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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,253 | Ratings: 3,205
Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A- Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours dark brown, but not quite black with some light showing through. 1 finger tan head that quickly dissipates...very quickly really. Good lacing

S- Coffee and chocolate on the back end. Smells like a porter or a stout. Detected toasted notes. Lots of coffee. I'm interested.

T- Hop Bitter start, then a crisp rush of mocha and chocolate that i smelled. Got a little bit to it.

M- Mid body. A little thin. Moderate carbonation. Dry finish.

O- One of my favorite from this brewery. Something different from the norm. A really nice change of pace. Good flavor. Not overly complex brew. Could have fooled me into thinking it was a porter.

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Photo of bencowgill
5/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is one of my favorite beers, it sucks it's not in jersey. in the military, had some great beers, and this is one of them. it is outstanding, great flavor, nice and thick. i had it a few weeks ago in TX, one thing good about Wichita falls. looking forward to when it makes it's way to NJ.

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Photo of Jellopants356
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark mahogany with a finger-thick cream head and medium lacing. Smells of dark malt and a hint of chocolate. Tastes full-bodied and complex. Nice toasted barly highlighted with some chocolate and a pinch of hops to balance it out. Also some spices detected. Nice light mouthfeel with a smooth start and a bubbly finish. Overall, a good brew, very New Belgiumy. (yes that's now a word)

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Photo of Steamer
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a tulip glass. A deep ruby red hue; thin lacing. Sweet, pleasant coffee aroma with some spicy overtones. Dark chocolate flavor, very nice and smooth, malt forward. Light to medium mouth feel, medium carbonation. Overall: Not a very complex ale but simplicity can be a nice break sometimes. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of Cyrion
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a shaker glass. I have no idea what to expect with a black ale.

Appearance: A dark brown, almost black and completely opaque. The tall, tan head leaves the delicate lacing that's found in several New Belgiums.

Aroma: First whiff is green vegetables, which puts me on guard. The following smells are a light sweetness and some cocoa, which take some effort to detect.

Taste: Ah, here we are. Coffee and cocoa flavors are prominent, with nuts coming close behind. Hops not detected, the bitterness coming from the dark malt. At the tail end is a bit of a wine taste, a sweet grape flavor with the barest hint of vegetables. Little aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, smooth, but not rich.

Overall: A great dark beer, flavorful and complex. I'm going to blame the greenness on the bottle and not the beer. Has an added dimension to the typical brown ale, and I think it would be a friendly alternative for those turned off by the characteristics of a porter. Will definitely seek this one out again.

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Photo of GossageBrewery
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured this Belgian Dark Ale from a 12 oz glass into a pint glass. Pours a dark brown color, produced a thick tan head, excellent retention and lacing. The aroma consisted of roasted barley and chocolate. Medium bodied, this ale contained a foundation of roasted malt, dark chocolate, pear and belgian yeast. Nice session beer, good example of the style.

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Photo of brother_rat
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

Down in NC for work, glad to finally get my hands on a beer that's not sold up in my parts. Poured cold from a bottle into (unfortunately) a 4" tall hotel water glass. I then had a second, from another bottle that had been left unrefrigerated some 15 minutes to warm up a bit.

A: Poured a nice, delicious dark, with highlights of solid reddish-brown when held up to the light. I got a solid, one-finger head of creamy tan, even pouring into my sad hotel glass, but the bubbles were uneven (for both bottles). The head faded fast, but the lacing maintained as I continued to drink. 3.5

S: Upon cracking, a burst of dark cherry mixed with a swirl of smokey chocolate. There are hints of hops, but you mostly get a nice, thick nose of sweet malt. 3.5

T: Flavor-wise, there's a lot going on, and the mix makes for one fine-tasting beer. The sweet, dark malts predominate and keep the feel light, but you can pick out a bunch of flavors mingling: dark chocolate, candied fruits, moss/earthiness, sweet tobacco, and dark breads, and the aftertaste is dry and bitter, reminiscent of espresso or roasted nuts. 4.5

M: Despite the delicious taste, the mouthfeel for me was just so-so. The sweet malty front makes your mouth water, but the aftertaste left my mouth dry--almost in a chalky way. There was a good level of carbonation, a little on the light side but perfect for the beer. 2.5

O: Fantastic beer, and very drinkable, and it had the hallmarks of the beers I really crave: sweet, dark malts, a dry aftertaste, and repressed hops, but it seemed to lack a floral depth and juiciness that I get with my usual Belgian Blacks from Unibroue. And yet the 1554 is usually considered the gold standard for Belgian Blacks, eh? Terrific, but it doesn't quite make the pantheon. 3.75

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Photo of jtierney89
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep brown with mahogany edges, reasonably sized off white head. Smells almost like a schwarzbeir with a faint Belgian fruitiness.

Wow, really something else actually. Light effervescence with a full body. Chocolate roastiness with caramel. Butterscotch on the sides of the tongue. Brisk dry finish with an herbal bitterness that offsets the sweetness perfectly. Long finish of buttered toasted and chocolate covered pretzels. Faint woodiness with mild dark fruits in the back round. Big and complex yet highly sessionable! Tastes almost like a german schwarzbier but with a faint belgian funk. Extremely clean and well lagered.

Recommended to drink warm, this beer really shines.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Type: 12 oz bottle
Glass: Pint
From: Meijer in Ann Arbor
Price: somehow found its way into my Tripel 6-pack, but $9 for 6-pack

Appearance: brownish black. near opaque and with a half finger of whitish head that leaves a lacing on the sides

Smell: Not what I was expecting at all. some roasted malt, sweet chocolate. I was expecting some belgian yeast or dark fruits. This isn't bad though

Taste: Along the lines of the smell, i unexpectedly found roasted malts covered up by some chocolate. slight bitterness

Mouthfeel: A little bit over carbonated. pretty light and drinkable

Overall: not bad but tastes like a decent porter. not the belgium character i expected/wanted but cuts it as a easy drinking porter.

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Photo of smalenberg
3.37/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

From a bottle into a pint.

A - Black like my soul. About a 3/4" of tan foam on the pour, with a ring existing throughout the enjoyment of the glass and some clinging as the level lowers.

S - Malty sweetness, slight chocolate note and very subtle earthy hop bitterness. Even after warming substantially, not a lot in the nose.

T - Rich roasted chocolate character with a well balanced blend of sweetness and a bitter note that seems predominantly a result of the malt more than the hops, which make no appearance after the brief scent. Missing is the distinctive Belgian yeast character you'd look for to distinguish this from any dark ale. I'd look at it like a Belgian specialty holiday style if there was any spice.

M - Starts feeling very full bodied and turns significantly dryer toward the end and just fades away, becoming almost watery, which is a bit of a surprise.

O - The story of the recipe on the bottle is more interesting than the beer, unfortunately. It is good, but I've had many a porter and dry stout (which is what this "Belgian dark" suggests) that are better for a similar price point. Kind of surprisingly low review for me, because I tend to like New Belgium's offerings.

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Photo of Mavigo
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This guy has been sitting in my fridge begging to be consumer. Served in a tulip

A: Pours a fine dark brown- black color with a inch thick tan head with nice amounts of lacing, much stickage to the sides of the glass

S: Barley, malts, chocolate, very rich

T: Mmm, delicious, not as rich as I was expecting, but it's got great flavor, choclate, barley, malt sugars, dark fruits, this guy is pretty sweet, very tasty, pick up hints of yeast as well

M: I'd say this beer is in the space between a rich full bodied, thick beer and a light, crisp, refreshing beer, good amounts of carbonation in a good combination with rich, robust flavors.

O: I really enjoyed this beer, another good brew from New Belgium, I actually never heard of this one, it's not one of their big names in mainstream craft brews but I really liked it and I recommend it to everyone.

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Photo of Moose90
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A – Dark brown with some ruby hues on the edges of the glass. Puffy light coffee colored head is slow to disappear and leaves nice lacing down the glass.

S – Quite sweet, chocolate, cocoa, some biscuit malts and a nice roasted nuttiness.

T – Rich and roasted dark malts, some coffee notes here too, medium roasted coffees, nuts and chocolates. Some hops are obvious as the finish is quite dry.

M – Nicely carbonated, a little aggressive, but it helps to balance out some of the moderate roasted malts.

O – Nice drinkable beer, nutty malts balanced by a nice roast coffee. Good beer to grab when its a little chilly outside or when you want a sessionable flavorful beer.

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Photo of JVoyager
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a glass from a 12 ounce bottle. Pours a very thick head that last for quite some time. Nice dark color that looks like a cross between an Amber and a Porter. Taste is a bit of chocolate malts with a subtle hop finish. Pretty smooth overall and medium bodied. It didn't have a coffee taste like some of the other black ales I've had, but I'd say overall this was a solid black ale by New Belgium.

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Photo of EarthRocker
5/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I really don't want to seem cliche giving this beer a perfect score, but quite honestly I had absolutely zero gripes with it. I'm a big fan of New Belgium's beers, and I'm a dark ale guy. And this stuff is honestly the most appealing beer I've ever tasted. When you smell it, the sweet caramel / chocolate aroma hits hard, giving you a good sign of what you're in for - the head on this stuff is gorgeous, although not the world's thickest. It's a true beauty to look at once you've poured it into a glass. I'm really glad to see so many positive reviews on this beer, because in all honesty, it's my new favorite. I'll definately be buying it again, and probably many more times to come.

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Photo of elNopalero
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle 1554 pours with an inch of foam & a dark amber hue. It has a malty aroma with lactic sharpness, and a malty flavor with some caramel sweetness. There’s a mild roast and some coffee undertones. I preferred this from the bottle vs. the draught.

Previously (on-tap):
A Belgian style black beer? I’m not sure what category this fits in, exactly. It pours a deep amber, not quite black but fairly opaque. There’s a big, malty nose on it, almost cloyingly sweet. That’s your cue to be prepared. 1554 has a rich, thick sweet caramel malt flavor with some tartness to balance it out. It’s not a bitter beer, nor is it roasty, so save it for dessert.

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Photo of 1234Jack
4.52/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Smell out of bottle is malty. A little molasses.

First taste out of bottle is smokey and caramelly.

Appearance is nice, solid dark red with ruby edges against glass. Tan head forms, retains easy.

Taste out of glass is again smokey, caramelly, esspresso.

Very smooth, low bitterness,

Carbonation is really nice, plays with the consistency of the beer.

Lacing dominates the glass.

While this is a great beer and easily drinkable, it's missing the one standout thing that could give it a perfect score.

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Photo of Damian74
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle served in Chimay Chalice.

A- Dark like a Coke, with very thin head. Some Lacing.
S-Coffee, Chocolate,Caramel, roasted malts
T-Little nutty, chocolate, brown sugar, malt with some hop bitterness.
M-medium carb, nice flavor balance. Smooth.
O-Good beer, would go well with dessert. Will get again.

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Photo of Braz
3.94/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty deep garnet, clear, with a big frothy fluffy tan head that persists throughout the whole beer. Smells are roasted and sweet, much like a porter. Tastes are roasted, slight floral and slight cooked vegetable to me, and a little nutty. Enjoyable. Mouthfeel is a little pungent and the body a bit flat. It's possible I drank this a little too warm but I don't think so. This beer does take on a strange aroma once at the end, or room temp. Like an average dinner cooking, strange. My score reflects the 'initial' aroma only.

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

P: Dark cola appearance with thin micro bubble khaki head. Minimal lacing and slowly active carbonation.

S: Coffee, milk chocolate, cocoa powder, fresh baked biscuits, gentle spices and roasted caramel surrounded by an musty earthy base.

T/M: Rich milk chocolate, bittersweet dark chocolate, French roast coffee, sugared dates and an overall rich malty palate. Medium body with soda carbonation. Finishes dry with bitter dark chocolate and a timid chalky aftermath.

O: I like this for a go to beer when you want an enhanced flavored sessional beer. Nice malt blend with an appropriate amount of bitter dryness to round out the sweetness. I will purchase this again for sure. Cheers!

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Photo of Bitter_Echo
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Want to write a review for the record try, but not really qualified to post here much less than an average good for this beer, not really liking the style much. This is a toasted roasty malt forward something of a beer, and is OK. Not really too bitter, with complex notes of bread, caramel and some cocoa. Moderate to low carbonation and mouthfeel is OK.

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Photo of beergoot
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, ruby red body capped with a thick, creamy, light tan head that leave sticky rings on the glass after each sip. Gentle roasted malt nose; light sweet chocolate and cocoa. Mocha and cocoa flavor; slightly charred toast; smooth hop bitterness. Velvety smooth mouthfeel, clean, dry, lingering sugary sweetness.

This a very satisfying, rich and smooth dark ale. It reminds me somewhat of Milk Duds candy in liquid form. A soul satisfying beer...

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Photo of hosehead83
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Dark brown/dark tea color, with a nice, two-inch cap of tan foam.
Aroma-Dark malt and faint chocolate note
Taste-Dark toasted malt, some spicy Belgian yeast notes, subtle chocolate. Nicely balanced and pretty tasty. The subtle spiciness really makes this brew. Nice flavor and character. Pair with a big burger or a plate of tacos. Recommended.

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Photo of Donnelj
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer was served in a pint glass from a tap. The color was absolutely gorgeous with exception clarity. The 2-finger ivory head held up well with very nice lacing. While this beer looks like a stout in the glass, the feel in the mouth is very much an ale. A nice crisp feel with notes of malty sweetness. A hint of dark chocolate and molasses with nearly no bitterness. This is a very drinkable beer and a must try!

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Photo of tectactoe
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, ruby red color; allows quite a bit of light to shine through. Tan head, nice staying power, leaving a little bit of lacing on the way down. Some toasted caramel malts on the nose, mild grape sweetness; bready, yeasty, a bit dry with a touch of toasted grains. A mild, nearly wine-like character comes out on the first sip, possibly from the mesh of the light grape flavor and the warmth from the alcohol. It slowly turns into a dry and toasted bread and malt profile with a bit of caramel appearing in the latter half. Some dry cocoa and chocolates are heavy in the aftertaste. Hops are surprisingly vibrant, more so than I was expecting, remaining leafy and ashy in character and providing a slightly bitter bite to balance out the sweetness from the malt overload. Some very faint spice is detectable as well, especially as the brew warms up; similar to clove, it is most likely a characteristic of the Belgian yeast used, although it is still very toned down. Medium body, medium-heavy carbonation.

Tasty little brew here; BSDAs are usually more my speed, but this is a very solid non-strong interpretation, and I could definitely throw back a few of these, one after another.

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Photo of ChrisCage
4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a chocolaty brown color with deep red hues throughout when held up to the light, and is very clear. The head is very impressive, being a dark eggshell color and very dense. It is about 2 full fingers thick and has great retention, settling down to a thick foamy layer over the brew. The lacing is also well done, with thick wisps of foam clinging to my glass. Very nice looking beer overall!

S- This has scrumptious milk and dark chocolate aromas straight upfront, along with toffee, dark fruits such as plum, and a hint of earthiness. The finish reveals some muted hop bitterness and perhaps some coffee, but again, it is muted. Generally sweet, yet clean smelling, this one is a pleasure on the nostrils!!

T- This one is primarily chocolate, milk and dark....what a treat! It is clean, and does have flavors of caramel/toffee, molasses, and has a buttery quality about it that reminds me of a chocolate cake! The finish has an earthy dryness about it, and isn't bitter really at all.

M- This one leans towards a medium body, and is buttery smooth on the palate! The carbonation is slightly crisp initially but really becomes soft and creamy. The flavors are not heavy and lingering on the palate, and the dryness of the finish really quenches my thirst!

O- This is an impressive beer that I find to have a very high drinkability factor! I would very much enjoy this on a regular basis if it were found in my area, but it is not to be currently....it is clean, flavorful, smooth and everything else that a great beer should contain. Well done and I will definitely look for this one again!

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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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