1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

3,102 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,102
Reviews: 1,253
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 73
Gots: 219 | 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
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: 3,102 | Reviews: 1,253 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brdc
4.17/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to axelbay for this one.
Best before 10/05/07.
Very dark, almost black with some reddish golden highlights, at times resembling cognac color. Coffee colored head, that although small, leaves some nice lacing all the way down.
Smell is mostly chocolate, actually hot chocolate and/or that smell that leaves the pot when you melt chocolate. Other hints include some caramel and coffee, and sometimes it even taste like the choclate bar Caramello - got try it with it.
Body is light, and taste is very similar to aroma, sometimes a bit too sweet to go more than one cup, and not necessarily very complex, but delicious.
Not something to be had as a session beer, not even a daily thing, but a delicious occasional beer.

Photo of kernalklink
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

What an interesting brew- very complex and a treat for the tastebuds. Pours a dark mahogany with vanishing head and some carbonation. Aromas were of hearty roasted malts, a hint of hps and a yeasty sour note. The flavor was slightly smokey like beechwood, very earthy and it intesifies the roasted malts. Alcohol is there but very slight, and the sweetness of the malts hides it well. Finish is slightly bitter, and clean, probably not even from the hops, but the combination of malty goodness. I wouldnt have guessed it be of belgian origin, but nonetheless its a good historic brew.

Photo of blakesell
4.01/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a Belgian goblet style glass (Gulden Draak). Thanks to Dennis for bringing these New Belgium beers out from Texas to me.

Appearance- Quite dark, almost black but with reddish hues when held to the light. Large frothy head with small bubbles of carbonation quickly dissapate to a creamy looking ring around the sides.

Smell- Very little in traces of candi sugar. I smell dark roasted malts for the most part. This smells somewhat like a porter, but has some other scents intermingled as well, a hint of fig and pepper linger in the background, but for the most part, chocolate malt, and perhaps some darker roast malt, 60-80L I would guess.

Taste- Sweeter than the smell. More chocolate and fig, perhaps some rasin in this one. Still present is the roasty malt flavors that go down creamy and smooth. Actually, if there was such thing as a Belgian porter, I would call this it.

Mouthfeel- Creamy and smooth. Yet still robust. This is amazing as a porter and still amazing as a beer overall. For a Belgian Dark ale, it seems kind of light, but sometimes we don't need that much alcohol in our beers.

Drinkability- At 5.6%ABV, this is an easy drinking beer of a style I love. It makes those that can get it very fortunate that it comes in 6-pks. Unfortunately, here in Ohio, it can't be obtained. I am a happy camper knowing I still have another 4 for a later date.

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

Appearance: Dark brown, nice sized head.

Smell: Roasted malt, yeasty.

Taste: Sweetness--dark fruit notes, roasted malt flavors, a little coffee bitterness at the end.

Drinkability: Easily sessionable.

This is probably my favorite New Belgium beer (though I haven't had their Tripel in years). I'll get this at Old Chicago, but I think the bottle actually tasted better than on tap. A good variety of tastes in one glass.

Photo of shadow1961
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

New Belgium 1554 pours a big fluffy tan head over a deep black brew. It's
not opaque- holding the brew in front of a light reveals it's true character-
enough light passes through to reveal a clear, yet dark ruby color. Carbonation
is active and steady, and the nose is toasty with a little yeast funkyness. The
flavor is bakers chocolate with espresso and mollasses notes, and a bit of a
herbal hop in the finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and balanced, yet a bit dry.
It's just what it's supposed to be.

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

22 oz'er in a Pint glass...
Looks black in color, red in the light. Thick lacy head.
Smells like chocolate, bread and raisins. Not usually my thing, but...
Tastes Very mellow. Way more mellow than I was expecting. Subtle chocolate and yeasty, like bread. I like it.
Feels thin, but smooth and silky. Really, not very carbonated at all.
Drinkability is just okay. It leaves a sweet/sour note that does not prompt me to yearn for more.
This is interesting enough. I'm just branching out from my AIPA wheelhouse, so I don't feel like I got burned or anything...Worth a try if you're at all interested.

Photo of umustdrink
2.09/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - Deep brown color, ruby red when held to light. Off-white head fades to a thin splotchy film, thicker around the edges. Medium lacing.

S - Very faint yeasty smell with very faint roasted cereal malts.

T/M - Extremely thin with far too much carbonation, taste is faint yeast with dark malts. This has very little taste to it.

D - Very disappointed with this, I will not waste my money on it again and I definitely will not recommend it to anyone.

Why is this rated so high?

Photo of cjhofelt
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Almost black with a slight copper brown tint when held to the light. 1/2"-3/4" of tan head that fades to a mottled film. Good lace.

Smell is mostly malty with hints of chocolate and caramel.

Taste is much like the smell, malt up front with chocolate and caramel notes. No hop flavors and not much bitterness, either, but there is a smokeyness in the finish that balances the sweetness nicely. There's something else there that I can't identify, something a bit herbal.

The only thing notable in the mouthfeel is the level of carbonation. It seems a bit fizzy on the tongue.

I like this beer and could drink a lot of it. It seems close to a porter in flavor and mouthfeel, but with a hint of something else.

Photo of emerge077
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Obvious black tone, with deep crimson highlights in the light. Rings of webby lace quickly encircle the glass, later becoming sparse. A strong pour produces 3+ fingers of tan foam. Visually stimulating.

Whiff of sweet phenolics, banana, and roast malt. Thins out after the inital pour, and becomes a little grainy with a Folgers suggestion.

Smooth & creamy mouthfeel lends alot to the overall equation. Light, but not thin. Carob, almond, with a slightly sweet milk chocolate lasting from beginning til end. Mild bitterness, becoming grainy again as the glass is finished. Overall a nice dark ale with some degree of complexity.

Thanks to acme for the bottle!

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

1554 is slightly brown around the edges, but otherwise black just as it advertises with a finger of tan head that fades after a few minutes to a thin cap that laces nicely.

The aroma of this beer that of freshly cut grain and dark fruit.

The taste has more of a note grass than grain with the dark fruit still present. The finish is dry and a note of chocolate shows up for the finish.

Mouthfeel is very good with a nice quality of coating the mouth, not unlike a good stout.

Drinkability of 1554 is excellent. A tasty, deeply-flavored beer with an ABV in a range that would allow you to enjoy more than one without being sloppy. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up when you see it.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.06/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 12 oz. bottle comes a fantastic cascading pour producing a thick, frothy tan head atop a translucent, deep brown body. Hints of crimson creep in around the edges. The well-retained foam leaves some nice lacing as well. A smoked, malty aroma with hints of a roast nuttiness is present in the smell. An appealing boquet, all in all.

Taste has a rich, choco-malty profile and a slight touch of hops. It finishes with some coffee and liquorice notes. Compared to the small town Montana selections, 1554 knocks it out of the park. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, perhaps a bit too light, with a good carbonation level and a nice bitter finish. Overall, this offering from NBB is complex, tastey, and amazingly drinkable. Hard to ask of more from a beer.

Photo of ultralarry2006
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a two finger biege head that has very good retention and leaves very good lacing. Body is black with purple highlights.

Smell - chocolate, maltbread, plums, dates, and raisins. Mouthwatering.

Taste - exactly as promised by the nose. Chocolate, maltbread, plums, dates, and raisins. Very hearty and delicious.

Mouthfeel - fullbodied, chewy, and smooth.

Drinkability - this is excellent ale and totally sessionable.

Photo of jwilli7122
3.44/5  rDev -10.2%
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
4.88/5  rDev +27.4%
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
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
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
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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
3.66/5  rDev -4.4%
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
4.01/5  rDev +4.7%
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
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
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
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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
4.01/5  rDev +4.7%
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...)

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,102 ratings.