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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

3,065 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,065
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: 3,065 | Reviews: 1,245 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jwilli7122
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

reddish dark-brown. like a darker "root-beer" color. lots of head, lots of lacing.

smells like...malt. not a whole lot going on, but not bad.

taste: malty... i can barely detect a slight hop presence in the aftertaste. very faint secondary flavors, but again, not bad. ultra-smooth and ultra-creamy texture - fair amount of carbonation. goes down very easy, but is creamy enough where i'll probably switch it up after one 22 oz bottle.

Photo of Badgersno1
4.9/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a pint glass

Appearance: Dark brown almost black, the head has a cream look in the beginning and settle to an off white

Smell: Roasty, coffee

Taste: This is where the beer sucked me in, great taste, not really what I expected, Roasted Coffee, little bit chocolaty, slight malt bitterness

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, perfectly carbonated, a lot lighter then what I thought

Drinkability: I could drink it all night, great session beer, clean finish

This is a great beer, very refreshing, I'll be getting this one again

Photo of linuxn00b2004
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Overall, a decent beer.

This beer looks spectacular! Poured into a goblet-esque glass (I don't really have the proper glassware... hey, I'm a college student!), the top section is completely opaque. However, in the bottom skinnier section, the color has a very beautiful ruby-orange hue. It could use a little work in the head department (it requires some... persuasion... to get it to form). However, once it is there, it stays for a few minutes. However, perhaps I am used to slightly over-primed beer (such as my own homebrew :-) ).
NOTE: My glass may have been dirty, or my technique lacking.

Smell: screams coffee! It smells of a strong expresso. There is also a touch of nuttiness.

The taste is very similar to the smell. Strong, dark, bitter, very coffee like, and a hint of nuttiness. I could probably put down a few of these if I so desired.

The mouthfeel is probably this beer's strength. Very creamy and smooth. Very luxurious.

I rated this relatively low in drinkability, because it would be difficult to slam these (not that you'd want to... quality over quantity). It is strong and dark, and my swill (BudCoorMill) drinking friends probably wouldn't like it.

Overall? I suggest you give it a whirl. It shouldn't offend you.

I've had several of these over the past week, and I have discovered something I don't like about this beer. It is very much lacking in body (I think that is the term I am looking for). While it's flavor is quite good, it still has a "watery" feel in the mouth. Perhaps this is what some people mean by it being lighter than they thought. It could use some work in this department: I am drinking a dark beer, and I want it to feel like a dark beer.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Caracole tulip.

A: Pours a lovely dark brown (almost black) with some ruby tinting around the edges. Creamy khaki colored head that leaves sheets of sticky lace in the glass.

S: Awesome roasted aroma with hints of dark chocolate, coffee, and toffee.

T: Roasted malt, chocolate, dark roast coffee, molassas, toffee, with a hint of restrained spiciness.

M: Full and creamy throughout the beginning and middle with a very refreshing tang at the finish.

D: This was an excellent surprise. I hadn't tried it before and I hadn't read any reviews prior to me trying it. Fantastic! Dark without being too heavy, light and refreshing enough without being too weak.

Photo of westweasel
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours out a very deep, dark ruby-brown color with a thin tan head. It was poured from a 12 oz. bottle, that was supposed to be best if served by November 2007. Lots of Brussels lace was left along the glass.

The smell was mostly a strong roasty scent, with some chocolate and a little bit of coffee. The taste was hugely dominated in the first sip by a strong roasted coffee flavor. The flavor was less strong in subsequent swallows. A hint of chocolate is also detectable.

The mouthfeel is somewhere between a high-medium and a low-full. There was lots of carbonation dancing on my tongue. This beer is pretty drinkable, but I wouldn't be able to handle that strong coffee roastiness for too many of these.

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

Into a tulip glass, pours a very dark brown, if not black, with brown hues around the edges. An aggressive pours yields a half inch sand head, somewhere between frothy and bubbly, receding to an intermittent foam and a hard pour of the remainder bringing it right back, and with strings of lacing sticking up and down the glass, its quite lovely.

The aroma is pretty straight forward, though could be more assertive, darkly malted with hints of burnt caramels and nuts, a little spicy perhaps.

There is more taste though, starting off lighter, a vague malty caramel, slightly roasted, gains spices and faint coffee beans, more roasted malt. The bitterness slowly rises, and the finish dries up and the carbonation activates more, combining with a rising burnt/bitter malt profile with faint baking chocolates. The body as a whole is medium and creamy, tingly carbonation throughout, a very solid beer in all.

Quite honestly, if I'm going to drink a brown, first comes Surly Bender, then this. Yes, probably my second favorite black/brown/Belgian Dark ale.

Photo of scottblaze
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice dark amber brown color.

Smell that reminded me of putting my nose in my mothers spice cabinet when I was a kid.

A delicious blend caramel and molasses, made me want to take a bite.

Speaking of taking a bite, mouthfeel a bit chewy with just the right amount carbonation.

A good sipping beer with good friends and good conversation.

My girlfriend didn't like this beer at all so on the girlfriend scale (this is my own scale 1 = worst & 10 = best and is purely subjective), I give it an 8 because she didn't pucker up and spit it out. Had she done so, it would have been a 10.

Photo of dfried
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle, a solid dark brown with some soft red highlights at the bottom and edges, large pillowy cream colored head. The aroma was of brown sugar and molasses, biscuity like dark bread and toast, with some brambles and dark fruits lingering in the background. The taste was quite similar, a lot of burnt toast up front, unfolding quickly to the slightly syrupy molasses and brown sugar like malt, with some fruity notes of plums, raisins, and dates creaaping in. Some noticeable yeasty and spicy hints creep in as well in the aftertaste. Quite light bodied and drinkable for a beer this dark in color. Malt keeps getting sweeter as it warms.

Overall: I liked this beer quite a bit, I thought it was a solid quality brew, but felt it didn't have any thing that "wow-ed" me. With how drinkable it is though, I can see how it could really grow on you. Sweet malty but toasty brew with a few layers of flavor.

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

Poured from the bottle, this is a beautiful clear dark ruby color with a minimal white head and little or no lacing on the glass. It smells mildly of caramel. The taste is of caramel with overtones of plum and toasty black malt. The mouthfeel is thinner than I expected, yet this ale is surprisingly crisp, refreshing and easy to drink. Nice one.

Photo of Risser09
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter - Exp. date is Apri1 2007

Appearance: Dark brown/black color with a tan head. Head is 1" high and slowly crawls back to the surface of the beer. No lace is present. Looks like a clean beer.

Smell: Burnt hot dogs, malt, roasted pecans. Kinda of a burning feeling in the nose, almost choking. Interesting.

Taste: Burnt oak, dark roasted malt, huge smoky backbone. Rigidly dry and a cocao bean taste.

Mouthfeel: Ample carbonation and slick mouthfeel. Sort of drying in the finish. Enough to keep me coming back.

Drinkability: This is a great beer that match up against some strong food flavors like grilled wild meats or hearty sausages. This is a sipper, though it does not have an overt alcohol presence. Nicely done.

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

This was a very good beer for the style- although I was expecting something a bit different given the name.
Dark purpleish brown with some decent head and lacing.
Smell and taste are delightful, but the balance of malt really comes thru on the flavor. Nice and bitter chocolate smell.
Mouthfeel is nice and creamy.
Drinkability is very high.

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

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a nonic pint glass.

A - Pours a deep, tawny brown with hints of black and red. A good two fingers of tight, frothy tan head which slowly recedes leaving a modest amount of lacing.

S - Aroma consists of smoky, toasted malts with some toasted bread and nut-like components.

T - Primarily chocolate and malts at first - moves into a breadiness at mid palate and finishes with a coffee and suble red wine flavor. Not overly sweet but some initial chocolately sweetness at first.

M - Medium body with some carbonation. Lighter than expected with a clean, smooth finish of malts and coffee.

D - Very drinkable for a dark ale - has many similarities to a porter in terms of taste and mouthfeel. Not sure about the "Belgian" elements as it is similar to other American dark ales / porters that I've had in recent years (e.g. Black Butte porter). I don't consider myself much of a fan of New Belgium (Fat Tire is average at best) but I would drink this beer again and woud recommend it to others interested in a decent dark ale.

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

Dark brown with some slightly lighter red highlighting. Soft dark tan head is decent, retention fine, lacing okay. Aromas of roast malt, mild spicing.

Dark brown ale flavor, malts do not exhibit roast character at all. As it warms the finish is dry, there's a toast flavor along with a mild smoke note as well.

Okay beer, nothing too bad but a little lacking in the flavor department (NB calling card...)

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

appearance is a dark rich brown with a thick creamy head. Smell clean dark roasted malts and dark fruits. Taste of sweet roasted malts, dark fruits with a slight smokiness to it. Mouthfeel has a creamy medium body with good carbonation that goes down smooth. A very good black ale, but something I would better enjoy more towards the fall.

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

Pours a deep brownish black with crimson tones. Medium creamy-bubbly tan head; relatively heavy lacing. Aroma is milk chocolate, cream, caramel, toast, and distant spices. Mouthfeel is lightly fizzy and silky – heavy-medium body. Flavor follows suit with deep malty chocolate, light sourdough notes, roast, light charcoal, and very distant spicy hops. Dark sweet fruits (raisin, date, fig) in the finish; sweet aftertaste.

Photo of Slatetank
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - an enchanting black with a 2.5 finger head of compact bubbles that produces a light tan head of microfoam. A decent amount of thin lace remains.

S - Bready, nutty and toasty with a gentle biscuit aroma and a compliment of spice.

M - Nutty Roasted and moderately carbonated with a clean finish and refreshing deep roasted coffee after taste.

T - Sweet at first, almost immediately replacing the chocolate malt taste with toasted and refined biscuity flavors. A gentle berry and coffee taste emerges as it warms with a mellow caramelized sugar flavor. Cardamom and clove flavors round out the spice element of this tasty brew.

D - A great dark ale with none of the cloying heavy trappings. This is a quaffable, sessionable brew along the lines of a schwarzbier, but with Belgian character. An ale that is easy to drink and worth having as a compliment to sushi grade tuna, shellfish or by itself.

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

Great beer. Good for a person trying something new that has not ventured out to try anything besides light beers. This is a great new belgium black ale with exceptional taste and also it has a great aroma.

Do not be scared to try this beer because of its color.

Photo of HotterThanHell
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1554 is and exceptional Ale, with a nice frothy head and plenty of silky lacing as you drink it down. Bought a 6 of it and had two tonight in a Duvel glass.

The beer is certainly black but up to a bright light you can see a very dark Ruby red color and it has been filtered.

The aroma is nice, with a lot of malty tones (chocolate, coffee, toffee, nutty). Just a hint of hops.

The taste is really the impressive part. Very malty but no alcohol taste and no sour or bitter aftertaste which is so common with many Belgian Ales. For me, this is why I've rated it so high. So many of these beers I really enjoy as they go down but the aftertaste just kills it for me. This beer has none of that, and it reminds me of the German Swarzbiers (Ex. Texas Gold from the now defunct Hub City Brewery)

New Belgium Brewery is making some fine beers right now and this is a definite must try. 2 Below is another from them.


Photo of adarby
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great dark caramel color. The smell is only exceeded by it exceptional flavor. This beer does not leave a foul aftertaste, and does not leave you full.
Overall, this is a very good beer and would recommend it to those who are lovers of darker ales.

I have found this beer to be better served just slightly chilled and poured into a glass. This beer also compliments steak and some seafood very well.

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

Sampled this opaque rich black beer at the brewery. It was poured into a 4 ounce glass with a slight frothy head. No light makes it through this beer -- it's so black it may absorb light.

The nose was very nice: chocolate, coffee, toffee. Light yeast.

The taste perfectly mirrored the nose. This is certainly not a hoppy beer. There is a nice depth of flavors here that linger on the tongue.

It is not a light beer, but the mouthfeel is a bit watery. yes, beer is made from water, but I prefer these dark stouts/porters to have more to them.

I could drink a couple of these after dinner in lieu of dessert, but it's not a beer I was to drink at a tailgating party before a hot football game.


Photo of DaveFL1976
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This would probably be the Most Suprisingly COolest Beer that I had at the New Belgium Brewery.

From my notes, and literally (drunkenness and all):
Appears black, but w/ ruby highlights. Nice head that settles down into a thin skin. Nice lacing.
Full and smooth and sweet smell. Lots of chocolate malt in the nose and tongue.
Big caramel taste with a malty foreground. Extremely smooth with a nice finish.
Mouthfeel and drinkability are smoother than I expected.

Photo of moyalva2003
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

yes, i love this beer. This beer rocketed to #2 on my top 5, yes i'ma young'un so far but this beer is great. I love the darker beers. The barkeep at my pub recommend this beer and i loved it. Smelled like a sweet-raosty-hoppy aroma to it. And the bold flavor went down tasty as hell. This is a very enjoyable beer and i highly recommend it.

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

Deep mahogany body crowned by a thick head. Head retention is impressive and lacing is copious and even.

Strange odors of butter, cardboard and smoke. Weird.

Butter carries over in this surprisingly rich beer. Mild malt sweetness mixes with earth to create a strange but enjoyable brew. Dark rye flavors creep up toward the finish.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin but otherwise finishes creamy.

An odd but highly enjoyable dark ale. I've eagerly consumed all three given to me in a trade with chadspivey. Thanks, man!

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

I love brown ales, I love Schwarzbiers, and I'm open to Belgian styles. 1554 is really none of these, but certainly has elements of each.

Pours into my Chimay chalice a blackish brown with red edges. Dark but not opaque. Not a huge head. Above-average carbonation, including bubbles along the sides of the glass in the liquid - would be hard to tell the differerence between this and a Coke.

Nose is wonderfully malty, some roast - like a schwarzbier with a tiny edge of Belgian spice. Taste is perfectly integrated - roast (or toast?), light toffee, some chocolate, and malt malt malt. The Belgian influence is muted. Some nice burnt bitterness on the finish. Lingers nicely, but doesn't overstay its welcome.

The only downside here is the carbonation - with such a relatively thin body, I could do with a notch less carbonation than what's here. Without the carbonation, it would be practically ideal. But a damn fine beer regardless.

Photo of theopholis
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Body is brown with hints of red on the edges. Lots of head, lots of staying power, pretty decent lacing.

Aroma- Roasted, spicy, sweet malts with some hops tossed in.

Taste- Very unusual, but pleasent mix of malt sweetness and a smokey chocolate flavor.

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.

Mouthfeel- Medium body. Good level of carbonation.

Drinkability- Very sessionable. Not really suitable for day-time drinking, but very interesting.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,065 ratings.