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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,536 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,536
Reviews: 724
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 427
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,536 | Reviews: 724 | Display Reviews Only:
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 beerwolf77


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

Pours a hauntingly brownish blood red. With dark crimson edges. The almond colored head reaches about an inch before settling and leaving a modrate ring of lace.

The aroma is a mix of roast malt and hops. Hint of chocolate and just a touch of dark fruit. A very clean nose.

The flavor is right in line with the aroma. Malty and hoppy with hints of chocolate and bitter fruit. The taste is very clean as well.

Medium body. Plenty of carbonation. Crisp and so well put together.

Overall a fantastic brown ale. I will have to pick up as much as I can next time I go to the twin cities.

Serving type: can

12-06-2009 04:09:03 | More by beerwolf77
Photo of blackdog1101


4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a Surly shaker pint.

A- Nice dark brown with a healthy tan head. The head lasts for quite a while, and leaves some lacing on the glass.

S- Sweet and malty smelling, with some coffee and hazelnut notes. Also a little smokey.

T- Starts a little bitter, but opens up with flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, caramel, and coffee. Finishes dry, with some nut-like flavors.

M- Smooth, rich, creamy, silky. Easy to drink. Carbonation is perfect.

D- I love this beer, and fortunately it is readily available here. Totally sessionable, but also complex enough to be interesting as a single beer. This may be the best American brown ale in the market.

Serving type: can

12-06-2009 04:02:25 | More by blackdog1101
Photo of alleykatking


4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16oz can. Many thanks again to DrMount who hooked me up with this gem! Thanks for everything once again.

A- Pours a nice deep brown color. When held to the light there is a nice light reddish tint to it. 1 1/2 finger light coffee tan head rises and leaves a good amount of lacing clinging to the sides of the glass. Looks good for a brown ale.

S- The smell of roasted or toasted malts in this beer comes off very well in this one. Light floral hops in this around the middle of the nose. Some chocolate notes in this beer that blend in with the whole aroma rather nicely.

T- I to be honest am not the biggest brown fan at all. For the most part a lot of breweries over do the malt presence and try to make it a mini stout. This beer is nothing like this at all. Everything in the beer is blended well together and I couldn't have been happier. Nice roasted malts in the front of the beer. Good light sweet and chocolate style malts in the middle ending with a light floral hops. This is what a brown should be like!

M- Medium mouthfeel to this one. Good carbonation in this maybe just a tad too much but still enjoyable. Light roasted malts on the palate after the beer leaves. Clean and crisp in the mouth and with the aftertaste.

D- Once again another retarded drinkable beer from Surly. I can't wait to try another beer from them. They can do no wrong when it comes to brewing it looks like.

Serving type: can

11-23-2009 22:30:16 | More by alleykatking
Photo of kjyost

Manitoba (Canada)

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

Poured into a tulip glass which gave ~1cm of head which did not last terribly long, although trails of foam would cling to the glass after each sip. A deep brown ale, which when held up to a light looked slightly reddish. The nose had a floral aroma - something I am not used to in a brown ale, and I was surprised not to note any stronger aromas nor any maltiness on the nose.

A nice brown ale with low carbonation. The maltiness is evident and it is crisp with an even bitterness. I have yet to try the Coffee Bender in my fridge and I am quite interested to try it as this beer has a definite undertone of coffee. It is incredibly drinkable and I can think of a number of foods I would pair this with.

Serving type: can

11-22-2009 23:55:29 | More by kjyost
Photo of dudemuskie


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

App- Dark brown with hints of deep red garnets. Small light tan head fades to a thin, lingering ring.

Aroma- Toasty, hints of chocolate, faint dark and over-ripe fruit notes with a touch of subtle floral hops.

Flavor- toasty, bitter cocoa, chocolate sweetness with a hint of earthy, floral hops up front. Flavors build in the middle and hop flavors intensify. Once middle flavors peak, the malt re-emerges as the dominant flavor leaving a rich bittersweet cocoa, medium roasted coffee, and over ripe cherry finish.

Mouth- Medium CO2, some residual sweetness/stickiness, nice and rich. Long lingering finish. Excellent American Brown ale with a mess of complexity swimming around in the pint! Excellent drinkability for such a rich, medium to full bodied, compled brew.

Serving type: on-tap

11-21-2009 20:47:12 | More by dudemuskie
Photo of wardough


4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

God, do I love this beer. I would do alot to get another one of these.

A: Pours a beautiful light brown into the glass. Bubbles rise like it's a Guiness stout. Nice start to this experience. As I drink , there's just a light lacing.
S: This is my favorite part. Deep caramel, toasted malt comes to mind. Yummy.
T: Is equally as awesome. First, it's refreshing, dry, then sweet, then malty, and then a good dry finish. Love it.
M: Nice and slick on the tongue
D: I can drink the heck out of these things.

Search out this beer. Love it.

Serving type: can

11-13-2009 02:09:28 | More by wardough
Photo of drabmuh


4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a goblet. Beer is dark brown, carbonation medium, head is brownish, falls away leaving a little lacing.

Sweet, caramel, slight roast are all present in the aroma.

Roasty flavor, smooth medium bodied beer. Some coffee on the back end (this isn't coffee bender). Nice mid palate connectivity. Overall an easy drinking great beer.

Serving type: can

11-12-2009 03:05:34 | More by drabmuh
Photo of Ratman197


3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a reddish brown with a lingering ring of tan foam. Smells of cocoa, carmelk, light vanilla and light coffee. Tastes of carmel, cocoa, light coffee, light toffee and a hint of vanilla. Mouth feel was light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a smooth finish.

Serving type: can

10-28-2009 22:18:41 | More by Ratman197
Photo of cdkrenz


3.58/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Two inches of medium brown head standing firm on top of a very dark brown body with seemingly little action.

S - Very mild soapy aroma.

T - The flavor is slightly chocolaty with a hint of hops. The finish is that of subtle hops that begs to be consumed.

M - This is a super smooth brew that has an easy flow to it. It goes down very nicely for a brown ale.

~ This is a very good beer with allot of fine qualities to offer. I will certainly recommend this beer to my friends. My true thanks go out to "drizzam" for his gift of the Bender. Thanks Bud!

Serving type: can

10-20-2009 01:24:07 | More by cdkrenz
Photo of drumrboy22


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

Huge thanks to Tolann for the can. Poured from can into Altitude pint glass. Beer was a cherry cola color, with a two-finger foamy, sand colored head. Light lacing and soft carbonation.

Aroma was cola, oats, malt and caramel.

Taste was bittersweet chocolate, caramel, nuts and a light hoppy finish.

Very good session beer. I love Surly and only wish I could get it more often. Thanks again Megan for the beer!

Serving type: can

10-18-2009 19:53:03 | More by drumrboy22
Photo of jlindros


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

Got this canned goodness thanks to either grub or KeefB (one from each). All the Surlys I've had so far from a can are full of awesomeness, and I expect nothing less from this guy. After all, Tasty crack cans, tasty crack cans...

A: Psssst ccchhhhkkkttt goes the sound of the can as I pop the top. Humungous fluffy dark colored head grows from the beer upwards and leaves a big bubbly side on the side I poured towards. Super dark raisiny brown color dominates and blocks almost all light from sneaking through. Even at the bottom of the glass where it thins quite a bit, light can't penetrate its awesomeness. As the head slowly bides itself, it leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

N: Total brown sugar and raisin burst accompanied with some dark malts dominate the nose. A slight dark fruit of fig and some other like dark fruits come out and say hello. I get some raw malt like aromas that remind me of the mash when homebrewing, and really hits a smile zone in my brain. The caramelized brown sugar dominates this nose and really tells you it will be a sweet surprise waiting below. I would really have expected a nose like this to be followed with 9-10%abv, but being 5% it should be pretty interesting.

T: Ooooh, it IS a beer. It has a nice beer like malt taste to start, not sure how else to describe that. The sweet malts and brown sugar touch the tongue, but not as dominate as the nose and as I expected in the mouth. It has a slight creamy goodness and slight fruit. A roasted malt ported like taste breaks through and almost dominates. A slight fruit like fig lets you know it's there as the beer starts to bitter a bit. The caramelized brown sugar really starts to slap your tongue around towards the end. A nice oat taste hides in the background, holding hands with some slight coffee from the roasted malt that seem to trick you into thinking they're not really there, but then suddenly let you know. I don't get much for vanilla or cocoa as the can suggests, those jerks!

M: Pretty creamy and semi thick, almost velvety, with decent carbonation.

F: Sonofa bitterness! It bitters up quite well for the finish. It also dries off quite a bit, and perhaps too much. The sweet sugar taste seems to stay a bit but the actual sweetness disappears as it really dries off and makes you think of winter dry kill. Almost a smoked malt like taste seem to tickle the finish, which compliments the burnt brown sugar well as well as the bitter European like hops. It doesn't linger too long either, which helps you drink it quickly, perhaps a little too quickly!

Final thoughts: A nice easy drinking brown ale crossed with porter. It has a nice beer like taste and malt goodness, a nice roasted malt quality with some dark fruits, a dark flavor and color, and a nice bitter thick finish. It finishes bitter and dry, but nicely and drinks a little too easy for a brown ale/porter. The slight sweetness and brown sugar flavors trick you into thinking it will be a 8% abv beverage, but it seems to pride itself on 5% and that makes it pretty cool in my book as I would be able to drink a shitton of it, if only Surly shipped out this way. Surly, dammit, ship out this way so I don't have to keep trading for your awesome goodness!!! Thanks again for the trades guys!

Comment: Also, I had to watch an episode of Futurama after drinking this. Specifically the episode where they brew beer inside of Bender, calling it Benderbrau.

Serving type: can

10-18-2009 01:58:50 | More by jlindros
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 davexisxrabid


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

Got this in a trade with skinnyguy. Thanks!

Poured a nice ruby/bronze brown color. Fluffy half inch thick head, good retention. Decent lacing during the drinking period.

Aroma of caramel, roasted malts, coffee. Couldn't really detect any hop aroma.

Taste is of caramel and a bittersweet roasted malt flavor. A little piney hope bitterness at the end. Can't really detect the smoothness of tha oatmeal. Moderately bitter aftertaste.

Medium bodied. Light carbonation, good for the style. Can't taste the oatmeal in it however, thus I was expecting it to be creamier.

Good drinkability, nice flavor. Didn't blow my mind but it's a pretty decent brown ale with a nice bit of complexity. Would have again.

Serving type: can

10-07-2009 15:55:21 | More by davexisxrabid
Photo of blackenmn


4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Appearance and Smell-Poured a relatively thick dark brown with some definite copper hue to it. Left a nice light tan creamy head and laced the glass nicely. Smelled of roasted caramel and toffee with some pretty pungent cocoa mixed with a bit of coffee.

Taste and Mouthfeel-Tasted initially of roasted caramel with some definite coffee and sweet cream presence. The bitter sweet cocoa was great, alot going on in this brew. Feel was very unique. Very sticky and creamy all the way through, very atypical brown ale most likely due to the oats and complexity of this thing.

Overall-I've drank way too much of this, and will continue to. This would be a VERY tough brew to get bored of.

Serving type: can

10-02-2009 14:09:19 | More by blackenmn
Photo of Thorpe429


4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Serving type: can

10-01-2009 15:43:04 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of beertooth


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

Big thanks to my old man for picking me up some of these cans from his last business trip. I've had this on tap numerous times, but I wanted to try it from a can as well.

16oz can poured into a real pint glass.

A dark ruddy ruby brown with a finger of creamy light mocha colored head. The head falls into a thin layer and leaves some nice lacing on it's decent.

The nose has some roasted malts, slight hop spice, molasses, some brown sugar.

The first gulp follows the nose. Roasted malts, some slight hop spice and a bitter hoppy finish. I'm also getting some sweet sugary malts, and more molasses. It's quite tasty and is going down really fast.

Mouthfeel is creamy and medium bodied with medium carbontation.

This beer is insanely drinkable and delicious. I love session beers and this is up there with some of the best. There's always room for Bender in my fridge.

Serving type: can

09-28-2009 03:01:21 | More by beertooth
Photo of CHSLBrew


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

16 oz. can poured into an imperial pint glass.

A-Dark brown beer, copper highlights, relatively clear. Deep tan head rose large off the pour, exhibiting moderate retention.

S-Spicy and crisp at fist, not really giving any clude to the flavors contained in the liquid. Chocolatey malt and a slight roast then are able to emerge gradually.

T-Crisp chocolate maltiness with a spicy bitterness that helps to crip up this flavor, along with a roasty choco character. This beer has a very easy balance. Finishing with a slight vanilla nuance.

M-Silky, oaty fee. to this medium body. Smooth carbonation dances easily in my mouth.

D-Very dinkable. It's not wonder it's called Bender, as I could easily consume several of these in a session.

Serving type: can

09-22-2009 20:45:05 | More by CHSLBrew
Photo of Reagan1984


4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Masterski for providing this in a recent trade. Awesome trade partner...

One of those beers that I love to look at. Big creamy head that rises well above the rim of the glass. Excellent retention. Clumps of lacing everywhere. Brownish beer with red highlights. Very deep color.

Aroma is very nice as well. Interesting combination of light coffee, citrus and light sweet caramel.

Lots going on in the flavor here. Sweet caramel, a bit nutty, dark roasted malt, a nice amount of fruity esters. Nice hop bitterness at the end melding with the dark roasted flavors. Almost a bittersweet chocolate flavor in the background here.

Very creamy mouth feel with a fairly thick body. Very smooth with only a touch of carbonation.

Nice beer. I can see why folks seek this beer out.

Serving type: can

09-12-2009 22:38:29 | More by Reagan1984
Photo of gatornation


4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

had this at old chicago in duluth and poured into a chilled pint glass it was dark brown with a nice head and lacing the smell was nutmeg toffee,coffee and malt oh yeah its nice its surly...the taste is the same its toffee and malt and hops with a slight coffee taste its really good just enough hops and malt with a nice finish..this slides down fast and is real easy to drink a highly recommended brown for ipa and pale ale drinkers..surly just makes good brews period im so glad its in my backyard anytime i want it which is all of the time

Serving type: can

09-06-2009 23:02:10 | More by gatornation
Photo of tburkhart


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

Pours a very nice brown with a fingers worth of creamy head that settles quickly. Very nice belgian lacing.

Smells of chocolate and coffee. Very nice smell

Tastes very creamy. Chocolate with hints of chocolate undertones.

Coats the mouth quite nicely without over doing it.

Very good beer by Surly. This one has been sitting in the fridge for awhile and I just couldn't get to it, glad I did tonight.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2009 23:49:13 | More by tburkhart
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 bsp77


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

Serving glass: Poured from can into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Very dark ruby-brown with an inch thick tan head that very slowly recedes, leaving fine lacing down the glass.

Smell: Sweet caramel, citrus hops, some roasted malts.

Taste: Slightly sweet caramel, roasted malts, oats, slight coffee and chocolate, and a very nice citrus hop counterbalance. Finishes on a moderate bitter note.

Feel: Low carbonation, rich medium body, dry body. Very smooth for such a low abv beer.

Drinkability: At 5.1% abv, this is the ideal year round session beer in Minnesota. It is also the best Brown Ale (whether English, American, India or hybrid) that I have had.

Serving type: can

09-02-2009 00:45:56 | More by bsp77
Photo of russpowell


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review based on notes, I believe either hogwildliqour or bubie

Pours mahogany with 2 fingers of tan head. Good head retention & above average head retention

S: Roasty malt, chocolate & some leafy hops

T: Roasty malt, chalky dryness, & brown bread bread up front. Maltyness & leafy hops as this warms, plus a whisper toast & coffee. Finishes roasty & toasty with coffee & chocolate rounding this out

MF: medium bodied, smooth, nice balance

Drinks alright, but a bit too much coffee to make me happy style-wise. Liked this better on tap or the in your face coffee bender

Serving type: can

08-27-2009 03:49:58 | More by russpowell
Photo of bwd110


4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16 oz can courtesy of mnjeff. Thanks Jeff.

A: As soon as I cracked the can I knew it, I had a gusher.... Got it to the sink and frantically brought can to glass. Fortunately the beer settled nicely in the glass and very little beer was sacrificed. Pours a deep brown with some ruby highlights around the edges. Big foamy tan head, settles nicely into big, chunky lace.

S: Very interesting. Dark malt wins out with dried fruit, brown sugar, roasted coffee, chocolate and oat notes dominating. However, there is a nice little hop profile going on here, mostly floral in nature.

T: Follows the nose quite nicely. A very flavorful, again - interesting - beer. The malt dominates and is quite robust in flavor and complexity. Roasted, smoky coffee and chocolate in the middle with real nice hop bitterness to round things out. Nicely balanced .

M: Nothing short of exceptional. Thinnish feel, but quite smooth and even creamy. The hop bitterness puts a nice cap on this as it goes down.

D: This beer went down really well, and I'd certainly be able to have quite the session with Bender. Outstanding.

This one blurs some style lines for me... but overall a great beer. Can't wait to try the coffee Bender!

Serving type: can

08-17-2009 18:15:56 | More by bwd110
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,536 ratings.