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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

3,106 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,106
Reviews: 1,254
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 73
Gots: 222 | 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: 3,106 | Reviews: 1,254 | Display Reviews Only:
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...)

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
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
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
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
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
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
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
4.25/5  rDev +11%
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
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
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
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
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
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
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
3.83/5  rDev 0%
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
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
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
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
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
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
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
3.54/5  rDev -7.6%
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
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
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
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,106 ratings.