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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

2,919 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,919
Reviews: 1,237
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 65
Gots: 135 | 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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 1554 Enlightened Black Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,919 | Reviews: 1,237 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerResearcher


4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Nytmare for this one!
It pours a dark cordovan with a thin beige head and some wisps of lace. The aroma is a nutty malt with a light smokiness. This is mostly a malty brew with lots of caramel notes, nuts and a distant toasty crème brulee. A light taste of pears, mild limes and spices round out this very quaffable ale.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2003 00:06:13 | More by BeerResearcher
Photo of ManekiNeko


3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottled served chilled in a Delirium Noel glass. Best by date of 11/14/2003.

Appearance: Beautiful brown/ruby colored liquid with a nice sized tan head of tiny bubbles. Head settles down to a small layer of bubbles after a few minutes. Little bits of lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Well balanced chocolate and caramel malt aromas with faint coffee notes. Lightly yeasty. Quite intriguing.

Taste: Slightly bittersweet toffee flavor. Yeasty. Hints of chocolate and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Remarkably light given the tastes. Quite crisp.

Drinkability: A nice quaint beer. Perfect for the fall or early spring. Overtones of stouts and porters but with a Belgian twist. I'll gladly have the other two sent to me, but I'd probably not go out of my way for more.

Thanks to prAna for the trade.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2003 04:08:47 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of RenoZymurgist


3.08/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep red with a slight head that subsided quickly. I could not detect any perceptible aroma. The flavor was sweet with a dark malt character that hinted at coffee and chocolate with a dry flavorful finish. The body was medium yet somehow i though it would be lighter. A good beer to try if you have never had it.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2003 06:00:25 | More by RenoZymurgist
Photo of woemad


3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane. Poured a very dark brown with minimal off-white head that ceased to exist within a minute. Very mild, malty aroma of dark chocolate. Taste was equally mild. No hop presence whatsoever. This isn't a bad tasting beer. There's just not a whole lot going on with this one. The mouthfeel is rather thin. I think this would be good for someone who is terrified of the notion of a dark beer, as it is very easy to consume.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2003 22:22:51 | More by woemad
Photo of Crosling


3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pretty Disappointed. 1554 pours out as almost a dark red or an opague brown. Poor head retention with minimal lacing left behind on the glass.

The aroma was of a deep heavy malt and other different roasted smells that I couldn't really pick up on.

The Roasted Malt flavor was dominating with this brew. Virtually no hop bitterness. Possibly if there was more of a hop presense this brew would have been a little too sweet. I also picked up a little caramel and some fruit flavors as well.

Overall, Nothing to write home about. Perhaps I don't understand the style but I was hoping for something much bigger.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2003 02:41:33 | More by Crosling
Photo of Dubblebock


4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

New Belgium advertises this beer as an attempt to recreate an old European dark lager recipe. It's not a porter or a stout or a bock. It's dark, though, almost opaque, and it looks nice and rich as it pours. Not a large head, and what's produced doesn't hang around too long.

Has a GREAT nose, chocolate and malt flavors rising to assault the nostrils. Drinks very smooth, for all of it's foreboding darkness it's really quite a mild brew. Malt textures are there, almost a sort of coffee taste underlying everything. I can imagine this being a popular style with those who like dark lagers. Mouthfeel isn't particulary exceptional. Finish is very good, leaves me wanting more. Probably the best American-made dark lager I've had.

New Belgium really does create some very good beers. This is a fine addition to their dossier. I bought a six-pack and tried the beer under several different conditions, different foods, times of day, etc. Even tried one from the bottle. Goes really well with a beef dish, or a casserole. Have a couple while watching the ball game, or with a nice pot roast.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2003 17:30:18 | More by Dubblebock
Photo of pezoids


4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep and clear copper brown color with a velvety white head. Rich roasted malt aroma. The taste is very smooth and the beer has a light and has a satisfying malt body. Reminds me of a gourmet dark chocolate dessert. The roasted semi-sweetness is complimented by a pleasant bitterness. Finishes smooth and dry.

This is one hell of a dark beer! Excellent.

Thanks to Weefisheads for the sample!

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2003 03:54:58 | More by pezoids
Photo of beerguy101


3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black color, medium head. Roasted malts, slightly hoppy. Somewhat lighter tasting with an underlying spiciness. Crisp and refreshing, unusual for a black beer. Mouthfeel is smooth and round. Finish is crisp and clean. Aftertaste is malty, slightly bitter. Would be a very good session beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-04-2003 02:42:30 | More by beerguy101
Photo of Nytemare


3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice dark brown, with a little head. Retention wasn't really there, didn't take long for the head to dissappear into a ring of foam around the edges. Holding it up to the light it's a dark ruby color.

Smell: Not at all what I expected. Not bad, just not what I was anticipating. Smells of roasted malt, light fruit and spice too. Subtle.

Taste: About what it smells like. Some roasted malt charactors, but some subtle fruit and spice flavors as well. Rounds off with some acidic bitterness, but not bad. A little weak.

Mouthfeel: Thin, not what I was expecting, but by now I guess this is normal. I was expecting a thick, robust brew. Instead, I got a thin, not too overpowering brew. Goes down easy.

Drinkability: Easily drinkable. Not something that's gonna fill you up after one. If you're lookin' for something that you can drink all evening with your friends and won't keep you distracted from the conversation at hand by it's overwhelming charactor, then this will work.

This is a good brew for drinking with your friends. It's easy to drink, not overpowering, not too strong. It's a little weak on flavor, but that's probably my expectations not being met on the robust part. It's got good flavor, just a little weak. I'll probably keep this on hand because of the drinkability. Not a bad brew.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2003 14:16:23 | More by Nytemare
Photo of alexgash


3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cool label. Pours a dark coffee-brown with a small light tan head. Looks thinner than expected. Smell is mostly roasty-sweet malts. Tastes like it smells; slightly sweet, roasty malts up front, with a spicy, coffee-bitter finish. Very interesting. It's good, but feels a bit thin on the palate.

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2003 21:35:27 | More by alexgash
Photo of cokes


3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep garnet-brown under a beige foam.
Wafts of Germanic malts (Munich), dusty chocolate, dirt and black pepper.
Begins with a cottony chocolate sensation that is not dissimilar to eating a fudge stained t-shirt. Sweetened slightly by dry toffee and dilute cranberry juice. Bits of char and wood and earth materialize midway. Sharp, spicy and musty yeast tones. Burnt walnut closure with a lightly flowery hopping.
Thinnish initially. Sturdies itself somewhat as it rests, but remains airy and light.
Quaffable and pretty unique.
Nice enough.

Serving type: bottle

08-14-2003 14:47:44 | More by cokes
Photo of RoyalT


3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Nice, darkened head which fades a little too fast but leaves a nice lacing inside the glass. The color is a deep, dark maroon - almost black.

Smell – Pleasant cocoa fragrance with a hint of coffee.

Taste – The cocoa comes out in the taste as well, followed by a coffee/malt flavor and a slight nutty tone. The dark nature of this beer compliments the burnt caramel at the end.

Mouthfeel – A little flat. Even though this is not a carbonated style of beer, I thought it could be a tad livelier.

Drinkability – This beer goes down smooth. Its complexity keeps one entertained, but the mediocre mouthfeel makes it a touch bland.

Comments – New Belgium puts out a lot of good brews, so I was somewhat disappointed with this bottle. It has some good flavors but was flat and uninspiring, a step down from some of their finer efforts.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2003 05:12:01 | More by RoyalT
Photo of Suds


3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from an old college buddy who brought a collection of beers east, just for me to try!
Pours a very dark, almost black, color with a slight reddish hue. Very slight, disappearing white head. The aroma is singularly roasted malts. Actually, it’s an appealing, enjoyable smell…there’s just not much else going on there. Taste is a mix of caramel and coffee…grainy and a nice underlying dry bitterness. The more I drink of this beer, the more I think it’s a little oily….at times distractingly so. Light to medium body and drinkable.
At the end of the day, it’s interesting, and worth a try, but not outstanding.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2003 01:08:43 | More by Suds
Photo of Rumrunner


3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12Oz. bottle
A very different ale for me. I enjoyed it. Will be a change of pace from time to time.

It pours a dark but not pitch black color. Hold the glass up to a warm light and a magenta color appears. A light head that does not hold for long. The smell is a weak malty scent with a hint of licorice. A very mellow scent.

A nice malty taste with almost silent hops. Floral and a syrup flavor. There is a crispness to the ale to make it not too sweet. I enjoyed the balance. A good mouthfeel and no abrupt change in aftertaste make this a very enjoyable ale.

As I noted above I will drink this ale when I want a change of pace.

Serving type: bottle

07-08-2003 23:57:56 | More by Rumrunner
Photo of jcalabre


3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 1 May 2003. I am writing this review from my notes. This pours a very dark reddish brown. It has a velvety tongue feel with flavors of sweet maltiness. It has a medium body, and generally creamy. Very nice, a bit different. I'll be sure to pick up more next time I'm in CO

Serving type: on-tap

06-26-2003 19:46:55 | More by jcalabre
Photo of texascarl


3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance = dark brown, medium carbonation, a bad pour on my part released a large tan head.

Nose = roasted malts (Coffee)

Taste = interesting 'dark beer'. Burnt toast/dark roast coffee notes, but with a lot of acidity in the brew. Lots of zing to offset the sweetness from the malt. Hops are there 'in balance'
(translation = not enough for me, of course...I always want mo' hops when I say it's in balance. It's fine for the rest of the world, of course).
Mouthfeel = dry, lemon-squirt acidity

I'd like to try this one again, sample it with some different foods. I suspect it would go well with spicy foods like Tex-Mex, Cajun/Creole.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2003 17:42:49 | More by texascarl
Photo of drewbage


3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled as a 16oz pint at the Stumbling Monk (Seattle, WA)

Small fight through the smoke to review this beer, but...

Aroma is a soapy roast malt on top of a rich and creamy black beer with ruby high tones with a thin white head that clings to the glass.

Flavor is of spiced coriander malt with a initially sweet malt and roasty metallic finish with a slightly washing hop bitterness

Serving type: on-tap

06-17-2003 01:12:46 | More by drewbage
Photo of kindestcut

North Carolina

2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I love Belgian-style beers. However, if it's not from the old country, I approach with caution. Unibroue and Allagash have allayed my fear of Non-Belgian Belgians but it's the New Belgium pseudo-Belgians that I most fear. I like the non-Belgian-style Fat Tire but it's not a tripel, or a dubbel or even a sacrifice bunt. And so all of NB's beers will forever be tainted by this beer, that from which all evil oozes according to some buffoons.

So I approached the BSBA with trepidation. I had tried the NB Trippel and was pleasantly surprised. It was good but not great. Since I liked the Trippel, I thought I'd give this one a chance. After all, it has a purty label.

Well, I have tasted the BSBA and it's not good. I wish I was more creative so I could find a nicer way of saying "this beer tastes like caramelized rat urine." Well, it's not that bad but when you present yourself as Belgian style, you have centuries of other breweries' traditions to uphold.

The BSBA pours a very dark brown, maybe even black, like the purty label says. I see browns...I see black...I see dead people...I don't see much of anything. A dark beer is what it is. Dark. The appearance hides everything but the color. That's why I like them. The murky depths may hide wonderful treasures or on they may be full of evil squids squirting damn bitter ink everywhere.

The off-white head is minimal. Nice lacing, though.

An obviously malty beer, I smell roasted malts. Yes, that's it. Roasted malts. What else do I smell? Not much. Maybe a hint of alcohol. The aroma is not very strong.

Here's a story for you. When I was a little kid, I woke up on a Monday morning in the summer in a daze, obviously still on a candy high, believing it was Christmas. I ran downstairs only to find nothing, nothing but my mom telling me to get ready for school. Now that's disappointment.

And so is this. This beer is the buzzkill of Belgian-style ales. My tasting of the BSBA started and ended quickly. This is indeed a malty beer, but the flavor is really subdued. I also found the BSBA to be a little musty...not dirty, but earthy, I guess. I didn't like that. Other flavors include coffee and caramel with no bitterness to speak of. The mouthfeel isn't bad, smooth and easy to drink...if you like drinking it.

Truthfully, this beer is not the worst in the world. However, for it's style, it isn't the best. It's not even great. I'd say a very solid mediocre. Kind of like Gromit's sense of humor.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2003 12:17:52 | More by kindestcut
Photo of au1sec


3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This isn't available in my area, but someone brought this back to me from a trip...and I was pleased with their choice. It's called a black ale, but pours a dark brown. It is differnet though..not a brown ale, not a porter, and not a stout...but some characteristics of each. Malty aroma...roasted. Thats about all I get. You can taste the roasted malts right off, maybe even a hint of smoke. The mouthfeel is crisp though, not something I expected. Hops? What hops? I can't find any. I think it is an interesting beer. Not something I'd want to try to duplicate with homebrew, but I also wouldn't mind having it again sometime.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2003 06:24:16 | More by au1sec
Photo of BeerManDan


4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It poured a nice medium brown with very little foam, but did so lace retention while drinking. The smell was of roasted malts. The taste was very pleasant with the roasted malts with out the bitterness, it was very pleasant. This is there best beer that I've tasted so far. I would by this beer again for the summer.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2003 16:28:59 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of MJR


3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, but dark, mahogany with brown and garnet highlights. It starts with a small head, but quickly and loudly fizzles away to nothing but a tiny ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.

Smell: The aroma is very malty with suggestions of toasted and roasted malts. A bit one-dimensional...

Taste: Like the small, the flavor is quite malty with a touch of toasted and roasted malts. Slightest hint of toffee. There's a slight acidity, as well as a touch of spiciness that shows up towards the end. I detect a touch of roasted coffee in the aftertaste. Hops are all but non-existent. Again, it's a bit one-dimensional...there's simply not much going on in this brew.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated with a crisp mouthfeel. Fairly thin in body. Dry and acidic finish.

Drinkability: Average...like a lot of their offerings, I find this beer to be bland and uninteresting. I'll pass next time.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2003 11:33:21 | More by MJR
Photo of freed


4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The label was peeling of this bottle, but I don't blame New Belgium for this.

The beer is a deep brown with a halo of amber. The head wisped away quickly, but left a ring around the surface. The smell was of a superior maltiness. The first taste really agreed. There is a nice mix of carmels, grains, sugars. There's little if any hop to it, which is a style/time thing I'm sure. Its a malty treat though.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2003 17:41:55 | More by freed
Photo of Reidrover


4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought in the 12 oz New Belgium brown bottle.
Apparentlly according to the label this is a revival from an old brewing book hence the 1554 thing.
This is an exquisite beer to behold..dark ruby red and topped with a luscious coffee and creme coloured head..beautiful!!
Oddly after the gorgeous appearance the aroma was pretty pedestrian , maybe my nose is blocked..i dunno its distinctlly average..some malts and a little fruits, thats about it.
Then the taste is excellent ..nice balance of burnt malts and good hops a well balanced brew, I get some toffeeish hints, dark turkish coffee tastes..very nice
Very good in the mouth so very smooth yet so tongue tingling!!
Over all a good drinkable ale well worth waiting 449 years !!!!

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2003 20:25:19 | More by Reidrover
Photo of Quaffer


3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This was a nice, deep brown beer that almost looked ruby at times. It had a dense, creamy tan head that dissipated quickly, leaving a thin layer floating on top for the duration of the drink. It had some great sheeting action, freckling the side of the goblet with lace.

Smell: A mixture of raisins, coffee, sweet malt, dark roasted malt, bananas, nuts, burnt caramel, smoke, and a hint of cinnamon. Damn, that's a lot of stuff for one beer!

Mouthfeel: It felt creamy up front on the tip of the tongue, but it thinned out after that. Not nearly as full-bodied as I would have liked it to be. It was very smooth, though.

Taste: The taste was kind of mild and not really what I expected. The main component of the flavor was deep roasted malt and coffee, combined with a light sweetness. This faded to raisins and cloves. Finally in the finish, a slight bitterness arose to mingle with the spiciness.

This was an interesting, almost strange, brew. It reminded me of a porter, but with Belgian characteristics.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2003 15:59:50 | More by Quaffer
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1554 has a very luscious, dark chestnut color. It is clear throughout, yet still lets little light pass through. Head was quite minimal, simply a fine, off-white ring around the perimeter of the glass, with little lacing.
The nose was Dubbel-like in quality, with slight malty sweetness, candi-sugar, and fruitiness showing through.
Body was pleasantly in the medium range, and it passed over the tongue with little effort, being fairly smooth.
There is a very nice sweetness to the 1554, with some suggestions of dark fruit, as well as a hint of chocolate. Again, I find it similar to a Dubbel. Flavors linger for a healthy amount of time on the palate, too.
Quite the enjoyable bier, with kudos being sent Guslers way for the sample! Prosit!!

overall: 4
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


Serving type: bottle

03-12-2003 13:40:45 | More by Bierman9
1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 2,919 ratings.