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 uwmgdman
4.13/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This lager pours brilliantly clear deep red with garnet hues and a sticky off-white head. The aroma is moderate-high peaty, smoky malt, a bit biscuity, spicy, and sweet - very inviting. The flavor is moderately malty, earthy a bit spicy, maybe from hops and malt, a sweet caramel flavor comes through at the swallow. The beer finishes quite smooth and rather balanced. The carbonation and body are both moderate. Overall a well crafted tasty brew--worth a try. One wish would be the flavor to come through a bit more intensely like the nose.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.1/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear amber with a tan bubbly head. Fades to ok lace.

Aroma is beefy with mesquite and peat. Caramel.

Taste is Aecht like. Not bad. Lots of smoke and BBQ. Pork, cedar, tobacco, graham crackers.

Sweetish, medium body, leafy bitter finish. Nice carbonation.

Drinkability is high. This is a very mellow rauch sort of beer and would pair well with tropical fruits, soft cheeses, strawberries, pear, etc…

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.1/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into the glass crystal clear amber wtih a tannish low tight bubbled head which lasted like a champ to lace the glass.

The aroma was smoky with a nice caramel aspect. The smoke was light and the aroma also was lightly fruity.

The flavor was smooth with caramel in the front followed immediately, or perhaps even at the same time by a low level smoky character. The smoke added complexity, and was at no time over the top. The flavor was malty and nutty and may have been an underlying Vienna or light Maerzen.

The finish was dry with a lasting smoke and caramel/nutty character long into the aftertaste. The body was medium and the carbonation level just about right. A nice smoked beer, might have to go out and pick up some more of this one.

12 ounce bottle.

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Photo of kaimcm
4.07/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very nice little beer. Mild smoke character but adding interest and well integrated. Surprisingly sweet on the finish but just pulls it off. Medium to light bodied, slick and well done mouthfeel. I would appreciate a little more spritz both in the glass and the mouth but not worth a ding. Bready in the middle, smoky up front, and a sweet linger on the finish. The way the savory aspect of the smoke wonderfully dissipates into this balancing sweetness is really nice. Some caramel in the nose and honey in the mouth. Probably the lightest smoke smoked beer Ive ever had but an enjoyable drink. Cheers to Ft Collins and Andrew for the sample. Drinkability is great for a smoked lager.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.07/5  rDev +14.6%
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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Photo of SamN
4.06/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ahh, a Collins classic, poured into a dimpled stein.

A- Very deep and beautiful copper red, with sparkling clarity. The head is this fantastic ultra-foamy puffy dollop of just tan white foam that just doesn't quit. Great head, one of the best I've seen in a dog's age, but goddamn, this color has to be seen to be believed, deep and rich like a gemstone. An absolute stunner right here.

S- Mmmm, what a great aroma. Pity those who've never got a faceful of a mug filled with German smoke beer-- one of the greatest joys in my life is sitting at Mishawaka Amphitheater, by the raging summer Pourde, on a late summer afternoon inhaling deeply this beer between glugs. Rich autumn notes; roasted grain malt, that unique beechwood smoke aroma,. Two simple smells make one so damn happy with it's rustic scents. Faint hop edge compliments this unique style. An original, that's for sure.

Beer magazine once described it as "a ham and bean smell, but in a totally good way." What more can I say? Case closed.

T- Here the beer takes a turn for Hopstropolis. No, it's not that hoppy. But it's certainly is pronounced. First sip starts mellow like an AIPA, hops forward. The middle swells with porter-like grains and balaned bitterness, finishes on light smoke and bittersweet. Not an overpowering smoked lager, more of a lager with smoked characteristics. The nose is stronger in this regard. Still, a great balanced beer with a unique edge perfect for BBQ pairings, pork being a no-brainer.

M- A lighter lager body, but with a chewiness that adds texture to the flavor, rounding out the beer. Carbonation is nearly flawless, some slight burn at the end interrupts the delicate aftertastes.

D- Very good with a meal. On it's own, this might be a little too unique to really session with.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.05/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.05/5  rDev +14.1%
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 bnuttz
4.05/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper color with a small light tan head. Smell is of caramel and dry. Can't pick up much smoke in the nose. Taste is upfront sweet and thick. Subtle smokey notes really compliment the taste. The smokey notes remind me of smoked pork or jerky, not over the top smokey like some other examples. The body is pretty hefty for a lager. Very nice and drinkable. A nice session drinker.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.04/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nose is malty and estery with roasted malt/sugar, some spice and vanilla. Smells great.

Pours clear deep gold, mild head. Looks pretty good.

Tastes richly roasted with hints of smoke. Moderately sugary with roasted sugar and lots of caramel and full bodied malt. Mild bitterness. Mild hop - soft and mostly bittering. Slight chocolate, slightly dry powdery roast/yeast. Creamy smooth. Tastes good. Feels pretty good. Good drinkability.

The initial smokiness nods at Rauchbier, but I'd like to see a deeper smoke.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.03/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Dark brown with an off white head, served in a pint glass from the tap.

S. Not much here, a subtle sweetness and some smoke in the background.

T. Very pronounced Rauchbier. Has the quality of smoked meats and went along most excellently with my bbq burger.

M. Coats the palate with a rich smoked toffee aftertaste.

D. Fairly drinkable, will have again if its still on tap there in the future.

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Photo of rembrant
4.03/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.02/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a small 1/8" of small off-white bubbles after the pour. Within about 20 seconds the head was gone, and there was a very small ring left on top of the beer where it meets the glass. You can only see a few bubbles rising.

Aroma: My initial impression was of some serious smoke. It is definitely bacon time in my house tonight. There are some sweet malts in there as complimentary aromatics, and add a mild cherrywood like aromatic in there that is very complimentary.

Taste: The taste is actually a bit milder than I thought it was going to be from the aroma. The smoky bacon impression is definitely there, but it doesn't rule the profile with phenolics as some smoke beers do. The finish is balanced toward the malt with some caramel sweetness to coexist with the smoke and linger long into the finish. There is a bit of alcohol apparent in this beer only in that I am warming up a bit after drinking half the glass. I would venture to guess that it is around 6% or so. As it warms, it reminds me of some of the designer bacons, like the apple wood peppercorn bacons and such.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer. It is mild in supporting flavors, but the flavor overall is clean and accentuates the smoke flavors pretty well. It is not overly phenolic, which definitely adds to its drinkability. I imagine that it would go well with a lot of foods, so I wouldn't mind trying it again for that reason alone.

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Photo of dacrza1
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In the mood for a rauchbier as the seasons change, I found a pleasant surprise, as Shop-Rite Liquors added the Fort Collins brewery to its shelves...translucent brownish orange body with a white, thin yet resilient head upon a cascade of bubbles--quite lively...wicked cedar smoke to the aroma, reminiscent of a smokepit summer night...toasted something is present too...medium bodied, with a swift start to finish and a familiar smokey end on the back of the tongue...aggressive on the sides of the tongue, but subsiding quickly...a well-balanced taste, not dominating in any aspect...not sweet, but substantial...I have not heard much of this brewery, but I enjoyed sessioning this and imagine pairing it with grilled foods in the summer and spicier fare all year round....

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Deep copper color with 1/4 inch head and ok retention

Smell: Nice amount of smoke upfront and traces of caramel and toffee in the background

Taste: Smoke upfront that reminds me of smoked alderwood. There are a couple other very muted flavors like toffee but this beer is smoke forward and does not let up

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation nice feel to it

Overall: Very good smoked lager. Highly recommended if you like smoked beers

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Photo of Tone
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear amber color. 1/4 inch head of an off-white color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells strongly of roasted malts, smoke, and later a strong lager aroma. Fits the style of a Smoked Beer. Mouth feel is of smooth and crisp. Average to low carbonation level present. Tastes of smoke first off then, toasted malts, and then some sweeter caramel (maybe). Finishes off with a yest cleanliness (lageresque). Of the smoked beer I've had, this is by far the best. The smoke flavor is noticeable, but not overpowering which is an easy error to make, as far as I've read. Still not a great beer, but very good for it's category.

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Photo of Gyle41386
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a stange.

Very cautious pour (because I had no clue what to expect from pouring into a stange) gives me a bit more than a finger of rich foam on top of a orange (think Texas Longhorns orange) body. Head retention is pretty good, and there's a decent amount of lacing left on the glass.

Smells sweet and meaty. Make your own jokes here. Not nearly as smoky as I thought it would be. Like if you took a caramel, covered it in salt, and threw it in the smoker with the briskets. That sounds awful, I know, but delicious at the same time.

The taste basically follows the aroma. To be honest, I was really dreading this beer because I dislike overpowering smokiness, but this is not unpleasant at all. It's got a nice little sweet/bitter combo going with the caramel flavor and the smoke.

Medium bodied, with an appropriate carbonation level. Surprisingly easy drinker. Just a subtle kiss from the smoke in the finish. Very, very pleasant surprise.

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Photo of Bung
3.98/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Orange/amber pour, good size white head. Strong malty aroma with hints of some smoke. Tastes reminds me more of a dopplebock, malty raisin and peat. Smoke is really just an accent here. Finishes some smoke and hops. Very drinkable, good example.

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Photo of sweethome
3.98/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich amber color - orange hue. Gentle smoke on the nose - backing of sweet malt.

Firm, crisp mouthfeel. Well put together beer - fine malts, noble hops, gentle smoke. This is no liquid smoke "smoke" beer, but the real thing. Nice integration.

Generous malts in here, just a touch too sweet for my palate. Still, a fine representation of style and welcome addition to the US market as there are few who do it the right way - this is done right.

I paired it with a non-smoked cheese - Cahill's Porter and it stood up perfectly.

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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 GarrisWH
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep, clear, reddish amber with a minimal, light tan head that diminishes to a spotty cap fairly quickly. Not a whole lot in terms of lacing.

S - Sweet, toasted malt aromas with a substantial woody smokiness. A slight spicy hoppiness hiding in the background.

T - Toasted malts with a sweet, caramel character up front. Then the smokiness pushes through along with crisp, fruity, apple apple flavors. Smokiness carries through the finish, which also has a nice, ever-so-slightly bitter, spicy hop kick. I like how the smoke flavors are pronounced, but are kept in check in this one. Nice, fairly complex flavors.

M - Medium bodied with nice, crisp carbonation.

D - Easy drinking with a nice flavor profile. Solid smoke presence that manages to stand out without being overpowering. I don't have a lot of experience with Rauchbiers, but enjoyed this offering quite a bit.

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Photo of TexIndy
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got from ummagum - many thanks! Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. No dating info. It was clear amber color with sight carbonation and slight sliding lace. It had an average sized off-white head that slowly dissipated into a barely there collar. Other reviews noted bigger and longer lasting head plus better lacing. Since no date on this one can't tell if freshness issue or something else.

The aroma is heavy on smoke - awesome! I love rauchbiers and this one has a great aroma to it. As it warms, the smokes fades a bit and the caramel malt starts to come thru as well. Glad the malt showed up but wished the smoke had stuck around longer. By the end, it had faded quite a bit. The taste was also really good. Starts out with a good caramel malt taste and then the smoke kicks in for a great finish. Again, as it warmed the smoke really faded. If it had stuck around, the aroma and taste scores would have been half a point higher for me.

Overall, a great beer that just misses on being legendary since the awesome smoke aroma and taste really start to fade halfway thru. As I noted earlier, mine was missing some head and lacing that others got so I may not have had a fresh one. Will need to re-try this one in the future and possibly re-review it. For now, still highly recommend. As is, it would be a player in the rotation. If the smoke sticks around longer, it could be a major player.

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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 feelmefoam
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a Stone pint glass.

Pours a light brown with orange highlights, slightly murky, with a small amount of visible carbonation. Puts up a finger of off-white head that leaves a pretty nice amount of lacing.

Interesting smell... I've never had a Rauchbier before, but the smell is as the site and bottle describe, I smell smoked meat followed by a little maltiness, though I can't put my finger on what kind.

This is quite the interesting beer. Although at first I was put off by the thought of drinking beef jerky, it's actually pretty damn good. A nice malty sweetness up front gives the beer a pretty solid body on which to build up to the smokiness that comes in at the end of each swig. A hefty amount of smokiness, but not overpowering, rather it is well balanced and combines well with the malts to give the beer a pleasurable 'fiery' feel. I could actually picture drinking this on a cold night by a roaring fire somewhere.

Nice medium-heavy body that works well with the smokiness to provide a good backup to the flavors. Good choice, I'd much rather have this beer be a thicker sipper than a thin, smoky mess. As it is, its like drinking a different kind of porter with a bit of meatiness to it. Smooth, yet assertive.

Drinkable, a sipper for me, but would go oh so well with some choice meaty/ cheesy foods. I actually like this style quite a bit, at least from what I can tell from Fort Collins version. I understand there are smokier versions out there; I'm curious to try them at some point. I'm kind of excited that I like this style, seeing as how it may not be the most popular with everyone. Good stuff, Fort Collins.

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Photo of jadpsu
3.97/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

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