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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,578 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,578
Reviews: 727
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 430
Gots: 172 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Here's what happens when substance meets smooth. This oatmeal brown ale defies traditional categories. Bender begins crisp and lightly hoppy, complemented by the velvety sleekness oats deliver. Belgian and British malts usher in cascades of cocoa, coffee, carmel and hints of vanilla and cream. An easy-drinking ale with many layers of satisfaction.

(Beer added by: tavernjef on 02-04-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,578 | Reviews: 727 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by ForWhatAlesYou:
Photo of ForWhatAlesYou


4.05/5  rDev -1%

On tap into a pint glass at Stout's Pub in Falcon Heights, MN.

A:Clear, deep ruby brown in color. Soft, short (due to pour) light tan head. Nice lace (thank you clean glass).

S: This is nice up front. Good round hoppiness with roasted malts. As it mellows and sits it develop caramel and toasty notes with a hint of spiced baked goods.

T: Well rounded biscuity notes with a nice floral balancing hop profile. Rich and toasty while the hops are citrusy enough to balance.

M: Just about perfect. Light oily chewiness is prevalent while a drying note finishes. Nice.

D: Very. If you've never had it....please do.

04-20-2012 22:08:40 | More by ForWhatAlesYou
More User Reviews:
Photo of DaPeculierDane


4.28/5  rDev +4.6%

Many thanks to Jeff Krenner for bringing me a couple four packs of this fine brew on his recent visit to Madison.

One pint can poured into my Great Dane Imperial Pint Glass a deep brown body with an uber thick khaki head. Retention is solid for a few minutes but eventually settles to steady skim.Nice lacing. Visible carbonation streams when tilted and held to the light.

Interestingly, I find vanilla in the nose, followed by cherry. It's light but present. An oatmeal stout like chocolate oat aroma follows. Then more nuts and toast.

Palate hits with a sweet blast of caramel covered wild strawberry topped with nuts. Chocolate and toffee follow suit. Droplets of coffee and more nuts finish off.

Sweet and often twangy front with a exceptionally dry finish. Light bodied. Superbly drinkable. Slightly warming.

As I finish the beer I close my eyes and take a few sips. I could swear I was drinking an oatmeal stout. Coffee, chocolate, and cherry intermingled with that wonderful oat bite. Cool beer.

06-29-2007 01:10:47 | More by DaPeculierDane
Photo of DanGeo


3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

06-27-2014 22:39:32 | More by DanGeo
Photo of tectactoe


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

Thanks again to maximum12 for always hooking it up with Surly stuff, much appreciated. Damped, muddied brown with some swamp-ish carbonation that's lively as all hell; bubbles just flying upwards towards the big, khaki-colored head. It's thick, lasting, and chunky the Oprah in '88. Copious amounts of seemingly sticky, webbed lace spots haunt the sides of the glass forever.

After one rummage into the glass, I can already say that this is one of the better brown ales I've smelled. I'm not a huge fan of the style... I normally hate when people say that, but oh well. I'm guilty. Brown ales are just something that have never really "done it" for me. But the nose on Bender is quite lovely... Toasty bread, sweet caramel, soft cocoa powder, a hint of cola, and some tame backside vanilla sweetness. A nice little concoction if I do say so myself.

The taste is plentiful with good, creamy chocolate notes; just mildly sweet and balanced admirably by the slightest touch of roast. A little hint of cola mid-palate before the nutty floodgates open; a nuttiness comes on strong with some sweet coffee grounds and some finishing dryness. The mouth feel is quite nice - I wonder if the oats are responsible for the creaminess on the palate? Things finish nicely with some lightly sweet cream and a dash of earthy hops and cocoa.

On the real tip, Surly continues to impress me with every single beer they put out. IPA? Awesome. Douple IPA? Amazing. Imperial Stout? Fabulous. Helles Lager? Exemplary. Brown Ale? Yup, damn delicious. I can say that this is probably one of the most enjoyable brown ales that I've had, and certainly one of the most memorable. I would definitely revisit if it were available in my area. But I've gotta work on getting some Coffee Bender first!

08-27-2013 11:20:02 | More by tectactoe
Photo of MadScientist

New York

3.9/5  rDev -4.6%

A: A dark brown ale with good clarity. The head is thin, tan and made of compact, long lasting bubbles.

S: A medium roast and some light coffee from the malt. Slight dark fruit and almost no hops.

T: A decent bitterness with a fair amount of malt but with very little sweetness. It has medium coffee and mild toast malt flavors with slight dark fruit. The balance is somewhat bitter with a dry finish and a dark malt aftertaste.

O: Somewhere between an American Brown and Porter with a malt flavors and hops bitterness dominating.

08-23-2013 22:50:11 | More by MadScientist
Photo of explosivebeer


4.7/5  rDev +14.9%

This beer poured a lovely dark brown and immediately had a hint of banana esters. It was lightly nutty with some chocolate and caramel notes. Overall it was an excellent beer and the best I've ever had out of a can. I only wish it had a more widespread distribution!

03-11-2008 18:10:06 | More by explosivebeer
Photo of BeerAdvocate


4.13/5  rDev +1%

Review is from the February 2007 issue of Beeradvocate Magazine.

A tall boy! Yeah! Awesome tagline as well: "Beer For A Glass, From A Can."

Small head from a hard pour; decent head retention, though. Dark brown with garnet edges. Aromas of toasted bread crust, dark malt sweetness and hints of clementine from the hops. Sufficiently crisp, with a slight silkiness from the oats in the medium body. Suggestions of cream soda and baker's chocolate. Oily hop flavor pops up front. Lots of dark malt character; roasted like a soft Colombian coffee with cocoa powder on the palate and a hint of char that is whisked away by a hard, citric bitterness in the semi-dry finish.

What does brown do for you? In this case brown (Brown Ale that is) is where it's at, at least for Bender. Certainly some suds we could see stocked in our fridge all year long. Paired well with teriyaki beef over a nutty brown rice.

07-24-2008 18:46:10 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of SuomiHobbit


3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

07-11-2014 00:20:15 | More by SuomiHobbit
Photo of blackearth


4.8/5  rDev +17.4%

This beer poured from a 16 oz. can has an extremely dark amber color, which you can only see by holding to the light. From a distance it looks black. Off-white head that falls to a thin layer of bubbles with good lacing. Aroma is of roasted caramel, chocolate and vanilla. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel with a subtle amount of carbonation. Flavors of sweet malt and burnt chocolate with a subtle hop and coffee aftertaste. One of the best beers I have ever had.

06-07-2009 00:58:48 | More by blackearth
Photo of newk340


4.2/5  rDev +2.7%

Shared w/ hu5om in NB goblets

A: a deep mahogany, initial head dies quickly leaving a foam ring.

S: gorgeous smell of coffee, vanilla, and caramel.

T: very little initial taste off the tongue but a warm coffee, cream, vanilla aftertaste that builds to a pleasant linger.

MF/D: drinks like a silky stout, VERY smooth and sessionable IMHO. very little evident carbonation with building heat.

09-14-2010 21:58:48 | More by newk340
Photo of blitz134


4.15/5  rDev +1.5%

Brown ales aren't my favorite style by any means, usually a bit too light for me. But I've heard good things about this one. Lets see...

Clear, crimson body. Quite dark, but light showed through when held up. Poured with about 2" of tan head that receeded slowly in a lumpy mass and stuck all over the glass. Seriously impressive for a brown ale, the best looking brown I've seen to date.

Aroma is quite upfront compared to its competitors. Lots of toasted malts with its share of chocolate and a hint of nuttiness. Has some creamy nuances as well. Nice.

Taste is loaded with flavor. Toasted malts as expected, more cocoa and that typical brown ale twang with its slight acrid bite which I also find typical of oatmeal brews. A bit of earthy, herbal hops in the finish. Quite good.

Nice medium full body. Quite the change from the watery browns I'm used to. Lower carbonation levels allow the flavors to come through but add just a bit of crispness.

The oatmeal does wonders for this beer. It really brings out the mouthfeel and head retention and works well with the typical brown ale flavor profiles. This one goes down easy, but I couldn't put back as many as I could of a normal brown due to how heavy this one sits on the stomach. This is a must try though, no doubt...the best brown I've had, period.

04-12-2007 03:25:28 | More by blitz134
Photo of supa0525


4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

08-09-2013 02:29:10 | More by supa0525
Photo of kgeijer

4/5  rDev -2.2%

05-07-2012 03:28:34 | More by kgeijer
Photo of JasonA


4.35/5  rDev +6.4%

Pours an opaque brown. Solif, thick 2 fingers of head into my Saranac glass. Extensive lacing, thick down the sides.

Roasted malt, roasted nut, medium malt. Deep malt. Malt smell blends well delicate hop aroma.

Rosted nutty, medium malt. Finishing dry dark malt. Stoutish finish, interesting. Maybe some bittering in the middle.

Not sweet at all, malt bill pretty dry. Lots going on throughout. Incredibly dry at finish.

Very full bodied brown ale. Lots going on, almost not sessionable, though still is. Id love to have some more.

05-15-2009 22:06:24 | More by JasonA
Photo of danthehopslamman


4/5  rDev -2.2%

05-02-2014 22:27:00 | More by danthehopslamman
Photo of beaversfan12


4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

10-26-2013 19:13:37 | More by beaversfan12
Photo of NWer


4.4/5  rDev +7.6%

Poured from a 16 oz can into my Deschutes Brewery tulip.
Dark brown. So brown it's black until you hold it up to the light. Nice brown foamy head. Tight nitro-like bubbles. Dissipates quickly Nice lace.
Smooth. Mild coffee and chocolate notes. Maybe a little caramel. Very smooth. At 5.1 ABV and a pleasant aftertaste makes this a very drinkable session beer.
Did I mention that it's smooth?
Delightful. I only wish it was available on the Left Coast. I would be drinking more of it.
Update: I posted my review then I read the label. Honest!
My review merely emphasizes what they say on the can.

09-16-2011 22:03:13 | More by NWer
Photo of SD-Alefan

South Dakota

4.5/5  rDev +10%

02-25-2014 01:10:06 | More by SD-Alefan
Photo of DaftPatrick


3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

02-28-2013 05:32:01 | More by DaftPatrick
Photo of csmartin6

New York

4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

01-02-2014 18:45:26 | More by csmartin6
Photo of warnerry


4.05/5  rDev -1%

A - Pours a deep reddish brown with almost one finger of tan head. Head dissipates quickly and doesn't leave any lacing.

S - Some faint coffee and chocolate malts . Also a subtle bread character and faint hops. Subtle but good.

T - More earthy and with a more pronounce hop presence than the smell, but otherwise follows the smell pretty closely. Finishes somewhat dry and earthy.

M - Medium mouthfeel with a nice smoothness, though not exactly creamy.

O - There are a lot of brown ales out there that have slowly turned me away from the style, but I would definitely want to have this again. Nice flavors and very good mouthfeel make this very enjoyable.

10-26-2011 21:38:30 | More by warnerry
Photo of marvin213

North Carolina

3.78/5  rDev -7.6%

I'm not used to pouring a canned beer into a glass, but I'm looking at a half glass of foamy Mr. Bubble-type head atop another half glass of what looks like a Guiness. As far as I can tell, it's a black beer except for the very bottom of my pour that indicates a brown. The head has dissipated some, almost in half, but more than inch just sits there beckoning like a root beer. I'm trying to remain objective with my first canned review. I'm still not sure what to think, but the lacing left on the sides of the glass from the thick, caramely head looks cool.

The smell is kind of rough. I'm not sure about the vanilla and caramel mentioned on the bottle (maybe I detect the oatmeal), but I feel like there's more distinctive from the aluminum can than anything else. Am I being too unfair to the beer in the can? The longer I wait, the more I think good smells are actually trying to escape from their pent-up state within that can. It just seems like it's more difficult for the beverage's aroma to stimulate my brain than it would be were I to pour the same thing from a glass.

The taste is pleasant, and I acknowledge it's more aligned with what I was expecting from a beer of this design and with this sort of reputation. I can taste the cocoa and other descriptors on the can, but I can't help but wonder if this beer would taste significantly different (and better) were it stored in a glass. Why is it not? Is it clever marketing? It works as far as making it interesting, but it's also a purty good beer underneath. How much difference does the can make? It's a good beer, no doubt; and, I guess, as intended, it's oddly pleasant for a beer coming from a can.

After the initial aluminum sensation, I get that the beer is indeed comprised of appealing cocoa, caramel, and vanilla. The mouthfeel is pleasant.

It's a sweet brown beer coming out of a can. It's weird, for sure. It's good, and I'd have another. Still--why doesn't it come from a bottle? In 12oz servings?

05-25-2009 00:55:55 | More by marvin213
Photo of akocina


3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

03-27-2013 05:05:59 | More by akocina
Photo of JakerLou

New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

04-26-2014 23:14:39 | More by JakerLou
Photo of megamass

New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

05-18-2013 03:54:50 | More by megamass
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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,578 ratings.