Brewed by New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO. 5.6% ABV
An interesting beer in that it uses a lager yeast, yet calls itself an ale. It has properties of both. According to their website:
"Born of a flood and centuries-old Belgian text, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale uses a light lager yeast strain and dark chocolaty malts to redefine what dark beer can be. In 1997, a Fort Collins flood destroyed the original recipe our researcher, Phil Benstein, found in the library. So Phil and brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert, traveled to Belgium to retrieve this unique style lost to the ages. Their first challenge was deciphering antiquated script and outdated units of measurement, but trial and error (and many months of in-house sampling) culminated in 1554, a highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and mouthfeel."
This beer offers up a rich dark, brown body with a slightly reddish hue. It's dark, but not opaque. Poured with a foamy, but not a very thick head comprised of small, tight bubbles that dissapated after a few swirls. If the head didn't cling lightly to the glass, one might mistake it for a Coke.
1554 has a light, sweet, caramel aroma. Rather welcoming.
Taste & Feel
For a dark beer, it's not overly strong on flavor. I enjoyed the lightly malty, smooth body with a fruity flavor and a subtle bite. I picked up hints of its lager roots. It's not nearly as crisp and hoppy as a lager, but a bit more crisp than most ales.
Its self-described dry, chocolaty finish is dead-on. The overall experience is like eating a dark chocolate truffle.
I'd absolutely buy this again, and would very much like to try it on draft.
I purchased a six-pack at Lowe's Foods, and have seen it at Harris Teeter. When I find it on tap, I'll post an update. According to the company's website, it's readily available throughout the Midwest and West, and had made inroads into the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia.