1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Z Lager - The Fort Collins Brewery

Not Rated.
Z LagerZ Lager

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

319 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 319
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 319 | Reviews: 215 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bung
4/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Orange/amber pour, good size white head. Strong malty aroma with hints of some smoke. Tastes reminds me more of a dopplebock, malty raisin and peat. Smoke is really just an accent here. Finishes some smoke and hops. Very drinkable, good example.

Bung, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of CWhite
4/5  rDev +13.3%

CWhite, Sep 07, 2012
Photo of DarthKostrizer
4/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Deep copper color with 1/4 inch head and ok retention

Smell: Nice amount of smoke upfront and traces of caramel and toffee in the background

Taste: Smoke upfront that reminds me of smoked alderwood. There are a couple other very muted flavors like toffee but this beer is smoke forward and does not let up

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation nice feel to it

Overall: Very good smoked lager. Highly recommended if you like smoked beers

DarthKostrizer, Aug 13, 2011
Photo of baklo
4/5  rDev +13.3%

baklo, Oct 22, 2013
Photo of UltimateLivewire
4/5  rDev +13.3%

UltimateLivewire, Mar 12, 2012
Photo of doowhat
4/5  rDev +13.3%

doowhat, Feb 25, 2014
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of ChrisKayler
4/5  rDev +13.3%

ChrisKayler, May 30, 2013
Photo of Ispeakforthetrees
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Ispeakforthetrees, Sep 19, 2012
Photo of stevecooks
4/5  rDev +13.3%

stevecooks, Dec 07, 2011
Photo of rolltide8425
4/5  rDev +13.3%

rolltide8425, Jul 06, 2013
Photo of Gyle41386
4/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a stange.

Very cautious pour (because I had no clue what to expect from pouring into a stange) gives me a bit more than a finger of rich foam on top of a orange (think Texas Longhorns orange) body. Head retention is pretty good, and there's a decent amount of lacing left on the glass.

Smells sweet and meaty. Make your own jokes here. Not nearly as smoky as I thought it would be. Like if you took a caramel, covered it in salt, and threw it in the smoker with the briskets. That sounds awful, I know, but delicious at the same time.

The taste basically follows the aroma. To be honest, I was really dreading this beer because I dislike overpowering smokiness, but this is not unpleasant at all. It's got a nice little sweet/bitter combo going with the caramel flavor and the smoke.

Medium bodied, with an appropriate carbonation level. Surprisingly easy drinker. Just a subtle kiss from the smoke in the finish. Very, very pleasant surprise.

Gyle41386, Nov 01, 2009
Photo of WDJersey
4/5  rDev +13.3%

WDJersey, Oct 27, 2012
Photo of vipergtsr171
4/5  rDev +13.3%

vipergtsr171, Nov 13, 2012
Photo of MarkyMOD
4/5  rDev +13.3%

MarkyMOD, Sep 11, 2012
Photo of chasmandocharles
4/5  rDev +13.3%

chasmandocharles, Nov 02, 2012
Photo of Brenden
3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

Brenden, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of GarrisWH
3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep, clear, reddish amber with a minimal, light tan head that diminishes to a spotty cap fairly quickly. Not a whole lot in terms of lacing.

S - Sweet, toasted malt aromas with a substantial woody smokiness. A slight spicy hoppiness hiding in the background.

T - Toasted malts with a sweet, caramel character up front. Then the smokiness pushes through along with crisp, fruity, apple apple flavors. Smokiness carries through the finish, which also has a nice, ever-so-slightly bitter, spicy hop kick. I like how the smoke flavors are pronounced, but are kept in check in this one. Nice, fairly complex flavors.

M - Medium bodied with nice, crisp carbonation.

D - Easy drinking with a nice flavor profile. Solid smoke presence that manages to stand out without being overpowering. I don't have a lot of experience with Rauchbiers, but enjoyed this offering quite a bit.

GarrisWH, Aug 28, 2009
Photo of TexIndy
3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got from ummagum - many thanks! Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. No dating info. It was clear amber color with sight carbonation and slight sliding lace. It had an average sized off-white head that slowly dissipated into a barely there collar. Other reviews noted bigger and longer lasting head plus better lacing. Since no date on this one can't tell if freshness issue or something else.

The aroma is heavy on smoke - awesome! I love rauchbiers and this one has a great aroma to it. As it warms, the smokes fades a bit and the caramel malt starts to come thru as well. Glad the malt showed up but wished the smoke had stuck around longer. By the end, it had faded quite a bit. The taste was also really good. Starts out with a good caramel malt taste and then the smoke kicks in for a great finish. Again, as it warmed the smoke really faded. If it had stuck around, the aroma and taste scores would have been half a point higher for me.

Overall, a great beer that just misses on being legendary since the awesome smoke aroma and taste really start to fade halfway thru. As I noted earlier, mine was missing some head and lacing that others got so I may not have had a fresh one. Will need to re-try this one in the future and possibly re-review it. For now, still highly recommend. As is, it would be a player in the rotation. If the smoke sticks around longer, it could be a major player.

TexIndy, Mar 08, 2009
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.

EgadBananas, Apr 18, 2012
Photo of feelmefoam
3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a Stone pint glass.

Pours a light brown with orange highlights, slightly murky, with a small amount of visible carbonation. Puts up a finger of off-white head that leaves a pretty nice amount of lacing.

Interesting smell... I've never had a Rauchbier before, but the smell is as the site and bottle describe, I smell smoked meat followed by a little maltiness, though I can't put my finger on what kind.

This is quite the interesting beer. Although at first I was put off by the thought of drinking beef jerky, it's actually pretty damn good. A nice malty sweetness up front gives the beer a pretty solid body on which to build up to the smokiness that comes in at the end of each swig. A hefty amount of smokiness, but not overpowering, rather it is well balanced and combines well with the malts to give the beer a pleasurable 'fiery' feel. I could actually picture drinking this on a cold night by a roaring fire somewhere.

Nice medium-heavy body that works well with the smokiness to provide a good backup to the flavors. Good choice, I'd much rather have this beer be a thicker sipper than a thin, smoky mess. As it is, its like drinking a different kind of porter with a bit of meatiness to it. Smooth, yet assertive.

Drinkable, a sipper for me, but would go oh so well with some choice meaty/ cheesy foods. I actually like this style quite a bit, at least from what I can tell from Fort Collins version. I understand there are smokier versions out there; I'm curious to try them at some point. I'm kind of excited that I like this style, seeing as how it may not be the most popular with everyone. Good stuff, Fort Collins.

feelmefoam, Dec 10, 2009
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.

jadpsu, Aug 01, 2010
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 Avagadro
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.

Avagadro, Mar 08, 2011
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

StonedTrippin, Jan 09, 2012
Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 319 ratings.