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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,690 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,690
Reviews: 732
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 441
Gots: 191 | 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:
Beer added by: tavernjef on 02-04-2006

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.
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Ratings: 1,690 | Reviews: 732 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of arboristfish
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
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
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
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
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
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
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
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
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
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
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
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
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
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
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
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
3.77/5  rDev -7.6%
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
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
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
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
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
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
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
3.72/5  rDev -8.8%
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
4.82/5  rDev +18.1%
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!

Photo of rfgetz
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazed brown with nice cap of off white head... good retention and some sticky lacing. Scent is light but contains nice whiffs of roasted nuts, light carmel, milk chocolate and the briefest hint of roasted espresso. Taste is a little more aggressive than scent dictates but still under control... a nice blend of the above mentioned flavors where neither over powers the other, a nice floraly and bitter hoppy finnish on this as well. What makes it is the rediculously creamy body, makes this unique and such a great beer to drink, my only gripe here is that its a touch undercarbonated. A very unique brew from its flavor profile down to its smoothy creamy body... would love to see what they were capable if they went all out with this one.

Photo of domtronzero
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Clear reddish brown with a big, frothy, tan, long-lasting head.

S - Caramelly/toasty malty sweetness. Earthy and piney hops. Clean.

F/M - Piney hops with a lite caramelly malt profile. A little one dimensional, but clean and balanced. Medium bodu with moderate carbonation. Clean finish with no lingering aftetaste.

D - balanced and simple, sweet up front with a dry, hoppy, clean finish help this beer finish smooth and go down pretty easy.

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

a: new glarus pint, the beer is a deep chestnut brown in color, with a nice khaki head that recedes to a thin layer

s: complex brown malts, toffee rolled in dry chocolate, mild earthy hops, somewhat woody and/or nutty

m: carbonation and body both around light-medium in range

t: cocoa rolled toffee, somewhat sweet brown malts moving to lightly astringent barley roast, earthy hops - moderately bitter, woody

d: a nicely flavorful, drinkable brow

entered from some notepad notes, consumed on a bench in a state park near Grand Marais, MN

Photo of stakem
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thank you to Heath (Kegatron) for giving me this can.

Poured into a snifter, bender appears a dark brown color. However, when it is held up to the light it shines as a clear deep amber red color. More than 2 fingers of tan stained foam for a head sit atop this brew and slowly receed leaving a webbing of lace around the glass.

The aroma of this brew has a pleasant forwardness of mildly citrus hops that come across with a light touch of herbal character. A scent of mineral quality is present before the onset of the maltiness smelling mildly nutty and with a bit of chocolate. As this brew warms it has a very mild and sweet vanilla scent about it that I did not pick up on right away.

The taste includes all things covered by the aroma and then even more. The hops present themselves with a light citrus taste and mild bitterness that persists into the finish. A bit of the mineral quality is present but blends into the flavor of the malt which tastes mildly nutty, chocolately and like roasted grains. In the backend there is a sweetness quite contrasting to the initial light bitterness that has a mild fruity flavor.

The feel of this brew is quite smooth and excessively drinkable. Medium in the feel with an acceptable amount of carbonation. Lots of flavors going on in this that reach outside the spectrum of the typical brown style. Very well done.

Photo of steve8robin
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this on a trip to MN. I have been waiting to try this one for a while. Let's hope it was worth the wait. 16oz can...

A: Dark, dark brown with dark ruby red shining through the entire brew. 1 inch off white head that fades at a very slow rate. Very good.

S: Lightly hoppy with some earthy undertones in the middle. Hints of robust roasty chocolate on the backend. Scent is not too strong. Decent.

T: Very interesting actually. Roasty hopiness upfront blended with some watery chocolate. Dry earthy woodiness in the middle with not much on the backend. This is a unique twist on the style. Good.

M: Medium body with a light carbonation. Decent.

D: Once you get past the hop wall, this is good.

This is definitely a solid brew. This one was very unique for the style. It seems like a brown ale fused with an IPA. It's hoppy and roasty and robust. Good to try at least once. Hunt down one bottle to try.

Photo of Docer
3.63/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from Brentk56 in a trade.. cheers! Great stuff!

- Large off-white ring of lace-maker over a murky dark brown cola-colored or sun-tea colored brew. Dusting of foam.

- Light sweetness, brown sugar, grain, bready.. light bitter hopping. Grassy.

- Sharp clean water, sweet grain, oats, bread, dry bitter hop.. pine-like.

- Thin to medium bodied, creamy and slightly dry.

- Overall drinkable, flavorful, and light. Must say the coffee version is a bit better.

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

Big thanks to Gyle41386 for this extra!

A: Pours a deep garnet color with a wispy off-white head that retains decently well.

S: Awesome malt aromas greet the nose; caramel malts, molasses, nuts and a subtle, but nice hop profile to back it all up. Slight nuttiness as well.

T: Caramel malts, caramel, slight smoke (not too aggressive), maple syrup?, cocoa powder, subtle milk chocolate, light coffee notes, and an earthy oat flavor. Hops give a helping hand with a slight bitterness (45 IBUs apparently), and a mellow earthy flavor. Also, slight hazelnut/ general nuttiness. The general flavor profile is pretty light and mellow, but packs all those flavors in very well. Nicely balanced.

MF/D: Surprisingly light (at least what I expected), smooth velvety feel to it (thanks to the oats), and the carbonation is right where I prefer it- medium. Slightly dry with a bittersweet cocoa/caramel finish.

Notes: Very good beer for the style- it fits right in the paradigm. I wish (every night before I go to sleep) that Surly will expand in my area. Thanks again Kyle

Photo of ShadesOfGray
3.36/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16oz can into my personalized Philadelphia Eagles pint glass. Pairing with a nice plate of sharp provolone and crackers. Pours a dark brown with a massive frothy head with excelent retention. Tons of lacing...and very sticky/long lasting at that!

Aroma is pretty average, like your typical brown ale...yeast and malts.

Flavor and mouthfeel: crisp, clean, roasted, high carbonation. It's tough to really pick anything else out of this that really stands out...just your average brown ale, just quality! Small amount of hops lingers in the back, and a decent drinker.

Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,690 ratings.