Review of New Belgium’s 1554 and Bells Porter

Posted on January 27, 2010 by

Today was a snow day! Woot! However, I had to dig my car out of the snow and froze my ass off doing so. With the quick change from rain on Friday to snow and ice on Monday and the idea that I will inevitably see someone stuck in the ditch it had me thinking…With all of the focus on a survival kit of water, food, rope, clothes, blankets and anything else that you would absolutely need if you were stranded for 3 or 4 days I had to wonder. Where was the beer?

So today we address that issue. If you were stuck in a ditch for 3 days and had to wait it out for help, what beers would you want to have with you to help you through? I don’t have a definitive set myself, I’m still on the quest to find them, but I feel I picked two pretty decent brews to keep me warm and occupied during the 96 hours of cold.

So without further ado here is my review of New Belgium’s Black Ale 1554 and Bell’s Porter.

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  • Dan Nisbet

    I’ve been meaning to try the 1554- I was going to when we were at Usher’s last fall, but never got around to it. Good review, dude!

  • mike

    Thanks man. I have found myself to like the 1554 more than the more famous Fat Tire. I just think it has more body and flavor and that is really what I have been enjoying a lot of as of the past year. Maybe the summer will bring something lighter back into my life. Who knows.

  • Entrails

    I’m not sure about the whole liking 1554 more than Fat Tire, that would be hard to top but I haven’t tried 1554 myself so I can’t say much on that. And Bell’s is pretty much good all around especially Oberon which I believe is only released in the summer months. But all in all, I would have to choose Guinness over all of them if I could only take one brew with me.

  • Chris Akers

    Anything by Samuel Adams is a favorite of mine. That yuppie knows how to brew. Guinness is another. 1554 is an excellent choice though. I would say that as long as it is not a “Lite” of some sort, you could survive.

  • mike

    Right on dude.

    Do you remember that time in Bozeman when we drank a shitload of Fat Tire during the snowboarding trip? I don’t remember the last time I drank like 9 cases in a weekend like that… Guinness is always solid my friend. Which kind though? Would you get the extra stout, the draft in a can or just a good ol’ bottle?

  • Chris Akers

    I personally think that Fat Tire is one of the worst beers that New Belgium brews. That does not mean that it is a horrible beer in the overall spectrum, but it rated at the bottom of my New Belgium list.

  • Chris Akers

    Oh Mike, you bring the beer and I will bring the tunes. Sorry no Kid Rock.

  • Entrails

    I wish we could do the whole Bozeman trip again! That was probably the most fun I’ve had with a group of great friends and great brew! I was kind of partial to Fat Tire’s counterpart, Blue Paddle, I think it was a pilsner. I seemed to have a little hint of blueberries I think.

    I did try the extra stout but didn’t care for it as much. I believe I would have to go for the can over the bottle but would much rather get it out of the tap instead. It just seems to have a much fuller taste to it.

  • mike

    LOL. Thanks for the comments dude.

    I agree, Lite is just not something you want to drink when you are stranded in a freezing cold car.

    I really used to like Fat Tire, and maybe because I haven’t drank it in a while, but I agree with you. When I first started drinking it I thought it was the bomb, but I’ve tried and liked so many more since that the brew just doesn’t seem to have the flavor I used to enjoy. However, I love what New Belgium does with their company and overall work ethics, so I’ll probably keep on drinking their 1554 and some of my other favs as well. However, another one I can’t get into, is that Mothership one. Just don’t like it…

  • danielOut

    You filmed the whole episode in your car; this is an epic win.

    I’ve had the 1554, and it is pretty good. Not a terrible choice, but I’d want something a little tougher. Stout or Porter aged in whiskey (any kind: scotch, bourbon, etc) barrels would be perfect. That nice, thick kind of beer to fill your hunger a little with the warmth imparted by the aging in those barrels. I’m not even picky as to which one, since I haven’t had a bad one so far.

  • mike

    Right on! Thanks for the comments.

    I snuck a taste of my porter yesterday, its coming along nicely. I added the bourbon as well so one of my choices could quite possibly be own homebrew. How awesome would that be. Have you happened to have a Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout? That is a gorgeous brew to drink on a cold winter night. I wrote up a review as a guest poster for another blog. If he accepts it, I’ll shoot ya a link to it. It will probably make its way onto my video reviews at some point. It’s a pint though, and “tougher,” not sure I can just down it at the end like I seem to enjoy doing…

    Thanks again man!

  • Lost

    Interesting idea for a new way to do a beer review. I’d personally look for a beer that’s:

    #1. Best drank cold.
    #2: High ABV (getting wired might help pass the time).
    #3: A good sipping beer that I could make last.

    Southern Tier Creme Brulee is the first one that comes to mind. I’d definitely have to make a special “emergency kit” shopping trip to pick out the right stuff.


  • mike

    These are some great points. I totally agree with #2, and that is the general idea of having an “emergency stash” in my car lol. I think number 3 is something I didn’t really think of. If my beer is going to stay cold that easily, I suppose a sipper would be a great one to have.

    I have never had the Southern Tier Creme Brulee. I’m not sure that is something I can get here in Fargo, but I’ll definitely look into it. Thanks for stopping by!


  • cj

    Summit EPA and Bells Two Hearted fo sho…and at least one deftones album.

    Thanks for posing this question!! Morale is important in these situations, you don’t want to go all jack torrance on your car mates(invisible or otherwise)!

    Love the site, keep up the excellent work!

  • mike

    I really like the EPA to. I think an EPA is up next on the brewing list after this weekend. Hopefully it will be ready by the next time you are here.

  • gilbert

    Hey Mike. I finally made it to the store to try 1554 for the first time. I have to say, it was a very pleasant experience. It is a mild yet has some surprises. Rebekah and I both tasted some earthy-vegetable on the back-end. The hops are smooth. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • mike

    Glad you liked it! Thanks for posting and trusting me to try something new!

  • mattyb

    Sweet episode! If I had to choose a beer to be stranded somewhere in my car with, I would want a case of Guinness Extra Stout and I would also like to have a liter of Jameson 18 Year right next to it. What a serendipitous occasion that would be! Cheers.

  • mike

    Yes. A liter of scotch, whiskey, or scotch whiskey would be a fantastic addition to the scenario.

  • David Schimmelpfennig

    I’d definitely have a Bell’s Expedition Stout if I were stuck in the ditch. Expedition is an Imperial Stout at 10.5%. One’s all you need. Wonderful if it warms up a little. I drink mine from a snifter or mug. You can let it age for a couple of years and let the flavor develop. I’ve never been patient enough for that…

  • mike

    What a great name for a beer to drink while stuck in the ditch! I’d be afraid if I drank a brew with that much alcohol in it I might feel compelled to go out on an expedition. Thanks for the tip! I’ll put it on my list.

  • AMills

    Nice Review-however, I think you should make the trip down here and we'll roll to the New Belgium Brewery for a live tast review :)

  • mikebiewer

    Hell yes.

    That sounds like a dandy time indeed!

    Thanks for stopping by, your welcome anytime!

  • jezmez68

    Gaw-leee, there sure are a lot of Guiness lovers on here. If that beer went away forever it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. There are at least 100 other stouts out there that are better than that beer, in my not-so-humble opinion.

    If I was in a ditch for 3 days, and I had to pick 2 beers, I think I'd have to go with the original Budvar in a brown bottle, and probably the Three Floyd's Alpha King or Gumball Head Wheat for the hop-load.

  • mikebiewer

    I do like me a Guiness, but I agree, there are a lot of other stout option out there that are just as good and better. I really like Imperial Stouts. I love the alcohol burn that you can get from them. Which probably makes them an even better option for being stranded in a ditch.

    I've got to be honest, I don't have access to the beers you've mentioned. I suppose as soon as I move off this island in the middle of the country I'll get an option to. I'll mark them down and keep my eyes open!

    Thanks again for the comments.


  • benzurn

    If I was stuck in a ditch, I would have to go with a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, imported from England. It's thick and I'm sure nutritious with the oatmeal. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in 1. Nice review, 1554 and Fat Tire both seem to buzz me more than most beers for some reason. What's up at New Belgium? What's that NoDak state patrol man gonna say when you have that beer in your car? Nothing if you have 1 for him.

  • mikebiewer

    The Oatmeal Stout is a good option. I really like the Samuel Smith line. The homebrew club actually got to sample a bunch of other beer imports the other night. The company the brings them in, Ed Phillips I think, let us sample some Orval, Ayinger, Westmalle, Tommy Knocker and the Harvest Wet Hop Ale from Sierra Nevada. He handed out a bunch of brochures with all the Sam Smith's on it. I didn't realize they made an IPA. Have you had it?

    Thanks for stopping in again. And your right, that cop isn't going to do anything if I offer him a beer as well!


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