1554 Enlightened Black Ale | New Belgium Brewing

very good
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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:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,253 | Ratings: 3,205
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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Photo of ZoomanCru
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

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Photo of adxss
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of DenverHopHead
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
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!

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Photo of Davidvols
4.24/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of baos
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
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

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Photo of Deanosaurus
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of KYGunner
4/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of brewskifan55
3.84/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

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Photo of Chiefy770
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

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Photo of vkv822
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz : tulip
best by: 01/19/14

Pours near black, with faint mahogany highlights when held to light. Has a thin, foamy light tan head, spotty lacing.

Roasty, faint cocoa, earthy, slight fruity notes.

Medium body, foamy carbonation.

A well done beer, similar to an American porter or black ale, with roasty, cocoa and malt upfront, highlighted by the hop notes, though in this case it is a more floral, earthy hop character.

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Photo of jifigz
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

This beer pours a deep, dark brown color with a small fluffy white head that lingers for a short amount of time. When held up to the light it looks very similar to an American Porter. The aroma is slightly malty with hints of some chocolate malt. The taste starts off chocolatey and rich and ends with just a touch of bitterness for balance. It is overall a rather sweet beer that is heavy on the chocolate flavor. There is also a level of alcohol present in the flavor which is quite surprising since it is only coming in at 5.6%. The MF is medium to light bodied and easy to quaff.

This beer is okay, but how is this really different than an American Porter? It tastes like one, feels like one, and appears like one. Sometimes I feel that the lines of "beer styles" is heavily blurred. Overall not a bad brew though. A decent easy drinking dark beer with a minimal, but good, flavor.

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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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