1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing
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Ratings: 2,947 | Reviews: 1,238 | Display Reviews Only:
4.28/5 rDev +11.7%
The beer pours a deep, deep garnet, shining a gorgeous, crystal clear cherry color when held to a light. Streams of bubbles snake up rapidly, chasing each other to feed the generous ivory froth that builds upon pouring. The head settles into a thick filmy coating, speckled with several large, open bubbles. Excellent retention, the filmy coating piling in the middle, surrounded by a thick collar. Lace sheets the glass all the way down. Poured into a tulip glass.
The aroma is richly malty, with a generous dark roasted coffee quality. A swell of burnt, charred notes, with a slight belgian-esque spiciness. Slight caramel and toasty hints, the malt altogether soft and inviting, containing a bit of prune fruitiness. No real hop aroma, save a whisper of woody undertone. Initially very meek, the aroma blooms, given some warmth.
The flavor starts with an elegant charred, coffee-like maltiness, carrying through the entire sip. A touch of powdery carob towards the middle, soft prune softening the malt somewhat. Slightly tart raspberry notes into the finish, along with a dash of clove and spicy yeast. Some warmth picks up a hint of sourish black cherry. The malt provides most of the bitterness, an almost nonpresent woody, earthy hopping lending an organic touch to the finish. A lingering charred malt flavor in the aftertaste, sticking to the tongue fervently. Nice and dry in the finish. Enthusiastic carbonation easily props up the lightish medium body. A smooth drinking mouthfeel, the carbonation and a touch of graininess adding a slight rough-hewn feel that keeps me interested.
Somewhere between a porter, stout, and some kind of hybrid belgian style schwarzbier. I really enjoyed this stuff, and would definitely get it again, if only New Belgium would distribute it somewhere near the tri-state area. Pretty much a roasted malt beer, but containing enough complexity to make this an interesting quaff even after a couple pints. Thanks to BDitty for the bottle!
05-05-2004 04:23:51 | More by UnionMade
4.1/5 rDev +7%
The body of this beer is an almost opaque very dark ruby red color. The head is medium-sized and creamy with decent retention and some clinging.
Looks like a dark beer, doesn't smell like one. Mostly smells of slightly roasted malt with some hints of fruit in there.
The taste is very nice. Fruity, but not too much, some dark chocolate and malty as well.
A very nice moderate thickness in the mouth. Minimal bitterness in the end. This goes down very well.
I probably had this beer about a year ago and wasn't impressed. Some maturation in my palate (or maybe more awareness of freshness dates, I'm not sure) has changed my tune. I'd have no problem sharing a 6er with a friend, but I don't have any friends who would like this (oh well, more for me)
05-03-2004 05:45:23 | More by DPMomutant
3.73/5 rDev -2.6%
Pours a nice dark brown, with ruby highlight when put op to my lamp. It has little head tat dissapates rather quicly, and, leave even less lace.
It has a sweet, earthy, coco smell to it, with a malty hint
It hasan interesting taste to it. A matly, roasted, sweet taste, but not the standard sweetness you would assume form a belgian. A fruity spice mix follows, with a nice aftertase filled with a roasted sweetness on the end, that also mixes well with the occasional fizziness form the bottle. Very susinct, crips finish, all in all.
This is a very enjoyable beer. If you get the chance, get this beer. Thanks Brian (nvsblman)
05-01-2004 03:56:18 | More by PSUDREW
3.9/5 rDev +1.8%
Dark tan head that laced. Dark brown brew with ruby highlights.
Spicey aroma of lightly roasty malt, chocolate, and a bit of yeastiness. Tad earthy as well.
Taste shows a lightly roasty malt backbone. Chocolate, dark fruit and a hint of spiciness. Decent balance. Pleasing malty sweetness lingers a bit at the finish.
Good mouthfeel is just slightly creamy.
Overall a good beer. A lightly roasty dark ale with a bit of Belgian flair. Big thanks to bditty187 for the bottle!
04-29-2004 02:54:43 | More by PhantomVodoo
4.1/5 rDev +7%
Coca-cola colored with a thin trace of brown foam, even after a semi-aggressive pour (but, the beer was also very cold). Soft, dark aromas of coffee grounds and unsweetened cocoa. Clean, hoppy, and malty, with the same flavors present in the nose. Surprising crispness for a dark beer, followed by a soft, wet, malty finish. Bubbly on the tongue, and very light/easy drinking to be dark.
Reminds me of a crisp Kostritzer. Pretty good.
04-24-2004 23:36:52 | More by RockyTopHeel
3.9/5 rDev +1.8%
Pours a clear deep, deep amber color and is topped by a light brown head that starts out a good 3 inches thick. The dominant aroma is of toasted malt, it is joined by perhaps a hint of caramel sweetness, and lots of biscuit type aromatics. This beer has quite a smooth body that goes down quite well. It is lightly sweet. The finish laden with notes of toasted malt, that is not quite approaching a roast character. This beer is quite malty overall, though it is balanced by a dark fruitiness that reminds me of cherries, raisins, and perhaps a bit of fig.. This beer could definitely use a bit more Belgian yeast character, but that is perhaps a wee bit of a shallow complaint, as this is a great session beer as is.
04-20-2004 16:30:49 | More by Gueuzedude
3.98/5 rDev +3.9%
This beer was poured for me, and was not poured with much of a head (maybe it really doesn't have much?). It had a rather sweet smelling aroma, and initially, I really didn't get much flavor from this beer. It was served rather cold, and just seemed very average. The color was a semi-dark brown, and clear. As I always try to do, I let it warm up. BOY was that a GREAT thing to do. Please do yourself a favor and let it warm up. Some wonderful freshly roasted barley flavors came out and it became really quite interesting and tasty. It really almost tasted like food, and in this case, that was a good thing. I rated the drinkability higher than anything, because that was a huge part of this beer.
03-25-2004 01:52:49 | More by gueuzegeek
4/5 rDev +4.4%
excellent brew ... black with minimal head and lacing. a nose full of coffee, chocolate, and pears, reflected in the taste. heavier coffee and chocolate in the taste than in the nose, with the pear presence subdued but still assertive. delicately hoppy, yeasty, floral, fruity finish, with the coffee and chocolate giving way to a darkish caramel aftertaste. rich mouthfeel. could drink these all night.
03-24-2004 01:39:30 | More by dedalus
4.18/5 rDev +9.1%
Pours a clear dark amber with a nice tan head. Great lace cings to the glass.
There is a spicy and fruity aroma that mingles with a touch a toasted malt.
The malt is full and complex with hints of coffee, carmel and other subtle sweetness that jopins with a spicy and hoppy mix. Very unique and flavorful.
This is a medium bodied ale that is crisp and dry in the finish. Very smooth and easy to drink. Nice texture and balance.
An enigmatic offering from New Belgium that is both complex and simple, a beer that can be sipped or gulped.
03-21-2004 17:04:45 | More by filabrazilia
3.88/5 rDev +1.3%
Two parts dark brown to one part dark red. This beer looks almost identical to a brown ale that I just had; certainly no darker. The lid is light brown and softly sticky. Glass coverage is adequate. A few small splotches of lace appear, no more than that. The aroma (which could stand to be stronger) is of roasted malt with spicy and earthy accents.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale tastes like a brown ale with some Belgian character. I've never had a black ale, so I'm not sure if this is what the brewers were shooting for or not. The flavor profile includes caramel malt with a small amount of roastiness and a little coffee. The beer is sweet and fruity early, becoming drier on the finish.
A subtle spiciness is evident as well and is most likely due to Belgian yeast esters. Flavor wasn't overly impressive in the top half of the bottle, but I'm enjoying it quite a bit in the bottom half. The body is medium in heft, decently creamy and slightly overbubbled.
Thanks to New Belgium for brewing something different. I haven't seen too many black ales. 1554 is pretty good beer, all things considered.
03-12-2004 21:05:44 | More by BuckeyeNation
3.93/5 rDev +2.6%
This dark red-brown ale poured a head that dissapated pretty quickly. Amongst the malt I detect a fruity undertone, pretty interesting for a dark beer. Upon first taste one gets hit with a heavy dose of roasted malts balanced in with a sweet hint of spice and a dry finish. This would fit right in with all the other holiday brews. Not an overally heavy mouthfeel, kind of thin, this beer offers a little bit different twist to the old palate, a nice little brew.
03-09-2004 01:04:41 | More by arizcards
3.5/5 rDev -8.6%
Presentation: 12 ouncer picked up in Phoenix on a recent beer trip. A Belgium-esque looking drawn label set against a black label. Best before 1st May 2004, with no strength listed. Recommended to be served at 45°F.
Appearance: Dark and deep mahogany color, clear and brooding. In low light and a thick glass it does have a black look, whilst in stronger light in has ruby red twinkle. The head was a pillowy 1 deep affair at first, light brown in color with a pitted surface, but it soon rescinds to a very thin collar, broken at times. Light lacing and minimal carbonation levels.
Nose: A very grainy, lightly roasted aroma that is difficult to pin point. Schwarzbier like is about as close as I can get.
Taste: Sweet start with some very light roasted chocolate malt in the middle mixed with caramel. Finishes with some astringency and a sharp edge.
Mouthfeel: Pretty average, creamy and grainy with a dark, but relatively light feel - all at the same time.
Drinkability: Easily drinkable but rather thin at times.
Overall: I tried this for the first time on draft during a recent trip to the Papago Brewing Co. with the legendary Gusler. I enjoyed in that format, as well as this. Difficult to say whether I really enjoyed it or not, its different and decent, and kind of reminds me of a simple Dark UK Mild with some dark sharp roasted hints.
03-05-2004 04:20:36 | More by TheLongBeachBum
4.03/5 rDev +5.2%
Deep garnet-brown in color with ruby highlughts when held up to the light. A tan, creamy, two-inch head sits atop the dark liquid but quickly dissapates. Although the head disappears, there is very nice wispy rings of lace left behind. Toasty malt aroma with dark fruit and a hint of chocolate. Nothing grabs the front seat, but the flavor is a harmonious blend of roasted grain, chocolate,brown sugar, coffee, and vanilla. A mild hop bitterness keeps the sweetness in check. Medium in body, smooth and refreshing. It is like a brown ale, but lighter.
03-02-2004 23:40:39 | More by Lupe
3.88/5 rDev +1.3%
This is an interesting beer. They call it an ale, though I believe they use a lager yeast and then ferment it at ale temperatures. It almost reminds me of a schwarzbier with some fruit overtones to it. It is ruby-black with tastes of bitter chocolate and some licorice. It is somewhat sweet in the body, but it finishes clean.
03-01-2004 13:32:14 | More by ark57
4.33/5 rDev +13.1%
Deep and very dark brown, I want to say its black but its not, oh so close though, thin tannish head, diminsihed softly, some ink blot strings of lace stick. Aroma is mildly roasty with black malts, slight over tone of belgian yeast adding a bit of clove and dry spice, touches of cocoa underneath, mildly dry overall and quite nice. Taste is favorably mild with a great dryish mixture of black malts and chocolate with just a hint of dried floral spices and yeast. Just barely sweet within and has a bit of roastyness to it but its very tame, leaving a nice rounded character to flourish in texture and body, which is medium to full and the smooth carbonation helps this slide right down with amazing ease. Nice stuff indeed, recommended.
03-01-2004 02:00:42 | More by tavernjef
4.05/5 rDev +5.7%
this pours what looks to be black but has ruby highlights when held to light. nice lacing on the head as well. the smell? toasted malts, a bit fruity....mild. one person described it as being like fat tire but with a coffee taste. i guess i can see that. biscuit like malt that has a roasted edge to it. slightly fruity and yeasty as well. good. nice in the mouth, medium bodied and slightly creamy, a very drinkable dark ale that is mellow but still has enough flavor to keep it interesting.
$6.99 for a 6.
02-26-2004 06:51:41 | More by DESTRO
4.03/5 rDev +5.2%
I have had this before in the bottle, but just had some on tap this past weekend. I have mixed feelings about the beers that come out of New Belgium's brewery, but this one gets good marks in my book. In terms of appearance, this was a good looking beer with a dark color (though not totally opaque) and a modest head. As for taste, this is a very flavourful black ale that frankly stunned me at first. For some reason I think I had a preconceived notion that dark beers were generally bland. After trying this (the first time), though, I was almost instantly converted, and I honeslty prefer anything dark nowadays. My first impressions on the aroma and taste were that it seemed very "earthy" - fruity might be one way to describe it, but not "citrus-y" or acidic. Hard to describe, maybe vegetable-like would be more appropriate. I remember the head dissipated fairly quick, but it wasn't flat. The aftertaste was well balanced, it seemed to linger just long enough that I knew I had something, but not annoyingly long.
The bottled version seems to be readily available, at least in the Dallas market, but if you can find it on tap, I would highly recommend you try this one.
02-23-2004 20:59:13 | More by RasputinsRevenge
4.25/5 rDev +11%
The beer pours a very dark brown color with a thick tan head. The aroma is good. It boasts of mostly pale, chocolate, and roasted malts. It has the traditional Belgian style fruity kick to it; very nice. The taste is great. This is a very tastey dark ale with lots of dark malts and Belgian yeast. It goes down smooth with a creamy finish and a fruity aftertaste. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good sessions ale; a real pleasure to drink; another winner from New Belgium.
02-17-2004 23:33:46 | More by WesWes
3.73/5 rDev -2.6%
This is definitely a good beer. I didn't find it as exciting or as appealing as certain other styles, but it does have a good flavor and it both looks and smells very nice. One of my friends loves this stuff and gets 6 packs fairly frequently, so I'll probably pick up some more singles by way of barter.
02-13-2004 21:57:58 | More by watermelonman
4.2/5 rDev +9.7%
Certainly a dark pour, very dark brown with minimal light transmission. Big head to start, settles to a skim in about a minute. Good belgian lace. Aroma of suede, prickly with some musty yeast. Very floral flavor impression, crocus and lilac oil distilled for the taste buds. Light and effervescent, slight sense of black malt density and aridity close to the finish. The end is best, a swapping of the subtle malts with a noticeable but restrained bittering. Not at all a big beer, but emphasizing unique and pleasant malt properties.
Source: Liquid Solutions
02-13-2004 17:03:03 | More by ADR
4.25/5 rDev +11%
This is a distinctive and excellent beer. It does resemble a porter more than anything else but with a less oppressive flavor. It initally looks black but is a deep amber. Head rises well, but then diminishes to a small ring and minimal lacing. Aroma of sweetish malts, caramel, candy, as well as a light fruity yeastiness. The flavor is full, crisp and malty, with the roastiness that goes along with porters but mellowed and more buttery. Mouthfeel thinnish, kind of like black coffee. A surprisingly drinkable beer, one that would make an interesting session since putting back more than one is no problem. This beer would probably be a perfect match for a particular kind of food but I wonder which dish?
02-09-2004 03:27:17 | More by Thrasher
3.6/5 rDev -6%
Pours a real dark ruby that shows its true color when held to the light.
No head, but a ring and some lace floating across the top.
malty smell with a little smoke? and some spice.
I like the smell of this one. Very drinkable and a nice, slightly complex flavor. Malt. Smoke. Malt. Spice.
This beer doesnt knock you out, but it has just enough of character to be an interesting session beer.
01-14-2004 00:53:20 | More by elmocoso
3.73/5 rDev -2.6%
Poured a Coca-Cola black with a thick head which died quickly leaving some scattered lacing. Has a nutty grainy malt aroma that is quite interesting. Some yeast is also detected in the aroma. Medium body is crisp with a smooth finish. Flavor is malty and nutty with an almost peanut like flavor to it. Reminds me a bit like Koestritzer Schwarzbier with its pronounced lager yeast. Overall a nice brew.
01-09-2004 20:35:33 | More by BierReise
3.88/5 rDev +1.3%
A beautiful color when poured, very dark with hints of red. The carbonation and head is minimal, so there's nothing extremely interesting about the texture. With the nicely roasted malt, this beer has a nice smooth caramel flavor to it. One of New Belgium's finest beers, as I tend to like the darker ones.
01-04-2004 22:44:30 | More by paganbeast
4.2/5 rDev +9.7%
Poured from a 12oz bottle with a "best before" date of 12-11-03 on it. Well, so I missed the deadline by a few days; I don't think it made much difference. This brew had a clear dark reddish-brown hue and a very resilient and creamy off-white head that peaked at about 1½" and never truly faded away. Vibrant carbonation kept the head alive and nice sheet lace was deposited as the beer disappeared.
The smell was an all-malt affair with lots of roasted malt, some mild dark fruit, a light nutty aroma and a whiff of smoke. The taste continued the malt dominance. A fine roasted malt presence followed by a almond flavor and that light smokey taste. The finish had the flavor of some plums and lacked any appreciable hops profile. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth and dry.
This beer from New Belgium Brewing was really easy to drink. I was surprised at how fast it went down. It's not a porter or a stout but almost like a schwarzbier, just not as dark. Definitely worth a try. Quite unique.
12-17-2003 16:58:13 | More by Boilermaker88
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,947 ratings.