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Z Lager - The Fort Collins Brewery

Not Rated.
Z LagerZ Lager

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

318 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 318
Reviews: 215
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 16.71%
Wants: 12
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
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: 318 | Reviews: 215 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gavage
3.78/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a clear orange color with some yellow highlights onthe edge of the glass. A nice 2" fluffy head lasts a while. Moderate lacing paints the glass.

Smell: caramel and a fresh smokey fire aroma is pleasant on the nose.

Taste: big caramel base, red apples, bits of honey, and mild bitterness is wrapped in a soft smokey tone. The smoke is not overwhelming and balances out some of the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Crisp at the start, less so at the finish. Aftertaste is very long as the smoke filled sweetness sticks to the tongue.

Drinkability: this would be a great beer with some BBQ. As a stand alone it is interesting but not a session beer. Definitely worth a try.

Gavage, Feb 22, 2008
Photo of dkoehler42
2.25/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer has a most definitive taste to it, the smokiness in the flavor tastes almost like smoked meat. It has a nice dark amber color and has decent mouthfeel. But that taste and the smell associated with it can easily put off the unprepared drinker. If you know what you're looking for, than it's a great beer, as my friend comments. If not, then it's best you skip this one.

dkoehler42, Jan 27, 2008
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.

homebrewhawk, Jan 20, 2008
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.

zeff80, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of Drewcifer
3.63/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours out a nice amber/copper color, with a thick off-white head that settles in to a very thin halo.

A definitive malty, smoky scent with maybe a hint of apple lurking.

The flavor was exactly what the scent promised - smoky, malty taste, a bit earthy, with a little apple bite.

Mouthfeel was nice, a little lighter than I was expecting, a little more watery than I had expected.

The overall drinkability just wasn't there, though. After having one, I felt that I was in no hurry for a second one. A good, unique brew, but I can't see drinking it on a regular basis.

Drewcifer, Dec 24, 2007
Photo of dacrza1
4/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In the mood for a rauchbier as the seasons change, I found a pleasant surprise, as Shop-Rite Liquors added the Fort Collins brewery to its shelves...translucent brownish orange body with a white, thin yet resilient head upon a cascade of bubbles--quite lively...wicked cedar smoke to the aroma, reminiscent of a smokepit summer night...toasted something is present too...medium bodied, with a swift start to finish and a familiar smokey end on the back of the tongue...aggressive on the sides of the tongue, but subsiding quickly...a well-balanced taste, not dominating in any aspect...not sweet, but substantial...I have not heard much of this brewery, but I enjoyed sessioning this and imagine pairing it with grilled foods in the summer and spicier fare all year round....

dacrza1, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of mikesgroove
4.3/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rounded out my evening session with this beer. I had never had anything from them before, but was lucky enough to pick up a mixed sixer of their and this was the first one I was going to try out of it. This poured a nice decent brownish amber color with a small off white head that quickly faded leaving behind only traces of what was left. The smell was rather intriguing. Smelled like a Dopplebock, full of smoked aroma and a deep underlying sweetness, this had a very full body to it. The flavor followed suit nicely with a full on smoked flavor and a lovely lightly hopped finish to it. Traces of caramel rippled throughout adding just the right amount of sweetness to it. Overall this actually surprised me; the deep flavors of wood aged smokiness took me completely off guard and give this a profile I did not expect to find. Definitely quality ale and something I would look forward to trying again in the future. Very full and very nice this one will surprise you in a very good way.

mikesgroove, Nov 22, 2007
Photo of aerozeppl
3.55/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pured from a 12oz bottle into a pilsner glass.

A: Hazy copper color.Minimal white head that quickly fades.

S: Malt scent is strong. Campfire mixed with typical lager scent. Not as strong as the German rauchbiers.

T: Thick malty taste for a lager. The smoking brings out smoked meat and wood. Sweet taste goes throughout.

M: Light body. Almost on the watery side which is weird for a rauchbier.

D: For a smoked beer this is very drinkable. Never had a smoked lager before. Definitely different.

aerozeppl, Nov 21, 2007
Photo of jcdiflorio
3.05/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz brown bottle,served into a nonic glass

Hazy,meduim amber with a coppery/brownish hue. 2"off -white thick,creamy,head. Good retention,with a few staggered bubbles rising,leaving some webby lacing down the glass.

Malty aroma, burnt carmell,sort of a hickory smoked phenolic smells,tobacco,some fruittyness of overripe apples.

Heavy malt tastes,lots of carmel,sweet/sugary,earthy, with light smokey notes throughout. Has a fruity aftertaste.

Light to medium body,tangy,leaving a dry feel at the end. Could drink a couple,not a beer i would drink all night.

jcdiflorio, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of Mdog
3.83/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Hazy red-amber, decent head that fades out.

Smell: Sweetness, hint of smoke.

Taste: Nice sweet barbeque flavor, molasses and wood smoke, with the smokiness more apparent in the aftertaste.

Drinkability: Easy to have a few in a sitting.

Picked this up on a recent trip to Iowa. Beers with smoke flavors seem to be somewhat rare, so I try them whenever I see them. This is a pretty good beer that doesn't overdo the smokiness. I'll have it again!

Mdog, Nov 18, 2007
Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.3/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

BACONBACONBACON! Had this brew on draught at the brewery. Color was a faded brown with a off white head that left rather quickly leaving a great lacing. I love the rauchbier style, eventhough I can't drink them often. Not only does bacon come out of this, but a beautiful caramel flavor hit my palate rather strong.

paulthebeerguru, Oct 28, 2007
Photo of OWSLEY069
3.85/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pors a orange-ish/ copper color with a small white head. Aromas of a smoked malt, kind of like beef jerky. In the taste, malty and a small smoke flavor. A smooth malty mouthfeel and a smokey aftertaste. Nice smoke aroma also not to big in the taste, lighter but good.

OWSLEY069, Oct 14, 2007
Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a nice head that retains well and sheets the pint glass with lace

Smell: Solid caramel malt base with a good bit of smoked meat in the aroma

Taste: Starts out laying down the caramel malt but the smoked meat flavors quickly join the fray and begin to dominate by mid-palate; after the swallow, the smoke stays in check and provides an interesting foil to the nutty malt flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Wow, am I ever impressed. I like a good, but restrained, smoked beer and this fits the bill to a tee; almost a smoked Marzen, in some respects

brentk56, Sep 15, 2007
Photo of Slatetank
3.55/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Med brown with a thin white head that generates a moderate amount of lace.

S - Toasty, smokey and nutty malt scents like a woody campfire melded with a lager.

M - Light, med smooth w/ a feel a bit on the watery side and slightly low carbonation that is actually a pleasant attribute.

T - Smoke presence gets masked by malty and sweet amber lager flavors in the beginning. An subdued lager w/ out much yeast character that allows the smoke flavor to persist- like a smoke extract. The flavors last and malts hold on decently, but the smoke is slightly unbalanced and drops off quickly in the finish.

D - A lighter amber lager and slightly forced smoke-wise, but still worth a try.

Slatetank, Aug 05, 2007
Photo of tgbljb
4.22/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clear medium copper color with off-white head. Great retention and nice lacing.
Smell is of a smokey caramel note which is extremely interesting.
Taste brings about a moderately strong smokey character with is very enjoyable. A rich smokey flavor without being overpowering.
Finished with a light dryness which blends with the smokey flavor perfectly.
A perfectly made beer. Great job.

tgbljb, Jul 02, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.9/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Burnt orange beneath an expansive, creamy, orange-beige cap. I can't decide if it looks like mousse, a melting milkshake or a frappe. I'll go with the latter. Meandering tentacles of lace decorate the glass as the head loses altitude. Why are most smoked beers dark orange?

The label says that Z has a 'slight', 'not overpowering' smokiness. After the smell test, I'd say it's a little more aggressive than that. It isn't anywhere near as smoky as most of the Brauerei Heller-Trum (Aecht Schlenkerla) lineup, but it's no lightweight either. There's something else in the nose that keeps me from loving it. Maybe my taste buds will figure it out.

Z Lager is actually a pretty authentic rauchbier as I understand the style. I have no idea if it was brewed in the traditional way, but it tastes like it to me. I'm happy to see that the brewery didn't back off on the smoked malt as much as they claim to have. Maybe they don't want to scare off any prospective buyers who might be a little uneasy about a smoke-flavored beer.

It tastes and (especially) feels as though there's more than enough malt onboard. Enough, at least, to provide a touch of needed sweetness to act as a foil to the smoke. The flavor profile has a rounded, mellow character that keeps it from being a smoky one trick pony. This really is a well done smoked lager from where I sit.

The mouthfeel has an impressive amount of lush expansiveness for a sub-5.0% lager. This offering wouldn't have worked nearly as well if it had been thin and overly bubbled. Kudos to Fort Collins Brewery for giving each of the beer's attributes equal attention.

Z Lager is one of the best beers from this brewery that I've had yet. There aren't too many American craft brewers who will even attempt a rauchbier. I suspect that there considerably fewer who could brew one this competently. This stuff would be a perfect match for a pulled pork sandwich, baked beans and cole slaw. Is it lunchtime yet?

BuckeyeNation, May 22, 2007
Photo of atsprings
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.

atsprings, May 22, 2007
Photo of Duster72
1.33/5  rDev -62.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

After looking at some other reviews I am wondering if I got a really bad batch, but this was easily the worst beer I have ever had. Poured a clear copper color with little to no head and no noticable lacing. Smell is like cigarettes and carmel malts. Taste is really bad. I would describe it as something like cigarettes and iced tea. I could barely manage a few sips before it met the drain.

Duster72, Apr 07, 2007
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.

rowew, Feb 06, 2007
Photo of afinepilsner
3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle

Z Lager was amber in color with an off-white head. The head was soon reduced to a thin layer that stuck around, leaving a little lacing behind. The aroma was smoky with some malt in the backround. The taste was smoke over nice malt base, a little sweet upfront, but more balanced in the finsh. The body was medium with medium carbonation. Drinkability was good. It's a good beer and would be great with BBQ.

afinepilsner, Oct 25, 2006
Photo of IntriqKen
4.33/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought I was just going to be drinking a lager...and don't really care for many lagers at all.
I opened this bottle because I needed about a half of a bottle of beer to put in a marrinade for a chicken I am doing for dinner tonight.
WOW...what a perfect addition that was and what a great meal it is going to make.
Pours an orange amber with a half finger head that melts to a surprisingly sticky lacing.
Aroma is definately toasted malt.
Taste is an incredible smooth caramel malt that melts to a smokey goodness as you swallow.
Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth with just a hint of the carbonation.
Aftertaste...duh....smoke? Yeah...definately.
I haven't had this in a lager before and have to say it is wonderful.
Suddenly a lager that works both with a meal or as a desert (to say nothing of what it would do with cheese.)
Good stuff.

IntriqKen, Sep 17, 2006
Photo of Bitterbill
3.83/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle a hazy reddish-gold with a an ample head of foam that shrank quickly but left a layer that remained for the entire session.

The smell is of semi sweet malt with a touch of smoke.

The taste is woody with notes of smoke and roasted malt. The smoke, to me, is more noticeable midway through and in the finish where it *does* have a bit of harshness to it but, all in all, I like this brew and find it pretty drinkable.

Bitterbill, Sep 03, 2006
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear amber with a tan bubbly head. Fades to ok lace.

Aroma is beefy with mesquite and peat. Caramel.

Taste is Aecht like. Not bad. Lots of smoke and BBQ. Pork, cedar, tobacco, graham crackers.

Sweetish, medium body, leafy bitter finish. Nice carbonation.

Drinkability is high. This is a very mellow rauch sort of beer and would pair well with tropical fruits, soft cheeses, strawberries, pear, etc…

DaPeculierDane, Aug 19, 2006
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.78/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a reddish hued, lightly hazy, amber color that is topped by a one-finger thick tan colored head that disappears pretty quickly. The aroma is quite malty; accented by notes of toasted malt, caramelized grain and a nice, fresh from the oven kind of caramelized bread crust aromatic. This actually has aromatic notes to it that remind me of a rich doppelbock; totally unexpected as I was expecting a macro-style lager from this beer.

The flavor is rich and malty as well, plus there seems to be an ample smokiness to this brew. I knew there was something in the aroma that I recognized, but couldn't quite place. The smoke character is unmistakable in the flavor, and even the aroma of smoke is quite apparent now that I have placed it. I love a good Rauchbier, and this one certainly fits the bill. The smoke is not as strong as some, but is at a nice noticeable level. The base beer is rich and malty, with notes of caramelized malt, toasted grain and a touch of sweetness. There is actually a fair amount of sweet maltiness here, it is just really tempered by the smoke character. In fact the sweet malt and dry smokiness strike a really nice balance together; the balance leans towards the smoky side of things, but the sweet malt note are apparent. A touch of spicy hop character rounds out the complexity of this brew.

What a pleasant treat, here I was expecting a bland macro-wannabee, that'll teach me to open a beer blind (not really, because the surprise was really nice as well). Smooth drinking and smoky a real treat. The smokiness leans towards the Spezial side of the Rauchbier spectrum (lightly smoky), so I would certainly welcome more smoke character, but as is, this strikes a really nice balance.

Gueuzedude, Jul 26, 2006
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into the glass crystal clear amber wtih a tannish low tight bubbled head which lasted like a champ to lace the glass.

The aroma was smoky with a nice caramel aspect. The smoke was light and the aroma also was lightly fruity.

The flavor was smooth with caramel in the front followed immediately, or perhaps even at the same time by a low level smoky character. The smoke added complexity, and was at no time over the top. The flavor was malty and nutty and may have been an underlying Vienna or light Maerzen.

The finish was dry with a lasting smoke and caramel/nutty character long into the aftertaste. The body was medium and the carbonation level just about right. A nice smoked beer, might have to go out and pick up some more of this one.

12 ounce bottle.

GCBrewingCo, Jun 14, 2006
Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
80 out of 100 based on 318 ratings.