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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,506 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,506
Reviews: 723
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 429
Gots: 169 | FT: 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)
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Ratings: 1,506 | Reviews: 723 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gyle41386

South Carolina

3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a pint glass. Thanks to DavoleBomb for the hookup.

Dark brown pour with reddish highlights. 2 fingers of tan foam don't stick around for very long. Not a whole lot of lacing.

Malty sweet, slightly musty nose. Coffee/chocolate/caramel, with a kind of dry, hoppy bitterness. Some sweet vanilla in there, as well.

Flavor follows. Sweet up front, crisp bitter hop finish. Reminds me a little of a light oatmeal stout, almost. Some good coffee flavor in this one.

Medium bodied. Appropriately carbonated. Smooth, plush texture. An easy drinker for sure. Not as good as Coffee Bender, but still tasty.

Serving type: can

05-17-2010 03:03:43 | More by Gyle41386
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.

Serving type: can

05-09-2010 23:43:14 | More by beertunes
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-07-2010 05:29:43 | More by ufotofuturo
Photo of FreshmanPour77


4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed 4-30-10
Reviewed cold from a can to a glass

A - Black in color with a tan head, 2 fingers of foam, great head retention, nice lacing ring

S - Malts, slight coffee aroma, no hop presence to speak of, hints of caramel and chocolate and oatmeal

T - Medium bodied, can taste some oatmeal mixed slightly with coffee. Big malt taste

M/D - Excellent! A great medium bodied brew that is fresh and smooth. I brew that I can for sure have more than one of. A brew that should be tried and traded to those that can't get it. Like all Surly products. Another great example of a brew!!! Well done Omar and Todd

Serving type: can

05-02-2010 03:33:21 | More by FreshmanPour77
Photo of ktrillionaire


4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to tytoanderso for the generous extra!

A - Amazing appearance; it pours just about as good as a brown ale can look. Black like Guinness, with a persistent two fingers worth of rich mocha-hued froth, though not so much lace

S - Light roast, toast, and char, with soft butter-cream notes from the oat. Not tremendously pungent, but I don't think this type of flavor profile would be well-served with a heavy nose.

T - The taste follows the nose; it is a mild, albeit delicious, straightforward brown ale. There are some coffee, toffee, and cocoa nuances available, as well as some mild hops, but nothing too in-your-face. The flavor is very well balanced, and fairly understated as well. Another winner from Surly. Surprise, surprise.

M - The feel is fairly thin, but it is quite refreshing.

D - Surly is the king of the can, obviously.

Serving type: can

04-30-2010 02:53:52 | More by ktrillionaire
Photo of chaz01


2.45/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Had this on draft at Jake Melnick's in Chicago.

A: Dark Brown with a black creamy head, nice lacing on the glass.

S: Some earthy tones in the aroma but not much.

T: Initially, earthy and orange notes. Also A little chocolate flavor reminded me of stale brownies.

M: Medium bodied and carbonation, hoppy bitter finish at the end.

D: I had this beer after drinking a glass of the Surly Furious. I couldn't really tell if the hoppiness I was tasting was leftover finish of the Furious, or if it was part of this beer as well, but that taste didn't work well with me in this beer. Hopefully, I can review it again if I come accross it.

Serving type: on-tap

04-28-2010 03:49:37 | More by chaz01
Photo of RocPorterFanatic


4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
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
Photo of GregSVT


4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz can into a snifter

A: Pours a dark brown with small tan head that fades to a ring and leaves a tiny bit of lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is malty with whiffs of cocoa, vanilla, and caramel coated nuts. Very inticing.

T: The taste is cocoa and vanilla with a touch of caramel. A roasted malt flavor leaves a tiny bit of bitterness on the finish.

M: The feel is crisp but the carbonation is a little low.

D: This is very drinkable and it would be in my rotation if I could buy it here. It's nothing overly special but a good respresentation of the style.

Recommended if you like brown ales or malty beers.

Serving type: can

04-24-2010 00:18:27 | More by GregSVT
Photo of Arbitrator


4.72/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled can into a glass. I received two recently, one from unclejedi and one from beerwolf77. I don't know which sent the fresher one, but that's what I'm reviewing here. Thanks, guys!

A: Pours a very dark, but not opaque, brown body that glows a faint garnet against the light. The head is kind of weak; it doesn't rise all that high at all, and the light beige bubbles fall over a minute or so into a thin cap on the brew.

S: Nuts. Wow, this is incredibly nutty. It also features a nice dose of chocolate and coffee. There's a spicy, caramelized dark fruit bent to it. It's quite exotic and entirely surprising for a ~5% brown ale. It reminds me of a nice bruin, actually.

T: Toasted nuts are strongest, cocoa second, and coffee bringing it up. I'm amazed to discover caramel and toffee on top of that. Underneath is a noticeable dose of bittering hops, with some flavoring hops manifesting as a light burst of orange and lemon peel. The finish is lightly spicy. Again, it reminds me of a bruin. It's actually quite an interesting flavor.

M: Medium-bodied... It's very creamy with just the right carbonation. It gives the illusion of being a much bigger, heavier beer. Fantastic!

D: Surly does truly excellent stuff. I'm told this is pretty affordable over in Minnesota, which makes me pretty darn jealous. I wish I could find a brown ale of this caliber out here.

Serving type: can

04-05-2010 09:51:03 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of bwiechmann


4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark brown with lighter edges. Small head and minimal lacing.

S- Dark malt, brown sugar, faint hint of citrus.

T/M- Creamy malts and oats up front. Hops are noticeable and linger on the palate. A few hints of coffee. I'm left primarily with a slight citrus bite.

D- Another exceptional Surly brew. Coffee Bender is certainly a step up but this beer stands up well on its own. Very, very drinkable. Thanks, Omar.

Serving type: on-tap

03-29-2010 15:24:00 | More by bwiechmann
Photo of Parrotbeak


4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark amber with a ruby hue. Thin, off-white head that quickly fades, leaving some thin patches.
Smell is malts intertwined with some faint cinnamon, brown sugar. Light hops follows. Faint toffee, oats, and even more faint vanilla.
Taste is creamy malts and hops up front. The hops carry, with some creamy oats and caramel. Nice bitter bite on the finish. Very tasty.
Mouthfeel is smoooth, with a little bit of carbonation that rounds it out nicely. Medium-light body.
Drinkability is very good.

Serving type: can

03-29-2010 01:12:17 | More by Parrotbeak
Photo of AgentZero


3.83/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown with just a tiny bit of head, no lacing on this one. Impressive looking color, but slightly boring looking.

S - Lots of malts, sweet, nutty, a little wood, very brown ale smell.

T - Nice and malty. Good roasted taste, with a slight woody bite on the end and a little bitterness. Carmel is the strong taste here, but it's a nicely muted one.

M - Creamy, low end of moderately carbonated, smooth down the throat.

D - Very flavorfull despite the low ABV, nothing too strong, makes it an easy drinker.

Serving type: on-tap

03-24-2010 03:42:31 | More by AgentZero
Photo of womencantsail


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Serving type: can

03-21-2010 06:26:46 | More by womencantsail
Photo of Halcyondays


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

From a 16 oz. can, thanks Andrew,

A: Pours red-brown with a soft off-white head, some lace.

S: Roasted malt, coffee along with some sweet malt and chocolate.

T: Brown and caramel malt right off the bat with some dark chocolate. The mid-palate takes a turn with the oatmeal - into oatmeal stout character, sweet lactose/milk stout type flavours. Creamed coffee in there as well, very interesting.

M: Creamy, medium-bodied, very smooth.

D: Surly continues to impress me today. This is a markedly full-flavoured beer for ~5% and if I ever go to MN, I'm going to buy this again. Wonderful beer.

Serving type: can

03-21-2010 05:07:17 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of drizzam


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

A - Poured from the 16 oz can into a clear pint glass. The body of the brew is a clear brown color, but has definite ruby highlights when held up to the light. A fairly aggressive pour yielded a two finger foamy off-white head. Good head retention and excellent lacing.

S - Big time sweet malt nose...reminds me of the smell of the sweet wort from home brewing.

T & M - The sweet malty body I smelled in the nose is predominant when I drink the brew, but it is accented by a slight hop bitterness and touches of coffee and caramel. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very creamy.

D - An excellent example of an American brown. Great taste and low ABV make drinkability high. Surly continues to impress with everything I've tried from them.

Serving type: can

03-02-2010 05:54:24 | More by drizzam
Photo of herman77


4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown, slight amber-ish color. Just a little bit of khaki colored head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Roasted malt, slight coco, toffee?

T: A tiny bit of hops, toasty malt goodness, hint of vanilla and carmel.

M: Medium body. Somewhat creamy. Very Smooooth.

D: Pretty damn good drinkability. I had 22oz no problem. Could of easily had more.

Serving type: on-tap

02-21-2010 01:01:36 | More by herman77
Photo of chcfan


4.58/5  rDev +12%
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 GilGarp


4.7/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome extra from my wants list given by the ever-generous BA, BuckeyeNation.

Served cold into my St. Bernardus Watou glass, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a Belgian strong dark ale. The color is dark redish brown with good clarity. The thick off-white head is somewhat short-lived but it leaves some lacing behind.

Aroma is classic brown ale with nice toast, caramel, and toffee. It's sweet and inviting - I can't wait to take a sip.

Flavor is exactly what it should be. The roasty malts give a subtle chocolate/caramel flavor while the hops impart just enough bitterness. There's a sweetened coffee taste with toasted marshmallows and toffee. Is there even a hint of graham cracker? Wouldn't this be amazing with a s'more?

The mouthfeel is devine as well. The oatmeal really helps it out here. It could stand to have a little more body but it's so creamy smooth, I think I can forgive it.

Overall it's a fantastic beer and a classic version of the style. I'm looking forward to my next visit to Minnesota.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2010 00:38:25 | More by GilGarp
Photo of knight84


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

A: Dark-stained cherry wood color with slight maroon highlights. Two fingers of lumpy khaki head with nice lacing.
N: Very malty, roasted coffee, caramel, and baking cocoa. Slight bready yeast notes too. Nose seems a touch understated.
T: Sweetened coffee, rich caramel, vanilla bean, and a light roasty character up front. A crisp hop profile provides a slight herbal and pine resin finish. Definitely bigger and better than the nose let on.
M: Creamy carbonation gives a full full-bodied feel to the beer.
Overall a great beer from Surly; one of my favorite examples of the style.

Serving type: can

02-08-2010 22:25:23 | More by knight84
Photo of Tiklmelmo


4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

16oz can in a victory pint glass.

Thanks to morimech for this and the rest of the awesome haul.

A - Rich, dark mahogany, half inch of rocky off-white head. Very nice looking beer. One of the better ones I've seen come out of a can.

S - Toasted malt with nice rich spicy chocolate. Earthy hops with subtle hints of pine. Very nice.

T - Rich, dark malts. Lots of chocolate and darker caramel. Some nice vanilla as well. Nice balanced earthy hop background. Definitely malt forward, but you can tell the hops are there.

M - Slightly thinner than I'd like it to be, but that does add to the drinkability. This is the worst part of the beer, but it's by no means bad.

D - Very drinkable. I could down these all night.

All around very fine american brown ale. One of the best I've had. Wish I could get it in Philly!

Serving type: can

02-05-2010 03:36:07 | More by Tiklmelmo
Photo of sliverX

S. Georgia & S. Sandwich Isls.

4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1/2 of my LIF win from JoeyBeerBelly thanks Joe
Poured a rich deep clear brown makes a nice light filter pretty filmy head but leaves a ton of lacing.
Smell is light dark chocolate, earthy, can smell some hop bitterness, slight nuttyness also
Taste perfect balance between a nice nutty brown and earthy hops this is THE Brown Ale for me
Medium body, somewhat bubbly feel in the mouth suits the beer perfectly
Drinkability well its a shame this isn't readily available to me as I'd keep this stocked as often as possible...

Serving type: can

02-04-2010 23:03:00 | More by sliverX
Photo of portia99


3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can received in trade with Scoobydank. Thanks Bill. Poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A - Pours a slightly hazy and almost opaque dark brown with a thin 1/2 finger of cream colored head. Foam dies down quickly leaving uneven islands of bubbles and a nice collar around the edge of the glass. Nice rings of lace left on the glass showing the previous liquid level after every sip.

S - Lightly scented of earthy hops, some roasted malts, a hint of caramel, some sugary sweetness.

T - Interesting combination of flavors. Slightly sweet up front with some prunes. Some grassy hop flavors mix in and linger throughout. Flavors transition to more roasty and bitter flavors retaining some of the caramelly sweetness around the edges.

M - Smooth and creamy feeling on the tongue. At least medium in body with a fine carbonation. Glides over the tongue and sides of the mouth.

D - Nice, smooth brown ale...a little bit different than I'm used to, but quite good. Alcohol is on the low side at 5.1% making this a very easy drinker. I enjoy the Coffee Bender more, but this is a pretty good brown ale on its own.

Serving type: can

02-03-2010 23:30:58 | More by portia99
Photo of mdfb79

New York

3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz. can into a pint glass.

a - A dark dark brown color with 1 finger of a brownish white foam, lasts about 1 minute. Very carbonated.

s - Smells of chocolate, coffee, dirt, also some roasted malts.

t - First got a taste of chocolate, but coffee quickly took over. Has a little bit of a bitter taste to it, as well as roasted malts again.

m - Light body with moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth and creamy.

d - Overall, I thought this was a decent brown ale. Pretty new to Surly's products, but I would have liked a little less coffee taste since they already have a brew in Coffee Bender. I would definitely try this again, but it was not my favorite brown ale.

Serving type: can

02-02-2010 02:06:34 | More by mdfb79
Photo of sidetracked


3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown in color with an off-white head.

Smells of roasted malts and bitter hops.

Upfront, the taste is roasted malts with a hint of coffee. The finish is an interesting mix of roasted coffee and a citrus-like bitterness, with neither flavor being overpowering.

Mouthfeel is light with a creamy smoothness.

Drinkability is good. Overall a good session beer with an interesting porter-like flavor.

Serving type: on-tap

02-01-2010 00:50:05 | More by sidetracked
Photo of jrallen34


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

I drank this on tap into a chalice.

The beer is a very dark brown, with a surprisingly very light tan head. There is about 3 fingers of head, great retention and lacing.

The aroma is medium with a light coffee in it.

The taste is actually really good for a brown, which is one of my least favorite styles. It is very flavorful, not overwhelming and very drinkable.

The feel is nice.

Serving type: on-tap

01-31-2010 00:22:07 | More by jrallen34
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,506 ratings.