1554 Black Lager | New Belgium Brewing

very good
1,373 Reviews
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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 BeerAdvocate on 01-02-2002

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Reviews: 1,373 | Ratings: 4,036
Photo of RJLarse
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a six-pack of 1554 Enlightened. Black Ale at a grocery store to taste, review and enjoy. I poured this beer in to a snifter

Pours a black walnut color and is nearly opaque. A one-finger tan head forms, and dissipates quickly to a ring around the side of the glass. The head produces a moderate lacing.

The smell is earthy and sweet. There are roasted grain aromas, and a coffee fragrance.

The taste is of chocolate, coffee and dark sugars, molasses, brown sugar and roasted nuts. There is very little hop presence.

The mouth feel is full-bodied, a bit cloying and dry.

This is a drinkable beer. I think it is better suited for late fall and winter, so I’ll probably cellar three bottles until then. This beer is very much in the style of a porter or a winter warmer.

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

Very dark brown (like black coffee). Only a tiny bit of froth around the rim, leaves a little lacing.

Good smell of roastiness, plums, nuts, slight chocolate cake and vanilla.

Tastes mainly of coffeeish roasted grain. Some dark fruit, chocolate, molasses. Good.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, the carbonation is very fine. Very drinkable.

Simple, roasty, and good.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev +4.2%
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 scruffwhor
4.16/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A deep brown with dark highlights of a sunset in the center. Too dark to see the bubbling though. A mild film of lacing is left behind in my Leffe chalice. A strong mix of earth and light coffee bean and some intermingling mochas hit the nose. This is the most coffe like Belgian ale I've ever had. Very unique take on this style of beer. Very roasty character. Never confused with smokey or toasty in this beer.

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Photo of jokelahoma
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lovely deep brownish-black in the glass, with very little head. What head there is dissipates quickly.

The nose is full of bitter roasted malts, a good deal of hop aroma, and a bit of chocolate. Very appealing.

Flavor is dominated by chocolate, caramel, and dark fruits, most notably plums. While the hop aroma is there, the bitterness in the drink itself is rather understated. Not muted, mind you, but not up front either. The beer is much more fruity than you may expect from a black ale. Bitterness serves to balance, but barely. This is a malt driven beer.

The mouthfeel is lighter than many darker ales, yet is still substantial enough that you won't wonder what you're drinking.

Very nicely done. Probably my favorite of all the readily available year-round New Belgium selections. Refreshing, yet full of flavor, and unique. Give it a shot if you haven't already.

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Photo of Phatz
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark almost black mahogany color with a light brown head.

Smell: Roasty grain almost Shwartzbeir like aroma of dark malts and coffee.

Taste: Roasty sweet malt with toasty caramel notes and a hint of molasses. There is a suggestion of coco and nuts buried in there as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium body pushing full with flavor and texture working well together.

Drinkability: This is a very unique style of beer. I am going to need to seek this out again. Belgian Dark Ale. Who would have thought? The complexities of a Belgian ale meet the burnt malts of the Shwartzbier... I like it, I think.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of Backer2004
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this Dark Ale for a few months now in the fridge and opened it up at our Homebrewers meeting tonight. Many enjoyed it, until realizing I did not make it. Anyway, nice dark (but not black) color. I wanted to try more becuase it has some nice spice and caramel flavor and smell. It sucks that I won't get my handson this for a few more months.

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Photo of KeithPatton
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I ordered the beer at the Onion Creek Cafe in the Heights, not quite knowing what to expect. After the first taste it struck me as an ale knock-off of Salvator. Despite the label hype, the profile of the beer, and the brewery description places it firmly in the Bock category. According to the label, it is fermented with a lager yeast at ale temperatures ( can anyone say California Common?) The nose was malty, with only a hint of fruity esters.
The mouthfeel and taste were nearly identical to a good german bock. If it was truly a 1554 vintage Brussels back ale where was the yeast sediment? The flavor imparted by a little yeast would have added a bit of complexity that was lacking for a beer of reputed Belgian origin. I doubt they had filtration back then and the beer would have been cask conditioned. The beer was good, and was quite drinkable even on a very hot sultry Houston Sunday sitting outside. The head retention was in the average range. All in all it was a good but not exceptional beer. Anyone expecting something like a belgian ale would be disappointed. Think of it as a good American interpretation of a classic German Bock.

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Photo of Lancer211
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle, best by 11/24/06, into a brandy snifter.

A - Cappuccino-colored head forms immediately, about two fingers worth with a relatively aggressive pour, and settles down to about 1/2 an inch within about 7-10 minutes. Very good lacing. Very dark brown with a reddish hue as well.

S - Molasses, roasted malts, a bit chocolatey, quite bready/yeasty as well.

T - Not extremely complex, but good enough in my book to bump it up to a 4. Roasted malts, a bit earthy, with a chocolatey and coffee undertone. Sweet, with a barely noticeable bitter and drying finish.

M - Quite smooth... not as heavy as it looks. Carbonation is light.

D - I'd like to try this one on tap sometime. Not a beer that I would necessarily drink over a long period, but still a better than average dark ale.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a brandy snifter. Exp. date is Aug 18th, 4 days from now.

Pours dark dark red, to form an almost opaque brown color. Weak head, mostly forms a cream n' coffee colored cap. Small spotty lacing. With an aggressive pour, a little bigger head is produced, but quickly dissapears.

Strong molassesnotes are noticed first, followed by a frush-cut grassy smell. With the agressive pour, the grassy smell is much more noticable.

Flavors come with hop bitterness balanced with hints of burnt malts. Slight metallic aftertaste follows a quick finish.

Acidic feel, not much carbonation. Body is on the lighter side.

This beer is complex but doesn't have enough "volume". I may not buy another one, but I won't turn one down either.

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Photo of mendozozoza
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first thing you really notice when you pour this beer is it's color; dark, excessively dark, it honestly looks like im staring into a black abyss from the side. It maintained its slightly brown frothy head rather well. It smells very heavy, very much like a strong cup of coffee with just a tinge of alcohol and maybe just a little cocoa, but when the head died down it very nearly smelled like a good cigar. No real heavy hoppy smell like with most beer. The very first thing that came to mind when I drank it was the nearly overpowering coffee taste, it was good, but I didnt really like it. Then on my second drink I noticed a very slight tobacco taste, not disgusting, actually quite suprising, then I noticed a very very slight chocolate taste, just underneath the tobacco. It honestly is one of the smoothest beers I've ever tasted, its almost like velvet on my throat. One very interesting thing to note is when I smoke a pipe while drinking this beer; it brings the chocolate taste right to the front, even above the coffee, creating an extremely satisfying beer experience.

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Photo of seedee17
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, with a nice creamy head that leaves a nice amount of lace on the glass. Smells like roasted malt with a hint of cocoa and some fruity yeast, a hint of alcohol, no hop aroma. The flavor is mildly sweet, toasted nuts and cocoa, with a little bit of a tang on the finish. Mouthfeel is velvety and smooth, I like it. Definitely a good session beer, really well balanced and quite drinkable. This would be a good stepping stone for introducing someone to darker beers.

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Photo of HoustonTX
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep brown, black from afar. Frothy lace/head.

S - Delicate malts and earthy chocolate undertones.

T - Taste upfront is spicy and attentive, creeping malts. Chocolate tones, light toffee, and an earthy binding to hold everything together.
Mouthfeel is creamy and dry. Finishes smooth, and leaves you wanting another sip.

My favorite from New Belgium thus far. A solid beer.

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Photo of leedorham
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

-Pours very dark in color with a minimal amount of head.

-Nothing distinct about the aroma. Bit of roasted character.

-Taste reminds me of a good cup of coffee. Caramel/chocolate and coffee characters dominate.

-Goes down very easy. Would probably prefer a bit more alcoholic strength just to give it more warmth in the belly. I'd say this one would be best experienced when paired with savory dishes.

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Photo of bjohnson
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Solomon420 for the chance to try this offering from New Belgium.

A: Pours an almost jet black color--if you hold it up to the light you can see red tints at the bottom, sides, and top. Nice half finger white head. Not much retention. Pangea looking lace.
S: Chocolate roasted coffee and burnt malt flavors hit the nose first. Slight sweetness in there, but very subtle. Very good smelling.
T/M: Creamy and smooth are the first adjectives that come to mind when I sip on this guy. Very subtle roasted and burnt coffee flavors slide across the palate. Slight sweetness with a dry finish, which I like. Good burnt aftertaste. Very light in the body, which I wasn't expecting but makes this beer very enjoyable.
D: Highly drinkable offering from New Belgium. Good smelling, tasting, with an overall light body thats refreshing. Recommended if you can get it.

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Photo of Bierschenker
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brought over by HardTarget, Thanks!

A very ‘Belgian’ odour when I opened the bottle: earthy yeast tones.

H – I got hardly any head, shame. Thin layer is brown egg shell coloured. Some nice lacing though.
S – Scent is strong on coffee-grounds, dry cookies and wet burnt grains.
C – The colour is a very dark red brown. Carbonation is slightly visible.
T – Starts off with carbonation on the tongue. Burned coffee beans, burned malt, coffee liquor, metallic oxidation, slight hop and caramel. Fresh spices. The oxidation doesn’t interfere, on the contrary, within this pallet it fits excellently. Overall the taste is much enjoyable, but a few things are missing. In my opinion this taste begs for an higher ABV. It also lacks a firm body, normally brought forth by the Belgian yeasts (but not commercially smart on the US market probably).
A – The coffee and hop taste lingers on the tongue and in the back of the throat.

Not bad, but unfinished.

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Photo of teg8612
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have had this both on tap and bottle. Most will only find in bottle which is okay but tap is slightly better in this case.

A- Very dark almost opaque black or brown. Held up to the light it seems more deep brown with reddish hues but not opaque. Creamy head that eventually goes away. Little to no lacing left on the glass.

S-Roasted malts with hints of chocolat and coffee. Slightly sweet. Hint of alcohol aroma.

T-Didn't get the chocolat or coffee kick at the start like I expected. Sweet with only mild roasted character. Coffee and carmel notes come on and finishes abrubtly. Lighter than expected.

M-Amazingly light for a dark beer. A mixed bag. Seems more even when it is cold and fresh but taste improves with warmth but gets flat and watery.

D-Good beer but somtimes inconsistent. Light with not as much character as one would expect when staring into the depths of it's darkness. Worth a try but not on par with what one would expect of a "Belgian" Ale.

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Photo of kimcgolf
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap in a pizza place in Canon City, CO. This arrived as an opaque, very dark brown with a lingering thick tan head and okay lacing. Good malt chocolate aroma. Flavor followed the malt chocolate theme, yet not real dominant. Body was fairly thin, which led to a watery finish that was not that enjoyable.

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Photo of loren01
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from 12 oz bottle a dark black color with good sized white head, lots of lacing.
S: Smell is real sweet of mollasses and dark fruits (figs/raisins) Also you can smell alcohol.
T: Taste is sweet and malty. Slightly dry taste toward the end
M: Perfect mouthfeel as far as I'm concerned, very smooth and creamy goes down very well.
D: Very tasty, this and Abbey are my 2 favorites from New Belgium.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Looks a bit like cola but with a superb head. The beer itself doesn't appear to be too carbonated but the head is wonderful. Pillowy and full with a tint of oatmeal leaving a wake of lace in its path.

S: Little bit of chocolate, roasted malts and pumpernickle. Maybe some marshmallow.

T: Not bad. Begins with a mellow dark grain sweetness with a hint of hops. Very subtle transformations as the sweetness flexs to a refreshing roasted characteristic. There are indirect iced coffee, cocoa powder and cola qualities. Aftertaste of a dark rye bread.

M: Thin with a smooth carbonation.

D: Best New Belgium beer I've had to date. Its hot as hell outside yet this dark ale is refreshing but bold enough to not be boring.

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Photo of
3.26/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Opened a 12 oz. bottle and poured a dark brown with red tints liquid. Head was modest and did not stick around long. Aroma was very earthy (fresh turned soil), mixed with malt sweetness (caramel) and some coffee. Taste was malt, bittersweet chocolate, and coffee. There was a good bit of hop bitterness at the finish and some pepper. I was not crazy about the mouthfeel, body was medium, and it was drying and seemed overly carbonated. I was surprised by the amount of warming I felt given an ABV of 5.5%. I felt that it was fairly drinkable, but not terribly thirst quenching. If I didn't know better, I would have thought this was a schwarzbier.

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Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a black color with a tan foamy head.

S - Smells a little like toffee.

T - Has some toffee flavors, but also very malty and a sweet chocolate flavor, as well.

M - Soft, medium bodied brew.

D - It is a very drinkable dark ale. I think it is an affordable alternative to Belgian brews.

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Photo of BlindPig
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance-black when held up to light can see redish color. Light carbonation. Pour with thin off white head which didn’t stay to long. Not much lacing. Cant see though it.
Smell- smokey and chocolaty on malts. citrussy grassy hops
Taste- Light! Roasted taste. Maybe a bit smoky. Taste some kind of hops kind of citrusy, not bitter. Aftertaste not a strong one, maybe sort of malty ….maybe it’s hoppy of the sweetness from hops with light malt. Seems like a good balance between malt and hops not one over dominating
Mouthfeel- med body, maybe little to carbonated (going into personal opion).
Drinkability- very easy to drink. Very good beer I could easily have a few of these.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
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 barleywinebrewer
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had to offer a review even though the conditions were not ideal. I had this choice while sitting in the Denver Airport at a sports bar. Having seen positive references in various areas of the forum it was a no brainer choice. It was approx 9pm Denver time and the bar was not holding up well to the level of business coming through. The tables were mostly trashed, the bar needed a severe clearing / cleaning and the glasses on the other side of the bar did not look great. No suprise I drank straight from the bottle.

For a long day traveling it was a smooth, dry brew with light hints of black patent malt. Very refreshing! I would drink another one of thse if I could get it in NH!

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1554 Black Lager from New Belgium Brewing
3.84 out of 5 based on 4,036 ratings.
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