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:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,253 | Ratings: 3,205
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 tugdriver7
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I know. I am not known as a Belgium fan. Usually like the simpler elegance of a German. But having tried and enjoyed Hoptober and Fat Tire recently, I thought it would be great to try something dark. This one was a very pleasant surprise. Downed the entire 22 oz myself (and that says a lot). Deep rich brown/mahogany in the glass with a creamy rich tan head that fell but maintained a presence (nicely lacing the glass) all the way down. Flavor was a touch sweet buttery malt, a touch roasted chocolate and a touch of bitterness--all in perfect balance. Rendered the whole incredibly smooth, creamy and without any odd flavors that may have impacted drinkability. Very good and I'm hoping that we get the smaller bottles out here very soon. One I'd keep around for daily consumption. Wow.

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Photo of bob5958
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Can't find this beer in PA, fortunatelly, I know someone who can bring it back from North Carolina. It's that good..
It goes well with most foods and it's one of those beers that you just don't get tired of. I wish it were easier to find and maybe a few local bars could start stocking this one.

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Photo of malty
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Best before 12/16/05 (kept in my beer fridge since my friend brought it back from the brewery 1 yr. ago).

Pours a midnight brown, but when held against a 75-watt bulb; it shows a gorgeous dark ruby hue with cola edges. Healthy. fluffy 3/4" sturdy head. Thick lace rings all the way down the glass.

Powdered cocoa scents with dark roasted malts billowing forth. Fermented Maduro tobacco wrapper notes also. Dark fruits akin to chocolate covered cherries.

The flavors are well replicated from that of the scents. A dusty cocoa flavor is very prevalent with medium roast gourmet coffee tagging alongside. The dark roasted malts are still very fresh tasting but the hop profile has definitely diminished from when I drank this fresh last July.

Mouthfeel is still spot-on. On the lighter side of medium bodied with semi-fine healthy carbonation. A somewhat dusty, dry but very cocoa-like finish.

Drinkability is out of this world. The ease of a lager with the hearty roastness of a porter, c'mon, are you kidding me?

Overall a spectacular Belgium black lager that I definitely must try fresh from the motherland of Ft. Collins. If you like Kostritzer, you'll love this. Top notch.

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Photo of jbull
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a great black ale. The color is very dark amber. Aroma is nut and malty and sweet. Head is lightly colored for such a dark beer. Very full malt flavor with a bit too much carbonation in the taste. Finish is smooth with no bitterness (which I like). Similar to Newcastle Brown but fuller in flavor. This would be a perfect brew if not for the slightly excessive carbonation taste. One of my favorites.

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Photo of aaronh
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Virtually black with a cream colored head. Head shows decent lacing. Nice malt aroma with a touch of roasted notes. Flavor has a nice malt profile with smooth roastiness and a touch of hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is full without being thick. Nice presence on the palate but then it finishes rather clean with a touch of malt flavor. Dinkability is fantastic. Such a well-balanced beer; it goes well with food or just for having several in an evening. Great beer. This is what I expected quality-wise from New Belgium when i first tried fat tire.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.57/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a luscious dark brown, almost black, with a coffee foam head that lasts. Very fruity in the nose (raspberry, strawberry), with hints of malted chocolate and underlying mocha roasted malts. On the palate, sour fruits come out first, followed by vanillin malts. Robust carbonation, but not overly sharp carbonation. The finish is a touch on the sour side, almost like a Flemish brown. This beer is exceptionally smooth, with some unexpected flavor combos (raspberry/roasted malts), pleasingly sour fruits, and a malt base that makes the whole thing solid. Wonderful beer; easily my favorite from the regular New Belgium lineup.

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Photo of OatherS
4.57/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle has a black label with a picture of an European town with a New Belgium sign. I have had this beer MULTIPLE times before, but this is my first time writing up a review.

A: Very dark color, not much of a head.

S: A roasted malty/chocolaty aroma, very nice.

T: Almost like a chocolate mocha with a beer flavor combined. I have always liked the flavor of this beer. I do not believe that it is a Belgian Dark though, more like a German Schwarzbier.

M: Smooth.

D: This is one of my go to beers when I need to bring a six pack of something to a party.

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Photo of ANiklaus
4.57/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a glass. 1554 is one of the better offerings from New Belgium. The appearance is incredibly dark upon pour. The smell is the worst part of this beer with a weak wheat and caramel smell. The taste and the mouthfeel are incredible though with a very smooth finish. Highly recommend, especially in the winter.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.57/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black ale? A new appellation for me, but after tasting, it's more accurately a brown ale painted up in blackface, ...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Dark brown in color, more reddish when seen through light. A full, frothy, creamy off-white head towers on top. Powerful aromatics waft out, fruity and floral, soft, sweet notes of toffee, cream, and nuts. Bold brace of hops jump on board the palate and carry through the finish. Excellent texture, chewy and substantial. Hops start to bow out, as they are muted by the full feeling of the powerful malt presence. Very satisfying, and a superior choice for a session ale. I have to wonder if they didn't blacken this brew, which otherwise tastes like an excellent example of brown ale, to avoid comparison to the inferior Newcastle.

They do everything well at New Belgium. Thanks to Marc77 for sending this sample!

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Photo of OStrungT
4.55/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer pours a mahogany color with a tan head. The head fades somewhat quickly, leaving very few laces. It smells malty. There is a caramel aroma to it. It has a slight yeasty smell. It also has another aroma that I cant put my finger on. It has a sweet taste to it. It has a fruity taste to it. There are very subtle hints of chocolate. This beer is carbonated just right. This is a full bodied ale. It leaves a malty aftertaste on the palate. This beer would make an excelent session beer because it has a low alcohol content. Also, the flavor is not aggressive or strong. It is a well balanced ale that is definately worth a try or two. If this beer was more readily available, I would probably have a stock pile of it.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.55/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

It comes out of the bottle a deep, semi-transparent brown with a thick, fluffy, persistent beige head. Aroma is strong and mainly smoky, with hints of chocolate and coffee. Flavor is like liquid smoke, with touches of malt, coffee, chocolate and caramel. Texture is smooth, and the smoky aftertaste has just a whisper of sweetness. Well worth transporting all the way from Denver to Atlanta!

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Photo of isualum12
4.53/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

poured in a classic belgium glass from NB. This beer was served to me last night at the New Belgium beer dinner last night. It was the 3rd course of 5 courses and was served with a roasted asperigus. The beer alone was great but took on a different and better taste with the asperigus. It really raised the level of this beer up (but don't get me wrong it was already high).

It was really cool meeting Jaime (one of the orginial brewers for NB, Mo and Kris. All three of them from NB were really cool. Oh and the front door in boise is amazing for throwing these beer events.

Yeah yeah roast me for not leaving the classic review. If you need the classic review on this beer please read on to the other 900+ reviews.

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Photo of TheSarge
4.53/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into a DT's glass, and it presents itself perfectly with mounds of tan sticky foam. The body is extremely dark and is ruby red when held up to the light.

The aroma is of maple, cola, sassafras, and bready. It's very easy to pick these traits out. The aroma is just that good.

The body is medium, smooth and slick. Taste wise it leans on the sweet side, and has a vanilla plus sassafras, and leans towards the bready sweetness found in the aroma.

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Photo of ZenAgnostic
4.53/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

Appearance - Huge tan pancake better head with great retention.

Smell - Roasted coffee beans. With creamer. It's basically an iced coffee.

Taste - Much like the smell suggests, it's very coffee-like. Sweet. Slightly bitter. Very mild, well hidden astringency. Pairs very well with a cigarette. They compliment eachother well.

Mouthfeel - Creamy.

Overall Drinkability - Had this beer before a while back and remember not liking it at all. It's much better this time. Since I've never had another Belgian Dark Ale, I'm just going to rate it as a beer in general, with belgian strong dark ales like Chimay Blue as a partial reference point.

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Photo of Ungespundet
4.53/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the best Biers brewed in the United States of America! I haven’t been the biggest fan of the other offerings from this brewery other than their sour beer, although the others are solid offerings in their own right,. Man did they hit the nail on the head here. This brewery is starting to hit a stride. With more offerings like this and them continually refining their processes(it takes time people…look at Saint Arnold) they are moving well beyond the initial hype of a well orchestrated advertising push not all so long ago. I love this Bier and while Fat Tire is their flagship, this Bier is where their history just might begin. There’s no other Bier like this in the US. I would buy this one on a regular basis and drink it gladly although I have to rely on my brother to bring a few over to me here in München. So here’s what I discovered in a little bottled called 1554……..

Pours up what can’t be improved and can only make other Biers envious, a very creamy and thick, tan colored, very fine bubbled, Schaumkrone(only Bier from the US that gets this distinction from me). Under this masterpiece you’ll find a brilliantly clear deep brown elixir with hints of a mahogany reddish hue I know only from a Les Paul that hangs on a wall in Queen Creek, Arizona. The aroma boasts big thick deep coco malts, followed by sweet toasted malts and caramel. The coffee roast aroma comes on next and is silky and sexy and it finishes with a hint of herbal hops. Reminiscent of smelling a 80-90% coco bar. Easing into this Bier I found it something like an Edel Chocolate, from a store you can’t afford, hitting the tongue. This Bier is beautifully balanced although hints of sweetness and the bitterness smoothes everything out. Only a slight roast/chocolate bitterness is noticeable on the end. The silky malts expressed in this Bier are in a league of their own. In fact this Bier is in a league of it’s own. Hey..It’s okay to drink American Bier again…..This is a dark Bier that doesn’t compromise. One could say…”A dark light in Americas brewing history”.

Zum Wohl!!!

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Photo of gurpapete
4.52/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dabbling this beer at my desk in Santa cruz California the first this I notice is the sweetness I wouldn't normally expect from a dark ale (not quite as sweet as guinness but something comperable). I really enjoy this beer. The flavors are a little watered but this makes for an extremely drinkable beer and at 5.60 ABV it's an easy going drinking beer or could easily complement a marinara sauce or sausage though this is definately an ale taste. I'm peeved when a dark ale or stout beer is too bitter and not malty enough. This beer has exceeded my expectations.

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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 Vidav
4.51/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Dark color, reminded me of a cherry stain on a desk. Got about 1/4 inch head.

S: Nutty.

T: A lot going on here. Two strongest flavors were coffee and chocolate. Very rich.

M: Kind of sharp on the tongue. Not too sharp though.

D: This was really good.

Notes: Very nice dark ale, I enjoyed it a lot. The richness means it is something I wouldn't want more than one of in a session though.

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Photo of bag057
4.51/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep red/brown with a creamy tan head that lasts for two good drafts leaving a nice lacing. Fruity sweet scent with a chocolatey roasted malt taste finishing slighty sweet and nutty. Very smooth and easy to drink brew. A dark ale I would definitely recommend to fans of this style.

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Photo of hoffman
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a damn fine beer. Poured on tap by a waitress who could not pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel, and still this beer manages to come to me with a perfect two finger head that refuses to go away comprised of smallish bubbles which lock in huge pockets of air. The tan head is a cap for the motor oil black body of this beer. A chocolate and creame aroma wells out. The taste is smooth, chocolaty up front, smooth again and sweet in the finish, then a dry kick at the end for good measure. A thick and inviting mouthfeel rounds out this amazing offering.

An incredibly drinkable beer. Try it!

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Photo of meyerds
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a widemouth half-pint glass. Not ideal for a dark ale perhaps, but even so, provided an acceptable head (about one finger). Color very dark, sort of a burnt orange when held to the light. Head diminished rapidly, but to a very long-lasting (and very appealing) ring around the edges and thin film on the surface.

Simple, pleasing aroma of chocolate and coffee, with a hint of vanilla.

Initial taste very smooth, almost sweet. During - the coffe and chocolate flavors came out as I had smelled them. Very much present, but subtle at first. After - the coffe came out much stronger, and the vanilla I smelled before also was noticed, if only slightly. Almost more enjoyable for the minute or so after the drink. Excellent.

Unobtrusive texture - the carbonation is not immediately apparent, but will lightly sparkle on the end of the tongue for a second or two. Liquid is thin, easy to drink. For the style and flavors present in the ale, the carbonation is dead on. Exceptional.

Surprising, and exceptional dark ale from new belgium. Not necessarily intruiging, but a very repeatedly enjoyable beer. This is going on my list of favorites.

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Photo of Riptides
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Got this one on a blind, never seen a review of it or heard of it before.

Not what I expected in a dark beer, but then again with this that's a good thing.

A - Pours easy, dark dark to black, with no head to speak of in a dry pint glass.

S - Smells fudgey, like a fresh batch of grandma's fudge.

T - Strong toffee and fudge flavors. Overpowering at the start but takes on a mellowness once the taste is expected.

M - Watery and wet, almost slick feeling, little to no mouth foaming/carbonation. I really like this beer.

D - I could see myself drinking these as a pair, back to back, just to have something different during a session. But dunno how well I'd want to make this a full part of my session beer, but I'll be damned if I'm not currently enjoying this one.

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Photo of froggyfrog
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is packaged in an classy embossed NB 12 oz. bottle. The label provides a brief history of the brew, serving instructions and a best before date of 22SEP06.

The beer is a dark plum color with low carbonation. It is somewhat translucent with a thin film of lace.

The nose speaks of roast and subdued Belgian spices with wisps of truffle chocolate and the smallest hint of alcohol.

The taste is quiet but complex. Dark fruits float on the tongue. Dark plum, cherries and blackberries mingle. The undercurrent is medium-roasted malted grain. A fleeting earthy hop spiciness closes.

Satin-textured with a dry medium body and a pleasing roastiness, this beer is a pleasure to drink.

There is a somewhat intangible "Belgian dark ale" quality. It calls to mind a chocolaty version of Tröegs Mad Elf with the honey, cherries and alcohol toned down.

It's easy to imagine myself sitting in a Belgian inn half a millennium ago quaffing this beer. Hats off to NB for this fine specimen.

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Photo of gbarbee
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For the longest time this was one of favorite dark, Belgian style beers.

Appearance: Dark brown
Smell: A hint of chocolate and toasted bread
Taste: A good quality dark bread
Mouthfeel: Smooth
Drinkability: Very enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

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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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