1554 Black Lager | New Belgium Brewing

very good
1,373 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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 BeerAdvocate on 01-02-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,373 | Ratings: 4,037
Photo of cyclonece09
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours black with a small off white head. Smells of slight fruitiness with slight darker grain. Tastes of darker grain with slight berries. Beer is nicely carbonated with light body, very drinkable. Overall, an above average beer.

 279 characters

Photo of PA-hunter
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured 12 oz bottle into snifter glass. 5.6% abv

Appearance- Pours a charcoal dark brown with a light one finger head. Opaque.

Smell- Slightly roasted chocolate malt with hints of toffee and caramel.

Taste- A semi sweet milk chocolate with some smoky tones slowly coming in with a roasted nut flavor. Very slight coffee taste fades to a slight bitter/dry finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium in body with fair carbonation.

Overall- An interesting dark lager. This beer reminded me much of a porter with slight malty differences. A satisfying darker beer for the Winter which is not too heavy in body, making this an easy drinking offering. Well done.

 644 characters

Photo of Dragginballs76
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours black with caramel colored head fairly thick sticks around about 2 minutes decent lacing.
Smell roasted coffee slight caramel notes little chocolate malt.
Taste slightly smoked flavor chocolate flavors a little coffee taste.
Fairly light smooth dry beer good carbonation.
Overall a very good beer with good flavors i would have this again.

 345 characters

Photo of fscottkey
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: [4.00] The beer is very dark brown to black in the glass. It has brown edges in the light. It forms a 1/2 finger of tan head. The head recedes unevenly leaving islands of bubbles on the surface. The bottle lists the ABV at (5.6%) and there is a clear drink by and born on date. Born (10/19/15).

S: [3.50] Coffee, charred wood, burned marshmallows.

T: [4.00] Has the undertone of the distinct lager flavor of corn. There are a lot of layers riding on top very sweet coffee, hints of cocoa and chocolate. More of the burned marshmallow.

M: [3.50] Has a decent amount of carbonation. Really goes down easily, like a traditional lager. The body is on the low end - not watery but really not at all heavy.

O: [3.75] This is a really tasty beer. It clearly has some lager lineage and I think this could be a beer to offer to BMC drinkers that are into a few other things like Guinness. This is not a world beater but it is really tasty. I like the nuanced flavor built on top of the lager body. I would drink this again.

 1,036 characters

Photo of EMV
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on-tap at Big Nose Kate's in Tombstone, AZ. Served in a chilled pint glass (no idea why).

L: Pours a deep black color. Two fingers of tannish head.

S: Roasted malts and mild noble hop presence.

T/F: Toasty roasty malts up front... slight coffee notes and a bit astringent. The noble hops come later... cleaning up the malts and leaving a dry finish. Medium body, very drinkable.

O: A nice black lager... good combination of flavors and everything it needs to be. Nothing fancy, but drinkable and sessionable. Would love to try it again WITHOUT the chilled pint glass.

 587 characters

Photo of TLWalsh
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark brown with a persistent vanilla head. Has a malty aroma and a medium to thin mouthfeel. Clear malty chocolate flavor, easy drinking. A decent brew I'd consider again.

 177 characters

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark dark brown but ruby tints when held up to the light, no head even with a rough poor. Ash, metal, roasted malt, oat on the nose, somehow smells sweet. Flavor is roast malt, oat, chocolate, pine hops on the finish with a good crisp bitterness. Light bodied, smooth despite the rough-ish carbonation.
This is a great easy-drinking yet dark brew, with roasty flavors but quaffable mouthfeel. Especially considering the lack of style guidelines, I think it is a great representative of the style.

 496 characters

Photo of leadpaint76
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

When I poured 1554 had a nice 1 finger of head with average pour. Aroma is mild but to be fair I have a mild cold. Flavor is nice with roasted malts with a mild chocolate finish. 1554 keeps a small creamy off head until you finish. I would drink again and would recommend to a friend trying to get into this style. Cheers all and have a great day.

 352 characters

Photo of Parmesan
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Pours a dark brown-amberish, but light can make it through a little, small white-light brown head, with some decent lacing sticking to the sides of the glass.

Smell: Roast chocolate malt, with some hints of coffee and caramel.

Taste: Chocolate, some roast, a very slight bit of smoke and coffee.

Feel: Crisp and easy drinking, medium carbonation

Overall: A nice easy drinking, dark beer. A good beer to show those who think that all dark beers are really heavy or strong.

 489 characters

Photo of EricLiverpool
4.7/5  rDev +22.4%
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.

 200 characters

Photo of babaracas
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish very dark brown with fluffy light brown head, rings of thin lace halfway down the glass. Smell: prune, dark cocoa, touch of roast, mild spicy / vegetal hopping. Taste: plum, milk chocolate, toast with a tiny bit of char, mildly spicy and herbal. Very creamy feel while remaining fairly light bodied and refreshing.

 330 characters

Photo of GeorgiaFunkadelic
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

One bottle received to sample, from a friend, during our taste of the fall. Dark beer, but not thick. Tasty with carbonation, and a rich, non-bitter feel.
I like this beer, tasty for the fall.

 193 characters

Photo of Libeertarian
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Very clear, cola-brown in pilsner glass. Medium-retention, film-forming tan head. Good lacing. Toasty and charred-meat aromas from bottle, with the addition of chocolatey-sweetness or even dark fruit on the pour. Large gulp, big ball of liquid held between tongue and roof of mouth. As I peel back each layer of bubbles as they foam up, flavor metamorphoses from malty sweetness to nutty-sweetness to a bit coffee-like, to very nearly a smoked or aged cheese. Cocoa throughout. So good! Medium body, prickly at first, then sudsy and smooth.

 540 characters

Photo of Pete_2112
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

1554 has a beautiful, dark ruby, almost black color to it. I love dark beers so this is gorgeous to me. The smell is roasty, a little fruity, and you get the lager yeast smell to it as well. You can definitely smell the black malt. Its a nice burnt smell. The taste is dark, of course. Definitely the black malt coming through. Nice and roasted with some malt flavor. Not much happiness to this beer. The mouthfeel is medium with nice carbonation. Pretty dry finish. Overall, 1554 is really good. I will have many in the future.

 528 characters

Photo of sokol_1993
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look: very dark, with few head and light head retention.
Taste: very creamy at the first taste, no lack of dark chocolaty taste in the beer. Only light hop taste. Not much maltiness either.
Feel: Light body.

 209 characters

Photo of DovGibor
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from can folly pack into tulip glass. Dark amber to medium brown color with light brown head.

Rich roasted notes equally in the nose and in the flavor. Subtle but noticeable (and quite enjoyable) hints of chocolate and malt in body. Medium mouth feel; good richness for a black lager, but still crisp and light. Excellent example of the style, and quite good overall.

 377 characters

Photo of RoyBrentJr
5/5  rDev +30.2%
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.)

 966 characters

Photo of Pantalones
4/5  rDev +4.2%
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.)

 3,021 characters

Photo of aobrehm
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L- Rich, dark brown color with copper highlights. Creamy tan head, well-retained.

S- Chocolatey malt and fruity (prune, clove) esters immediately evident. No noteworthy hop aroma.

T- Flavor reminiscent of a robust porter. Malts dominate (roasty, chocolate) with limited hop or yeast character in the taste.

F- Smooth and creamy. Moderately full-bodied.

O- A really interesting hybrid beer that at times resembles a stout/porter, Belgian ale, and dark lager. Easy to drink and pleasant.

 489 characters

Photo of willic
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is actually a really good beer! Malty, rich, dark... Very light for a dark lager. I'll do this beer over and over. New Belgium did a great job! A+

 151 characters

Photo of Czequershuus
4.29/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer pour a clear reddish black with a well proportioned head. The aroma is roasty, toasty and caramelly. The flavor comes first with burnt toast, folowed by a thin caramel and coffee flavor. The mouthfeel is effervescent and refreshing. The combo of th lighter feel with heavy flavors makes this a really fun beer.

 320 characters

Photo of Pocker
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

3/4 of a finger head. disappeared in seconds however the color was really nice dark espresso. Taste was really good for a dark beer which I don't normally prefer. Smell was great. Feel was my negative as it felt sort of weak on the texture. No real bite just fell flat in my mouth. Overall though like I said before decent taste for a darker beer. Bought at Woodman's in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.

 391 characters

Photo of frozyn
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark ruby with a thin off-white head that quickly turns into a ring around the edges. Lacing is minimal and tends to run down into the beer. Aromas of chocolate, roasted toffee, slight herbal tones. Lots of chocolate flavor straight off that mutates into a roasted malt/caramel note before easing a slight stone fruit flavor. The body is pretty light and combined with the carbonation, crisp and refreshing. It's smooth and very drinkable with a cola-like feel to it.

An interesting beer and something I could easily drink a few of, but I wouldn't want to very often. It's my first dark lager, so hard to compare to anything.

 633 characters

Photo of Swettenham_Shire
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

New Belgium always catches me off guard. They have another winner here. Smooth roasted chocolate taste similar to a porter. Easy drinking lager. Pairs well with dessert.

 169 characters

Photo of hopphead31415
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
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!

 2,110 characters

1554 Black Lager from New Belgium Brewing
3.84 out of 5 based on 4,037 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.