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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
BenderBender

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

1,588 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,588
Reviews: 729
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 432
Gots: 168 | 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: 1,588 | Reviews: 729 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of madvermin
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%

Big thanks to ChadQuest for going out of his way to get this beer for me in our trade.

Pours a dark, dark brown with red hints at the edges. Head is light tan, fluffy and dissipates fairly quickly. Leaves tons of laces that looks like a milkshake coating the side of a glass.

Smells immediately of rich caramel and toffee, with vanilla and brown sugar mixed in. Slightly spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, almost pumpkin-like character that smells ridiculously good combined with the malt from earlier.

Taste starts a bit watery which is disappointing after the full nose, although it offers a pleasant coffee and oatmeal that is quite balanced. Little bit of hops at the start add to the coffee to create a pleasant bitterness that is soft and smooth. The taste just doesn't measure up to the smell at the end of the day though.

Mouthfeel is a bit watery, but smooth and creamy at times which saves the beer from becoming a mess. Drinkability is where the beer shines, as for all its shortcomings the beer is very easy to throw down. Good beer even if not as good as I was expecting; definitely looking forward to coffee bender though.

madvermin, Mar 18, 2011
Photo of evanlarkin
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%

Appearance:
Brown, would be clear if you could see all the way through it. Amber around the edges. About a finger of just barely off-white head that dissipates after a bit.

Smell:
toasted malt and a bit of coffee. Slightly sweet and no bitterness. There are some oats there too, and caramel aromas.

Taste:
Again, toasted malt. a bit drier than the aroma, but still has some caramel taste and oats. No bitterness at all, very earth. Doesn't taste boozy.

Mouthfeel:
Thick and full, a bit chewy, probably thanks to the oats. Coats your mouth and lingers in the most delicious way.

Drinkability:
Very high. This is my go-to Surly beverage. Easy to drink a few of these, and you don't feel like you need a change of pace. Simply put, this one is fantastic.

evanlarkin, Mar 14, 2011
Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev -2.2%

reviewed from notes:
thanks goes out to tmcelvain for sending this my way.

appearance: dark brown with a 2 finger tan head

smell: caramel malts, sweet

taste: sweet malts, caramel

mouthfeel: mild carabontion, medium body, smooth

drinkability: a very drinkable brown ale that goes down smooth.

Cheers,
the CPJ

THECPJ, Mar 14, 2011
Photo of betsona
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%

Thanks to alleykatking for the can. Extremely generous BA. Poured into an imperial pint glass.

A- Brown with ruby streaks. Moderate pour produced a finger worth of off-white head. Dissipated into a thin film. Moderate lacing on the glass. No visible carbonation.

S- Warm earthy tone. Lots of roasted malt with a nutty profile. Not much hop tone. Bit of chocolate undertone.

T- No alcohol taste. Nice malty backbone with perhaps a slight hint of vanilla. Bit of oatmeal. A lot of nutty sweetness that comes through towards the end.

M- Medium body with correct amount of carbonation for style. Not much lingering aftertaste, but what is there is slightly bitter.

D- A nice beer. I will gladly drink again, but it wasn't all that overwhelming. I enjoyed it, even with the slightly bitter aftertaste that I wasn't expecting.

betsona, Mar 10, 2011
Photo of TheFightfan1
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%

From a can into my mug. Rough pour left little off white heading.Decent lacing and a nice lively action.

Smell is all toasted malts. Earthiness,and quite nutty too. Also a touch of mocha.

The one thing about this beer is balance. Very nice darker roast malt. Coffee notes that mix well with a balnced piney and citrus hoppiness.

Mouth is medium bodied,slightly undercarbonated and slighty watery.

This is a decent brown ale nothing really jumping out but nothing bad either.
Thanks to shir0045

TheFightfan1, Mar 09, 2011
Photo of Phelps
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%

Received from Hophead101, in the blind beers BIF, this was reviewed from the can blind and poured into a tulip.

At first glance, the beer appears to be an opaque dark brown, though a hold to the light reveals that it's maroon in color and actually fairly clear -- just super dark. It's topped by a massive, two-finger head of ultra-creamy foam the color of ginger that collapses very slowly, leaving sticky webs of large-bubbled lace clinging to the side of the glass as it does.

Lots of nuttiness in the nose. Peanuts, almonds, light roast coffee, buttery caramel and some dark chocolate, nicely balanced with spicy German hops.

Way more coffee emerges at first in the flavor, along with that familiar nuttiness. The hops seem to have been kicked up here too, their spice balancing in perfect harmony with the darker malt flavors. Tangy dark chocolate and a slight lactic character are noticeable mid-palate. After the swallow, waves of dark roast build in a nice crescendo, leaving lingering notes of burnt toast.

The body is nicely full for an ale of this sort, just a shade under medium but blessed with a creamy smoothness. Carbonation is light and the beer fizzes up softly as it moves about.

Nice aroma, nice flavor, nice feel. This is a brown I could see myself drinking all the livelong day.

Phelps, Mar 04, 2011
Photo of fastpass17
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%

16 oz Can

A: Deep mahogany, nice one finger head, good carbonation.

S: Raisins, roasted malt mixed through caramel and a touch of hops.

T: This starts out with brown sugar, roasted malts, and finishes with a crisp pine hop bite.

M,D: Clean, enjoyable and very session-able. I could drink this all night, also with hearty or game influenced meal.

fastpass17, Mar 04, 2011
Photo of ChadQuest
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Good lasting chunky head and sticky lacing over a dark brown body.
Aroma is roasty, very enjoyably so actually. So much better then the Coffee version. just a light caramel backup with some oatmeal.
Flavors are a bit lighter then the aroma implies, but are still quality and enjoyable, and conveys everything the aroma does but in a very creamy manor. The mouthfeel is great really, a highpoint of this beer.
A really great Brown, only a few i enjoy more. Worth stocking up on when you go to the Twins.

ChadQuest, Feb 28, 2011
Photo of hopsbreath
4.88/5  rDev +19.3%

One of those beers that I've had multiple times but am just now getting around to reviewing. Thanks goes out to zimmerbloke, beerandraiderfan, and possibly another BA who slips my mind at the moment, for sending some of these out my way. I frequently share beer with my wife. Tonight though, she has wine in her balloon glass and I've got a Duvel glass with 16 ounces of Bender inside. It may as well be my birthday.

A: The beer in the glass appears to be dark pruney brown with a finger and a half of tight khaki head on top. Upon closer examination by holding the glass to direct light, I see that this is instead dark cherry red. Spotty lacing looks great on the glass. 4.5/5

S: A nutty roastiness dominates the nose here. Its like oven toasting a handful of pecans. Some citrusy hops help balance out the aroma and builds complexity. Some dark stone fruits are part of that complexity and keep things interesting. 4.5/5

T: More toasted pecans dance on the palate giving the beer its signature character. Bitter chocolate, toffee, pine, and a touch of vanilla are deep and thought provoking. Do 5% ABV brown ales get tastier than this? Nope. Nothing I know of even comes close. 5/5

M: So full, so smooth, and so crisp. I'm biased to most beers with oatmeal in the grist and this is no exception. Perfection again. 5/5

D: This is the kind of beer I want to see more of. Like its brother Coffee Bender, regular Bender packs a punch of complex aromas, flavors, and really has few flaws. In the world of brown ales Bender and its iterations is king in my book. Show me a better brown. I bet you can't. 5/5

hopsbreath, Feb 27, 2011
Photo of imagineiii
4/5  rDev -2.2%

poured into imperial pint glass. fills to the top with a solid inch of marshmellow head. retention is a plus.

smells of chocolate and caramel, very sweet. slight touch of roasted nuts.

taste seems to be muted, subdued. flavors are in line with the nose; burnt caramel and roasted nuts. hop level is perfect, simply holds up to the malt, nothing more.

body is the best part of this brew. flavors are all in check, mouthfeel is full and fat, with a straw-like dryness at the finish.

this beer is exceptionally drinkable. Overall, one of the most drinkable beers of one of the most drinkable styles out there. Very good brew. I would recommend this beer to anybody just getting into craft beer. As a true beer geek, I can still appreciate a great brown ale.

imagineiii, Feb 26, 2011
Photo of Tifore
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%

Recieved in a trade from Josh (Alleykatking). Poured into a pint glass on Superbowl Sunday. Go Big Cheese!

A - Pours a cola dark brown in color with some cherry notes when held up to the light. Poured very smooth and silky. Already has me looking forward to the nose and taste. Syupy looking. A nice tan head forms and leaves some light lacing on the glass as the head slowly falls.

S - Smell is of toffee and coffee at the get go. Coffee notes are strong, spent espresso tones. Some sweet dark fruits and caramel notes as well in the background. I also want to add I get some real pineapple-y and grapefruit-y hops.

T - Taste is nice and luxiourious with chocolate leading the way, bittersweet and semi sweet mainly. Perhaps some dark as well. Coffee and toffee tones follow and are very commanding. A smooth tasting brew. Smokey malts are present as well as the hops which are light but are in the taste as well.

M - Mouthfeel is so smooth and awesome from the oats that are used in the brewing process.

D - A highly drinkable brew from Surly not to mention the first one I've gotten to try from them. Wish we got this stuff here in Ohio! Thanks again Josh.

Tifore, Feb 24, 2011
Photo of Drazzamatazz
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

First off, this went great with my New England baked bean & hotdog dinner (Brown Bread included).

A: Looks brownish amber but gives of some strong cherry shading when held to the light. Pretty small head, but it seems to not want to go away.

S: I'm surprised how much light hop aroma I'm getting out of the nose for the style. This is backed up by a little bit of chocolate malts, some fruity sweetness (I'm going to saw cherry), and a bit of vanilla.

T: Taste is much more in line with the style. Smooth, light, and malty. I'm getting some caramel, a bit of vanilla still, some chocolate, and again a sweetness that can only be described as fruity. Hops add some bitterness to the finish, but its not nearly what I expected from the nose.

M: Really nice feel on this one, I'm going to chalk it up to the added body of the oatmeal as well as the lively carbonation.

D: If this is your style, than this might be your beer. It is incredibly drinkable, yet as the can says it offers "many layers of satisfaction".

EDIT: I just had a can that was dated two months older than the first one I had (it's from October and it is now March) and I think I like this even more. Hop presence is definitely faded but it has become a lot sweeter and malty. At the same time I'm getting a somewhat crisp bacon/burnt toast bitterness that I really enjoy. I'm not going to edit my score, just thought it might be something of note to others.

Drazzamatazz, Feb 23, 2011
Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

Poured from a 16 oz can into a mini shifter. Modest beige head slides into a todor brown hazy body. Clear, oily lacing lines the sides of the glass. Aroma is dominated by malty sweetness with brown sugar standing out. Some coffee notes and raisin. Taste follows suit with the malt sweetness/caramel dominating, followed by mild coffee. Overall, quite tasty with great drinkability.

KickbacksSteve, Feb 22, 2011
Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

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

Appearance: The pour is easy out of the wide mouth can. A full walnut brown color with a generous ruby tint around the borders of the glass. A frothy tan head forms initially, retains well, and leaves a web of lace down the side of the glass.

Smell: A lot of nice aromas here. The hazelnut is most dominant, but there is a burnt brown sugar aroma adding some sweetness, and a robust earthy hop aroma to bring a nice balance to it all.

Taste: Toasted dark malt, caramel, burnt brown sugar and hazelnut are all present up front. The taste turns a little bitter, with a nice woody and earthy hop presence. There is a growing bitterness with each sip, but it never gets in the way of the other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Mostly smooth, with a light graininess throughout each sip. Medium carbonation and a medium body.

Drinkability: There is a good level of complexity here that makes this an exceptionally drinkable brown.

KickInTheChalice, Feb 22, 2011
Photo of 321jeff
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%

16oz can provided by UMNbeerhunter, thanks! Canned on 11/9/10, consumed on 2/21/11 in a Fuller's imperial pint glass.

Pours a deep clear mahogany with a couple fingers of light tan head that fades to a thin layer, leaving lots of sticky looking lacing.

The aroma is a mix of caramel sweetness with some earthy nutty notes.

The taste starts off with some sweet caramel and carries over to a nutty and chocolaty finish.

The mouthfeel is relatively thin but about what you'd expect from a 5% brown ale. Carbonation is well controlled. This one goes down easy and is one of the better brown ales out there, looks like it's time to track down some more.

321jeff, Feb 22, 2011
Photo of ne0m00re
4.5/5  rDev +10%

Live review of a pint can compliments of arvjunk.
A: Deep reddish brown, it poured with a one-finger cream head that died to a film and collar with pretty good lacing.
S: Cream, walnut, earthy brown sugar, earthy and bright hops, milk chocolate. All right.
T: Creamy chocolate, walnuts, figs, some brown sugar, with slightly resiny hops that linger with a subtle gin alcohol. This is really good. The earthy nutty subtleties really take you for a ride.
M: Creamy and thick, with a crisp finish that still leaves a little something sticky on your teeth.
D: Great. I could have a couple of these and still be happy.

ne0m00re, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of aasher
4/5  rDev -2.2%

I was really excited to get a couple cans of Bender. We had asked someone from Minnesota to bring us some Surly back from his hometown and he did, some two months later. I had totally forgotten about it so this was a nice surprise. I poured this can into my Founders snifter. This beer pours a Coca Cola like dark brown with ruby accents and a one finger, foamy beige head. The aromas are very malty with some light hazelnut and some caramel. The flavors are of light roasted malts and slight chocolate. It leaves a nutty, bitter, and dry after taste. I'm surprised there isn't more to this. It's solid but nothing to write home about. It drinks well, pretty smoothly and with light carbonation. It's ok, just a solid brown ale.

Edit: Interestingly enough, a couple days after posting my original review I decided to drink another one just from the can. It really, really opened up the flavors in a very surprising manner. This time it featured a nice chocolate malt flavor throughout. Now I'm perplexed.

aasher, Feb 16, 2011
Photo of smm
4.58/5  rDev +12%

This was my go-to beer when I started drinking back in 2008. I hadn't bought it in over a year for some reason... I'm back in the fold.

A- Pours a deep dark brown with a thick inch tan head bubbling on top which recedes quickly to about 1/4 inch

S- Smells sweet and fruity. Hint of chocolate.

T- Up front bitterness one would expect from a brown ale. Big chocolatey aftertaste, especially as you exhale.

M- A bit crisp with a medium body. Seems a bit thin at first, but comes around as it warms up.

D- At 5.1% it would be easy to throw down a four pack in an evening, but alas this is a beer that has to be savored. Maybe its just nostalgia, but for me Bender is a treat enjoyed sparingly.

smm, Feb 14, 2011
Photo of Mississipping
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

16oz can poured into a Foothills pilsner glass.

A: Deep brown with moderate penetration of light, creating a nice mahogany hue around the edges. One finger khaki colored head that dissipates fairly quickly and leaves a thick ring of fine bubbles around the edges with slight lacing.

S: Nutty, malty, and hoppy. Hints of dark fruits, chocolate, toast, and coffee. Not overly complex, but not disappointing, and still pleasant.

T: Roasted malt, chocolate, and hops are dominant, in that order. Just a hint of dark fruit and coffee, much like the smell. Despite the various flavors that come out in the taste, it's a little bland. Maybe it's just not what I was expecting. Still tasty, though.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation creating a nice creamy feel on the palate. Finishes slightly dry and leaves a lingering taste of the roasted malt, chocolate and hops.

D: Drinkability is pretty good. Decent balance, nice feel, and only just a hint of booze. Goes down very easily, and is something that I'd go back to again if it was available in the South!

Mississipping, Feb 13, 2011
Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%

From the tap, Bender is a dark brown liquid with minimal head. The aroma dark and nutty with notes of chocolate and whispers of hops. The flavors range from coffee to nutty to grainy malt. The depth of the mixture is impressive. Wet through the center as it leaves behind a dark bready--dare I say pumpernickel--like flavor. It finishes with a dash of bitter hops.

A well constructed beer. Easy to drink and very flavorful.

BeardedBoffin, Feb 12, 2011
Photo of wrightro07
4.8/5  rDev +17.4%

A: a nice dark brown appearance with a fluffy white head.
S: There is a hint of hops and a nutty malt backbone. This is very pleasant for a oatmeal brown ale.
T: The taste is amazingly done for a brown ale. I have had many traditional brown ales in England and I love the twist Surly put on this brew using oatmeal. The taste is nutty with lots of english style malts balanced with a slight hop back drop. The oatmeal is what really makes it silky smooth.
M: I love the silky smoothness of this beer. The oatmeal really came through.
D: I could drink this beer all day. Really smooth brown ale that has exceptional characteristics for a brown ale.

wrightro07, Feb 12, 2011
Photo of titosupertramp
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%

Another thanks goes out to thecaptain073 for including this in a recent trade.

A: Redish brown..looked like a soda pouring out of the can. Big, thick, almost tan head. Huge bubbles around the cap. Good lacing.

S: Nutty, earthy, toffee, caramel.. maybe a little cocoa. Can't pick up any hops. Great smell for a brown ale.

T: Nutty, toffee is what I taste the most. Chocolate, light coffee and spicy hops finish out the taste.

M: Creamy with a dry finish..a little sticky.

D: Pretty high, but this could get very filling after just one.

This is going to end up ranking higher on my list than a lot of beers that I like more, but this is the best brown ale that I've ever had so it deserves the high marks.

titosupertramp, Feb 11, 2011
Photo of tewaris
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Oatmeal brown ale
5.5% ABV
45 IBUs
OG: 14º Plato
COLOR: 45 ºSRM

On tap at Old Chicago, Roseville MN. Served in a shaker pint glass.

Appearance 4/5
Deep reddish brown with good clarity, it sports a medium light brown head with average retention and good lacing.

Aroma 3.5/5
Dark nutty, malty, grainy, dried husk. Appetizing but not significantly so.

Taste 4/5
Light fruity sweetness with some hop flavor, firm character of specialty malts, pleasant roast, with a dark, dry, and bitter finish. Noticeably nutty at warmer temperatures. Very quaffable.

Mouthfeel 4/5
Medium body, perhaps overly crisp & carbonated, and clean. I like it except the carbonation could be a notch lower.

Drinkability 4.5/5
An excellent drinking beer that is not palate tiring by any means but is very satisfying.

tewaris, Feb 09, 2011
Photo of BeanBone
4.55/5  rDev +11.2%

Appearance: A hazy reddish-brown body capped by a finger and a half of off-white head that fades slowly and leaves patchy lacing.

Aroma: A blast of candied vinous fruit over a nutty, roasty, and chocolaty malt body. Not what I was expecting, but I'm hardly complaining.

Flavor: It settles a little closer to the style guidelines in the flavor. There's a little of the vinous fruit along with a heap of herbal hops over a big roasty, nutty, and earthy brown malt backbone. Everything is balanced excellently. Nutty malt and leafy hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium carbonation and a drying finish.

Drinkability: Easily sessionable, this goes back with no issues at all.

Verdict: Bender is a great Brown Ale, and easily rates as the best example of the style I have tried yet; it's bold, complex, and easily drinkable. I just wish it was available here in Texas.

BeanBone, Feb 07, 2011
Photo of zulufactor
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%

To preface I love this beer. Anyway...

A- Dark brown with a rich thick head

S- Toasty and malty with a bit of hops

T- Roasted malt and hops. a bit of chocolate and toasted oats. Balanced but by no means subdued

M- Silky with just the right amount of carbonation

as far as drinkablility is concerned, if I had a kegerator this is what i would fill it with.

zulufactor, Feb 02, 2011
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,588 ratings.