Tuesday, August 18, 2009

49. New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale

Our second beer from New Belgium. Unlike other historical recipes that call for esoteric ingredients, this one is pretty normal. Speaking of which, you want to see the depths of possibility available via the brewing process? Check out Stephen Buhner’s Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers, which is an interesting book for the homebrewer interested in experimenting with the occasional odd ingredient or two. For example, I’ll bet you didn’t know that using yarrow as a brewing ingredient would make the finished product slightly hallucinogenic. See the fun facts that I provide you all? For a more complete run down, see The Mad Fermentationist’s review of Buhner’s book. Do make sure you read through the comments after the post to sort out some of the finer points about the book—while I think the review is pretty solid, The Mad Fermentationist’s overall take is a bit harsh, particularly since most of the complaints he makes about the book are openly stated in the introduction. But I digress—New Belgium is the focus here...

1554 Enlightened Black Ale is a rich mahogany in color with a creamy tan head. In terms of smell, besides the malt and chocolate notes, there is a slight note of burnt malt. The flavor profile begins with a rich toasty and creamy malt front, moves into chocolate hints with a bit or roastiness, and finishes creamy smooth. No real discernable levels of the burnt flavor detected in the nose—roastiness is about as close as it gets. Light-bodied with a soft and creamy mouthfeel, Black Ale is enjoyable and easy drinking. Our guest commentator for the week, Adam, adds “I want to thank Tom for buying this beer. It’s really good.”

From New Belgium’s 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 Their first challenge was deciphering antiquated script and outdated units of measurement, but trial and error (and many months of in-house sampling) culminated in 1554, a highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and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.”


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