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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

3,105 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,105
Reviews: 1,254
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 73
Gots: 221 | 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: 3,105 | Reviews: 1,254 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
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
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
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
4.09/5  rDev +6.8%
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
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
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
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
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
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
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
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
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
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
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
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of dnichols
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured a 12 ounce bottle into a cooled challis. This was among my first purchases from a nice micro and import beer store in Yakima, Washington.

A: It poured a deep dark brown with a shimmer of amber. There was a dense sticky dark tan head that disappeared somewhat quickly leaving a thin layer of foam on the surface and ringing the glass. There was a thin but well distributed lacing that followed the receding brew as I emptied my challis.

S: There was a light sweet and roasted malty aroma with hints of coffee, plums and smoked nuts. The aroma was well balanced with no smell overpowering and all providing a pleasant tickle to my nose.

T: It had a sweet roasted malt flavor that included a gentle coffee flavor. There was a bit of zip from the hops but there was no bitter aftertaste.

M: It was a smooth medium bodied brew. There was a decent zing from the hops and carbonation that receded from the smooth and creamy sensation resulting from the sweetness of the roasted malts and earthiness of the fresh brewed coffee.

D: I was pleasantly surprised. I could easily enjoy several in one sitting and soon I will (as soon as I can drag myself to Yakima to restock).

Comment: I like several of the products from this brewery but did not expect to enjoy this one nearly as much as I did.

Photo of Ungespundet
4.53/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the best Biers brewed in the United States of America! I haven’t been the biggest fan of the other offerings from this brewery other than their sour beer, although the others are solid offerings in their own right,. Man did they hit the nail on the head here. This brewery is starting to hit a stride. With more offerings like this and them continually refining their processes(it takes time people…look at Saint Arnold) they are moving well beyond the initial hype of a well orchestrated advertising push not all so long ago. I love this Bier and while Fat Tire is their flagship, this Bier is where their history just might begin. There’s no other Bier like this in the US. I would buy this one on a regular basis and drink it gladly although I have to rely on my brother to bring a few over to me here in München. So here’s what I discovered in a little bottled called 1554……..

Pours up what can’t be improved and can only make other Biers envious, a very creamy and thick, tan colored, very fine bubbled, Schaumkrone(only Bier from the US that gets this distinction from me). Under this masterpiece you’ll find a brilliantly clear deep brown elixir with hints of a mahogany reddish hue I know only from a Les Paul that hangs on a wall in Queen Creek, Arizona. The aroma boasts big thick deep coco malts, followed by sweet toasted malts and caramel. The coffee roast aroma comes on next and is silky and sexy and it finishes with a hint of herbal hops. Reminiscent of smelling a 80-90% coco bar. Easing into this Bier I found it something like an Edel Chocolate, from a store you can’t afford, hitting the tongue. This Bier is beautifully balanced although hints of sweetness and the bitterness smoothes everything out. Only a slight roast/chocolate bitterness is noticeable on the end. The silky malts expressed in this Bier are in a league of their own. In fact this Bier is in a league of it’s own. Hey..It’s okay to drink American Bier again…..This is a dark Bier that doesn’t compromise. One could say…”A dark light in Americas brewing history”.

Zum Wohl!!!

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

Looks a dark cherry wood color in the light, dark brown in the pint glass.

Smells at first of roasted malt chocolate, but cant smell anything on it now.

I love the taste of this beer! I love dark ales, dark lagers, etc, and this one is like tony the tiger, grrrreat! Big mouthfeel, deep roasted grainy malt taste. Better then the other malts they use in there other beers. Like a chocolate coffee after taste that permeates your mouth.

Try this beer. Great session beer even. Like someone said, it would pair well with food.

Photo of katan
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled dated as good until Jan 2008.

A - Pours as though its name woudl suggest: a dark black color. Has a light 2-3 mm head on it.

S - A nice smooth malt smell to it - not much of any hops aroma on the nose. I would say its a roasted carmel flavor of some kind

T - Very interesting - it doesn't have much of a strong initial flavor to it. It hits my lips somewhat flat. But, it recovers nicely with a smooth malt aftertaste. Even then, its not incredibly overpowering. Not at all bitter.

M - Its a smooth beer - not crisp whatsoever.

D - I could drink a few of these. They are a nice flavor with a food pairing such as beer.

All and all, a good beer. Very pleased to see NB in Iowa. I would rank it similar to Fat Tire, that its a good beer but not outstanding overall.

Photo of msubulldog25
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a little surprised that I've never reviewed this one before. This poured a draught pint at Kelly's Olympian, Portland, Or. Have enjoyed before on several occasions at festivals and from the bottle.

A: Deep mahogany brown pour, quite clear with a ruby tint. Topped with a dense and creamy light tan head about 1/2-finger high at best. Very nice sheeting lace clings on the glass.

S: Subtle toasted malts, light nuttiness, with a bit of sweet toffee. Pretty bland for this style.

T: Malts upfront, slightly charred. Sweet nuts that are a touch burnt with a hint of cocoa. A dash of brown sugar and maybe maple. Enough bittering hops to prevent this from being overly sweet. Still a pleasing, roasted malt treat.

M: Velvety smooth, though a little thin. Carbonation is hardly felt, a little burnt/bitter in the finish. Medium-light body.

D: No raves in any category, but very easy to drink. Smooth flowing with a cleanness and soft carbonation that keep it quite quaffable. A tasty beer, worth a try.

Photo of elricorico
4.11/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very deep brown colour that looks black in the glass. A good sized tan head that leaves plenty of lacing and lasts well.

The smell is smoky roasted malt, a bit of coffee and a faint dry wine aroma. Nice.

Roasted malt is also dominant in the taste, but is a bit sweeter than it smells. There is also a fruity flavour in the middle of the tongue, suggesting cherries. The finish is dry and slightly bitter. A nice and complex taste.

Medium bodied, with just enough carbonation to cut through. Faintly astringent in the finish. Good here too.

This is a very good beer, and I can't say I've tasted anything quite like it. Glad I picked it up.

Photo of afinepilsner
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz brown bottle

New Belgium 1554 was a dark red-brown color with a nice light tan head. The head had good retention and left some nice lacing behind. The aroma was toasty dark malt and chocolate. The taste was about the same with a little sweetness upfront and a dry finish. It was medium-full in body with good carbonation. Drinkability was good. This is a good ale and I'm very happy to finally find it in Iowa.

Photo of soupyman10
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a sixer from some friends who were rolling through Colorado. Pours a mahogany color with two fingers of tan head on top. Looks solid. Coffee, roasted malt, and light astringency are the nose. Roasted malt, some sweet chocolate too. Flavor is very mild - light roasted malt, spices, molasses, and some light hops at the back end. Body is medium with solid carbonation. This one's a solid, tasty American version of a Belgian dark, but not really exceptional. I do like it more than the other more popular New Belgium, Fat Tire.

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

Pours a deep ruby-amber in color, nearly black to the casual observer. A two-fingered, rocky off white head tops this, and there's good lacing throughout. Nose is sweet/sour (tangy) up front, with notes of plum and light raisin. Sweet and almost rich on the first sip, with notes of roasted and black malts bringing up the rear. Light alcohol and lightly metallic notes co-mingle in the aromatic portion of the mid-palate, and light biscuit malt notes are cast adrift on a deep sea of sweeter, chocolate malt notes. Bitterness is minimal to the point of being an afterthought, and here it reminds me of a few of the Schwarzbiers I've enjoyed, although being a bit fruitier. On the palate there are notes of ripe red apple, sweet and tangy cherry, and light espresso. The yeast here is restrained for a Belgian style, fairly clean and unobtrusive. A fine beer overall, albeit just a bit sweet for my tastes at the moment. Might it appeal to Sweet Stout fans?

[Served lightly chilled, in a tulip.]

Photo of Erdinger2003
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sara tulip.

Pours a light brown head with a good strong lacing. The color is dark, but when held up to the light you can see through it has a purple-ish brown color. The head went down fast into almost nothing. Smell has chocolate, licorice, and roastiness. It reminds me of a spicy schwarzbier. Taste is soft and nice, like licorice with the roasty backround that's easy to drink. Mouthfeel is very nice, very smooth and enjoyable. Overall, this is a very good beer that I would love to have again.

Photo of dogger6253
4.36/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is black, nothing else. It is completely opaque. Has a big, fluffy head, sort of a light tan color. Retention holds and gobs of lace stick to the glass. I love when a beer looks like this.

Dark fruit aromas dominate the nose. There is a hint of alcohol that maintains balance, but a bit on the mellow side.

Roasted, toasted malts and hops right up front in the flavor. Can taste the alcohol, a little raisin, a little fig, dates come through in the finish as does a note of chocolate.

Medium bodied and slightly dry, couldn't really notice any carbonation until the finish. This beer tasted great and was pretty refreshing.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,105 ratings.