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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,528 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,528
Reviews: 724
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 427
Gots: 169 | 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: 1,528 | Reviews: 724 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of XmnwildX12


3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

12-13-2013 03:45:11 | More by XmnwildX12
Photo of corby112


3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes:

Pours a very dark ruby red/chestnut brown color with deep mahogany edges when held to a light source and a thin foamy tan head that quickly fades into a thing lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing left behind.

The aroma is slightly bland and for me the least impressive characteristic of this beer. Plenty of malt in the nose with hints of oatmeal, chocolate, toffee and caramel.

Surprisingly hop forward that adds some crisp bitterness up feot balancing out by the mellow chocolate malt center. Slightly roasty with hints of bread, toffee and nut as well as a slight lactic creaminess. The bitterness lingers throughout into a roasty dry finish but this beer is very well balanced and easy to drink.

Serving type: can

12-20-2010 01:27:47 | More by corby112
Photo of weeare138


3.6/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to zrrbrrt for opening this...
Appears a slighty hazy(though still transparent), dark brown with a mild red hue. A rocky, tan head slowly quickly fades out and leaves scattered spots of lacing around the glass.
The smell is yeasty, toasty nuts, fruits, grassy, light caramel, brown sugar, cocoa, and a touch of clove like spiciness.
The taste is of the mentioned aromas with perhaps a touch of mild sourness picked up, along with an astringency that is noticeable.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied, mildly roasty, with cocoa hanging on the palate leading to a gentle bitterness.
Overall, I'm not really sure what the hype is about. I thought it was good but it didn't really knock my socks off in any way. Maybe I'm just not a huge Brown Ale fan?

Serving type: cask

11-26-2006 14:24:26 | More by weeare138
Photo of MarkyMOD


3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

04-27-2012 00:35:03 | More by MarkyMOD
Photo of yourefragile

District of Columbia

4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into a nonic

Deep translucent hazel brown color with ruby flares against light. Light tan colored frothy head with low retention and streaky thin lacing. Nose is roasted malt, bready, nutty, slight coffee and sweet chocolate. Flavor has amazing balance of both sweet and bitter, alternating between roast malt and nuttiness versus a fresh hoppy bitterness. Creamy, medium body with light carbonation but strong bite from hops. An excellent, refreshing hoppy brown.

Serving type: can

03-14-2009 00:36:47 | More by yourefragile
Photo of barleywinefiend


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a coffee brown with a decent sized medium tan head and good carbonation. Nose is rich and malty, some cola sweetness and nutty notes. Rich and malty in the taste as well, some chocolate, big dose of caramel malt and finishing with a nice hoppy dryness. A very tasty and easy drinking brown. Not one of my fav stylesbut great!

Serving type: can

10-17-2009 14:00:49 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of tempest


4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Champps in Maple Grove.

A brown ale with balls. So much so, I dont even know if its really a brown ale. Dark brown, the color of a porter, with great tan lacing. Slightly roasted and sweet malty aroma. Taste is complex with roasted and chocolate malts, american hops, and maybe even oatmeal. I think I tasted oatmeal. Very smooth beer, kind of thick, but very smooth. Give me another.

Serving type: on-tap

04-25-2006 01:17:09 | More by tempest
Photo of akorsak


4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 16 oz can from a trade with UPSJeff.

A: The can opens with a hiss, releasing a bit of foam at the mouth of the can. When poured into my Troegenator mug, that same foam measures near a finger and leaves no lacing. The body of the ale is dark ruby red color, think grape juice mixed with prune juice and maybe some coffee (for added darkness).

S: The ale has a caramel malt aroma, grainy with a clear sweetness to it. Some milk chocolate and citrusy hops round it out.

T: The hops are not as pronounced in the mouth as they are on the nose. Darker elements dominate the mouth, with dry chocolate and sweet caramel up front, nicely followed by a thick blackstrap molasses flavor. The thickness and flavor could easily be mistaken for a stout. As the fuller flavors fade, a dry graininess reminds you that this is not a stout. Some nutty flavors kick up and finally mesh with bigger hop flavors. The bitterness is strong, especially long after the sip is gone, with a pleasing citrus finish.

M: The mouthfeel is full from start to finish, with big stout notes, drier brown ale flavors and a strong hoppy finish. And all this came from a can?

D: The abv is low enough that this is easily a session beer. A nice drink from Surly, who has yet to disappoint me.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2007 22:04:39 | More by akorsak
Photo of oriolesfan4


4/5  rDev -2.2%

05-22-2013 01:39:47 | More by oriolesfan4
Photo of woodychandler


3.85/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The below was one of my lesser efforts in terms of reviews. I was talked into opening that CAN even though it was just a case of gilding the lily and I did what I CANsider a poor job on it. CAN you forgive me? Re-reviewed Sa, 02 July 2011.

From the CAN: "Beer For a Glass, From a CAN."; "Fresh Beer, Keep It Cool!"; "Get Surly! Here's what happens when substance meets smooth. This oatmeal brown ale defies traditional categories. Bender begins crisp and lightly hoppy, complimented by the velvety sleekness oats deliver. Belgian and British malts usher in cascades of cocoa, coffee, caramel and hints of vanilla and cream. An easy-drinking ale with many layers of satisfaction."

At last, a Crack & Glug - the first in a while. I got a finger-and-a-half of dense light-tan head with good retention. Color was garnet/deep-ruby with NE-quality clarity. Nose was very chocolaty up front with caramel and grassy hops underneath. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not quite creamy, but close with tastes of milk chocolate, caramel and a light coffee bitterness in the mouth. Finish reminded me of coffee with cream. Not bad, but I really dig the Coffee version better.

Original review follows.

CAN you believe it?!? I really thought that I had screwed the pooch on this one. Omar specifically brought some cans with him to Boston to give to me for review and I thought that I forgot to review them before drinking. Instead, I have copious notes encompassing numerous notebooks and I just got them back from a local transcription service. Lo and behold, here was my review!

A small, wispy tan head. Mouthfeel was thin to medium. Color was a deep brown with ruby highlights. Nose had a definite chocolate scent. Lots of chocolate in the mouth. Warming, it was better. Lots of brownie-chocolate in the mouth. Finish remained very chocolaty, more of a dessert beer IMHO.

Well, not one of my better reviews. If anyone would like to trade me for some more in a CAN, I would happily re-review this beer.

Serving type: can

12-08-2009 10:16:31 | More by woodychandler
Photo of orangesol


4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one in a recent BIF package from biglobo.

A - Pours dark brown with a fluffy one and a half finger tall off-white head leaving sticky lace down the glass.

S - Smells of caramel, toffee, vanilla, roasted nuts, chocolate and a bit of hops. Not too bad so far.

T - Starts off with a bit of sweetness - mostly caramel and toffee - slowly giving way to hints of vanilla, chocolate and a touch of molasses. Some faint hop bitterness comes through as it warms up.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Creamy feel initially growing a touch thin toward the end of the glass.

O - This one was pretty damn good. It had a lot of flavor but it remained easy to drink. One of the better brown ales I have had in quite awhile.

Serving type: can

02-10-2012 02:11:11 | More by orangesol
Photo of rhoadsrage


4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a dark brown body with a thick light tan head that last a good while. The body is to opaque to see any carbonation but it does let some light through.

S- The smell of smooth dark roasted malt has some crisp citrus hop notes in the finish.

T- The dark roasted malt has a slight sweet caramel malt note with some more dry chocolate malt notes and a faint nutty quality to the chocolate. There is a green citrus hop finish that offers a nice bite with a note of pine resin in there.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel.

D- This beer has some nice dark malt flavors but they are supported by lighter malt flavors adding a nice complex taste with a very nice smoothness. Those big malt flavors are well balanced by some big hops flavors with good complexity also.

Serving type: on-tap

06-08-2006 18:19:01 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of InspectorBob

New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from can into my Duvel Tulip, a dark deep rich chocolate brownie color with about one finger of tannish head leaving some nice lacing.

Aroma of caramel,toffe and chocolate.

Hoppy, malty, a nice balance

Mouthfeel was medium bodied, very smooth and creamy with slight bitterness on the finish.

Best brown ale I've ever had.

When are you coming to Jersey.

Serving type: can

11-02-2011 17:17:16 | More by InspectorBob
Photo of stakem


4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thank you to Heath (Kegatron) for giving me this can.

Poured into a snifter, bender appears a dark brown color. However, when it is held up to the light it shines as a clear deep amber red color. More than 2 fingers of tan stained foam for a head sit atop this brew and slowly receed leaving a webbing of lace around the glass.

The aroma of this brew has a pleasant forwardness of mildly citrus hops that come across with a light touch of herbal character. A scent of mineral quality is present before the onset of the maltiness smelling mildly nutty and with a bit of chocolate. As this brew warms it has a very mild and sweet vanilla scent about it that I did not pick up on right away.

The taste includes all things covered by the aroma and then even more. The hops present themselves with a light citrus taste and mild bitterness that persists into the finish. A bit of the mineral quality is present but blends into the flavor of the malt which tastes mildly nutty, chocolately and like roasted grains. In the backend there is a sweetness quite contrasting to the initial light bitterness that has a mild fruity flavor.

The feel of this brew is quite smooth and excessively drinkable. Medium in the feel with an acceptable amount of carbonation. Lots of flavors going on in this that reach outside the spectrum of the typical brown style. Very well done.

Serving type: can

08-25-2010 00:34:44 | More by stakem
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear very dark reddish brown in color with some garnet red highlights and light to moderate amounts of carbonation. The beer has a finger tall creamy dark beige that reduces to a few small patches of large bubbles, a very thin film covering the entire surface of the beer, and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: The overall aroma of this beer is malty and sweet with notes of caramel and roasted malts. There are lighter aromas of cocoa, coffee, and pecan nuttiness.

T: Moderate flavors of rich caramel malts with some lighter notes of roasted malts and hints of cocoa. There are also some light amount of coffee flavors, pecan nuttiness, and very subtle hints of vanilla. There is a light hoppiness near the finish that contributes some light bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Extremely easy to drink and sessionable - really nice rich flavors and the added benefit of coming in a can which makes it a great choice for tailgating during football season.

Serving type: can

10-17-2012 01:50:49 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of Zorro


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled through the efforts of Imstillthegman and 1000 Miles (or East/West again) BIF.

Clear chestnut brown beer with red highlights when held up to the light. Good light brown colored head.

The smell is sweet and malty with lots of molasses and chocolate in the scent. Not a lot of patent malt scent about all I can smell is a slight smokiness. There is a Russian black bread aroma to this but no fruit or flower aromas.

The first sip neutral and bready with a slight tartness and smoky flavor from the patent malt. Slightly bitter and fairly strong chocolate and dark bread flavor. There is a little malt roast in this but it is far from too strong and is actually quite subtle. Mostly this is chocolate and bread in flavor basic but good.

The mouthfeel is thick.

One of the more drinkable brown ales out there this is one that you can drink all night if you wish. This isn't quite as good as DFH Indian Brown though.

Serving type: can

10-21-2007 01:52:58 | More by Zorro
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the Hopleaf a while ago. I liked it, and it was a slightly unusual take on a brown ale, but it didn't blow me away like Furious did. Poured a dark brown with a creamy head that fades away to athin cap that sticks around. Excellent lacing. The aromas are spicy and malty up front, almost prickly, and then slightly sweeter and more roasty on the finish. There is a slight sour graininess at the end as well. Almost porter-like in its aromas. The taste is very smooth and the flavors are a little lighter than expected from the nose. Light chocolate, light roastiness, fresh cream, and a light grainy flavor at the end (rye?). Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with some light grainy tannins on the finish. A good effort if not speectacular. Goes down real easy.

Serving type: on-tap

01-20-2008 19:05:56 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of DrunkinYogi


4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

07-27-2012 19:00:03 | More by DrunkinYogi
Photo of zestar


4/5  rDev -2.2%

06-11-2013 03:18:16 | More by zestar
Photo of Wasatch


4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to Faro for this one.

Pours a nice clean dark brown color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus tannish creamy head, lots of nice sticky lacing throughout the drink. The nose is malty, slightly roasty, with a nice touch of caramel. The taste is malty, lots of caramel. There is a tangy/bitter finish. Medium body. Very drinkable, probably the best brown ale I've had to date.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2007 02:41:43 | More by Wasatch
Photo of duceswild


4/5  rDev -2.2%

07-23-2013 13:40:42 | More by duceswild
Photo of mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Ommegang Chalice

Color is a dark chocolate brown. Pours 2 fingers of tan head. Decent retention leaving a bunch of splattered lace.

Aroma: Chocolate, coffee, cream, and caramel. A nice smelling brown. I like the subtle notes of the coffee.

Taste: A lot of cream for this type of beer. Caramel and vanilla notes are represented as well. I also get chocolate and just a little bit of coffee. A lot of roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and creamy, a little crisp for the decent amount of carbonation. Medium to full bodied. Ends with a big roasted malt flavored aftertaste that is slightly dry.

Overall, another beer from surly that I enjoy. These guys just seem to know how to make good beer. Very sessionable and definitely something I can always have in the fridge, however I still will take a coffee bender over the regular bender.

Serving type: can

09-03-2009 00:26:43 | More by mothman
Photo of ppoitras


4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

16oz can received via I Want That BIF from flexabull. Thanks for the opportunity.

Upon opening, can foamed over, then poured into an imperial pint glass, forming a 2" brown head over the slightly cloudy chestnut brown brew. Head lasts amazingly, with hearty frothy lacing. Aroma is hearty grains, with a touch of fruitiness and alcohol. Taste is follows along, thick maltiness with a twinge of fruit. Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, and drinkability is very easy as well. Made my first Surly worth the wait.

Serving type: can

07-04-2007 23:09:52 | More by ppoitras
Photo of BARFLYB


3.65/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to LaCoursiere for adding this in our recent trade.

A- Surly Bender pops open with some ivory foam already formed in the can. Once out, the liquid takes on a shoepolish brown look with some red poking in at the sides. Not much of a cap, no lacing.

Smell is fairly easy for a fairly simple beer, Bender does have pungent strength. This includes a boatload of English malt giving off nuts and slight toffee and grain.

Taste starts off malty and nutty and well, that's pretty much it. But wait, English malt is just large in this. A bit of chocolate malt in there as well, maybe a pich of cocco flavor/brown sugar. Bender is a str8 forward style with a str8 forward taste. No bells or whistles.

Feel is kinda tame and the carbonation is pretty dull. It just sort of goes down smooth like and there is no prick. For the style though, not everything needs to pop like that.

Bender is great beer and one I would take down with some BBQ, it seems like a great match. 5% leads to all day drinking.

Serving type: can

05-27-2011 21:45:53 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of ejimhof


2.75/5  rDev -32.8%

05-18-2012 21:54:25 | More by ejimhof
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,528 ratings.