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.

1,589 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,589
Reviews: 729
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 433
Gots: 167 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bender Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,589 | Reviews: 729 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Dark brown body with a nice sized head with great retention and sheets of lacing. The head eventually becomes very spotty, which Surly beers seem to do a lot. Doesn't get better than this.

S: Smells of strong roasted malts with chocolate and toffee.

T: Very similar to the scent. Strong roasted malts with toffee, chocolate, and some earthiness. Small hints of cream.

Overall: For a little bit I was starting to get bored of Bender, but the on-tap totally revived it for me. Drinkability is amazing amazing on this beer, I could drink it all day long.

AdmiralDiaz, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of DavoleBomb
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Big thanks to nickd717 for this extra.

4.0 A: Clear medium orange color. Two fingers of frothy light brown head with average retention and moderate lacing.

4.0 S: Roastiness with a pleasant nuttiness to it. A touch of cacao powder to boot. Nice but not strong enough.

4.5 T: Really tasty. Everything I want in a brown. Subtle roastiness and lots of nuttiness again. Medium bitterness.

4.5 M: Rich, creamy medium body. Good carbonation. Very smooth. Well done.

4.5 D: Damn tasty brown. Couldn't ask for much more.

DavoleBomb, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of jpalarchio
4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nearly opaque brown color, appears somewhat ruby red in front of bright light. Minimal head, even with an aggressive pour. Caramel smell at the nose. Taste is full of flavor. Very nice to see something with so much flavor in the 5% ABV range. Very drinkable; wish I had a few more of these.

Thanks to Dave for this treat.

jpalarchio, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of BretSikkink
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice mahogany brown color with a solid tanned cap. Aromas are blocked by the fluffy foam but a solid sniff elicits caramel malt sweetness and a hint of hops. The flavor falls in between the bracing brightness of an IPA and the robust char of a porter. Either way, the bitterness is there and it leaves a significant and long-lasting aftertaste. I happen to love it. Malt notes from caramel, Munchen-type sweetness mix with the coffee tone, while the hops bring forth tobacco earthiness and a hint of menthol and pine. Pretty good stuff all around, and highly recommended if you're in the area.

BretSikkink, Dec 21, 2009
Photo of tobin999
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

just picked this up at the store i have enjoyed it many times but felt the need to review it.

A: nice dark brown semi see trough on the edges. off white head

S: malt slight roast coffe aroma faint dark fruit

T: first off crisp then smooth oats and carmel with a finish of coffee and cocoa

M: creamy but it dosent coat the mouth medium body

D: a great beer for cool weather i could easly take care of the four right now

tobin999, Dec 17, 2009
Photo of Lunch
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 16oz. bottle acquired in a trade as generous extra from Bulkman (Thanks man!) into my Troegenator mug at the appropriate temperature.

A: Pours a dark chestnut brown with some slight ruby hues and two fingers of a creamy off white head with nice retention and some lacing.

S: Mild yet nice scent of roasted coffee and cocoa with traces of vanilla.

T: The palate is hit with roasted coffee first with layers of cocoa, vanilla, roasted malt, bready malt, and slightly fruity. There a pleasant layer of bitter hops that really show themselves in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied with smooth and creamy carbonation with some bitterness.

D: Incredibly drinkable as the flavors are well balanced and rich especially for the style. The moderate 5.1% abv only helps in this regard.

Overall this was a very nice take of the American Brown Ale with rich flavors and great balance. Thanks again Chuck for supplying me with this. Recommended.

Lunch, Dec 16, 2009
Photo of pmccallum86
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a syrupy brown color not too different from a coca cola with a thick light bubbly head.

The smell is of roasted malts with some cocoa coffee and vanilla as well.

Taste is like the smell. Light cocoa followed by some vanilla notes and roasted malt.

Mouthfeel is smooth and silky, delightful on the tongue.

Great drinkability, I would enjoy drinking this perpetually.

Great take on a brown ale.

pmccallum86, Dec 13, 2009
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16 oz can poured into a Sierra Nevada Imperial Pint. 5.1% ABV, 45 IBUs, and no date.

Thanks to Beerwolf77 for this canned beauty!

A - Clear dark brown and lifeless, it pours with a dense creamy tan head with good retention til I accidentally got the tip of my oily nose in it while taking a sniff. A nice ring of lacing adorns the side of the glass.

S - Toasty brown and pale malts with slightly grassy hops on the nose. Mild caramel malts give a slight sweetness to the background. The more I smell it, the more grassy/mulchy the nose becomes and the more off-put I become. A bit of toffee pulls through later on too.

T - While the nose is a bit hoppy, it's much hoppier tasting than I expected. The grassy hops overshadow everything to me but in the background I pick up a nice toffee and caramel sweetness married well with a toasty, bread-like malt flavor and a semi-sweet chocolate chunk.

M - One of the highlights of the beer is the mouthfeel. It's velvety smooth but with a very mild carbonation tingle at the end. Soft and clean with a lightly dry and bitter finish, it's a great feeling brew.

D - It's good overall but as usual, I can't get passed the stupid grass flavored hops. Not appealing to me, but the beer as a whole is.

BeerFMAndy, Dec 12, 2009
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.

woodychandler, Dec 08, 2009
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.

beerwolf77, Dec 06, 2009
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.

blackdog1101, Dec 06, 2009
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.

alleykatking, Nov 23, 2009
Photo of kjyost
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.

kjyost, Nov 22, 2009
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.

dudemuskie, Nov 21, 2009
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.

wardough, Nov 13, 2009
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.

drabmuh, Nov 12, 2009
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.

Ratman197, Oct 28, 2009
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!

cdkrenz, Oct 20, 2009
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!

drumrboy22, Oct 18, 2009
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!

barleywinefiend, Oct 17, 2009
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.

davexisxrabid, Oct 07, 2009
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.

blackenmn, Oct 02, 2009
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.

Thorpe429, Oct 01, 2009
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.

beertooth, Sep 28, 2009
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.

CHSLBrew, Sep 22, 2009
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,589 ratings.