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Bender - Surly Brewing Company


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,427 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1427
Reviews: 721
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
Ratings: 1,427 | Reviews: 721 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of RoamingGnome


4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16 oz can into Cheers drinking mug. Served chilled...

A) Deep dark brown. Nice 2 finger rocky head that was khaki in color. Ample lacing...

S) Nice darker malt, light roast, earthy and a bit nutty, some bready sweetness.

T) Near the nose, some coffee too, and a little caramel, but really what stood out for me, and the thing I enjoyed most was the hops presence in this brown ale. A real pleasant earthy/grassy hops to this. Excellent aftertaste...

M) Good medium body on this brew. This goes down super smooth, with moderate carbonation. Really good mouthfeel, high drinkability.

O) This is another really good offering from Surly. Really tasty + easy drinking. This brewery has really impressed me. I wish I had easier access to their beers. Glad to have tried it, and glad to recommend.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2012 04:25:25 | More by RoamingGnome
Photo of DrinkSlurm


4.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16oz can into new belgium globe glass. Canned on 1/2/12. Not sure if a brown ale should be consumed as fresh as possible, but here goes anyway...
Pours a deep deep brown with nice tan head. Oily and great lacing. Really nice chocolate aromas, mixed with a bit of toffee and some slight hoppy aromas - even a bit of crisp-ness. Taste is very nice bitter roasted chocolate, deff bitter, almost like baking chocolate. Hints of caramel aftertaste. Again, its a little bitter, but its good and representative of the style. Great brown ale which shouldnt be passed up.

Serving type: can

09-25-2012 23:39:19 | More by DrinkSlurm
Photo of micromaniac129


4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A good looking beer this bender is with it's deep amber brown color, it's tall beige head and abundent carbonation. Plenty of lacing too, I might add leaving spotty lacing.

Desent aromatics, caramel, toffee and some chocolate malts. Hints of nuttiness also. Hops are light but thier in there.

A malty bomber here tasting like the nose one can taste caramel malts toffee and hints of chocolate.
There is also some roasted malts but light. Hops are there too but I don't really taste them that much. You sense it in the bitter finish (semi).

Drinks smooth on the palette but also there is a touch of abrisiveness in the finish.

There is depth in the flavor here and pleasing to look at. It's a good brown ale.
This will no doubt rank farily high on the brown list that includes Dogfish and Bell's.

Serving type: can

09-22-2012 11:11:23 | More by micromaniac129
Photo of TheQuietMan22


3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type: 16-ounce can. The “CANNED ON” date is “08/02/12.”

Appearance: Poured into a nonick pint glass. The color is medium (though leaning dark) brown with copper and ruby tones. Two fingers of thick tanned head dissipated fairly slowly to leave a rocky lacing and ring of foam around the edge.

Smell: A blend of toasted and pale malts. Caramel, toffee, vanilla, dark cherries, brown sugar, and black and raspberry licorice. There is a little bit of chocolate, too, which makes it smell like chocolate-covered cherries. The oatmeal comes out as well, providing a smooth, richness to the aroma.

Taste: Surprisingly, the first sip offers roasted bitterness. On subsequent sips it fades into the background but is still present, tingling the cheeks. It has a nice, smooth body, but it is not exactly “velvety” (as the description on the can suggests). Toasted malts, caramel, toffee, vanilla, a hint of coffee (which offers the roasted bitterness), and brown sugar. As it warms it beings to exhibit a light, floral hoppiness. No dark fruits, though.

Drinkability: Solid. This is an excellent brew.

Serving type: can

09-21-2012 21:08:03 | More by TheQuietMan22
Photo of andrenaline

Ontario (Canada)

4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Nice dark brown with a ruby red hue, thumb of head, solid retention with sheeting lacing.

S - Nice caramel, hints of hops, musty cocoa and vanilla cola.

T - Same as the nose, loads of cocoa, intense caramel, fruity yeast in the finish with a nutty flavour that lingers.

M - Medium, smooth, and dry.

O - Incredibly tasty brown ale, loads of flavour, easy drinking and easily sessoinable. This is indeed a top notch brown ale.

Serving type: can

09-16-2012 12:41:26 | More by andrenaline
Photo of tbeckett

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can from Minnesota. From notes.

A - Poured bright with a dark, dark red colour. Good visible carbonation, two fingers of beige head leaving good lace rings and a half finger of retention.

S - Coffee, a little floral. Simple but nice.

T - Coffee, nutty, noticable hops, floral, bready malts. Nice.

M - Good carbonation, medium body, mild bitterness with some coffee in there too.

O/D - A nice brown. Noticable but not overpowering hop contribution adds a nice element. A nice take on the brown style.

Serving type: can

09-11-2012 18:18:18 | More by tbeckett
Photo of IronLover


4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to KO for bringing this one back from MN. Dark brown in color with amber hues and perfect clarity. Poured with a thick, dense foam that slowly reduced to a wispy cap that left wet lacings on the glass. Dark roasted malt, dark chocolate and floral hop aromas with a hint of coffee on the back end. Oily feel up front with assertive carbonation through the middle and a bit of a the thin, watery finish. Dark roasted and burnt malt flavors up front with chocolate flavors beneath. Floral hop bitterness through the middle that transition to toasted malt just before the finish. Finishes crisply with a lingering charred malt and hop bitterness.

Serving type: can

08-05-2012 02:53:00 | More by IronLover
Photo of LXIXME

New Mexico

4.68/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big tan to light brown head slowly settles down a top clear burnt amber colored beer.

Dark roasted malts, hardy vanilla bean, roasted chestnuts, and specialty coffee aroma.

Dark roasted sweet malts with a coffeeish and roasted nut tastes make this a pretty tasty affair.

A full bodied beer that has a dryish aftertaste that still brings the roasted malt tastes with it.

A very worthy beer, I enjoyed this on a warm summers day, I can only imagine how good this would be on a cool winters night.

Serving type: can

08-03-2012 01:10:34 | More by LXIXME
Photo of JamesMN


3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Lovely dark brown. Mostly opaque with maroon hues when light shines though it. Decent one finger soapy off-white head.

Aroma: Dark roasty malts. A little coffee and dark chocolate.

Taste: Fresh hop bitterness at the beginning then transforms into bitter chocolate. Definitely a hoppy brown ale. Really no sweetness in this one which is a little surprising but doesn't take away from enjoyment of the delicate balance of hop bitterness vs roasted malt bitterness.

Mouthfeel: A little drying on the palate. Very smooth otherwise. A little thinner than I expected but basically right on.

Final Thoughts: Surly has a great line-up of beers. As is usual with all the styles they make, Bender is not your typical Brown Ale. It's more hop-assertive and hits all the right malt notes. The price is a little steep, but definitely one to buy!

Serving type: can

07-25-2012 02:18:46 | More by JamesMN
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 brydeen


3.7/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown, almost ruby body, with a thick, creamy khaki colored head. Good retention and lacing throughout.

S: Slightly roasty, with a slight nutiness. A little bit of bitter aroma too, but nothing coming through too clearly.

T: Starts sweet, but finishes a bit of hoppy bitterness. A little roasted malt, with chocolate and day old coffee.

M: Body is much thinner than it looks. A tad watery, with creamy smooth carbonation.

O: Solid, but something seems to be lacking. The taste is there, but has a bit of a stale finish. A little thicker body would do this beer well too.

Serving type: can

06-27-2012 00:21:08 | More by brydeen
Photo of rlee1390


3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Black in the glass but a deep ruby around the edges, two finger almost tan head with some lacing.

S-Roasted malt, caramel and toffee.

T-Nice blend of roasted malt and nuts, caramel, some earthy notes, bitterness is present. Some, not much, vanilla.

M-Medium bodied, some carbonation, very smooth but a tad watery.

O-A solid brown ale, having Coffee Bender soon which hopefully with the added coffee will be better.

Serving type: can

06-24-2012 17:34:37 | More by rlee1390
Photo of macrosmatic


3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Cyclone8 for this one! Poured from can into pint glass.

A: Beautiful reddish brown, very translucent. Nice 1 1/2 finger head that is just off-white. Small amount visible carbonation.

S: Roasted sweet malts. Undertones of caramelized sugar. Oatmeal? Or maybe I'm imagining it.

T: Follows nose - the carmelly nutty sweet malts dominate. Hints of hop bitterness. Just hints of a nutmeg/allspice spicy undertones.

M: Medium mouthfeel, nice carbonation. No alcohol presence here at all.

O: This is a very solid example of a brown ale, truly an all-night session beer. Not my personal favorite style, but this is a textbook exemplar.

Serving type: can

06-10-2012 00:22:20 | More by macrosmatic
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 libbey

British Indian Ocean Territory

4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16oz can poured into a Cigar City snifter. Thanks Joe!

A: The beer pours a dark chocolate brown with a nice head that has decent retention. A touch of spotty lacing trails throughout the session.

S: A nice whiff of toasted malt and a lingering smell of oatmeal and brown sugar. Minimal hop presence but it's there.

T: The initial taste is of nutty toasted malt with a slight hint of vanilla the finish is fairly crisp and fairly hoppy. A very tasty brown. Very nice.

M: The carbonation is spot on which carries this medium bodied brown to perfection. A lovely lingering of charred malt stays on the pallet after each sip.

O: Overall this is a very tasty brown ale from Surly a great session beer that I would have no problem tackling (lovingly) if it was readily available. Do not pass this up if you love a good brown ale.

Serving type: can

05-04-2012 01:29:58 | More by libbey
Photo of ferrari29


4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer poured from can into a Nonic shaped pint glass

A - Beer pours with a nice dark brown colored body; moderate level of visible carbonation; head is nice and thick, about 1.5 fingers in size and holds very well; good amount of sticky lacing forms around the edge of the glass; body has a nice slick motor oil look to it

S - Deep roasted malt nose; slightly nutty; touch of oatmeal, brown sugar, some nice vanilla and finishes off with coffee beans; gives this beer a hearty smell

T - Sip starts off with a traditional nutty roasted malt taste; immediately followed up with a creamy oatmeal taste; hint of vanilla graze your tongue and finishes off with a touch of cocoa; caramel malt and brown sugar

M - Very creamy; chewy; not too heavy on the hop side, and leaves behind a lingering chalky feel on the roof of your mouth and back of the tongue

D - Outstanding brown ale taste; probably one of the better ones I've had do to its easy taste and feel; flavors and scents are good, but not overwhelming and you can really taste all the ingredients that were put into this beer; fantastic

Serving type: can

04-28-2012 01:33:31 | More by ferrari29
Photo of ForWhatAlesYou


4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Serving type: on-tap

04-20-2012 22:08:40 | More by ForWhatAlesYou
Photo of tvv375ia


3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from 16oz can into pint glass

A-dark ruby with about 1 finger head that fades to small cap

S-bready malts with some carmel and a little cocoa

T--much like the smell bread, carmel, coffee and a little cocoa

M-medium bodied nice finish

O-solid all around beer better than most browns that I have had

Serving type: can

03-28-2012 14:51:57 | More by tvv375ia
Photo of legalpete19340


3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured dark brown with almost no head. The skim that did rise left quickly.

S: The nose smells like a pub floor: yeasty and stale alcohol. Some bread and barley push through in the end.

T: Much different from the nose: bready malts with lots of oat and barley flavor. Like multi-grain bread. Hints of some burnt sugar sneak in but this is all harvest grains to me. Others have mentioned hops but i just dont get them anywhere here.

M: Medium-thin. Well matched for the style with thin viscosity but enough weight to support the heavy nature of the brew.

O: Perhaps a tainted can? I know others have raved about this but for me it just wasnt very special. The flavors were dull and the beer just didnt surprise me anywhere. I would drink it again but not sure I would pick it over a New Castle.

Serving type: can

03-25-2012 21:19:54 | More by legalpete19340
Photo of tobelerone


4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nearly cola colored body with a small light brown head that dissipates fairly quickly. Spotty lacing. Good bready maltiness in the nose, grassy European hop note comes through on the back end. Tasty and smooth brown ale with a nice rich malt flavor, lots of chewy smoothness from the oatmeal, and a bit of a bitter hoppy bite in the finish. Hints of coffee, cocoa, and subtle roastiness. Retains a good deal of drinkability and a creamy mouthfeel despite fairly crisp carbonation. Refreshing and very well-made, quite flavorful for an often bland style. Another impressive Surly offering.

Serving type: can

03-19-2012 21:53:17 | More by tobelerone
Photo of jimmah120


4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tallboy canned 01/02/2012

Dark brown oak color with a 3 finger mocha head. Smell is delicious; sweet hazelnut, caramel, and a touch of hops. It's a bit thin, maybe undercarbonated, and the alcohol shows through, but the taste is great: creamy roasted nut, dry cocoa powder, oatmeal, grain, and a bitter kick of hops at the end.

An excellent brown ale in a can. What's not to like?

Serving type: can

03-18-2012 07:24:28 | More by jimmah120
Photo of russwbeck


3.05/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Teabagged Bender with Willamette Hops in the cask.

A: Very hazy brown pour with hardly any head. It really looks a little strange sitting in the glass, probably the deepest Brown Ale I've come across.

S: A bit harsh, but otherwise nothing more than a malty brown ale aroma. Basic hops and sweet malt. Pretty average.

T: Continues the average trend. All malt, perhaps some fruit with a slight hoppy finish. I came to the sad realization that this really isn't a very good beer without coffee added. The flavor sort of drops off really early on in the process.

MF: Medium body with low carbonation, as you would expect from the cask. Served room temperature, like it should, and goes down really easily. I just wish I enjoyed it more.

O: I didn't realize Bender existed without coffee in it. Guess I should have done my research. This was the definition of average and I would recommend you skip it.

Serving type: cask

03-15-2012 20:42:05 | More by russwbeck
Photo of znichols


4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-dark dark brown. Perhaps lookinkg more like a porter. Light khaki head that doesn't last long but leaves proper lacing. Good looking dark beer.

S-smells of aromatic roast, custard, and biscuit. Mild grassy hops to. Fairly faint smell but its nice.

T- chocolate covered espresso beans, bread, iced coffee, cake batter, fresh grass. Lots of flavors. Mostly tastes like dessert but finishes try. Little bitterness but hops present. A nice, roasy brown ale. No alcohol detectable.

M- fluffy mouthfeel with firm carbonation and drying finish. Pretty nice.

O- an iconic brown ale that deserves a spot in the fridge of any roasty beer fan with a soft spot for easy drinking brews. Very nice.

Serving type: on-tap

02-18-2012 20:49:09 | More by znichols
Photo of quirkzoo


3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Special thanks to BigLobo for throwing this one in.

Pours a deep, dark brown with one finger of off white head. Aroma opens up with some roasted malts, which are rounded out with some chocolate, toffee and caramel notes. Taste is more of the same and gains some nuttiness as the bitterness kicks in. Extremely smooth and very easy drinking, great mouthfeel. Overall, I would definitely get this on a regular basis if I could, I actually prefer this to coffee bender, I felt like I could taste the beer more in this one.

Serving type: can

02-16-2012 17:33:31 | More by quirkzoo
Photo of zrab11


3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a nice dark Brown color with a 1 1/2 finger tan head

S-Has the smell of chocolate and vanilla up front, Also catching some nutty aromas as well as some malts

T-Has a nice roasted sweetness up front then followed by a bitter chocolate flavor and then finish's with some more light coffee taste.

M-Medium Body with Decent Carbonation

D-Overall this was a good brown ale. Nothing exceptional but solid. The mouthfeel was a little on the lighter side. But this is def. a good base beer for Coffee bender. I would recommend trying this first and then move onto coffee bender and see how much it improves IMO at least. But overall a nice beer.

Serving type: can

02-13-2012 11:55:55 | More by zrab11
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,427 ratings.