Z Lager
The Fort Collins Brewery

Z LagerZ Lager
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German Rauchbier
3.57 | pDev: 16.25%
The Fort Collins Brewery
Colorado, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Z LagerZ Lager
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Reviews: 216 | Ratings: 322
Photo of GregJ
2.82/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Smokey, malty, sweet aroma. Crystal clear deep amber. The smokey flavor lives up to its namesake but is not a nice balance in this beer. The malt flavor and body are too light. It would be a much better fit in a porter with deep roasted malts.

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Photo of BierStein711
4.85/5  rDev +35.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Smells like a great smoked meat!

Color: Amber body with an off-white head, moderate carbonation--head fades to a glimmer with little lacing in about a minute.

Mouthfeel: perfect and smooth

taste: Astringent with a fluffy, smoky finish that teases and lingers.

Overall, this is a brilliant beer! I want one in the summer and spring when I'm grilling--why don't I have some brats with me right now?

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Photo of BrewAskew
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours up to a moderate foam head and leaves bits of foam down the glass. Hazy amber color. Aroma is roasted nuts, biscuit and Munich malts. Flavor is more of the same, although intensity-wise this is reportedly weak for the style. Mouthfeel is light and refreshing, which is also on the low end of style. Overall, I give the beer a 4.5 because here is where I can say screw the style guidelines, I really like this beer.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very fetching burnt amber color that shows the intent of this smoked lager. The head was thick and complete but collared a little too quickly.

The scent is smokey, duh, but has an authentic roasted malt aroma. There's also some caramel malt, roasted nut and tea leaf.

There's a soft smokiness, watery roastiness and touches of malt and nut.The taste is not rich enough, not robust enough for the style. It's still good and tasty but seems to miss the mark.

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Photo of metter98
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is crystal clear amber in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige colored head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface, a thin collar and some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of smoked malts are present in the nose; these become a little stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste very much follows the smell and has flavors of smoked malts along with slight hints of toasted malts and bitterness.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: If I had to introduce someone to a rauchbier, I think this beer would be a good choice because the smoky flavors are subtler and it's lighter in body compared to the standard German beers in this style. Needless to say, it goes down very easily.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours from a bottle into a pint glass.

Pours dark amber, reddish tinted, with a thick 1/4 inch fluffy white foam. Smoky nose, mixed in malt. Taste is thin caramel with a fiery/smoky close. Little bit of bitter hangs out at the finish. Slightly sour. Smoke is a little off putting at the end.

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Photo of estlinska
3.04/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Served from the bottle into a standard shaker at the Pantry on 3/22/13. Pours a dark burnished orange like a worn sun-bleached oak barrel. There is a little cream colored head that dissipates quickly without much lacing left behind. The nose is off. It smells like a standard amber ale with hints of melted sugar and baked brown bread, but there is the smoke smell as well. They just don't work well together on the nose, and it reminds me more of just pure liquid smoke which is just a touch off-putting. The taste is not very smoky though. There is definitely a biscuit taste and some sweet caramel with just a touch of that artificial smoke flavor. Mouthfeel is medium. Overall this is just not working for me. Maybe the smoked flavor is more of a porter thing for me and I need to keep trying things, but I just didn't like it.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.49/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fort Collins Z Lager has a medium, cream colored head, a clear, bubbly amber appearance, and minimal, splotchy lacing. The aroma is mostly of sweet, brown bread crust, but one can pick up a whiff of smoke in the sniff. Taste is of the same, with a nice, hearty, but not heavy, hop bitterness in the sip. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Fort Collins Z Lager finishes crisp, clean, refreshing, and mellow. Overall, this is a much more approachable and drinkable beer that what is offered by the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbiers. Check it out and enjoy!


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Photo of LibrariansLoveBEER
3.25/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Pours an orange/rust color. A one finger head which quickly diminishes, minimal lacing.

Smell: Smells like a lager, hard to detect the smoky notes that are supposed to distinguish this style.

Taste: Tastes like a typical lager. I was expecting more of a smoky taste. I was halfway dreading what I thought might be an overpowering smoky, sooty taste. Not at all, in fact I was mildly disappointed with the lack of distinctiveness.

Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation, brisk, tingly.

Overall: A decent beer. I will not try this beer again, but I intend to try some of the other offerings from Fort Collins. I have a double chocolate stout chilling in the beer frig.
Serving type: bottle

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Photo of schoolboy
3.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It seems that some of the smoked beers I've had the last few days here in Colorado were flirting with being a rauchbier, and I think some of the were closer to it than this. I think it really should simply be classified as it is labled, a smoked amber lager, not a rauchbier.

As a rachbier, it falls flat as it is not nearly aromatic enough, but if not constrained to that style, it is quite good.

It's very pretty in the glass. The aroma is not that of a rauchbier, so a huge ding. But the taste is great, and the mouthfeel is too. Another great Colorado beer.

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Photo of BeerCon5
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.42/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a bottle of Fort Collins Brewing's Z Lager last week for $1.89 at The Lager Mill. It's been a while since I've have a Raunchbier, and I have never seen or heard of this beer, so I thought I would give it a try, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but the store just got it in so I assume it's fairly fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- The label looks nice and it's pretty well done, it also sticks out a little. It poured a nice amber color that took some burnt orange color when held to the light with a finger and a half worth of off white head that died down to a thin ring that eventually faded to nothing and left hardly any lacing. This was a pretty average looking Amber Ale, the color was ok but the head and lacing were disappointing.

S- The aroma starts off with a lighter amount of medium smoke that impart a very woody aroma that resembles a campfire, after that comes the malts which have a higher amount of medium sweetness to them and impart some grainy, caramel, toffee, dark fruits, toasted malts and a light amount of coffee. Towards the end I get a light amount of citrus hops that add some nice complexity. The aroma is nice, but I feel like the smokey aromas don't blend that well with the dark fruit aromas.

T- The taste is a little similar to the aroma and it starts off with some medium sweet malts that impart some nice toasted, grainy, caramel malts, and slightly nutty flavors. Up next comes the Smoke which is on the lighter side but still noticeable and imparts a nice smokey and woody aroma. On the finish there is a light amount earthy hops that give this beer a lighter amount of bitterness, and a toasted malt and lightly smokey aftertaste. I liked the taste of this beer, it was nice and balanced, but the smoked didn't shine through as much as I would have liked.

M- Smooth, dry, on the light side of being medium bodied, with a higher amount of medium carbonation that made it a little prickly. The mouthfeel is ok, but the higher amount of carbonation makes it pretty average.

Overall I thought this was a decent beer, not true to style enough to be called a Rauchbier, but for an Amber Ale I would say it was a little above average. This beer was pretty drinkable, it was really smooth, and the flavor did an ok job at holding my attention, I could drink two of these but I think that would be my limit. What I liked most about this beer was the flavor and aroma, they were the highlights of this beer and were both pretty balanced. What I liked least about this beer was the lightness of the smoke and the higher carbonation, I needed more smoke and less carbonation. I would be buy this beer again when looking for a lightly smokey beer, but I wouldn't buy it often, I recommend giving this beer a try, it might make for a good gateway Rauchbier. All in all this was a lightly smokey amber, what it lacked in intensity it made up for in drinkability. This was the second beer I have had from this brewery and it was better then their Chocolate stout, I thought it was a pretty solid beer and I wouldn't mind trying some more beers from this brewery.

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Photo of rangerred
2.78/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear reddish copper with a half finger tan head that fades pretty quickly. Ok lacing on the sides of the glass.

Aroma moderate smoke, light coffee, caramel, and toasted malt. Not really any hops detectable.

The taste has a pleasing smoke mixed with a healthy dose of toasted malt. Kind of tastes like an amber with a little smoke added. Some toffee and caramel. A slight tartness on the tip of the tongue along with a moderate bitterness finishing slightly sticky. Mouthfeel terrible though being extremely thin and watery.

Overall, an ok rauchbier but far from the top in the style. I would drink it again, though, purely for the ease of accessibility and lack of rauchbiers on the market.

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Photo of divineaudio
3.29/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pint glass

a - pours amber in color with a thin cap of tan head. after calming i get a thin film and a few thin legs of lacing here and there.

s - molasses, campfire, dark fruits.

t - carmel malt with a bit of char and an odd, tangy sort of bitterness that lingers for quite a while. not entirely sure what's going on here.

m - heavier side of medium, adequate carbonation, finer co2 profile.

o - pretty good beer, but there are much better examples of the style that are easy enough to come by. wouldn't turn it down if someone offered me one though.

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Photo of CuteZombieDoll
4.32/5  rDev +21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Coppery red hue, not the best head formation

S- Smells like malt with a touch of smoke, very lovely but hard to really describe.

T- Malty and lightly sweet to start, followed by a smokey, bacon-like quality.

M- Full bodied, but still refreshing.

O- This is the first rauchbeir I have ever had, but it was a style I longed to try since I like other smokey things, so I can't tell you if it's a good example of it's style. However, it's well balanced, and come on it tastes a little like bacon. Who wouldn't like that? I was always told rauchbeirs were overbearing, so I don't know if they toned down the smoke, or if it's simply that I like smokey things.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.97/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.55/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy light copper with a slight head and no lacing.

Light woody smoke with hints of citrus hops. This is pleasant, however, there is little stimulant.

There is not much going on as the flavors follow the nose. While not significant, bitterness is the primary player. Malts are reserved to a wheat bread found in a long finish.

Z Lager has a medium body with no alcohol. It has light carbonation and is on the drier side.

A fine beer that could be sessionable, however, it lacks inspiration.

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Photo of FungusBrewer
3.42/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Delicate. Not complicated. But Delicate. Normally I'm used to being inundated with an overpowering campfire taste in Rauchbier's. Fort Collins does it right with imparting a very slight (albeit noticeable) smoke flavor and aroma. Hops are almost non-existent, but it tastes right. Why roast a grapefruit anyway? You get a little bit of sweetness from the malt, but again, nothing dominating. My only gripe is it tastes so light, giving it a watery mouth-feel.

I'd buy it again.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.05/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

$16.99 for a mixed 12 pack. Newly available to our area. 30 IBU's per the website, 5.4% ABV. No ingredients listed other than beechwood smoked malt.

Pours out to a sparingly clear amber, forming a modest light yellow head with good retention and adequate lacing. Slightly less than moderate carbonation. The aroma when first cracked is overwhelmingly biscuit malt, smelling like a dead ringer for fat tire, however it is followed by a touch of caramelized malt. I know and love rauchbiers and I am not picking up on any smoke whatsoever. The mouthfeel is smooth with a medium body, fuller than one might expect from a 5.4% ABV lager. There is a husky graininess akin to GLBC Eliot Ness Vienna Lager. This tastes very similar to it. Again, I'm not getting any smoke in the taste either. Bitterness is herbal and medium in intensity, nicely balanced, with little to no hop or flavor.

This is a really nice easy to drink everyday amber lager. I certainly would not call it a rauchbier by any stretch of the imagination, but I would buy it again. Seeing as how it's a nice blend between two of my favorite beers (Eliot Ness and Fat Tire), this is a nice addition to our distribution.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.97/5  rDev +11.2%
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

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Photo of litheum94
3.56/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bronze body, clear, with a very scant, tannish head. Leaves a ghost of a covering.

Sweet, smokey aromas, very peaty, and reminds me of hickory. Roasted almonds and some caramel.

Sweet hickory firewood taste. Nutty malts provide a backbone. Some caramel sweetness and another touch of smoke on the finish. There is a lingering sweetness that coats the mouth like sugar. Mouthfeel is slightly creamy.

Very interesting smoked beer. I like the flavors, but the lingering sweetness gets a little sickly after a couple glasses. Still, this is easily the best beer I've had from this brewery so far.

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Photo of Dmart1223
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Definitely an interesting beer.

Z pours a dark cherry amber with a thin almond head that fades to a dusting. Very cool color for an amber. It smells like toasted malts, and a little bit like sawdust, but in a good way.

The taste kind of threw me for a loop though. On one hand it has this rich smokiness that I'd expect out of an ale, but it finishes smooth like a lager. There's not a lot of mouth feel, but the flavor is unique. It finishes with more of that smoke and a dash of charry hops.

I can't tell what to think about this beer. Is it an ale? Is it a lager? Do I even like it? I'm not really sure, but it's definitely worth a try. I might not buy it for myself, but I wouldn't turn it away if someone offered it to me.

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Photo of setexascustoms
3.15/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I got this as an extra in a trade with Exiled. Thanks bud!

A: Deep crystal clear amber with some reddish highlights. Minimal head with some lacing present.

S: Clean grainy malts with a slight smokiness.

T: Caramel malts with a slight hop twang for balance and subdued smoke.

M: Light bodied and thin, some what watery, but with nice carbonation.

O: Glad I got to try it. There are no off flavors and I did enjoy it, but it's not something I'd seek out. I may be in the minority here, but I wish a lot of the rauchbiers I've tried featured the smoke more as a main character, rather than an extra. Maybe all the smoked Texas barbecue I grew up with has desensitized me.

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Photo of tdm168
3.55/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale amber with 1/4" of loose head that quickly fades. Smells of caramel malt, lager yeast, and faint wood fire. The taste is earthy with some obvious wood fire characteristics. There's a faint caramel flavor in the finish and just enough hops to add a balanced bitterness. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, crisp, and well carbonated.

This is very drinkable and would make a nice cold weather beer. Overall, though the flavor is mild and not very complex.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.07/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark tinted amber/copper colored ale with an off-white foamy head that stays pretty well throughout the session. Funky aroma. I am getting smacked in the nostrils with some smoked meat which is making me hungry. Meaty and campfire smoke abounds. There are some green olives and malt in there too. I think it's great! More smokiness on the taste and there is still some meat along with slight coffee and roastiness. Slight band-aid aftertaste which is a little putting-off. Overall I enjoyed my experience with this beer. I wouldn't say it is one of the greatest, but it has a lot going on and I enjoyed the session.

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Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 322 ratings