New Belgium's 1554 Enlightened Black Ale

On: Monday, August 4, 2008

Saturday after a long morning and afternoon, I was in the mood for some good beer. This is what I was after, but found that the local place said he didn't have any (argh!) so I decided to look around a bit. Stacked behind some other brews I found this gem.
Oh man. I really like this beer. I may have to see if I can reproduce it. Surely someone has a recipe... I tried this beer earlier this year on a game night at the Coder. We enjoyed it very much (very much= drank all of it) throughout the night. Highly recommended and of course, if you should buy some, you should invite me over for a brew!

7 comments on "New Belgium's 1554 Enlightened Black Ale"

The Angry Coder said...

It should be noted that the Enlightenment after which this brew is named only comes in small doses. Just take the eggs- don't slay the goose!

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

1554 is one of New Belgium's better offerings, and there are plenty of clone recipes for it. Its been a while since I've had it last.

This recipe comes from Zymurgy magazine so I'd rate it as fairly authoritative:

O.G. 1.051
SRM 30
IBU 43

8lb. pale 2-row
1/2 lb. 80L. caramel Munich malt
1/2 lb. 55L crystal malt
1/4 lb. Belgian chocolate malt
1/4 lb. German carafa malt
2oz. black patent

1.5oz Willamette 4.2%a.a. 60 min
.5oz Kent Golding 5%a.a 60 min

Though New Belgium allegedly uses a lager yeast strain at high temperatures to ferment this beer, finding the right strain and the right temperature would be very hard. Zymurgy recommends a neutral ale recommendation on that would be the dry Fermentis US-05.

To "de-allgrain" this recipe, this is how I would modify it:

Replace the 8lbs of base grain with 7lbs of pale or gold liquid malt extract, or 6lbs of dried malt extract. The other steeped grains are fine, although beats me what an 80L Caramel Munich malt refers to, I would just use normal American Caramel 80L. Some of the other grains I might have some spare.

For the hops, the 1.5oz Willamette and .5 oz EKG is pointless, as no one will taste the difference between the hops when boiled for 60 minutes. My recommendation is to just do 1oz of each. I note there are no finishing hops, which should highlight the malt blend in this beer.


The Unabashed Blogger said...

Do you need to keep a lager strain at a temp that is not "normal" for ale strains? Are they more sensitive?

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Lager strains are a unique beast that generally ferment best in the 40s to 50s, depending on the stain. Fermenting them in a "hot" environment, that is, 60 degrees and above, which is normal (and generally required) for ale strains, will generally produce not so great results. Some lager strains are good for fermenting at higher temperatures, although they won't produce what I'd call the classical lager "clean" taste. One example is the Anchor Steam yeast, sometimes called california lager or steam beer yeast. That might be acceptable to use for this recipe, but you'd still want coolish temperatures.

In general, ale yeast is comfortable at temperatures we are comfortable. With all yeast strains the tolerances and ideal temperature varies, but lagers-cold ales-room temperature is a good general rule of thumb. Some yeast strains, particularly the ones for the estery trappist and saison ales from Belgium, can work fine up into the 80s and allegedly even 90s, but most ale strains are going to produce awful, hot, alcoholy tasting beer at that point, and because at overly high temperatures the yeast will produce compounds that may give a fruity (at best) or solventy (at worst) aroma, and the "high alcohols" and methanol that is also produced at higher temperatures will turn a beer into instant headache juice.

That said I wouldn't stress about an ale strain fermenting in the 70s, in general, but most strains are at their best in the 60s. Winter is a great time to brew...cold water for chilling, heats up the kitchen in a nice way, and the house is always at ideal ale fermentation temperatures!

The Unabashed Blogger said...

Problem is I like beer year round...

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Well, no worries. Most ale strains (particularly those of American, English, and Belgian) ferment just fine in an air conditioned house in summertime. US-05 is no might get a slightly cleaner (less fruity) ferment by running in the 60s but if you are under 80 it will do a good beer.

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

Boy I am glad you guys care do this. It's beneficial to the "community." Keep it up and spread the love.