1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

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very good

3,139 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,139
Reviews: 1,260
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.27%
Wants: 82
Gots: 247 | 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: 3,139 | Reviews: 1,260
Photo of neilgavigan
2.96/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Nice copper-black color with a light tan thick rocky 1 inch head. Color reveals more copper and red when held up to the light

S - Biscuit, chocolate, coffee. I little roast. Light esters

T - Bitter and somewhat spicy malt flavor right up front. Alcohol is discernible but at an low level. After taste is medium-dry but somewhat lacking in any flavor. Just a slight toated bread

M - Thick and creamy with nice high carb. Very smooth

O - Decent dark ale, though not as strong as Id expect from a beer of this type dark. Mediocre overall taste and bland finish don't help this beer, but it's a nice mellow dark when you don't want a big stout or a Belgian strong dark.

Photo of wnh
2.96/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a clear, brilliant scarlet-tinted chestnut topped by a large frothy, creamy light tan head.

Lots of earthy notes on the nose, almost acidic, with stale watery coffee, dried pine needles, and maybe a bit of unsweet oak.

Decidedly sweet on the palate, predominately caramel, with something of a generic dried fruit note, fresh grass, and maybe a bit of bitter cocoa powder. Underwhelming. Dry, somewhat astringent finish.

Light to medium bodied, moderately firm. I'm not a fan.

Photo of jimbus
2.94/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown-deep red color, just a bit darker yet very similar to the Moose Drool I just drank. This "Black Ale" is not black. Smell is a bit yeasty and malty. Also, hints of spice and fig. First sip is highly carbonated, dark malt flavors...but its almost like a dirty tar taste...in a good way? As it warms, the residual sweetness finishes with a bitter tang that doesn't leave the best after taste. I suppose this is a decently drinkable beer but I'm not sure if I would consider drinking another.

Photo of SilentSabre
2.94/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I wasn't particularly impressed with this one, not right off the bat, anyway. It poured up a crystal clear, dark red colour with a huge 2 and a half - three finger foamy cap that stayed in place for several minutes. Smell, honestly, reminded me of BMC. Perhaps a notch or two above, but IMO, I couldn't really detect anything of much quality present in the smell. Flavour, luckily, was a bit better. There was a lovely woodiness present here which to me, tasted like freshly sawn, damp timber smells, along with some modest malt flavours. Mouthfeel was okay, I suppose, in regards to weight and carbonation; again, nothing really impressive. Overall, not a terrible concoction, and certainly several notches above Fat Tire. As always, glad I had the opportunity to have a go at this one.

Photo of bum732
2.91/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

S: Dark malt, fairly clean, slight roastiness, some woodiness, herbal hops.

L: Clear light brown, off-white head that dissipates.

T: Clean, slightly roasty malt. Some herbal hops int he backbone. Medium low bitterness leads to a touch of ash. Fairly dry finish, clean.

M: Medium light body, medium carbonation.

Very average, drinkable.

Photo of hoosiersapper27
2.88/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark, but ability to see through, 1/2 finger head with poor retention. Lacing?

S- Had a hard time with this. Lots of maltiness, but my nose was stuffy.

T- BIG malt with subtle roasted chocolate, burnt meat fat.

M- Watery for what I thought it would be.

O- I really did have a rough time with this. My stuffy nose gave me some strange, yet interesting tastes with it. The roasted, grilled, burnt meat fat taste was definitely there for me. Almost like charcoal but not. Couldn't really taste the chocolate but knew it was there so maybe my brain was making up for it.
Overall I would like to try this again.

Photo of BrewmasterNPB
2.87/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I drank 1554 last night and don't remember it being so sweet. This is a unique beer, very complex malt character. It has a very low hop profile, which seems to be appropriate for style. The sweetness was overpowering though and made it somewhat difficult to drink. I do enjoy the malty aroma however.

Photo of kindestcut
2.86/5  rDev -25.3%
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.

Photo of cadenwhitaker
2.85/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

I feel like I'm slamming a perfectly good beer. But to be honest... this doesn't taste like a belgian dark ale. This is more like a porter.

Ok so maybe this is the exact recipie based off of something in 1554, so maybe I'm wrong. But overall I feel as if I"m just getting the same flavor profile that New Belgium ships with all their beers.

It pours a clear dark brown, odd choice of words I know, but with Belgians I expect something heavier in the appearance. This is very clear and very uniform.

The taste has lots of tastes you could pull from a porter; coffee, biscuit, etc. It is a bit watery.

Mouthfeel is also a bit watery.

Overall... is it good? Yep. Would I drink it again? Yep. Do I (in my uneducated opinion) think of it as a Belgian Dark Ale? Nope.

Photo of cnally
2.84/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

the pour is dark brown, and a fluffy, laced head sticks well.

mildly sour aroma, hints of malt, but slightly nutty.

the flavor is very nutty, malty and woodsy flavored.

very creamy texture. filling and decently carbonated.

well, ok but not spec. drinkable but not delicious.

Photo of StlHopHead77
2.83/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-Pours out a coca-cola,blackish brown with some hints of crimson and a 2 finger,rapidly depleting,tannish head that left good sudsy lacing.

S-Very stout-like but muted.Soft sweet chocolate,weak coffee and dark roasted malt.

T-Nothing too assertive here.Toned-down American stout flavors.Nothing too bitter and nothing too bold.Bittersweet chocolate,sweet malt and coffee with cream.Slight dark roasted quality on the finish.

M-Thin and timid.

D-I can't see myself drinking more than one of these.There's just nothing there.

Photo of Erish
2.82/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet. Bottle was date coded best before May 2011.

A: clear, medium-dark mahogany color, aggressive pour produced a small cream-colored head that quickly fell into a mottled cap with good lacing.

S: first and foremost there is that "Fat Tire" aroma, which I can best describe as a combination of chicory, rubber, and dirt: I am not a fan, underneath that nastiness there is a core of sweet malt, beyond that I am not getting much, as the Fat Tire funk overwhelms all.

T: the maltiness and the woody taste predominate up front, in the middle there is a bit of dried fruit, some nuttiness, and a bit of Belgian-esque yeast funk, the finish is weak, with just a whisper of herbal hops and a tiny bit of lingering milk chocolate.

M: medium-bodied, watery to creamy texture, moderate carbonation.

D: I am a big fan of New Belgium's "Trippel" and "Abbey" beers. I was very disappointed by this beer. It reminded me of a tarted up "Fat Tire."

Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
2.78/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours a clear brown color. It has a slightly off-white head that is very prominent.

S: Aroma is nutty with some coffee and bitterness, not extremely full but still nice.

T/M: Tastes smooth, and there’s a light nuttiness in there but it’s not extremely flavorful.

I feel like some black ales are misleading. Something so dark would appear to be full of flavor, but color is not always indicative of quality. The best thing about this beer is its texture but it could use something else. A higher ABV, some chocolate, I don’t know, something.

Photo of Transatlantic
2.77/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice clear chocolate dark brownish red color. Nice fluffy head with great retention and lacing.

S - ...something must be wrong here. Either my nose is broken or there is literally no scent to this beer. I've tried about 10 times to smell SOMETHING in this, but i'm smelling absolutely nothing.

T - Okay, well at least there's some taste. Definitely a dark sweetness there, like caramel, brown sugar, or molasses. There's also the taste of chocolate present.

M - A slick light bodied beer. Goes down very well with perfect carbonation.

D - This is definitely a session beer but with some class. You can down plenty of these and feel better than the rest of the crowd, who might be drinking down PBR.

Photo of Breen
2.74/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pour/Appearance: Black sitting, deep chestnut brown when held to light. Minimal head disappears quickly.

Smell: Roasted malt with a hint of a spicy fruit bouquet.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat on the watery side for a dark beer. Light mouthfeel and carbonation.

Taste: Dark fruits from the hops and a smokey flavor from the malt.

Not bad, but a little too watery for me.

Photo of ronniebruner
2.71/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is an American version of a Belgian dark ale. While it is not bad, it pales in comparison to true Belgian dark ales. The ABV is pretty low for a Belgian (5.5%) and is relatively average. There is nothing to distinguish or differentiate this beer from the others in its category.

Photo of beertunes
2.71/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a straight pint glass. Poured on the still side, not much head or carbonation, minimal lacing. A shade of black that is just shy of being black, while being too dark to be any shade of brown. Nothing noticeable in the aroma. Slight roasted flavors in taste, but nothing that stands out. The body is light for an ale, but would be fulfilling if considered a lager.

Photo of kjyost
2.7/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle BB 11/8/11 poured into a tulip at about 8C

A: Deep black - the edges are not opaque but rich red brown - body with a light tan head that dissipates much too quickly and leaves no lacing.
S: Light Belgian esters and charcoal from the roasted malts
T/M: I was expecting a Belgian. I got a stout. Tons of roast that finishes dry. No discernible yeast character. Some balancing bitterness and a residual sweetness.
O: Not a bad beer, just nothing like I expecting.

Photo of BeerDocT
2.65/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served in a chilled tulip glass.

-Appearance 3.0: Pours out a slightly opaque, ebony brown-black. Slight head and I really cranked the pour. Large carbonation bubbles. Head is white and, sitting in my glass, it really looks like a Coke.

-Smell 3.0: I had to stick my nose almost in the beer to make out a bouquet. What I did smell was not that fabulous: just subdued toasted barley notes with a little chocolate in there, too.

-Taste 2.5: Front is flat, but a certain low-level chocolate flavor comes through. Middle is non-existent. Nothing there. Finish is a washed-out barley flavor; imagine what you would get if you used a grain-bag filled with stout grains for 50 brews and then bottled the liquid from that 50th dunking. Yep. Not good. Finish hit me in the top of the palate with this artificial-tasting, cocoa-powder flavor that stands out like a sore thumb.

-Mouthfeel 2.5: A higher level of carbonation could have really elevated the taste of this beer.

-Overall 2.5: This is one of the most schizoid brews I have ever had the displeasure of tasting. It's all over the place. There's some story on the bottle about the "intrepid researchers" of the brewery finding a recipe in Belgium from the year 1554 for this beer and how this beer is different than modern beers. Well, if that is true, perhaps history was trying to teach us something and there's a reason this poorly evolved ancestor of modern beers is extinct.

Photo of denver10
2.64/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours black with a beige head. A kinda sweet and roasty aroma but not super distinct. Flavor didn't work for me; roasted, a slight touch of chocolate, and a healthy dose of candied sugar and bubblegum. Yuck, I'll give it a 3 because I think my reaction is more subjective than objective but I definitely did not like this and did not finish my glass. A nice medium, creamy body. Overall, not for me. A definite pass that I wont try again.

Photo of impending
2.63/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz into a tulip. Pours dark just shy of midnight black, minimal head yet decent lacing.

Aroma is subdued with faint worcestershire and an oakyness, no sweetness in the nose.

Taste lacks complexity. Peculiar in that the front end is nearly devoid of flavor, middle is nondescript and the finish contains what flavor there is.
does not improve with warmth
but it improves if you don't drink it out of a glass

Photo of PhillyStyle
2.62/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: The beer appeared to be an opaque black with some hints of red when held up to the light. The beer poured a nice off-white/light brown head that quickly evaporated, but left a small spotty/blotchy cap. No real lacing to speak of.

S: Aroma was decent, nice strength to it, mainly roasted malted barley with a hint of yeast or bread. No hops to note.

T: The taste of the beer was about in line with the other New Belgium brews that I have tried, slightly weak, nothing that really set the beer apart that would make me remember it in the future. The taste is mainly the roasted malt with a slight undertone of sweetness.

M/D: I felt that the beer felt lighter than it should have, almost watered down a bit. The carbonation felt right, which helped. As for drinkability, I poured some of it out, simply because I forgot about it. Overall, a less than average beer and one that I would not buy or order again.

Photo of Bagman007
2.6/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served in a bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- Dark brown coloring with a couple of finger widths of head.

S- Nutty caramel and chocolate scent.

T- Strong chocolate caramel taste, not much as far as hops go.

M- Smooth and creamy feel. Not very bitter at all.

D- Very smooth, very drinkable.

Overall a decent beer. Not a big fan of this type, but this beer is one of the better I have had.

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 jujubeast6000
2.58/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 10/23/2007 (bottle BB 22Feb08):

Pours a dark brown colored body, with reddish fringes, and a dull white head, diminishing. Has a chocolaty roasted aroma, along with some malts. Has a dry taste, a dusty chocolaty taste. Watery palate, with a dull taste. Some malts.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
86 out of 100 based on 3,139 ratings.