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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,589 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,589
Reviews: 729
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 433
Gots: 167 | 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: 1,589 | Reviews: 729 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Zbeetleman
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

Zbeetleman, Jul 10, 2013
Photo of Scooter131313
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

Scooter131313, Feb 10, 2013
Photo of beernads
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

beernads, Jun 18, 2013
Photo of mfl620ks
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

mfl620ks, Jul 09, 2013
Photo of t0rin0
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

t0rin0, Feb 26, 2013
Photo of Ncpogs
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%

Ncpogs, Aug 14, 2014
Photo of Qbdoo
3.26/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Looks good like a brown ale should, but after that is pretty unremarkable. The taste is fine but the texture of the beer is somewhat thin for a brown ale. I expect a bit more chewiness. The scent, like the taste, is fine - a bit of coffee and a slight toastiness - but not overpowering. Seems like an easy-drinking, summer version of the style. A decent beer but not something I'll look for again.

Qbdoo, Apr 29, 2014
Photo of StarlightSeraph
3.3/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to tprokop for throwing this in as an extra in a trade. Poured from a 16 oz can into my Sam Adams glass.

Appearance: Pours an opaque, coca-cola brown, with a finger-and-a-half of off-white head. The head subsided pretty quickly, but left good lacing.

Smell: Toffee and caramel filled the room as soon as the can was opened - this beer packs a punch. Bready malts are also present.

Taste: More toffee and caramel, just like in the scent. The finish is smooth and bready, and sweet, and it lingers for quite some time. Minimal hops. The faintest hints of roasted malts can be detected in the background. There is something unpleasant about something in the taste, which I just can't put my finger on. It's almost like something of an astringent sweetness. Faint hints of vanilla are also there - this beer is definitely complex, but it seems like it tries to do too much.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness, but pretty highly carbonated - almost to the point of soda.

Drinkability: I've never been a huge fan of brown ales, so my opinion might be somewhat biased. Despite being relatively low in alcohol, something about this beer made it more of a sipper. I can't say I'd want to have more than one, nor can I say I'd seek it out again. Still, glad I tried it.

StarlightSeraph, Apr 05, 2009
Photo of jojox
3.3/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - Dark amber. 1 finger head, solid.

s - Rich maltiness. Almost some belgian characteristics? I had Furious before this and Bender is so different, so... blah.

t - It's a balanced, but malty ale. A bit of roasted going on here. A bit too bitter to be smooth. It's kinda boring next to Furious.

m - Not smooth. A bit bitter

d - Okay, but really I'm done after one.

jojox, Dec 03, 2008
Photo of jegross2
3.35/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing the Bender from Surly Brewing Company. Thank you BeerAdvocate user FunHog for hooking me up with this one!
Score: 82

04/19/11 canned beer poured into a Goose Island Irish-style imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark chestnut/caramel brown color with a finger of super creamy khaki-tan colored head that sticks around a while. Opaque with yellow-brown highlights at the top and ruby highlights at the bottom of the glass. Excellent lacing. 4/5

Smell: Caramel and vanilla cream soda. Notes of coffee/espresso, earthy hops and a light nuttiness. Chocolate malts too. 4/5

Taste: Caramel and nuts. Some chocolate malt ball flavor, bready malts and butterscotch on the mid-palate. Light vanilla and hint of coffee. Hints of hoppiness at points. Crisp caramel and hazelnut finish. Gets sweeter as it layers and warms. Pleasant flavors, but no linger. I get hints of stainless steel sweetness at points. Maybe this one is better fresh. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium-high carbonation. Finishes bittersweet. 3/5

Overall: A solid brown ale that is worth hunting down. This one is probably better fresh. Surly has much better offerings than Bender, however. It is probably worth noting that I am not a big fan of brown ales.

Recommendation: I can safely recommend this one to casual beer drinkers and beer geeks alike, but if you are trying Surly beer for the first time, nab a Furious instead.

Pairings: I was drinking this one with an Oatmeal Raisin cookie, but a chocolate chip cookie with nuts in it could work well too.

Cost: $12 for a four pack of 16 oz cans.

jegross2, Dec 24, 2011
Photo of ShadesOfGray
3.38/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16oz can into my personalized Philadelphia Eagles pint glass. Pairing with a nice plate of sharp provolone and crackers. Pours a dark brown with a massive frothy head with excelent retention. Tons of lacing...and very sticky/long lasting at that!

Aroma is pretty average, like your typical brown ale...yeast and malts.

Flavor and mouthfeel: crisp, clean, roasted, high carbonation. It's tough to really pick anything else out of this that really stands out...just your average brown ale, just quality! Small amount of hops lingers in the back, and a decent drinker.

ShadesOfGray, Aug 17, 2010
Photo of claspada
3.43/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Aromas of dark sweet caramel and oatmeal maltiness with s substantial earthy hop character.
The tastes begin with light bitter cocoa and coffee. Some sweet caramel maltiness mixed in with an earthy almost metallic bitterness. Am I making this up because it came in a can, not totally sure to be honest, probably is my guess. A little too bitter for my liking.
Good carbonation, semi dry finish and slightly light to medium bodied. Overall this is an average brown ale; I've had much better and I've had much worse. Too hoppy and over-hyped in my opinion. Cigar City Maduro Brown is heads and tails better in every aspect and considering I can get that locally I will not be revisiting this beer.

claspada, Apr 16, 2011
Photo of johnnnniee
3.43/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received in trade from phisigben, thanks for the opportunity!
Pours a deep clear dark brown color with ruby highlights when held to light. A Huge fluffy beige head sits on top for a good long time before impaling itself to the sides of my glass. Smells of caramel and chocolate mostly with some vanilla, a hint of nut and a bit of earthy hop presence. Taste is caramel and toffee mostly. Hints of butter, alcohol, and a slightly earthy citrus hop flavor seems a bit out of place. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet watery mouthfeel. I didn't enjoy this one as much as I had hoped I would. The malt bill has a distinct English esb meets dark mild feel to it while it also seems heavy on the American hops for a brown. I thought the flavors clashed a little bit. For a brew with oats in the bill I would have expected a much creamier feel than this beer has.

johnnnniee, Dec 18, 2011
Photo of dlello2
3.43/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Mahogany / dark cherry. Finger and a half of head goes away quickly. Looks like it might be lacking some carbonation.

S - Not fantastic, maybe a bit old. Some maltiness/breadiness.

T - Easy drinking. Distinct flavors as it goes down. Hits nicely, middle of the tongue is nice and hoppy, fades to bitterness. Not the best end ever.

M - Lacking carbonation to balance the taste. Leaves an taste/feeling that is not the most pleasant.

O - This beer was ok. None of the flavors were great, none too unpleasant. Wouldn't buy again... thought it was non-descript.

dlello2, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of Marty30
3.43/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz can thanks for this surprise from kort27! Poured into A pint glass,at fridge temp.

A. Pours a dark brown into the glass.When held upto the light becomes a clear brown with reddish hints. Leaves behind a 1 inch tan colored head. Excellent lacing.

S. Smell is a little weak on this, I getting a little bit of cocoa and chocolate. Not much else.

T. Similar to the smell,cocoa and oats. There is a little bitterness in the end maybe some bitter chocolate.

M. Medium feel, a little on the light side,its not thin by any means. Very carbonated. Slightly dry finish.

Overall pretty solid brown ale, well made and an easy drinker. Not the best I have had but certainly not the worst. Love the coffee bender I will add!

Marty30, Aug 26, 2011
Photo of beertunes
3.43/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to phreak1984 for this beer. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a very dark brown with little head but decent lacing.

A coffee forward malt aroma is the first thing you notice, followed by the expected roasted flavors. That nice, roasty malt flavor was first across the tongue, with a sharp coffee flavor dominating the back end.

The body was good for the style, full without being heavy. Drinkability was good, but the coffee is not a pleasant taste for me. Overall, a decent beer that I'm glad I finally got a chance to try.

beertunes, May 09, 2010
Photo of OneDropSoup
3.45/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Another fine extra from alcstradamus, someone who knows how to hook a guy up!

Pours a mahogany brown with just a small amount of ruby highlight showing through. Creamy tan head that coats the glass with lacing.

Smells of roasted malt with some bitterness. Maybe a tiny bit of darkened bread.

Taste is very bitter for a brown. I'm getting very little of the malt that was so present in the aroma. If I didn't know better, I'd guess that there was some coffee in here--I assume the Coffee Bender is outta sight bitter. Getting some hints of fruit as the ale warms, with a certain acidity.

My biggest beef with brown ales is that the thin mouthfeel clashes with my expectations based on the color. This is no different. Leaves a bitter coating which is not unpleasant, but again leaves me feeling like I just ate an espresso bean.

Not bad, not my fave. An easy drinker, but I don't know that I'd jump at the chance to have another given other options.

OneDropSoup, Jul 22, 2009
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.48/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Can courtesy of Stine: Poured a cloudy dark brown color ale with a nice foamy head with better then average retention. Aroma of caramel malt with light bitter hops. Taste is also dominated by caramel with some light bitter hops. Body is quite full with some great carbonation. Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this one considering the brilliance of the two other offerings I had from this fine brewer.

Phyl21ca, Jul 13, 2007
Photo of srandycarter
3.48/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours dark cola/ dark tea. Off white frothy head with excellent retention. Thick bubbled and somewhat webby lacing.

S - Mostly dark roasted malty goodness.

T - Heavy on the malt, no alcohol presence, finishes off clean. Howver, flavor kind of drops off in the middle, and the bitter is not completely enjoyable.

M - Medium body, creamy texture, fair carb.

D - This flavor tires fast for me.

srandycarter, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of ufotofuturo
3.48/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

You know, I expected more from this beer. I've never heard anything but positive reviews for Surly, but the Bender I pulled at the Triple Rock was only slightly above the average line. Impressive dark color obscures an unfortunately mellow taste, which makes for a drinkable but not particularly delicious brew. Surly has since redeemed themselves with a few other beers, but this one didn't leave much of an impression.

ufotofuturo, May 07, 2010
Photo of dar482
3.49/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer comes a bright clear brown color.

The flavor is of toasty malt, a light caramel, nuttiness, a bit of chocolate. The finish is quite simple and bland.

In the end, the beer has an extremely light body. The notes don't quite fire for a substantial brown ale.

dar482, Jan 24, 2014
Photo of DanGeo
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

DanGeo, Jun 27, 2014
Photo of NilocRellim
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

NilocRellim, Sep 17, 2012
Photo of Adkins1203
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

Adkins1203, May 09, 2014
Photo of sgttibbs
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

sgttibbs, Jun 10, 2014
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,589 ratings.