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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

3,041 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,041
Reviews: 1,245
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 70
Gots: 187 | 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: 3,041 | Reviews: 1,245 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of orfeu
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown, almost black. Held to a strong light, russet highlights come through. Modest tan foam cap. Aromas of sweet malt, some candied dark dried fruits (prunes, mostly), and grassy hops. Black roasted malt flavor up front with a cherry-fig middle, and earthy-grassy hops rounding out the finish. Smooth mouthfeel, medium body. Quite easy to drink. Belgian black ale? Works for me.

orfeu, Feb 18, 2006
Photo of ggaughan
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a nice New Belgium glass that my wife bought me for Christmas a few years ago. This beer poured a nice deep brown, almost black color with a 1/2 inch but thick tan, almost caramel looking head. The beer had a malty sweet aroma with some spice tones in the background. The taste also gives a good malty sweet taste that is complex but very drinkable for a beer that is so dark. Another quality beer from New Belgium

ggaughan, Feb 16, 2006
Photo of TheEclecticGent
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer thanks to a trade with Mentor (Cheers!) I poured this beer from the bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance – This pours a nearly black, mahogany with a tan head with average retention and some lacing.

Smell – This beer smells malty and sweet with some spicy overtones.

Taste – This is a very robust malty beer, yet it's lighter on the palette that one would expect. It's more subtle than I would expect from a beer this dark. It strikes me as a middle ground between an American porter and a black lager.

Mouthfeel – On the whole, this brew is surprisingly light bodied considering the dark and syrupy look of the beer and the malt aroma. It is fairly carbonated and has some fizz to the tongue.

Drinkability – This is good drinkable beer. I recommend it.

TheEclecticGent, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of lackenhauser
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice, deep mahogany color. Not quite black but a lovely, deep drown. Nice tight head. Good aroma-some roasted malt, slight burnt toast smell-somewhat grainy. Great roasted malt flavor. Sort of a blend of toffee/coffee going on. Nice mellow sweetness to the finish. Great body to match the flavor-very full and soft at the same time. Fantastic beer. I wish I could get this locally-I could see it being my go to beer. I just want to gulp this down. Extremely enjoyable.

lackenhauser, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of BeerAngel
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a very dark brownish-red that is nearly black. It has a nice light brown head that dissipates fairly rapidly. The smell consists of roasty malt with a hint of sweet spice. The taste is mostly a smooth roasted malt with a slight raisin type flavor with just a small amount chocolate and tapers to slight hops towards the end of each swallow. The mouthfeel is just right in this medium-bodied beer.

If there's ever a session beer from the belgian-style beers, this one will work! Cheers!

BeerAngel, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of Bitterbill
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle(room temp) a pitch black with a huge head of foam that dissipates slowly leaving a fine layer and some lacing.

The smell is of roasted malt and there's a bit of a bitterness there as well...I like it.

The taste is dominated by roasted malt at first, with a noticeable oatmeal flavour that brings out some sweet notes coming through midway. The finish brings back the roastiness and is teamed with a bit of bitterness that makes for an excellent overall tasting beer.

Bottom line: Here's an unusual style of beer that has a lot of good things going on....I recommend it!

Bitterbill, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It's always a treat to sample a recreation of one of the older, historical styles such as this. Thanks to mntlover for bringing this bottle by. Pours a very dark mahogany body with ruby highlights. Head quickly falls to a lasting film and some spotty lace. Body has excellent clarity. Aroma is roasty malts, with notes of chicory nuttiness and a prominent Munich malty character. Mouthfeel is light medium bodied. Taste is dominated by roasty dark malts, with notes of scorched coffee, bitter chocolate, and soy sauce. Hops and yeast contribute an understated earthiness. A hint of black cherries adds a welcome fruitiness. This is a dark ale that defines its own style. Tastes more like a Schwartzbier than a Belgian Dark Ale. Very well crafted and a pleasant sipper. Another fine brew from the folks at New Belgium.

merlin48, Jan 24, 2006
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had both tap and bottle. Into pint glass.
Good color. I love the black beers. Not as rich and thick looking as a Guinness, but close. Small, yet foaming head. A Little lacing.
Dark roasted malt smell, chocolate, some smoke I think.
Taste was strong roasted malt that gave way to more sweet chocolate, but not too much. Hops made an appearance towards the finish. Little aftertaste, enough to want more. Just rich enough flavor to make it special, but not too rich to rate it unique.

Mebuzzard, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of longarm
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep coffee colored brew with hints of red. Light brown and fluffy carbonation. Excellent lacing.

Nutty, chocolate aromatics coat the nose leaving room for little else.

Stong doses of chocolate malt, caramelized sugars and mild fruity esters. Possibly a little stale. Moderate dose of hops on the finish scrubs the palate well.

A relatively clean finish given the stong presence of black malts. Mouthfeel above average, but perhaps a bit on the sticky-sweet side.

This drinkable beer goes especially well with roast pork. I'd love to try it fresh on the tap right in downtown Ft.Collins.

longarm, Jan 21, 2006
Photo of acrawf6
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I like this beer. interesting to say the least.

Poured out a dark dark amber, almost black, but light does come through. Does not look cloudy. Tan head about a inch high comes up.

Smells roasted and buttery. Some coffee aromas come out. its creamy. A little bit of licorice, but not too much. the more i smell it, the more it reminds me of small liquid coffee creamer (vanilla flavored). Among all of this is the roasted malts, which is overall what i am smelling. very interesting smell.

Taste is good. sweeter than i thought. the first sip hit me and my jaw muscle like it was tart. mild malts come out. the roasted smells are not that dominant in the taste. I still taste a buttery flavor, but i dont know if its the diacytil (sp) or not. Some coffee tastes are there though. aftertaste is quite mild as well. takes a bit for the flavors to come back.

Mouthfeel is good. Good amount of carbonation. Good balance with the ingredients.

Overall i like this beer a lot. Seems like one can be enough, but i could drink a 6pack in one night. Very drinkable.

acrawf6, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of Hhawk06
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The fiance brought this back with her after a recent business trip to San Francisco, bless her heart. Anyway, this one poured with a thin, tan, creamy head and was almost black in color, but you could just make out a ruby red hue. Great nose; very nice charcoal, smoke, chocolate, and plummy notes. I was shocked to find the beer only medium-bodied on first sip, surely I was expecting much thicker. Some toasty malt and touches of spicy hop bitterness exist. Overall, there is more of a caramel aspect than a chocolate one in my opinion. The aftertaste is somewhat bitter with a more roasted chocolate taste than the body. Some sweet licorice is in there too. I'd have to say this brew seems to be lacking a bit of sturdiness, but still a fair offering.

Hhawk06, Jan 14, 2006
Photo of NClifestyle
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

thanks to swid for this bottle.
pours up a very dark brown/ruby color with thick khaki head of large bubbles. head drops at a moderate rate, chunky on top.
smell is basically sweet malt, but not exactly porter or stout like, a bit more grain and earth scent.
taste is roasty malt, some smoke and coffee sweetness, touch of alcohol, but a sharp tang in the back of the mouth, similar to a roasted aftertaste from a schwarzbier. i would rate it high if it were such. still, not a bad flavor. becomes less sweet, more earth/grain flavor as it warms.
mouthfeel is medium, pretty creamy and smooth. some carbonation, just not a ton. actually, it's about right.
not a bad beer, i could drink a few and would have it again. it's got a GREAT bottle, if nothing else. above average.


NClifestyle, Dec 28, 2005
Photo of marksto
2.33/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is one of those beers I hate to judge. Not because it's a bad beer, but because it's a good beer that does not match the stated style.

Simply put, this is an excellent schwarzbier. A coffee-like roastiness blends with smooth malt to make a very drinkable dark lager. It bears very little resemblance to a beer of the Belgian Dark Ale style.

Don't get me wrong, I love New Belgium and their beers. But I really don't understand why they want to masquerade a German lager as a Belgian "Brussels Black Ale" - whatever that means. They even admit on their website that this "ale" is brewed with a European lager yeast.

That which we call a schwarzbier by any other name would taste as smooth.... The low score here is strictly due to the wrong style parameters - don't let it stop you from trying this nice beer.

marksto, Dec 22, 2005
Photo of goschool
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour is dark burgundy with a beige head that goes from barely there to a thin ring of lacing in no time at all. The aroma is roasty with brown sugar, fresh coffee beans and esters. The taste isn't nearly as sweet as the nose. There's chocolate, coffee and a hint of smoke with a rough roasted finish. I believe this is the first Belgian Dark Ale I've tried, but this reminds me a whole lot of some of the schwarzbiers I've tasted. This might not be the most exciting brew, but it's solid and drinkable.

goschool, Dec 07, 2005
Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very clear deep garnet color with a small ¼” head at first pour. The head was only around for 20-30 seconds. There was a bit of a ring that was maintained by the numerous bubbles rising.

Aroma: My allergies are not my friend. I get a bit of toasty malt like Munich. There is a bit of plum or other dark fruit here. As it warms, you can pick out a whole lot more fruity esters coming out.

Taste: The flavor is also pretty toasty. This beer has a significant portion of Munich in the malt bill. There are also some pleasant caramel notes in here. It is very palatable, and not roasty at all. The finish is balanced toward the sweet, but there is not a lot of residual sugar left in this beer, so it leaves your palate a little dry among the sweet malt. There is some hops present, but they support the entire profile rather than being a big player in it.

Opinion: This is no doubt one of the better beers to come from New Belgium. I am at a bit of a disadvantage as I have never had a Black Beer in Brussels, so I don’t know if this beer is to style. It is malty like a schwarzbier, but has a lot more fruitiness than the German styles. This is a pretty good beer nonetheless.

SkeeterHawk, Dec 01, 2005
Photo of charlatan
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle has freshness date 14 April 2006.

Beer pours a dark peaty brown colour with very little head. It smells rather smoky, presumably indicating roasted malt, and slightly creamy, yet a tad stale (think of the difference between nasty fresh cigarette smoke and even nastier stale cigarette smoke!).

Carbonation feels wonderful on the tongue, but presumably takes a little away from the taste. The tingling sensation seems to lessen the performace of my taste buds. Despite this compromised ability they do notice a pleasant smoky malt flavour, then the creaminess and finally a very faint hoppy edge to it which rounds it off very nicely. It leaves the mouth a little dry, but still creamy and perhaps with a hint of sweet dried fruit.

This is a very pleasant beer for winter evenings and gains my hearty recommendation.

charlatan, Nov 17, 2005
Photo of mynie
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice burnt nothing red, black in low light. Soapy, foamy, cleansing brown head sticking for two inches above the beer's top.

Fruit in the nose. Fruity fruit fruit. Very sweet black licorice plums and alcohol.

Burny ashen smoke flavor fading to sweet fruit in the back and ending with a zip of alcohol. Coffee and cigarettes. Those fancy Camel smokes they make for kids that taste like passion fruit. Dirty in a clean way.

Exceptionally solid beer. This was my first Belgian Dark and honestly I can't tell it from a Schwarz.

mynie, Nov 12, 2005
Photo of garymuchow
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma presents with a sweet roast and dark malt. Pretty simple and straight forward. Coffee like.
Head left immediately. Black with garnet hues.
Taste is similar to aroma, but not as intense. Sweeter up front with nice sweet fruit quality. Roast in middle that moves to a nice lingering dry finish.
Excessive carbonation takes away from flavor and makes it too filling. Lightish body.
This is fine. Give it a go, as I'd not discourage it's comsumption. I didn't like the balance.
Thanks to John B. for bringing me the bottle.

garymuchow, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with a rocky tan head (retention could've been better) with varying sized bubbles. Body was more mahogany than black, when expsed to adequate light, other wise light black...Great clarity

Nose: Fruit, breadiness, leather, nuts & spices (pepper)

Tastes of Sour mash maltiness, licorice, coffee, hops lingering at the edge with plenty of fruitcake-like goodness/malt

Mouthfeel: Carbination & maltiness slightly out of balance.

Drinkability: Just a little too complex to enjoy more than a few a session.

russpowell, Oct 29, 2005
Photo of edmundfitzoil
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one on-tap at Venti's Cafe in downtown Salem. It was poured into a standard pint glass.

A: This is a gorgeous looking brew: black colored beer that lightens at the edges of the glass and bottom. The head retained very well, and left fine lacing down the side of the glass.
S: The nose was malts with some honey sweetness.
T: The taste was roasted malts with a very nice hop finish. A medium mouthfeel and body, and a very drinkable beer. A surprising find and a beer that I would return to the next time I'm lucky enough to find it on-tap.

edmundfitzoil, Oct 26, 2005
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,041 ratings.