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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

3,035 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,035
Reviews: 1,245
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 70
Gots: 185 | 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: 3,035 | Reviews: 1,245 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Romulus141
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Sam Adams Beef Glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown with small hints of red within the body. There was plenty of head after a vigorous pour which my Sam Adams glass retained nicely. Lacing remains on the edges of the glass.

Smell: There is a spicy, sweet smell to this beer due to the malts. There is a roasted character to this beer, with a small hint of chocolate. The smell has a medium strength, and is unobtrusive.

Taste: There is a deep sweetness to this beer as it first enters my mouth. A smokey chocolate flavor follows as it continues over my tongue. A malty flavor is also in abundance. This is somewhat like a chocolate stout, surprisingly. A rather interesting beer, given that it's not a common style.

Mouthfeel: Given its bold flavor, the thin mouthfeel is somewhat unexpected. It's not bad, mind you, its just not what one would typically expect. It glides quickly over the tongue. It is also rather carbonated, but not excessively so. This has a nice balance, although a fuller body would have been nice.

Drinkability: Given its thin mouthfeel, I could probably drink a few of these in a row. However, the strong, sweet flavor means that this is not an ideal session beer.

It was nice to try this style, as I had never seen it before. It's not my favoriate, but its worth trying at least once.

Romulus141, Apr 26, 2007
Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - dark mahogany reddish/brown, moderate carbonation sustains a full finger of dark tan head

S - a background of dark roasted malts bely a natural woodiness, there are hints of a dark sweetness, i cant pick out the chocolate thats mentioned on the label, maybe its in the flavor

T - dark malts are still present in the taste, but that aforementioned chocolatiness matches it in a delicious battle of sweet and woody/roasted flavors, what a great amalgamation and wicked balance.

M&D - moderate body and supremely smooth, a very nice beer, man, ive been trying several New Belgium beers lately, and they can really brew a beer, easy down and so mildly sweet, very inviting, makes me want to move to Colorado

sinstaineddemon, Apr 16, 2007
Photo of udubdawg
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

a favorite from New Belgium, especially on tap.
Pours very dark brown. Looks like a stout from a distance, although you know otherwise the second it hits your lips. Aroma is bit roasty and a bit of charred wood, with some chocolate noted.

Taste is overall quite malty with a nice residual sweetness and of course the chocolate. very soft, nothing burnt. No real bitterness to speak of.

Carbonation on the light side is nice, but the medium-bodied mouthfeel is otherwise nothing to write home about. Drinkability? - I could drink (several of) this at any time of year, for any occasion. Nicely done.

udubdawg, Apr 07, 2007
Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in Secret Bunny 07 trade from Vancer.

Pours into a New Belgium snifter a dark cola color with a nice sized, heady and stiff light grey colored head. Tons and tons of lacing down the glass and the head stays for the entire session.

Aroma is sweet and yeasty. Slight notes of coffee and chocolate. Yeast seems to be the most dominant aroma here. Some bready or biscuity aromas as well.

Tasty beverage. Sweet and yeasty and slightly chocolatey. Dark fruits such as black cherries or even raisins make an appearance. Not overly sweet although the aroma would lead one to think otherwise.

Medium to full bodied mouthfeel makes this one tasty brew. After receiving lots of NB beers in a recent trade, I have noticed that most of them have some similar, bready flavors. This one is no different. Nice drinkability and as the beer warms, more chocolate is revealed. The last of my two 1554s. Thanks again Vancer.

SaCkErZ9, Apr 06, 2007
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade from Wasatch, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color with a large foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a very thick and even lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, dark fruit, some Belgian yeast and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with semi-sweet flavors of dark chocolate and dark fruits (raisins & berries), then a Belgian yeast flavor comes in but it’s much lighter than most Belgian style beers that I’ve had. There’s a mild hops presence and a hearty malt character with a little bit of smokiness.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, I could drink a few of these in an evening, but I think this is a beer that would work better if you were to have two or three after dinner or as a slow evening winds down. It’s not quite a sipper, but I don’t think I could drink enough of them to call it a pounder either. However, it’s still a very good beer.

TheManiacalOne, Apr 01, 2007
Photo of jtslay
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer was served on tap.

A - The color is almost black. It is very very close to black but not quite as black as an oatmeal stout or an Irish stout. The head is not very thick but tan/amber in color.

S - The smell is that of the New Belgium line of beers. "Biscuity" would be the word that comes to mind. This beer has a tame smell and isn't as strong as Fat Tire or Abbey.

T - The taste is a perfect blend of bitterness with dark roasted flavor. It is not overly bitter or overly sweet (from grains).

M - The mouth feel is smooth but full. This is not usually the case with many stouts that overwhelm the palate with bitterness.

D - For the seasoned stout drinker this is very drinkable. For the novice, it may seem to be enough to have just one.

jtslay, Mar 30, 2007
Photo of briman
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap into standard pint glass.

Pours dark brown, with ruby highlights when held up to the light.
Half-inch fluffy brown head, excellent retention which actually never completely dissipated. Tons of lacing all the way down the glass.

Aroma is roasted malt, chocolate and coffee.

Flavor is roasted malts, chocolate and coffee. The flavors linger well into the clean, dry finish. Very light roasted malt bitterness leaning towards the coffee flavors into the aftertaste.

Medium body, low to moderate carbonation. Great balance, very clean, smooth, and highly drinkable. I've been drinking 1554 for years, and honestly this is probably the best one I've ever had.

briman, Mar 22, 2007
Photo of dstc
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice dark, almost completely black color with a full off-white creamy head that lingers for some time eventually leaving a bit of fine lace behind.

Smells nice. Definitely hints of roasted malts.

In tasting you definitely get hit right up front with the strong roasted almost burnt flavor of the malt. Hints of chocolate with a coffee aftertaste.

Feels smooth and creamy in the mouth but also well carbonated so you don't think you're drinking a stout.

Overall a very good beer from New Belgium. They have several varieties I like and this is one of my favorites.

dstc, Feb 20, 2007
Photo of ccrida
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass, the 1554 is a deep, dark blackish ruby with a thick, billowy 3 finger beige head that was slow to recede and left a tone of gorgeous lace.
The aroma is moderate, all roasted malt and a bit of coffee and chalk.
The taste is really nice, stoutish but a bit more complex, presumably from the yeast. Mainly roasted malt, as well some coffee, bitter-sweet chocolate and biscuit. The aftertaste is fleeting and mainly coca, perhaps a tad chalky. Very enjoyable.
The mouthfeel is much lighter then one might assume from the appearance, with a nice creaminess to it.
This is incredibly drinkable, a real session ale. I paired this with a few thin mints, whoa was that killer, could've ate the whole sleeve!

ccrida, Feb 20, 2007
Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a chalice at 40 degrees. Thanks to Wasatch for this one!!

A - Poured a deep brown with a foamy white head. Good retention and carbonation.

S - Some spices lingered in the air, but aroma dominated by cocoa-malt and coffee...some sweetness in the background.

T - Roasted cocoa & malt with a nice coffee aftertaste. Some mild hops in the background blended with black cherries and raspberries. With the lower ABV, I was expecting a let-down in taste, but it holds very strong...makes for an excellent dessert beer.

M - Creamy finish with a medium body. Flavors roll off the tongue very nicely.

D - Due to the lower ABV and strong flavors, this would make for the perfect Belgian Dark session beer...I could have easily had quite a few of these and not tire of them.

JohnnyM2002, Feb 08, 2007
Photo of BigRedN
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. The beer is black as advertised. A nice brown head forms after the pour (about 1/2 an inch). This slowly fades away after a couple sips to a solid cover. Good lacing down the glass.

Smell: This one has dominant scents of roasted malt (dark chocolate and coffee beans), Nothing hoppy, but I was not expecting it either.

Taste: Nice and malty, roasted malts, not sweet. There is bitter chocolate and a touch of coffee. There is a slight bitterness on the finish. Not sure if this is due to some hopping or the bitterness is imparted by the roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Close to full bodied. There is sufficient carbonation so this does not feel like a heavy beer. A touch dry, yet a nice easy drinker.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink, lower ABV makes this one (dare I say) sessionable. Probably one of my favorite New Belgium beers that I have had so far.

BigRedN, Feb 06, 2007
Photo of isaac
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle to chalice.

A - Dark brown body (not quite black like the bottle suggests) with a sort of reddish twinge. small, tan head sinks to a film on the top of the body and thin lacing.

S - smell is boozy with with notes a bitter chocolate and espresso beans; roasted malts pervail.

T - Very similar to an oatmeal stout - dry bitterness from the hops, chewey, raisiny, chocolatey malts. slight hints of the yeast (maybe?) and a warming feeling in the throat from the alcohol.

M - the mouthfeel gets better as this warms - pretty smooth with a a nice astringecy.

D - not bad, not bad.

isaac, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of erikjon
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was referred to this beer by my brother, as it is one of his favorites. I put it off for a while, and finally broke down and bought some. Maybe I should have waited longer. I poured it into a glass, and the thin head quickly dissipated and disappeared altogether. I will say the coffee-black appearance was quite appealing, as I prefer to not be able to see through my beer, but that's all it really had going for it. This was my first black ale, and it tasted very much like a lighter bodied smoked porter. The label said something about a chocolaty flavor, but I was getting more of a smoky flavor than anything. It was really lacking in the body and mouthfeel department... a little more maltiness and body and this could be a winner. Until then... next!

erikjon, Feb 01, 2007
Photo of jameaterblues
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes/on tap at Denver Airport at a nice little bistro

A-Dark coffee in color with a 1/4 inch head that was cream colored/very thick/ with a dense lace.
S- Big coffee, very roasty, dark chocolate and light hops.
T/M/D- thick rich body...dark chocolate...coffee in the finish....light bitterness with a slightly resiny dank mouth feel. The beer actually gets a lot more flavor as it warms up. Medium-heavy with mild carbonation. Very nice....I really feel that this is the New Belgium beer that everyone should be talking about.

jameaterblues, Jan 24, 2007
Photo of ElGordo
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip glass. Body is a deep dark brown with reddish brown highlights when held up to the light. Light tan head is very small, receding to a thin ring in moments. Aroma of sweet dark malt, a touch of molasses, some dark fruit, and just a hint of dark chocolate. Palate is mostly dark malt up front, with a bit of sweetness. Notes of dark fruit and chocolate come through after a few sips, with a bit of tangy Belgian yeast making its presence known on the finish. Body is rich and creamy throughout, leading to a dry finish. A nice change of pace, this fairly unique ale is both interesting and refreshing.

ElGordo, Jan 18, 2007
Photo of Monkeyknife
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a darkest amber, almost black. Creamy head on top with plenty of lace.

Chocolate, malts and whiffs of sweetness meet the nose.

Tastes of hot chocolate and burnt malts.

Rich and creamy. Much more like a stout than an ale.

What an experience this beer was. Two or three of these in front of a roaring fire and I'd be in heaven.

Monkeyknife, Jan 16, 2007
Photo of drseamus
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The bottle says black ale, but it is just really dark brown. Plenty of light gets through when held up to a lamp. It pours nicely with a thick one inch mocha colored head. I smell chocolate, fruity, burnt, and sweet malty aromas. I taste heavily roasted malts with good amounts of residual sweetness. The mouthfeel is somewhat lacking in my opinion; I wish it was a little more full bodied personally. The drinkability on this is decent. I don't know if I would search it out, but I would drink it again.

drseamus, Dec 26, 2006
Photo of jasonjlewis
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

An easy to drink toned down belgian dark. Nice flavors. Dark malt smell. Nice smoothness and bitterness, not very present alcohol like other belgian darks, however it wasn't super complex and crazy like other belgians. it's just simple and solid. It's an easy to drink brew. The only problem I had with this is that the mouthfeel didn't match up to the rest of the brew as it was a little bit watery, but not too bad.

edit: I poured this in a wine glass today to see if it had a better appearance, and yes it was incredible. It had insane retention and head that stuck.

jasonjlewis, Dec 25, 2006
Photo of flexabull
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark brown, with a nice looking white fluffy head.

Smells of chocolate, mints, dark sweet roasted malts... actually nice aromas on this one.

Beer tastes of semi sweet chocolate, roasted dark malts, and with a nutty biscuit like quality on the finish.

Mouthfeel is pretty good. Well rounded, with a nice long finish.

This is a nice drinkable dark ale. Not really that heavy, but still with some nice tastes and aromas. This could be a good session brew.

flexabull, Dec 21, 2006
Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark brown mahogany color, clear. Nice foamy creamy head.

Malt, sweet and nectar-like, mild roasted. Floral hop bouquet.

Roasted and chocolate in the beginning. Sweet nectar. Nice bitter edge and floral hop vibe. Mild ripe dark fruit.

Pretty smooth and uncarbonated. Moderate foamation.

Not bad, but could be better. Complex array of flavors, but overall fairly light. The taste is very nice upfront, but soon quells. Most the sips I took were too watery. It doesn’t assert its malt and hop presence strong enough for such complex flavors. Could have more of a carbonation bite to it, it goes down too fast. Incredibly similar malt characteristics to Fat Tire and 2 Below.

MrHungryMonkey, Dec 15, 2006
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is a black to dull maple to ruby colored beer with a thin layer of malted-milk head that leaves spider-webs of lace on the sides of the glass. The smells are cherry skin, a tickle of acrid burnt grain, light brown sugar, slight yeastiness, and earthy hops. It reminded of scotch ale on a sniff or two and the entire bouquet had a kind of fresh-baked quality.

The taste starts with tounge-bracing burnt grain and then coffee and milk chocolate smooth things over, blending with a pronounced nutt flavor and well-played hop bitter. Once again that baked feeling comes out in the aftertaste, on the heels on New Belgium's signature toasted character. Mouthfeel starts light but fluffs up in the mouth with a burst of carbonation. Kinda cool. This is a must-try for any fan of schwarzbier. It isn't nearly so mellow, but you'll love the flavor.

JudgeRoughneck, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of biergeniesser
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This bottle of New Belgium 1554 (best by 2/16/07) poured a deep ruby-red brown… quite nearly black. A fluffy tan head dissipated slowly lacing itself nicely on the glass.

The aroma is dominated by roasted malt. A burnt caramelized aroma is evident.

As with the aroma, the flavor is also dominated by the roasted malt, hop character is nearly undetectable. Toffee, coffee and caramel notes are evident along with a latent sweet malt character. Hop bitterness is moderate to low.

Although deceptively light in body, 1554 has a full mouth feel and a nice mouthcoat. Carbonation is low-moderate.

biergeniesser, Dec 06, 2006
Photo of Toddv29424
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Exciting find from a very unsuspecting source. The smell is very faint, but is reminicent of toasted malts and grains. The taste starts out just like a mexican malt beverage, with not a hint of alcohol and a syrup-like finish. The toasted malts and grains are very apparent in the second taste, and it comes across much like a stout with a light body. There is also a nutty presence that comes from the specialty grains and serves as a wonderful finish to the taste. A good beer, although nothing that you should go out of your way to find.

Toddv29424, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of goochpunch
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with ruby hues along with a thin, frothed milk khaki head that settles to a ring. Smells of black malts, dark roast coffee, with an overall clean and faintly fruity body. Basically a schwarzbier with faint fruitiness. Taste is a good representation of what is present in the nose. Roasted flavors with a bit of chocolate thrown in. Overall very clean. Slight hints of fruit. Mouthfeel is medium in body, with a creaminess to it. Carbonation faintly pricks. All around, a solid beer from New Belgium.

goochpunch, Nov 19, 2006
Photo of aaronh
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Virtually black with a cream colored head. Head shows decent lacing. Nice malt aroma with a touch of roasted notes. Flavor has a nice malt profile with smooth roastiness and a touch of hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is full without being thick. Nice presence on the palate but then it finishes rather clean with a touch of malt flavor. Dinkability is fantastic. Such a well-balanced beer; it goes well with food or just for having several in an evening. Great beer. This is what I expected quality-wise from New Belgium when i first tried fat tire.

aaronh, Nov 07, 2006
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,035 ratings.