1554 Black Lager | New Belgium Brewing

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1554 Black Lager1554 Black Lager
Very Good
4,143 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,143 |  Reviews: 1,398
Photo of Hunter
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Intrigued by the idea of a dark ale that's not a porter or stout.

Beer pours a dark russet, letting just enough light in to let you know you're not in stout country. Tall head of light brown foam drops quickly with moderate lacing.

Smell is wonderfully complex. Smoky, nutty, and malty. Not much by way of hops but that's ok. There's promise in the nose here.

Taste is equally mysterious. Smoke, earthy/woody undertones and a nice bite in the aftertaste. None of the chocolate you'd find in many stouts and porters. Mouthfeel is slightly oily, definitely thicker than your basic ale but not overpowering. Aftertaste of smoke lingers.

Overall, very interesting. Would accompany sharp cheeses, dark breads, and rare meats well. Although it's not a stout by any stretch if you don't like the style you might not care for this either.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rich brown with tinges of auburn. Thin tan head with almost a reddish tinge. A roasted, fruity nose. Light burnt malt and an odd fruity smell, almost like kiwi fruit. Spicy.

Taste is all over the place. Spicy like cloves or nutmeg. Roasted smokiness in the malt. A tropical fruity flavor, like kiwi or mango more so than apple or citrus. Also a crisp bitter hoppiness through out, especially in the finish. Medium bodied and crisp with smoky chocolate bitterness that lingers and turns into a sticky maltiness. I enjoy this beer alot, lots of different tastes happening here. Good show.

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Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.86/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown bottle with "Best Before" date of Feb. 15, 2005.

Great looking beer. Pours a crystal clear mahogony; hold it up to the light and you get ruby red tints. Topped with a light tan head.

Aroma is fruity (raisin) with some maltiness; you can also pick up some of the roast.

Flavor is rather malty with some raisin and some roast...perhaps a very slight touch of vanilla as it warms.

Overall a good clean and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I find it somewhat amazing that those lucky enough to see New Belgium on the shelf routinely see all of that brewery's offerings at the same price. You can get the pedestrian Fat Tire for about as much as the phenomenal Abbey. The beer god has finally shined on the cause.

This beer is a tasty black ale that I couldn't liken to my idea of a dark ale. I guess my lack of experience outside the realm of stout and porter shows in this review.

On the nose were many hints of roastiness, yet I found this character synergized by the candied sugar to create a wonderfully wild blend of aroma. There's roastiness, nuttiness, slight hints of clove, and even tiny hints of horsebarn. The alcohol content is perfect; attuned well with the noble hops, everything is locked in a dark beautiful package.

The predominance of candied sugar took away slightly from the mouthfeel and drinkability. Overall, a prize.

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Photo of beertaster13
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice deep dark brown with mocha head. The smell is very rich and caramel and dark ghiradelli chocolate linger, in the distance is a nice floral hop just enough to balance the smell. The taste is dark but not to rich, light but not to light, a nice light caramel and coffee taste with a floral hop present, dark mixed berries linger on the tongue as the malty sugars go through, very nice.

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Photo of BJ1833
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz bottle with date of 12/1/04

Appearance: Thick light brown two-finger head. Dark brown color that almost appears black until held to the light.

Aroma: Very sweet and malty with faint coffee aroma. Smell of plums is slightly noticable.

Taste: Sweet roasted malt flavor floods the palate. An earthy flavor with a slight coffee finish. A bit of hop bitterness is present in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation and medium-full body. Goes down very smoothly.

Overall: This would make a great session beer. Very easy to drink that's full of flavor, but not overly complex.

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Photo of aracauna
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I really enjoyed this beer. Dark mahogany brown/black with a velvety tan head that lingers in a lacy topping. Rich chocolate notes are contrasted by slightly sharp hops. The flavor is rich chocolate like a chocolate cake or brownies near the edge where it’s almost, but not quite burnt. Very rewarding, but not heavy or overwhelming. Very drinkable.

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Photo of stangbat
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a strange beer. That being said, I do like it. You'd be tempted to call it a porter if you didn't know otherwise.

Color is a very dark brown, but not as dark as a porter or stout.
Smell is very strong of roasted malts. I really can't detect any hops but can detect the alcohol..
It tastes strongly of roasted malt. Biscuity, somewhat chocolatey, slightly sweet. Finishes smooth with a mild aftertaste.

I first had this at the 2002 Tour de Fat in Lawrence, Kansas. It surprised me, and I've liked it ever since. Unfortunately the Tour didn't come to Lawrence in 2004 as they have streamlined it and there are fewer events. Too bad. It was great to sit outdoors, listen to live music, and enjoy various New Belgium beers on tap.

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Photo of Gump
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

1554 Brussels Style Black Ale

I can't exactly make out the freshness date. It looks like its 6 months past, but the taste is still fresh. Can Colorado make a dark beligan style beer? I don't know. I don't get this beer locally. My Dad brought some to me from the northwest. (Thanks Dad)

Deep dark brown pour and creamy-brown colored head to match. Sweet dark choclate aroma.
Tremendous malty flavor makes me call this a porter, but the label says I'd be wrong.

Finishes clean, and not bitter.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep dark ruby brown, black ale indeed forms quite nicely with a big creamy bubbly tan head leaves behind thick broad scattered patches of lacing. Aroma: Full aromatic robust notes of chocolate and dough very nice with the bread notes coming from the yeast addition to the bottle, fruit notes also are detectable beneath the lucious layers of chocolate very enjoyable. This was the first New Belgium brew I ever had earlier on in my advocacy and it's still just as impressive. Taste: Creamy milk chocolate waves with lucious yeast ripples very nice overall flavor goes very smooth hints of coffee mainly dark chocolate notes touch of fruitiness, highly enjoyable. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied creamy textured good stuff even soft carbonation very Belgian like. Drinkability: Incredible all around dark ale I like the history behind this brew and I wish I were able to more readily enjoy this as a go to, thanks to Marc77 for the sample.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.67/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dark colored beer with a medium head with good retention. Aroma is comprised mostly of roasted malts with some subtle spice mix. Taste is quite different from what I expected and I would described as a mix between a dry stout and a Belgian ale. Roastiness is prevalent but you can still see the Belgian inspiration in this beer. Body is above average. Overall, this is a fine drink and I applaud the fact that the brewer tried to brew something different.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Written From Notes Compiled 6/04-8/04:
2" of creamy tan head, lots of sticky lace that caps a nearly black body. Chocolatey nose, slight hops. Taste is nearly porter/stout. Very chocolatey flavor, a very good beer. The hops finish is a perfect compliment to the carbonation levels.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Best by date (Feb 05) suggested serving temperature and abv listed.
Aroma: Roasted malts, mostly a chocolate malt with a hint of alcohol.
Appearance: Black body, ruby edges, tan head collapsed into a very modest collar with mild carbonation streams.
Flavor: Easy going taste, some hops and citric acid flavors come through. The roasted malt is rather subdued and an overall balance shows in the beer. A sweet burnt sugar advance quickly brought back by a mild hop slap. A very mild spicy note is deep in there as well, but I can’t pull out which spice, maybe a dash of coriander because I get a slight cola taste. A woody note as well, and a little sour twist. A complex beer.
Mouthfeel: Light body, a bit thin, with a minor oily coat. Some numbing of the lips.
Overall Impression: A mild black beer, true to the Schwarzbier style. A nice summer change of pace that lends some of the darker aspects to a lighter beer. Quite drinkable. The beer grew on me as I got deeper in the glass. First blush was a bit underwhelming, but the complexity began to win me over. I’m glad I got the 6 pack!

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Photo of GuinnessSmurf
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a really impressive beer. It is just so easy to drink and six packs of it simply disappear from my refridgerator.

It pours a dark brown/auburn color with a nice thin head on top. Smell has notes of caramel, dark malts, and coffee.

The beer definately has a buttery, caramel flavor. Toffee maybe. It sits on the tongue just long enough to make sure you taste the whole flavor, then leaves so as to not weigh you down.

This 'low weight' allows you to drink it a little faster and not feel overfull.

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

Pours with a caramel and brownish head. Velvet bubbles sit well on the top of the head with smaller bubbles sitting delicately on top of larger bubbles. The aroma is sweet with notes of caramel and flowers. Taste is of a dark roasted malt like a stout with the balance of a porter. Chestnut flavors hidden in there too. It's not overpowering and it leaves you hanging at the end.

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Photo of Rio
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful, rich brown color, nearly black, from a 12 oz. brown bottle with freshness dating. Decent head, faded rather quickly to a ring around the edge. Roasted nutty aroma rises to the nose, with smells of maybe chocolate and caramel around the edges.

Very nice roasted flavor starts this beer off, roasted malts that fade a bit into a dark/bakers chocolate type flavor, coming back to the roasted malt and smokey flavor towards the end. Not quite chewy in the mouth, but a bit thicker feel to it. Nice carbonation.

A very, very good beer. One of my all time favorites.

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Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, with light ruby hues. Firm bubbly offwhite head about an inch and a half high. Nice lace

Smell: Sweet notes of chocolate and caramel. Also a little nutty aroma and some carob.

Taste: This beer starts initially with a nice roasted malt flavor, followed by some bittersweet chocolate and a little carob. A little smoke flavor is noticeable afterwards following with a light hop bitterness and yet more roasted malts. Finishes with a nice final sweetness

Mouthfeel: Light carbonation with a good body and well rounded flavors.

Very drinkable!

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Photo of ngandhi
4.43/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bitter chocolate, plums, and currants with light bitter hops -- drying, almost tannic with elegant structure. Delicious herbs in the background. Very flavorful but controlled yeast offers a bulk of this beer's character and works with the dark malt and tight hops, never against or above them. Beautiful trappist esters. The body borders on being dextrinous, but calms down before the drink becomes too chewy.

1554 Brussels Style Black Ale is a single, developing flavor -- earth, bruised fruit, cocoa, flint, and a melange of spicy herbs all at once -- that never hones in on any single aspect of its complex profile. Everything in this beer is a suggestion that, before relayed from tongue to brain, morphs into something else. Each sip is consistent. Despite its depth, there is nothing confusing, overwhelming, or alienating about this beer.

New Belgium, though tied to Belgian tradition and spot-on for style here, transcends both tradition and style, allowing the brewer's craft to shine through. I taste knowledge, effort, and respect.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of bionerd
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the tap at Woody's in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dark brown in a monster-sized mug with a very thin, light brown head. Toasted malt taste with faint chocolate notes finished crisply. Hops were faint to almost absent. I am unfamiliar with the "Belgian Black Style Ale" but was quite impressed with this selection. If you have a friend that you are trying to introduce to stouts and porters, this may be an excellent intermediate. Even if they never find the pleasure of a well-crafted stout, they will never forget their first 1554.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, stamped with "best by" date on the label.

This dark ale poured a clear, very dark chestnut color with creamy, tan foam that clung to the glass and left some lace. The smell was malty with some caramel and cocoa, but no sweetness. The taste was malty with notes of cocoa and hints of caramel. There were elements of roasted malt and mild hops with a touch of sweetness and a hint of smokiness. The mouthfeel was creamy and smooth with medium body and medium-low carbonation. There was a light, lingering malty taste. This was a decent beer and was very easy to drink.

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Photo of HochFliegen
4.87/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The 1554 Brussels Style Black Ale was an amazing beer. This is probably my favorite by New Belgium.
The pour creates a nice thick creamy off white colored head that laced the side of the glass all the way down. The color is a very deep red.
The smell is complex but subtle. Hints of burnt coffee and some chocolate dominate. A second smell and I get a whiff of almonds or some sort of nut. Its a strong malty smell that I find very appealing.
The taste start off with a huge coffee taste. It a very deep malty flavor that sort of turns to cherries and then finishes very smokey in the aftertaste as I exhale.
It has a very creamy and rich feel in the mouth very pleasing.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.26/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, deep garnet, shining a gorgeous, crystal clear cherry color when held to a light. Streams of bubbles snake up rapidly, chasing each other to feed the generous ivory froth that builds upon pouring. The head settles into a thick filmy coating, speckled with several large, open bubbles. Excellent retention, the filmy coating piling in the middle, surrounded by a thick collar. Lace sheets the glass all the way down. Poured into a tulip glass.
The aroma is richly malty, with a generous dark roasted coffee quality. A swell of burnt, charred notes, with a slight belgian-esque spiciness. Slight caramel and toasty hints, the malt altogether soft and inviting, containing a bit of prune fruitiness. No real hop aroma, save a whisper of woody undertone. Initially very meek, the aroma blooms, given some warmth.
The flavor starts with an elegant charred, coffee-like maltiness, carrying through the entire sip. A touch of powdery carob towards the middle, soft prune softening the malt somewhat. Slightly tart raspberry notes into the finish, along with a dash of clove and spicy yeast. Some warmth picks up a hint of sourish black cherry. The malt provides most of the bitterness, an almost nonpresent woody, earthy hopping lending an organic touch to the finish. A lingering charred malt flavor in the aftertaste, sticking to the tongue fervently. Nice and dry in the finish. Enthusiastic carbonation easily props up the lightish medium body. A smooth drinking mouthfeel, the carbonation and a touch of graininess adding a slight rough-hewn feel that keeps me interested.
Somewhere between a porter, stout, and some kind of hybrid belgian style schwarzbier. I really enjoyed this stuff, and would definitely get it again, if only New Belgium would distribute it somewhere near the tri-state area. Pretty much a roasted malt beer, but containing enough complexity to make this an interesting quaff even after a couple pints. Thanks to BDitty for the bottle!

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Photo of DPMomutant
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The body of this beer is an almost opaque very dark ruby red color. The head is medium-sized and creamy with decent retention and some clinging.

Looks like a dark beer, doesn't smell like one. Mostly smells of slightly roasted malt with some hints of fruit in there.

The taste is very nice. Fruity, but not too much, some dark chocolate and malty as well.

A very nice moderate thickness in the mouth. Minimal bitterness in the end. This goes down very well.

I probably had this beer about a year ago and wasn't impressed. Some maturation in my palate (or maybe more awareness of freshness dates, I'm not sure) has changed my tune. I'd have no problem sharing a 6er with a friend, but I don't have any friends who would like this (oh well, more for me)

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Photo of PSUDREW
3.72/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice dark brown, with ruby highlight when put op to my lamp. It has little head tat dissapates rather quicly, and, leave even less lace.

It has a sweet, earthy, coco smell to it, with a malty hint

It hasan interesting taste to it. A matly, roasted, sweet taste, but not the standard sweetness you would assume form a belgian. A fruity spice mix follows, with a nice aftertase filled with a roasted sweetness on the end, that also mixes well with the occasional fizziness form the bottle. Very susinct, crips finish, all in all.

This is a very enjoyable beer. If you get the chance, get this beer. Thanks Brian (nvsblman)

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark tan head that laced. Dark brown brew with ruby highlights.
Spicey aroma of lightly roasty malt, chocolate, and a bit of yeastiness. Tad earthy as well.

Taste shows a lightly roasty malt backbone. Chocolate, dark fruit and a hint of spiciness. Decent balance. Pleasing malty sweetness lingers a bit at the finish.

Good mouthfeel is just slightly creamy.
Good drinkability.
Overall a good beer. A lightly roasty dark ale with a bit of Belgian flair. Big thanks to bditty187 for the bottle!

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1554 Black Lager from New Belgium Brewing
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 4,143 ratings