1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

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very good

3,067 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,067
Reviews: 1,246
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 70
Gots: 199 | 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
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Ratings: 3,067 | Reviews: 1,246 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ommegangpbr
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Everything, or most everything about this, strikes me as a bit of a watered down porter. Pours black but still transparent in the light; thin, offwhite head.
Smells quite smokey and charred. More of a smoked beer in style? I haven't had one but I imagine one being something like this beer. Bitter chocolate notes.
Not nearly as sweet as many other examples of the style... which is kind of a good thing. Quite dry. Those that enjoy stouts and porters (maybe even brown ales) are likely to find something to like in this. Toasted, sweet caramel flavors, with an underlying smokeyness defining this brew.

Photo of guitarmage
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a near black dark brown, black coffee, barely any light passes through. A good tan, frothy head that reduces into a creamy lacing that leaves a few rings around the glass.

Smell: Notes of molasses, coffee, roasted grains, mild hop character.

Taste: Tastes like burnt coffee, some flavors I can't place. Pretty complex, notes of unsweetened chocolate. Hops are very subtle, malty.

Mouthfeel: Creamy at first, medium to low carbonation and a little watery on the palate.

Drinkabilty: This beer is definitely distinct and has a lot going. It's pretty malty but seems well balanced and built.

Photo of Golden2wenty1
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Leftover from my trip to Lake Havasu City over Spring Break.

Pours a thin black with garnet highlights under a finger of rocky tan foam. Nose starts off with a blast of lactose, succumbing to bready/toasted malts and a whiff of roasted coffee. Taste starts off, like the nose, with a light yogurty lactic sourness, followed by toasty barley malts and flickers of nut and cocoa. Mouthfeel is light and drinkable. An interesting beer in an interesting style. All the roastedness of a schwarz with the sourness of a Flanders. I wish I could get New Belgium stuff out here, a very innovative brewery.

Photo of DeGrog
4.72/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of the best American Belgians! This beer is welcome in my ice chest three out of seven days of the week. The color, the smell, the drinkability of this brew is top notch. I feel so akin to this brew that on occasion I call it De Grog. But be for warned, it's 5.6% can sneak up on you.

Photo of pibbxtrasucks
2.5/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I did not care for this beer too much really. it poured very nicely, and a very nice rich black color. as far as smell goes... its hard to say, I've never had a beer in this style so I'm not sure what it should smell like. That in mind, it had a very old fashioned smell... at least what I think a beer would smell like if it was made in 1554. (granted the only reason I think that is cause I read the label I'm sure) The taste was the same. it was a bit too rich and smokey for me I fear, but if that is your thing I would say get this beer. I would imagine it does a good job at its style, only I have noting to compare it to. But, New Belgium never let me down before (this) so you may like it.

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

This is a damn fine beer. Poured on tap by a waitress who could not pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel, and still this beer manages to come to me with a perfect two finger head that refuses to go away comprised of smallish bubbles which lock in huge pockets of air. The tan head is a cap for the motor oil black body of this beer. A chocolate and creame aroma wells out. The taste is smooth, chocolaty up front, smooth again and sweet in the finish, then a dry kick at the end for good measure. A thick and inviting mouthfeel rounds out this amazing offering.

An incredibly drinkable beer. Try it!

Photo of beertastegood
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Photo of JayTheFinn
3.83/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of DogFood11
2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
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.

Photo of bennetj17
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
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.

Photo of mooseisloose
3.38/5  rDev -11.7%
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.

Photo of IrishRedRock
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Photo of Gusler
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

Photo of czoch75
4.25/5  rDev +11%
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!!

Photo of jhammerly
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

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!

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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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