1554 Enlightened Black Ale | New Belgium Brewing

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
1,250 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,250 | Ratings: 3,198
Photo of elmocoso
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

 404 characters

Photo of BierReise
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

 401 characters

Photo of paganbeast
3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

 306 characters

Photo of Boilermaker88
4.16/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

 996 characters

Photo of RBorsato
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
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

 527 characters

Photo of SheepNutz
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

 608 characters

Photo of Beaver13
3.61/5  rDev -6.2%
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.

 470 characters

Photo of BeerResearcher
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

 332 characters

Photo of ManekiNeko
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

 810 characters

Photo of RenoZymurgist
3/5  rDev -22.1%
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.

 321 characters

Photo of woemad
3.13/5  rDev -18.7%
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.

 461 characters

Photo of Crosling
3.49/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

 618 characters

Photo of Dubblebock
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

 1,096 characters

Photo of pezoids
4.21/5  rDev +9.4%
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!

 406 characters

Photo of beerguy101
3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

 290 characters

Photo of Nytemare
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

 1,336 characters

Photo of alexgash
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

 294 characters

Photo of cokes
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

 550 characters

Photo of RoyalT
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

 862 characters

Photo of Suds
3.69/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

 631 characters

Photo of Rumrunner
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

 640 characters

Photo of jcalabre
3.3/5  rDev -14.3%
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

 294 characters

Photo of texascarl
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance = dark brown, medium carbonation, a bad pour on my part released a large tan head.

Nose = roasted malts (Coffee)

Taste = interesting 'dark beer'. Burnt toast/dark roast coffee notes, but with a lot of acidity in the brew. Lots of zing to offset the sweetness from the malt. Hops are there 'in balance'
(translation = not enough for me, of course...I always want mo' hops when I say it's in balance. It's fine for the rest of the world, of course).
Mouthfeel = dry, lemon-squirt acidity

I'd like to try this one again, sample it with some different foods. I suspect it would go well with spicy foods like Tex-Mex, Cajun/Creole.

 651 characters

Photo of drewbage
3.66/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled as a 16oz pint at the Stumbling Monk (Seattle, WA)

Small fight through the smoke to review this beer, but...

Aroma is a soapy roast malt on top of a rich and creamy black beer with ruby high tones with a thin white head that clings to the glass.

Flavor is of spiced coriander malt with a initially sweet malt and roasty metallic finish with a slightly washing hop bitterness

 391 characters

Photo of kindestcut
2.86/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I love Belgian-style beers. However, if it's not from the old country, I approach with caution. Unibroue and Allagash have allayed my fear of Non-Belgian Belgians but it's the New Belgium pseudo-Belgians that I most fear. I like the non-Belgian-style Fat Tire but it's not a tripel, or a dubbel or even a sacrifice bunt. And so all of NB's beers will forever be tainted by this beer, that from which all evil oozes according to some buffoons.

So I approached the BSBA with trepidation. I had tried the NB Trippel and was pleasantly surprised. It was good but not great. Since I liked the Trippel, I thought I'd give this one a chance. After all, it has a purty label.

Well, I have tasted the BSBA and it's not good. I wish I was more creative so I could find a nicer way of saying "this beer tastes like caramelized rat urine." Well, it's not that bad but when you present yourself as Belgian style, you have centuries of other breweries' traditions to uphold.

The BSBA pours a very dark brown, maybe even black, like the purty label says. I see browns...I see black...I see dead people...I don't see much of anything. A dark beer is what it is. Dark. The appearance hides everything but the color. That's why I like them. The murky depths may hide wonderful treasures or on they may be full of evil squids squirting damn bitter ink everywhere.

The off-white head is minimal. Nice lacing, though.

An obviously malty beer, I smell roasted malts. Yes, that's it. Roasted malts. What else do I smell? Not much. Maybe a hint of alcohol. The aroma is not very strong.

Here's a story for you. When I was a little kid, I woke up on a Monday morning in the summer in a daze, obviously still on a candy high, believing it was Christmas. I ran downstairs only to find nothing, nothing but my mom telling me to get ready for school. Now that's disappointment.

And so is this. This beer is the buzzkill of Belgian-style ales. My tasting of the BSBA started and ended quickly. This is indeed a malty beer, but the flavor is really subdued. I also found the BSBA to be a little musty...not dirty, but earthy, I guess. I didn't like that. Other flavors include coffee and caramel with no bitterness to speak of. The mouthfeel isn't bad, smooth and easy to drink...if you like drinking it.

Truthfully, this beer is not the worst in the world. However, for it's style, it isn't the best. It's not even great. I'd say a very solid mediocre. Kind of like Gromit's sense of humor.

 2,484 characters

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.85 out of 5 based on 3,198 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!