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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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

3,067 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,067
Reviews: 1,246
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 71
Gots: 194 | 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: 3,067 | Reviews: 1,246 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of Cresant
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a snifter. Dated 10AUG07. The body was dark brown/garnet with a light tan head. Clear of sediment. The head faded to a faint ring.

Smell was plums and steel. A sour smell developd as it warmed (not an unpleasant sourness).

Taste was dried dark fruits. Milk chocolate. Yeasty. Drying.

Mouthfeel was tongue tingling and medium bodied.

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

Capping off the Unorganized Invitational is New Belgium's offering, 1554 Ale. The fans are anticipating a climatic finish here, as we are set to go:

Poured into a chalice, it's dark brown when poured, but looks black when it sits in the glass. The head is nothing special. Lots of dark cocoa flavors running throughout the beer, and a hint of berries. Running in and out is a subtle date flavor. A dessert-like beer that I should consider pairing wiht chocolate cake or brownies.

And now, the moment of truth in the Unorganized Invtiation. The winner of this competition is...

...Anchor Steam Beer!

This was a fun and unique way to measure up different styles of beer against each other. Check my previous reviews to recap what you missed here in the Unorganized Invitational. Good night everyone!

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

A 12 oz bottle from Liquid Solutions.

A: The ale is dark, dark red, almost black but not quite. Bright ruby red highlights emerge when the beer is held to light. The head was sizeable and retained nicely throughout the glass.

S: The note is caramelized malts, roasted with a sweet baltic porter-like aroma that results from a lager yeast.

T: The ale's flavor is really driven by the lager yeast. The flavor is caramelized, chocolate-like with a sweet roasted undertone. There are no hops to speak of here, but the flavor is sweet enough that they are not missed.

M: The sweet body is very enjoyable, full of flavor without a big malty body.

D: A Belgian beer that is remarkably similar to a baltic porter. The lager yeast really makes this a good beer.

Photo of 1fastz28
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty dark amber color with lots of carbonation. Smells of roasted malt,apricots, and chocolate. Taste is complex, chocolate again with more of a nutty taste, alcohol is barely present, little to no hop detected. Mouthfeel is full and mildly thick. drinkability is also good.

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

The bottle has a drink by date of 01 jun 07, so it is still fresh. A deep brown body with ruby highlights on the edges, no head at all. Good smoky malty smell with a little sweetness, like molasass. The taste is light molasass with a slight bitter chocolate. It has very little carbonation, but that lets more of the taste sit on my tounge. This a good drinkable beer. This review is really weak.

Photo of Romulus141
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
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

Photo of udubdawg
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Photo of jtslay
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

Photo of briman
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of dstc
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Photo of ccrida
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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!

Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.1/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of BigRedN
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Photo of isaac
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

Photo of erikjon
3.28/5  rDev -14.4%
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!

Photo of jameaterblues
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

Photo of ElGordo
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

Photo of Monkeyknife
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Photo of drseamus
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

Photo of jasonjlewis
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,067 ratings.