Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

1554 Enlightened Black Ale | New Belgium Brewing

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
87
very good
1,250 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
1554 Enlightened Black Ale1554 Enlightened Black Ale
BEER INFO

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.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,250
Ratings:
3,199
Avg:
3.85
pDev:
19.74%
 
 
Wants:
88
Gots:
322
For Trade:
1
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,250 | Ratings: 3,199
Photo of falloutsnow
3.55/5  rDev -7.8%
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.

 1,877 characters

Photo of whatthehull
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
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

 960 characters

Photo of brutusmuktuk
3.27/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

 251 characters

Photo of Nick-K
3.57/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance:
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

Smell:
Subtle, nutty and musty

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

Mouthfeel:
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.

 652 characters

Photo of Weston19
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

 584 characters

Photo of Boneheadmx
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 510 characters

Photo of usafboy
3.17/5  rDev -17.7%
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.

 1,359 characters

Photo of donscott
5/5  rDev +29.9%
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.

 302 characters

Photo of jawlessbody
4.34/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

 938 characters

Photo of Pintofbrown
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

 1,204 characters

Photo of ssarah
3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

 633 characters

Photo of ZoomanCru
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

App: Very dark with a deep almost purple hue like that of poke berries. Nice two finger tan head clings high to the edges of the glass.

Smell: Deep, roasted chocolate nose with hints of lilac. Sweet and with no notable hops nose. Earthy with a slight salty aroma.

Taste: Smooth creamy chocolate coupled with some other more nuanced malt flavors. Some notes of caramel high in the foretaste. True taste is sweet and grainy without seeming green. After taste is that of milk chocolate and Cafe au Lait creaminess. Hops is almost completely absent, contributing only a slight lingering bitterness after the swallow.

Mouth: Rich and heavy bodied, this beer is fairly heavily carbonated for something with such a significant malt presence.

 740 characters

Photo of BeerWithMike
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this one a few times and last sampled on 11/27/13. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a brandy snifter.

Pours a very dark brown in color with a small tan head. Leaves a good amount of lacing when sipped. Perfect carbonation. The aroma is of roasted malts, chocolate and dark fruit. The taste is about the same with a slight dry smokey finish. No harsh or bitter aftertaste. This is my favorite brew from this company by far. Great brew for the colder months.

 499 characters

Photo of adxss
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Serves from a bottle around 55 degrees. I do not refrigerate my beer
Rich color but a little thin texture wise. The head was a beautiful coppery tan color, but only 1/4" tall.
Excellent flavor. A little roast, coffee, and maybe a touch of citrus.
Mild and very drinkable. Very smooth.

 287 characters

Photo of DenverHopHead
3.59/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance - mahogany against the light, very thin beige head. Lacing is scattered.
Smell - roasted barley, some chocolate, sweet caramel malts.
Taste - a nice creamy, coffee taste.
Feel - medium body, fairly complex and flavorful.
Overall - great for the price point, so I give credit to NB for that!

 341 characters

Photo of Davidvols
4.24/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

At first sip you notice a bitter taste. By the second tasting you notice the chocolate. Not usually a dark beer drinker, but picked this up in a variety 6 pack. Glad I did, may have to try and brew this one myself. I love Belgian beers, with abv closer to 6% as was this one. Must try this one if you haven't. Low carbonation, but very tasty - great after dinner drink.

 369 characters

Photo of baos
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into large snifter.

A: Nice dark brown body, good clarity with nice tan head and good lacing.

S: Chocolate and rich malts.

T: Munich and Chocolate malts. Bits of coffee and toffee and unsweetened chocolate. Finishes nice and dry.

M: Nice medium feel.

O: Great beer. I would like to take this recipe and make a Dubbel. Making the other half of malts all wheat.. Great beer. I love it

 395 characters

Photo of Deanosaurus
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

I bought a 6 pack mix from Dirt Cheap so I could try several beers over the past week and this was one of them. I was intrigued mainly by the date, I guess you could say I'm a sucker for old-timey things; also the fact that I had never had a "Black Ale" before.

- Appearance (4/5)
It came in a dark bottle and poured out about the color of the bottle itself, if not a little thicker. On pouring it was a dark chocolate sort of color with a caramel glow and then collected into a thick black cloud in the glass.

- Smell (3.75/5)
Not very robust, almost the sort of smell you would get from a lighter beer, which is deceptive.

- Taste (4.25/5)
This beer was bitter on the nose with a mild flavor of hops then leveled out into a thick malty stout-like flavor. I don't know if Black Ale is another name for stout but if you poured this in place of a stout I ordered I probably wouldn't think otherwise.

- Mouthfeel (4.75/5)
...like a stout. Hardy and thick without lingering too long. Smooth finish.

- Overall (4/5)
Decent beer. My first black ale and I was pleased. If I'm feeling up for a malt taste without feeling like I'm drinking molasses this would be my go to.

 1,169 characters

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

Deep brown with a chocolate hue this ale had a thick head and it laced spottedly but thickly.

The scent is nicely diverse with chocolate malt dominance, Graham cracker, marshmallow, dry grain, and even a little hops.

I really like this beer with its chocolate qualities. There's the chocolate malt but then a dry chocolate bar flavor. Some smokey flavors come from the charred malts and really accent this well. Graham cracker maltiness and some grain finish this out.

The feel is dry, smooth and very easy, yet full enough too create an exceptional experience. I think this is one of New Belgium's finest ales and one of my favorites.

 638 characters

Photo of brewskifan55
3.84/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a snifter. Thanks, Gus.

A: Rich cola brown with a tan half-finger head that dissipates fast to foam. Frothy lacing.

S: Caramel malts, dark fruits (dates, plums).

T: Very smooth and malty. Sweet and robust. Dark fruits shine but the malt pulverizes, in a good way. Toasty with a dry, smokey finish. I feel like I'm drinking an American Brown.

M: Light to medium with low carbonation. Kinda watery; the only thing that takes my scoring down a notch.

O: Very sessionable. Wish it was more carbonated. But overall, a great malt experience.

 552 characters

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

Poured a deep maroon, almost completely brown, but showed some beautiful garnet tones in the light. Cream colored head that lasted a very long time. Nose is clean, but abundant with deep, dark fruits, a hint of cocoa powder, and raisins. The flavor is much similar, but surprised me with the cocoa, which added a nice complexity to the beer. Rich body, nicely carbed.

 367 characters

Photo of JamesMN
3.76/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Best before 1/5/14. I used to think this beer was the bee's knees before getting into craft. We'll see what two years of hindsight has to say about that.

Appearance: Pitch black body with a thin light tan head.

Aroma: Toasty malts and toffee. A light grassy hop note. Similar to a brown ale.

Taste: Upon first sip I understand why I liked this beer so much back in the day; it's a malt bomb. Toasted caramel, toffee, and nutty grain cascade over the palate. There is a tingling hop bitterness to balance things out. Real flavorful for 5.6% ABV. I'm not sure I get any flavors here that constitute a belgian stylization. More like an American Brown Ale. Fizzy finish and chocolate aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Just under medium in body and a little much on the carbonation. Good drinkability and sessionable.

Final Thoughts: Going in to this review I was expecting to find 1554 unable to hold up to the memory I have of it, but as it turns out it was just as good if not more enjoyable than the memory. A great beer by New Belgium, albeit a wrongly categorized one. Would I drink it again? Yes.

 1,092 characters

Photo of Chiefy770
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a Snifter glass.

A tan head, slightly less than two fingers thick, formed and quickly dissipated leaving fairly moderate lacing. The beer itself was dark brown, almost black and non-transparent.

The aroma was toasty with strong scents of fruit.

Much like the smell, the taste consisted of toasty malts and mild notes of fruit. It was slightly sweet, not so bitter. Light to moderate carbonation.

Overall I enjoyed this beer. I am not too familiar with Belgian Dark Ales so I do not have much to compare this to. This was mild and light compared to some full body porters or stouts. This was part of the New Belgium Folly Fall combo pack which was very fitting. A flavorful dark beer to bring in the colder weather.

Bottom Line: Worth trying.

 775 characters

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours a deep, dark cordovan brown with a light tan, finger width head. Fair retention, resulting in a broken layer of suds across the surface. Lacing is sparse, with fair stick.

Smell - Moderate roast with notes of chocolate. Whiffs of nuttiness and earth.

Taste - Follows the nose. Moderate roasted flavor. Lesser notes of chocolate. Touches on that classic NB toasted nuttiness. Earth flavor hits on the back end; moreso as the brew warms.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full in body with moderate carbonation which tingles the tongue. Somewhat creamy in texture.

Overall - Hard to believe I hadn't reviewed this beer yet; one of New Belgium's older and more popular beers. It's decent enough, but it's never been a beer that I've ever craved.

 754 characters

Photo of SLeffler27
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

A clear dark ruby red beer builds a creamy beige head that quickly dissipates to leave spotty lace while occasional fine carbonation percolates from just the other side of the wall of a Blue Point tulip glass.

Spicy figs and caramelized sugar accentuate a light roasted character while little if any yeast impacts the aroma profile.

1554 is earthy with dark fruit, however, it is more bitter than expected with light bitterness lingering well into the finish.

This one has a medium to full body, with high carbonation, no alcohol, and a dry velvety finish.

While enjoyable on its own, this is far from the strong flavor and aromas one typically expects from the style.

 672 characters

1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 1,250 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe