1554 Enlightened Black Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

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BA SCORE
87
very good

1,249 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,249
Hads: 3,146
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 10.36%
Wants: 84
Gots: 253 | 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

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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,249 | Hads: 3,146
Photo of jawlessbody
4.34/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Poured a dark, cola-esque brown with a creamy, persistent 3 finger head that left a delectable amount of lacing.

Smell: Sweet and chocolatey filled out but a very inviting earthiness and topped off with hints of sweet caramel.

Taste: Chocolate and caramel sweetness on the front of the tongue that fills out wonderfully into a nutty, earthy body reminiscent of a darker roasted Peruvian coffee. Small amounts of toasted flavors and just a kiss of tangy bitterness from the hops are present as well.

Mouthfeel: There was definitely more carbonation than I would have liked, but it still felt heavy, thick, and smooth going down. Very, very drinkable.

Overall: Wonderfully thick and smooth ale that perfectly balances a sweet body with nutty earthiness. I can only describe this beer as delightfully charming, but satisfyingly complex. I will soon be picking up more. (938 characters)

Photo of Pintofbrown
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served in a snifter. Best before Feb. 09, 2014 bottle date.

Almost a truly black body, slivers of cola highlights are at the bottom of the glass. A thin and tawny head does not last long, but leaves behind considerable soapy lacing.

A chalky and cocoa powdery sweetness lies heavy on the nose, almost like Tootise Rolls. A subtle earthiness also comes out with toasted pumpernickel notes. Generally, the impression here is sweet, earthy, and musty.

1554 begins with that sweet cocoa and chalky yeast flavor. The yeast gives a banana bread - like flavor that builds in the finish. The earthiness is back, now with a bit more edge to push it to a roasted chestnut flavor. There is a slight tang in the finish as well, bing cherries or plums is close.

More watery on the tongue with a building creaminess when the beer is swished around. This Enlightened beer finishes very crisp.

1554 is an eye-opening beer. The combination of toasted, nutty malts and sweet, chalky yeast characteristics make for an interesting pairing. It may be hard to convince some that the flavor mesh is worth tracking down a bottle. Still, this is a well crafted beer that I would certainly have again on a cold winter night. (1,204 characters)

Photo of ssarah
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: dark and clear, with a thick, tan head. The brown- approaching black- color is inviting, especially on a cold day!

Smell: Chocolate, with hints of coffee. Not overpowering.

Taste: Malty and with hints of caramel. Flavors of roasted coffee and malts come through. Tastes more stout-like than belgian dark ale. Rich and warming.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as one would expect from such a dark beer. Light to medium carbonation.

Overall: Good beer for winter. Not a typical dark belgian style- expect more of a stout or porter when purchasing. I would have it again, but would not be my top choice beer from New Belgium. (633 characters)

Photo of ZoomanCru
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

App: Very dark with a deep almost purple hue like that of poke berries. Nice two finger tan head clings high to the edges of the glass.

Smell: Deep, roasted chocolate nose with hints of lilac. Sweet and with no notable hops nose. Earthy with a slight salty aroma.

Taste: Smooth creamy chocolate coupled with some other more nuanced malt flavors. Some notes of caramel high in the foretaste. True taste is sweet and grainy without seeming green. After taste is that of milk chocolate and Cafe au Lait creaminess. Hops is almost completely absent, contributing only a slight lingering bitterness after the swallow.

Mouth: Rich and heavy bodied, this beer is fairly heavily carbonated for something with such a significant malt presence. (740 characters)

Photo of BeerWithMike
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this one a few times and last sampled on 11/27/13. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a brandy snifter.

Pours a very dark brown in color with a small tan head. Leaves a good amount of lacing when sipped. Perfect carbonation. The aroma is of roasted malts, chocolate and dark fruit. The taste is about the same with a slight dry smokey finish. No harsh or bitter aftertaste. This is my favorite brew from this company by far. Great brew for the colder months. (499 characters)

Photo of adxss
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Serves from a bottle around 55 degrees. I do not refrigerate my beer
Rich color but a little thin texture wise. The head was a beautiful coppery tan color, but only 1/4" tall.
Excellent flavor. A little roast, coffee, and maybe a touch of citrus.
Mild and very drinkable. Very smooth. (287 characters)

Photo of DenverHopHead
3.59/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance - mahogany against the light, very thin beige head. Lacing is scattered.
Smell - roasted barley, some chocolate, sweet caramel malts.
Taste - a nice creamy, coffee taste.
Feel - medium body, fairly complex and flavorful.
Overall - great for the price point, so I give credit to NB for that! (341 characters)

Photo of Davidvols
4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

At first sip you notice a bitter taste. By the second tasting you notice the chocolate. Not usually a dark beer drinker, but picked this up in a variety 6 pack. Glad I did, may have to try and brew this one myself. I love Belgian beers, with abv closer to 6% as was this one. Must try this one if you haven't. Low carbonation, but very tasty - great after dinner drink. (369 characters)

Photo of baos
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into large snifter.

A: Nice dark brown body, good clarity with nice tan head and good lacing.

S: Chocolate and rich malts.

T: Munich and Chocolate malts. Bits of coffee and toffee and unsweetened chocolate. Finishes nice and dry.

M: Nice medium feel.

O: Great beer. I would like to take this recipe and make a Dubbel. Making the other half of malts all wheat.. Great beer. I love it (395 characters)

Photo of Deanosaurus
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

I bought a 6 pack mix from Dirt Cheap so I could try several beers over the past week and this was one of them. I was intrigued mainly by the date, I guess you could say I'm a sucker for old-timey things; also the fact that I had never had a "Black Ale" before.

- Appearance (4/5)
It came in a dark bottle and poured out about the color of the bottle itself, if not a little thicker. On pouring it was a dark chocolate sort of color with a caramel glow and then collected into a thick black cloud in the glass.

- Smell (3.75/5)
Not very robust, almost the sort of smell you would get from a lighter beer, which is deceptive.

- Taste (4.25/5)
This beer was bitter on the nose with a mild flavor of hops then leveled out into a thick malty stout-like flavor. I don't know if Black Ale is another name for stout but if you poured this in place of a stout I ordered I probably wouldn't think otherwise.

- Mouthfeel (4.75/5)
...like a stout. Hardy and thick without lingering too long. Smooth finish.

- Overall (4/5)
Decent beer. My first black ale and I was pleased. If I'm feeling up for a malt taste without feeling like I'm drinking molasses this would be my go to. (1,169 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brown with a chocolate hue this ale had a thick head and it laced spottedly but thickly.

The scent is nicely diverse with chocolate malt dominance, Graham cracker, marshmallow, dry grain, and even a little hops.

I really like this beer with its chocolate qualities. There's the chocolate malt but then a dry chocolate bar flavor. Some smokey flavors come from the charred malts and really accent this well. Graham cracker maltiness and some grain finish this out.

The feel is dry, smooth and very easy, yet full enough too create an exceptional experience. I think this is one of New Belgium's finest ales and one of my favorites. (638 characters)

Photo of brewskifan55
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, Gus.

A: Rich cola brown with a tan half-finger head that dissipates fast to foam. Frothy lacing.

S: Caramel malts, dark fruits (dates, plums).

T: Very smooth and malty. Sweet and robust. Dark fruits shine but the malt pulverizes, in a good way. Toasty with a dry, smokey finish. I feel like I'm drinking an American Brown.

M: Light to medium with low carbonation. Kinda watery; the only thing that takes my scoring down a notch.

O: Very sessionable. Wish it was more carbonated. But overall, a great malt experience. (552 characters)

Photo of DmanGTR
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep maroon, almost completely brown, but showed some beautiful garnet tones in the light. Cream colored head that lasted a very long time. Nose is clean, but abundant with deep, dark fruits, a hint of cocoa powder, and raisins. The flavor is much similar, but surprised me with the cocoa, which added a nice complexity to the beer. Rich body, nicely carbed. (367 characters)

Photo of JamesMN
3.76/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Best before 1/5/14. I used to think this beer was the bee's knees before getting into craft. We'll see what two years of hindsight has to say about that.

Appearance: Pitch black body with a thin light tan head.

Aroma: Toasty malts and toffee. A light grassy hop note. Similar to a brown ale.

Taste: Upon first sip I understand why I liked this beer so much back in the day; it's a malt bomb. Toasted caramel, toffee, and nutty grain cascade over the palate. There is a tingling hop bitterness to balance things out. Real flavorful for 5.6% ABV. I'm not sure I get any flavors here that constitute a belgian stylization. More like an American Brown Ale. Fizzy finish and chocolate aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Just under medium in body and a little much on the carbonation. Good drinkability and sessionable.

Final Thoughts: Going in to this review I was expecting to find 1554 unable to hold up to the memory I have of it, but as it turns out it was just as good if not more enjoyable than the memory. A great beer by New Belgium, albeit a wrongly categorized one. Would I drink it again? Yes. (1,092 characters)

Photo of Chiefy770
3.62/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a Snifter glass.

A tan head, slightly less than two fingers thick, formed and quickly dissipated leaving fairly moderate lacing. The beer itself was dark brown, almost black and non-transparent.

The aroma was toasty with strong scents of fruit.

Much like the smell, the taste consisted of toasty malts and mild notes of fruit. It was slightly sweet, not so bitter. Light to moderate carbonation.

Overall I enjoyed this beer. I am not too familiar with Belgian Dark Ales so I do not have much to compare this to. This was mild and light compared to some full body porters or stouts. This was part of the New Belgium Folly Fall combo pack which was very fitting. A flavorful dark beer to bring in the colder weather.

Bottom Line: Worth trying. (775 characters)

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours a deep, dark cordovan brown with a light tan, finger width head. Fair retention, resulting in a broken layer of suds across the surface. Lacing is sparse, with fair stick.

Smell - Moderate roast with notes of chocolate. Whiffs of nuttiness and earth.

Taste - Follows the nose. Moderate roasted flavor. Lesser notes of chocolate. Touches on that classic NB toasted nuttiness. Earth flavor hits on the back end; moreso as the brew warms.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full in body with moderate carbonation which tingles the tongue. Somewhat creamy in texture.

Overall - Hard to believe I hadn't reviewed this beer yet; one of New Belgium's older and more popular beers. It's decent enough, but it's never been a beer that I've ever craved. (754 characters)

Photo of SLeffler27
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

A clear dark ruby red beer builds a creamy beige head that quickly dissipates to leave spotty lace while occasional fine carbonation percolates from just the other side of the wall of a Blue Point tulip glass.

Spicy figs and caramelized sugar accentuate a light roasted character while little if any yeast impacts the aroma profile.

1554 is earthy with dark fruit, however, it is more bitter than expected with light bitterness lingering well into the finish.

This one has a medium to full body, with high carbonation, no alcohol, and a dry velvety finish.

While enjoyable on its own, this is far from the strong flavor and aromas one typically expects from the style. (672 characters)

Photo of vkv822
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz : tulip
best by: 01/19/14

Pours near black, with faint mahogany highlights when held to light. Has a thin, foamy light tan head, spotty lacing.

Roasty, faint cocoa, earthy, slight fruity notes.

Medium body, foamy carbonation.

A well done beer, similar to an American porter or black ale, with roasty, cocoa and malt upfront, highlighted by the hop notes, though in this case it is a more floral, earthy hop character. (426 characters)

Photo of jifigz
3.51/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

This beer pours a deep, dark brown color with a small fluffy white head that lingers for a short amount of time. When held up to the light it looks very similar to an American Porter. The aroma is slightly malty with hints of some chocolate malt. The taste starts off chocolatey and rich and ends with just a touch of bitterness for balance. It is overall a rather sweet beer that is heavy on the chocolate flavor. There is also a level of alcohol present in the flavor which is quite surprising since it is only coming in at 5.6%. The MF is medium to light bodied and easy to quaff.

This beer is okay, but how is this really different than an American Porter? It tastes like one, feels like one, and appears like one. Sometimes I feel that the lines of "beer styles" is heavily blurred. Overall not a bad brew though. A decent easy drinking dark beer with a minimal, but good, flavor. (921 characters)

Photo of vegassommelier
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer gets high marks from me very much due to its quality to price point ratio. As a fan of darker beers, I buy mostly in the dark beer-porter-stout arena... and this on (for $7.99 a six pack) really outperforms others in its class.
Rich malty aromas of caramel, coffee, vanilla simple syrup, sugar in the raw, black raisins and semi-sweet chocolate. Medium to full on the palate, the flavors mimic the aromas with the addition of tootsie rolls and cinnamon buns.
Again, I love this offering just due to the fact that it does so well up against darker style beers in the 7 to 12 dollar a six pack range.
Definitely recommended. (632 characters)

Photo of DrinkinBoy
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a beautiful brown/garnet color with a light tan head. The head has great rention and a unique heavy foam pattern is left in the pint glass.

S - Compared to the appearance, the nose is very underwhelming. It is very light with aromas of roasted malts, but no hops can be detected.

T - Very complexed. Starts somewhat light, however the middle begins to build a vast amount of flavors. These are mostly sweet. Those flaovors then build in complexity and the bitterness of darker malts comes forward and plays nicely with the sweetness. The finsih is extremely long and new flavor combinations can be detected with every tongue movement.

M - As suspected in a beer fermented with lager yeast. The beer has a medium mouthfeel and crispness not expected from a darker beer. The carbonation is fair, but a little bit more would really highlight the crispness of the lager yeast.

O - This beer is defintely worth a try, especially since it is so easy to find in NB's markets. However, for ultimate enjoyment, drinking in solitiude is prefered to enjoy all its subtleites. (1,079 characters)

Photo of Furlinator
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark brown with a 1/2 inch of head that leaves a trace of lacing.

The smell is caramel up front with faint coffee and cocoa in the background.

The taste is of chocolate, caramel and toffee. Coffee flavor becomes more pronounced as the ale warms, which makes the overall taste more enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is crisp with slight bitterness and medium carbonation.

A very nice dark ale. Smooth and flavorful. (411 characters)

Photo of cfspartan
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Delicious, dark and complex. Amazingly there is not a trace of bitterness, only smooth complexity on the palate from beginning to end. For such a dark beer, the lack of bitterness was as surprising as it was awesome. It is better on tap than in the bottle, but over here on the East Coast, I'd take either! (306 characters)

Photo of teromous
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown body that lets a small amount of light through, revealing dark red-brown hues and lots of carbonation bubbles. The head is an eggshell white color and leaves lots of lacing on the glass. The head doesn't stand for too long though.

S: Caramel hits me right off the bat, with a delightfully sweet smell. There is toasted nutty scent as well, and a bit of burnt scent. It's not very complex smelling but it is nice.

T: There is a light roasted flavor that hits the tongue first, quickly followed by a sweet melted caramel flavor. It reminds me of a burnt marshmallow by a campfire. There is some alcohol flavor in there as well.

M: I think the mouthfeel is right on point for this beer. The carbonation and light dryness give it just enough body without being thick.

O: I found this to be a nice easy beer to drink. The presence of alcohol flavor makes it a bit hard to enjoy, but the rest of the beer is nice. It has a pleasant roasted flavor that fans of stouts and porters will undoubtedly enjoy. (1,014 characters)

Photo of Jdbateman83
4.62/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

OMG. I love this. My all time favorite beer.

Appearance: Very Dark, as in bitch black with creamy looking head.

Smell: Excellent, smells of dark malty, coco richness.

Taste: Big on chocolate, malt, coco, cream, vanilla. NO hops, almost zero bitterness which is unexpected cause of how freaking dark it is.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, easy to sip or slurp.

Overall: I know it wont be everyone's cup of tea, but if you drink beer, and enjoy trying al of them, you must add this to your portfolio of beers you have had. I had zero expectation because it looks like Guinness, and I hate Guinness... But this is no Guinness, this is heavy in a glass made out of cute puppies licking you and acting cute every sip. (717 characters)

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 1,249 ratings.