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randomness, truth, and burritos

Craft Beer: New Belgium Brewery: 1554 Black Lager

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This is the last New Belgium beer that I have on hand for review at the moment.  So far, I have been rather impressed with their work.  I know that they have a number of other beers on hand to try, but until I can make another beer run I will have to wait on the rest of their line-up.  I’d also like to start getting back to a more diverse sampling for a little bit.

1554 is a bit of a curiousity to me as I pour it.  It is a 5.6% ABV Black Lager brewed by New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO.  The bottle claims it is inspired by a Belgian book from 1554.  Need to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how to take that.  It sounds like a marketing ploy to me, but their beers have been good enough so far to let this slide.

Pouring the beer produced a healthy, if somewhat muted head compared to the last two New Belgium brews I have sampled.  It still coated the glass well, but the head did sink faster than the others.  The beer does not give off a very strong aroma.  I had to struggle to even get anything off of the glass.  What I did notice was a blend of brown sugar and rich chocolate, almost like the smell of a great hot chocolate, but a bit more muted than you would expect.

Ok, this journey is going to be an interesting one.  The subtle aromas from pouring had me expecting something lighter and very subtle.  I was surprised to find out that this is not the case.  The first taste of this beer is incredibly intense.  It sounds like a weird mix, but it works for this beer, the first taste reminds me of a blend of celery and subdued chocolate.  The carbonation adds to this and makes for a rich flavored beer that is still very refreshing.  It took me a little bit of restraint to not just gulp it down in a “I’m parched and this is delicious!” kind of way.  The finish is definitely more on the chocolate end, with a slightly sweet and rich body.

The last two new Belgium beers seemed to be calibrated for warmer weather.  While this doesn’t have the “stick to your ribs” quality of a winter beer, I would definitely put this more in a Fall or Spring category.  While not too filling, this beer feels like it could stand up to a little chill in the air.  I also get this vision in my mind of enjoying this with a huge porterhouse steak dinner with green beans, potatoes, and all the other good stuff.

I have liked all of the New Belgium beers I have tasted so far.  While I know there will be more, this has been my favorite one to date.  Maybe it’s the season, ask me about the IPA Ranger when the middle of July hits next year.  Until then, if you can find this in your area, I highly recommend you give it a try.

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