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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

3,036 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,036
Reviews: 1,245
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 70
Gots: 185 | 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: 3,036 | Reviews: 1,245 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beertastegood
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, deep mahogany, not quite black, but not quite red either. Minimal head that disappears soon after pouring. Aromas of burnt toast, biscuit and coffee. Slight hop aroma, very herbal when I do pick it up. Very few esters, a bit surprising for a beer that is touted as a Belgian ale.

Taste: Very smooth coffee flavor dominates, followed by a distinct chocolatey taste that is very rich and full. Biscuit-like malt flavors are there as well, but harder to notice. Low bitterness that comes through in the finish to keep the beer from being too cloying. Leaves a slight herbal layer to the chocolate taste that lingers on the tongue. Definitely a malt-dominated beer, but the hops are just present enough to provide balance.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, medium-full body.

Drinkability: This is a good quaffing beer if you are one of those people who can drink coffee all day long. Definitely a session beer for those who like roasted.

A good beer from NB and a nice departure from what we think of as "true" Belgian beers.

beertastegood, May 20, 2006
Photo of JayTheFinn
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had my first 1554 at Winchesters in Ventura, CA.

I believe this is my first Belgium Dark Ale. I thought it was an Irish stout when I saw it. It's got the same ultra dark look with a solid two finger tan head. It was definitely not as sweet as say a Guinness or Beamish, so I guess I should have had an idea that I was drinking something of a different nature. It was very smooth, to the point of being watery, but not unpleasantly so. I found it quite drinkable. If you "kind of" like stouts but feel the taste is too much for you, try this.

JayTheFinn, May 15, 2006
Photo of DogFood11
2.6/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On reccomendation from some fellow Colorado BA's that have noticed I haven't taking a liking to the first two New Belgium brews I've tried. I hunted this one down at Wally's in Westwood. Fresh sample as the best before date is 5 months from now.

Pours a dark brown with a purpleish pinger around the edges. Sticky off white lacing sits above a medium range of carbonation and a solid body.

This has some stout qualities to it, in that its heavily malted, dark, chocolate and dry at points. Chalky finish that lingers, no real cleansing to this at all. I was hoping for that belgian yeast that is so evident in their beers or something spicey along the way but I just didn't get any of that. Once again to each their own, but for some reason the malt presence in this breweries beers comes across with a slightly musky, wet cardboard deal, although this one is masked a bit by being more roasted.

Notes: Seemed like a stout but whatever, style classification is not important, what is important is it was uninteresting.

DogFood11, May 09, 2006
Photo of bennetj17
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap, arrived with a nice fluffy head of off-white foam, about 1/2 inch with nice retention. Color is dark black but held up to the light can be seen right through. The aroma is a bit faint, toasty and chocolatey, with a hint of coffee. The taste has notes of molasses and chocolate with a nice toasty, almost slightly smoked flavor. It's like a porter, but not. Interesting. Alcohol seems low. The mouthfeel is not overly thick, it goes down very nicely with it rich smoothness. I have always enjoyed 1554 for its drinkablility. It is a great dark beer, but its certainly not heavy like many darker beer tend to be.

bennetj17, Apr 30, 2006
Photo of IntriqKen
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

ok...this is yummy.
Pours a deep black color with only the slightest hint of amber with a nice full 2 finger tan head that melts ever so slowly to thick lacing.
Aromas of chocolate, coffee,and heavenly toasted sweet malt.
Taste is much like the aroma...initially sweet...then toasted malt...then chocolate and coffee with a nice nutty brown taste....I sense almonds.
Surprisingly full mouthfeel with wonderful carbonation and smooth malt coating but no cloying sweetness.
Aftertaste is slightly sweet and fulfilling....definately a nutty aftertaste that lingers pleasantly..
More like a sweet (not dry) swartzbier.

IntriqKen, Apr 30, 2006
Photo of mooseisloose
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another great find at the bar waiting for my wife to finish up in the national bowling tournament. My 1554 arrived in a pint glass with a slight head, good lacing. Translucent brown color. Taste has great malt-to-hop balance. A sugary sparkly taste, finishes sweet and tangy. Not high viscosity like a stout but with stout like characteristics, although sweeter. A true pleasure to imbibe.

mooseisloose, Apr 29, 2006
Photo of IrishRedRock
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A nice Friday afternoon sipper on this most perfect of April afternoons. Poured into my La Chouffe tulip damn near black as advertised, glowing hints of ruby beneath a thin ring of lace. Herbal grassy hops and coffee in the nose. Flavor imparts a subtle spiciness, from the yeast I presume, but mellows and becomes sweeter with notes of nuts, coffee and dry, grainy wheat. Toasted almond aftertaste lingers on the tongue with just enough balance from the hop bitterness as well. Certainly is not lacking in carbonation - a bit fizzy. Nonetheless, a flavorful and enjoyable brew. Schwarz + nut brown ale = this. Nice.

IrishRedRock, Apr 29, 2006
Photo of Gusler
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer departs the 12-ounce brown bottle a deep ruby brown, the modest in size head is semi-creamy, the color a nice light tan, and after dematerializing, the lace forms a thin sheet upon the glass. Nose is rich in malt, hints of caramel, fresh and clean, start is slightly sweet, the grain profile adequate. Finish is pesky in its acidity, the hops apropos to the style; chalky dry aftertaste lingers long on the palate, a drinkable beer.

Gusler, Apr 23, 2006
Photo of czoch75
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours very dark with very little head but maintains it. Smell is somewhat burnt with some sweetness to it. Drinks very smoothly and is not too carbonated. Taste is kind of earthy and toasted. A very fine offering from New Belgium, too bad it isn't sold in IL!!

czoch75, Apr 21, 2006
Photo of jhammerly
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours what appears to be black, but as it is held up to the light, a dark brown reveals itself around the edges. A decent head that retains well and slithers down the side after each sip. A burnt, sweet aroma, maybe some chocolate undertones. Toasted malt, that lingers ever so lightly on the tongue, rounded out by a touch of sweetness. Nice carbonation makes this very drinkable. One of the finer offerings from NBB.

jhammerly, Apr 20, 2006
Photo of Mitchel
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
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 +4.9%
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 -1.6%
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 -18%
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 +2.3%
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 +2.9%
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 +15.4%
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 -2.3%
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 +12.8%
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 -7.6%
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 -10.7%
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 +4.2%
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 +14.6%
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 +21.1%
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 -1%
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
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,036 ratings.