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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

3,082 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,082
Reviews: 1,250
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 73
Gots: 207 | 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: 3,082 | Reviews: 1,250 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerAngel
4.02/5  rDev +5%
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!

Photo of Bitterbill
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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!

Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.26/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

Photo of longarm
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Photo of acrawf6
4.1/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of Hhawk06
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Photo of NClifestyle
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
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.


Photo of marksto
2.36/5  rDev -38.4%
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.

Photo of goschool
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Photo of charlatan
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

Photo of mynie
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

Photo of garymuchow
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

Photo of edmundfitzoil
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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

Appearance – This pours a nearly black, deep brown with a very creamy tan head with average retention and significant wispy sheeting lacing.

Smell – The nose is malty and sweet with some licorice, anise hints.

Taste – This is a very robustly malty beer, yet crisp with a subtle hop finish at the end. There is more fruitiness that would be expected from a beer this dark.

Mouthfeel – On the whole, the brew is surprisingly medium-bodied considering the depth of malt roasting. Creamy crispness.

Drinkability – This is an exceptionally drinkable beer. I highly recommend it. Don’t let the color fool you into thinking you can’t have several of these in a night.

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

Pours a deep peat brown almost black some deep red shows thru when held to the light. Sports a nice fluffy tan head that leaves a good coat of lace.

Aroma is nice roasted malts coffee and fruit some hints of chocolate and underlying caramel noted.

Taste is well carbonated roasted malt light coffee flavorsmoving to dark fruits finishes with caramel sweetness and lingering spice. Overall a decent Schwarzbier but there are better ones out there.

Mouthfeel is a little to carbonated for my senses but decent body.

Drinkability is ok a decent little brew want to thank the fine ba's who sent this to me and B&G BIF.

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

This ales pours a beautiful black with a very fine carbonation and a caramel head. It has strong coffee and caramel flavors and a mouthfeel that liberally coats the tongue. It also has a surprisingly refreshing taste. From the look, you’d think it would have a strong alcohol bite but it has a very balanced flavor. I also love the story behind its creation. Definitely one of the collection.

Photo of swid
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New Belgium 1554 pours a black color into my tulip glass. A deep reddish-brown color is visible around the edges when the beer is held up to the light; not quite entirely opaque. A 1/2", brown head forms, then slowly dissipates into a soapy ring. Moderate carbonation and lacing. The aroma is a mild mixture of alcohol sweetness, caramel malts, and small hints of citrus and "funk".

The taste is sweet and malty on the whole. The first impression is of caramel malts, a slight alcohol sweetness, and a little bit of chocolate and roasted flavors. After a second or so, the citrus flavor from the hops kicks in, adding to an overall slight sour tone. The mouthfeel is light, being slightly more sweet than dry. Finishes crisp, with a mild roasted yet sweet aftertaste.

Overall, this beer has combination of tastes not found in an ordinary beer. It's nothing exceptional, and probably not for eveyone, but it's tasty enough in its own right. It's a great beer for a crisp October night.

Photo of jwff
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

As the only black ale I've tried I really have no reference to the style. New Belgium seems to have thought ahead and the label is quick to remind that this is neither a stout nor a porter.

No real complaints about this beer. There is an overwhelming flavour of burnt chocolate present in the smell. Pours a dark ruby, almost black with low carbonation. This beer reminds me of a rich brown ale before the mouthfeel thins to make way for the brunt of the burnt chocolate -- which sounds amazing, but the transition is not very smooth. Blunt, even.

Solid brew. There is a bit of sweetness which might turn some away as far as sessioning goes, but the sweetness could also interest those who consider themselves non-beer drinkers. Also, this beer comes highly recommended on tap as it thickens up and smooths out the mouthfeel.

Photo of paterlodie
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not much head and a black coffee like beercolor. Nose is lots of black candy, chocolate, oxidated sweet but good maltyness overal more sweet then burnt nose impression. Taste is full, tasty and sweetish but not overdone. Lots of cacao powder, burnt but not overdone and a good "black"taste overal. Aftertaste stays long and is slightly burnt and gets backing from some bitterhops. Mouthfeel is missing some freshness but low carbonisation and good taste make a quiet good overal impression. Drinkability is though it's not my favorite beerstyle good. The beer is easy drinkable and enjoyable to me.

Photo of whynot44
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Apparently, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale is a relabeling of the 1554 Brussels Black Ale, although maybe with a little refinement since I originally tried it.

It pours a very dark red/black with ruby highlights against a light and a decent but quick disappearing milk chocolate colored head, which does manage to leave some traces of lace.

The aroma is chocolate with hints of coffee and spice.

The taste is smooth roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, pears and a touch of spice. In spite of the dark color, this is only light/medium in body and the flavors, although complex, are mellow and compliment each other without any trace of harshness.

Very clean, smooth, refreshing and very easy to drink. Don't let the color scare you, give it a try.

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

On tap at the Patriot and Loyalist in Englewood, CO.
(Of note, theis brew is starting to appear on tap all over the Denver area...which is a really good thing)
Pours a dark black color...remniscent of either a Swartz or maybe even a dry stout actually.
The smell is of roasted malt, but with a clear sweetness and a little bit of molasses coming through.
Flavor is excellent. Lots of malty flavors and a hint of hops at the end, although it's not too strong.
A beer I could drink a lot of. A really solid go-to beer if it's available in your area. It's one of those you'll always think "I should get this more often" immediately upon trying it.

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

Pours a soda like brown with a head much the same color. Retention is only mildly better than that of soda.

Faint malty roasted aroma, extremely faint. Not over the top like a stout.

Belgian aromatic malts show up in this beer, slight honey from the malt, with little to no discernable hop character. Bitterness is only there to balance. Not necessarily sweet but definitely malty. Roasted character is there in the finish in a pleasant and smooth way.

Medium to light bodied with light carbonation.

I would drink this again as a session beer but the reality is that it does not really meet my expectations of a Belgian dark ale. It is like the Belgian dark ale "light" in reality, toned down for the wimpy American palate. Nevertheless, it is good and pleasant, and a fantastic transition beer, much like fat tire. New Belgium is seemingly the middleman for stone, alesmith, and rogue brewing companies, grabbing the swill drinkers and bringing them closer to the good side.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,082 ratings.