Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Z Lager | The Fort Collins Brewery

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Z LagerZ Lager
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 322 |  Reviews: 216
Photo of tmitch75
4.21/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge props to my father-in-law... he's been trying to find a beer in Iowa that I haven't had. He had to go to South Dakota to make it happen, but he did it. And a smoked beer no less... Way to go Chuck!

Dark amber color, lighter than expected for a rauchbier. Also more translucent than I expected. Thin off-white head and lots of lace. Very inviting.

Slightly smokey smell with a caramelly sweetness.

Light sweetness up front with a nice roasty/smoky flavor that is assertive but not overpowering.

Mouthfeel is a bit light, but that is one of the reasons I like it so much.

I'm a fan of the styel and this is one of the more drinkable ones I've had. May not be perfectly to style but quite tasty and worth checking out.

Tasted (in Iowa!) on 5/23/08.

 756 characters

Photo of Jayli
4.2/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a gorgeous clear orange-red. Not much of a head to speak of, what is there recedes very quickly with a tiny little white film layering the top, very little spotty lacing left. Nose is of deep toasted malts and smokiness - reminds me of smoked bacon without much of the bacon smell. Taste is sweet at first, caramel malts lead the way, and then leads in to toasted malts and a great smoked flavoring. They've blended this nicely - perfect balance of sweet and smoked. Mouthfeel is a medium bodied, smooth beer, slightly creamy, nicely carbonated, slight aftertaste. This beer goes down far too easily - a definite can and will sit with it for an evening.

 669 characters

Photo of tgbljb
4.2/5  rDev +19%
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.

 398 characters

Photo of indiapaleale
4.2/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour - nice dark amber color, very clean and clear in appearance. There are some reddish highlights and a very thick, well-formed, off-white head.

Aroma - yes, its smoky (but not bacon). Its a subtle smoke, like a distant campfire on a warm summer night. Along with the very tantalizing smoke is some fruitiness like apples. I love the smell of this style of beer.

Taste - soft smoked malt flavor. By soft, I mean its not abrasive or dominating but melts very well with the sweet maltiness, the apple and pear ester flavors and the tangy caramel flavor. The finish to this beer is nice and crisp which really keeps things clean.

Overall - I really enjoyed this beer. I didn't know what to expect going in but was MORE than pleasantly surprised by the quality of this rauchbier. Great stuff and well worth giving a shot of you are a fan of smoked beers.

Would I buy more of it? - I might, I just might.

 910 characters

Photo of FarmerTed
4.18/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep amber in color. It has a nice malty taste, almost chocolatey, and has a mild, smoky finish. If I didn't know it used smoked malt, I probably wouldn't be able to tell from the taste alone. It's pretty subtle to me, but very nice.

Overall, it tasted really good. I would drink this again for sure.

 301 characters

Photo of cokes
4.15/5  rDev +17.6%
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.

 861 characters

Photo of mmmbeer
4.14/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz., slightly under-filled bottle with no freshness date. It pours a crystal-clear amber, with a thick finger of noisy, tan head that reduces to a thin cap and leaves little lacing. Sweet and smoky bacon in the nose, with a dash of darker or crystal malts. Clean flavor profile, with spicy hops, a mild bitterness, pleasantly smoky malts, and a nice sweetness to back it all up. It has a lightish, dry body with a crisp tingle that makes this beer very easy to drink. I loved this one - incredibly balanced and insanely drinkable. If I had to critique it, I would desire a more robust smokiness, but as it is, it's a very approachable and refreshing rauchbier. Make sure you grab at least two bottles if you see this one.

 724 characters

Photo of jonziefle
4.14/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a slightly cloudy brown color, with moderate visible carbonation. Half-finger bubbly head that diminishes immediately. No lacing.

Smell: Strong smokey/roasted malts, with significant chocolate and caramel flavors as well. Slight hint of some dark fruit hops, but not much. Not much sweetness in the nose.

Taste: Smokey and caramel malts, with some bitterness at first. Moderate sweetness. Interesting.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a nice carbonation bite. Smooth.

Drinkability: A very interesting beer; my first Rauchbier. Very smokey and malty, with more flavor than the usual lager. If you like smokey beers, without the intense alcohol and body of a stout/porter, this one is for you.

Buy Again? Yes.

 728 characters

Photo of uwmgdman
4.13/5  rDev +17%
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.

 541 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
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…

 422 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
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.

 787 characters

Photo of kaimcm
4.07/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

 687 characters

Photo of kaseydad
4.07/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

 628 characters

Photo of SamN
4.06/5  rDev +15%
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.

 1,787 characters

Photo of Cylinsier
4.05/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

 305 characters

Photo of Mitchster
4.05/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

 1,181 characters

Photo of bnuttz
4.05/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

 394 characters

Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.04/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

 516 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.03/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

 399 characters

Photo of rembrant
4.03/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

 1,030 characters

Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.02/5  rDev +13.9%
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.

 1,453 characters

Photo of dacrza1
4/5  rDev +13.3%
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....

 775 characters

Photo of Beertracker
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of CWhite
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of DarthKostrizer
4/5  rDev +13.3%
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

 454 characters

Z Lager from The Fort Collins Brewery
Beer rating: 3.53 out of 5 with 322 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.