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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

2,976 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,976
Reviews: 1,242
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 67
Gots: 165 | 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: 2,976 | Reviews: 1,242 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mitchel
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1554 pours a very dark ruby-brown with a cappuccino colored head. The head is somewhat thick and creamy looking and leaves pretty good lacing. It smells sweet like malt and caramel with just little roasted quality to it. A little fruity, a little floral.

It is moderately hoppy with a medium body and medium mouth feel. There are undertones of brown sugar and molasses. Nice and creamy with, again, a little bite of hops. Finishes just a little bitter and with a hint of chocolate.

This is a good beer not fantastic, but a very well rounded beer. New Belgium seems to put out a remarkable line of beers. Cheers!

Mitchel, Apr 20, 2006
Photo of shbobdb
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In fourteen-hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the Ocean blue.

Good thing too, because without valuable information he brought back with him the flavour of this beer would have been *mighty* difficult to describe. This beer is like drinking a fine, carbonated, chocolate drink. Not the super-sweet milk chocolate, but a more pure, bitter chocolate.

I swear, they put some baker's chocolate in this brew. It's really quite amazing. Very drinkable and highly refreshing.

I'm rather jealous of the Intelligentsia of that by-gone era if they were able to routinely drink a beer as fine as this!
Thanks ColoradoBob. This is a mighty fine beer. I loved every sip.

shbobdb, Apr 19, 2006
Photo of cheers2beers
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This beer pours a dark brown,almost black liquid with a light tan colored head. The head rose up rapidly to a staggering four finger height, and slowly fell leaveing behind alot of web-like laceing.

Smell: The aromas are molasses and caramel malts with a hint a wood notes. Even a touch of cinnamon and a mild clove can be noticed.

Taste: The flavors are very nice indeed. No typical Belgian yeast flavors here, just some totally unexpected notes of chocolate, a sweet molasses caramel maltiness with a vague hop bitterness in the finish. Not much alcohol is detected but just enough to say "hello".

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is also quite nice. Medium to thick body with a medium level of carbonation. Not slick,but not watery either. Right in the middle of the two catagories. Leaves with a semi-sweet cocoa and hop bitterness in the end.

Drinkability: This beer turned out to be much more than I had anticipated. This is definitely one of my favorite black ales now. I look forward to purchaceing it again, and of course I would recommend 1554 Black Ale to you.


cheers2beers, Apr 19, 2006
Photo of ReDave
3.15/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very Dark! Nice creamy slightly tan head that left a nice lace all the way down. Smell... slightly sweetish malt smell. Tast.. Had a very slight sour tast to it. After taste was a little off as well.. I'm guessing that i am a dyed in the wool hop Head, and need to stick to IPA's

ReDave, Apr 19, 2006
Photo of benito
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1554 has been one of my favorite New Belgium beers since I first moved to Colorado two years ago; though, only now am I finally getting around to adding a review of this great brew.

Style-wise, this is a cool beer--this is not a typical Belgian dark, sharing much more in common (in appearance and taste) with both schwarzbiers and stouts. That said, there is something distinctly Belgian about the brew. It is black with a nice head and a roasty and earthy bouquet. It tastes of roast coffee and chocolate (very stout like in that sense), but it also has a distinct banana flavor as well. There's also a hint of pepperiness on the back of the tongue that gives this a unique mouthfeel and sets it apart from its Anglo and Germanic dark bretheren.

In spite of its darkness, it's rather light bodied and very drinkable. I had one today after a long day of spring skiing and found it to be as refreshing as NB's Sunshine Wheat!

Highly recommended--a unique and fun beer.

benito, Apr 16, 2006
Photo of Puddleglum
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this ale. There wasn't much of a head on it, but I don't mind a slightly flat dark ale. I hate over-carbonation. The smell was nice with roasted maillard notes and caramelization present without being sour. The taste was much the same. I found it to be very drinkable due mostly to a nice non-astringent mouthfeel.

Puddleglum, Apr 13, 2006
Photo of BradBLR
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a very intersting beer. When fisrt poured it is DARK! You need to hold it up to a light bulb to see any light through it. No head to speak, I would like to try it out of a tap that may be the ticket.

The aroma of this beer is a cross between chocolate and coffee, not really sure which one it is, but it has a sweetish scent to it.

The intial taste was great! I exepected it to be smooth like a stout, but it wass very clean and crisp. It had a very nice malty taste and a very smooth mounth feel. And the after taste was similar to a schwartz beer.

This was a very different beer and definatly worth a try.

BradBLR, Apr 03, 2006
Photo of beckerboots
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased one in California recently. Was very excited at the prospect of drinking it; especially after reading the overall favourable reviews in BA. Poured to a very dark brown/black with minimal lacing and retention. Deceptive in its appearance especially after the first sip. Very thin for such a dark looking ale. Perhaps I was expecting something more substantial. Fairly palate friendly, but I feel the dark malts needed to be a little more roasted to keep up with the look. New Belgium products are not available in my neck of the woods, therefore have not been weaned on them. Having said this, I was a touch disappointed with the experience but would still recommend this to my friends

beckerboots, Mar 22, 2006
Photo of rowew
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Slightly updated packaging and label from the standard New Belgium series. Still has the description, serving suggestion (glass and temperature), and best before date clearly marked.

Appearance: Poured into a standard pint with a rather large head. Dark brown with red edges, head was tan in color.

Smell: Lots of roasted aroma, with a bit of chocolate as well.

Taste: Just like it smells, nice roasted flavors with some chocolate and just a bit of coffee. Despite this it is fairly light in body and highly drinkable.

Overall impression: Definitely one of my favorites from New Belgium. Drinkable, but still complex and flavorful.

rowew, Mar 13, 2006
Photo of amstelcat
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this one during a flight of New Belgium beers with a friend who had brought some back from a trip to Nebraska. Poured this one into my favorite New Belgium snifter. Minimal amount of head with some subsequent lacing. Aroma of slightly burnt caramel. A little black coffee on the tongue with some butter as well. Taste is alittle dissapointing and the mouthfeel seems a little thin. Compared to the rest of the flight, it suffers a little in comparison.

amstelcat, Mar 10, 2006
Photo of UncleFlip
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another beer trade bottle- I believe Fugazme. Thanks!

Looks like cola in the glass. Smallish loose tan head tops a brown liquid with ruby edges and highlights. Head falls away somewhat rapidly.

Smell is bready, fruity, and floral- rather pleasant.

Flavour is a bit roasty off the top, but then turns brown-sugary sweet and medicinal at the same time. The medicinal bit is not overwhelming, but is there. Bitterness kicks in at the end.

Feels decent in the mouth. Liquid is thin, and carbonation just slightly higher than I'd like.

The drinkability on this one only loses out because of the slight medicinal quality, and the carbonation. For my tastes, kick those and it will be a better brew.

Be well

UncleFlip, Mar 01, 2006
Photo of Jredner
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sweet musty, malt aroma. Dark brown with a thumb thick mocha head. Very porter-like in appearance. Full malt flavor in the fore. Some mild roastiness is present and there are, to me, some very porterish asspects except that this is sweeter and far maltier. Sort of a scwarzbier/porter mix. I get some mild molasses notes in the aftertaste. Very satisfying brew.

Jredner, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of ppoitras
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from nvsblman as part of BIF 19. Thanks for the opportunity. Label says best before 11Nov05. Oops.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1 1/4" brown head above the clear dark burgundy brew. Head lasts well, with plentiful sticky lacing. Aroma is dark grain with a light hopiness. Taste starts hearty yet sweet, with the taste buds eventually sorting out the roasty dark malts, and ends with a light hop character. Mouthfeel is smooth and soft over the tongue, and drinkability is high, only limited that the sweetness may get overbearing after awhile. But I'd take a few, I would think. I'd like to make certain, if the opportunity came up.

ppoitras, Feb 22, 2006
Photo of Shovelbum
4.65/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a thin tan head over a black body. Head rapidly recedes leaving bands of lace. Aromas of roasted malt, vinous fruit, plums and a hint of coffee. Similar flavors fill the mouth with an emphasis on roasted malt, chocolate and vinous fruit. There is also a substantial sweetness that carries the other flavors without being overwhelming. Medium bodied, low carbonation. Very smooth in the mouth with a clean finish.

Incredible complexity in both the nose and flavor of this ale. Almost stout-like, but the lighter body and Belgian candi-sugar sweetness reveal its Belgian sensibilities. With such a low ABV and major flavor and smoothness, this is one drinkable ale.

Shovelbum, Feb 21, 2006
Photo of musingmonkey
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, dark brown...looks like dark chocolate, threatening to be black every time you look at again, but never getting there. Head is bubbly tan, that sadly isn't long lasting.
Fragrance is sweet, some spice notes, malt.
Taste was unusual at first. Sweet malt is apparant, but not overt, some light citrus notes, a little bitterness, followed by a grainy and very earthy finish.... almost dirty. It took me by surprise, and I must admit it took a while for this beer to grow on me. I supposed I drank the six bottles over about 4 days, but by the time I'd finished the last one I really wanted more.
Feels to be medium bodied, and with the earthy finish, was quite dry and as such I think this is something that could be consumed in quantity.

musingmonkey, Feb 18, 2006
Photo of orfeu
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown, almost black. Held to a strong light, russet highlights come through. Modest tan foam cap. Aromas of sweet malt, some candied dark dried fruits (prunes, mostly), and grassy hops. Black roasted malt flavor up front with a cherry-fig middle, and earthy-grassy hops rounding out the finish. Smooth mouthfeel, medium body. Quite easy to drink. Belgian black ale? Works for me.

orfeu, Feb 18, 2006
Photo of ggaughan
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a nice New Belgium glass that my wife bought me for Christmas a few years ago. This beer poured a nice deep brown, almost black color with a 1/2 inch but thick tan, almost caramel looking head. The beer had a malty sweet aroma with some spice tones in the background. The taste also gives a good malty sweet taste that is complex but very drinkable for a beer that is so dark. Another quality beer from New Belgium

ggaughan, Feb 16, 2006
Photo of TheEclecticGent
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer thanks to a trade with Mentor (Cheers!) I poured this beer from the bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance – This pours a nearly black, mahogany with a tan head with average retention and some lacing.

Smell – This beer smells malty and sweet with some spicy overtones.

Taste – This is a very robust malty beer, yet it's lighter on the palette that one would expect. It's more subtle than I would expect from a beer this dark. It strikes me as a middle ground between an American porter and a black lager.

Mouthfeel – On the whole, this brew is surprisingly light bodied considering the dark and syrupy look of the beer and the malt aroma. It is fairly carbonated and has some fizz to the tongue.

Drinkability – This is good drinkable beer. I recommend it.

TheEclecticGent, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of lackenhauser
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice, deep mahogany color. Not quite black but a lovely, deep drown. Nice tight head. Good aroma-some roasted malt, slight burnt toast smell-somewhat grainy. Great roasted malt flavor. Sort of a blend of toffee/coffee going on. Nice mellow sweetness to the finish. Great body to match the flavor-very full and soft at the same time. Fantastic beer. I wish I could get this locally-I could see it being my go to beer. I just want to gulp this down. Extremely enjoyable.

lackenhauser, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of BeerAngel
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a very dark brownish-red that is nearly black. It has a nice light brown head that dissipates fairly rapidly. The smell consists of roasty malt with a hint of sweet spice. The taste is mostly a smooth roasted malt with a slight raisin type flavor with just a small amount chocolate and tapers to slight hops towards the end of each swallow. The mouthfeel is just right in this medium-bodied beer.

If there's ever a session beer from the belgian-style beers, this one will work! Cheers!

BeerAngel, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of Bitterbill
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle(room temp) a pitch black with a huge head of foam that dissipates slowly leaving a fine layer and some lacing.

The smell is of roasted malt and there's a bit of a bitterness there as well...I like it.

The taste is dominated by roasted malt at first, with a noticeable oatmeal flavour that brings out some sweet notes coming through midway. The finish brings back the roastiness and is teamed with a bit of bitterness that makes for an excellent overall tasting beer.

Bottom line: Here's an unusual style of beer that has a lot of good things going on....I recommend it!

Bitterbill, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It's always a treat to sample a recreation of one of the older, historical styles such as this. Thanks to mntlover for bringing this bottle by. Pours a very dark mahogany body with ruby highlights. Head quickly falls to a lasting film and some spotty lace. Body has excellent clarity. Aroma is roasty malts, with notes of chicory nuttiness and a prominent Munich malty character. Mouthfeel is light medium bodied. Taste is dominated by roasty dark malts, with notes of scorched coffee, bitter chocolate, and soy sauce. Hops and yeast contribute an understated earthiness. A hint of black cherries adds a welcome fruitiness. This is a dark ale that defines its own style. Tastes more like a Schwartzbier than a Belgian Dark Ale. Very well crafted and a pleasant sipper. Another fine brew from the folks at New Belgium.

merlin48, Jan 24, 2006
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had both tap and bottle. Into pint glass.
Good color. I love the black beers. Not as rich and thick looking as a Guinness, but close. Small, yet foaming head. A Little lacing.
Dark roasted malt smell, chocolate, some smoke I think.
Taste was strong roasted malt that gave way to more sweet chocolate, but not too much. Hops made an appearance towards the finish. Little aftertaste, enough to want more. Just rich enough flavor to make it special, but not too rich to rate it unique.

Mebuzzard, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of longarm
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep coffee colored brew with hints of red. Light brown and fluffy carbonation. Excellent lacing.

Nutty, chocolate aromatics coat the nose leaving room for little else.

Stong doses of chocolate malt, caramelized sugars and mild fruity esters. Possibly a little stale. Moderate dose of hops on the finish scrubs the palate well.

A relatively clean finish given the stong presence of black malts. Mouthfeel above average, but perhaps a bit on the sticky-sweet side.

This drinkable beer goes especially well with roast pork. I'd love to try it fresh on the tap right in downtown Ft.Collins.

longarm, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of acrawf6
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I like this beer. interesting to say the least.

Poured out a dark dark amber, almost black, but light does come through. Does not look cloudy. Tan head about a inch high comes up.

Smells roasted and buttery. Some coffee aromas come out. its creamy. A little bit of licorice, but not too much. the more i smell it, the more it reminds me of small liquid coffee creamer (vanilla flavored). Among all of this is the roasted malts, which is overall what i am smelling. very interesting smell.

Taste is good. sweeter than i thought. the first sip hit me and my jaw muscle like it was tart. mild malts come out. the roasted smells are not that dominant in the taste. I still taste a buttery flavor, but i dont know if its the diacytil (sp) or not. Some coffee tastes are there though. aftertaste is quite mild as well. takes a bit for the flavors to come back.

Mouthfeel is good. Good amount of carbonation. Good balance with the ingredients.

Overall i like this beer a lot. Seems like one can be enough, but i could drink a 6pack in one night. Very drinkable.

acrawf6, Jan 19, 2006
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,976 ratings.