1554 Enlightened Black Ale | New Belgium Brewing

very good
1,254 Reviews
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1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States

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: 1,254 | Ratings: 3,206
Photo of Phocion
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's probably been eight years since I've had this beer, but here goes. 12 oz. can with an EB date of 22 Feb, 2015 left over from a Folly Pack my girlfriend's dad brought over a couple weeks ago. Because this review would be useless without a back-story of how it came into my possession, naturally. Poured into a footed pilsner glass an estremely dark mahogony color with a rocky beige head of about two fingers. Big, sticky lacing. and moderate retention.

Aroma is very porterish. Big, roasty malts with bitter chocolate and coffee. A little bit of toffee and lightly spicy phenols. Nutty and a bit earthy/herbal. Much more complex than I remember in my ~2007 palate.

Flavor follows the nose. A little more dark fruit and a little less bitterness. Roasted chocolate and caramel. Slightly spicy with a dry, herbal finish. Fairly well balanced and no astringency.

Medium bodied and moderate carbonation. Clean, dry mouthfeel.

Overall this is much better than I remember from years ago. Quite complex if not mind-blowing. Interesting hybrid style. Hopefully I won't go as long before drinking my next one.

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

December 18, 2014

Draft, pint glass

A – Deep brown with some garnet highlights. Clear. A small amount of tan head that mostly dissipated before the glass arrived to the table.

S – Milk chocolate and light caramel. Some mild noble hop aroma. Roasted but not bitter malt.

T – Chocolate with mild toffee notes. Slightly bitter malt, mostly roasted and chocolatey-sweet.

M – Moderately carbonated, tends to stay on the sweet side, with just a touch of bitterness.

O – A very smooth, easy drinker, with some noticeable flavor characteristics. I’m not in love, but I would drink it again.

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Photo of barczar
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%

Roast malt, dark chocolate, and a hint of Belgian yeast esters in aroma. Flavor reveals a weak Belgian yeast character of pear, muted roast notes, and a base of dark chocolate. Very drinkable, approachable beer with varied character.

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Photo of gbarbee
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For the longest time this was one of favorite dark, Belgian style beers.

Appearance: Dark brown
Smell: A hint of chocolate and toasted bread
Taste: A good quality dark bread
Mouthfeel: Smooth
Drinkability: Very enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Redneckwine
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into tulip

Appearance - Black and opaque upon pour, but halway through the glass the edges hitting the light show hues of deep, dark mahogany brown, 1 finger tan head becomes a whispy cap and leaves a bit of lacing.

Smell - Crisp and clean grainy malts are a bit roasty but mostly earthy, hint of dark fruits and spice, whiff of sulfur...subtle but nice overall

Taste - Clean, earthy, rich, slightly roasty malts are prevalent and a little grainy sweetness tags along, notes of cocoa, toffee, and dark fruits mixed with a touch of random spice, whiff of sulfur and alcohol lends a very nice zing of peppery flavor, finishes quite dry with a drying tannic quality, minimal bitterness

Feel - Really creamy, smooth, and crisp medium body, carbonation is gentle but scrubbing enough to get the job done. Goes down extremely easily.

Overall - Is it an ale? Is it a lager? (warm fermented with lager yeast) Who cares... it's a really tasty, really drinkable dark beer. The flavor is subtle and approachable enough to not scare away rookie beer drinkers, yet ample enough to satisfy seasoned craft enthusiasts - no small feat! I can't find a whole lot wrong with this beer; it's really easy to knock a few back.

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Photo of dcscientist
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is probably my favorite New Belgium beer. It's a very unusual style for an American craft brew, and you should make sure to try it. Goes great in the wintertime, but is available year-round. Dark, but not bitter. Flavorful, but not high alcohol. You probably haven't had anything like it in these parts.

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Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +4.2%

This beer looks more than anything like a Schwarzbier, completely black but with a body that isn't heavy or viscous. It grows a cream-colored head to about a finger with good retention and lacing.
This beer shows a lot of Schwarz-like qualities: the cocoa and nut, roast and dry coffee grounds, along with a dryness and very little bitterness. It does have just a bit of dark fruits behind it, and it goes sweeter in the middle with a little bit of peppery spiciness. Caramel and toffee notes come into the creamy middle before a little wood dries it a little.
The body is medium, and it's boldly but not heavily crisp while remaining extremely creamy with a semi-dry feel from start to finish.

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Photo of BigRedDog
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%

Pours a black color with a slightly off white/light mocha head.

Smell is dominate of roasted malt. Slight chocolate. Not too much else. Maybe some slight spice.

Taste is big on roasted malt. Slight chocolate malt flavor that hits mid-palate. Finishes nice and clean.

Mouthfeel is light.

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Photo of kkleu357
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%

From notes on 11/23/13

Dark reddish brown pour. Nice malty smell. Has a very light crispy roasted malt taste, but still has a lot of flavor. Can also taste some caramel and plum.

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Photo of ANiklaus
4.57/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a glass. 1554 is one of the better offerings from New Belgium. The appearance is incredibly dark upon pour. The smell is the worst part of this beer with a weak wheat and caramel smell. The taste and the mouthfeel are incredible though with a very smooth finish. Highly recommend, especially in the winter.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, new label and beer name "1554 Black Lager", but apparently it's the same recipe. Enjoy by 12OCT14
L - tall, frothy, beige head caps a mahogany colored body
S - dark malts, chocolate, caramel, yeast
T - roasted barley, chocolate, caramel, kind of cola-like, slight spice to the yeast, incredible balance
F - medium body, creamy, smooth, finishes clean with some ashy chocolatey roast lingering a bit
O - every time I come back to this I find it to be good, but not great. I do buy it every once in awhile as it's both fairly sessionable and enjoyable.

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2.39/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

si es muey buen delirium nos sundro des elephante ma non es los ablo marino e les diamondes con da playa enime soy. e aiuto me alla frigorifero aiuto aiuto. donde a la lampadre non es desidero piutoo e amoreee se non con la sole e caliente bueno. eee -krishna

thnak you for viewing xoxoxo

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Photo of SD-Alefan
4.19/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic pint.
Pours a dark, cola color with a single-finger, foamy, tan head. The head persists and leaves a lovely lacing down the entire length of the glass.

The aroma is very pleasant, lots of yeasty bread, with a hint of chocolate and dark fruit.

The taste is excellent. Caramel, toffee right up front with alittle yeast. Then some coffee notes, a little raisin and finally, a little late dark chocolate bitternes. Reminds me a bit of a good doppelbock.

The mouthfeel is amazing. It's smooth, almost creamy and a little sticky.

Overall, this is a wonderful beer that is surprisingly complex.

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Photo of SHODriver
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: poured into a tulip to a blackness with a finger of dense and slightly rocky tan head that is quick to fade and leaves some lacing
S: smells of roasted malts with some chocolate notes and a bit of spice
T: taste is somewhat light with some good roastyness and chocolate with some spice notes. Swallow is more roasted malt , chocolate and a slight lingering bitterness.
M: the beer is medium on the mouth with apparent but not overpowering carbonation and a slightly drying finish
O: Not a bad beer at all. It isn't extremely heavy and has good flavors which make it surprisingly sessionable. It would be nice if they made a one off Imperial/Double version of this to make things shine a little brighter

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From: Piccadilly, Champaign, IL
Date: Best by 2014-03-26
Glass: Tulip

New Belgium's Black Ale is an interesting mixture of brewing traditions: lager yeast, US and German-styled malts, and US hops. The result is a black lager that is not as smooth as a traditional Dunkel Lager would be, but nowhere near an ale, either. This was easily drinkable, and one I could see myself returning to if it were available and other options were not there.

Pours a 1cm tall mass of foam of light beige-colored foam, composed of small-sized bubbles, fading within one minute to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass and a few very small islands of lacy residuum atop the body. Lacing is modest, a few medium-sized dots and lines cling to the walls of the glass. Body is a dark brown to black color, with light bringing out only a slight amber-red highlight around the perimeter of the beer. Carbonation visible only along the edges of the glass in small numbers and activity, the body being otherwise opaque.

Aroma of burnt toast, low base malt sweetness, and light basement-like mustiness.

Overall flavor is of blackened toast with a bit of light caramel-like sweetness, somewhat peppery and smooth phenols and musty yeast. Front of palate tastes light burnt toast and base malt sweetness with smooth, slightly peppery phenols and mustiness. Mid-palate of smooth, burnt toast with modest phenols and slight mustiness. Back of palate tastes blackened toast, slight cocoa, modest base malt sweetness, and mild phenols. Aftertaste of blackened toast and slightly caramel-like base malt sweetness: clean.

Beer is medium-light in body, with carbonation of medium-low intensity, resulting in a mouthfeel that is balanced between foaminess (1/2) and smoothness (1/2) that works for the beer and is within stylistic guidelines as well. Closes dry, with moderate stickiness on the palate.

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Photo of whatthehull
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a white wine glass (still at work)

A - A deep dark black, one finger dark tan head and a bit of lacing

S - vanilla, bourbon, sweet Hawaiian rolls, cinnamon, sugar, homemade bread, very yeasty and rose/other flower notes

T - toasted dark malts, toasted grains, red wine blend, molasses, light vanilla, fruity/floral hops, dark agave nectar, dry wood, bready yeast, slight musk and tons of soil notes

M - Medium body, well balanced, decent complexity, medium acidity and a long sweet roasted malt finish

D/O - I'll give it to NB, VERY drinkable beers and most of them are more than refreshing. Another one I could suck down all day and be happy about it. Not to much or to little, just right on the flavor side. If you like Guinness draught or stout, you'll enjoy this one. All leveled beer drinkers should enjoy this one

Final thoughts - Another I can't believe I haven't reviewed. A bit on the expensive side $8+ a sixer and a decent 5.6% abv

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Photo of brutusmuktuk
3.27/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark mahogany with a small white head. Has a chocolate and coffee aroma. Flavor is also chocolate and coffee, with a touch of malts and bitterness. Taste and feel are both a tad light. Overall this is pretty decent, but not all that memorable.

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Photo of Nick-K
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an American pint glass from bottle
Very dense, molasses black, low carbonation, inch and a half of vanilla cream head with low retention

Subtle, nutty and musty

Nutty, subtle alcohol note, lingering finish that is not unwelcome

Medium body that seems out of place given the very dark color

Overall a good dark beer, I would have liked the weight to reflect the color and the flavor was quite good but simple. Simple is not automatically bad but this review comes from the perspective of someone who's favorite dark American beer is Point 2012 Black Ale which has about ten thousand flavors going on.

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Photo of Weston19
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Looks like a porter with a blackish red color and mocha colored head. Leaves good lacing around the glass.

S: Very malty with subtle roasted notes. Some light piney notes as well.

T: The taste is much better than the nose hints and you get a nice refreshing taste of hope followed by the slight bitterness you'd get from a porter. Has a buttery aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied but very refreshing and well carbonated. A semi dry finish.

O: This beer is very tasty and what I love is how refreshing it is. I can take long drinks and it feels great. Would definitely recommend this.

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Photo of Boneheadmx
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a dark brown with a cream-colored 2-finger head that subsides slowly, leaving a lot of lacing on the glass.

Smell is noticeably malty with hints of toasted grains.

Flavor is really nice, with a the flavors of the sweet toasted grains and the long malty finish as hinted by the smell. This reminds me of a porter, but it's a bit sweeter than what I was expecting.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, and not too carbonated.

Overall, a fairly drinkable beer for the style but a tad bit on the sweet side.

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Photo of usafboy
3.17/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I've drank this beer before but never got around to reviewing it. So here I am with beer in hand, ready to review.

Appearance: A drink by date reveals Feb 4th 2014 and today is January 22. Poured from a bottle into a no-nic glass and it was by no means a delicate pour so I was fairly surprised at the lack of big beautiful suds considering this beer is classified as a Belgian dark ale.

Smell: I have somewhat of a stuffy nose so the fact I can smell a faint coffee and chocolate aroma is impressive.

Taste: An "instant coffee" flavor is at the forefront. If you know the flavor of instant coffee you know what I mean: almost like you pop a coffee bean in your mouth and swallow it. Just as fast as it arrives, its gone. Tiny amount of chocolate with a vanishing finish that leaves you wanting more in order to feel that fleeting moment where the palate says oh hey this is good but is gone in a nanosecond.

Mouthfeel: I mentioned the drink by date in the appearance due to the mouth feel. Its slick and tastes a bit flat. Maybe something happened during transportation. I don't like it.

Overall I feel like its unimpressive. I go to my local grocery store when I want something dark but not salty like Guinness. (all they have is 1554 and Guinness) Sure it hits the spot when you need a satisfying dinner beer but this is nothing to write home about.

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Photo of donscott
5/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1554 has become a regular staple in my house. I am a huge Fat tire fan and figured I would try some of New Belgium's other beers. They are quickly becoming my favorite brewery and is always in my house. They have a great variety pack at Costco. unfortunately 1554 is not apart of that pack. Good stuff.

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Photo of jawlessbody
4.34/5  rDev +13%
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.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

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Photo of ssarah
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.84 out of 5 based on 3,206 ratings.
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