1554 Enlightened Black Ale | New Belgium Brewing

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States | website

Style: Belgian Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-02-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,250 | Ratings: 3,198
Photo of DoubleJ
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Capping off the Unorganized Invitational is New Belgium's offering, 1554 Ale. The fans are anticipating a climatic finish here, as we are set to go:

Poured into a chalice, it's dark brown when poured, but looks black when it sits in the glass. The head is nothing special. Lots of dark cocoa flavors running throughout the beer, and a hint of berries. Running in and out is a subtle date flavor. A dessert-like beer that I should consider pairing wiht chocolate cake or brownies.

And now, the moment of truth in the Unorganized Invtiation. The winner of this competition is...

...Anchor Steam Beer!

This was a fun and unique way to measure up different styles of beer against each other. Check my previous reviews to recap what you missed here in the Unorganized Invitational. Good night everyone!

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Photo of Duff27
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Great looking pour of a two inch off white head above a black beer. Wonderful head retention and good drink-by-drink step lacing.

S- Subdued. Bready? Didn't get the distinct "Belgian" whiff that everyone is talking about.

T- Initial taste is of chocolate. Faint dark fruits but hardly noticeable. "Nutty."

M- Creamy, moderate carbonation.

D/O- More akin to a brown ale then a Belgian in my opinion, I enjoyed this one. Easy drinking but flavorful, I'd take multiples of this in one sitting if I wasn't so hellbent to get my taste buds on something new...I'm a beer whore.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 10/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark, rich red brown with a thin head that leaves light lacing. Malty, dark fruit aroma. Tastes malty and nutty with dark fruit, some roasted malt. This is much closer to a brown ale that leans towards a Porter. Medium bodied. There is no Belgian character that I can detect. Worth revisiting as a brown ale.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, tiny head which dissapates quickly, not much lacing.

S - Scents of malts, and toffee.

T - The taste is sweet, but with a bitter/dry finish, also a taste of toffee.

M - Light-Medium body, well rounded/carbonated feel.

D - Drinkable. Very tasty, could drink a few of these. A very nice brew from New Belgium.

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Photo of aasher
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a light to medium in body, a dark, dark chestnut brown in color with ruby highlights and a one finger beige colored creamy head. It smells of lightly roasted dark malts with a light slightly bitter chocolate aroma. I don't get where people are saying that they get any yeast from this. I think this smells more like a porter. The flavors are of slight dark chocolate with a light roastiness and a creamy finish. It has the mouthfeel of french press coffee and cream. It's very flavorful but again, I say this tastes more like a porter. I poured this aggressively so it initially had a pretty large head. I think this sucked some of the carbonation out of it but it made the beer very creamy and soft and exceptionally smooth. Overall I like this beer. Is it a good interpretation of the style? It's debatable. I think this drinks more like a porter than a Belgian dark ale but that's fine with me.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep, deep amber color and is topped by a light brown head that starts out a good 3 inches thick. The dominant aroma is of toasted malt, it is joined by perhaps a hint of caramel sweetness, and lots of biscuit type aromatics. This beer has quite a smooth body that goes down quite well. It is lightly sweet. The finish laden with notes of toasted malt, that is not quite approaching a roast character. This beer is quite malty overall, though it is balanced by a dark fruitiness that reminds me of cherries, raisins, and perhaps a bit of fig.. This beer could definitely use a bit more Belgian yeast character, but that is perhaps a wee bit of a shallow complaint, as this is a great session beer as is.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz from the Coop for about $1.40.. shared with Brenda, mine from my New Belgium tulip.

3/4" lite tan head drops leaving some lacing and rings... dark brown..not black.. clear deep chestnut red when held to a light.

Aroma is fruity yeasty notes and chocolate dark roasted malts.. cold instant coffee.. no hops to speak of. As it warms, some earthy hop notes become evident.

Dark malts and dark dried fruit are the main flavor components.. with more coffee at the front.. Chocolate grains and restrained dried cherries and raisins.. Hops are more prevalent than the nose.. earthy hops mix well with the front-side palate.. more yeasty fruitiness .. not Belgian but not necessarily American..not sure.

The 1554 is a brew I pick up a bottle or two probably 10-12 times a year when I am getting a mixed New Belgium 6'er. Does not strike me as a BSDA.. definately on the right track, but there is something European missing.

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Photo of tone77
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, some coffee. Taste is different for this style, coffee, a touch of chocolate without being sweet. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a decent brew.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, with a cool picture of a goblet of black ale, overlooking a historic tome,

A: Pours a dark hardwood brown, with a tan to beige head, with some lacing, though minimal.

S: Roasted malts predominately, a swirl reveals some coffee notes with a bit of charcoal.

T: A bit of chocolate and a good malt backbone start off the flavour, with a light finish, which leaves an aftertaste of earth in the mouth.

M: A tad too watery, dry and smooth overall, though, sort of like a weak stout.

D: An interesting style, would describe it as an intermediary between a stout and a schwarzbier, its light flavour makes it easily drinkable, not a great beer, but I enjoyed trying a historical Belgian style.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 Fl Oz bottle obtained from a Lee's Discount Store in Las Vegas, poured into goblets in the garden of our B&B just outside Zion National Park after a full day of hiking and staring at rocks!

Dark and moody looking, a thin off-white head sat on top, some to be a wisp and collar, no lacing appeared.

The nose was all chocolate, dark, rich and inviting.

Chocolate dominated the taste, some coffee hints tried to break through, but the dark chocolate beat that back into submission.

Different and enjoyable, not sure I could have drank the whole bottle though.

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

Clear dark brown ale with a tan head.

Smell is dark roasted malt and a whiff of banana. Fairly malty in scent and I can pick out the scent of wheat in it. Faint whiff of smoke is present.

Taste is faint sweetness and smoke from the dark malt. Flavor of chocolate and mild bitterness with a little acid edge in the finish. No way is this a Belgian Dark Ale, this is a schwarzbier.

Mouthfeel is good.

Schwarzbier here not a Belgian Dark Ale! Not a bad beer at all here but I like the German version better.

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

A very nice beer, and one of New Belgium's best offerings that is readily obtainable. Pours a very dark garnet color, which appears close to black. Relatively decent head, but it settles pretty quickly. Nice aromas. This is an unusual style, and I believe I've only had one other- Rare Vos. There is a nuttiness in the aroma, almost like wild rice, as well as a chalky smell. This is followed by cocoa notes and a touch of black pepper and a deep roastiness. The taste is similar, with some very dry malt up front, followed by an earthy bitterness, a dry nuttiness, and a chalky cocoa taste at the finish. A deep roastiness is throughout, and everything is well integrated. The mouthfeel is a bit prickly, even spicy, and bone dry. There is a nice lingering bitterness, but none of that sourness you sometimes get from deeply roasted grains. The whole package is quite intriguing. Some of the chocolate tastes in the beer dry out and become more bitter and dry as you keep drinking. Really a marvel- very different than almost anything else out there. I like it both for its unusual nature and for its simple directness.

 1,120 characters

Photo of Kelp
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice Dark pour into my glass, tannish head raises from the beer. Truthfully I am a bit stuffed to pick out anything still smell nice though. Taste is thoroughly enjoyable one of the best belgian dark beers i have had. So far I have thoroughly enjoyed new Belgiums beers. A bit thin feeling to me but nice and creamy none the less. I would have loved to have had another one but alas it was my only one.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 22 oz bomber into a wine goblet.

Appearance: very dark ruby brown, nearly black, with a very thin light head.

Smell: dark roasted malt with a distinct coffee aroma with notes of chocolate. Reminds me of a mocha espresso. There is also a bit of a "watered-down" characteristic in the aroma, however, of which I'm not a fan.

Taste: earth, chocolate, coffee, but again a bit watered-down. There's also a particular quality of the malt which I cannot describe but which I do not like; Fat Tire has this similar unfortunate characteristic but in greater abundance.

Mouthfeel: medium-bodied with relatively little carbonation.

Drinkability: it's drinkable to a certain extent but because of the flavor issues I can't rate it very high.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought this one expecting a typical black Ipa because I didn't read the bottle, just grabbed it from the shelf. Pleasantly surprised to find a tasty, easy drinking beer that's very chocolate malt-forward and has a very restrained bitterness. Mild sweetness and minimally hoppy. Only hint of Belgian style or influence is in a vague fruitiness and a certain dryness of finish reminiscent of a typical belgian dark on the lower end of the Abv scale.

The beer looks good...deep and very dark brown with a big effervescent tan head that has strong retention but not much lace. The aroma is a little weaker than the taste but still exhibits nicely chocolatey malt character. The mouthfeel is likewise well done, with a medium body that's moderately and smoothly carbonated. Not exactly Belgian in feel, aside from the drying finish but that doesn't hurt the beer much if at all in my opinion. Nice, unusual session candidate from New Belgium.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to witbier for this...
Appears a dense black with dark touches of charred oak around the edges when held to the light. A lush, foamy, beige head slowly fades out into a clumpy cap. Tons of scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of cocoa, molasses, and roasted nuts.
Taste is of the same aromas. Melted caramel, cocoa, molasses, and roasted nuts.
Mouthfeel is smooth, caramel-sweet, mildly bitter with semi-sweet baker's chocolate, and a touch of sourness running along the sides of the tongue.
This one surprised me. Well done!

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

A: Deep mahogany with an off-white/light-tan head, light retention & lace.

S: Dark fruit & treacle with hints of spicy phenolics.

T: Raisins, figs, dates, light spicing, hints of cocoa and roasted nut, modest bitterness balances the residual sweetness.

M: Body is a little heavier & the carbonation is a little lighter than many modern Belgian-styled brews.

OD: A really good drinker and overall it really works.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a three finger cream head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Almost black color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Slight caramel nose. Starts as sweet/roasted chocolate, Slight bitter finish. Nice dark. Best before 10/2006. $1.69 for a 12oz bottle from Hi-Time Cellars Costa Mesa, Ca.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very deep reddish black, with lots of fine-bubbled carbonation. Creamy head of quite light beige foam leaves some excellent lacing. The carbonation is perhaps a bit worrying, but overall it looks pretty good.

Sweet mocha chocolate notes on the nose. Quite a dry and dusty character to it, with a hint of turned earth and spices. It's quite a mellow nose for a dark ale, certainly not burnt, coffee-like, or even very roasted at all. Still, I like it a fair bit. Very pleasant characters on the nose.

Also slightly subdued on the palate. A very pleasant hazelnut flavour is perhaps predominant. Very sweet, and extremely nutty, there's no hint of burnt or astringent characters. Creamy smooth in the mouth, very good indeed.

What a delicious beer; sweet, but not overdone, just like the Belgians do it. Lacks a bit of the true Belgian yeast character which would add some depth to the beer. But this is a super-drinkable brew, quite delicious - thanks to my tall Texan friend for recommending this one.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep brown with little carbonation or head. Sweet malt and roasted aroma dominates; some fruit there too but it was subdued. Body was medium-to-full, and quite a bit of roasted flavor though it didn't contribute as much to the bitterness as would be expected and had hardly any astringency at all. Leaned to the sweet side but not overwhelmingly so. Mouthfeel was nice. Drinkability is much better on tap!!

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer has a dark chocolate brown body that is a bit dense but glows with a reddish hue in the sun. There is a sea of tiny bubbles that glide up the side of the glass. Thick creamy layers of sticky foam of light tan that last and last.

S- The smooth roasted notes of dark malt with a slight sweetness with a note of minerals and cream.

T- This beer has a smooth creamy chocolate malt flavor but there isn’t any bitterness to the soft roasted qualities. The finish has a nice smooth coffee malt flavor and a light chalk taste along with the dark fruit notes in the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a tight fizz finish.

D- This beer is a nice dark mysterious ale that went excellent with fresh baked chocolate chip walnut cookies. There were nice dark malt flavors but they were not the bitter stout qualities instead there were some nice dark Belgian yeast qualities.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown w/ two-finger head that dies quick but left lace patches on top of a roasted and sweet aroma, yet I detect a decent presence of yeast and I'm getting some orange hints from citric-like hops. TAste is more of the same as I get a light bodied beer that is simple yet goes down easy and gives off some minor citric fruitiness and a balance of dry, roasted and sweet malt and has a hearty dry finish. Another not perfect but pretty damn good (and inexpensive) belgian ale from New Belgium.

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

A 12 oz bottle from Liquid Solutions.

A: The ale is dark, dark red, almost black but not quite. Bright ruby red highlights emerge when the beer is held to light. The head was sizeable and retained nicely throughout the glass.

S: The note is caramelized malts, roasted with a sweet baltic porter-like aroma that results from a lager yeast.

T: The ale's flavor is really driven by the lager yeast. The flavor is caramelized, chocolate-like with a sweet roasted undertone. There are no hops to speak of here, but the flavor is sweet enough that they are not missed.

M: The sweet body is very enjoyable, full of flavor without a big malty body.

D: A Belgian beer that is remarkably similar to a baltic porter. The lager yeast really makes this a good beer.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark brownish black color with a thick creamy light tan head that leaves a good amount of lacing.

S- The aroma is definitely on the malty side and very pleasant. Along with the malt, there is some chocolate and hints of coffee.

T- The taste follows the aroma with dark roasted malts, along with some chocolate and coffee flavors with a dry finish.

M- The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a perfect amount of carbonation.

D- Not bad, not bad at all. Not something I would want to drink every night, but a good change-up beer.

Overall, this is a pretty solid beer from New Belgium that is definitely worth a shot.

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Photo of beertunes
2.71/5  rDev -29.6%
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.

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,198 ratings.
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