, some earthy hop notes become evident.

Dark malts and dark dried fruit are the main flavor components.. with more coffee at the front.. Chocolate grains and restrained dried cherries and raisins.. Hops are more prevalent than the nose.. earthy hops mix well with the front-side palate.. more yeasty fruitiness .. not Belgian but not necessarily American..not sure.

The 1554 is a brew I pick up a bottle or two probably 10-12 times a year when I am getting a mixed New Belgium 6'er. Does not strike me as a BSDA.. definately on the right track, but there is something European missing.

Photo of pweis909
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cola colored with a nice tawny-creamy head. Plenty of lacing on the bottle, for whatever that is worth to you.

Bready aroma with a touch of spice. Luciously malty sweet flavor, a little coffee, caramel. Velvety mouth feel. Very dessert-like.

As others have noted, this is not really consistent with what you might expect for a Belgian Dark Ale. The website states that a lager yeast is used, so you won't find the Belgian esters. I would say it is is more like a sweet stout in flavor, but maybe not as overt, especially in the roast department.

By the end of the 22 oz bomber, the flavors are harder to discern, and the beer becomes a little less inspiring. On the right occassion, a 12 oz serving would be do me fine, though.

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

poured out a nice dark brown-deep red color, not really black I must say, but looks very tasty none the less. aromas are somewhat faint, yet I pickup trace amounts of smokiness, very light rauchbier scent. Taste is not overwhelming, slightly tart with some smoke on the finish. Mouthfeel is creamy, yet has a somewhat acidic biting finish, no stickyness remains. nice to drink,good winter session ale.

Photo of ajmoody76
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

for the holidays my sis and bro-in-law brought me a case of this from somewhere in the chicago burbs. 12 oz. bottle to tulip glass. deep amber brown with some red in there. very clear. thick head that thins out to a fine layer. looks good.

floral aroma. really smells good. no off odors.

somewhat dry, but in a good way. caramel sweet with a little spicyness in the aftertaste.

good carbonation. full bodied. leaves a little lace. folows style. i really dig this beer. my favorite from this brewery. good session beer. will drink again.

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle at a grocery store in IA to bring back to OH, as New Belgium isn't distributed out here yet. I guess I expected it to be similar to a schwarzbier, but this was much better. It was fruity and yeasty smelling rather than roasted and nutty. I'd place it closest to a dubbel if looking for a style, but Belgian Dark Ale works well too. The after-taste is very nice, with a hint of anice in the finish. To date, this is my favorite from the brewery.

Photo of Kemmerlin
4.39/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured a dark clear (filtered) chocolatey amber color with a rich white foamy head.
S: The aromas were a bit bland and no I did not have a cold. The aromas really came out while sipping of course but were indistinguishable before my first sip. I did get a hint of chocolate and some thyme worked in there.
T: As stated above, the taste really enhanced the aromas of the beer. I definitely tasted a light chocolate and I got an after taste of thyme and hops. Very delicious!
M: Smooth and crisp is the best way to describe it. No slimy feel afterward.
D: Very good. There was no face cringing. There was a light carbonation feel that was not in anyway ruining the experience for me.

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

Dark brown...is she as black as one's heart?...No...but on her way!..

Is the oven on?....Are chocolate-chip cookies baking?...I'll have some!...

Good Cacao bite...five-hundred years ago they knew what they were doing!...This is a good beer!...the toasty chocolate undertones are simply fabulous!...Just love the story behind this beer...

About as good as baked chocolate cake on the palate!...

Goes down nicely...Very easy to drink this beer...It was 1 degree tonite and I spent most of the night out in the snow...getting home I spent a few minutes chipping ice outta the wheel wells of the Prizm...Coming inside wifey had a pork roast on...and this beer was a nice cap to a cold, frosty evening...

Photo of budgood1
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Enlightened Black Ale...whatever that means?

pours out of the 22 oz. bomber a ruby hued crimson delight, with a huge tan frothy head and plenty of lace to back up all the looks. i pick up chocolate, anise, caramel, some ripe red fruits and floral hops in the nose...not sure if i've had a beer that smells quite like this before. love the flavour profile...lots of bittersweet chocolate, belgian candy notes, yeast, cocoa, caramel, rum soaked fruitcake and hops. slightly phenolic. wow, i'm impressed. the mouthfeel is smooth and creamy...the bottom drops out of it a bit making the overall body seem medium at best...but ample enough just to hold up the complex and layered flavour profile. lingering hop bitterness and floral aroma round out the cocoa infused finish.

nice beer. reminds me of goose island x-mas ale a bit. and i really like that! worth revisiting, especially in the winter months.

Photo of morimech
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a nice off-white head that has good retention. Lacing is heavy.

I get mostly chocolate malt in the aroma. A little sweet milk is also noted.

Again the dark malt is the star of the show here. The lack of spice and wild tastes commonly associated with Belgium style beers is surprising. This seems like a Schwarzbier to my palate. It is light bodied with good carbonation that matches well. It has a nice semi-dry finish that encourages more consumption.

Photo of tempest
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer almost immediately reminds me of a schwarzbier (German black lager) for its mellow and smooth chocolate character. Incidentally, that also means that when the flavor is nice, it's not terribly big. You just have a sweet chocolate malt flavor with a roasted edge to it. I might suggest this to anyone new to beer and looking to try a tasty dark beer. It seems to have an easy-going mouthfeel and mass-appeal.

Photo of marcpal
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks bditty187 for the trade. great stuff.

A: Dark chocolate brown, nearly black iin color. Flully tan head wiith frothy sheen that laces on.

A: Chicory and coffee malt aroma with underscore of chocolate and milkiness. A little bit of roasted burnt coffee which was pleasantly inviting.

T: Roasted flavor with great chicory aftertones. A little bit of hops, but a huge fan of the aftertaste- definitely chocolate. Seems like a milky stout beer, not really familiar with black ales. Whatever it is, consider it delicious.

M: Creamy and slightly hoppy.

D: High grade here, really went well with a substance-full meal.

Thanks again bditty, glad to be able to enjoy this one.

Photo of pmcadamis
3.51/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Root beer brown, but looks almost black in low light. The head is a solid creamy finger and a half, and head retention is good. Lots of really fine lace is left on the glass, and a swirl builds the head up quite a bit. The lace that is left on the glass scores big points in my book....it's beautiful.

S - Dark chocolate, marshmallows, bitter espresso, and wet twigs. The grains are really burnt and dark. Barky. Smells like a really roasty stout. Could be more assertive too.

T - Tastes like a really roasty stout. I really don't see why this is touted as some ancient secret Belgian recipe. It's pretty much a sweet stout IMO. There are some odd flavors that aren't really stout-like though. I taste hints of creamy soft cheese, marshmallow, dry chocolate protein powder, and some other nice oddball touches that I really can't put my finger on. There is also a very steely, blue stone granite flavor that I don't really like much.

M - Feels like a Schwartzbier to me. Light to medium in body with a good deal of carbonation and a pretty dry powdery finish before the sugar comes back in the aftertaste. Really nice.

D - This is pretty good, but I can't really see what the big deal is. It seems like some sort of Schwartzbier/MilkStout hybrid, and that ain't a bad thing, but I guess I was expecting something a little more Belgian and complex. I think that if this was called New Belgium Milk/Sweet Stout (maybe porter?), then I probably would have rated it closer to a 4 or higher. But nothing about this brew strikes me as Belgian or "ancient."

Photo of littleshamrocks
3.31/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle with the best before date clearly printed on the label. Served in a snifter.

Pours a very dark brown with reddish tints and noticeable carbonation, when held to the light. Average sized, tan head quickly dissipates, leaving sporadic lace. Smell is of coffee, milk chocolate, roasted malts, and floral esters. Taste is similar to the nose with the strong roasted coffee flavor, some chocolate, floral hops, and pepper. Flavor is moderately acidic. Mouthfeel is light to medium body, with a somewhat thin/watery texture, fizzy carbonation and a fairly clean finish.

While I am not all that familiar with this style, after reading the style characteristics profile, I think this seems to fit into it pretty well, with the possible exception of the very short lived head retention. The flavor, while decent, was not as complex as I have come to expect from a Belgian style brew, and the beer was surprisingly thin on the palate. Overall, this was nice to try, but I doubt that I will be seeking it out again.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,080 ratings.