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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
BenderBender

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

1,608 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,608
Reviews: 729
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 432
Gots: 171 | FT: 9
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: 1,608 | Reviews: 729 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by goatgoat:
Photo of goatgoat
3.55/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks mikereaser for the opportunity.

Pours a hazy coppery brown. A thin tan head falls quickly into a thin ring. No lace.

Aroma is sweet bread, molasses, overlaid with citrus hops.

Flavor starts with sweet caramel malts, a little roasted note. Then the hop bitterness steps up, with a light citrus, slightly earthy flavor and a moderate bitterness into the finish.

Good sturdy but easy drinking feel. And even though the carbonation is a little high, the feel of it remains tame.

This seems to be a moderate brew for all the hype of it. I'd like a bit more roasted bitterness to balance with the hops but other than that it was decent.

goatgoat, Apr 15, 2009
More User Reviews:
Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was thrilled to death when I opened up a package from a certain trader that shall remain nameless but he knows who he is, that contained some wonderful goodies from Surly, with a nice can of Bender being among the prizes. Now I HAD NEVER HAD Bender before mind you, but I was thrilled to get the chance to try it. Immediately took this bad boy out and threw him in the fridge to get nice and cold. I knew I was going to want to enjoy this as soon as possible. So last night I decided that this might go well with Mexican and popped it out and poured it into a UFO Hefeweizen, well Hefeweizen glass and served it at 45 degrees with dinner. Lovely sixteen ounce can that I could not wait to tear into.

Appearance - Poured into my glass an absolutely love deep dark russet brown with loads of hints of reddish tones around the sides and bottom of the glass. Very dark and opaque, essentially no light was shining through on this baby, except for the slightest little bit on the bottom of the glass. A very nice large tannish head of foam rose up over the top and crowned it beautifully, reaching a height of nearly three inches before finally starting to receded and come back down to earth. There was a very nice small pillow of foam left over at the top which stayed with it throughout the entire session. Some light carbonation could be seen streaking skyward, and the side glass lace was rather impressive as well.

Smell - The aroma was intoxicating right of the bat. A very deep and rich sweet smell graced my nose the second I poured it. Huge aromas of caramel and sugar were easily the most evident thins found in here. It really was much sweeter than I thought it would be, and this was a good thing. I was picking up some light notes of chocolate and a touch of nuttiness as well. There were definitely some hops way down deep in the profile as well, providing a touch of promising bitterness in the end.

Taste - The flavor followed off right where the aroma left off. This was insanely well put together for something with only 5% abv. Such a rich full profile, I did not know where to begin, but let's give this a try. The first flavor to come washing through was a rich caramel sweetness. Very nice and big and very evident from the very first sip. Really a malt bomb here for sure. Some notes of the roasted nuts then following it along and really pulling it together quite well. I was shocked at how nice this was coming together. Very light hints of chocolate now coming through, very light though and just enough to add some sweetness, a touch of sweet coffee now on the horizon as well and really giving it even more depth than it had before. The finish was very strong, a nice little hop bite to dry it out and get the flavor to linger, and the sweet caramel notes were really becoming prevalent here. Some nice grain flavors way in the back, light cereal grains. Very nice overall.

Mouthfeel - Super rich and smooth, this was by no means a light bodied ale. Easily a medium bodied brown ale this was intensely smooth and delicious. Each sip was like a velvety smooth liquid drenching over the tongue. Super rich. Lots of carbonation, all the way down to the final drop. Never a dull moment or any kind of thinness to this one at all, really well done.

Drinkability - I literally could have sessioned this one all night. At first I thought to myself there is no way that this was just a 5% brown ale, it was so rich and flavorful. I was damn impressed here and if I could have gotten more I would have drank a six pack of these is a heartbeat. Really an awesome beer.

Overall this was one the best brown ales I have ever had. It was richly complex and sweet and very full bodied. Very cream and almost porter like in its presentation this was just outstanding. Not only would I not turn this away if it came my way, but I will actively seek it out for sure. Go get this it really is a winner.

mikesgroove, Feb 22, 2008
Photo of jlindros
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this canned goodness thanks to either grub or KeefB (one from each). All the Surlys I've had so far from a can are full of awesomeness, and I expect nothing less from this guy. After all, Tasty crack cans, tasty crack cans...

A: Psssst ccchhhhkkkttt goes the sound of the can as I pop the top. Humungous fluffy dark colored head grows from the beer upwards and leaves a big bubbly side on the side I poured towards. Super dark raisiny brown color dominates and blocks almost all light from sneaking through. Even at the bottom of the glass where it thins quite a bit, light can't penetrate its awesomeness. As the head slowly bides itself, it leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

N: Total brown sugar and raisin burst accompanied with some dark malts dominate the nose. A slight dark fruit of fig and some other like dark fruits come out and say hello. I get some raw malt like aromas that remind me of the mash when homebrewing, and really hits a smile zone in my brain. The caramelized brown sugar dominates this nose and really tells you it will be a sweet surprise waiting below. I would really have expected a nose like this to be followed with 9-10%abv, but being 5% it should be pretty interesting.

T: Ooooh, it IS a beer. It has a nice beer like malt taste to start, not sure how else to describe that. The sweet malts and brown sugar touch the tongue, but not as dominate as the nose and as I expected in the mouth. It has a slight creamy goodness and slight fruit. A roasted malt ported like taste breaks through and almost dominates. A slight fruit like fig lets you know it's there as the beer starts to bitter a bit. The caramelized brown sugar really starts to slap your tongue around towards the end. A nice oat taste hides in the background, holding hands with some slight coffee from the roasted malt that seem to trick you into thinking they're not really there, but then suddenly let you know. I don't get much for vanilla or cocoa as the can suggests, those jerks!

M: Pretty creamy and semi thick, almost velvety, with decent carbonation.

F: Sonofa bitterness! It bitters up quite well for the finish. It also dries off quite a bit, and perhaps too much. The sweet sugar taste seems to stay a bit but the actual sweetness disappears as it really dries off and makes you think of winter dry kill. Almost a smoked malt like taste seem to tickle the finish, which compliments the burnt brown sugar well as well as the bitter European like hops. It doesn't linger too long either, which helps you drink it quickly, perhaps a little too quickly!

Final thoughts: A nice easy drinking brown ale crossed with porter. It has a nice beer like taste and malt goodness, a nice roasted malt quality with some dark fruits, a dark flavor and color, and a nice bitter thick finish. It finishes bitter and dry, but nicely and drinks a little too easy for a brown ale/porter. The slight sweetness and brown sugar flavors trick you into thinking it will be a 8% abv beverage, but it seems to pride itself on 5% and that makes it pretty cool in my book as I would be able to drink a shitton of it, if only Surly shipped out this way. Surly, dammit, ship out this way so I don't have to keep trading for your awesome goodness!!! Thanks again for the trades guys!

Comment: Also, I had to watch an episode of Futurama after drinking this. Specifically the episode where they brew beer inside of Bender, calling it Benderbrau.

jlindros, Oct 18, 2009
Photo of BEERchitect
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first taste of a Surly Brewing Company brew. Turns out, it was worth the patience and the hype. The sound of the beer hitting the bottom of the glass promises malty richness. The appearance is a meduim viscous, dark brown with ruby highlights. A 1" head never fell. Aromas of solid barley malts, semi-sweet cocoa, and bold coffee notes blended well with complementary caramel, toffee, and a touch of fermented roasted malts. The flavors closely resemble the terrificly balanced aromas but show impressive intensity, strenth, roundness, and without compromising the balance. The cocoa flavors portray mild bitterness and solid richness. The coffee is very Columbian, and the hop bitterness balances the bitterness found in the cocoa and coffee. A mild lacto-sweetness rounds out the coffee acidity well. As the beer falls into the finish a firm nutty (pecan) flavor intensifies and carrys the beer into the finish. Very clean and bitter-balanced in the finish, allowing a soft, coffee / chocolate lingering. Not sure if this is the best Brown that I have ever has, but I am certain that I have had none better. Thanks Nathan15.

BEERchitect, Jul 16, 2007
Photo of MasterSki
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed some cans for me and my Chicago BA buddies last time I was in St. Paul. Bottom of the can is stamped "3G", not sure what that means...

A - This is one of the handsomest brews I've ever laid eyes on. Dark chocolate brown color with tan three-finger head that dissipates slowly into a thick froth. This is the way an ale should look.

S - There's a strange phenomenon here - the liquid in the can smelt much sweeter prior to me pouring it into the glass. Before I get a biscuit-y sweet smell with hints of chocolate, vanilla, and malt. There's also this sort of defining Surly hoppiness that I smell in all their brews (even Darkness). Out of the glass there is more spice and booze. I kind of prefer the can smell, so I bumped this down 1/2 a grade.

T - Sweet - roasted malt and biscuit, with toffee, molasses, chocolate and coffee. Reminds me of Whoppers chocolate malt balls a little (and in a good way).

M - A little more watery than I like, but it's definitely smooth. A little underwhelming considering the depth of flavor.

D - An easy to drink beer, and at 5.1% the pint-sized cans are the perfect serving size.

While I prefer Furious and Darkness this beer is no slouch and serves as a nice change of pace.

MasterSki, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Surly Brewing Company had intended from the start to create beers without definitions, that went beyond stylistic boundaries. With their initial releases, they have shown this ambition and realized it well. though we call this an American Brown Ale, it's much more than that, and seems like a porter at times, which is how the brewer described it as, an Oatmeal Brown Porter. And why not?

Burnt sienna body, a crisp mahogony hue, with ruby crimson feet. Warm cocoa-toned head, like a cappocino topping, lasts long into the life of the pint.

Aroma is lightly nutty, slightly sweet, some caramel/toffee notes, then reveals itself dry and roasty. Earthy, open, inviting. I like it.

The brew boards the palate with confidence and lets loose an array of flavors. Malt is the main ingredient here, and some compelling ones were put into play, several caramels, some chocolate, (to make it more of a brown porter than a robust one) some Belgian Special B (yum, I'm reminiscing on some favorite dubbels at times), and aromatic hops. Chocolate is here, nuts, and toffee, sweet for a second, then dry again, and toasty. The oats add an excellent amount of texture and grit to the mouthfeel that makes every sip something to savor.

Body is medium to full, but it's that texture that makes it memorable. It's smooth, but substantial, with a long, memorable finish, the flavors echo with every drop that rolls back over the tongue.

Here's a brown ale you can drink, and which makes you think. Rather than pass the time in between gulps of a light, uncomplicated sweetish brown brew, it grabs your attention and your palate and makes you wonder a bit about it, and ponder on what makes you like it so much. It's an excellent introductory brew for this upstart, as people can reach for it again and again over a night at the bar,("another Bender", you say to the barman, and pretty soon you're on one!) and still ponder on it's quality and taste, and come back for more the next night.

feloniousmonk, Feb 04, 2006
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

DaPeculierDane, Jun 29, 2007
Photo of DanGeo
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

DanGeo, Jun 27, 2014
Photo of tectactoe
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

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!

tectactoe, Aug 27, 2013
Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -2.2%

t2grogan, Oct 05, 2014
Photo of MadScientist
3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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.

MadScientist, Aug 23, 2013
Photo of explosivebeer
4.7/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!

explosivebeer, Mar 11, 2008
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

BeerAdvocate, Jul 24, 2008
Photo of SuomiHobbit
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

SuomiHobbit, Jul 11, 2014
Photo of blackearth
4.8/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

blackearth, Jun 07, 2009
Photo of newk340
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

newk340, Sep 14, 2010
Photo of blitz134
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

blitz134, Apr 12, 2007
Photo of supa0525
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

supa0525, Aug 09, 2013
Photo of kgeijer
4/5  rDev -2.2%

kgeijer, May 07, 2012
Photo of JasonA
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

JasonA, May 15, 2009
Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev -2.2%

danthehopslamman, May 02, 2014
Photo of beaversfan12
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

beaversfan12, Oct 26, 2013
Photo of NWer
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

NWer, Sep 16, 2011
Photo of SD-Alefan
4.5/5  rDev +10%

SD-Alefan, Feb 25, 2014
Photo of DaftPatrick
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

DaftPatrick, Feb 28, 2013
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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,608 ratings.