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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
BenderBender

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

1,648 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,648
Reviews: 731
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.29%
Wants: 438
Gots: 178 | 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: 1,648 | Reviews: 731 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh and tasty pint can, thanks to Tempest. Large brown head on dark brown, much like a coffee. Moderate pleasant mocha chocolate coffee aroma, and the taste does deliver. Modest roast, malty without sweet. Secondary a bit dry and bitter. Very drinkable. A few minutes later, it is all gone.

Sammy, Dec 21, 2006
Photo of t0rin0
3.25/5  rDev -20.3%

t0rin0, Feb 26, 2013
Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

spycow, Jan 12, 2013
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to UMNbeerhunter for sending me this one!

Pours a clear dark brown color with a 2 inch beige head that fades to a thin film. Nice rings and patches of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted oats, brown bread, and citrus zest notes. Taste is of oats, bread, nuts, and a citrus zest taste on the finish. Mild bitterness on the palate fades after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation that makes for a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good brown ale and I am glad I got to try this one.

UCLABrewN84, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%

djrn2, Jan 12, 2012
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -2%

zestar, Jun 11, 2013
Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%

acurtis, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a very dark brown with a nice tan had and plenty of lacing.

S: Lots of hops for a brown ale, and they really fit in well. Sweet caramel, toffee, and other roasted malts fill this one out.

T: Caramel, toffee, citrus/pine hops. Also some mild notes of coffee and chocolate.

M: Very rich and tasty. Medium bodied with just the right amount of carbonation.

D: Highly drinkable. A very nice offering--I wouldn't expect anything less from Surly.

Thorpe429, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%

nmann08, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%

Texasfan549, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of metter98
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark red in color (brown when viewed from afar) and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a two finger high tan head that died down ever so slowly and left a thin but dense head covering the surface.
S: There are light aromas of cocoa and caramel malts in the nose.
T: The taste has some similarities with the smell but is much more complex and has additional notes of chocolate and coffee.
M: It feels medium-bodied, smooth and a little creamy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has great complexity and interesting flavors. The oats lend lots of smoothness to the mouthfeel.

metter98, Nov 03, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

GRG1313, Jul 21, 2012
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev -2%

kjkinsey, Dec 05, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a hazy mahogany color with garnet highlights and a creamy tan head that persists reasonably well and leaves shards of lace

Smell: Toasted brown bread, cocoa and hints of sweet orange

Taste: Starts out with a brown bread with chocolate and mild coffee flavors; hints of oat peek through by mid-palate; after the swallow, the beer shows that it is not just another brown ale by bumping up the bitterness with a nice citrus flavor

Mouthfeel: Creamy and full bodied with a prickly carbonation

Drinkability: Off the charts, this is one great brown that pushes the style in a direction any hophead would appreciate

Thanks, tempest, for the opportunity

brentk56, Jul 30, 2007
Photo of BEERchitect
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
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 Phyl21ca
3.48/5  rDev -14.7%
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 BuckeyeNation
4.6/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Darkest hazelnut with generous ruby highlights that become cherry bomb explosions with backlighting. The two finger crown is a wonderful shade of golden beige that is a perfect color contrast to the beer beneath. It's firmly creamy and is leaving thick sheets of lace that look like they'll stick around until long after the final credits roll.

The nose is solid. It's nicely brown malty and features oven-toasted nuts above all else. I can also appreciate whiffs of cocoa, coffee and fruity hops. A little more power and a little more depth and it'd be fantastic. As it happens, warming brings about exactly that, along with a wonderful musky earthiness. I don't often assess the aroma when the beer is almost gone, but I'm glad I did so here.

Bender is as good as I remember. Whoever thinks that cans are a lesser container for beer has a screw loose. This stuff couldn't taste more fresh or more pure. Purely delicious that is. The thing that impresses me most about Bender (one of many) is that it doesn't taste like any other brown ale in existence; something that hit me like a ton of bricks with my first mouthful back in September.

It's beautifully malted and beautifully hopped, with both providing megatons of flavor. The contrast between the various members of the flavor profile and the amazing yin and yang of sweetness and bitterness is, I believe, the secret to its deliciousness (that and a fantastically talented brewer).

On the malt side of the ledger we have toasted brown bread, dark caramel/toffee, gentle chocolate and coffee notes, and sugar-crusted pecans. And on the hop side of the ledger we have surprisingly tart, citrus fruit peel with a hint of floral spiciness. Each mouthful is an absolute riot of flavors that manages to be perfectly balanced in the end. A brown ale that is as hoppy as it is malty. What a concept!

How can 16 ounces be almost gone already? Drinkability, needless to say, is completely off the charts. The mouthfeel, like everything else about this beer, is the very definition of quality. It's supremely smooth, lightly creamy and lightly silky. I can excuse a lack of heavily creamy lushness because the point wasn't to brew a big beer, but rather (I'm guessing) to brew an insanely drinkable, even sessionable one. Mission accomplished.

Surly Bender is fandamntastic beer. It instantly rockets to the top of my 'most favored brown ales' list along with the versions from Bell's and Dogfish Head. The fact that it's hoppier than both is further cause for celebration. I wonder if it's possible for SurlyMan to swing down to Des Moines in the midst of delivering his wonderful beer to the good folks of Minneapolis-St. Paul? Thanks feloniousmonk, but two cans isn't going to hold me for very long. I foresee a lot of road trips in a northerly direction.

BuckeyeNation, Nov 12, 2006
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%

ygtbsm94, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%

jaydoc, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
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 womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Alicia for sending this one to me. Shared with some kind folks at the Bruery.

A: The pour is a light brown color with a finger's worth of slightly off-white foam.

S: The nose is sweet and malty with some nice nut, bread, and roasted malt notes.

T: The flavor is quite similar to the nose offering up some toasty, bready malts. There is a nice sweet caramel malt flavor as well, which is nicely balanced by a touch of bitterness on the finish.

M: A medium bodied beer with a pleasant creaminess on the tongue.

D: Another solid beer from Surly. One of the better brown ales I've had the chance to try as it balances the sweetness and nuttiness quite well.

womencantsail, Mar 21, 2010
Photo of Knapp85
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured out as a deep reddish brown color with a very nice cream colored head on top. The retention and lacing are top notch on this very good looking beer. The smell of the beer has a very nice roasted aroma with a touch of sweetness on the nose too. The taste is sweet upfront, a little creamy, there is a roasted nut flavor, hints of chocolate and coffee too. The aftertaste is moderately bitter. The mouthfeel of the beer is smooth, lightly carbonated and highly drinkable. Overall this beer is really good. Very nice brew.

Knapp85, Oct 15, 2012
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pretty dark for a brown ale, not quite black, but a shade darker than most. Clarity is good as it thins.

Smell - Semi-sweet. The aroma hints at caramel, toast and vanilla, but it's very rounded with no single character dominating.

Taste - Layers of caramel, vanilla and cocoa play off of a toasty, bittersweet foundation. Smooth and full on the palate with a dry coffee-like finish. Impressive complexity without compromising drinkability.

largadeer, Feb 13, 2008
Photo of emerge077
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Two pints today at Four Moon Tavern.

Black body with foam that is the true definition of creamy. It leaves rings of in the glass that are connected by sheets of lacing. Head retention is good, and stays for the majority of the glass. Toasty malt nose. This beer showcases the malt, very smooth with some mellow wood and tobacco up against brown sugar and dry malt, with a hint of apple from the yeast. An earthy hop presence is noticeable in the first few sips, and even more later into the session. This seems to be the point of intrigue for me, that lasting earthy bitterness that lingers into the aftertaste, but disappears shortly thereafter. Very smooth and medium bodied, not filling, easy to session without sacrificing flavor. Nice stuff.

emerge077, Dec 10, 2008
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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,648 ratings.