Print This Post
Friday mornings have become free time. The scheduled Friday posts are usually up on SPT by the time I wake and there are usually no outstanding tasks remaining site-wise. It has become the perfect time to buy beer. With printouts in hand and cash in the pocket I navigated the Mighty Tundra through the morning traffic to the beloved Morris Beer Store.
The Handsome Young Guy was at the counter bantering with a customer and the rest of the store was empty. I dropped off the printouts and meandered to the craft beer shelf, once again with a keen eye peeled for prices.
Man, a lot of the interesting beers I’ve already had and the others were those that never caught my eye. I checked out a fourpack of Old Speckled Hen… maybe a little too expensive for four 16 oz. cans. Then there was St. Bernardus Abt 12, which I’ve heard was excellent, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fork over so much cash per bottle. The Goose Island Matilda? Nope. It’s a pale ale and I wasn’t in the mood yet.
I made it to the bottom of the shelf when I found a beer that I had looked at perhaps a hundred times. It was 1554 Enlightened Black Ale from New Belgium Brewing out of Fort Collins, Colorado. I read the label:
1554 Enlightened Black Ale redefines the phrase keeping time in a bottle. From an ancient, crumbling Belgian library book, our intrepid researchers found references to this obscure style dating back to the year 1554. Overcoming obsolete script and units of measurement, our brewers discovered an ale with a surprisingly bright taste and a dry, chocolatey finish – one evocative of dark brews enjoyed in Belgian taverns 500 years ago.
All of that, the enlightened black (what the hell is that?), crumbling book, obsolete measurements stuff hooked me right then and there. It was me. Its name is in digits! That was so cool. I snatched the sixer of the enlightened black (sort of an oxymoron, eh?) and headed to the checkout. $8.49 lighter, I was out the door. I hoped the taste of the beer stood up to my hopes and expectations.
After a ten-hour day at work on Friday, Saturday came with more work at the old warehouse. Some much needed maintenance tasks were our job this day and luckily, it was only for six hours. Back home, freshly showered and fed, I proceeded to the Manly Garage with ale glass in hand to partake of this week’s Enlightened Blackment. I grabbed the first 1554 and uncapped it. No twist off on this one. Let us pour.
As the beer bottle drained, it reminded me of the color of Pepsi, but without the massive fizz. The head came up about 3/4 of an inch, comprised of medium bubbles and an ecru tint. The liquid was quite dark so I had to hold it up to the fluorescents to see the thousands of micro-bubbles slowly rising to the surface. The beer had a faint but pleasant aroma, not too much of any one thing.
The first sip held a little mini-surprise. The mouthful started out as a dark ale but finished, just as the label said, as a dry stoutish beverage with a tinge of chocolate and coffee thrown in. It was light in the middle and finished with a flourish. Nice.
By the second bottle my taste buds had settled in with the new visitor and there was joy all around in there, I could tell. The shy sweetness at the beginning of the sip introduced itself with a coy smile. The middle held the body of the flavor on broad shoulders. The end was a small, lightly chocolate dessert.
The similarities to both an ale and a stout or porter was what set this beer apart as special. It was the initial lightness of taste and maltiness of a brown ale at the beginning and the cymbal clash of the wisp of chocolate and coffee at the end. It was like the best of both worlds, a melding of beer styles. The sweet at the beginning is like a warm smile at the front door bidding you welcome. The middle is the happy hospitality within. The ending swallow is the bag of homemade goodies being given to take home. But, once again, I digress.
A couple of months ago, we brewed up some homebrew beer, a brown English ale that I called Sweet Georgia Brown. Ultimately, it turned out pretty good but it lacked a certain pizzazz. This 1554 beer is what I hoped Sweet Georgia would have turned out to taste like. Something to strive for.
If you see this beer on the shelf, by all means pick yourself up a sixpack. It’s a nice treat. After that first sip, you’ll hold up the glass, look at it and smile in minute wonder. Not too expensive but not a cheap beer. This beer is a comfort to drink. I highly recommend it.
Taste: A > A blend of dark, sweet stuff.
Smoothness: A- > A freshly paved road without the smell.
Drinkability: A- > The taste will keep you coming back for more.
Bang for the buck: B- > Great for a payday week.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: So, we have another dark, bitter beer. (sip) So dry. Not too bitter, but very drying. (sip) And it’s gonna leave an after taste. (sip) You gotta start gettin’ some more girlie beers. (Someday, honey. But I like to see that look on your face when you drink.)