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Z Lager - The Fort Collins Brewery

Z LagerZ Lager

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

308 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 308
Reviews: 215
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 17.28%

Brewed by:
The Fort Collins Brewery visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
Rauchbier |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Crosling on 12-06-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 308 | Reviews: 215 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of gmfessen


3.28/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is a perfectly clear, amber-orange color with a thin, inactive white head. The nose is what I expected from a Rauchbier, smoky - reminiscent of a smoked ham or smoky bacon in baked beans. Perhaps just a hint of sweet amber malt, but that's about it. The flavor starts with the upfront smokiness and transitions to a slightly sweet amber malt flavor before returning to its smoked meat flavor for the finish. Mouthfeel is a little on the light side for what I was expecting and the carbonation is all but absent. Overall, not a bad beer, probably mostly what a Rauchbier should be - would pair nicely with smoked anything but not a beer that I would choose to session with.

- Note: smokiness seems to fade as you drink more of the beer, which could be good or bad depending on how much you like the smoky flavor.

- Note: smokiness seems to fade as you drink more of the beer, which could be good or bad depending on how much you like the smokey flavor.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2009 20:35:56 | More by gmfessen
Photo of cjacobsen


3.28/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with an off white head.

Smells of smoke, roastedness, bitterness. Smell of almost bacon

Tastes like liquid smoke added to a Newcastle Brown. Heavy on the pigroast and lightly hopped.

Its surprisingly smooth but you almost want to knife and fork it.

Its an odd beer, definitely one for a campfire side. You could basically suck of a charred piece of wood and get the same effect.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2010 02:32:47 | More by cjacobsen
Photo of homebrewhawk


3.3/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. brown bottle served in a shaker pint. Pours a hazy amber with a quickly dissipating head. Sweet caramelized sugar with a little smoke in the aroma. Very sweet on the start. A slight noble hop bitterness. The smoke flavor is pretty subtle. I like more smoke in a smoked beer, so it was a little lacking to me.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2008 21:55:10 | More by homebrewhawk
Photo of treehugger02010


3.3/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I bought the Forth Collins Brewery variety case from Bryn Mawr Beverage in Bryn Mawr, PA and poured it into a pint glass.
Appearance: The body is a transparent amber color. The head is an egg-shell color, 2 fingers tall with good retention and thin but abundant lacing.
Smell: The aroma is corny with some berry notes.
Taste: The flavor is berry like with some nutty notes.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is smooth.
Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer.
Don't drink and review.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2009 01:29:09 | More by treehugger02010
Photo of maddogruss

New Jersey

3.33/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a bottle of this from a friend.

A: Pours an amber body with a small white head without much retention and lacing to speak up. HEad seemed to dissipate pretty quickly, leaving very minimal lacing as I drank the beer.

S: A grapefruit and roasted malt smell with some bitter notes was not quite what I was expecting, given the style.

T: A bitter and smoky taste that was more to the style. There was a meaty and smoky aftertaste that did well to complement each other. As the beer warmed up, more of the smokiness came out, making for a decent tasting smokebeer.

M: A little on the thin side of medium-bodied, but still felt pretty nice on the palette.

D: A decent mouthfeel and taste combination makes this beer pretty easy to drink. As more of the smokiness came out, it made the beer nicer. Decent smokebeer overall.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2009 20:42:32 | More by maddogruss
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.33/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle from Agassi. A decent serviceable lager and rauch. Light smoke. Pours moderate yellow body with lots of white bubbly head. A mild smoke aroma. Decently drinkable,thanks to the caramel bit not delicious. Average mouthfeel.Appropriate carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2010 01:35:51 | More by Sammy
Photo of zeff80


3.35/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle. No date. Purchased Saturady after Thanksgiving.

A - Poured out an cloudy amber/orange color with some carbonation. It had a tan, creamy, one-finger head that left small traces of lace.

S - It smelled smoky with earthy/oaky notes. There was also a little maltiness in the nose.

T - It tasted of burnt toast maltiness and then the smoky flavor followed. It tastes a little like food cooked on a campfire.

M - It was smooth and soft. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good beer. I liked it better than the Rauchbier that I tried.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2008 01:23:54 | More by zeff80
Photo of Reaper16


3.35/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

served from a 12oz. bottle into a Michelob tulip glass.

Pours an attractive honey amber with an average sized white head that quickly is diminished to a thin ring. Minimal lacing.

Not much going on with the aromas. Sweet malty smells and only a touch of discernible smoke. Not complex at all, but inoffensive.

Clean, lager flavors dominate. Good malt sweetness, and an interesting level of "juicy" fruitiness. The "smoke" component hits the top of the tongue as a lightly-roasted flavor, but transforms into smoke on the finish/aftertaste. Still, the actual smoke flavors are quite muted.

Z feels average for a lager; nothing bad by any means because you don't really notice the mouthfeel one way or another. This should be pretty drinkable, and I imagine it would be quite the nice pairing with a grilled entree. Many reviewers mentioned pairing with barbecue (which makes sense given the smoke character and all), but in my extensive barbecue experience this wouldn't match very well; it's muted smoke flavors might muddle the stronger flavors in the barbecue.

Z is a decent beer, a good one even, but nothing stands out at all. I would enjoy this with a grilled beef dish, but its never going to blow me away. Decent effort and worth picking up, but I probably won't be buying it again.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2008 21:22:44 | More by Reaper16
Photo of rowew


3.38/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 oz longneck - label has a flaming barrel with a Z burnt into it.

Appearance: Pours a clear reddish brown with a nice full off white head, great retention and lacing.

Smell: Just a bit of smoke, over ripe fruit, and some caramel.

Taste: Similar to aroma - smoke is light, caramel and dark fruit flavors are mellow as well.

Overall impression: Not bad - better with food than on its own.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2007 01:33:17 | More by rowew
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.38/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $4.50 at The Porter in Atlanta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a nearly clear, mahogany-hued body with a smallish, ivory-colored head.

Smell: Toasted, crisp malts, faint caramel, and fair scent of wood-smoked apple skins.

Taste: Toasty malts with a light caramelized sugar sweetness. Red Delicious apple fruitiness. Restrained, even-handed smoke component that careful not to overwhelm the lager underneath. Mild spicy, floral hops with a medium-low bitterness. Finishes dry with a final taste of applewood smoke.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Just the right amount of smoke layered onto a light, refreshing lager. Sort of the young kid brother of the Schlenkerla brews. Paired fairly well with the Fish n' Chips.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2009 22:42:23 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of WastingFreetime


3.38/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark amber in appearance, no cloudiness at all, single finger cream-colored sticky head, nice lacing. A bit too thin in body, smells of mild bacon-ey smoke with a medium strong malt underneath, and tastes exactly the same as the nose, only with a heavy emphasis on the sweet malt. Did I mention that the smoke is really mild for a Rauchbier? This seems like its meant to be an intro to the style for those unfamiliar with it... Nice and mild, but not what I want when I seek out a rauchbier.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2011 02:25:17 | More by WastingFreetime
Photo of armock

New York

3.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Wasatch for sending this out as an extra.

A - Poured a copper color with a tan head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is a nose full of smoked malt

T - Has a smokey start then finishes off a little bitter I would have liked more smoked malt in the taste

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - Overall not a bad beer I just like a more smokey meaty flavor in my smoked beers but its still an enjoyable beer to drink good with food from the grill

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2009 16:35:14 | More by armock
Photo of karengarys


3.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This pours nice and crystal medium-dark reddish orange. I slow pour, so there was just a ring of very fluffy bubbles around the edge which did not stick to the glass very much.

smells a little smokey beer like.

Taste is good and bad at the same time. it has a burnt charcoal bitter edge that left a bit of a, well, burnt like aftertaste. With all that ickey stuff, though, it has a clean, rich roasty crispness I can't quite explain.

Mouthfeel saves this, sparkely on the tounge and refreshing.

Body is a little richer than I'd expect. It's no heavy beer, but it isn't a lite either.

Finish, well, is a little bitter.

It is drinkable, quite drinkable, I need another to sparkle that aftertaste away!

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2009 00:44:57 | More by karengarys
Photo of tigg924


3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: amber in color, 1/4 inch head, clear, small carbonation

Smell: toasted malt, smoke, bacon, and caramel

Taste: The malt here seems a bit more burnt than toasted. There is a bacon taste and the smoke while there is not as dominate as in other rauchs.

Mouthfeel: sweet startwith a bitter finish, medium bodied, medium high carbonation

Drinkability: While not a bad beer, this one was a bit of a disappointment. The smoky taste is there, but the finish is harsh. I may have this again, but I think there are way better in the style.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2009 13:30:05 | More by tigg924
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Part of the Brewer's Lunchbox mixed pack.

Pours a clear dark copper orange with a 1 inch off-white head that settles to a thin film. Small dots and streaks of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt and some smoke/campfire aromas. Taste is of roasted malt, smoke flavors, and a coffee grounds aftertaste. Mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. Good carbonation with a crisp and clean mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good American take on a rauchbier style that is much more mild than any of the others I have tried so far.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2011 00:15:58 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of FungusBrewer


3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Delicate. Not complicated. But Delicate. Normally I'm used to being inundated with an overpowering campfire taste in Rauchbier's. Fort Collins does it right with imparting a very slight (albeit noticeable) smoke flavor and aroma. Hops are almost non-existent, but it tastes right. Why roast a grapefruit anyway? You get a little bit of sweetness from the malt, but again, nothing dominating. My only gripe is it tastes so light, giving it a watery mouth-feel.

I'd buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2012 02:50:28 | More by FungusBrewer
Photo of StoutHunter


3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a bottle of Fort Collins Brewing's Z Lager last week for $1.89 at The Lager Mill. It's been a while since I've have a Raunchbier, and I have never seen or heard of this beer, so I thought I would give it a try, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but the store just got it in so I assume it's fairly fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- The label looks nice and it's pretty well done, it also sticks out a little. It poured a nice amber color that took some burnt orange color when held to the light with a finger and a half worth of off white head that died down to a thin ring that eventually faded to nothing and left hardly any lacing. This was a pretty average looking Amber Ale, the color was ok but the head and lacing were disappointing.

S- The aroma starts off with a lighter amount of medium smoke that impart a very woody aroma that resembles a campfire, after that comes the malts which have a higher amount of medium sweetness to them and impart some grainy, caramel, toffee, dark fruits, toasted malts and a light amount of coffee. Towards the end I get a light amount of citrus hops that add some nice complexity. The aroma is nice, but I feel like the smokey aromas don't blend that well with the dark fruit aromas.

T- The taste is a little similar to the aroma and it starts off with some medium sweet malts that impart some nice toasted, grainy, caramel malts, and slightly nutty flavors. Up next comes the Smoke which is on the lighter side but still noticeable and imparts a nice smokey and woody aroma. On the finish there is a light amount earthy hops that give this beer a lighter amount of bitterness, and a toasted malt and lightly smokey aftertaste. I liked the taste of this beer, it was nice and balanced, but the smoked didn't shine through as much as I would have liked.

M- Smooth, dry, on the light side of being medium bodied, with a higher amount of medium carbonation that made it a little prickly. The mouthfeel is ok, but the higher amount of carbonation makes it pretty average.

Overall I thought this was a decent beer, not true to style enough to be called a Rauchbier, but for an Amber Ale I would say it was a little above average. This beer was pretty drinkable, it was really smooth, and the flavor did an ok job at holding my attention, I could drink two of these but I think that would be my limit. What I liked most about this beer was the flavor and aroma, they were the highlights of this beer and were both pretty balanced. What I liked least about this beer was the lightness of the smoke and the higher carbonation, I needed more smoke and less carbonation. I would be buy this beer again when looking for a lightly smokey beer, but I wouldn't buy it often, I recommend giving this beer a try, it might make for a good gateway Rauchbier. All in all this was a lightly smokey amber, what it lacked in intensity it made up for in drinkability. This was the second beer I have had from this brewery and it was better then their Chocolate stout, I thought it was a pretty solid beer and I wouldn't mind trying some more beers from this brewery.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2012 03:49:51 | More by StoutHunter
Photo of dudemuskie


3.45/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Snagged a bottle of this in a mix-a-6er at The Andersons, Toledo.

Appearance- Clear, light amber with deep orange highlights. Light beige head quickly fades to a sticky ring. Some lacing.

Aroma- Fairly clean lager with some nutty, soft caramel notes in a blanket of light smoke. Not too smoky, but definitely present with notes of charred wood and a very slight meatiness to it. Its smoky, but theres definitely a beer in there!

Flavor- Nice start with good combination of light nutty, caramel maltiness and a moderate vein of smoke. Herbal, slightly spicy hop flavors open up in the middle and linger into a fairly clean, nicely balanced finish. The smoke is definitely there, but not overwhelming or too meaty. It does linger well past the finish though!

Mouthfeel- Light-medium bodied, moderate CO2, nice balance, and fairly clean. Slightly drying/astringent feel on the tongue.

Overall- Fairly drinkable for a smoked brew and nicely done if you dont want to be completely overwhelmed with smoke in a rauchbier. More smoke in the nose than in the flavor. This would make a nice compliment to chili, or even a great ingredient in a pot! Would be a fun beer to pair with BBQ or other foods as the light smoke would play well and not overwhelm the food. Worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2010 12:24:12 | More by dudemuskie
Photo of PiecefulToker


3.48/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Copper brown with an amber hue, pretty hazy, thick head that recedes rather quickly, but leaves a thin layer of head which deposits sticky lacing down the glass.

S: Mild smokiness, some caramel, wood, very mild hop presence.

T&M: Doesn't taste or feel right...

After having this beer before, this bottle just doesn't taste right. I bought it as a single, and I have a feeling this is an old bottle. I will buy this beer again in the near future and edit my review as needed.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2008 23:36:16 | More by PiecefulToker
Photo of Doomcifer

Rhode Island

3.48/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, bright amber color with a 1/3 inch, creamy head that retains pretty well. Decent lacing. Smells of smoked meat and hickory notes. Tastes of more smokiness, smoked meat/fish, maltiness with a touch of bittering hops, strong smoky finish but not over the top, kind of thin. Mouthfeel is a tad thin to medium bodied, slightly dry finish. Fairly drinkable and pleasant to drink. Pretty solid brew but nothing amazing.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2008 18:45:59 | More by Doomcifer
Photo of KarlHungus


3.48/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a clear red color. The head is none existent. The aroma is smoke with a hint of caramel malt. It is a rather simple aroma. The taste is like the aroma. I like that there is a lot of smoke, but there isn't nothing else. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation, and a smooth texture. Overall, this is a decent beer that could be a lot better if it had a more complex malt bill. I could drink it again, but there are better smoked beers out there.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2009 21:29:06 | More by KarlHungus
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured a crisp amber with a thin head that diminished to nothing. The aroma was a blend of malts and smoke. The taste was a good blend of caramel malts and smoke in a unique balance, nothing spectacular, but very good for what it is. The beer is light and enjoyable if you appreciate smoke flavor in beer. This would make a decent session beer, but is nothing I would seek out.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2007 02:31:26 | More by atsprings
Photo of NEhophead


3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown bottle; served in a pilsener glass.

Light amber with a copper hue. Quarter-inch, foamy off-white head. Patches of thin and condensed lacing with decent strength.

Peat-smoke malt; pleasant, but mild. Light citrus: lemon, apricot. Modest wheat and grain that serve as a backbone in aroma.

Clean wheat and grain with a smooth, semi-sweet toasted malt character. Floral hops with a quite mild smokey quality. The peat is rather subdued, but noticeable amidst the sweetness. A crisp finish is followed by a smoked grain aftertaste.

Medium in body; smooth yet grainy in spots. Maybe a touch thin for a true Rauchbier, but enough body to stand up to the smokey and sweet flavors.

A decent Rauchbier; however, nothing too impressive in terms of flavor, especially in comparison to a full-flavored German. Not a bad alternative though for a late summer or early autumn brew.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2008 19:47:28 | More by NEhophead
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a clear medium coppery-amber with a ½ finger creamy dark ivory head that dissipated rather quickly after the pour. A very thin broken lacing was barely noticeable aournd the rim while an extremely soft carbonation with but a few stray bubbles at any given moment lazily makes their way up to the surface.

S: really light in nature with just a kiss of lightly smoked ambers and a toasted caramel sweetness. You had to really struggle to enjoy the aroma due to its restrained nature.

T: The flavor had a light smoky malting with a nice underlying caramel chew sweetness. I though I detected slight fruity hints, caramel apples with a light charred smoked spruce woodiness. Overall the flavor was light but very clean in nature finishing dry.

M: medium, with an oily viscosity finishes dry with just a kiss of smoke for a fade.

D: While not as smoky as one may hope for, this does make for a nice drinking lager that is highlighted with just enough of a smoky presence to appreciate. Fans of rauchbier may be let down a bit expecting a barn burner like aecht schlenkerla, but this can still appreciated for its clean ,though light flavor and can easily be session material.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2009 23:38:09 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of NJpadreFan

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fort Collins- Z Lager

A- Light amber brown with a small filmy, non lacing, head.
S- Light sweet smokey malt.
T- Sweet smokey BBQ sauce with a touch of toasted bready malt. Brown sugar and oak are prominent.
M- Sugary sweet and dry smokiness throughout. Charred oaky woodsy finish.

Overall- Decent but nothing inspiring. Worth a bottle or 2.

Serving type: bottle

07-24-2009 23:01:51 | More by NJpadreFan
Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
80 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.