1554 Black Lager | New Belgium Brewing

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1554 Black Lager1554 Black Lager

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States

Style: Euro Dark Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeersIsTheName on 02-02-2014

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Reviews: 126 | Ratings: 972
Photo of FriedSlug
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A clear very dark brown beer that lets a little light through. A foamy, light tan head that leaves a sheet of lacing. Aroma is sweet malt with a hint of chocolate and bitter hops. The taste is malty sweet with cocoa powder and a mild bitter finish. This is a very Porter like beer and quite tasty.

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Photo of JoLight
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, dark brown in color with a khaki and frothy head that leaves nice lacing.

Aroma: on the mild side; roasted malt; sweetness; cream; a little char; yeast.

Flavor: light; roasted malt; a little earthy/metallic hop bitterness at the end; some light tang; a super light, overlookable dark chocolate note at the end, as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel: light side of medium, carbonated.

Finish: dry, crisp.

I think it's a solid beer, but it's way overpriced.

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Photo of Fear4Beer
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Let me first get this out of the way and say that this 1554 Black lager is the same as this beer:

Here's an interesting article talking about why they changed the name: (mainly because in Texas you need to classify a beer as either an ale or malt liqueur if your beer is above 5% ABV. The beer law was changed a few years ago in Texas negating that strange designation). They named it "1554 Enlightened Black Ale" so that they could sell it legally in Texas.

The beer is malty, with tastes of chocolate, toffee, and rustic italian bread. The mouthfeel is a bit watery. That's what disappoints me a little is that the beer just needs a LITTLE bit more thickness to it and it would be phenomenal. Its a pleasant beer though and I'd certainly drink this over any crap Macro brewery beer. I think a lot of people who are used to junk BMC beers could transition to this easily. Its just an easy/drinkable beer.

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Photo of DrMullet
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark ruby brown.
The smell is sweet toffee with some roasted malts.
Taste is toasted malts and chocolate. Not too sweet.

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Photo of MACrist
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Black, a little ruby up to the light. Finger + of tan foamy head that lingers and leaves some pretty nice lacing down the glass. Good looking carbonation when rocking the glass.
AROMA: Minor roasted malts, a little chocolate, a little earthy.
TASTE: Just like the aroma.
FEEL: Average carbonation, a little on the watery side, dryer on the finish.
OVERALL: Chuggable, for sure. Very easy drinking, and no off putting flavors. Pretty nice brew,

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Photo of Guppy314
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear mahogany brown. Aroma has a brown sugar quality but it didn't end up tasting sweet. It's quite malt forward with tastes of chocolate and perhaps a bit of root beer. It has a full mouth feel. I might have guessed this was a Porter except that it is light in alcohol and lacks a certain heft.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a New Belgium globe glass.

Look: The color of dark chocolate with ruby hues coming in when held up to a light source. A light cream colored head recedes to a nice film. Nice random lines of lacing.

Aroma: Roasted malts bring out a Tootsie Roll chocolate aroma with subtle notes of dates, raisins, and bread in the background.

Taste: Toasted bread and roasted malts bring with it a semi-sweet chocolate and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, boozy.

Overall: Is this the same beer as the enlightened black ale that was retired? Who knows, seems about the same as I compare reviews.

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Photo of dchoover1987
4.46/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I love this beer. The head isn't always the same. Some times it looks almost "nitro infused", sometimes it's a here and gone. It has a heavy, dry dark chocolate/caramel taste that ends in a roasted dark coffee flavor, but is a little more "punchy" than other stouts I've had (yes, I know this is a "black lager", but it screams "stout"). Very light hops hints...not heavy or overpowering. I love Stouts and dark beers, so this is a favorite of mine. If they ever made a nitro infused batch....I'd lose my mind. Ah, dreams.

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Photo of Kkasprzak
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nearly 100% opaque black but visibly dark brown under light.

Smooth mouth feel during and after. Light and inviting for another sip or possibly food of any sort. Creamy-ish aftertaste.

A very slight bitterness on initial sip but immediately sweet and malty. Rich crisp taste. Flavors of coffee perhaps. Balanced flavors. Flavors. Can't describe it well but complimentary.

Enjoyable. Light, enough to drink several. And believe me, this is one that I really want another.

I enjoy lagers and dark beers. And this is a great marriage of them for me.

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

12 ounce bottle into lager glass, best before 4/3/2016. Pours crystal clear dark reddish brown color with a 2 finger dense and rocky light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice dense soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, light cocoa/coffee, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and light earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, light cocoa/coffee, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Light herbal/roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, light cocoa/coffee, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and light earthy hop flavors; with a great roasted bitter/sweet balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light dryness from roasted character as well. Very clean on lager flavors with minimal yeast ester notes present. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/bready, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with zero warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice dark lager. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and light earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. This tastes like a cross between schwarzbier and dunkel lager styles. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of OldSwampy
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Not completely black, but very dark brown, with a tan/khaki head. Head was rather firm. A big bready, and almost meaty or mushroomy, smell dominates the nose. Different. Some cola perhaps, as well, and only a hint of hops. Taste was sweeter than I anticipated, but not unpleasant. Hops more obvious later in the taste than the nose suggested. Taste could be more complex but what's prominent is an inviting dark maltiness introduced by a sharpness that is not entirely hop-driven. A clean and almost sharp mouthfeel together with some creaminess that fades gradually. I'm a fan.

Poured from brown bottle into a glass, label dated "ENJOY BY... 24 JULY 16"

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Photo of Squire123
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not as inky black as the name suggests, more like ruby-garnet tinged black with back lighting bringing out the red tones, yet certainly more full dark than not.

Aroma of darker malts (natch) yet nothing bitter about it. I'll say dark European bittersweet style dark chocolate and leave it at that. Bright acidity with a hint of fresh ground pepper. A pleasant smell promising bigger things to come.

Flavor is full on Dark Lager with a smooth seamlessness. Malt apparent without roasted grain bitterness, rather a nutty toasted grain with a hop veneer that covers but does not conceal the beer beneath. So well knit together the layers of flavor don't really reveal themselves until the brew warms up a bit, then it only gets better. A sense of sweetness but not really sweet. Rich caramel appears mid palate and lasts through the aftertaste which is still rich with just enough hop bite to balance.

Texture is medium chewy.

A very rewarding taste experience. More stuffing than a traditional lager yet very approachable. A cross appeal beverage that's not too outre for those stepping into bolder lagers generally. Myself I'm looking forward to using this beer in a slow simmered beef dish, with extra bottles to serve alongside of course.

 1,254 characters

Photo of RyanK252
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at BC's Pizza & Beer

A: Pours dark chestnut brown with a frothy tan head that settles to a light layer and leaves some nice lacing.

S: Earthy toasty roasty malt, a little coffee, dark fruit, and a touch of toffee sweetness.

T: Dark fruit, plum, cherry, mild roasted malt, a touch of coffee, earthy, a little spice, and a touch of toffee sweetness.

M: A little on the light side of medium body, moderate carbonation, a little creamy.

O: A great easy drinker fro the dark side.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.47/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into shaker pint

dark brown but not quite black. dark malt aroma - more chocolate than roast. same with taste - bready and caramel malt rather than mild roast you'd expect from a "schwarzbier" or "black lager", so a bit mis-labeled I think. medium bodied.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.64/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

...wait, wasn't this an ale? And didn't I review it before? No matter, it pours a very dark ruby color body, with two fingers worth of off-white shaded head. Retention isn't the best, which is a shame since the head has such a soft, attractive texture. Thick webs of lacing stick to the glass, at least.

A dark beer can be crisp and snappy, and the aroma of this lager proves that. Fringes of dark chocolate and cherries show up, augmented by hoppy touches. The dominant aromatic notes end up being graham cracker, espresso, brown sugar, and caramel. It's complex in a subtle, suggesting manner instead of a bludgeoning, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink manner.

The flavor starts off with delicate hints of roasted malt, right before dark chocolate takes over the mid-taste and finish. Hints of grass, cherry, and molasses appear throughout. Pretty simplistic (sadly compared to the nose), but satisfying - the fact that it gets better as I drink more of it helps its cause.

It feels crisp and snappy like the nose suggested to me, but the finish is a little sweet and thick. Drinkability is steady if not top-notch. Carbonation is decent, at least.

A tasty black lager devoid of frills. Still, the quality is good enough where I'd gladly return to it again, even buy another 6 pack. This reminds me that NB's main line - while rarely exceptional - is comprised of mostly solid everyday drinkers.

3.64/5: A tasty chocolate showcase in a smaller, lighter package

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Photo of BrokenEdge
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

First time with a black lager, had no idea what to expect. This is just like a stout/porter, pleasantly surprised! Body is nearly black with a thin tan head. Smells caramely, toasted bread, chocolate. Taste is more of the same but with more roasted flavors coming through, and some molasses type sweetness. Feels smooth and slippery like lagers tend to be, with a lingering finish. I went into this beer with no idea what to expect and came out a fan, would drink again.

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Photo of wuthrichj15
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with some tan head. Nice lacing. Good chocolate notes with a solid malt backbone. Good carbonation and mouth feel. Easy to drink. Well done.

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Photo of mac31
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark fruited under tone along with dark roasted notes in the entry. Nice solid, chocolate component carries this beer nicely. Cooked caramel layered in there. The hops have some nice, soft spiciness to them. When you concentrate it there is a fair amount of bitterness to this beer. The bitterness really balances what is a deceptively sweeter beer. Body is light. Carbonation is appropriate. Caramel and chocolate carry though the finish. Nice, clean lager finish. I'm not a fan of lagers, but I am a fan of this one. If your a stout/Porter fan this is a nice, lighter alternative to some of those heavier beers.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bought their assortment pack again of 12 bottles, 6 beers.
New Belgium is big enough to market their experiments and does so a lot... it seems.
This one was worth repeating.
NB (the ale-maker) does to 1554 Black Lager what they do best: blend the malts to create a nice brew.
This one is only nice, sessional; but doesn't have greatness stamped on its forehead.
But, it might be one I go to again next winter...

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Photo of JohnnyLaw
4.21/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very good beer! Smooth, almost silky feel. Aroma good but weak (really, unless it stinks WGAF). Most important part is taste and this doesn't disappoint. Nice malt taste with a nice hint of chocolate and CLEAN finish, no real aftertaste.

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Photo of Alan_Bats
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Looks exactly like a "black lager" should. Smell didn't quite nail the nose right with something slightly drowning out the malt smell I was looking for. Taste is great though, nice malt flavor and sweetness with nice chocolate and toasty notes. Not quite the after taste I was hoping for. Goes down nice and smooth for a lager. Overall a great lager but seems like the "black" aspect wasn't as much of a success but still a nice beer.

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Photo of golf_sierra
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very dark brown, clear.
Aroma is subtle but pleasing.
Malty sweet taste, clean and crisp.
Chocolate notes lingers on aftertaste
Light mouthfeel.
Pretty good beer. Better than I was expecting since it's not very hoppy.

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Photo of Grizwaldio
4.36/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12oz can into a pint glass, nice almost pitch black color, not a huge head but enough. A nice smell of chocolate and coffee, more chocolate than coffee, but a slight finish of coffee. Very chocolatety taste but not overwhelming, smooth and and velvety in your mouth. Very tasty.

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Photo of Dodo2step
3.51/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- soil black with a brown one finger head that has a poor lacing on the pint.

S- caramel toasted malts, chocolate and dark cola

F- chocolate and toasted malts

M- salty malty...lol but goes down smooth and the chocolate is just strong enough to bring it back around.

O- not a bad lager. Doubt i will have another but worth the review.

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Photo of Cyrano41
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Exceeded my expectations. It was dark, malty and flavorful. Bit of chocolate in the finish. Very good. New Belgium know what they are doing. I'm a big fan of schwarzbier and I'll be squeezing this one into my list of good ones.

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1554 Black Lager from New Belgium Brewing
3.83 out of 5 based on 972 ratings.
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