Z Lager | The Fort Collins Brewery

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Z LagerZ Lager

Brewed by:
The Fort Collins Brewery
Colorado, United States

Style: Rauchbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Crosling on 12-06-2003

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Reviews: 216 | Ratings: 322
Photo of Duster72
1.35/5  rDev -62%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

After looking at some other reviews I am wondering if I got a really bad batch, but this was easily the worst beer I have ever had. Poured a clear copper color with little to no head and no noticable lacing. Smell is like cigarettes and carmel malts. Taste is really bad. I would describe it as something like cigarettes and iced tea. I could barely manage a few sips before it met the drain.

 392 characters

Photo of Jesse13713
1.54/5  rDev -56.6%
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.

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Photo of sweemzander
1.72/5  rDev -51.5%
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.

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Photo of IronGiant
1.86/5  rDev -47.6%
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.

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Photo of Oxymoron
2.23/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Smoking the bear says don’t play with matches. Pours more of an amber color but red-orange hues are distinguishable. Decent head that remains for a good amount of time, limited lacing though.

The smell is mostly malty and detectable overall. Some caramel notes are strong with sides notes of roasted and toasty inklings. Some peat is there with a smoky aroma.

The taste is a bit gritty with an obnoxious liquid smoke flavor. Any malt sweetness is lost in the almost sulfur taste. There is a malt backing but it really fits with the smoky taste. As the beer finishes, the smoke malt drops out and your left with a too sweet of a malt taste.

The body is hard to really indicate, but I would say more of a medium feel. Overall the beer has too much going on and needs to blend more of the flavors.

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Photo of dkoehler42
2.28/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer has a most definitive taste to it, the smokiness in the flavor tastes almost like smoked meat. It has a nice dark amber color and has decent mouthfeel. But that taste and the smell associated with it can easily put off the unprepared drinker. If you know what you're looking for, than it's a great beer, as my friend comments. If not, then it's best you skip this one.

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Photo of neonbrown82
2.29/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This is THE most terrible smoked beer I have ever tasted. Very sulphuric. Pours to a dark earthy amber color, quite clear with little to no carbonation, and a nice white head that recedes to a thin film in minutes.

The smell is very sour with a bit of sulphuric smoke. Lots of berries, but they seem to only make the smell worse. The taste contains a lot of DMS and sulphuric smoke that lingers forever. Lots of fruity bits, but nothing hides such a disgusting flavor. I've enjoyed every other beer I drank from Fort Collins, but this one is plant food.

 556 characters

Photo of FatSean
2.36/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

I couldn't finish this beer. It poured a nice brown-gold color and had some interesting scents. When I drank it, all I tasted was SMOKE! It made my turkey sandwich taste like smoked turkey, which was cool. Other than that, I quickly tired of the overwhelming smoke flavor of this beer and gave it a drain pour.

 310 characters

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 mentor
2.44/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A smoked lager picked up from Liquor Mart (Colorado) and consumed that same evening. Pours a half finger light yellow whitish head over a crystal clear amber rust liquid. Smells smoky phenolic with a mild malt sweet. I think some esters are trying to poke though, but they come across as wet jerky. Taste starts fairly plain. Some malt sweet and some tiny hop flavor and some smoked malt. But then, the woody smoke flavor rises, along with an odd malty flavor to essentially make smoked fish flavor. Really, this beer is not good (just a note, I despise the taste and texture of fish). The smoke flavor is actually not overly strong, nor are the phenols too bitter. They both dominate and are right on the edge of unpleasant. It's about at this point that a caramel rises to save all from disaster. Will I ever forget the liquid fish violation of my tongue? No, but the memory has been tamed. The aftertaste is a dying smoke with malt sweet poking it's head up every now and again to keep things interesting. While md-light in the mouth, it's actually got a thickness to the liquid that I would not have anticipated. Moderately carbonated. Sorry guys, but it's clear to me that smoek and lager just don't go together.

Funny note here. One of my cats jumped up and took a sniff of my drink (probably hoping it was milk). A couple tentative whiffs before one deep inhale. She looked like she was about to rub the edge of her mouth on the glass to 'scent it', but instead, she looked at me with danger in her eyes. One moment she stood on the destk glaring and the next she was turning the corner into the spare bedroom.

 1,620 characters

Photo of confer
2.71/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I've been wanting to try a Rauchbier for a while. This beer came in variety pack. Unfortunately there two more bottle to drink. The color is orange brown. During the pour a head tries to form but it never really get there.
The smell is actually quite good. There is no smokey smell, it smells like an ordinary lager.
This is definitely an acquired taste. I've had other smokey tasting beers, but this was the first true Rauch.

 427 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
2.75/5  rDev -22.5%
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.

 721 characters

Photo of rangerred
2.78/5  rDev -21.7%
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.

 734 characters

Photo of mynie
2.78/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a rich APA orange amber color with a nice white head.

Smells like plums, apircots, smoke, and salami. A surprisingly decent mixture, although the fruit does outshine the the smoke and meat a bit too much.

Tastes like fruit and liquid smoke with no distinct stages and little complexity. More like a red ale with smoke flavoring than a good smoked beer--no meat/cheese complexity, far too sweet.

A bit of a let down from a usually solid brewery.

 459 characters

Photo of GregJ
2.82/5  rDev -20.6%
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.

 243 characters

Photo of RoBotGod
2.85/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A somewhat decent lager although I’m not a huge fan of the style. Has a good dark body and the malt is not to sweet. One of the better ones I’ve had from them. The smoked part is what gets me. I don’t know if they used extract or not? I has the overwhelming taste of Liquid Smoke™. I could see some people really digging this beer but once you’ve cooked with Liquid Smoke™, the taste never really goes away.

 413 characters

Photo of kojevergas
2.86/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

33cl brown glass bottle with classic pressure cap served into an imperial pint glass in high altitude Denver, Colorado. Reviewed live.

A: Pours a four finger head of nice soft cream, good thickness, and good retention. Colour is a dark transparent copper.

Sm: Smoke, light bacon, and plain barley. No trace of amber hops anywhere, but then me nose is broken... Aroma is mild in strength.

T: Poorly handled artificialish smoke and out of control bacon dominate, with tinges of hopeless amber hops and a bit of cream ever-so-slight (but not subtle) on the finish. Talk about ruthless imbalance. That said, the flavour isn't bad. The build is actually decent.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Does it complement the flavour? Not really.

Dr: Very drinkable for a rauchbier, but then it really isn't one. It's quite affordable in any case, and while it won't please hardcore fans of the style, it would make an excellent introduction to the style for newcomers before plunging them into Schenkerla. It's certainly worth a spin, and I admire the brewery's boldness in trying to capture an American mainstream market with this.

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Photo of BWH3
2.87/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Essentially this beer is a light brown ale with a weak head designed to be a vehicle for "smoked"flavor. If you are looking for a chance to drink "smoke," here it is. Otherwise the beer is essentially nothing remarkable. The only reason these numbers are so high is that it is not offensive in anyway. I bought this a mixed case and would not buy it again.

 356 characters

Photo of Hokies
2.88/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours a nice amber/copper color with a thin white head that dissipates quickly.

S: The smoke dominates with a faint caramel smell. Not to much else going on.

T: Interestingly the smoke does not dominate the taste as the malts first come through with a light coffee taste. The smoke taste comes in next and is nice and light and a light hop spice finishes off the taste.

M: Moderate carbonation with a light mouthfeel.

D: Easy to drink, not my favorite style but a nice beer.

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Photo of corby112
2.88/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark golden amber color with orange hues and a one finger white head that quickly settles into a thin lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Toasted malt aroma that is only faintly smokey with hints of sweet malt and wintry spices. Very subtle smoke character with hints of charcoal, caramel and biscuit.

Medium bodied with a prominent spice character up front that takes away from what little smokiness is underneath. Hints of cinnamon and brown sugar along with faint bitter hops that are slowly countered by a sweet malt backbone. Very faint smokiness but it is completely overpowered by the other characteristics. Lots of sweet caramel along with some biscuit and toffee. As it warms the smokey elements become more evident but are still considerably weak.

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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 MrDonQuixote
2.95/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap at Fort Collins Brewery:

A- Nice amber profile color tone, White head

S- Oak, slight espresso smell

T- Slight espresso bite, oak taste, but I don't think it is oak aged

M- Nice carbonation with a watery finish

O- Quite bland and meh.

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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.

 526 characters

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

12oz purchased as single bottle at Marketplace, EB and poured into oversize wine glass at byob.

A: Golden color, a bit hazy with a think off white head. Thick bubbles and some lacing.

S: Not as much woody smoke as hoped. More malty, lack of hops, and some more smoked strength as it warmed a bit.

T: A bit more smoke than in the aroma but not too impressive. Would prefer Stone version and this really cant compare to the true German makers of this fine style. More sugary and malty flavors than anything else, no hops.

M: Not too thick as again I had wanted from this but crisp nonetheless.

D: Didnt know abv but didnt pick up any alcohol warmth. I guess drinkable in that not too smoky but the food really overpowered any flavors in this beer which really shouldnt happen. Not a favorite. A true medicore beer.

 818 characters

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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Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
3.55 out of 5 based on 322 ratings.
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