1554 Enlightened Black Ale | New Belgium Brewing

very good
1,253 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.

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,253 | Ratings: 3,205
Photo of watermelonman
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is definitely a good beer. I didn't find it as exciting or as appealing as certain other styles, but it does have a good flavor and it both looks and smells very nice. One of my friends loves this stuff and gets 6 packs fairly frequently, so I'll probably pick up some more singles by way of barter.

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Photo of ADR
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Certainly a dark pour, very dark brown with minimal light transmission. Big head to start, settles to a skim in about a minute. Good belgian lace. Aroma of suede, prickly with some musty yeast. Very floral flavor impression, crocus and lilac oil distilled for the taste buds. Light and effervescent, slight sense of black malt density and aridity close to the finish. The end is best, a swapping of the subtle malts with a noticeable but restrained bittering. Not at all a big beer, but emphasizing unique and pleasant malt properties.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Photo of Thrasher
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a distinctive and excellent beer. It does resemble a porter more than anything else but with a less oppressive flavor. It initally looks black but is a deep amber. Head rises well, but then diminishes to a small ring and minimal lacing. Aroma of sweetish malts, caramel, candy, as well as a light fruity yeastiness. The flavor is full, crisp and malty, with the roastiness that goes along with porters but mellowed and more buttery. Mouthfeel thinnish, kind of like black coffee. A surprisingly drinkable beer, one that would make an interesting session since putting back more than one is no problem. This beer would probably be a perfect match for a particular kind of food but I wonder which dish?

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Photo of elmocoso
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a real dark ruby that shows its true color when held to the light.

No head, but a ring and some lace floating across the top.

malty smell with a little smoke? and some spice.

I like the smell of this one. Very drinkable and a nice, slightly complex flavor. Malt. Smoke. Malt. Spice.

This beer doesnt knock you out, but it has just enough of character to be an interesting session beer.

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

Poured a Coca-Cola black with a thick head which died quickly leaving some scattered lacing. Has a nutty grainy malt aroma that is quite interesting. Some yeast is also detected in the aroma. Medium body is crisp with a smooth finish. Flavor is malty and nutty with an almost peanut like flavor to it. Reminds me a bit like Koestritzer Schwarzbier with its pronounced lager yeast. Overall a nice brew.

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Photo of paganbeast
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A beautiful color when poured, very dark with hints of red. The carbonation and head is minimal, so there's nothing extremely interesting about the texture. With the nicely roasted malt, this beer has a nice smooth caramel flavor to it. One of New Belgium's finest beers, as I tend to like the darker ones.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.16/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle with a "best before" date of 12-11-03 on it. Well, so I missed the deadline by a few days; I don't think it made much difference. This brew had a clear dark reddish-brown hue and a very resilient and creamy off-white head that peaked at about 1½" and never truly faded away. Vibrant carbonation kept the head alive and nice sheet lace was deposited as the beer disappeared.
The smell was an all-malt affair with lots of roasted malt, some mild dark fruit, a light nutty aroma and a whiff of smoke. The taste continued the malt dominance. A fine roasted malt presence followed by a almond flavor and that light smokey taste. The finish had the flavor of some plums and lacked any appreciable hops profile. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth and dry.
This beer from New Belgium Brewing was really easy to drink. I was surprised at how fast it went down. It's not a porter or a stout but almost like a schwarzbier, just not as dark. Definitely worth a try. Quite unique.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a full light brown/tan head, decent carbonation, and good lace. Nutty and roasty malt aroma. Spicy malt character dominates... Vienna or Munich malts, maybe ? Tastes a good bit different than it smells. Medium bodied with a dry malty finish.

Per N.B website: Other than being dark in color, 1554 has little in common with Porter or Stouts. The beer is fermented at relatively high temperatures using a European lager yeast that imparts a refreshing, zesty acidity.

Best Before: 11/28/03
Tasted: 11/23/03

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Photo of SheepNutz
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep black color that is really deep red when held up to light. There is two fingers of off-white head that quickly reduces to a small collar, but there is good lacing left. The smell is full of roasted malt and caramel, very sweet. There is a tiny hint of chocolate aroma as well. The taste has a good amount of burnt malt and sweetness. A good caramel taste at the finish with just a tiny dose of hops. The mouthfeel is just a little light and watery. The drinkability is really good though. A very unique beer, and a good offering from New Belgium.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours a dark ruby brown with a thick creamy off white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is nutty, lactic roasted chocolate and some medicinal notes.

The flavor is sweet nutty toffee and chocolate malts with a roasted, lightly bitter finish. It is a bit sharp and acidic. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly creamy.

Overall, an enjoyable malt-driven beer. It's not too exciting for me, but makes for a nice fall-back beer.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Nytmare for this one!
It pours a dark cordovan with a thin beige head and some wisps of lace. The aroma is a nutty malt with a light smokiness. This is mostly a malty brew with lots of caramel notes, nuts and a distant toasty crème brulee. A light taste of pears, mild limes and spices round out this very quaffable ale.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottled served chilled in a Delirium Noel glass. Best by date of 11/14/2003.

Appearance: Beautiful brown/ruby colored liquid with a nice sized tan head of tiny bubbles. Head settles down to a small layer of bubbles after a few minutes. Little bits of lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Well balanced chocolate and caramel malt aromas with faint coffee notes. Lightly yeasty. Quite intriguing.

Taste: Slightly bittersweet toffee flavor. Yeasty. Hints of chocolate and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Remarkably light given the tastes. Quite crisp.

Drinkability: A nice quaint beer. Perfect for the fall or early spring. Overtones of stouts and porters but with a Belgian twist. I'll gladly have the other two sent to me, but I'd probably not go out of my way for more.

Thanks to prAna for the trade.

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep red with a slight head that subsided quickly. I could not detect any perceptible aroma. The flavor was sweet with a dark malt character that hinted at coffee and chocolate with a dry flavorful finish. The body was medium yet somehow i though it would be lighter. A good beer to try if you have never had it.

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Photo of woemad
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane. Poured a very dark brown with minimal off-white head that ceased to exist within a minute. Very mild, malty aroma of dark chocolate. Taste was equally mild. No hop presence whatsoever. This isn't a bad tasting beer. There's just not a whole lot going on with this one. The mouthfeel is rather thin. I think this would be good for someone who is terrified of the notion of a dark beer, as it is very easy to consume.

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Photo of Crosling
3.49/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pretty Disappointed. 1554 pours out as almost a dark red or an opague brown. Poor head retention with minimal lacing left behind on the glass.

The aroma was of a deep heavy malt and other different roasted smells that I couldn't really pick up on.

The Roasted Malt flavor was dominating with this brew. Virtually no hop bitterness. Possibly if there was more of a hop presense this brew would have been a little too sweet. I also picked up a little caramel and some fruit flavors as well.

Overall, Nothing to write home about. Perhaps I don't understand the style but I was hoping for something much bigger.

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Photo of Dubblebock
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

New Belgium advertises this beer as an attempt to recreate an old European dark lager recipe. It's not a porter or a stout or a bock. It's dark, though, almost opaque, and it looks nice and rich as it pours. Not a large head, and what's produced doesn't hang around too long.

Has a GREAT nose, chocolate and malt flavors rising to assault the nostrils. Drinks very smooth, for all of it's foreboding darkness it's really quite a mild brew. Malt textures are there, almost a sort of coffee taste underlying everything. I can imagine this being a popular style with those who like dark lagers. Mouthfeel isn't particulary exceptional. Finish is very good, leaves me wanting more. Probably the best American-made dark lager I've had.

New Belgium really does create some very good beers. This is a fine addition to their dossier. I bought a six-pack and tried the beer under several different conditions, different foods, times of day, etc. Even tried one from the bottle. Goes really well with a beef dish, or a casserole. Have a couple while watching the ball game, or with a nice pot roast.

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Photo of pezoids
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep and clear copper brown color with a velvety white head. Rich roasted malt aroma. The taste is very smooth and the beer has a light and has a satisfying malt body. Reminds me of a gourmet dark chocolate dessert. The roasted semi-sweetness is complimented by a pleasant bitterness. Finishes smooth and dry.

This is one hell of a dark beer! Excellent.

Thanks to Weefisheads for the sample!

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Photo of beerguy101
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black color, medium head. Roasted malts, slightly hoppy. Somewhat lighter tasting with an underlying spiciness. Crisp and refreshing, unusual for a black beer. Mouthfeel is smooth and round. Finish is crisp and clean. Aftertaste is malty, slightly bitter. Would be a very good session beer.

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Photo of Nytemare
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice dark brown, with a little head. Retention wasn't really there, didn't take long for the head to dissappear into a ring of foam around the edges. Holding it up to the light it's a dark ruby color.

Smell: Not at all what I expected. Not bad, just not what I was anticipating. Smells of roasted malt, light fruit and spice too. Subtle.

Taste: About what it smells like. Some roasted malt charactors, but some subtle fruit and spice flavors as well. Rounds off with some acidic bitterness, but not bad. A little weak.

Mouthfeel: Thin, not what I was expecting, but by now I guess this is normal. I was expecting a thick, robust brew. Instead, I got a thin, not too overpowering brew. Goes down easy.

Drinkability: Easily drinkable. Not something that's gonna fill you up after one. If you're lookin' for something that you can drink all evening with your friends and won't keep you distracted from the conversation at hand by it's overwhelming charactor, then this will work.

This is a good brew for drinking with your friends. It's easy to drink, not overpowering, not too strong. It's a little weak on flavor, but that's probably my expectations not being met on the robust part. It's got good flavor, just a little weak. I'll probably keep this on hand because of the drinkability. Not a bad brew.

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Photo of alexgash
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cool label. Pours a dark coffee-brown with a small light tan head. Looks thinner than expected. Smell is mostly roasty-sweet malts. Tastes like it smells; slightly sweet, roasty malts up front, with a spicy, coffee-bitter finish. Very interesting. It's good, but feels a bit thin on the palate.

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Photo of cokes
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep garnet-brown under a beige foam.
Wafts of Germanic malts (Munich), dusty chocolate, dirt and black pepper.
Begins with a cottony chocolate sensation that is not dissimilar to eating a fudge stained t-shirt. Sweetened slightly by dry toffee and dilute cranberry juice. Bits of char and wood and earth materialize midway. Sharp, spicy and musty yeast tones. Burnt walnut closure with a lightly flowery hopping.
Thinnish initially. Sturdies itself somewhat as it rests, but remains airy and light.
Quaffable and pretty unique.
Nice enough.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
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 Suds
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from an old college buddy who brought a collection of beers east, just for me to try!
Pours a very dark, almost black, color with a slight reddish hue. Very slight, disappearing white head. The aroma is singularly roasted malts. Actually, it’s an appealing, enjoyable smell…there’s just not much else going on there. Taste is a mix of caramel and coffee…grainy and a nice underlying dry bitterness. The more I drink of this beer, the more I think it’s a little oily….at times distractingly so. Light to medium body and drinkable.
At the end of the day, it’s interesting, and worth a try, but not outstanding.

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

12Oz. bottle
A very different ale for me. I enjoyed it. Will be a change of pace from time to time.

It pours a dark but not pitch black color. Hold the glass up to a warm light and a magenta color appears. A light head that does not hold for long. The smell is a weak malty scent with a hint of licorice. A very mellow scent.

A nice malty taste with almost silent hops. Floral and a syrup flavor. There is a crispness to the ale to make it not too sweet. I enjoyed the balance. A good mouthfeel and no abrupt change in aftertaste make this a very enjoyable ale.

As I noted above I will drink this ale when I want a change of pace.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 1 May 2003. I am writing this review from my notes. This pours a very dark reddish brown. It has a velvety tongue feel with flavors of sweet maltiness. It has a medium body, and generally creamy. Very nice, a bit different. I'll be sure to pick up more next time I'm in CO

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.84 out of 5 based on 3,205 ratings.
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