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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

3,080 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,080
Reviews: 1,249
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 73
Gots: 206 | 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: 3,080 | Reviews: 1,249 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Westsidethreat
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Looks a bit like cola but with a superb head. The beer itself doesn't appear to be too carbonated but the head is wonderful. Pillowy and full with a tint of oatmeal leaving a wake of lace in its path.

S: Little bit of chocolate, roasted malts and pumpernickle. Maybe some marshmallow.

T: Not bad. Begins with a mellow dark grain sweetness with a hint of hops. Very subtle transformations as the sweetness flexs to a refreshing roasted characteristic. There are indirect iced coffee, cocoa powder and cola qualities. Aftertaste of a dark rye bread.

M: Thin with a smooth carbonation.

D: Best New Belgium beer I've had to date. Its hot as hell outside yet this dark ale is refreshing but bold enough to not be boring.

Photo of
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Opened a 12 oz. bottle and poured a dark brown with red tints liquid. Head was modest and did not stick around long. Aroma was very earthy (fresh turned soil), mixed with malt sweetness (caramel) and some coffee. Taste was malt, bittersweet chocolate, and coffee. There was a good bit of hop bitterness at the finish and some pepper. I was not crazy about the mouthfeel, body was medium, and it was drying and seemed overly carbonated. I was surprised by the amount of warming I felt given an ABV of 5.5%. I felt that it was fairly drinkable, but not terribly thirst quenching. If I didn't know better, I would have thought this was a schwarzbier.

Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a black color with a tan foamy head.

S - Smells a little like toffee.

T - Has some toffee flavors, but also very malty and a sweet chocolate flavor, as well.

M - Soft, medium bodied brew.

D - It is a very drinkable dark ale. I think it is an affordable alternative to Belgian brews.

Photo of BlindPig
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance-black when held up to light can see redish color. Light carbonation. Pour with thin off white head which didn’t stay to long. Not much lacing. Cant see though it.
Smell- smokey and chocolaty on malts. citrussy grassy hops
Taste- Light! Roasted taste. Maybe a bit smoky. Taste some kind of hops kind of citrusy, not bitter. Aftertaste not a strong one, maybe sort of malty ….maybe it’s hoppy of the sweetness from hops with light malt. Seems like a good balance between malt and hops not one over dominating
Mouthfeel- med body, maybe little to carbonated (going into personal opion).
Drinkability- very easy to drink. Very good beer I could easily have a few of these.

Photo of jdhilt
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a three finger cream head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Almost black color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Slight caramel nose. Starts as sweet/roasted chocolate, Slight bitter finish. Nice dark. Best before 10/2006. $1.69 for a 12oz bottle from Hi-Time Cellars Costa Mesa, Ca.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had to offer a review even though the conditions were not ideal. I had this choice while sitting in the Denver Airport at a sports bar. Having seen positive references in various areas of the forum it was a no brainer choice. It was approx 9pm Denver time and the bar was not holding up well to the level of business coming through. The tables were mostly trashed, the bar needed a severe clearing / cleaning and the glasses on the other side of the bar did not look great. No suprise I drank straight from the bottle.

For a long day traveling it was a smooth, dry brew with light hints of black patent malt. Very refreshing! I would drink another one of thse if I could get it in NH!

Photo of Wasatch
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, tiny head which dissapates quickly, not much lacing.

S - Scents of malts, and toffee.

T - The taste is sweet, but with a bitter/dry finish, also a taste of toffee.

M - Light-Medium body, well rounded/carbonated feel.

D - Drinkable. Very tasty, could drink a few of these. A very nice brew from New Belgium.

Photo of warriorsoul
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A "enlightened black ale" thanks to bennetj17...
Yup..black in color with some light able to pass thru and a full finger off light tan head...most dissipates quickly and leaves some web-like lacing.
Quite an earthy yeast smell coming from this one...a smoked scent too.
Very tasty indeed...a helty malt presence up front, sweetening it up with that smoke quality hanging on too. Dark chocolate in the finish...very dry and even a bit bitter.
Mouthfeel is thicker than average, but the carbonation is a bit much...certainly not a sipper at 5.5% and goes down quite easy.
Another solid brew from NBB...

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.01/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Deep dark brown that hints at ruby. Thin off white head with ok lacing. Big-huge black malts dominate smell and taste. A blend between a Schwartz and a Belgian Dark? Sweetish of the brown sugar variety. Medium bodied. Mild acidity and medium to assertive chalkiness. Drinkability is low for me. Too malt driven and sweet yet uncomplex. I would prefer a real Schwartz or a more complicated Belgian. This one is stuck in the middle.

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

This beer is packaged in an classy embossed NB 12 oz. bottle. The label provides a brief history of the brew, serving instructions and a best before date of 22SEP06.

The beer is a dark plum color with low carbonation. It is somewhat translucent with a thin film of lace.

The nose speaks of roast and subdued Belgian spices with wisps of truffle chocolate and the smallest hint of alcohol.

The taste is quiet but complex. Dark fruits float on the tongue. Dark plum, cherries and blackberries mingle. The undercurrent is medium-roasted malted grain. A fleeting earthy hop spiciness closes.

Satin-textured with a dry medium body and a pleasing roastiness, this beer is a pleasure to drink.

There is a somewhat intangible "Belgian dark ale" quality. It calls to mind a chocolaty version of Tröegs Mad Elf with the honey, cherries and alcohol toned down.

It's easy to imagine myself sitting in a Belgian inn half a millennium ago quaffing this beer. Hats off to NB for this fine specimen.

Photo of malty
4.6/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Best before 12/16/05 (kept in my beer fridge since my friend brought it back from the brewery 1 yr. ago).

Pours a midnight brown, but when held against a 75-watt bulb; it shows a gorgeous dark ruby hue with cola edges. Healthy. fluffy 3/4" sturdy head. Thick lace rings all the way down the glass.

Powdered cocoa scents with dark roasted malts billowing forth. Fermented Maduro tobacco wrapper notes also. Dark fruits akin to chocolate covered cherries.

The flavors are well replicated from that of the scents. A dusty cocoa flavor is very prevalent with medium roast gourmet coffee tagging alongside. The dark roasted malts are still very fresh tasting but the hop profile has definitely diminished from when I drank this fresh last July.

Mouthfeel is still spot-on. On the lighter side of medium bodied with semi-fine healthy carbonation. A somewhat dusty, dry but very cocoa-like finish.

Drinkability is out of this world. The ease of a lager with the hearty roastness of a porter, c'mon, are you kidding me?

Overall a spectacular Belgium black lager that I definitely must try fresh from the motherland of Ft. Collins. If you like Kostritzer, you'll love this. Top notch.

Photo of Realale
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black, revealing translucent deep burgundy when held up to the light. Creamy extremely fine mocha head settles to a complete cap.

Roasty bitter chocolate leads the nose, supported by a delicate fruitness and some fresh brown bready malt. Lovely and very appetizing.

Thin side of medium in the mouth. The bitter chocolate leads the way with some browned cookie maltiness. Richer malt kicks in on the mid-palate, and gently fades to leave the crisp, roasty goodness to end things on the long finish.

Modest carbonation suits the style well and gives a lovely mouthfeel. Extremely drinkable in quantity and an excellent and flexible companion at the table (another is doing very well with a wild mushroom lasagna as I type). A staple in my DBF. Best before October 6, 2006. Bottle 6 from a 6 pack.

Photo of scooter231
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, almost opaque, reddish color, little head. The nose on this guy is weird... barbecue, definitely, and kinda portery. Barbecued Ommegang, though that doesn't cover all of it. Smoky. I want to eat this, not drink it! Taste is smoky and charred. Coffee. Bitter. Un-sweetened cocoa. Lots of stuff. Harmonizes pretty well- it's deep. Mouthfeel is striking- sudsy and light, frothy and chewy- teeth-licking, lip-smacking good. Drinkability- good for the style, but I can see it being too heavy for more than a couple. This would be a nice night cap.

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
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
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
3.83/5  rDev 0%
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
4.68/5  rDev +22.2%
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
2.56/5  rDev -33.2%
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
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
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
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
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
2.58/5  rDev -32.6%
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
4.01/5  rDev +4.7%
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
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,080 ratings.