Beer Blogging - New Belgium 1554
New Belgium describes this as an Enlightenment Black Ale; it certainly poured into the glass black, with a foamy white head that disappeared pretty quickly into a bit of lace. The smell is a nice mix of roasted and sweet malts, with maybe a little chocolate mixed in. There's also a little bit of alcohol in the smell, which is surprising for a beer with only 5.6% ABV.
The first sip of this beer was a nice surprise. I was prepared for something that was either bitter or too sweet; instead, I got something right in the middle. The initial taste is nice and light, but just sweet enough. The aftertaste isn't as good as it could be, but there is a hint of chocolate that's not as bitter as you'd expect in a dark ale. That alcohol that made its presence known in the aroma is nowhere to be found in the flavor, which is good - the flavor would definitely be out of place.
My glass of 1554 actually got better as it got a little warmer. When I first started drinking it, it was definitely a little too cold; all of the flavors were reduced, and in this beer, that's a bad thing. As the beer got warmer, towards the last few ounces, the chocolate flavor got much more pronounced (but still not bitter), and the aftertaste stuck around longer.
This is a very, very drinkable black ale. My only complaint would be that the flavors aren't as pronounced as they could be when it's cold; you should let this beer warm up a little in the glass before you start in on it. I'd recommend it for people who like a little darker or sweeter beers, but don't like the strong, sweet flavors. This would be a good compromise for you.