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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.
BA SCORE
87
very good

3,067 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,067
Reviews: 1,246
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 71
Gots: 194 | 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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 1554 Enlightened Black Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,067 | Reviews: 1,246 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of edmundfitzoil
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
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
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
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
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
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
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
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
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
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
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

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

Clear dark brown ale with a tan head.

Smell is dark roasted malt and a whiff of banana. Fairly malty in scent and I can pick out the scent of wheat in it. Faint whiff of smoke is present.

Taste is faint sweetness and smoke from the dark malt. Flavor of chocolate and mild bitterness with a little acid edge in the finish. No way is this a Belgian Dark Ale, this is a schwarzbier.

Mouthfeel is good.

Schwarzbier here not a Belgian Dark Ale! Not a bad beer at all here but I like the German version better.

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

Pours deep brown, opaque, with a very short brownish head. Good lacing throughout. Lots of chocolates dominate the nose, along with toasty nutty coffee notes. Taste is well balance, good semisweet malts with cocoa and coffee flavors, rounded with bitter hops. Smooth, semisweet, bitter, very nice. If I didn't live clear across the country I'd have a lot more of these.

Photo of Tang07
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great dark brown color. Great creamy, long lasting tan head.
The beer looks like something that you want to drink.
The smell has hints of malt, coffee and chocolate.
The taste is a great balance of malt and bitter.
The taste is much like the smell, malt, coffee, and chocolate with a nice bitter finish.

The beer has a nice body and slides down the throat well and is an easy drinking yet filling beer.

It is a great beer, but not something that you can drink all night because it is a bit heavy.

Photo of gbontrag
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Quite dark, certainly darker then I remember. It's ebony with some transparency. There's a likeable tan froth that sticks and stays.
Aroma of chocolates with a bit of green and black tea.

Tastes like chocolate flan! There'e quite the lively carbonation that's not small and fuzzy, it's large and assertive. The beer is surprisingly light for the color helped by the tingly mouthfeel. Not a huge aftertaste, so it's appreciated by the macro crowd I'm hanging with. I really like this for easy drinking. It fits in with brown ales maybe moreso then a Belgian definition.

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

Appearance: Very nice. Deep rich mahogany to the light; bordering on the advertised black without. Plump, dense, rocky, coffee-and-cream head with great retention. Leaves thin sheets of sticky lace on the glasswall. Very fine active carbonation throughout.

Smell: Chocolate with a spicy, juicy nose of Belgian yeast. A bit musty, and a bit of smokiness from the malt. No real hop profile, but a mighty fine nose nonetheless.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Dense mouthfeel of smoky chocolate up front. Roasty, with the slightly nutty spice of the yeast noticable mid-palette. Finishes bitter, crisp and dry. Mouthfeel is thin and tight, with a slight astringency.

Drinkability: While it's virtually indistinguishable from a number of stouts and porters out there, it's much better than I would have expected. Genuinely good beer, a nice surprise.

Photo of brewQ
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

By the light of day I will call this dark brown with highlights.

The sandy brown head falls but leaves islands atop the brew and lace that outlasts the glass. The aroma is less than I expected- subtle plum backed by earthy grains.

Taste is well balanced and puts me in the mind of Schwarzbier. A nice balance that finishes with a light spice I can't discern.

Good drinking to fit many occasions- with spicy food or solo on a cool day.


Love New Belgium- wish they'd make the date code more readable to my old eyes- the kids said this was 121605, 4 months out.

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

There's something that excites me every time I pour a beer like this... I think its the darkness of the head and the opaque nature of this style. I get excited when I can't see through the glass to the other side.
1554 kept a nice head throughout with a pretty strong hint of citrus and spice, but after the second whiff, it vanished. I've noticed this with subsequent bottles, as well. I found the beer moderately heavy yet very smooth. Then again, what beer doesn't go down well being first in line after a hard days work!
I miss the aroma throughout the glass, but overall I enjoyed this beer very much.
Just a note: I drank the second bottle with a bananna/peanut butter/honey/cinnamon sandwich and it rocked!

Photo of carln26
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured a deep brown to black with mild orange highlights. It was topped by a 1 inch tan head with decent carbonation. The head left a nice sheet of lace on the side of the glass. The aroma reminds me of many amber or brown ales. Primarily malt up front with toffee and caramel, followed by a bit of roasted malt. No real hop note in the aroma. The flavor comes across with the same mixture of caramel and roast malt. There is a mild nuttiness to the flavor and just a hint of citrus hop on the finish. Slightly more pronounced bitterness than I expected. It has a smooth, slightly oily mouth feel and a good drinkability.

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

Finally got to try my first New Belgium at Soulard Ale House in St. Louis, and the choice was this one because they were all out of Fat Tire. But this does not disappoint. A deep brown beer with a stouty head. Very estery like a dunkel weizen. Smoothness almost cancels out roastiness. Despite being average in ABV, it had a good alcohol burn, too. And the lacing leaves nice, regular rings down the entire length of the glass.

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

Nice aroma, dark appearance, dry, yeast, aggressive carbonation. Roast, chewy, malty. Thanks Tim (IPFreely) for sharing. Quite good and drinkable,cocoa, mult-dimensional and it all comes together in satisfying drink and aftertaste. Nice Belgian style.

Photo of soper2000
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

It's nice to be in a state where New Belgium is distributed.

Pours a very rich dark brown with a small creamy white head. Holding the beer up to a narrow source of light (like a distant light bulb) yields a sunburnst like effect, very cool. Aroma is interesting. I pick up a slight coffee like scent in the roasted malts. Taste is very earthy and grainy. The roastiness melds nicely with the yeasty undertones of this beer. I also picked up a little bit of woodiness which I thought was funny. Mouthfeel suffers a little bit as I feel a higher abv would've left this coating the tongue a little better. It seemed a little too thin to match its flavor profile.

All and all this is a rather good and interesting beer that I'm glad to have daily access too. I will be getting this again.

Photo of OatherS
4.58/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle has a black label with a picture of an European town with a New Belgium sign. I have had this beer MULTIPLE times before, but this is my first time writing up a review.

A: Very dark color, not much of a head.

S: A roasted malty/chocolaty aroma, very nice.

T: Almost like a chocolate mocha with a beer flavor combined. I have always liked the flavor of this beer. I do not believe that it is a Belgian Dark though, more like a German Schwarzbier.

M: Smooth.

D: This is one of my go to beers when I need to bring a six pack of something to a party.

Photo of palliko
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a thick, black, chewy beer! I first tried it on tap at Chili's, where it is on tap (see my review) - and had to try it in the bottle to see if it was as good. It was! Poured nice and black with good beige foam, lacing that never went away, roasted chocolate malt, medium carbonation, and thick mouthfeel. Minimum hops. Hint of spice. Similar to Young's Double Chocolate. Great with food, with a nice malty, bitter finish. I was amazed to find it was as good in the bottle as on tap!

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

This is a great black ale. The color is very dark amber. Aroma is nut and malty and sweet. Head is lightly colored for such a dark beer. Very full malt flavor with a bit too much carbonation in the taste. Finish is smooth with no bitterness (which I like). Similar to Newcastle Brown but fuller in flavor. This would be a perfect brew if not for the slightly excessive carbonation taste. One of my favorites.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New Belgium's 1554 pours a black body with gleaming mahogany and ruby highlights beneath an average-sized head of creamy light tan foam that holds well and leaves some very nice lace about the glass. The nose is roasty with chocolate and coffee-beans (not brewed coffee...). It's smooth across the palate with a moderate carbonation and medium body. The flavor is exactly as the nose suggests with the addition of some rich caramel notes and a very delicate touch of grassy hops in the background. It's just slightly spicy, and a touch acidic from the dark malts; and these combine with its sublime bitterness to balance it very nicely. It finishes with a lingering note of roasty, dark-chocolate accented caramel. Quite nice!

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 3,067 ratings.