Last evening I was cooking up a chicken quesadilla for dinner and I had a hankering (yup, I did just say hankering) for a good smoky beer to enjoy. I like a good smoked beer and get lost in the idea of pouring the flavor of bacon or good BBQ into a glass, and I'd been itching to open this bottle of Fort Collins Z Lager that I'd picked up.
Brewed in Fort Collins, Colorado, the Z Lager is a Rauchbier style. For those that are unfamiliar, a Rauchbier is an old German style dating back to the 1500's. Green malts are taken and dried over an open beech wood fire which gives them a unique smokiness. "Rauch" is German for smoke and its not unusual for this style of beer to have a robust, assertive smokiness like that of a good smoked meat.
I poured the Z Lager from a 12oz bottle into my pint glass with anticipation. It had very little head that dissipated quickly and as I took my first whiff I picked up the faint smoky aroma. Upon first sip I noticed that the smokiness wasn't as pronounced as I had hoped, or typically like, but was there very subtly. This would be a very good introduction beer for someone who's not familiar with the style or who likes a little smokiness as opposed to something more robust. It went down very easy and I found I had it drank in no time. Our contender this week weighs in at around 5.5% ABV and 30 IBU's. I would recommend letting it warm up a little out of the fridge to allow more of the smoky flavors to pop through. Food pairing wise Beeradvocate.com suggests BBQ & German fare along with smoked or grilled meats and tosses a solid B rating at the Z Lager. Ratebeer.com chimes in with a score of 69. I think its a decently made beer and would drink it again, but can't say that I would go out of my way to seek it out like I might with others.
Has anyone else tried this one or any other Rauchbier styles? I'd love to hear some other opinions since smoked beers are one of my favorites. Leave me a comment or hit me up on the Lville Beer Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare accounts. I can never have too many friends, I get lonely easily.
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