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 jera1350
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of n2185
3.58/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear copper with two fingers of off-white head that recedes into a thin layer with a little lacing.

S: Some light biscuity aromas with a hint of sweetness followed by a strong smoke aroma.

T: Similar to the aroma, slightly sweet bread and biscuit flavors up front. The smoke flavors follow without overwhelming.

M: Light body with medium carbonation, this beer is fairly crisp but the smoke gives it a slightly heavier feel.

O: A nice smoked beer for those who don't really want to drink liquid bacon. It's not too heavy like many rauchbiers and isn't overwhelmingly smoky.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.42/5  rDev -3.7%
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 Cyberkedi
3.87/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clear coppery amber with a decent, if not persistent, off-white head. Aroma is strong and malty with smoky, fruity and caramel hints. Mouth-filling flavor is malty and slightly fruity with a hint of caramel and a whisper of sweetness. Texture is very smooth and minimally tingly.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.69/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pale copper color with very little white foam. No retention or lacing.

Salty, smoked pork nose. I am pleasantly surprised by the bold smokiness I am getting. I was worried it would be a dumbed down American version of a rauchbier.

Unfortunately, the smokiness in the flavor is a bit more tame, but still tasty. Has a heavy caramely malt base that brings forth a sweetness that does not match really well with smoky and salty flavors. Overall though, it is a pretty impressive offering from FCB, probably the first I have had that I would actually buy a sixer of.

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Photo of KarlHungus
3.47/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a clear red color. The head is none existent. The aroma is smoke with a hint of caramel malt. It is a rather simple aroma. The taste is like the aroma. I like that there is a lot of smoke, but there isn't nothing else. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation, and a smooth texture. Overall, this is a decent beer that could be a lot better if it had a more complex malt bill. I could drink it again, but there are better smoked beers out there.

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Photo of Brenden
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

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Photo of morimech
3.63/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper color with a large off-white head that had excellant retention before settling to a thick cap. A good amount of sticky lacing is left on the glass. Aroma has the appropriate amount of smokey charactor. A touch of sweetness is lingering underneath the smoke. The smoke goes a bit mild in the flavor. We don't want to offend the masses type of way. Still quite noticable. A touch of sweetness balances things out. I would of liked a bit more smoke to bring this up to good grade levels. The body seems a little thin. By far the weakest component of this beer. A more sessionable Rauchbier as several of these could be consumed without getting tired of the smoke. The real good Rauchbiers makes one compare them to ham or bacon, cannot do that with this one.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.89/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pors a orange-ish/ copper color with a small white head. Aromas of a smoked malt, kind of like beef jerky. In the taste, malty and a small smoke flavor. A smooth malty mouthfeel and a smokey aftertaste. Nice smoke aroma also not to big in the taste, lighter but good.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.58/5  rDev +0.8%
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 rawfish
3.19/5  rDev -10.1%
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.

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Photo of gford217
3.58/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy caramel brown with lots of orange when held up to the light. There's a one-inch beige head that recedes slowly and leaves a soapy film on top and bits of lacing.

The aroma is a combination of sweet caramelized malts and smoked wood. There's plenty of smoke but it's not overpowering or as meaty as I've had in other rauchbiers. There's also some sort of zesty hop thing going on in the nose that doesn't seem to fit in too well, but I'm not exactly sure what it is.

The taste is good and the zesty kick from the nose is not present so I'll say it's a tad better than the aroma. There is enough smoke to offset the massive caramel malt backbone but probably not as big a presence as I would prefer.

The mouthfeel is creamy with lots of carbonation, maybe a little too much for me. The smoke leaves a slight dryness in the finish.

This is a solid rauchbier, but I wouldn't put it up there with the Schlenkerla beers. Then again, I love a big ole' super smoky rauchbier so take that statement for what it's worth.

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Photo of jsh420
3.65/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours clear copper with a 1 finger head that left some lacing

smells of sweet carmel malts and some smoke

taste is sweet carmel malts - not overpowering smoke but you can taste it with every sip - i also pick up some soapy flavors??

mouthfeel is light/medium not much carbonation that gives it a smooth creamy finish

drinkability is good - not an overpowering beer but a nice lager with a subtle smokey flavor

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Photo of cokes
4.15/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper with a modest cap of blanched yellow.
Nose of Beechwood smoke hallmarks, grilled meats and dry wood, with a nod towards pipe smoke. Caramel whifts, and dry leaves underneath.
Begins with a persuasive and delicious malt base, oozing with toasted marshmallows. Honeyed graham crackers as well. Factor in the smoke and this is only the chocolate short of a liquid S'mores. Smoke enters next, but it's not the dripping roasted pork fat of Aecht Schlenkerla, here, it's more akin to cedar planks, fragrant tobacco, and dried venison. The hops arrive at the close, as the smoke fades, and add an earthy, leafy bitterness.
Medium in body, with a lively carbonation. This is built as a drinker, edged with smoke instead of drowned in it. As much as I enjoy the full strength rauchiness, this is a beautiful, restrained example. Incredibly food frendly.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.49/5  rDev +26.5%
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 arizcards
3.53/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up in late September as part of the FCB Lunchbox at Country Club Liquors in Grand Junction, CO for $16.99.

Beer poured a clear amber with a white head that is barely hanging on in mid glass. Nose is smoked malt, but not overwhelming as one might think. Taste is strong on smoked malts initially with an unexpected decent bittering hop finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Overall drinkability is pretty good, the beer is initially strong on the smoke but becomes more agreeable to the palate as the bottle is consumed.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.64/5  rDev +2.5%
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 EgadBananas
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
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 alexgash
4.32/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mandarin copper body, with a sea sponge porous, light-tan head.
Smells of cooked carrots, with smoky-sweet brown sugar glaze, and spicy hops.
Starts out with light sweetness, honeyed biscuit malt, and candied yams. Moderate smoke flavor comes in the middle, along with some spicy Germanic hops. Finish is bittersweet with lingering smoke. I really like the smokiness. Pretty big body for this type of beer; coats the mouth nicely too. I want to go to this brewpub!

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Photo of Beaver13
3.76/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The Smokin' Lager poured a cloudy copper-red with a lot of tiny floating particulates. It had a huge light tan head the had great retention.

It's aroma was caramel malt and smokiness.

It had a big sweet, caramel malt backbone with some smokiness on top and a smoky aftertaste. There was not as much smokiness as I was expecting, I think the Double Z was more pronounced from what I remember. It did have a nice balance between the sweet and smoke. It was a little on the thin side.

Overall, this was similar to a lot of FCB's offerings (sweet and smoky and a little thin).

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.95/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A treat from prAna.
I am sampling a 12 oz bottle in a snifter slightly chilled.
The beer pours a clear chestnut color with a quickly receding beige head that remains as an edge layer throughout sampling.
Aroma is smoky bacon and caramel.
First sip reveals an average body and very mild carbonation that rolls across my palate.
Flavor is smoke and caramel with a crisp finish that leaves a bit of smoke on my palate. A very smooth and easy to drink beer that isnt just smoke smoke and more smoke. tasty!

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Photo of Vancer
3.92/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surprising pour of a clear mahogany brown (for a lager), ivory head was weak and wilted like the STL grass in the 95 degree heat.

Malty aroma, and another surprising quaff of smoked peat - this a lager or a smoked scotch ale? I like smoke, so this is a nice tasting frosty for me.

Ok - I see from BA that this IS a smoked beer - the label through me off. This is a tasty, easy going smoked beer, I'd go for a sixer in the cooler weather for sure.

Fort Collins seems to delivery a solid lineup of brews. Cheers.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.2/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a clear medium copper color with off-white head. Great retention and nice lacing.
Smell is of a smokey caramel note which is extremely interesting.
Taste brings about a moderately strong smokey character with is very enjoyable. A rich smokey flavor without being overpowering.
Finished with a light dryness which blends with the smokey flavor perfectly.
A perfectly made beer. Great job.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.57/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Single, 12 oz bottle copped from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield for $1.99...
An aggressive pour yielded a lucid, clear, ruby-red, amber appearance with no head at all and very minimal lacing...
Being a smoked beer, there certainly was a little smokiness evident in the nose, but not enough to warrant as a great representation of the style... Pale lager taste besides the hint of smokiness with a slight hint of caramel as well...
Like the aroma, there was some smokiness present in the taste, but overall, the flavor and mouthfeel were too watered down and bland to have this qualify as an amazing depiction of the style... Not bad, but certainly not above-and-beyond - a mediocore representation at best...
Decent mouthfeel, albeit very light and watery with a fairly good level of drinkability due to the modest ABV and lack of cloying flavors... For an excellent sample of the style, try Rogue's Smoke Ale or anything from Aecht Schlenkerla...

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - has a peachy amber color, maybe even a tint of cherry. Not much of a cap, just a few pockets of bubbles. Some random streaks of lace make their way onto the edges.

Aroma - basic graininess with a light side of smoke, like campfire smoke. Hints of vanilla as it warms.

Taste - a low-key grain presence; the smoke, though not harsh or over-the-top, takes over pretty quickly. A very nice level that can be appreciated by itself or with some grilled/smoked meat. Steady from the tip of the tongue to the finish.

Mouthfeel - average body, pretty crisp.

Drinkability - rauchbier is a specialty beer for me, I can't drink them often or many at a time. I would like to have this around, though, for weekend cookouts and such.

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