Bender - Surly Brewing Company

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1,674 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,674
Reviews: 732
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.29%
Wants: 439
Gots: 184 | 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)
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Ratings: 1,674 | Reviews: 732 | Display Reviews Only:
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!

Photo of rfgetz
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
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
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
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
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
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
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
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
3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

Photo of EwaldEichstaett
4.58/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Poured into a Hofmühl mug. The beer has a deep dark brown color with a tan head. The beer kept its head throughout the entire drinking of the beer!!! Exceptional!!!

S: Roasted malts, sweet chocolate and some earthy hops are present in the nose. Perhaps a bit of nut of caramel as well.

T: Chocolate and roasted malts and maybe some nut up front, the beer is quite sweet at first then there is a great hop contrast at the end. The hops are very strong for the "Brown ale" style; but Surly is not really about making beers to style.

M/D: This beer is smooth as smooth can be. Silky medium body. The hops help this beer a lot, but in my opinion, the feel of the beer is what makes it so drinkable. It's like you are drinking velvet! Every sip is a good as the last. Wonderful job Surly! :D

Photo of sweemzander
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz. can poured into a snifter. Thanks to beerwolf77 for yet another tasty Surly beer!

(A)- Pours a deep and dark dark brown, almost black color that produced a good tan head with good retention behind it.

(S)- A lightly sweet nuttiness with bits of caramel and vanilla.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. A creamy nuttiness in front of a lightly sweet caramel and brown sugar sweetness.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Smooth, with a lightly rustic feel to it. Not overly sweet or harsh. A bit lighter in body than expected, but is a good thing.

(D)- A superb brown ale with everything in the right place. A smooth and easy drinker. A great beer for the fall time.

Photo of Axic10
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can thanks to notCreative. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep dark brown with a finger of bubbly slightly tan head that quickly settles down.

Smell: Chocolate, nutty aroma, roasted malt and caramel malt sweetness.

Taste: Chocolate, oat, roasted malt, toffee, slight hazelnut taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a crisp finish.

Drinkability: A very enjoyable brown ale. Not over powering at 5.1%, so I could see myself drinking a lot of these, whether in a session or not.

Photo of Phocion
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can poured into a pint glass. Dark, dark bubbly brown hiding under about a finger of frothy brown head. Leaves thick but slippery lacing.

Nutty, chocolaty, and roasted malts are all evident in the nose with hints of toffee and caramel. The slightest earthy hoppiness follows.

Although the aroma is dominated almost entirely by the dark malts, the flavor is much more balanced and complex. The first swallow is somewhat bitter from the light citrus hops as well as the dark chocolates. This is followed by a roasted and somewhat nutty/oaty flavor and finally finishes with creamy vanilla.

The mouthfeel is very interesting -- in a good way. Definitely a medium-bodied beer which somehow manages to come off as very crisp and sharp, yet at the same time with a velvety soft finish.

Bender is outrageously drinkable. No, it's not a DIPA or a RIS or any of the "big beers" but it is equally full of flavor and arguably just as, if not more complex. With beers like this, it's not difficult to see why Surly dominates the Twin Cities.

Photo of jampics2
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tall boy can from a Dark Lord Day trade with Ben. Thanks, dude!

Looks great in my big pint glass. Really nice dark chestnut color with a light colored head. The head has great retention and the lace is superb! Nice looking beer, Surly!

Smell is great as well, just wish it was a touch richer. But lots of nice mild roasted malt gives impressions of toast and chocolate. Some nuttiness. And a smooth caramel malt touch of sweetness as well.

Taste is superb. Awesome fresh baked bread crust, caramel and toffee, and some chocolate as well. There's a great touch of hops as well that makes the flavor palate complete. The mild bitterness is well integrated.

Nice smooth carb, medium mouthfeel, and a clean finish. This is really nice. I think this is one of my new favorite brown ales. Surly continues to impress with a great lower ABV beer. Wow would I drink a ton of this if it was available.

Photo of homebrew311
4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Durty Nellies. This is the last of the Surly at Durty Nellies for a while and that makes me very sad!!!

A: Pours a dark brown with some clarity, ruby highlights, thin head, little retention

S: chocolate and oats on the front followed by some spicy hops and a sturdy malt profile

T: smooth chocolate and coffee notes on the front, lots of roast and oats, drinks more like a light bodied stout than a brown ale...this is a good thing

MF: light body, smooth and silky mouthfeel

D: this beer is delicious. Not as good as coffee Bender IMO, but pretty close.

Photo of dbossman
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with an amber tint; thick 2-finger head with great retention; lacing is great

S: Oats and roasted burnt maltiness; a touch of toffee, molassess, and vanilla-maybe a bit of chocolate; biscuity and grainy

T: Roasted malts and oats dominate but subtle vainilla sweetness and mild hop undertones balance this beer out

F: Great mouth feel--though a tad thin on back end

D: Very drinkable--though the roasted malts (and oat flavors) are just a touch much at the end of the pint

Photo of Schmaltzy
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a clear dark brown with dark ruby hues with an off white tan head that is 2 fingers with loads of lacing.

S- Nice roasted malt, sweet dark chocolate, mocha, molasses, hint of vanilla and earthy hop bite at the end. Seems thin.

T- Nice balance of hops and malt in this brown, still more hops which is good. Nice earthy hops followed by roasted malt, dark chocolate powder, dry molasses(I know), finish is definately dry with a nice earthy hop finish.

M- Medium body with light slightly fluffy carbonation which is nice for the style, finish is crisp and dry which I enjoy.

D- Very easy to drink Surly beers, they seem to make me happy with their drinkability and low ABV while still making some tasty beers.

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance -- Pours a ruddy brown, crystal clear, with a thin head of frothy khaki head.

Smell -- Not especially aromatic. Some cocoa, molasses, and grassy/vegetal hops.

Taste -- By and large a pretty dry brown ale. Resinous and grassy hops dominate the flavor. Cocoa, molasses, faint raisin, and malt roast are in the mix, but take somewhat of a backseat to the hops. Finish is dry and vegetal.

Mouthfeel -- medium-bodied, abundant prickly carbonation. Crisp.

Drinkability -- Surly knows how to make a crisp, refreshing brew. No doubts about that. While this is a refreshing beer, it seems to want for a little more roast malt sweetness that typifies the style. Otherwise, quite drinkable. I approve!

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

Very dark, deep brown color. Some nice lacing remains as it goes down the glass. OK aroma-somewhat nutty and malty. Some bitterness upfront flavor wise. Somewhat of a grainy/chocolate like flavor. Nutty-again the bitterness dominates. Ok mouthfeel. Decent US brown. Nice caramel/nuttiness. I was not impressed the first go round with this beer-much better this time.

Photo of Norsebrew
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In the can.

Malty dominant with some caramel and chocolate. Some hop aroma.

Dark brown pour and white small head.

Sweet malty flavor. Chocolate and caramel notes. Mild hop bitterness. Nice balanced beer.

Medium body. no alcohol. moderate carbonation.

Overall, a nice example of a brown ale.

Photo of Gyle41386
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a pint glass. Thanks to DavoleBomb for the hookup.

Dark brown pour with reddish highlights. 2 fingers of tan foam don't stick around for very long. Not a whole lot of lacing.

Malty sweet, slightly musty nose. Coffee/chocolate/caramel, with a kind of dry, hoppy bitterness. Some sweet vanilla in there, as well.

Flavor follows. Sweet up front, crisp bitter hop finish. Reminds me a little of a light oatmeal stout, almost. Some good coffee flavor in this one.

Medium bodied. Appropriately carbonated. Smooth, plush texture. An easy drinker for sure. Not as good as Coffee Bender, but still tasty.

Photo of beertunes
3.43/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to phreak1984 for this beer. Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a very dark brown with little head but decent lacing.

A coffee forward malt aroma is the first thing you notice, followed by the expected roasted flavors. That nice, roasty malt flavor was first across the tongue, with a sharp coffee flavor dominating the back end.

The body was good for the style, full without being heavy. Drinkability was good, but the coffee is not a pleasant taste for me. Overall, a decent beer that I'm glad I finally got a chance to try.

Photo of ufotofuturo
3.48/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

You know, I expected more from this beer. I've never heard anything but positive reviews for Surly, but the Bender I pulled at the Triple Rock was only slightly above the average line. Impressive dark color obscures an unfortunately mellow taste, which makes for a drinkable but not particularly delicious brew. Surly has since redeemed themselves with a few other beers, but this one didn't leave much of an impression.

Photo of FreshmanPour77
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed 4-30-10
Reviewed cold from a can to a glass

A - Black in color with a tan head, 2 fingers of foam, great head retention, nice lacing ring

S - Malts, slight coffee aroma, no hop presence to speak of, hints of caramel and chocolate and oatmeal

T - Medium bodied, can taste some oatmeal mixed slightly with coffee. Big malt taste

M/D - Excellent! A great medium bodied brew that is fresh and smooth. I brew that I can for sure have more than one of. A brew that should be tried and traded to those that can't get it. Like all Surly products. Another great example of a brew!!! Well done Omar and Todd

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to tytoanderso for the generous extra!

A - Amazing appearance; it pours just about as good as a brown ale can look. Black like Guinness, with a persistent two fingers worth of rich mocha-hued froth, though not so much lace

S - Light roast, toast, and char, with soft butter-cream notes from the oat. Not tremendously pungent, but I don't think this type of flavor profile would be well-served with a heavy nose.

T - The taste follows the nose; it is a mild, albeit delicious, straightforward brown ale. There are some coffee, toffee, and cocoa nuances available, as well as some mild hops, but nothing too in-your-face. The flavor is very well balanced, and fairly understated as well. Another winner from Surly. Surprise, surprise.

M - The feel is fairly thin, but it is quite refreshing.

D - Surly is the king of the can, obviously.

Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,674 ratings.