1554 Black Lager | New Belgium Brewing

very good
1,373 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 1,373 | Ratings: 4,035
Photo of josiahschlender
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in color, clear. I had to give this a vigorous pour to get a decent off-white head which had moderate lasting power and left a bit of lacing on the glass.

Aromas, faint at first, improved with some warmth and time in the glass. Roasty malts, maybe a bit of light roast coffee.

It's harder for me than usual to pick out flavors in this beer than usual. I definitely detect some dark roasted malts, maybe just a little spiciness and yeast notes. Just a bit of bitterness at the end. Not that it tastes bad, but flavors to me are not exceptional but definitely have a subtle balance that is pleasing. Not a one-dimensional beer, but no exclamation points.

Feel is kind of thin, and maybe a bit to "bright," due to more than necessary carbonation. A more smooth, restrained feel would have better complimented the subtle flavors, in my opinion.

Overall, a pretty drinkable dark beer. Different than the typical stouts and porters. If you're looking for some variety, try this out.

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Photo of carln26
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured a deep brown to black with mild orange highlights. It was topped by a 1 inch tan head with decent carbonation. The head left a nice sheet of lace on the side of the glass. The aroma reminds me of many amber or brown ales. Primarily malt up front with toffee and caramel, followed by a bit of roasted malt. No real hop note in the aroma. The flavor comes across with the same mixture of caramel and roast malt. There is a mild nuttiness to the flavor and just a hint of citrus hop on the finish. Slightly more pronounced bitterness than I expected. It has a smooth, slightly oily mouth feel and a good drinkability.

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Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my New Belgium globe glass.

Appearance: Pours an opaque, dark brown, almost black in the glass, with three-fingers of off-white, frothy head. Left a decent bit of lacing.

Smell: Muted hints of banana and clove. A roasted/bitter note in the background. Almost can place hints of rye.

Taste: A surprisingly strong chocolate/roasted note right away, which fades into a caramel smoothness. There is a bitterness that lingers into the aftertaste. I swear I taste rye in this, as there is a very distinctive bitterness throughout the glass. The overall taste is a little watery, as well.

Mouthfeel: Decent thickness, high carbonation. Maybe a little too highly carbonated, but no real complaints here.

Drinkability: Good beer, but a little too bitter without much support to drink this too quickly, or to have more than a glass or two. Maybe it's just not my style of beer. I smelled entirely different things than I tasted, which was slightly off-putting, and confusing. I probably won't seek it out again, but wouldn't refuse it if offered.

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Photo of stewart124
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with reddish highlights and a thin off white head.

Subtle malts nose with some dark candied fruits.

The taste is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation and a smooth feel on the tongue. Lots of bread character and a slight spice to go along with deep caramel notes.

This is an easy drinking black ale. It comes a touch closer to a big brown ale with bits of roast coming through in the aftertaste. Not quite a much "belgian character" as one would expect but this doesn't take away from the overall beer.

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Photo of argock
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap in a clear Shaker pint at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Very dark almost black with light beige cap of small-bubbled head with a few formations of lace.

S: Roasty malty character is most prominent. Pretty blaze on the aroma front.

T: The flavor is also dominated by roasted qualities with some slightly sweet caramel notes.

M: A super-drinkable beer with relatively light carbonation and medium body.

O: I enjoyed this beer overall, but I wish there were more distinctive qualities.

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Photo of BrownAleMale
3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured in a Lake front brewery pint glass.

Appearance- Dark coke a cola like. When held to light amber streaks rip through the darkness.

Smell- Not a lot here. I'm getting a very sweet coffee and toffee smell with some caramel also.

Taste- Bakers chocolate with a almost grape like hops. There is a slight watered downess that is killing what could be an epic beer. All the right flavors are there just not prevalent enough.

Mouthfeel- Nice heavy mouthfeel. Goes well with what coffee and chocolate flavors that I'm getting.

Overall- So so close to being such a great beer. In my line of work we have something called near misses. This is a case of a near miss. Some things done phenomenally while others just lacking.

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Photo of G2Brew
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served from a bottle at 50F into a tall stout glass. This is a pleasant, dark ale from New Belgium. I’ve liked everything I’ve had of theirs, including this. It’s a pretty straightforward beer, not terribly unusual, but still worth a go.

A – It’s very dark, almost black, with mahogany highlights. It pours a very small tan head, with poor persistence and very modest lacing. It’s not unappealing, but it’s nothing special to look at, either.

S – Nice dark fruit and roasted barley aroma, with a little (VERY little) sense of the hops at first whiff, which disappears immediately, never to return. The aroma is nothing terribly exciting, but not at all unpleasant. It certainly doesn’t throw me out of the experience. A hint of bitter chocolate came out after it warmed a bit.

T – Dark fruits and roasted barley dominate, just as in the smell. A little nutty, and lightly sweet. Dark, almost burnt caramel comes through after a bit. Long aftertaste, which is not entirely pleasant.

M – Medium to medium light mouthfeel, a little thinner than I expected from such a dark ale. It gets a little watery.

O – Overall, this is an OK beer. The aftertaste is a bit much. It’s pleasant enough, and I wouldn’t turn one down, but I won’t be stocking it in my fridge, either.

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Photo of xybreeder
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Beautiful head & lacing, dark dark brown, probably one step above black. Head retention was excellent.
S: Chocolate, caramel, & coffee are prominent in the nose, but not in large amounts, very subtle.
T: I was expecting a little more on the taste, did receive chocolate & coffee overtones, but ended a little watery (like a really good beer that's been watered down by some greedy bar owner ha).
M: Very smooth yet carbonated mouth feel, a little bit of a bite of carbonation on first contact, but turns smooth very quickly.
O: A good beer worth having around, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. Eliminating some of the watered down flavor would make this an exceptional beer.

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Photo of jnezda
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tried this beer number of times and rarely pour it into a glass. The colour is nice and dark with an off white to tan head, Smell is light with some hints of malt and a little sweetness. This is a highly drinkable beer being very light for the style. The lack strong carbonation and mild flavours make this a beer that can be enjoyed in many settings from a cold day with comfort food, to a warm spring day by the grill.

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Photo of KLHBB
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Nearly black with a tiny tan head. The coffee taste dominates. Good, but I'd rather drink something else. I really like New Belgium, I guess you can't please everyone all the time. Nor should you try!

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Photo of tone77
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, some coffee. Taste is different for this style, coffee, a touch of chocolate without being sweet. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a decent brew.

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

I picked this bottle up on my recent Thanksgiving travels (you can't find NB here in Kentucky). Very dark mahogany color with a nice 2-finger head of frothy white foam. Very little light getting through, but appears to be quite clear and free of haze. The nose is very faint, but primarily offers toast and a touch of pine. The flavor is mild, malty, complex, and quite sweet. It's very reminiscent of a Scottish Ale. There are some flavors of toasted malt, caramel, and pancakes and the hops are only strong enough to balance things out just a tad. Mouthfeel is decent, but perhaps just a bit thin with all that malt present. Overall, this is a nice-tasting, easy drinking beer. It's a little mild for my tastes, but it's not bad at all.

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Photo of gopens44
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Perhaps the best part of this beer. Deep dark clear red with a great tan foam head with about inch of height to it before it recedes to a thin layer of foam decorated by great lacing.

S - Not anything too special here, as the roasted malt character dominates the nose.

T - Earthy malt flavor gives in to a slightly nutty and nearly coffee-like experience before the slightly hoppy finish takes it home.

M - The carbonation bites as this thin, light bodied beer finishes with a lightly bitter aftertaste.

O - For the style, it's mediocre. Not bad to drink, but to me it doesn't stand out.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured a deep black, though not opaque, into my Allagash logo tulip. Two fingers of tan head developed and dissipated to a spotted lacing and an ring around the edge.

Smell: A little dusty (maybe it's the glass), but it's mostly chocolaty. Major cocoa presence. Smells a lot like hot cocoa powder.

Taste: Creamy chocolately malts, but there is also a nuttiness and caramel factor that balances the sweetness. No hop bite.

Drinkability: Smooth brew, though not as flavorful as I would like.

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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 bridgetowhophead
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Part of my continuing better-know-a-brewery series, tackling the New Belgium lineup. No real standouts yet; the search continues.

A: Poured into a tulip. Boring, near-black color, teeny head that quickly disappears to the tiniest of rings.

S: I get roasted malts and a slight undercurrent of that unique Belgian yeast aroma. Really though, if I didn't know better I'd say this was a stout by the smell.

T: Also dominated by pretty one-dimensional roasted malts, although the Belgian yeast profile is stronger here. A nice chocolatey finish that lingers for a while on the palate is the best part about this beer.

M: Poor. Undercarbonated for a Belgian, leaves an undesirable coating on the roof of my mouth. Not the way a Belgian should feel.

D: Not too great. One and done for sure.

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

poured into an orval chalice with a nice head.nice dark brown,smell is coffee and bitter chocolate.

the beer is somewhat thin,kinda reminds me of a thin porter.mostly picking up burnt bitter chocolate and coffee.pretty dry.i was expecting a bit more in terms of complexity.

this isn't a bad beer,i think it pales in comparison to chambly noire and rare vos.i could drink a few of these,they are reasonably priced.

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Photo of bditty187
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The more I drink this beer the more confused I get. I am not sure how much I like it? The smell is muted chocolate and roasted malt. Sometimes it smells stronger (and better) than the next. Sometimes you get a nice tan head and sometimes it looks like cola.

The flavor matches what the aroma gives you, roasted malt, chocolate hints, and a good sweetness. 1554 is a fairly smooth drink. This is a fair beer to enjoy at your leisure, once in awhile.

A New Belgium product that doesn't blow the roof off? What the hell?

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Photo of DreamInOrange
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle with a best by date of April 8, 2012.

A. A deep brown, semi-clear pour with a 1/4 inch white head that quickly dissipated leaving a whisper thin head and lacing for most of the bottle.

S. A bit malty, not a strong aroma coming from this one.

T. Nice flavor, first taste is reminiscent of a mild brown ale, but the end of the sip warms with malt and a nice hop balance. A nice mix of coffee and dark chocolate flavors as it develops. Above average compared to other brown ales I have tried. Doesn't seem as complex as some belgian dark ales to me either.

M. Decent carbonation, feel bright on the tongue.

O. Good session beer of the darker variety. I would go back to this one.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Has a dark colored look without going thick or stout like in appearance. Aroma didn't give off roast or much else.

Taste was black and tan like, but again without the stout body. Nutty, roasty, chocolate and coffee feels from the malt. Mouthfeel though is a light body still. Some aspects of similar styles in here. Its not bad stuff.

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Photo of charlatan
3.4/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle has freshness date 14 April 2006.

Beer pours a dark peaty brown colour with very little head. It smells rather smoky, presumably indicating roasted malt, and slightly creamy, yet a tad stale (think of the difference between nasty fresh cigarette smoke and even nastier stale cigarette smoke!).

Carbonation feels wonderful on the tongue, but presumably takes a little away from the taste. The tingling sensation seems to lessen the performace of my taste buds. Despite this compromised ability they do notice a pleasant smoky malt flavour, then the creaminess and finally a very faint hoppy edge to it which rounds it off very nicely. It leaves the mouth a little dry, but still creamy and perhaps with a hint of sweet dried fruit.

This is a very pleasant beer for winter evenings and gains my hearty recommendation.

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Photo of mwilbur
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22 oz bottle into NBB snifter.
A: Dark garnet in color. Nice thick creamy white head.
S: Surprisingly weak aromas...dry hops and chocolate...maybe.
T: Ah, yes...definitely dry hops. Some roasted malt and chocolate. Not as big, dark, or bold a taste as I was expecting.
M: Medium body, fairly light on the tongue. Dry finish.
D: Decently drinkable, but the backstory is more interesting than the beer.

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Photo of frankiepop
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hmm good beer but an A- average seems to high. I am a fan of the amber ale Fat Tire. 1554 beer has a touch of Belgium to it. The beer has a subtle taste, subtle aroma and a beautiful dark brown color. However, my favorite Belgium brews have a little more flavor, and some yeast stuff like stuff floating around with a bouquet of fruit, wood, and spice smacking your senses. 1554 has a little of all of this, but it lacks a little bit everything.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.38/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Best before April 10th, 2011. Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Bruery tulip.

Auburn and bole body, very dark yet clear with glimmering cardinal highlights. Dark beige creamy half finger of lasting foam creates a multi-layered head. Thin dense lacing adheres like a paste.

The nose suggests a fairly complex malt bill - mixing pale and a variety of specialties (e.g. chocolate, black, etc) - some crisp while others are darkly toasted. Toffee, vague esters, and river stones are suggested as well.

Bitter chocolate, ovaltine, faintly tart, becoming mildly bitter, earthy, and spicy (Target hops have a unique English flavor - which hints at a Dark Mild or a Porter further conflating styles). The lager style yeast isn't doing this beer any favors though - the flavor seems watered down and flacid.

Light bodied, moderately carbonated, but not effervescent. Rather thin for the style.

As drinkable as this is, I'm happy that Belgian ales evolved since the age of Spanish rule in Flanders.

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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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1554 Black Lager from New Belgium Brewing
3.84 out of 5 based on 4,035 ratings.
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