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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Reviews: 1,253 | Ratings: 3,205
Photo of vegassommelier
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer gets high marks from me very much due to its quality to price point ratio. As a fan of darker beers, I buy mostly in the dark beer-porter-stout arena... and this on (for $7.99 a six pack) really outperforms others in its class.
Rich malty aromas of caramel, coffee, vanilla simple syrup, sugar in the raw, black raisins and semi-sweet chocolate. Medium to full on the palate, the flavors mimic the aromas with the addition of tootsie rolls and cinnamon buns.
Again, I love this offering just due to the fact that it does so well up against darker style beers in the 7 to 12 dollar a six pack range.
Definitely recommended.

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Photo of DrinkinBoy
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a beautiful brown/garnet color with a light tan head. The head has great rention and a unique heavy foam pattern is left in the pint glass.

S - Compared to the appearance, the nose is very underwhelming. It is very light with aromas of roasted malts, but no hops can be detected.

T - Very complexed. Starts somewhat light, however the middle begins to build a vast amount of flavors. These are mostly sweet. Those flaovors then build in complexity and the bitterness of darker malts comes forward and plays nicely with the sweetness. The finsih is extremely long and new flavor combinations can be detected with every tongue movement.

M - As suspected in a beer fermented with lager yeast. The beer has a medium mouthfeel and crispness not expected from a darker beer. The carbonation is fair, but a little bit more would really highlight the crispness of the lager yeast.

O - This beer is defintely worth a try, especially since it is so easy to find in NB's markets. However, for ultimate enjoyment, drinking in solitiude is prefered to enjoy all its subtleites.

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Photo of Furlinator
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark brown with a 1/2 inch of head that leaves a trace of lacing.

The smell is caramel up front with faint coffee and cocoa in the background.

The taste is of chocolate, caramel and toffee. Coffee flavor becomes more pronounced as the ale warms, which makes the overall taste more enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is crisp with slight bitterness and medium carbonation.

A very nice dark ale. Smooth and flavorful.

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Photo of cfspartan
4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Delicious, dark and complex. Amazingly there is not a trace of bitterness, only smooth complexity on the palate from beginning to end. For such a dark beer, the lack of bitterness was as surprising as it was awesome. It is better on tap than in the bottle, but over here on the East Coast, I'd take either!

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Photo of teromous
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown body that lets a small amount of light through, revealing dark red-brown hues and lots of carbonation bubbles. The head is an eggshell white color and leaves lots of lacing on the glass. The head doesn't stand for too long though.

S: Caramel hits me right off the bat, with a delightfully sweet smell. There is toasted nutty scent as well, and a bit of burnt scent. It's not very complex smelling but it is nice.

T: There is a light roasted flavor that hits the tongue first, quickly followed by a sweet melted caramel flavor. It reminds me of a burnt marshmallow by a campfire. There is some alcohol flavor in there as well.

M: I think the mouthfeel is right on point for this beer. The carbonation and light dryness give it just enough body without being thick.

O: I found this to be a nice easy beer to drink. The presence of alcohol flavor makes it a bit hard to enjoy, but the rest of the beer is nice. It has a pleasant roasted flavor that fans of stouts and porters will undoubtedly enjoy.

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Photo of Jdbateman83
4.62/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

OMG. I love this. My all time favorite beer.

Appearance: Very Dark, as in bitch black with creamy looking head.

Smell: Excellent, smells of dark malty, coco richness.

Taste: Big on chocolate, malt, coco, cream, vanilla. NO hops, almost zero bitterness which is unexpected cause of how freaking dark it is.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, easy to sip or slurp.

Overall: I know it wont be everyone's cup of tea, but if you drink beer, and enjoy trying al of them, you must add this to your portfolio of beers you have had. I had zero expectation because it looks like Guinness, and I hate Guinness... But this is no Guinness, this is heavy in a glass made out of cute puppies licking you and acting cute every sip.

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Photo of xseanprimex
3.24/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark amber brown. A half inch tan head that recedes after a few moments. Not really dark enough to call it black, but okay.

S: A dark yeasty smell accompanied by a malty sweetness. Definitely has a Belgian aspect to it.

T: The sweet burnt malt flavor is spiced up by the Belgian yeast and poppy carbonation. Has a bit of a metallic aftertaste that makes you want another sip in order to cover it up.

M: Not bad. A really good carbonation for this brew pops as the smoky males coat the tongue.

O: Glad I tried it. Not bad at all, just not special. It honestly reminds me of the Yeungling Porter, which I assume was not the goal of this beer. 7/10 would drink again.

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3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Is this an ale? Belgian Dark ale? Not sure, to me it looks, smells and tastes like a bock, coca cola like appearance, light carbonation no real lacing. Aromas of chocolate malt and raisin, tastes follows the nose with slight roast, lighter side of medium mouth feel an overall enjoyable beer.

On my scale of 1-5 with no half points I would give it a 3, being good, 2 is average, one is basically a drain pour, 4 is excellent and 5 is the holy Grail of beers, suffice it to say there won't be too many ones or fives, Cheers, Prost, Skol!

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Well, it's about time I reviewed this. Is this an ale, though? It was listed as a "black lager." Poured on-tap at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe into a shaker pint glass. Paired with cherry pie under my insistence to the bewildered bartenders that it would taste awesome. (It did.)

Pours a brownish, slightly blackened color complete with about 3 fingers worth of an off-khaki head. Leaves behind some decent lines worth of lacing on the glass, especially as the head dissipates. Retention is quite good. Carbonation is not too present, even here, but in terms of looking like a Belgian dark, it's pretty spot on. I only wish it were a little more thickened in feel.

The aroma yields mostly dark fruits and toasted, caramel forward flavors from the barley. Notes of dark cherries, dried figs, and slight molasses abound, followed by the caramel and toasted barley cereal flavor that is - you guessed it, fans of NB - biscuit-y. However, rather than feeling like Fat Tire spiked with Belgian yeast, this is far more aromatic than their beers usually are, and sustains a light yet pleasant herbal dried hop aroma at the back. Pretty balanced, actually, although I wish the yeast employed were more funky and lively.

The flavor immediately starts with the roasted character that reminds me of coffee and toasted brown bread, and finishes with some bitterness and light dark fruits. Very bready on the flavor, in fact, and slightly fruity with notes blackberries and figs... When the caramel kicks in, maybe even light dates. However, there's barely any notable sweetness here, and it's really the bready bitterness from the grains that shine. Relatively balanced, and pretty well carbonated, as well as slightly dry at the finish. Surprisingly not very thickened in terms of body, and I can't remember if my past experiences with this were as such. If I review it as a "lagered" beer, I'd say its pretty hearty for what it is. Could use more of the fruit character, but hey, that's what the cherry pie is here for!

Years ago this was what my friends and I would purchase for parties and events nearly all the time due to its low price, its robust flavor, and its highly drinkable character. It's still a beer I'd revisit from NB whenever possible, but my palate's definitely changed over time towards it. Still, at the low ABV, I can't complain, and it still does the trick even now. For people who wanted to see better malt-focused beers from NB, give this a whirl.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Single bottle from Merchant's Fine Wine in Dearborn, MI.

Poured into my Duvel tulip. Dark chestnut brown, about a half inch of head that recedes into a thick ring. Nice lacing on this.

Nose is chocolate, malt, a dry grain, bit of herbal hops.

Surprisingly chocolatey, and with a nice dryness to this, I have to say I'm enjoying this brew. The 'Belgian' quality is mild, but certainly there, with some fruit, faint wine, and bit of yeast. Good malt, with a touch of cola flavor. Medium bodied, mild carbonation.

Tasty brew from New Belgium, probably my favorite from them so far. Interesting blend of styles, dry and chocolatey for a Belgian dark.

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Photo of TheMarkE
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Dark caramel, almost black, with a good head and lacing.

Smell: Chocolate malt and toasted caramel.

Taste: Toasted caramel, roasted coffee, chocolate malts.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, dry, and very creamy. Slight cola aftertaste.

The Verdict: Tasty. A good solid beer, this may be my favorite New Belgium offering so far. Almost more of a sweet porter than a Belgian dark ale.

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Photo of bennett_loves_good_beer
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with a wispy, light tan head one and a half fingers thick that dissipates quickly. Moderate lacing.

Smells of chocolate, vanilla, Not a strong aroma coming from this beer though.

Taste: Crisp, clean, floral spiciness with a nice dry cocoa finish. Also taste some creamy vanilla in there. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied. Love the mouthfeel of this brew.

Overall, I really like this beer. A nice dark beer without the strong roastiness found in most stouts.

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Photo of delta490
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- a nice deep brown with a light tan head. Creamy and lingers leaving lacing

S-some malt notes with a little bitterness but nothing really distinct

T- nice deep roast malt flavor. Coffee, primarily. A nice bit of hopped bitterness on the finish.

M- thinner but nice. Very smooth and no carbonation

O- a nice dark ale. Not over-exciting but well made and tasty

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

"1554 Enlightened Black Ale redefines the phrase keeping time in a bottle. From an ancient, crumbling Belgian library book, our intrepid researchers found references to this obscure style dating back to the year 1554. Overcoming obsolete script and units of measurement, our brewers discovered an ale with a surprisingly bright taste and a dry, chocolaty finish- one evocative of dark brews enjoyed in Belgian taverns 500 years ago." Brewed in the style of a Belgian Dark Ale. A year round offering from New Belgium, it is available as a stand alone 6 pack and occasionally within the folly mix pack.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to the New Belgium Globe Glass. Served north of 55º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a mocha cream frothy semi-thick head over a deep brown body with bronze highlights. Retention is a touch above average, lacing is thin and spotty. Carbonation is plentiful. This beer is visually enjoyable with few glaring issues. 4

(Smell) The aroma reveal a great deal of medium roasted barley malts, chocolate malt and cocoa nibs, cracked coffee beans, mildly toasted caramel, and mild herbal and earthy hop resins. Spices are reminiscent of nutmeg, although not as sharp, blends well with the chocolate notes. Some mild fruits like raisins and plum juice are in tow, although collectively faint. Potency is medium-high. It's a really enjoyable aroma to behold. 4.25

(Taste) Bready toasted caramel and roasted barley gel together with a faint chocolate for a smooth, wet malt texture. Chocolate is a touch more subdued but still very evident in flavor- a faint puff of cold smoke rests in the distance. Fruit, hops and spice are equally mellowed out in the flavor- this beer keeps it very simple, yet drinkable with an enjoyable and approachable malt profile. A very faint herbal bitterness joined with cold peat smoke make for a suitable balance. This beer may not be the prodigy child of the depth and strength that determined Belgian Ales are capable of, but it is very sessionable and thoroughly enjoyable. A good Belgian impression for those who aren't too fond of hop bitterness but love malt flavor diversity. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) The texture is slick and smooth with a slightly frothy carbonation presence. A very mildly dry finish brought on by what little hop oils and smoke are discernible. The body is light/medium for the style. The malt profile isn't too shallow but the malt character is just about as thin as it can possibly be for the style. The alcohol presence is low. A very passive carbonation does great work with the texture of this beer. 3.75

(Overall) This beer may do a great job at winning over those who like dark lagers and light-bodied porters who are seeking a relatable Belgian style. This beer has an enjoyable malt profile- lots of roasted and toasted flavors and a subtle but pleasing chocolate malt character as well- hops and yeast profile is very subdued but in general not necessary to make the beer work. The lightness of the body, accessibility of the flavors and fair ABV of this beer makes this a great session choice. 4

New Belgium Brewing's
1554: Enlightened Black Ale

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Photo of acevenom
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. The beer pours dark brown to black with less than a finger length of very light tan head. Some light is visible at the bottom of the glass and it is ruby copper in color. I can also make out some rising tiny bubbles in the beer. The beer smells of bready malt, toffee, and dark chocolate. There's also a touch of earthiness in the aroma. The beer is nice and chocolately with some mild toffee to add some sweetness. I also get some of that malt breadiness and some earthiness. There's some roastiness as well some lingering back end bitterness. The body is medium to full with moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is creamy. This is a very good beer. It would pair nicely with a good meal or work as an after dinner drink.

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Photo of gerite
4.41/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Just got back from a road trip in Southern Illinois (can't get New Belgium beers in Alabama where I live). Tried this beer in a local restaurant with a good meal and found it to be the perfect paring. Poured from a bottle into a frosted pint glass. It was a very smooth dark beer of about medium body with a slightly sweet taste and no after taste. Very refreshing and drinkable.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: A creamy, tan head that leave fine lacing on the glass with good retention. A dark brown beer with good clarity.

S: A lightly fruity and spicy, yeast aroma with a medium-low chocolate and coffee notes. A low earthy hop aroma and a light malt sweetness.

T: A smooth, medium chocolate and coffee malt flavor with some malt sweetness in the middle balanced by an equal hops bitterness. A light earthy hops flavor. There are light fruit esters of plum and apricot with a mild spice flavors, mostly a black pepper, maybe a bit all-spice like. The balance is a about even but the beer is fairly dry on the whole with a dry finish.

M: A medium-full bodied beer with a medium level of carbonation. A cool crispness to the body.

O: There is a lot of porter character in this beer with a light Belgian-like twist which made a lot more sense when I read that the yeast is handled like a Steam Beer by fermenting a lager yeast at higher temperatures. A hard to place beer but hard to forget, I've been looking forward to another bottle of this for almost four years.

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Photo of C3likesbeer
3.62/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours with a nice head and is ark reddish brown in the glass. Has a thin head that fades quickly.

S- Malty and roasty with chocolate and caramel.

T-- Sweet malty with some caramel and chocolate nice solid beery finish.

O- - Solid Belgian dark ale. Not outstanding but pretty darn good.

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Photo of oak1971
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I struggle to find beers that agree with me, but 1554 has become a favorite. Not knocking hoppy beers but I prefer a more malty, creamy brew. 1554 delivers a creamy, malty, chocolate mouthgasim that keeps me heading back for more. It's very smooth and I get no objectionable aftertaste, just a pleasant reminder of its flavors. I may be a noob and beer sissy, but 1554 just plain works for me. I usually drink it right out of the bottle, but I have obtained some pint glasses of late and it seems to bring out more flavor.

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.49/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black color with a 2 finger width brown foamy head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Has a roasted malt and dark chocolate aroma. Kind of a sweet floral scent mixed in. Very good roasted malt taste with silky chocolate at the end. Little bit of a hoppy burst at the end, but quickly dissipates and leaves a more refreshing aftertaste. Very good beer. Kind of goes more into the porter territory.

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Photo of Algebrew
4.04/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a clear, dark ruby brown with a soft and persistent tan head.

Smell: Very malty, some alcohol comes through, coffee and chocolate as well.

Taste: The beginning rushes in with malt flavors; the middle enters a more complex state of the same malt flavors; the end burns it all off in a sweet, dry heat.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and dry with a slight bit of thickness.

Overall: One of my favorites from New Belgium, such a brilliant black ale, the description on the bottle says it all.

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Photo of Mojo
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle -> tulip glass

This beer pours up with a one and a half finger head and leaves extensive and elaborate lacing. Retention is good. The color appears to be black, but holding it up to the light shows a deep ruby color. The nose is kind of salty and soy sauce with notes of coffee. Taste is licorice and coffee with some sweet chocolate. Mouthfee is mild and inoffensive. Pretty good beer, but nothing special.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance- The brew pours a deep brown color with ruby highlights shining throughout. Upon pouring there is a one finger tan head that fades slowly over time to leave persistent foam on the top of the brew.

Smell- The aroma has a nice roasty malt aroma mixed with notes of an earthy hop. There are nice smells of chocolate and coffee as well as a caramel smell giving it an overall sweet and toasty smell.

Taste – The taste begins with sweet caramel and some sweeter chocolate flavors. While sweet, there is some more roastier flavors with some bready notes as well. Some nut flavors come to the tongue along with flavors of dark fruit. More toward the end some lightly bitter flavors of coffee and an earthy hop come to the tongue leaving a moderately sweet and smoother roasted more porter like flavor is left on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is on the thicker and creamier side with a medium to slightly lighter carbonation level. The creamier body and lighter carbonation are great for the sweeter and roasted more porter like flavors of the brew allowing them to fully sink into and be sensed by the tongue.

Overall – A rather tasty brew. A little on the sweeter porter like side but still quite drinkable and refreshing.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Ale has a thick, creamy, beige head and a dark brown appearance (reddish, under direct light), with a nice lacing sheen left behind. The aroma is of dark roasted or slightly burnt barley malt, sweetness, and a bit of cocoa. Taste is of those things, plus bread crust and a mild hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium, a bit soft, and slick, and New Belgium 1554 finishes mostly dry, refreshing, and easy drinking. Overall, this is a very good beer, and I think it’s worth checking out.


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Photo of RWLawman
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark brown, almost black, with generous off-white head.

S - I'm honestly not getting much in the way of smells. Some malt, a little earthiness. I echo the sentiments of some of the previous reviewers, it reminds me somewhat of a porter.

T - Lots of malt, a long with chocolate and bitter coffee notes at the end. A touch of earth in the middle, and even a little nut hidden in there as well. I really like the flavor of this beer. Pleasantly surprised.

M - Moderate mouth feel, with some unexpected creaminess. Whoever described it as thin must have had a bad batch.

O - Surprisingly good. I like New Belgium brewery, but for the most part, their beers usually rank as just slightly above average to me. This one sits a little higher than that. I could definitely see myself picking this up again in the future, or trying it on draft if I can find it.

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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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