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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,732 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,732
Reviews: 736
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.07%
Wants: 439
Gots: 208 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,732 | Reviews: 736
Photo of imagineiii
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Tifore
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Drazzamatazz
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of 321jeff
4.31/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of ne0m00re
4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of aasher
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of smm
4.51/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of Mississipping
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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!

Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.02/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of wrightro07
4.76/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of titosupertramp
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of tewaris
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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.

Photo of BeanBone
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of zulufactor
4.73/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of FosterJM
3.91/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

199th review on BA
can to pint

App- A great looking brown ale with a wonderful two finger head. If I ordered a pint in london, I think it would pour like this(I could be wrong).

Smell- Not too much here, some small hops, oatmeal and some chocolate.

Drink- A light and not too heavy beer. Was a nice way to end the evening with a nice malty brew that was well balanced with the oatmeal coming through and also a little vanilla.

Mouth- Medium bodied with a light carbonation. A light creamy dessert like feel.

Drink- One of the better brown ales I have had.

Photo of dgfair
4.58/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

16 oz. can poured into British imperial pint glass.

A - a beautiful deep brown with a slight hue of garnet as some light refracts slightly through the body. The head is very nicely chunky and thick leaving tons of lacing on the glass. This is how a brown ale should look.

S - light hints of earthy hops with a mineral aroma that balances nicely with some of the sweet, toasty, nutty notes. Smells like a sweet nut toffee with a little bit of cream. Fantastic smell.

T - Nutty and sweet...this follows right where the smell left off and even finishes with a very nice little hop bite. Not too much hop and not too little, it provides the perfect kick at the end. I get a slight bit of oat and maple that perfectly rounds out the flavor on this one.

M - Mouth is pretty good, but could probably be slightly less carbonated for my palate. Nonetheless, it finishes perfectly dry on the tongue leaving nice aftertaste of the beer.

D - drinkability is completely off the charts. I would rate this higher than 5 if I could. I can't remember enjoying such a dramatically drinkable brown ale. So smooth and delicious going down that this thing has disappeared quickly.

This is my first Surly Bender, and first impressions tell me that this is the best American Brown Ale that I have tasted. I wish I could get this regularly, because it would be a very solid go-to in almost all circumstances.

Photo of AwYeh
3.61/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into nonic pint glass, thanks to Ankur (arvjunk) for this one.

A: Pours a very dark red; transparent if in direct light. One finger frothy off-white head.

S: Aroma is of sweet malts- toffee, caramel, biscuits, dark fruit, and chocolate. Just a bit of coffee noticeable as well.

T: Dark fruits really come out in the taste, along bready, caramel, toffee malts- all done very well and far from cloying. A light spruce/grapefruit hop presence balances things, and a bit of vanilla shows up on the finish.

M: Thin body, moderate carbonation. Velvety texture (adjective stolen from the can, but a very apt descriptor).

D: Decent drinkability; I don't have any desire to have another one (even if that was an option), though there was nothing wrong with this one glass.

Photo of JackieTH
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Dark reddish mahogany brown with a minimal head and nice lacing.

Smell: Hop presence. Toffee, hints of chocolate and malty sweetness.

Taste: Citrus and resinous hop presence dovetails with the sweetness of toasted malt, oatmeal, dark dried fruits, toffee, chocolates and coffee. Wonderful balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light and creamy-chewy.

Drinkability: Very, very high.

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A can poured into a tumbler on the late after a closing shift. Thanks to brewnic for this one in what could only be called a landslide of extras.

A- almost two fingers of creamy light tan head from a steady pour that settles in a few minutes leaving a bit of lace that fights to hold on and a fuzz on top. Murky dark brown with a nice reddish glow when held to light.

S- roasty and sweet with a touch of a oatmeal cookie thing going on when the slightly spicy hop kicks in.

T- lots hoppier out front then the nose lead me to believe with a herbal spiced twist. Sweet caramel maltiness with a good roast as well that brings some chocolate and coffee to mind. As the beer fully warms there's a mellow fruit componant that works well in the midst of the other flavors.

M- on the lighter side of medium body but not thin. Great carb that keeps a very bold flavor feel very on the palate.

D- hell yea ill go on a bender. This is one of the better beers I've had in a while and pushes the boundaries of the style without losing its soul. I'm glad a have another to toss back sometime soon.

Photo of afksports
4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This one tops even the Coffee Bender from the same origin. God, I love Surly Brewing Company and may need to move to Minnesota at some point.

Just a straight brown ale, with wonderful head, deep rich brown tones, beautiful lacing and carbonation, and a lovely malty smell. Some hops poke through in the nose and that keeps this lively, while the sweetness of the malts used balances out the aroma, which is fairly strong. Tempting taste with the same perfect balance makes this one extra smooth, and the water type of characteristic that a few Surly beers have had now is a pleasant integration in the brew, rather than a hindrance.

More drinkable than almost any other brown ale I've had. Bender from Surly is up there. Way way up there. I need more.

Photo of thecarster1
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a- can poured into a goose island tulip pint, nearly two fingers fades slow leaving a crater behind, deep brown with ruby highlights.

s- there is a huge hop presence here, light toffee and chocolate mix in with citrus hops, sweet yet dry.

t- super hopped up brown ale, hoppiness is citric and piney and lingers long after the sip, sweet toasted malts lead the with with toffee and light milk chocolate.

m- light to medium, smooth but still missing a little depth here.

d- this isn't what i was expecting, but the hops hit me huge here. it was very good, and went down easily, i could have more than one. gotta say that i enjoyed the furious much better, but this was tasty too.

Photo of jsanford
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark muddy brown with a thin khaki-colored head.
S - Notes of dark roasted malt, coffee beans, vanilla and cocoa powder.
T - Very close to the nose, chocolate and coffee seem to dominate, with a surprising amount of hop bitterness providing a nice counterpoint to the sweetness. Tastes like a mocha latte in beer form.
M - Smooth and lush with a medium body and snappy carbonation.
D - Quite drinkable, on of the best Brown Ales available today.

Another great beer from Surly, I'd give anything for them to distribute to Georgia. Sigh.

Photo of sisuspeed
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear brown with a thick, foamy, slightly off-white head. Leaves some patchy lacing. The head eventually reduces to about fingers worth, but maintains pretty well.

Hoppy citrus with sweet vanilla caramel malt. Hint of chocolate and coffee. Quite good for a brown ale. Enjoyable.

Citrusy with toffee biscuit malts. Light hoppy bitterness with some chocolate. Nice take on a brown ale.

Mouthfeel is smooth, almost creamy with ample carbonation. Light bitterness. The oatmeal is a good addition to the body.

Quite drinkable. This is a tasty brown ale and probably one of my favorites to date. I wish this was distributed to the east coast. Very sessionable and another great beer in the Surly line-up.

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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,732 ratings.