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 cdizinno
3.01/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: poured into a tulip glass from a brown bottle with no best by date.

A: Pours a clear dark copper color, almost brown with an off-white head and minimal lacing.

S: Sweet malt and caramel. I didn't really smell any smokiness at first. After a couple of sips there is definitely a mild smoke scent.

T&M: Definitely taste some mild smokey flavor and heavy sweetness. Medium bodied with little to no carbonation. More like a bland brown ale.

After reading several other reviews I am beginning to believe I may have an old bottle. The beer is almost flat. It tastes good but the mouthfeel is almost not there.

D- I'm a big fan of smoked beers and this is another tasty one. Not my favorite, but an easy drinking one that I wouldn't mind having again. Would make an excellent tailgating/cookout beer.

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Photo of WeezyBoPeep
3.02/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pure, clear amber with a golden hue and a small, tan head.

S: Smokey malt, campfire smoke and caramel.

T: Smoked meaty flavor, ashy malt, tobacco resin, vanilla and molasses. Vague remnants of dark fruit: raisins, figs, prunes and black cherries. Surprisingly mellow and clean finish.

D: For me, just a taster. This ain't something I'd buy a sixer of.

Value: $8.99 a sixer at my joint. On sale. Good deal I guess if you like this style.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
3.02/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

From Notes

A: Rich brown color with an off white head about half an inch thick. Crystal clear, not much carbonation. Very interesting looking beer. 3.0

S: Reminds me of barbeque. Smoke is very present, a few malt characteristics pop out, but the smoke is what stands out the most. 3.5

T: Reminds me of barbeque again, not many "beer" flavors in this. The smoke dominates this entire beer it isn't too bad though. Very interesting, the tastes linger in my mouth for quite a while. This is a big beer, no doubt about it, but not something I would drink many of. 3.0

M: Pretty crisp and carbonated. Kinda sticky though. The tastes makes the mouth feel a little thicker than it is. 3.0

D: One is enough for me. Its just too smoky for my taste. It was interesting and would pair well with some ribs, but just not my style. 2.5

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Photo of albern
3.03/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Compared to a Schlenkerla, this beer is a pretty weak smoked beer and not all that worthy. On its own, not comparing it to a real smoked beer, this is okay and not at all unenjoyable. The beer pours a clear deep copper color with some off white head, not much retention and no lacing. The aroma is more sweet malts and bready grains than it is smoky peat or charred like whiffs. You wouldn't really know that you are about to taste a smoked beer by just the aroma alone, because it is just too subtle. There are some roasted notes though.

The taste is pretty subtle too, there are some slightly roasted notes, no real peatiness that I can discern, yes there is a bit of smokiness, but nothing that makes a statement. The beer is quite light bodied, a bit carbonated, and just a watered down smoked beer. It isn't unpleasant, just not great. There is a slightly drying mouth puckering finish, but overall the beer is just too sweet, too light, and too watery to be taken seriously.

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Photo of palliko
3.03/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this at the brewery yesterday. Appearance is a dark amber with some ivory foam, little lacing. Aroma screams SMOKE! - wood and pipe tobacco blended. Like burning leaves mixed with burnt sugar. Initial taste is of smoky biscuits, malt, crackers and not too much hops. Middle has bitter chocolate, burnt hamburgers and malts. Body is medium to light, with enough carbonation. Might be good with a barbecue meal, but on its own, I would pass.

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Photo of estlinska
3.04/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Served from the bottle into a standard shaker at the Pantry on 3/22/13. Pours a dark burnished orange like a worn sun-bleached oak barrel. There is a little cream colored head that dissipates quickly without much lacing left behind. The nose is off. It smells like a standard amber ale with hints of melted sugar and baked brown bread, but there is the smoke smell as well. They just don't work well together on the nose, and it reminds me more of just pure liquid smoke which is just a touch off-putting. The taste is not very smoky though. There is definitely a biscuit taste and some sweet caramel with just a touch of that artificial smoke flavor. Mouthfeel is medium. Overall this is just not working for me. Maybe the smoked flavor is more of a porter thing for me and I need to keep trying things, but I just didn't like it.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
3.06/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz brown bottle,served into a nonic glass

Hazy,meduim amber with a coppery/brownish hue. 2"off -white thick,creamy,head. Good retention,with a few staggered bubbles rising,leaving some webby lacing down the glass.

Malty aroma, burnt carmell,sort of a hickory smoked phenolic smells,tobacco,some fruittyness of overripe apples.

Heavy malt tastes,lots of carmel,sweet/sugary,earthy, with light smokey notes throughout. Has a fruity aftertaste.

Light to medium body,tangy,leaving a dry feel at the end. Could drink a couple,not a beer i would drink all night.

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Photo of Beejay
3.12/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Medium brown with ruby when held up to the light. Some tan head, but is fades to large bubbles.

S: Malty and bready. With a hint of sweet smoke. Perhaps a touch of a yeast scent.

T: A nice crisp flavor, with lots of bready notes. Semi sweet, with a touch of smoke in the back. To be honest, I was expecting a bit more smoke.

M: Medium in body, with fairly high carbonation.

D: Tasty, but forgetful. A good change up, but not interesting enough to be a regular purchase. Want more smoke.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.13/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle at 42 degrees into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

A: It pours a mostly clear copper color with a finger of cream-colored head that slowly recedes but laces okay.

S: Lots of char, caramel, and a little toast.

T: It is essentially a blend of smoke and strong maltiness. If you want a complex Rauchbier, look elsewhere.

M: It has a medium-light body with relatively low carbonation.

O: This is a tasty smoke beer but it lacks complexity and does not stick out in any way.

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Photo of WJVII
3.13/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass this brew is a deep amber color with nice red tint when held to the light. The head is less than a finger and leaves nearly no cap and no lacing. The aroma is smoky and has some hints of caramel and thick malts. The taste is extremely overwhelmed by smokiness. The bottle states the malts are dried over an open fire. This seems to overpower the entire brew. The carbonation is nice and there is some balance with hops in the finish, but it is very hard to get over the initial taste that just lingers. I am glad I purchased this as a single as I am not going to have again.

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Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.14/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Colored like sweet tea an evening cream tops the champagne bubbled brew....

Sweets and smoked woods hit the nose as a malty aroma breaks even and sends the senses in anticipation

Cool, calm smoke on the tongue and acrid pork, but in a good way. The alcohol is apparent in the back as it comes forth with mild hops for balance

Light bodied and wet in the mouth leaves the without any residual trace wish there were more here

A decent beer and a good introduction to the smoked variety but as a rauchbier lover I really hoped for a more intense experience

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.15/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into pint glass
this is labeled a smoked beer, but it just seemed like an amber lager with a bit more malt than normal.
Poured rusty brown, with a medium head that didn't last.
Smell of malt, vinegar and touch of American hops.
Taste was roasted malt, maybe some chocolate. Nothing 'smoked'.
A little flat, maybe I got a bad batch.

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Photo of shivtim
3.15/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I didn't even realize the name of this beer was "Z" at first, because of the way the Z is kinda more like a logo than a title. I thought my friend had just brought me a lager from out west, but turns out it was a smoked lager. Nice little surprise.

Poured out into a pint glass. Slightly hazy amber/brown, reddish tint, one thumb off-white head fades over a minute or so. Nose is liquid smoke and corn chips. Taste is barnyard hops, generic cereal grains, and metal, with a mild lingering campfire smoke. The smoke definitely comes through on the nose a lot more than the taste. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both average.

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Photo of setexascustoms
3.15/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I got this as an extra in a trade with Exiled. Thanks bud!

A: Deep crystal clear amber with some reddish highlights. Minimal head with some lacing present.

S: Clean grainy malts with a slight smokiness.

T: Caramel malts with a slight hop twang for balance and subdued smoke.

M: Light bodied and thin, some what watery, but with nice carbonation.

O: Glad I got to try it. There are no off flavors and I did enjoy it, but it's not something I'd seek out. I may be in the minority here, but I wish a lot of the rauchbiers I've tried featured the smoke more as a main character, rather than an extra. Maybe all the smoked Texas barbecue I grew up with has desensitized me.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.17/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a 12oz beer into my Chimay chalice. Pours a amber red with a thin head that has absolutely no head retention at all. The aroma reminds me of caramel malts, smoke, chocolate, toffee, and a slight smell of copper pennies. The taste is odd. The smoke really comes out in flavor but not in a great way. The smoke is really mild, but it kind of sits on the back of the throat and affects every other taste. Caramel comes out and their is a slight metallic taste that follows the smoke. It's really odd. The mouthfeel is much fuller than I expected. I have drank this at the brewery many times and always found it easy to drink (might be because I had always had a flight and a couple pints) but out of the bottle is just tastes off. I remember these flavors in the draft version but not as pronounced.

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Photo of KI9A
3.18/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured cloudy caramel, tan head, nice lace.

S: Malty, spicy. Not much smoke detected.

T: Here is the smoke. Like burnt malt. A little hint of hoppiness at the end, along with the woodfire taste.

M: Decent carbanation, clean finish.

D: I have a tough time drinking Rauchbiers without eating a hearty meal. This one went well with a bbq pulled pork sammie!

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Photo of clayrock81
3.18/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Let me preface this review by saying I didn't think the beer was bad and I enjoyed it, but when I was told by the bartender it was a rauchbier and then tried it I felt let down. Poured a reddish copper with minimal head that stuck around and died slow and left lace ring. Had a bittery, watery smell for some reason and some sweet malts but not the smokey smell I expected. Taste follows the same as instead of a smokey, bullish malt beer I get a rather lightly sweetened bitter pale ale, it seems, as a light-to-medium body passes over my tongue w/ sharp hoppy bitterness and hints of roasted malts mixed w/ minor sweet caramel. It finishes dry and was alright to drink but they missed the ball on this one.

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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 BeerTruth
3.2/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Another new style, not sure why this isn't a Rauchbier but whatever. Hey Josh, whatcha got bitch?

12 oz. bottle poured into a standard pint glass.

Pours a somewhat foggy sunset orange hue with a one finger off-white head that quickly dies down to a thin layer of bubbles. A fair amount of stick remains on the sides throughout tasting. Smell consists of lightly charred wood, smoked grains, and some caramel malt. That's pretty much it in the nose, pretty basic. Taste begins with a funky sweetness followed by a very weak smoked birch. Malts and grains come forward midway on the tongue. Aftertaste has a tiny bit of smoked meats, but is mostly bland and watered down. Light to medium body with a creamy feel. Carbonation is subtle, and pleasant. This definitely isn't a Rauchbier, so I guess the classification of it being a Smoked Beer is fitting. Either way, I don't like where it's going. Nothing I would suggest seeking out, not sure I understand this beer...? I'm hoping I run across the Rogue's Smoke Ale someday to see how that one matches up.

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Photo of GilGarp
3.21/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Had this one at the brewery. Pours a beautiful golden amber color, like that of cognac, with good head and great clarity.

Aroma certainly has some smoke in it, anything else is overwhelmed.

Flavor is much the same with strong smoke flavor all but covering up anything else in the brew. It's a good clean smoke flavor though. Assertive but not over-the-top.

For a real treat, they crush a chilli pepper into it and it gives it a very unique spicy/hot and smokey flavor.

Mouthfeel is good if you can handle the smoke but I would put drinkability pretty low. It's more of a novelty for me - I probably wouldn't drink more than one.

Side note: Many of the people at the brewery that day (mostly a gang of Harley riders) commented that it tasted like either bacon or BBQ potato chips.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.21/5  rDev -9.6%
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 Misfit138
3.23/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

As I used my bottle opener as soon as the air it the beer foam was shooting out, I didn't shake the bottle or anything. Odd.

A - Massive head that dissolved fairly quickly with nice lacing on top of an amber colored ale.

S- Does smell smokey with caramel malts.

T- To me taste very smoked. With mild caramel sweetness.

D- I could enjoy this beer perhaps more with some red meat or something off the grill. I don't know. I wouldn't say its bad, but I don't think I like the style all that much.

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Photo of jwc215
3.23/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours bright reddish copper with a pillowy off-white head that soon becomes patchy. The color is very nice, though the head could use a bit more retention.

The smell is of caramel, wood, grainy, mild Rauch-like aroma.

The taste is of an artificial sweetener with slight metallic notes. Herbal with caramel and charred beechwood. Thin flavor, but grows a bit, as does the smokiness. Smokiness is more apparent in the aftertaste, though it is fairly short-lived.

Thinnish medium-bodied, with a nice carbonation level that helps smoothness.

A mild smoke-beer - going towards a Rauchbier. Too many samll detractors to be really enjoyable, though it's a worthy effort.

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Photo of LibrariansLoveBEER
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Pours an orange/rust color. A one finger head which quickly diminishes, minimal lacing.

Smell: Smells like a lager, hard to detect the smoky notes that are supposed to distinguish this style.

Taste: Tastes like a typical lager. I was expecting more of a smoky taste. I was halfway dreading what I thought might be an overpowering smoky, sooty taste. Not at all, in fact I was mildly disappointed with the lack of distinctiveness.

Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation, brisk, tingly.

Overall: A decent beer. I will not try this beer again, but I intend to try some of the other offerings from Fort Collins. I have a double chocolate stout chilling in the beer frig.
Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Goliath
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a rich amber color with excellent clarity. A large two finger light tan head sits on top and lingers with decent retention leaving some spotty lacing behind.

The aroma is ok. Certainly full of smoke. A sweet light malting is in there as well. Smokey beers always remind me of beef jerky!

The taste is ok. The smoke in this beer is very apparent and quite dominant. There is some pale malting in the background and it's slightly sweet up front as well as slightly bitter on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice carbonation tingle.

Drinkability is moderate. The flavor is fine, but smoked beers are a strange animal to consume. I'm certainly glad I gave this another chance though, as the first time I had it I despised it. This go around, it's not so bad.

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