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Bender - Surly Brewing Company


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,430 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1430
Reviews: 722
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: 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: 1,430 | Reviews: 722 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ncvbc

North Carolina

4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Quite possibly my favorite offering from Surly. Pours a ruddy brown color with a tan head and leaves sticky lacing down the glass. Smell is very nice. Starts more sweet at first and as it warms other scents come through. Vanilla and caramel. Oatmeal, some light chocolate and coffee. Taste is comprised of everything I picked up along with a great citric hop twang. It adds a wonderful slight dryness in the finish at the end of the swallow and is also present right when it hits the tongue, though the vast array of other flavors soon enter. A smooth and almost creamy mouthfeel and again a slight dryness in the end. Light carbonation tickling the tongue. Overall an excellent brew and a superb brown ale.

Thanks so much tayner...they came and went quickly!

Serving type: can

12-08-2007 02:31:37 | More by ncvbc
Photo of rsyberg01


4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

S - 16 oz. can recieved in the group two powerball, awesome

A - Pours a deep red, cant see through it except at the edges, head is about a fingers worth and a creamy shade of brown. lacing is divine. beautiful

S - sweet roasted malt, nutty, slight fruit character, slightly tangy notes, fantastic.

T - nutty, tangy, bitter from the roast, slight hop edge in there, perfect balance of sweet to bitter, freakin awesome.

M - creamy, smooth, refreshing.

D - I want a neverending supply of this.

Serving type: can

01-21-2008 00:21:19 | More by rsyberg01
Photo of NoLiberty


4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours from the sleek, steel-playing-card of a can into a Sam Smith pint glass, and rocks up a frothing toffee colored head almost is if straight from the draught. Color is rich and dark: deep walnut with crimson edging. This beer is smooth and light but dark and assertive.

Nutty, chocolatey with a subtle hop presence. Very nice. Toffee, vanilla and caramel. Slightly sweet with a mild bitterness and alcohol smell toward the end.

Fortunately the taste backs up what the appearance and smell suggest. This is light but incredibly well rounded for a big brown. Chocolate, caramel, roasted coffee, and dry hop-bite ending and aftertaste...that lingers. I like this beer better when it's cold. I'd normally think that flavors are fuller and more distinct in beers of this depth and seeming complexity, but as it grows warmer it's less refreshing, which is where the light hopping is really nice.

Light and crisp, fluid and refreshing. Light to medium body. Dry and clear.

Dare I ask, could this be a great sessions beer? Too bad I can't get it more often.

Serving type: can

02-23-2008 21:52:38 | More by NoLiberty
Photo of mynie


4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at the Map Room.

Pours very brown, like the hair of a very pretty girl in an old novel. Something you've never really seen before so much as you've pictured it.

Brown ales ain't usually my style. Even from good brewers, they always leave me wanting more. This smells kind of like a brown ale, kind of like a porter, and kind of like something else--something sweet but nutritious. Like carrot cake, I guess. Only not like carrot cake in the least.

Tastes like brown ale malt up front, giving way to the cakey middle of bittersweet malt that tastes good in weird way that makes you think it's healthy, and then ends with a surprisingly strong bitter hop node that just didn't come up in the smell.

Very nice, especially freshly poured.

Serving type: on-tap

05-19-2008 07:56:14 | More by mynie
Photo of bangelos80

New York

4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Having my final can of Surly Bender...that I brought home from a road trip a few months back...so sad to see it go...but I will enjoy every last drop

A- Poured a nice brown nutty color with about fingers worth of head.

S- Beautiful smell of a signature nut brown along with the aromas of malt!

T- An exceptional balance of that nut taste along with that maltiness flavor. Tiny hint of chocolate at the end.

M- So smooth. Goes down sweet, medium bodied not heavy at all.

O- One of the better brown ales that I have tasted. One that I will repetedly ask for whenever I can get my hands on it. I am sad to see my last can go. Can't wait to get my hands on it again!!

Serving type: can

08-25-2011 00:20:38 | More by bangelos80
Photo of Amalak

New York

4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Extremely dark brown. Only a slight hint of light comes through. Thick and sediment. Big foamy tan head with tons of lacing.

S. Very nice nut and malt scent.

T. A lovely nutty-malt brew. Some toffee undertones. A mild bitter bite.

M. Carbonated and tingly.

O. Very nicely balanced. Flavor and thick, this is a refreshing brown ale that gets it very right.

Serving type: can

06-05-2012 01:15:45 | More by Amalak
Photo of NODAK


4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is certainly pleasant, and mildly sweet with notes of caramel and cocoa showing themselves. Nice. Inviting.

Pours a dark brown in my glass with an ample, fluffy head with pretty good lacing. Impressive.

Taste is a damned impressive and tasty brown ale. Definite cocoa here as well as a hint of coffee and sweet caramel. The can advertises vanilla and cream being noticeable, and I was actually somewhat surprised that it was perceptible near the finish in this one, which adds a layer of complexity and drinkability to this beer that most in the style don't offer. Very tasty. Hops are slight, only offering a twinge of dryness on the finish.

One of the better brown ales I've had, to be honest. It's a style that seems to rarely "wow" at all, but this beer will go down as easily as any no matter what season it is.

Serving type: can

07-12-2012 00:58:17 | More by NODAK
Photo of joemcgrath27

Alberta (Canada)

4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark but clear deep brown, thumb of head dissipated slowly leaving plenty of consistent lacing
S - plenty of nutty and cola aromas, mild molasses, touch of vanilla and coffee
T - sweet nutty malt with light fruity syrup, cola, espresso builds through the finish with the nutty flavour lasting from front to back, this is truly exceptional
M - creamy smooth, sweet and full, this would be such a great session beer
O - this beer really blew me away, it is so creamy smooth and big on flavour, I like brown ales but its not a go to style for me generally, but this beer has the best qualities of this style, BIG THANKS to andrenaline for introducing me to this brewer by including their beer in our recent trades

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2012 03:41:37 | More by joemcgrath27
Photo of nlmartin


4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I received this beer thanks to bax72 as part of BC-2. This beer comes in a can but definately deserves a glass. The beer was served in a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a very rich deep brown with ruby highlights. The head was a big fluffy tan coloration. The head had fantastic retention. The beer had very little lacing on the glass.

Smell: The beer has a very pleasing roasted and toasted maltyness. Coffee and light chocolatey goodness swirl around the nose. A nuttyness combines with a pleasing earthy undertone.

Taste: The beer delivers on the roasted and toasted choco/ caramel maltyness. The beer starts to go over to the sweet side but then gives it up to a tart citrus hoppyness.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer is medium bodied and well carbonated. The beer has a very creamy mouthfeel. This beer is a dam tasty beer treat. I could session this beer all night long. The 16 ounce tall boy is a nice touch. I am going to have to get some more of this beer.

Serving type: can

11-18-2006 10:49:00 | More by nlmartin
Photo of ALESwhatCURESya


4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A friend of mine hooked me up with a few cans of this. I have heard a lot of hype about this up-and-coming brewery so I couldn't wait to see if it was true.

The can graphics look a little more like an energy drink, but that has nothing to do with the contents inside. I do love the idea of a 16 oz can.

A-Deep chestnut body with tan, mocha head that formed slowly, but retained presence. A ruby glow reflected off the light nicely showing off its dark, but visible, clarity.

S-A nose full of bitter, roasted malts and dark fruit. A nice, prune-like and caramel smell was wonderful. Hints of cocoa round out this gem.

T/M-This was a big surprise and the hype was definitely valid. I never thought I would get excited about a brown ale in a can. The tastes were explosive and full of depth. The bittersweetness reminded me of a well-done baltic porter or RIS. A nutty profile is present, but doesn't overtake the other flavors. A slight cinnamon spice comes through as it warms. The flavors definately open up as it warms to cellar temp.

D-Again, I never would have believed that a brown ale in a can would be so wonderfully crafted. It is so easy to drink, I can see why Minnesota wants to hoard this stuff.

Truly great beer for a style that is often over-looked.

Serving type: can

08-23-2007 01:06:00 | More by ALESwhatCURESya
Photo of happygnome


4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

a: transparent dark brown color with strong notes of ruby, half inch of tannish colored head that lasted for the half an hour that i enjoyed this. Lots of sticky lacing all of the way up the side of the glass, very attractive looking beer in my opinion
s: caramely, chocolatly with strong notes of herbal hop aromas very inviting
t: defenatly an american style brew, much more hop flavor than malt however the malt flavor was very present towards the finish, well balanced beer that tastes amazing
m: medium bodied beer with clean texture a little less than average carbonation

overall, i really enjoyed this beer, and recommend it to anyone. I usually dont think of a brown ale with spicy food, but i think that this one would accompany spicy food nicely

Serving type: can

09-11-2007 15:22:38 | More by happygnome
Photo of OStrungT


4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark mohogany color, with a thick and creamy tan head. The head fades very slowly, leaving a good lacing.

This beer smells of roasted malts. It has a pleasent caramel sweet aroma also. Some toffee notes are present. There is also a very subtle hint of milk chocolate.

This beer pretty much tastes like it smells. Roasted malts, caramel, toffee and milk chocolate.

This beer is medium bodied. It is slightly low in carbonation. It goes down smooth, leaving a caramel sweet aftertaste.

This beer would make a good session beer. It is low in alcohol, and the flavor is mild but good.

Overall: Thanks go out to OHLRangers for generously hooking me up with this beer. It is great. I love it.

Serving type: can

05-28-2009 01:58:52 | More by OStrungT
Photo of chcfan


4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received in a trade from the generous mistofminn.

Can (obviously) into fluted pint glass.

Bender is everything I could ask for. It sort of blurs the line between porter stout and brown ale, but I don't care because it tastes great. The aroma is a small part hops, larger part dark malts with roastiness, chocolate, and coffee. There's obviously a lot going on there. The hops aren't really present in the taste, but all of the other components in the aroma come on strong. It goes down smooth as silk.

I have to wrap this up so I can contact set up another trade for more Bender...and possibly get some Coffee Bender.

Serving type: can

02-18-2010 00:02:57 | More by chcfan
Photo of EwaldEichstaett


4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Poured into a Hofmühl mug. The beer has a deep dark brown color with a tan head. The beer kept its head throughout the entire drinking of the beer!!! Exceptional!!!

S: Roasted malts, sweet chocolate and some earthy hops are present in the nose. Perhaps a bit of nut of caramel as well.

T: Chocolate and roasted malts and maybe some nut up front, the beer is quite sweet at first then there is a great hop contrast at the end. The hops are very strong for the "Brown ale" style; but Surly is not really about making beers to style.

M/D: This beer is smooth as smooth can be. Silky medium body. The hops help this beer a lot, but in my opinion, the feel of the beer is what makes it so drinkable. It's like you are drinking velvet! Every sip is a good as the last. Wonderful job Surly! :D

Serving type: can

08-12-2010 04:39:45 | More by EwaldEichstaett
Photo of dgfair

North Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

16 oz. can poured into British imperial pint glass.

A - a beautiful deep brown with a slight hue of garnet as some light refracts slightly through the body. The head is very nicely chunky and thick leaving tons of lacing on the glass. This is how a brown ale should look.

S - light hints of earthy hops with a mineral aroma that balances nicely with some of the sweet, toasty, nutty notes. Smells like a sweet nut toffee with a little bit of cream. Fantastic smell.

T - Nutty and sweet...this follows right where the smell left off and even finishes with a very nice little hop bite. Not too much hop and not too little, it provides the perfect kick at the end. I get a slight bit of oat and maple that perfectly rounds out the flavor on this one.

M - Mouth is pretty good, but could probably be slightly less carbonated for my palate. Nonetheless, it finishes perfectly dry on the tongue leaving nice aftertaste of the beer.

D - drinkability is completely off the charts. I would rate this higher than 5 if I could. I can't remember enjoying such a dramatically drinkable brown ale. So smooth and delicious going down that this thing has disappeared quickly.

This is my first Surly Bender, and first impressions tell me that this is the best American Brown Ale that I have tasted. I wish I could get this regularly, because it would be a very solid go-to in almost all circumstances.

Serving type: can

01-21-2011 01:14:23 | More by dgfair
Photo of smm


4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This was my go-to beer when I started drinking back in 2008. I hadn't bought it in over a year for some reason... I'm back in the fold.

A- Pours a deep dark brown with a thick inch tan head bubbling on top which recedes quickly to about 1/4 inch

S- Smells sweet and fruity. Hint of chocolate.

T- Up front bitterness one would expect from a brown ale. Big chocolatey aftertaste, especially as you exhale.

M- A bit crisp with a medium body. Seems a bit thin at first, but comes around as it warms up.

D- At 5.1% it would be easy to throw down a four pack in an evening, but alas this is a beer that has to be savored. Maybe its just nostalgia, but for me Bender is a treat enjoyed sparingly.

Serving type: can

02-14-2011 05:27:50 | More by smm
Photo of mnstorm99


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My wife's favorite beer. Brown Ale is the closest thing to call this beer although it is much deeper than any othe Brown I have had yet. Beautiful dark brown pour, with a disappering tan head. Nice lace that clings well to the glass. Smell is somewhat malty with a nutty tinge to it. flavor a touch of nutty hops and big malty finish with touches of carmel and coffee like flavors. This is not my favorite style of beer, but they packed alot of flavor into this one. If there are other Browns out there like this I might have to start drinking more.

Serving type: on-tap

05-14-2007 17:22:06 | More by mnstorm99
Photo of dcgrp


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can from Surdyks. Minneapolis, MN

A - Quite dark, small head with some lace left behind.

S - Not terribly strong in any department. Maybe I'm keeping it too cold. No foul odors however. Anything I am smelling is quite pleasant.

T - Incredible. Complex malts with just the right amount of bitterness.

M - Even more incredible. The oatmeal they add to the mix makes it really smooth. Surly is genius.

D - So smooth and tasty. I could drink this all night.

Serving type: can

01-22-2008 00:02:28 | More by dcgrp
Photo of Blybloke


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

How good is Bender?

Poured into a pint glass a clear dark brown with just a shade or two of red. An inviting appearance to be sure. A sandy white head stood firm at about 1 inch for a couple minutes before dropping into moderate lacing.

Very mellow smells of caramel, chocolate, oatmeal and almonds along with a whiff of.... pineapple?

Tastes clean with a nice hop tang which is surprising in a brown ale. Caramel, oatmeal and brown sugar at first, then that pineapple again.

Low to moderate carbonation ensures Bender goes down very, very easy. Silky but not oily. The mouthfeel is just fantastic.

Perfect session beer imo. Bender's superb blend of flavor, tolerable ABV, and drinkability elevate this beyond any of the other beers in the style that I've tried.

Serving type: can

05-30-2008 02:43:02 | More by Blybloke
Photo of Stinkypuss


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks again to Oneeye for the trade.

A. From a 16 oz. pounder into a pint glass. Pours dark brown with a large off white head. A wonderful lace show follows.

S. Sweet malts, molasses, brown sugar. Inviting.

T. A nutty roasted brown ale taste. Starts off a bit malty. Molasses in the finish. Some citrus hops are there to play along in the deep recesses of my mind. Some hershey syrup like chocolate taste as it warms.

M. Medium bodied bordering heavy. Smooth and refreshing.

D. I really do enjoy this. A great great session beer.

Notes: One of the best Browns I've had. Makes those NewCastle boys look like a bunch of chumps.

Serving type: can

08-05-2008 00:55:45 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of vacax


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Persistent khaki head is big on the pour. Dark maple syrupy brown beer with just a touch of cloudiness.

S: Molasses and cotton candy with grapes and fruits.

T: Semi-sweet chocolate covered raisins, hints of oakiness and a thorough hop presence to balance these flavors out. Unexpectedly rich and rewarding.

M: Somewhat thick and viscous for a brown ale, oatmeal presence is evident but not overstated. Carbonation is spot on.

D: This is a brown ale, but oh so flavorful, thick, and balanced. A delicious beer and I am shocked this is only 5.10% ABV as it is so satisfying for this beer geek. The idea of sessioning this beer is appealing indeed. Whatever hype there is for this beer is definitely lived up to, and now I want to try some Coffee Bender.

Serving type: can

11-29-2008 05:22:29 | More by vacax
Photo of Skidz


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out copper-brown and sits a deep ruby-tinged mahogany in the glass with a large frothy beige head.

Dry, crackery malts on the nose with notes of autumn leaves and caramel.

Light malt build, little sweetness to speak of. Hops move in swiftly and powerfully, lending moderate levels of bitterness. Roasty coffee flavors, toast and a bit of nuttiness. Everything is surrounded by the dry, grassy hops flavor. Bitterness all the way through the finish.

Body is light, soft and built on a good swell of fine carbonation, making this dangerously drinkable. This is pretty much its own thing, and this thing is good.

Serving type: can

08-12-2009 03:29:29 | More by Skidz
Photo of wardough


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

God, do I love this beer. I would do alot to get another one of these.

A: Pours a beautiful light brown into the glass. Bubbles rise like it's a Guiness stout. Nice start to this experience. As I drink , there's just a light lacing.
S: This is my favorite part. Deep caramel, toasted malt comes to mind. Yummy.
T: Is equally as awesome. First, it's refreshing, dry, then sweet, then malty, and then a good dry finish. Love it.
M: Nice and slick on the tongue
D: I can drink the heck out of these things.

Search out this beer. Love it.

Serving type: can

11-13-2009 02:09:28 | More by wardough
Photo of jpalarchio


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nearly opaque brown color, appears somewhat ruby red in front of bright light. Minimal head, even with an aggressive pour. Caramel smell at the nose. Taste is full of flavor. Very nice to see something with so much flavor in the 5% ABV range. Very drinkable; wish I had a few more of these.

Thanks to Dave for this treat.

Serving type: can

12-23-2009 00:51:42 | More by jpalarchio
Photo of RocPorterFanatic


4.55/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sam Smith's Pint Glass, with a beautifully thick creamy head, delicate lacing as the foam subsides.

Amazing nose on this beer, cocoa, fresh baked biscuits and coffee with cream all come to mind.

The beer is smooth as can be, its got an amazing caramel flavor right from the start, light vanilla notes and just a very slight hop bitterness to round it out.

The mouthfeel is just perfect. The carbonation is constant and doesn't fade. It almost adds a peppery kind of feel to it.

I got this in a trade from DmanGTR and couldn't be happier. I've been trying to get my hands on this beer for a couple of years and it did not disappoint. Thanks Daren, Slainte.

Serving type: can

04-27-2010 00:44:07 | More by RocPorterFanatic
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,430 ratings.