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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 DesMoinesMike


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

A medium copper color with light carbonation and little foam. The aroma has a mild smokiness reminiscent hickory chips in a fire pit. The taste has a nice maltiness but I was expecting a little denser body, which seems a tad watered down, probably from being produced on the level it is. It has promise up front with the aroma but is weak on the follow-through.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2011 01:03:47 | More by DesMoinesMike
Photo of rawfish


3.15/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours dark amber with garnet highlights a fizzing yellowish head accumulates a finger in height. The retention is moderate but no lacing is left on the glass.

The nose is actually pretty strong on this one, especially for a lager, caramel malts, wood fire smoke, cinnamon spice and sweet fruits with a little bit of nail polish remover solvent. The result is something like wood chips soaked in apple cider.

Caramel malts likely also crystal, comes off as sweet and gets rather tiring. Light smoky flavors help balance this out a bit, in addition there's some noticable fruity yeast quality, apple, with spicy earthy hops for some balance on the back end. Finishes surprisingly clean.

Rather light mouth feel bordering on watery with practically no carbonation. Decent with food but not your typical crisp, refreshing lager.

A unique brew but really not what I'm looking for in an enjoyable beer. Smokey qualities are adequately demonstrated but without much of a hop presence to balance the malty sweetness it begins to get flat and unpleasant. FCB could deliver this one a bit better.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2011 05:08:54 | More by rawfish
Photo of Jesse13713


1.55/5  rDev -56.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Appearance - Pours a smoked cloudy caramel brown. No real hint of amber color on this one. Low carbonation and poor lacing.

Smell - A very strong smoked smell. Small hints of bacon that slowly take over the smell of the beer.

Taste - I definitely get that 'smoked on the fire' description as stated on the bottle. However, this isn't necessarily a good taste. It pairs poorly with the smokey bacon light body. No hop or ethanol characteristics at all.

Mouthfeel - An unpleasant smokey taste. It tastes like I'm guzzling down ground up campfire coals.

Drinkability - Easily drinkable but not very enjoyable.

The verdict - I personally did enjoy this beer at all. I was very disappointed with it after getting excited to see it in my local store. It tasted very similar to Three Skulls Buccaner Bacon, which was also not very good.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2011 05:19:34 | More by Jesse13713
Photo of sweemzander


1.75/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

12oz. bottle poured into a nonic. Thanks to cjacobsen for this one. . i think.

(A)- Pours a dark/burnt caramel colored amber. Produced some tan bubbles and froth.

(S)- Intensely smoky. Bits of a rye-like caraway seed spice, but otherwise just smells like liquid smoke and a sickly sweet soy sauce or old molasses and fermented raisins.

(T)- Same as the smell. Tastes like liquid smoke and a sickly sweet, almost sour flavor like bad raisins or something.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Extremely smoky and so sugary, its almost sour if that makes any sense.

(D)- I am no a fan. I am appreciate a good smoked beer, but I am not sure what this wants to be.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2011 21:57:11 | More by sweemzander
Photo of IronGiant

New Jersey

1.75/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I was talking with the manager of my local brew bar about Fort Collins beer. We're both big fans of Fort Collins brews and I was surprised when he said he had a FC beer he couldn't give away. "I put it on sale for a dollar and no one will drink it."

Okay, so I had to try it. Pour me the Z Lager.

Z Lager looks very nice in a pint glass. It smells smokey, which is to be expected for this style. But then...there is the taste.

The best descriptions I have come from two other bar patrons:

Patron 1: "This tastes like they drained bacon fat from a dirty griddle into this glass."

Patron 2: "No, this tastes like I accidentally dropped my cigarette in the glass then picked it up and drank it."

I like a rich, smoky beer, but I don't like this one. Nope, it really is cigarette bacon beer.

Odd that this comes from Fort Collins which brews such great beers. Their Rocky Mountain IPA is one of my favorites and is an undiscovered gem.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2011 01:26:52 | More by IronGiant
Photo of rhoadsrage


2.65/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

(Served in a dimple mug)
A- This beer has a slightly dense dark copper body with a yellowish antique white head that last for a good bid. There is a good carbonation of big bubbles that glide to the surface.
S- The rich caramel malt aroma has some Munich malt note in the finish.
T- The nice caramel sweet malt is quickly overpowered by plastic band-aid that wrap up my tongue and the full flavor of latex gloves finishes the beer and lingers.
M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a flat texture and a soft fizz finish.
D- This beer is undrinkable with a great nose, and a nice malt flavor buried under the awful peat smoke/chlorine phenol quality. I love rauchbiers and this is not one. It is to harsh to drink.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2011 04:24:06 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of BDIMike


2.35/5  rDev -33.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2010 02:34:23 | More by BDIMike
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 Beejay


3.1/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2010 04:32:38 | More by Beejay
Photo of rembrant


4.08/5  rDev +15.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2010 01:31:14 | More by rembrant
Photo of Vdubb86


3.7/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2010 17:46:37 | More by Vdubb86
Photo of Franz4


2.85/5  rDev -19.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2010 00:09:29 | More by Franz4
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 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 drizzam


3.83/5  rDev +8.5%
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..

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2010 04:22:04 | More by drizzam
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 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.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2010 18:54:51 | More by Brenden
Photo of ZAP


4.2/5  rDev +19%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2010 23:44:52 | More by ZAP
Photo of DrDemento456


4.35/5  rDev +23.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2010 04:41:09 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of Cylinsier


4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2010 23:05:41 | More by Cylinsier
Photo of hosehead83


4.3/5  rDev +21.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2010 15:35:54 | More by hosehead83
Photo of htomsirveaux


3.83/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2010 01:53:34 | More by htomsirveaux
Photo of jonziefle

North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +18.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2010 04:49:37 | More by jonziefle
Photo of Rayek


3.78/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2010 04:26:19 | More by Rayek
Photo of ATPete

New Jersey

3/5  rDev -15%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2010 00:41:32 | More by ATPete
Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
80 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.