1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,673 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,673
Reviews: 732
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.29%
Wants: 437
Gots: 183 | 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)
View: Beers (40) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bender Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,673 | Reviews: 732 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wcudwight
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As dark as brown can get without turning black with some ruby hues when held up to the light. Large THICK mocha colored head that looks to stay for the long haul.
Sweet roasted malt aroma, some hints of vanilla with some hoppy spiciness thrown it for good measure. Man this beer is tempting, I wanna finish the whole glass right now.
The first thing I notice about Bender is how it doesn't taste like any brown I've had before while remarkably remaining very true to style. The second thing I notice is an incredible complexity yet still very sessionable. The hops are at the front of the beer with some piney and citrus flavor but this brown, while being pleasently hoppy is about so much more than just the hops. Deep rich roasted flavors. Hints of mocha or maybe more of a medium roasted coffee with steemed milk in it. The vanilla that was in the aroma is also in the flavor. Caramel.
The mouthfeel is silky smooth. And this beer is very drinkable. This would be a beer fridge staple if it were available in my area.

Photo of Lazerlobe
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Excellent cap of off-white head with a solid look to it. Deep brown body with maroon highlights.

S: Caramelized sugars, medium toasted grains

T: Light cocoa, toffee and a well rounded herbal pine bitterness.

M: Appropriate carbonation, smooth drinker for sure.

D: These are so darn drinkable, I could knock back a few during a game. Perfect balance of flavor and body.

Photo of Schmittymack
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from can into a typical shaker glass. Poured a deep mahagony brown with creamy head that lingered for a few sips. Aromas of brown sugar, chocolate, and nuts. Full bodied with a nice mouthfeel and nicely carbonated. Taste was very nice: chocolate, roasted malt, and no hop bitterness. Only thing missing is the coffee from their Coffee Bender! Well done again, Surly.

Photo of emmasdad
3.25/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for dropping this one off Dan. Pours a deep, rich mahogany color, with a creamy beige head. Aromas of wood, dark brown sugar, nuts and molasses. On the palate, full bodied, creamy mouthfeel, well carbonated, with flavors of chocolate, nuts and roasted malt.

Photo of robwestcott
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

big thanks to sampx for this one. i'm a big fan of coffee bender, so i'm looking forward to this one.

poured from a cold can to a sun king shaped pint glass a nice milk chocolate brown with a full finger foamy mocha head leaving a bit of lace.

aroma of molasses, buttery brown sugar and maybe some earthy hops in the wayback.

sweet maltiness up front, dark nuts, hops are subtle, but still present, and of the earthy variety if you ask me. not the dirty earthy a'la terrapin though.

smooth, sweet, highly carbonated.

drinkable - yeah, pretty dinnkable.

Photo of dpnelson1978
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can into glass pint.

$10.99 / 4-pk.

A: Bright dark brown body topped with a big creamy tan head of moderate retention that leaves behind heavy foam lace and a thick creamy cover.

S: Coffee, caramel, and maple stick out. Subdued hop profile. Very pleasant aroma with plenty of depth.

T: Coffee and cream over a lightly sweet caramel malt backbone. Hops are just a tad beyond balanced, but do not leave much of an aftertaste though some resinous character is present.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation. Pronounced carbonic bite but a noticeable smoothness takes over the finish.

D: Good drinkability, solid session choice if you enjoy the coffee flavors. Drinks light on the palate and doesn't overwhelm the casual beer drinker.

O: Average selection from Surly, obviously that is better than most.

Photo of Bendurgin
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks a ton for this one Lazerlobe! Poured into a pint glass. Massive creamy head on this one that sits on top of a transparent cola colored body. The head shrinks down eventually and leaves soapy lacing around the rim. The aroma is relatively faint, but after sticking my nose in this a couple times I can smell nuts, toasty malts and a bit of citrus. Orange zest mostly. Overall, what I would expect out of a brown ale! The taste is toasty with hints of coffee and chocolate with just a bit of orange zest from the hops in the finish. The mouthfeel is suffinciantly light with good carbonation and this one is as drinkable as they get. Great flavors and low abv make this easy to enjoy.

Photo of AndrewNations
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was my first beer from Surly and damn it was a good one.

A: Brown with a thick and creamy head.

S: Not a whole lot on the nose but consistent with the style. light, rich and nutty. Maybe a bit sweet.

T: Nice and malty goodness. Only a small prescience of hop and sweetness. The nut brown and darker notes really work well. Finishes nice and clean.l

M: Med carbonation and so smooth. Not creamy or viscous at all.

D: The one drinks well.

This is easily my favorite Brown Ale.

Serving type: can

Photo of arboristfish
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The color of this beer is brown with an amber hue, with a slightly tan head. The smell reminds me of chocolate. The taste has a rich malty chocolate taste to it. Mouthfeel is slightly thick like what you would expect from a brown ale. Finishes with a slight nutty taste to it.

Photo of hoppymcgee
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Funny story about this: I mistakenly left it in the box for a month and a half. This sure speaks to the benefit of canned beers! Thanks drhinehart for this. Poured from a 16oz. tallboy can into a Bokrijk tulip glass.

A: Brown with a creamy, lacy, rocky type tan head.

S: Hazelnut, chestnut, and even some oak barrel (?). Maybe I'm just dreaming of a barrel-aged version of Bender.

T: I was worried about this one seeing as it sat in a box, warm, for a long period of time. Thank God for cans! I get malty, almondy goodness with no presence of lacto - yes! Too many brown ales have a lacto character to them.

M: Nicely carbonated, light bodied, and smooth (not creamy).

D: The best feature of this beer. Another pint please!

Overall, now I know why Coffee Bender is so good.

Photo of jpmclaug
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the can into my pint glass. Thanks to chixdighops for the trade.

A - Dark brown body, maybe a ruby glow when held to the light. A light tan head rests on top

S - subtle notes of chocolate and malt. Maybe a slight hit of hops but not much.

T - Light roasted notes over a big chocolate malty base. The hops balance this out but don't really shine through.

M - medium bodied, real smooth and creamy

D - Pretty drinkable. Lighter than a porter but has a lot of similar flavors. This is a style that I usually avoid but this beer is really top notch. I wish I could get it around here. I'd pick up quite a bit of it. I will get more of this any chance I get.

Photo of thagr81us
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Pullen for this as an extra in an in-person trade awhile back! Served from can into a Stone nonic. Poured red-brown with a one finger slight tan head. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt and a nutty note. The flavor was of sweet roasted malt, chocolate, cream, and a nutty note. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was an excellent brown ale. Had an excellent flavor with a very nice aroma to go along with it. All aspects were very well balanced and left me begging for more. This is probably one of my favorite brews from this style as I usually avoid them at all costs. Very nice job Surly!

Photo of Strix
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear mahagony, decent head, some lacing.

Smells of malt, cola, and roastedness.

Roasted malt, coffee, cocoa, wood, and cola. Nice complexity and good use of hops.

Mouthfeel smooth and crisp.

Quite drinkable, this just disappeared. A great brown ale, but I liked the coffee version even better I think.

Photo of SamuelJackson45
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Anice clean dark brown body with a heavy creamy head.

S- Smell of Vanilla and chocolate and hops.

T- Taste of chocolate and vanilla and hint of caramel. Roasted malts and hops round it off.

M- Very Creamy and smooth hit of cream with vanilla and chocolate linger through the sip.

D-Love this beer. Very First Surly and wont be my last./ Very tasty beer.


Photo of brewerburgundy
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz can, goblet, no canned on date. Thank you, Shango42 for the great trade.

Pours a very clear garnet of a consistent hew with an oatmeal brown head. Drapes beautifully, creamy.

Chocolate tones cover cherry or plum. Watery coffee, light roast, herbal hops. Dark chocolate syrup or liquor.

The sweetness retreats when tasted. So does the chocolate. Almost delicate roasted malt blend with some of the plum and herbal. Milk chocolate near the swallow. There is an extremely low level of bitterness backing this malty body.

Full, rounded mouthfeel. Subtle carbonation. Not as creamy as the oats would lead one to expect.

Heck of a beer. For the style it's great and it lives up to the hype. None of the flavors, or anything else hinder drinkability. There is plenty going on in this beer to hold your interest for quite awhile.

Photo of kzoobrew
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to gratefulbeerhead for this can, cheers Eric!

Deep mahogany and ruby body. Body is clear and clean. One and a half ecru head set atop works its way back slowly leaving a slim cap. Plenty of sticky lacing left clinging to the side.

The nose is quite a bit stronger than the majority of brown ales on the market. Dark bread aroma is abundant followed soon by a healthy dose of nuttiness. Hints of cocoa and coffee come and go in pleasant waves. Hops come through in a restrained yet pleasant fashion. Slight fruitiness with a substantial amount of earthiness.

The flavor is pretty much exactly what you would expect from the nose. Deep brown bready malts and nuttiness. Coffee and cocoa flavors meld perfectly. Slight caramel flavors underneath. Subtle vanilla flavor meanders through showing itself intermittently.

Medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The texture is smooth and creamy. The flavors dig deep into the tongue making for a long finish.

Bender is certainly a top tier brown ale. Everything about these beer is on point. The flavor and aroma are bold yet smooth. Easy to drink but with enough flavor that will allow you to savor. Excellent beer.

Photo of xnicknj
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into pint glass. thanks to morimech.

A - A deep chestnut brown with hues of cherry mahogany. The fluffy, buoyant head slowly dissolves into a nice film with plenty of patchy lacing on the glass.

S - Oats, coffee, cocoa, and roasted malt.

T - Dark roasted malts with plenty of toasted oats and a nice wave of pleasant cocoa. The flavors are multi-layered, moving on to vanilla and hazelnut. Some coffee and nuttiness continues towards the end, eventually finishing dry with some sweetness.

M - Velvet smooth, creamy, darker medium body. Absolute silky dreaminess.

D - Great flavor, low abv, and excellent feel make for some amazing drinking.

This is one of the best drinking brown ales I've ever had. The nose felt somewhat subdued, but other than that this is aces.

Photo of Brez07
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz can poured into a pint glas

A: Dark amber/brown pour which leaves a 2 finger light mocha head

S: Pretty standard brown ale nose. Some bread, roasted malt, a dash of caramel. Also notes of oat and chocolate

T: Just like the nose. The malts combine nicely with some bitter hops to create good balance. Great roasted and chocolate mix. Has an underlying sweetness

M: Fairly smooth and creamy. Just a touch of tingle from the carbonation and roastiness from the malt

D: Well that beer went quick. Insanely easy to drink. I prefer this over the Coffee version

Photo of shawnp
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz. can poured into a pint glass.

Nice tan head, disappearing not too quicky. Lacing is evident throughout consumption.

Appearance is good. Deep brown in color and mildly hazy.

Smell was very good. Mild citrus notes and a bit bready.

Taste was good, for the most part. The foretaste for me was exceptional but the coffee on the backside didn't sit well with me. I am not, nor have I ever been a coffee drinker and this is why the aftertaste wasn't well received.

Mouthfeel was smooth, low in carbonation and easy consuming.

Drinkability for me is just OK. I like this beer but only on an occasional basis.

Photo of mklinger
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Nice big mocha head that lasted well. Very tight bubbles, very creamy. Dark brown liquid with reddish highlights. No real lacing left behind, though. Good looking beer.

Aroma was both roasty and slightly citrusy -- oranges or tangerines more than grapefruit. Some bread crust in there too.

Flavor was roast coffee and bready. Some decent bitterness, some Cascade or Centennial hop flavor. Not as well integrated of flavors as I might have expected. Some acidic sharpness due to high carbonation, too. Not as balanced as I thought it was going to be. Good but not great.

Mouthfeel was "slick" due to the oats, I expect but not a really full mouthfeel beer. Nicely drinkable in that way. Good solid beer.

Photo of a74gent
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a tasty, tasty drink.

Appearance is exactly the sort of nice toasty dark brown color that you'd expect. A nice foamy head that takes its time going away.

The smell is nonexistent to me, but then my nose isn't always the most sensitive.

The taste is a nice sweet brown ale almost with a little chestnutty flavor balanced with the oatmeal addition.

Mouthfeel is fabulous and full with creaminess especially as it warms up.

This one is very, very drinkable....so long as you like this flavor, I don't think the night would ever stop with this smooth, enjoyable ale.

Photo of newk340
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared w/ hu5om in NB goblets

A: a deep mahogany, initial head dies quickly leaving a foam ring.

S: gorgeous smell of coffee, vanilla, and caramel.

T: very little initial taste off the tongue but a warm coffee, cream, vanilla aftertaste that builds to a pleasant linger.

MF/D: drinks like a silky stout, VERY smooth and sessionable IMHO. very little evident carbonation with building heat.

Photo of rhodeska
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The look was pretty good, only looked a little thin for a darker beer.

The smell was great, had some cocoa, coffee, caramel, vanilla. Pretty much exactly what the can said on the back.

The taste was a little thinner than I had expected already, a coffee taste up front, and not a good lingering mouthfeel. Dissapated pretty quickly.

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Blue Door Pub.

Deep and dark brown color with a one finger light tan head and a touch of lacing.

Smells pretty roasty, but also has some caramel, nuttiness and a decent hop presence.

Quite roasty for a brown ale. Very light sweetness, a bit of coffee and fairly hoppy especially for the style. The hops add some nice bitterness.

Mostly smooth, medium bodied, adequately carbonated.

Drinks nicely. Probably not as well as the typical brown ale due to the roast and the hops, but like Surly does, they do it big and this one is no exception. It's unique and tasty. Definitely worth having around.

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.85/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16 oz can pours a dark garnet color with a moderate cap of creamy tan foam. Retention is average and lacing is pretty good.

Nose is roasted chocolate with some nutty, marshmallow and fruity aspects. Absolutely wonderful, hops are there harmoniously with caramel sweetness.

Wow, unbelievable. It is like a coconut-almond chocolate bar sprinkled with fresh ground coffee and shredded hop cones. Hands down the best brown ale I have ever had and might be my favorite sub-6% brew ever. Hops are just perfectly integrated and the mouthfeel so creamy. I would be hard pressed to ever get sick of this extraordinary beer were I to have unlimited access to it. Wonderful!

Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,673 ratings.