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Z Lager - The Fort Collins Brewery

Not Rated.
Z LagerZ Lager

Educational use only; do not reuse.

216 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 216
Hads: 321
Avg: 3.55
pDev: 16.34%
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:
Beer added by: Crosling on 12-06-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 216 | Hads: 321
Photo of BDIMike
2.38/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Pours a clear amber color with a very thin white head. However, there is a nice lace that stays as I drink.
Smell is a strong smoky taste. The smoke overpowers any other smells in the drink.
Taste is purely of smoke. There is such a strong smoke taste that it overwhelms anything else advertised on the label.
Mouthfeel is okay. There is a medium to little thickness, but a sharp and harsh aftertaste that is not pleasant.
Drinkability is bad. I can't finish this beer. I finish every beer I start. I normally love Fort Collins, but I would not recommend this beer to anyone.

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Photo of cjacobsen
3.29/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

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Photo of Beejay
3.12/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Medium brown with ruby when held up to the light. Some tan head, but is fades to large bubbles.

S: Malty and bready. With a hint of sweet smoke. Perhaps a touch of a yeast scent.

T: A nice crisp flavor, with lots of bready notes. Semi sweet, with a touch of smoke in the back. To be honest, I was expecting a bit more smoke.

M: Medium in body, with fairly high carbonation.

D: Tasty, but forgetful. A good change up, but not interesting enough to be a regular purchase. Want more smoke.

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Photo of rembrant
4.03/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

LOOK Brownish amber with a handsome froth,much lace on the glass

AROMA Mostly grain and yeast,somewhat typical of a lager though a trace of toffee and smoke.

Taste Not too shabby,a heartier than normal Lager,I'm guessing some amber/mid brown malts rather than typical Lager malts,and the smoke provides a lot of the finish with some subtle German style hops that gently bitter with out bring a lot of their own tastes.
This is not so smokey you tend to regard it as only good for a summer cookout. It's a comfy drinker,basically a good Amber/Lager with a tasty something extra.

Mouth Decently rich and full,more so than normal for a Lager,a type that can be too thin and wet. Almost creamy. Pretty minimal on carbonation,not flat but seems there was some trade off between more body and more sparkle and sparkle lost. The smoke helps cover for missing fizz,and it comes off as a sturdy enough middleweight beer.

DRINKABILITY Pretty good,No heat,no over abrassive elements at all. Smoke isn't too big to make it a repeat drink.

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Photo of Vdubb86
3.72/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

This beer pours a deep amber color with a head of off-white foam that reduces to a film on the surface. The aroma of this beer is mostly of caramel, but if you dig real deep you can pull out the smoke aroma that is supposed to be there. There are also hints of ginger and cinnamon. The taste is much lighter than I would have expected, there is an initial bitterness that is immediately followed by a sweet caramel flavor. The aftertaste is where the smoke comes in and it's rather obvious on the aftertaste palate. Honestly it's not nearly as strong as I was thinking that it would be on the overall palate. The palate is odd to me. Everything seems to be there, but still it seems thin in the body. This is a drinkable beer, nothing overall wrong with it, but it's a stoically unimpressive. Good beer not great.

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Photo of Franz4
2.9/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- penny copper with a small head that faded quickly, just a bit of lacing, translucent, not hazy.

S- just a hint of smoke with some malt sweetness coming through as well.

T- pine resin with just a hint of smoke, a little caramel in the taste

M- light bodied, lightly carbonated, not much to it.

D- drinkable yes, as there's nothing particularly aversive, but there are better smoked beers out there, won't be seeking this out again.

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Photo of dudemuskie
3.47/5  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.

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Photo of jera1350
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clean copper color with a thin tan head of suds that create a bit of lacing around the glass.

Not a lot of smoke to be had in the nose. If I didn't know this was a smoked beer, I wouldn't be able to pick it out. There is a nice caramel and lightly roasted grain scent however. A bit of cracker.

Toasted cracker, light woodiness, bit of caramel sweetness, but not much. Ah, there comes the smoke in the aftertaste. Not very strong but leaves a nice campfire char in the mouth. It is a bit like a smoked jerky as it warms. Quite enjoyable.

Clean and almost crisp. Carbonation is mostly soft and smooth. Between light and medium bodied with a dry finish.

This is a nice beer. Not great, but it does drink well and I feel it would work nicely as a fall beer, especially around a campfire. This would pair awesomely with any grilled fare.

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Photo of drizzam
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a hazy dark amber/dark red in color, topped by a thin off white cap for a head. The head wasn't all that impressive, and it didn't leave a lot in terms of lacing.

S - The aroma is a mild caramelized malt with a very mild smoke aroma. It takes a bit of warming for the brews smokiness to really come through.

T & M - There is a decent smokiness as I drink this, one that is much more pronounced than in the aroma. There also seems to be a bit of that caramelized malt to help balance it out just slightly, but the smoke is predominant in this one. The mouthfeel is on the watery side...certainly more on the light side. Not a lot of complexity, but maybe the style doesn't lend itself to complexity.

D - Fort Collins has had a lot of brews that I have enjoyed a lot...this version of a Rauchbier isn't terrible, and it is something that anybody should try. There are certainly areas that could be improved, but overall I was quite impressed by it..

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Photo of jadpsu
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours crystal clear amber with slightly off white heat that provides rather loose and weak head retention.
Smell is smokey, malty and with some sweat caramel showing up.
Taste includes more of the same, smokey and burnt but while quite evident it is also on the subtle side. Not sure I have ever had a Rauchbier but based on the literature about it this one is very true to its style.
Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth and finishes with a sweetness yet semi dry finish.

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Photo of Brenden
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes are from about a month ago.

This brew pours out a deep amber/copper color. A small white head maintains an above-average retention with some spotty lacing remaining on the glass.
The smell is of a sturdy malt and obvious smoky tones that are strong without being overdone. It's more of a woody smoke like mesquite. This isn't much of the charcoal harshness in the aroma, and it's all backed by a leafy hops note.
The taste follows suit with a bit more caramel sweetness evident on the tongue, adding for a nice balance. The hops lingers underneath the strong malt and smoky undertones, making for a well-balanced sip and a dry finish.
The body is medium and the carbonation is pretty moderate. Each sip starts of with just a bit of a nip and smooths out a bit.
This is a solid brew, and an interesting idea to make a rauchbier out of an amber lager rather than a darker, sturdier brew, but it works well here.

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Photo of ZAP
4.22/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Burnt orange color....nice smoked malt aroma...relatively subtle but noticable....Body is about medium but firm...nice smoked malt flavor...a bit of caramel as well....clean tasting...excellent drinker...well done..This would be an excellent summer BBQ beer.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.3/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Man I can't believe I forgot to review this! Got this in my FC variety case.

A - Medium copper color with white head and lacing.

S - Mostly of burnt grain and slight wheat. Smoky.

T - Wow. I expected more of a bitterness but it quickly rounds to a smoky grain flavor that finishes sweet. Pretty memorable!

M - Very light and drinkable.

D - Well I got two and they are sadly gone but I have to agree with everyone if you never had a Rauchbier this was a pretty darn good one.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.05/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours a hazy honey gold with white lacing.

Smells of coppery lager malts and fruity sweetness.

Tastes smokey and toasted, totally unexpected. Sweet grain malts over a fire.

Feel is moderate with minimal carbonation.

Such a unique lager...everyone should try this once just to experience it.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.27/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a standard pint glass
Clear, copper/amber in color , with a moderate head of foam
Aroma-Subtle smoked malts, faint smoked almonds
Taste-Woodsmoke and caramel notes, hickory chips, lightly charred meat
Overall, understated and flavorful, not overly done. Subtle and interesting-Very drinkable.
An excellent pairing with grilled, smoked, or BBQ'd meats.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.82/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle tried 14 Dec 2009.

Served in a 0.4 L Edel Pis dimpled mug. Medium brown head. Moderate carbonation. Clear dark ruby red color. Smoky caramely bacony aroma. Taste is quite similar, like smoky pancetta, caramel, smoked almonds. Finish is sweet, smoky and almondy. Moderate alcohol. Medium body.

Like drinking a BBQ.

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Photo of jonziefle
4.14/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a slightly cloudy brown color, with moderate visible carbonation. Half-finger bubbly head that diminishes immediately. No lacing.

Smell: Strong smokey/roasted malts, with significant chocolate and caramel flavors as well. Slight hint of some dark fruit hops, but not much. Not much sweetness in the nose.

Taste: Smokey and caramel malts, with some bitterness at first. Moderate sweetness. Interesting.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a nice carbonation bite. Smooth.

Drinkability: A very interesting beer; my first Rauchbier. Very smokey and malty, with more flavor than the usual lager. If you like smokey beers, without the intense alcohol and body of a stout/porter, this one is for you.

Buy Again? Yes.

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Photo of Rayek
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Stange.

A: Deep amber, with great clarity and minimal carbonation. An eggshell cap starts strong and slowly retreats to a thin film. Leaves a nice amount of lace.

S: Smoked malts are out front, but not overpowering. They mix with a caramel sweetness and light woodsy aroma to create what's best described as a mesquite barbecue effect.

T: The aromas carry through nicely into the flavor. The overall profile is light rather than assertive. The smoked malt is still out front. Bitterness has a lemon and pepper bite that's just enough to provide balance. The only detracting quality is a slight astringency in the finish.

M: The medium-light body is dry and has about the right amount of fizz.

D: This is a nice and safe Rauchbier. Its light flavor makes it a good intro to the style for the newcomer. A nice pickup.

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Photo of ATPete
3/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle

Smoke From the O...wait a minute, dont get me started on this breweries label designs...

Pours an orange brown color with a medium sized peachy head. A mild smokeyness in the nose which is very dominated by a sweet malt note. Some further smokeyness in its flavor as well, again very mild. Good active carbonation helps its drinkability. A style not explored by many US brewers for a reason, this offering was average at best.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.2/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour - nice dark amber color, very clean and clear in appearance. There are some reddish highlights and a very thick, well-formed, off-white head.

Aroma - yes, its smoky (but not bacon). Its a subtle smoke, like a distant campfire on a warm summer night. Along with the very tantalizing smoke is some fruitiness like apples. I love the smell of this style of beer.

Taste - soft smoked malt flavor. By soft, I mean its not abrasive or dominating but melts very well with the sweet maltiness, the apple and pear ester flavors and the tangy caramel flavor. The finish to this beer is nice and crisp which really keeps things clean.

Overall - I really enjoyed this beer. I didn't know what to expect going in but was MORE than pleasantly surprised by the quality of this rauchbier. Great stuff and well worth giving a shot of you are a fan of smoked beers.

Would I buy more of it? - I might, I just might.

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Photo of SamN
4.06/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ahh, a Collins classic, poured into a dimpled stein.

A- Very deep and beautiful copper red, with sparkling clarity. The head is this fantastic ultra-foamy puffy dollop of just tan white foam that just doesn't quit. Great head, one of the best I've seen in a dog's age, but goddamn, this color has to be seen to be believed, deep and rich like a gemstone. An absolute stunner right here.

S- Mmmm, what a great aroma. Pity those who've never got a faceful of a mug filled with German smoke beer-- one of the greatest joys in my life is sitting at Mishawaka Amphitheater, by the raging summer Pourde, on a late summer afternoon inhaling deeply this beer between glugs. Rich autumn notes; roasted grain malt, that unique beechwood smoke aroma,. Two simple smells make one so damn happy with it's rustic scents. Faint hop edge compliments this unique style. An original, that's for sure.

Beer magazine once described it as "a ham and bean smell, but in a totally good way." What more can I say? Case closed.

T- Here the beer takes a turn for Hopstropolis. No, it's not that hoppy. But it's certainly is pronounced. First sip starts mellow like an AIPA, hops forward. The middle swells with porter-like grains and balaned bitterness, finishes on light smoke and bittersweet. Not an overpowering smoked lager, more of a lager with smoked characteristics. The nose is stronger in this regard. Still, a great balanced beer with a unique edge perfect for BBQ pairings, pork being a no-brainer.

M- A lighter lager body, but with a chewiness that adds texture to the flavor, rounding out the beer. Carbonation is nearly flawless, some slight burn at the end interrupts the delicate aftertastes.

D- Very good with a meal. On it's own, this might be a little too unique to really session with.

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Photo of FickleBeast
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours clear amber with a thin ring of foam that dissipates quickly. Aroma is smoky, with no noticeable hoppiness

First taste is a nice crystal malt sweetness which is quickly brushed aside by a moderate smokey flavor. Finishes pretty dry with a lingering smokiness on your tongue.

Certainly an interesting beer... I kinda dig it. The smoke flavors are not overpowering, making this an interesting change of pace from a normal amber ale. Based on this beer, I'd be interested in trying more rauchbiers.

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Photo of rajendra82
2.95/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The burnt orange colored body was topped with a small head, and the overall presentation was typical amber lager. The aroma was malty and mellow with the smoke only evident with some deep breaths. The taste is where this beer fell apart for me. All I got was slightly smoky flavor and sweetened water like industrial malt taste. Not particularly interesting in the approach except the hint of smoke. Pretty thin in the mouth as well with a zap of carbonation like soda water. Not a very good imitation of the Bamberg classics.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.87/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clear coppery amber with a decent, if not persistent, off-white head. Aroma is strong and malty with smoky, fruity and caramel hints. Mouth-filling flavor is malty and slightly fruity with a hint of caramel and a whisper of sweetness. Texture is very smooth and minimally tingly.

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Photo of WeezyBoPeep
3.02/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pure, clear amber with a golden hue and a small, tan head.

S: Smokey malt, campfire smoke and caramel.

T: Smoked meaty flavor, ashy malt, tobacco resin, vanilla and molasses. Vague remnants of dark fruit: raisins, figs, prunes and black cherries. Surprisingly mellow and clean finish.

D: For me, just a taster. This ain't something I'd buy a sixer of.

Value: $8.99 a sixer at my joint. On sale. Good deal I guess if you like this style.

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Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 216 ratings.