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
87
very good

3,066 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,066
Reviews: 1,245
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 70
Gots: 193 | 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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 1554 Enlightened Black Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,066 | Reviews: 1,245 | Display Reviews Only:
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
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
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
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
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
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
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
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
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
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
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
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
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
3.28/5  rDev -14.4%
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.

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

"Best Before: 21MAR08"

a: Very dark brown, nearing black with a quickly diminishing light tan head that leaves only traces of lacing.

s: A subtle odor of roasted malt, toffee and, maybe some chocolate or coffee.

t: Toffee, toast, not to complex or rich, but quite tasty.

m: Light to medium body that glides over the tongue leaving little behind.

d: Great finish, very smooth, definite session beer and a great crossover beer for those scared of anything too dark to see thru.

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

I had this one on tap at the Flying Saucer in Houston. They had just added it to the tap menu, so I had to give it a try.

The beer is black with brown highlights. It has a tan head and fair lacing.

The aroma is of dark fruit, baker’s chocolate and roasted malts (the malts almost are stout like).

Yummy beer here! There is chocolate, sugared plums, wood smoke, nuts and fire roasted grains. Sweet finish that never becomes cloying.

The mouth seems a bit thin, but it is silky.

This is a great session beer. Would make a great crossover beer for folks afraid of the dark. Well done!!

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

Smells nice, malty, roasty, dark chocolate, a bit of bread, and perhaps a hint of black cherry. The taste is harder to pin down, but does have the typical New Belgium bready biscuity background but supported by a deeper malty quality. Chocolate is not apparent in the taste to me. Mouthfeel is very smooth, medium thickness and proper carbonation. I tend to be a sucker for dark beers like this, but this is another well-crafted nice-tasting number by New Belgium.

Photo of BeerBelcher
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at the Gingerman in Austin. I swore it was a Schwartzbier, as it is true to that style, which is to say really, really boring. I didn't get much of anything out of this beer...it is just sort of generic.

This beer pours black but is sort of on the runny side (not viscous like many stouts are). Aroma is very faint...virtually odorless. Flavor was a slight bit of roastiness, but also was exceedingly faint to me.

I was not impressed with this beer. Not recommended.

Photo of Skidud313
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, nearly opaque brown, with a little over a finger of tan head that fades with nice lacing.

Smells almost sweet, with some underlying warmth and darkness underneath.

Tastes in 3 distinct phases: When you tip the glass its almost smokey, when its on your tongue its carmely and malty, sort of Newcastle-like, and on the finish its deep, roasted malts and mocha flavors. Nice and complex.

For all its complexity it really isn't that heavy. For the style and depth its relatively drinkable, but more than 2 would be pushing it.

One of my favorite New Belgiums and beers from Colorado. Overall fantastic. It truly is an enlightened black ale as they say, not necesarily dark in all aspects, but most of the good parts.

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

Pours deep dark brown. Tan pillowy head dissipates quickly to a frothy sheen.

Aroma is dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, and an underlying sweetness. Reminds me of a milk stout.

Taste is grainy roasted malt, light coffee, with a pleasant but mild earthy hop in the finish. Chocolate is there, but could be more pronounced for my liking. I would consider this a schwarzbier, not a Belgian dark ale. Sugary sweetness lingers throughout.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Smooth and creamy.

Overall an easy drinking brew that is smooth and enjoyable. Flavor is on the lighter side, but is interesting with the roasted malt and earthy qualities. Certainly worth a try.

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

I guess that I expected something along the lines of a Schwartzbier, but got something richer, more complex, and nicely intriguing. Aromas begin with a mild roast character woven around caramel, toffee, and lactose sweetness. Mild tartness, earthy / peaty, nutty notes round out the scent. The beer looks dark brown with a mild murky look, well headed, and overall rich looking. Tastes are big on the caramel / toffee / praline sweetness, but the added complexity of berries, chocolate, wood, and must make the beer decidedly better. The mouthfeel seems full because of the varying flavors and creamy carbonation, but the beer finishes quite light and drinkable. Simply a nice beer with tons of complexity and not a gravity bomb -- good to see. Thanks BMock.

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

Chocolate, toast and roast aromas with a touch of fig. Light dose of herbal hop. One inch tan foam dies slooowly. Hangs around for a long time and leaves bars on the glass. Beer is a straight mahogany color.

Rich chocolate and bread crust flavors. Good! A little coffee in the back and some suggestion of herbal hops. Medium full body with low to medium carbonation makes it seem a little heavy but it goes down easy. I suppose the flavors could be ratcheted up a notch but I think it would negatively impact drinkability.

Not an astoundingly complex beer, but a nice alternative to the typical brown ale.

Photo of MillRat
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice deep brown with some reddish tones to it, topped off with a thin light tan head that doesn't ever go away, and leaves a little lace behind. Malty aroma with a little roast barley and Belgian yeast notes in it. Just a hint of malt sweetness in the flavor, perfectly offsetting the draw between hops and roast grain bitterness. A slight prickly sourness from the carbonation playing at the sides of the tongue that helps keep this a mild and refreshing quaff. If it weren't for a kgrtr full of other interesting bottles to try and four kegs of homebrew, I'd be disappointed I had only one bottle of this. A definite session beer, even if does top the magic 5% ABV number by a few tenths.

Photo of buffettfan
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice looking beer, dark dark brown, with some kaki tan head. THis is a nice easy to drink dark beer. This is a good intro for someone wanted to get to know dark beers. One of my favorites from New Belgium. A good after dinner beer, with come chocolate.

Photo of BeerTruth
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to genog for this one.

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a super dark molasses with a nice 1.5 finger light khaki head that slowly dies down to a nice layer. Stickiness is pretty good, spotty here and there. Smell is roasted barley, smoked nuts, french roast coffee, and a tiny bit of caramel malt. Taste has some dark chocolate with mostly smoked malt. Aftertaste is woody with some espresso flavors. Mouthfeel is a smooth creamy medium body with just the right amount of carbonation. I really didn't think I'd like this beer, but I was quite surprised. To me, this was very similar to an oatmeal stout, just smokier. Definitely an enjoyable beer, pick this one up for sure if you get the chance.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer has a dark chocolate brown body that is a bit dense but glows with a reddish hue in the sun. There is a sea of tiny bubbles that glide up the side of the glass. Thick creamy layers of sticky foam of light tan that last and last.

S- The smooth roasted notes of dark malt with a slight sweetness with a note of minerals and cream.

T- This beer has a smooth creamy chocolate malt flavor but there isn’t any bitterness to the soft roasted qualities. The finish has a nice smooth coffee malt flavor and a light chalk taste along with the dark fruit notes in the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a tight fizz finish.

D- This beer is a nice dark mysterious ale that went excellent with fresh baked chocolate chip walnut cookies. There were nice dark malt flavors but they were not the bitter stout qualities instead there were some nice dark Belgian yeast qualities.

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

12 oz bottle - pint glass - Denver airport

A: Deep mahogany body. 1/2" tan head that fell to a cloud w/ little lacing.

S: A light aroma with some toasted malt. It wasn't strong enough to pick up much else.

T: Not a lot up front - mostly toasted malt. Simple, but good. Then a nice chocolaty finish.

M: Medium body & carbonation with a dry tasty finish.

D: Interesting style, with nothing to keep me from drinking a bunch of these.

Photo of shererjt
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a clear, deep ruby red color with little carbonation or head. Sweet malt and roasted aroma dominates; some fruit there too but it was subdued. Body was medium-to-full, and quite a bit of roasted flavor though it didn't contribute as much to the bitterness as would be expected and had hardly any astringency at all. Leaned to the sweet side but not overwhelmingly so. Mouthfeel was nice; could have used a bit more prickle but I liked it. Drinkability was quite good.

An interesting beer. I think it would be better with a touch of Belgian character, but it is what it is. Nice brew.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,066 ratings.