1554 Enlightened Black Ale | New Belgium Brewing

very good
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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: 1,254 | Ratings: 3,206
Photo of jcalabre
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 1 May 2003. I am writing this review from my notes. This pours a very dark reddish brown. It has a velvety tongue feel with flavors of sweet maltiness. It has a medium body, and generally creamy. Very nice, a bit different. I'll be sure to pick up more next time I'm in CO

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Photo of texascarl
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance = dark brown, medium carbonation, a bad pour on my part released a large tan head.

Nose = roasted malts (Coffee)

Taste = interesting 'dark beer'. Burnt toast/dark roast coffee notes, but with a lot of acidity in the brew. Lots of zing to offset the sweetness from the malt. Hops are there 'in balance'
(translation = not enough for me, of course...I always want mo' hops when I say it's in balance. It's fine for the rest of the world, of course).
Mouthfeel = dry, lemon-squirt acidity

I'd like to try this one again, sample it with some different foods. I suspect it would go well with spicy foods like Tex-Mex, Cajun/Creole.

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Photo of drewbage
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled as a 16oz pint at the Stumbling Monk (Seattle, WA)

Small fight through the smoke to review this beer, but...

Aroma is a soapy roast malt on top of a rich and creamy black beer with ruby high tones with a thin white head that clings to the glass.

Flavor is of spiced coriander malt with a initially sweet malt and roasty metallic finish with a slightly washing hop bitterness

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Photo of kindestcut
2.86/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I love Belgian-style beers. However, if it's not from the old country, I approach with caution. Unibroue and Allagash have allayed my fear of Non-Belgian Belgians but it's the New Belgium pseudo-Belgians that I most fear. I like the non-Belgian-style Fat Tire but it's not a tripel, or a dubbel or even a sacrifice bunt. And so all of NB's beers will forever be tainted by this beer, that from which all evil oozes according to some buffoons.

So I approached the BSBA with trepidation. I had tried the NB Trippel and was pleasantly surprised. It was good but not great. Since I liked the Trippel, I thought I'd give this one a chance. After all, it has a purty label.

Well, I have tasted the BSBA and it's not good. I wish I was more creative so I could find a nicer way of saying "this beer tastes like caramelized rat urine." Well, it's not that bad but when you present yourself as Belgian style, you have centuries of other breweries' traditions to uphold.

The BSBA pours a very dark brown, maybe even black, like the purty label says. I see browns...I see black...I see dead people...I don't see much of anything. A dark beer is what it is. Dark. The appearance hides everything but the color. That's why I like them. The murky depths may hide wonderful treasures or on they may be full of evil squids squirting damn bitter ink everywhere.

The off-white head is minimal. Nice lacing, though.

An obviously malty beer, I smell roasted malts. Yes, that's it. Roasted malts. What else do I smell? Not much. Maybe a hint of alcohol. The aroma is not very strong.

Here's a story for you. When I was a little kid, I woke up on a Monday morning in the summer in a daze, obviously still on a candy high, believing it was Christmas. I ran downstairs only to find nothing, nothing but my mom telling me to get ready for school. Now that's disappointment.

And so is this. This beer is the buzzkill of Belgian-style ales. My tasting of the BSBA started and ended quickly. This is indeed a malty beer, but the flavor is really subdued. I also found the BSBA to be a little musty...not dirty, but earthy, I guess. I didn't like that. Other flavors include coffee and caramel with no bitterness to speak of. The mouthfeel isn't bad, smooth and easy to drink...if you like drinking it.

Truthfully, this beer is not the worst in the world. However, for it's style, it isn't the best. It's not even great. I'd say a very solid mediocre. Kind of like Gromit's sense of humor.

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Photo of au1sec
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This isn't available in my area, but someone brought this back to me from a trip...and I was pleased with their choice. It's called a black ale, but pours a dark brown. It is differnet though..not a brown ale, not a porter, and not a stout...but some characteristics of each. Malty aroma...roasted. Thats about all I get. You can taste the roasted malts right off, maybe even a hint of smoke. The mouthfeel is crisp though, not something I expected. Hops? What hops? I can't find any. I think it is an interesting beer. Not something I'd want to try to duplicate with homebrew, but I also wouldn't mind having it again sometime.

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

It poured a nice medium brown with very little foam, but did so lace retention while drinking. The smell was of roasted malts. The taste was very pleasant with the roasted malts with out the bitterness, it was very pleasant. This is there best beer that I've tasted so far. I would by this beer again for the summer.

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Photo of MJR
3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, but dark, mahogany with brown and garnet highlights. It starts with a small head, but quickly and loudly fizzles away to nothing but a tiny ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.

Smell: The aroma is very malty with suggestions of toasted and roasted malts. A bit one-dimensional...

Taste: Like the small, the flavor is quite malty with a touch of toasted and roasted malts. Slightest hint of toffee. There's a slight acidity, as well as a touch of spiciness that shows up towards the end. I detect a touch of roasted coffee in the aftertaste. Hops are all but non-existent. Again, it's a bit one-dimensional...there's simply not much going on in this brew.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated with a crisp mouthfeel. Fairly thin in body. Dry and acidic finish.

Drinkability: Average...like a lot of their offerings, I find this beer to be bland and uninteresting. I'll pass next time.

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

The label was peeling of this bottle, but I don't blame New Belgium for this.

The beer is a deep brown with a halo of amber. The head wisped away quickly, but left a ring around the surface. The smell was of a superior maltiness. The first taste really agreed. There is a nice mix of carmels, grains, sugars. There's little if any hop to it, which is a style/time thing I'm sure. Its a malty treat though.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought in the 12 oz New Belgium brown bottle.
Apparentlly according to the label this is a revival from an old brewing book hence the 1554 thing.
This is an exquisite beer to behold..dark ruby red and topped with a luscious coffee and creme coloured head..beautiful!!
Oddly after the gorgeous appearance the aroma was pretty pedestrian , maybe my nose is blocked..i dunno its distinctlly average..some malts and a little fruits, thats about it.
Then the taste is excellent ..nice balance of burnt malts and good hops a well balanced brew, I get some toffeeish hints, dark turkish coffee tastes..very nice
Very good in the mouth so very smooth yet so tongue tingling!!
Over all a good drinkable ale well worth waiting 449 years !!!!

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Photo of Quaffer
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This was a nice, deep brown beer that almost looked ruby at times. It had a dense, creamy tan head that dissipated quickly, leaving a thin layer floating on top for the duration of the drink. It had some great sheeting action, freckling the side of the goblet with lace.

Smell: A mixture of raisins, coffee, sweet malt, dark roasted malt, bananas, nuts, burnt caramel, smoke, and a hint of cinnamon. Damn, that's a lot of stuff for one beer!

Mouthfeel: It felt creamy up front on the tip of the tongue, but it thinned out after that. Not nearly as full-bodied as I would have liked it to be. It was very smooth, though.

Taste: The taste was kind of mild and not really what I expected. The main component of the flavor was deep roasted malt and coffee, combined with a light sweetness. This faded to raisins and cloves. Finally in the finish, a slight bitterness arose to mingle with the spiciness.

This was an interesting, almost strange, brew. It reminded me of a porter, but with Belgian characteristics.

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Photo of Bierman9
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1554 has a very luscious, dark chestnut color. It is clear throughout, yet still lets little light pass through. Head was quite minimal, simply a fine, off-white ring around the perimeter of the glass, with little lacing.
The nose was Dubbel-like in quality, with slight malty sweetness, candi-sugar, and fruitiness showing through.
Body was pleasantly in the medium range, and it passed over the tongue with little effort, being fairly smooth.
There is a very nice sweetness to the 1554, with some suggestions of dark fruit, as well as a hint of chocolate. Again, I find it similar to a Dubbel. Flavors linger for a healthy amount of time on the palate, too.
Quite the enjoyable bier, with kudos being sent Guslers way for the sample! Prosit!!

overall: 4
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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Photo of Dogbrick
3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Acquired via trade. I have been looking forward to trying this one. Pours a very dark brown with significnt carbonation and a medium thin beige head. Aroma of burnt malt and coffee. Flavor was a lively mix of malt, roasted nuts, coffee, and caramel. Despite the nice flavor, it could stand to be a little richer. The finish is dry and retains the carbonated feel. Good, but not great.

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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 AtrumAnimus
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is different style of beer from the New Belgium Brewery. Very likeable though. There is a bitterness there that is not overpowering and is enjoyable. A very unique blend of complex even smokey flavors. This is a stand up beer with its complex flavors. The history of this recipe is interesting and is even reflected in it's name. This one is worth trying for sure.

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Photo of Bruiser81
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First tried on tap very dark color almost black with a little almond coloring. A creamy head that lasted through the whole brew. Had a very nice aroma with almost a nutty chocolate smell. This brew was very smooth with a nutty taste. The aftertaste was kind of like unsweetened chocolate. This beer is very easy to drink. This is my favorite beer from New Belgium.

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

The color of this ale is not quite black. It appears to be more of a dark brown with a undertone of a deep, ruby red. The head poured okay, nothing above and beyond the call of beer-head duty.

The smell is that, as my better half pointed out, of a sweet, cherry pipe tobacco. The flavor is not strong, not weak...it is rather inviting. The malt is predominant. The only thing I was hoping for was a bit more of a substantial hopness to help accentuate the malt. However, this is a recommendable ale.

Give this a try with grilled chicken or pork, perhaps with cajun seasonings.

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Photo of Morris729
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an almost black color with a thick cream colored head that gives way to some nice lacing. The aroma is of roasted malts and grains, bitter chocolate, and caramel. The flavor is dominated by a taste of dark coffee with notes of toffee and with some hop bitterness in the background. Not my favorite New Belgium brew but still pretty tasty.

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Photo of mjohn27603
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottled marked best before 28Dec02. First of the New Belgium products that overflowed in my glass, poured with a big head. Ruby red to dark brown in color. Roasted flavors with a bit of chocolate. Reminded me of a stout or porter. A little bitterness remains lingering on the tongue.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Despite the name, this beer isn't actually black. It's more of a deep ruby, with a thinnish head that leaves a nice lacing down the side of your glass.

The aroma is quite terrific. Smells just like fresh grains, very rich and heady.

The grain flavor comes through in the taste too, with chocolate and roasty notes, and a very slightly spicy undertone. Medium to medium-light body, with a dry finish. Very drinkable and quite unusual.

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Photo of hyuga
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black color (obviously) with some amber around the edges where light is allowed to squeeze through. Nice and neat light tan head that stays pretty well and leaves a bit of lace as you drink. A rush of toasted malt aroma hits you when you agitate the beer, along with some bready sourness, a unique aroma. Just a touch of citrus hop character. Toasted and bread-like malt characters rule the palate as well, but with more citrus hop presence that shows up in the middle. Adds a nice little acidic twang. Underneath all of this, a bit of spicy hop flavor. A medium body and very creamy mouthfeel make it quite drinkable, but it's still nice and complex. Very tasty. This is an interpretation of an interesting Belgian style similar to a schwarzbier, which, according to the bottle, New Belgium's researchers discovered in an "ancient brewing book". It seems to have been lost in time until now. I'd like to see other breweries do research like this, there could be quite a few lost beer styles that we don't know about. Way to go, New Belgium!

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Photo of tang214
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another great brew by New Belgium. This one has a beautiful dark brown-reddish, ruby-like color. You can defiently smell the slighty hoppy aroma after one whiff. The taste is richly malty and smooth. It was very drinkable, although the mouthfeel was a bit lacking. Overall i loved this beer and surely will be getting it often in the future. I might even go as far to say that i like it better than Fat Tire.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer is a dark ruby in appearance. A slight creamy brown head sits on top and recedes to an edging within a minute. Lacing is fairly effective. Roasted tones, carmelized sugar and toffee on the nose. The body of this beer is about medium. Texture is creamy and silky. The different aspects of the taste of this beer are very mellow and subdued, but blended together, they make for a very tasty beer. Milk chocolate, roasted tones, slight vanilla bean, wood and java. This is a highly drinkable, higly tasty beer.

This is the closest Schwarzbier I've had to the Sprecher Black Bavarian, but it falls just short. Definitely my #2 schwarzbier.

A bighuge thanks to marc77 for shipping this brew to me (in addition to his fabulous homebrews).

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Photo of beernut7
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This interesting unique brew from NB pours with a nice dark color and foamy head that dissipates into a gentle lace. The aroma is of sweet dark malt with hints of chocolate. The medium body supports a nice clean chocolate sweet malt flavor with enough hopping to keep the malts from taking complete control.

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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 usualpulp
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have never had a beer quite like this. The name says it all about the color, this beer is very dark, almost black. One of the first things I noticed about this brew was a very sweet malty smell. This was also the most noticeable flavor of this beer. This is very easy to drink and finish's quite nice. I only wish the tan head lasted longer. Overall a very nice beer that i could drink daily.

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1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.84 out of 5 based on 3,206 ratings.
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