Z Lager | The Fort Collins Brewery

Z LagerZ Lager
Liked This Beer
3.53 w/ 322 ratings
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

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 322 |  Reviews: 216
Photo of Sammy
3.35/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle from Agassi. A decent serviceable lager and rauch. Light smoke. Pours moderate yellow body with lots of white bubbly head. A mild smoke aroma. Decently drinkable,thanks to the caramel bit not delicious. Average mouthfeel.Appropriate carbonation.

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Photo of acurtis
3.25/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Part of the Brewer's Lunchbox mixed pack.

Pours a clear dark copper orange with a 1 inch off-white head that settles to a thin film. Small dots and streaks of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt and some smoke/campfire aromas. Taste is of roasted malt, smoke flavors, and a coffee grounds aftertaste. Mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. Good carbonation with a crisp and clean mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good American take on a rauchbier style that is much more mild than any of the others I have tried so far.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.97/5  rDev +12.5%
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 t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.96/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color with the tiniest little head to it and zero lacing. Smell reminds of being a t campground when I was younger.. some nice smokiness, but not overpowering. Nice smooth and creamy mouthfeel and nice body. Tastes like someone blew some smoke up a lager's ass (literally, except I mean this in a good way). Very easy to drink.. I was actually surprised that it doesn't taste as smokey as it smells and felt maybe it could have used a tad more taste. My first time having this style and I would def want to try more of it.

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Photo of metter98
3.53/5  rDev 0%
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 BEERchitect
3.21/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The sweet-smoky interplay of caramelized malts, toast and bread provide a firm background for the decoration of savory smoke for a tasty lager that begs for barbecue.

The medium amber-copper beer shows bright clarity while building a dense froath of lightly tanned foam while leaving broken patterns of lace behind. A very classy look.

Dense malty aromas are chocked full of caramel, bread crust, medium toast, and overall elegant malt profile. But the overriding smoke character is unmistakable. Showing a lot of restraint, the smoke character offers complexity to the nose but not without allowing the subtle malt aromas to pronounce.

The grainy sweet flavors of sun dried barley, mild toast or the crust of freshly baked breads blend with caramel sweetness decorated by notes of light toffee- malty rich indeed. Low in hop character, the smoke character seems to bring about a more savory and meaty flavor from the malt sweetness and leaves a lingering impression of smoke, grain, and caramel on the mouth. The clean lager could use more malty flavor and less grain to win me over.

Medium-light on creaminess, the beer allows grainy textures to impeed the mouthfeel as well, but only in low intensity. Releasing the early creamy flavors and foregoing the grainy feel, the beer finish malty-dry with a slight linger of sweet smokiness and light alcohol warmth.

A very nice smoked lager that's about as formitable as Negra Modelo except with a balance of smoke aroma and flavor that's careful not to dominate the brew.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.86/5  rDev -19%
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 emerge077
3.54/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Single from Friar Tuck's in Peoria.

Pours a nice reddish amber, some larger bubbles foam up but don't stick around. No lace or foam. Looks kind of like apple juice.

Nice sweet and smoky malt aroma. The smoke is dialed down and approachable. Flavor is similar, sweet and a hint of smoke with a trace of dry bitterness. The aftertaste lingers for awhile, mildly dry and campfire wood smoke. Feel is a little watery as the carbonation escapes. Decent enough, seems like a nice beer for a Rauch beginner, or for a Fall night by the fire.

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Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a nice head that retains well and sheets the pint glass with lace

Smell: Solid caramel malt base with a good bit of smoked meat in the aroma

Taste: Starts out laying down the caramel malt but the smoked meat flavors quickly join the fray and begin to dominate by mid-palate; after the swallow, the smoke stays in check and provides an interesting foil to the nutty malt flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Wow, am I ever impressed. I like a good, but restrained, smoked beer and this fits the bill to a tee; almost a smoked Marzen, in some respects

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Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of zeff80
3.35/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle. No date. Purchased Saturady after Thanksgiving.

A - Poured out an cloudy amber/orange color with some carbonation. It had a tan, creamy, one-finger head that left small traces of lace.

S - It smelled smoky with earthy/oaky notes. There was also a little maltiness in the nose.

T - It tasted of burnt toast maltiness and then the smoky flavor followed. It tastes a little like food cooked on a campfire.

M - It was smooth and soft. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good beer. I liked it better than the Rauchbier that I tried.

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

Poured into a standard pint glass a deep amber/brown with almost no head to speak of,smoke is light in the nose but is there along with some light chocolate and a little of a sour component.Again light smoke flavors up front with ahefty carame and chocolate sweetness melding into a touch of earth and lingering smoke again in the finish.Its ok but a little light handed with the smoke not bad but not one to go out and look for.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light coppery brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, smoked wood chips and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste is malty and smoky but not as smoky as I was expecting. There's a good combination of sweet flavors of caramel and citrus along with the smoked malts. There's also a decent hops presence that helps create a balance that I didn't think this beer would have.

M: Smooth and very crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is very clean.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, this is a flavorful beer that doesn't overdo the smokiness. It's a good beer to drink when you want something a little different.

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Photo of nickfl
4.22/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - One finger of white head on a clear, reddish-brown body. The foam settles quickly and leaves little lace.

S - Sour, smoky note with caramel and toffee. Lots of sweet, rich malt and a hint of plum like fruitiness.

T - Toasted malt, balanced by spicy hops up front. The smoke really becomes apparent in the middle with woody notes and perfume like floral qualities. The smoke lingers in the finish with some toasted malt and spicy hops.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Very nice, the smoke is readily apparent and adds a great deal of character to the hoppy amber lager body, but it does not overwhelm the palate. The smoke seems a bit more restrained than the German versions that I have had, but it has all of the same qualities and could be a good introduction to the style. A great example of the style.

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Photo of russpowell
3.78/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an attractive amber to bronze color with a fluffy white head and loads of tiny bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. Giid head retention & lacing

Smell: Malty/frutty nose that gives way to oaky smokiness

Taste: Fruity maltiness and then smoke & more smoke on the tounge & throat. Dryness is also imparted and a faint hint of cherry? Slightly bitter finish

MF: Smooth but out of balance, more body is in order to round out the smokiness. More hops wouldn't hurt also. Carbonation is adequate

Drinkable but more a BBQ/smoked meat beer than a session beer

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.36/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $4.50 at The Porter in Atlanta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a nearly clear, mahogany-hued body with a smallish, ivory-colored head.

Smell: Toasted, crisp malts, faint caramel, and fair scent of wood-smoked apple skins.

Taste: Toasty malts with a light caramelized sugar sweetness. Red Delicious apple fruitiness. Restrained, even-handed smoke component that careful not to overwhelm the lager underneath. Mild spicy, floral hops with a medium-low bitterness. Finishes dry with a final taste of applewood smoke.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Just the right amount of smoke layered onto a light, refreshing lager. Sort of the young kid brother of the Schlenkerla brews. Paired fairly well with the Fish n' Chips.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.88/5  rDev +9.9%
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?

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.27/5  rDev +21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rounded out my evening session with this beer. I had never had anything from them before, but was lucky enough to pick up a mixed sixer of their and this was the first one I was going to try out of it. This poured a nice decent brownish amber color with a small off white head that quickly faded leaving behind only traces of what was left. The smell was rather intriguing. Smelled like a Dopplebock, full of smoked aroma and a deep underlying sweetness, this had a very full body to it. The flavor followed suit nicely with a full on smoked flavor and a lovely lightly hopped finish to it. Traces of caramel rippled throughout adding just the right amount of sweetness to it. Overall this actually surprised me; the deep flavors of wood aged smokiness took me completely off guard and give this a profile I did not expect to find. Definitely quality ale and something I would look forward to trying again in the future. Very full and very nice this one will surprise you in a very good way.

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

A - Med brown with a thin white head that generates a moderate amount of lace.

S - Toasty, smokey and nutty malt scents like a woody campfire melded with a lager.

M - Light, med smooth w/ a feel a bit on the watery side and slightly low carbonation that is actually a pleasant attribute.

T - Smoke presence gets masked by malty and sweet amber lager flavors in the beginning. An subdued lager w/ out much yeast character that allows the smoke flavor to persist- like a smoke extract. The flavors last and malts hold on decently, but the smoke is slightly unbalanced and drops off quickly in the finish.

D - A lighter amber lager and slightly forced smoke-wise, but still worth a try.

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Photo of MarkyMOD
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of TMoney2591
3.8/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Pours a rich coppery amber with a very miniscule white froth for a head, which dissappears pretty quickly regardless of its lack of body. The smell is of malts with a barbecue chicken backbone. Honestly, I was hoping for more smoke, but, hey, them's the breaks. The taste pretty much follows the nose, but the smoke is thankfully more pronounced, bringing the desired complexity missing from the smell. The mouthfeel is a little on the slick, watery side, but this does serve as a foil to the smoke, leading to an overall high level of drinkability.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.23/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So far gotta love the Fort Collins lineup, these beers are excellent. I kept on passing on them for the longest time. They definitely need a rep in the Burgh these beer has potential to sell. Anyways, this smoked lager pours a beautiful amber ruby hue with a light off white cream colored head. Lacing is even and covers the edges of my chalice like a blancket between each sip. A great nose of mild smoked malts, with slightly charred wood and smoke bacon at the minimal. Herbal hops also play nicely with the smoked malt additions, classically American style. Flavor has a great round edge of smokiness with sweet amber and caramel malt lager characteristics again hop flavor comes through as herbal, yet the flavor that finishes the beer is the smoked malt kickin' through. Like an American version of Spezial Ruachbier, great stuff. It's not going to kick compared to an scherlenkerla bier but it's sweet to taste the German influences in American micros. Mouthfeel is a fuller bodied lager, soft carbonation with lingering smoked wood and lightly salted smoked meat components. Drinkability overall is wonderful a beer that I'm proud to represent every time I try to remember my Z beer in the alphabetical list in the database.

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Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
Beer rating: 41.3% out of 100 with 322 ratings
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