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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 jadpsu


3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2010 19:45:32 | More by jadpsu
Photo of Avagadro

New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Z Lager is honey-hued, and topped with a thin layer of froth. Lacing is present, but the bubbles are lazy in traveling through the brew's slightly hazy body.

S: The nose is appetizing, with notes of caramel, smoke, and a touch of hops.

T: This beer is very well balanced, with malt, hops, and smoke all playing their part. Bready toasted malt, spicy continental hops, and a subtle note of hardwood smoke play elegantly together.

M: Light body, good carbonation, and a clean finish.

D: A great brew, and an excellent choice for someone looking to get into smoke brews. Z's smoke is subtle, but easily perceived, so that it will give the drinker a good idea of what smoke is all about without overwhelming them. All-in-all, this is a very well balanced brew that deserves some attention.

Serving type: on-tap

03-08-2011 22:47:49 | More by Avagadro
Photo of StonedTrippin


3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

one of the better fort collins brews. has a fantastic nose of smoked malt and dried pitted fruit. described as a lager, there is nothing lager about what i taste here. smokey like a grill fire, slightly sweet like caramelized malts, and quite refreshing despite its heavy flavors. this beer is in excellent balance and the mouthfeel is just right. fuller bodied for a lager, and well carbonated. i could easily down a sixpack of these in a session any time of year. not as smokey as some of the traditional rauchbiers, but in that vein. this is great

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2012 19:41:50 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of EgadBananas


3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich, dark amber color. A finger of dark off-white head adorns and dissipates to a nice foamy ring.

The aroma isn't huge an in your face, but what's there is quite pleasant. There's an initial smoky, woody aroma, with a fairly rich, sweet caramel. There's also some faint chocolate notes that were unexpected, but not unwelcomed.

The taste has a pretty upfront caramel maltiness, with some touches of woody smoke. It's balanced pretty nicely by some bittering hops.

It's fairly light bodied, easy to consume.

I went into this thinking it was going to be meh, but I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it's not a very in your face rauchbier, but it's a well put together beer and tasty, despite being on the mild side for the style.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2012 23:52:46 | More by EgadBananas
Photo of sulldaddy


3.95/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A treat from prAna.
I am sampling a 12 oz bottle in a snifter slightly chilled.
The beer pours a clear chestnut color with a quickly receding beige head that remains as an edge layer throughout sampling.
Aroma is smoky bacon and caramel.
First sip reveals an average body and very mild carbonation that rolls across my palate.
Flavor is smoke and caramel with a crisp finish that leaves a bit of smoke on my palate. A very smooth and easy to drink beer that isnt just smoke smoke and more smoke. tasty!

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2005 02:33:10 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of Vancer


3.95/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surprising pour of a clear mahogany brown (for a lager), ivory head was weak and wilted like the STL grass in the 95 degree heat.

Malty aroma, and another surprising quaff of smoked peat - this a lager or a smoked scotch ale? I like smoke, so this is a nice tasting frosty for me.

Ok - I see from BA that this IS a smoked beer - the label through me off. This is a tasty, easy going smoked beer, I'd go for a sixer in the cooler weather for sure.

Fort Collins seems to delivery a solid lineup of brews. Cheers.

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2008 20:43:08 | More by Vancer
Photo of Haybeerman


3.95/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep, clear copper color. Poured a 1 finger light brown head that dissipated to a skim. Broken, inconsistent lacing throughout.

S: Light woodsmoke initially that lessened as the head dissipated. Malty aromas filled in;; hay, grass and grains. Citrus notes give the nose a tickle.

T: Woodsmoke and slightly sweet biscuit malts up fornt. Bitter in the finish is crisp and dry.

M: Medium body. Balanced carbonation. Long, lingering dry finish.

D: Interestingly tasty beer with good balance. The smoke is not overdone so it doesn't taste like the bottom of an ashtray. I don't know about a session beer, but I'd definitely drink it again.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2009 19:33:12 | More by Haybeerman
Photo of flexabull


3.95/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright copper color with a thin white head, a little lacing.

Aromas are nice, distinct caramel, sweet grains, and hints of smoke.

Taste is more smoky than the nose suggests. Light caramel sweetness, cereal grain, with brewed tea notes, and light creamy sweetness. Finish is has a nice crispness, with solid undertones of smoky wood. Nice balanced flavors.

Mouthfeel is nice and full, with good carbonation.

Overall a very solid smoked lager. This is well worth trying if you are a smoked beer fan.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2011 19:06:43 | More by flexabull
Photo of Rzzzzz


3.93/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I probably picked the wrong time to try this one, but I did not take a close look at the label until I had already poured it into the glass. There has been so much smoke in the air over the past week from the California wildfires that my senses are practically numb to it.

Nevertheless...poured into a pint glass, this beer presented itself as a nice orange/amber with good clarity and a thin, short-lived head. Caramel malt aroma, with what seemed to me to be a faint hint of smoke. Strong malt character on the palate, with some hop bitterness at the finish, and an overall light smokiness. Medium bodied, flavorful and refreshing.

As I said, my senses have been saturated with smoke for the past week, so whether the smoke characteristics of this beer will seem as understated to you as they did to me is questionable. But from my perspective the smoke certainly did not get in the way of the malt flavor, it simply rounded it out.

Would like to get my hands on another one of these some day after the smoke has cleared.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2008 14:09:52 | More by Rzzzzz
Photo of Wasatch


3.93/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clean/clear dark golden amber color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy white head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some nice smoke notes, and some spice. The taste is slightly sweet, malty, smoky, with some spice. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a tasty brew, not too much smoke.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2008 02:50:44 | More by Wasatch
Photo of cjgator3


3.93/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

A- Pours a clear copper colored brown with an off-white head.

S- The aroma is sweet malt, caramel and some smoke as well. Not a huge amount of smokiness, but it is definitely there.

T- The taste like the aroma is made up largely of smoked malts with some caramel and a touch of hops in the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is light bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- I'm a big fan of smoked beers and this is another tasty one. Not my favorite, but an easy drinking one that I wouldn't mind having again. Would make an excellent tailgating/cookout beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2009 04:07:13 | More by cjgator3
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?

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2007 12:14:13 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of Lexluthor33

New York

3.9/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber color with a medium head and long lasting lace.

The aroma was mostly malts and smoke.
The taste starts off with a mildly bitter yet smoky sausage grilled flavor. Some light hops.

The feel is slightly creamy,smooth,medium body and low carbonation.

Notes: This was so welcomed at my latest grilling session. Smoky and flavorful,but not overwhelming.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2009 00:28:27 | More by Lexluthor33
Photo of BeerCon5


3.9/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with maybe one finger of fluffy off-white head that leaves decent retention.

The scent is that of smokey malts, caramel, and some spice notes.

The taste is of slight sweet, smokey malt, some notes of earthy hops, and some caramel.

Light bodied, smooth and crisp, moderate carbonation.

I thought this was a nice, more mild version of the style, the smokiness isn't so dominant that you don't have a difficult time tasting what else is here.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2012 18:43:01 | More by BeerCon5
Photo of Donnie2112


3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

dark translucent brownish amber with hues of red

aromas of hickory smoke and sweet malt

certainly smoky, just a bit of sweetness, some burnt sugar as well as a smokiness that reminds me of the smokey flavor in a good peice of smoked salmon or pork just a bit of hops that leaves just a hint of sourness on the finish

medium light and just a bit dry, around medium carbonation

nice and snappy, it's a good beer, really solid beer I am planning on pouring a glass of scotch to drink along side this one.

Serving type: bottle

08-05-2008 00:01:01 | More by Donnie2112
Photo of ectomorph


3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another smokey offering from Ft. Collins. **keeps an open mind**

A - Nice clear copper in color, little carbonation/head, but it is there.

S - I picked up no smoke in the nose (surprised). Caramel and bread like.

T - Mild smoke flavors shine through. I appreciate the subtlety more so than in its' Kidd counterpart. This one is making me a fan.

M - Medium body, a tidge more carbonation and it scores a 4.5 here.

D - Any BBQ and I'll take 10.

Serving type: bottle

08-09-2008 19:08:43 | More by ectomorph
Photo of williamherbert

New York

3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is flaming, clear red-orange. Not much head retention. Looks a bit watery. Tiny bubbles.

Lagery malt smells, topped by a bacon-y, smoky aroma. Tad of roasted barley.

The lager malt taste is crisp and sweetish. Has a bready quality (all-malt). Notes of mocha and cocoa; caramel malts, toasted. Leaves a smoky aftertaste.

The feel is lagery smooth, but with a creamy, ashy feel at the swallow. Smoky and pretty nice. Really a lager with hints of smoke rather than a true Rauchbier.

Serving type: bottle

04-11-2009 17:33:30 | More by williamherbert
Photo of PEBKAC

New York

3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into my Sly Fox tumbler. Blank BB date box on the bottom left corner. Purchased two months ago at New Beer.

Two inches of fragile coffee creamer head. A just slightly hazed caramel amber color.

Smells of caramel, itchy red pepper flakes, & salty bacon grease. More so in the background, I get some stale chocolate & a tease of bitter greens.

Taste upfront with caramel & crackermeal, followed up with sweet smoke similar to hickory. The meatiness of the brew comes off more like smoked turkey then the expected bacon or sausage or rib meat. Moderately juicy & salivating. Just a twinge of bitter pine resin gives some extra dimension to a usually one-sided style.

Frothy, slightly lower carbed mouthfeel & a chalky finish.

Enjoyable. :)

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2009 00:37:27 | More by PEBKAC
Photo of Cyberkedi


3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2010 01:28:54 | More by Cyberkedi
Photo of FickleBeast

New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2010 03:58:13 | More by FickleBeast
Photo of jera1350


3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2010 01:22:33 | More by jera1350
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2007 15:42:46 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of Homerbag


3.85/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bright oragne ody with finger thick head that stays thick.

Smell is of light smoke on top of malt and clean mineral water. The taste of smoke is there but not obnoixious at all. The smoke brings out an almost woody character to the malts and give a nice touch to the overall palate. Feel is clean and crisp. This is a good beer to have with BBQ and stands alone on its own. I would have this again, but I would have to be in the mood for it. I don't always want smoke in my beer, but I enjoyed this.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2008 07:32:38 | More by Homerbag
Photo of n00tz


3.85/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Light amber body, blonde head diminishes fast.

S - Very smoky, slight yeast(bread), with some flowery hops smell.

T - Smoke like a good pork sandwich. Tasty flowery hops finish. Would go great with any meat.

M - Could use a little more activity in the carbonation, but it wasn't flat.

D - If I were a restaurant owner I'd be sure to keep these in stock with my pork, beef, and chicken. Excellent drinkability with any meal.

Serving type: bottle

09-13-2008 22:47:19 | More by n00tz
Photo of Skidz


3.83/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out bright orange brown and sits a beautiful deep orange amber in the glass with a small off white head, fading to a light skim. Impressive gradient from bright gold to deep amber in the tuliped glass.

Aroma is deep and malty with big sugary sides of dark caramel and toffee. Wooden, oaky undertones and a mild phenolic presence. Some dark, leafy green aromas.

Full malt presence up front, a bit gritty. Caramel, toffee and roasted brown sugar sweeten up against a very mild smoke flavor that offers a hint of woodeness. Finishes nicely bittered, mildly peppery with green flavors abound.

Creamy, silky just plain smooth in the mouth. Medium bodied and slightly stringy.

Quite easy to drink, though the phenolic presence is a bit distracting. Otherwise pleasant.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2005 22:07:39 | More by Skidz
Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
80 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.