Monday, June 16, 2008

New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale

'The beer is fermented at relatively high temperatures using a European lager yeast that imparts a refreshing, zesty acidity. Based on a 16th century Belgian recipe.'

Oh 1554... Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason, the Conquistadors were on a rampage in South America and people were still dying of influenza. Oh yeah, some guys in Belgium decided to make a beer recipe that smells like apricots and tastes like cold dark tea.

My buddy Andy bought me the New Belgium variety pack to blog with, thanks pal. I decided to crack this one open first because, well, I can get behind a pretentious beer here and there. Nothing says 'pretense' like using a sixteenth century recipe for your beer. Read this longwinded description from the New Belgium 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 Their first challenge was deciphering antiquated script and outdated units of measurement, but trial and error (and many months of in-house sampling) culminated in 1554, a highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and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.'

Thats cool and all, but does hundreds of years old recipes and imported ingredients make for a good beer? It's decent, but I'm not sure if it was worth all that effort. You could call this 'malt liquor for monks' as this has some serious malts to it. Slightly fruity, but not very sweet with a stong tea feel to it that I mentioned before. The aftertaste has a bit of chocolate and toffee to it that still don't add to the overall sweetness. Think semi-sweet baking chocolate. This stuff tastes almost as if it were healthy for you. A nice change of pace but I can't shake the feeling that I should be eating artisan cheeses with this beer, which really is not my style.

Musical Pairing: XTC- Skylarking (because no matter how good their records they always sounded like foppish sissies)


Brichards700 said...

Do you know what European Yeast strain they use in this beer? You got me thinking this might be fun to play with. I've used the San Francisco lager yeast in Ales before but never a European strain.

matt said...

Ha ha no clue.. Does anybody know? Chipper maybe?

a beer sort of girl said...

NO idea on the yeast, but I do like this beer, in the fall especially. It's different. But I totally feel you on the artisan cheese comment.