1554 Black Lager | New Belgium Brewing

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1554 Black Lager1554 Black Lager
Very Good
4,182 Ratings
1554 Black Lager1554 Black Lager

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States

Style: European Dark Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,182 |  Reviews: 1,406
Reviews by psinderson:
Photo of psinderson
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into wine glass.

Appearance: Dark brown/red color with a thin, caramel-colored head. Clear.

Smell: Slight roastiness in the nose with a mild maltiness...molasses?

Taste: Lots of complex flavors - Sweetness up front, mostly fruit. Nice roasty finish, much like burnt pretzels. There's a lot of brown ale characteristics here. There's also a resinous feel, probably hops. Not much other hop presence.

Mouthfeel: Nice fuller bodied feel. Low carbonation and smooth feel.

Drinkability: Decent drinkability. The complex roastiness may inhibit some people.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of hopphead31415
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I love New Belgium and I was excited to pick up this slightly more rare breed known as a Black Lager. This variety has a cool 5.6% ABV and promises to be the crazy uncle to a porter. Let’s take a gulp!

Look-It pours an almost opaque dark color, but you can pierce through this cola-tuxedo hybrid with a strong back light. The hues come out with a reddish copper color. The head is thick, but dissipates quickly into a thin film. The head has a slightly off white color. The lacing is watery and delicate often drooping down and merging with the layers below.

Smell-I get pumpernickel bread and dark chocolate aromas as well as a subtle spiciness that is composed of nutmeg and coriander, I think.

Taste-It has an immediate cola characteristic lending to the chalky and high carbonation content. The taste is definitely malt-forward with less dark chocolate than the smell indicated. It has a noble hop, toasted grain, toffee, a tinge of caramel, a touch of cocoa, and the lightest hoppy dry finish composed of dark roast coffee beans. It is absolutely brilliant!

Mouthfeel-The feel was quite light for such a dark beer and was very similar to a cola with large carbonation bubbles dominating the mouthfeel. The malts produce a very silky smooth and drinkable feel that makes this beer go down very quickly. It doesn’t have a thick syrupy feel that you might expect from something this dark which only adds to the mystery of the brew. It finishes moist and slightly dry with a pleasant coating on the tongue.

Overall-I found this beer to be much more refreshing than I thought. With such a dark variety, I was dreading an overwhelming and thick sweetness that overpowers anything that the beer could offer. Instead I was treated to a moist, accessible, cola-like brew with more smoky and dark fruit flavors that one might expect. And lastly, the rather low alcohol content is a non-issue here, because of all the flavors and also the carbonation gives it a little bite at the end that is almost indistinguishable from alcohol. You must try this beer for yourself! New Belgium never ceases to amaze me!

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Photo of Squire
4.06/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark mahogany brown with gold highlights around the edges. Good tan cap and decent lacing.

Herbal, spicy, slightly coffeeish, toffeeish aroma with something like dark figs in the background. Not really catching any hops but these heavy flavors usually cover that up anyway.

Taste on entry is dark toffee quickly followed by the herbal element. Don't know exactly what that element is, perhaps a lager yeast at warmer temperature fermentation has created that but it's in there and it taste good. Mid palate I'm getting more of the plummy, ripe fig influence which is just adding layers to the first impression flavors. Spicy, clove like threads weave in by the finish and linger in the aftertaste along with a touch of coffee but no roast bitterness.

Full texture with balancing carbonation.

Sometimes a dark brew based on roasted malt can throw off some bitterness along with the rich flavors. Not here, the elements I'm describing work together nicely. I don't quite know what kind of animal this is, an ale influenced lager or a lagered ale, but the jammy, figgy, roasty, toasty, clove stuff shout Belgian while it drinks like a strong lager and a good one at that. Complex yet restrained, flavorful yet sophisticated, a whole lotta shakin going on.

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Photo of Caj1
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I needed a change from strong hoppy beers and since it isn't porter season yet I thought I'd get the next best thing.

12 oz. glass bottle, expiration date 8/29/15. Poured into a mug. Nice caramel-colored head with excellent carbonation from what I can see. Moderate head retention but not a great deal of lacing. Color is deep copper/ruby, black when not backlit.

Smell is pretty deep and fruity with dark roasted notes, sweet bready malt, a touch of hops for earthiness. Caramel and chocolate predominate.

Taste is quite nice and better than expected since some dark lagers can be extremely underwhelming. Chocolate and some fruity esters from malt are noticeable first. A gentle hops bitterness comes up next which helps balance the more cloying fruit notes. I also notice some caramel, and roasted barley flavors round the beer out, and it finished with a rounded sweetness. It does have a coffee note but it isn't overwhelming. Big points for unexpected complexity.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and the beer has a medium body which it maintains through the finish. Not a great deal like a lager in my experience.

I so-far have not been grearly impressed by New Belgium, but this beer is actually not too bad at all for supermarket fare. I enjoyed it quite a bit and was pleasantly surprised that it had a rounded flavor profile, instead of just "light feel with brown flavor." I will pick it up again.

To good health and good beer.

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Photo of Caveworm
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1554 Black Lager - New Belgium Brewing, as part of the Folly pack. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, its got a two finger thick light than head with web like lacing, and a black translucent body.

Smells like more savory of malts, perhaps a spot of caramel from the roasting process.

I can taste roasted, nearly chocolate-y malts, and that bit of caramel I'd mentioned above. Nothing really going on with the hops, but this is a very well balanced brew. Its not as if all of the elements I've described are the only taste you'll get with this beverage, but they are the most prevalent tasting notes I personally am picking up.

The mouthfeel here is clean and smooth. This beer doesn't linger whatsoever, surprisingly.

Overall, I'll give 1554 Black Lager - New Belgium Brewing a 4.25. If it were just a hair more savory, I would have rated this higher. It could certainly have a little more to it; then this would be phenomenal. I may or may not pick this brew up again. It was part of the Folly variety pack recently released around here (Stark County, OH) , so I honestly don't know if its available for individual sale.

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Photo of Pnotuner
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brewmaster should be fired.
I loved this black ale last year. It was dark, mild, malty and a touch sweet.
I just found the new batch at my local grocery. Why did the brew mon feel the need to use hops and ruin it?
The concept and the name of the brew is that it is derived from a recipe that goes back to the monks in 1554. I doubt that it included Hops. But the apparent perception is that everybody loves the taste of some exotic tasting hops.

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Photo of bbtkd
4.09/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New Belgium 1554, 5.6% ABV, 21 IBU. Pours medium viscosity and light black, with a one finger off-white head that left decent lacing. Nose is malty, bready, slightly nutty, taste follows, with very little bitterness. Excellent mouthfeel, overall excellent.

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Photo of EricLiverpool
4.7/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

If you're looking for something a bit different, give 1554 a shot. It's like a stout and a lager had the perfect baby. It has a roasty taste and smell, with a great dark taste and high drinkability.

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Photo of beerinchapelhill
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%

This is the same 1554 beer that New Belgium was labeling as a ale. It was always a lager yeast, it was just illegal to sell lagers above 5% abv in Texas until recently. Now that Texas law has caught up the the rest of the USA, New Belguim is labeling 1554 as a lager.

I love this stuff. The dark roast of the malt makes me imagine of a kind of proto-schwarzbier, that, according to New Belguim, was being brewed in 1554.

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Photo of Pantalones
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Second (and last) bottle from the fall Folly pack; best-by date is January 17th, 2016.

Pours dark brown, almost the same color as a darker soda (like Coca-Cola), but once in the glass it is much darker in appearance -- nearly black, with some dark brown-red around the edges and in thinner parts of the glass. Beer is clear enough that I can see the light from my phone through it, but it only comes through as a red square -- yep, this is pretty dark. Nice head of tan foam on top, which came close to filling my pint glass upon pouring but has settled down to about a third of its original size, leaving nice trails around the side of the glass as it went. Leaves really nice layers of foam on the outside of the glass as I drink more -- it's looking like I may be able to count how many drinks it took me to finish the glass when I'm done, assuming they hold up as well as they are now! XD

Smell is roasty, chocolaty, and "beery." Not incredibly strong, but present enough that you don't need to stick your nose in the glass to pick up some of the aroma here. A bit of a nuttiness seems to come in toward the end of the glass.

As I seem to be saying a lot lately -- the taste is similar to the smell, but stronger and richer. There's definitely a roasty flavor right away, and then that blends into a more chocolaty sort of thing. The chocolatiness fades a bit quicker than the roastiness though, and there's a slight lingering roasty flavor for a while after swallowing. There's also something a little sweet and almost fruity in there along with the roasty/chocolaty flavors, I didn't notice it on the first sip but it was definitely there in the second. Overall it reminds me a bit of a lighter, milder version of the same brewery's Portage porter, but without the "almost charred" sorts of flavors that at times got slightly harsh in that one. I also don't remember getting that sweetish almost-fruity flavor in that beer. I'm not getting anything that stands out as hoppy or bitter in the least, though I suppose that fruitiness could be from hops? Then again, malt, hops, and yeast can all give off fruity flavors sometimes so it's hard to guess.

Feel is pretty nice as well. Feels more substantial and richer than most paler-colored lagers, which is appropriate given the color and flavors involved, but at the same time it's still fairly light in feel for something so dark in color, and very drinkable. Doesn't quite have that same "soft and bubbly" feel as some other beers from the brewery, but it's still nice.

Overall, this is a very good beer -- an interesting combination of stout/porter (dark color, roasty/chocolate malt flavor) and lager (light/medium bodied, very drinkable) characteristics that just WORKS. I'm glad I got to try a couple bottles from the variety pack, and I'll likely have it again in the future (thankfully it's not actually a winter seasonal as this site's entry claims -- it's in the fall variety packs and was on the shelf through summer where I am, anyway.)

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Photo of Lucular
4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I've never had a Euro dark lager before so I don't have anything to compare it to but from looking at other beers in the style it's safe to say it wouldn't be one of my favorites. However, this is a really tasty and easy-drinking beer. I wouldn't have guessed I'd be a fan but I could drink several of these if someone put them in front of me...

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Photo of RoyBrentJr
5/5  rDev +30.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

For some reason, I arranged this to follow the Ranger IPA. Needless to say, I took my time—and a large glass of water. xD

Literally everything that Negra Modelo is not, this poured with a two-finger head that hung around for several minutes before virtually disappearing. The color is a deep reddish-brown. The smell may have proven that my nose is wonky; I got black coffee, amaretto and jalapeño, which changed as it warmed to coffee, fudge and roses. Seriously. Taste is black coffee and Kahlua with a finish that's predominantly licorice dipped in saccharine—which is WAY better than it sounds. Creamy, rich mouthfeel. This may be the most complex beer I've ever had and, though I've yet to try a lot of black lagers, this is thus far the gold standard.

(Edit: paired rather unintentionally with what was left of a chili burger; I don't think I'll ever try that again. It was like two comedians at a roast fighting over who gets to tell the darkest joke.)

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Photo of BigDaddyWarbuxx
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A great roast flavor. Obviously it's not as full as you'd find in a stout, but it makes it a more laid-back and drinkable beer. For a black lager this is pretty solid.

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Photo of dchoover1987
4.46/5  rDev +16.8%
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 oberon
4.21/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice to see New Belgium stuff in the supermarkets aroung Greensboro.Poured into an overiseized wine glass a deep brown like cola color with a great one finger off white head,just creamy looking with great definition,nearly a five.Aromas were a little light but pleasant,bitter chocolate,clove,and black licorice were what I picked up most.Highly drinkable with subtle complexity on the palate,bitter chocolate and dry earthy tones with some licorice-like flavors,the sweetness is kept in check well but lends good balance.A damn fine brew,I liked it more than I thought I would.

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Photo of davemarc87
3/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of mojohawk21
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%

Photo of RoyalT
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Nice, darkened head which fades a little too fast but leaves a nice lacing inside the glass. The color is a deep, dark maroon - almost black.

Smell – Pleasant cocoa fragrance with a hint of coffee.

Taste – The cocoa comes out in the taste as well, followed by a coffee/malt flavor and a slight nutty tone. The dark nature of this beer compliments the burnt caramel at the end.

Mouthfeel – A little flat. Even though this is not a carbonated style of beer, I thought it could be a tad livelier.

Drinkability – This beer goes down smooth. Its complexity keeps one entertained, but the mediocre mouthfeel makes it a touch bland.

Comments – New Belgium puts out a lot of good brews, so I was somewhat disappointed with this bottle. It has some good flavors but was flat and uninspiring, a step down from some of their finer efforts.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.01/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Deep dark brown that hints at ruby. Thin off white head with ok lacing. Big-huge black malts dominate smell and taste. A blend between a Schwartz and a Belgian Dark? Sweetish of the brown sugar variety. Medium bodied. Mild acidity and medium to assertive chalkiness. Drinkability is low for me. Too malt driven and sweet yet uncomplex. I would prefer a real Schwartz or a more complicated Belgian. This one is stuck in the middle.

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Photo of Turbo
3/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of Fear4Beer
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
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 tectactoe
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, ruby red color; allows quite a bit of light to shine through. Tan head, nice staying power, leaving a little bit of lacing on the way down. Some toasted caramel malts on the nose, mild grape sweetness; bready, yeasty, a bit dry with a touch of toasted grains. A mild, nearly wine-like character comes out on the first sip, possibly from the mesh of the light grape flavor and the warmth from the alcohol. It slowly turns into a dry and toasted bread and malt profile with a bit of caramel appearing in the latter half. Some dry cocoa and chocolates are heavy in the aftertaste. Hops are surprisingly vibrant, more so than I was expecting, remaining leafy and ashy in character and providing a slightly bitter bite to balance out the sweetness from the malt overload. Some very faint spice is detectable as well, especially as the brew warms up; similar to clove, it is most likely a characteristic of the Belgian yeast used, although it is still very toned down. Medium body, medium-heavy carbonation.

Tasty little brew here; BSDAs are usually more my speed, but this is a very solid non-strong interpretation, and I could definitely throw back a few of these, one after another.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: A creamy, tan head that leave fine lacing on the glass with good retention. A dark brown beer with good clarity.

S: A lightly fruity and spicy, yeast aroma with a medium-low chocolate and coffee notes. A low earthy hop aroma and a light malt sweetness.

T: A smooth, medium chocolate and coffee malt flavor with some malt sweetness in the middle balanced by an equal hops bitterness. A light earthy hops flavor. There are light fruit esters of plum and apricot with a mild spice flavors, mostly a black pepper, maybe a bit all-spice like. The balance is a about even but the beer is fairly dry on the whole with a dry finish.

M: A medium-full bodied beer with a medium level of carbonation. A cool crispness to the body.

O: There is a lot of porter character in this beer with a light Belgian-like twist which made a lot more sense when I read that the yeast is handled like a Steam Beer by fermenting a lager yeast at higher temperatures. A hard to place beer but hard to forget, I've been looking forward to another bottle of this for almost four years.

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Photo of Zakk
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is a black to dull maple to ruby colored beer with a thin layer of malted-milk head that leaves spider-webs of lace on the sides of the glass. The smells are cherry skin, a tickle of acrid burnt grain, light brown sugar, slight yeastiness, and earthy hops. It reminded of scotch ale on a sniff or two and the entire bouquet had a kind of fresh-baked quality.

The taste starts with tounge-bracing burnt grain and then coffee and milk chocolate smooth things over, blending with a pronounced nutt flavor and well-played hop bitter. Once again that baked feeling comes out in the aftertaste, on the heels on New Belgium's signature toasted character. Mouthfeel starts light but fluffs up in the mouth with a burst of carbonation. Kinda cool. This is a must-try for any fan of schwarzbier. It isn't nearly so mellow, but you'll love the flavor.

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1554 Black Lager from New Belgium Brewing
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 4,182 ratings