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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,712 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,712
Reviews: 735
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.07%
Wants: 440
Gots: 201 | 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: 1,712 | Reviews: 735 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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

Thanks to surlytwins fan for the chance to try this.

A - pours a reddish, chestnut brown with a creamy head that never goes away

S - smells of mocha with rich toffee nutiness. There is also a citrus herbalness.

T - the taste starts off with rich nutty caramel malts with a touch of milk chocolate and some mocha and coffee flavors. These malts are balanced by some pretty assertive spicy citrus hops. Very well balanced beer here, especially for the style.

M - the oats give this a velvety smoothness, however it is a little watery and thin

D - another solid beer from Surly. I really enjoyed this take on the brown ale - more flavorful and balanced than most. I can see why this has such high reviews as it was a treat to try.

Photo of malty
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've already gone through a couple 4-packs of this and I can't believe I haven't given it a formal review yet. Pours into my stemmed tulip glass a faintly blood orange-hued mahogany color with nice clarity. The off-white head settles to a 1/4" loose knit cap with thicker edges and a thinner center. Visible carbonation is trotting upwards.

Very rich chocolaty nose for sure. Smells like your favorite iced mocha latte, very enticing. Faint dark fruits do emerge as this brew sits for a few minutes, but the lush, sweet chocolate beckons for attention, and gets it. You can almost smell the softness from the flaked oats, as they're so indicative and telling.

For such a lush, soft and richly chocolaty smells beer, the hops really jump at the tip of the tongue upon the initial quaff. Now we're hitting on all cylinders. There's a welcomed prickliness and chalky edge from the hop profile dancing beautifully with soft, full and roasted malts, making it a beautifully balanced an exciting flavor combination.

Mouthfeel is very playful with its medium body and spritzy fine carbonation. The roasted malts fill the mouth and the hops clean the palate, making me wanting more.

Yes, I want more. That must mean the drinkability is good, right? It's spectacular!

Overall the most exciting 'Brown Ale' I've ever had the pleasure drinking. The snappy hops really position this malty, rich and flavorful ale into the spotlight. This ale's got more roasted and chocolaty elements than a lot of porters I've tried, without being pushy or out of character. A very creative rendition of a Brown Ale that's stays true and respectful to the style, but snazzes it up with a flair and attitude that only Surly can accomplish. Great ale for sure. Thanks Surly!

Photo of boomer31
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Love Surly, had this a few ties, figured its about time to review it.

A - Pours a deep brown, opaque until held to the light then some transparancy. A thin white lacing and some stick to the glass

S - Nutty malt and some yeast. Maybe a hint of roast as well.

T - More nutty malt with some nice hop bitterness. The beer dries out in the back which brings out more of the hop bitterness. Nice mix of hops and nutty malt

M - Dries out nicely, nice low carb that is Surly's classic can mouthfeel

D - Very nice balance of malt and hop.

Overall Surly makes another great beer, very sessionable. It dries out nicely and nutty.

Photo of Macky20
3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Recieved this as a generous extra in a trade recently. Pours with a cream colored foamy head, black pour that is somewhat transparent. Aroma is hard to pick up on but there are hints of nutmeg and coffee with a hint of vanilla. Taste also hints to a coffee vanilla flavor but it's not robust or very forward. It's somewhat creamy, but the mouthfeel could actually be a bit thicker in my opinion. Drinkability is good for this one, but it's nothing I would put on the special shelf.

Photo of corby112
3.76/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes:

Pours a very dark ruby red/chestnut brown color with deep mahogany edges when held to a light source and a thin foamy tan head that quickly fades into a thing lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing left behind.

The aroma is slightly bland and for me the least impressive characteristic of this beer. Plenty of malt in the nose with hints of oatmeal, chocolate, toffee and caramel.

Surprisingly hop forward that adds some crisp bitterness up feot balancing out by the mellow chocolate malt center. Slightly roasty with hints of bread, toffee and nut as well as a slight lactic creaminess. The bitterness lingers throughout into a roasty dry finish but this beer is very well balanced and easy to drink.

Photo of joshuaseresse
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Can poured into a pint glass:

A - Pour produces a thick white and tan head, creamy, about an inch thick which sticks around for a while. Color is dark brown middle with slight ruby hues toward the bottom and along the sides.

S - Earth and some nuts. Slight aroma of hops. Bits of cream and some vanilla and oat.

T - Nutty and a tad bitter. Earth and dirt (not in a bad way.) Oak and oats. Tastes like a brown ale...

M - Creamy and smooth. Velvet and satin on the way down. Pretty refreshing but wouldn't mind it with a bit more body.

D - Really easy and enjoyable. I don't mind brown ales and usually don't drink them but this one is pretty good. The look and feel are the best parts for me but I do enjoy the taste.

Photo of fragilehearted
4.06/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought this can back from MN! And the day before a massive snowstorm. Stay away from me, Old Man Winter. Can into a pint glass. Doesn't quite fit. I'll have to top it off in a bit. Anyway.

A - lovely! Deep brown (clear when held up to the light). Nice creamy head that's clinging to my glass as it goes down. Goes down to a cover+ring. So much lacing...really, it's coating my glass, so pretty.

S - chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, roasted malts, toffee. Par for the course, but nothing super-special.

T - more complex than the nose. Chocolate, toffee, malts, vanilla...plus a bit of hops (but not enough to overpower the taste, thankfully). It is a great example of the style, but it could use a little extra punch, I think?

M - carbonation is medium - good. really clean & smooth, yet creamy too. This is a great aspect of this beer, actually.

D - If I could get this here, it'd be a regular. I love browns, & this is a lovely brown.

I really enjoyed this overall, but while it was a great brown, I don't think it was my favorite brown. I totally see why it's a staple up north - really great local. I've got a Coffee Bender in the fridge that I can't wait to try & compare to this one.

Photo of MbpBugeye
3.55/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Part of an awesome mixed 4 pack of Surly sent to me by Zimmerbloke.

A- Deep red with burnt shades of brown and purple. Moderate head with moderate lacing.

S- Herbal, grassy and tea with lemon hoppiness with an even keeled roastiness. Oats and chocolate come out and give it aromas simliar to an oatmeal stout.

T- Bitterness comes from grassy and medicinal hops and a roasted malt. Some chocolate and citrus.

M- Dry, smooth and easy going. I just wish the end wasn't so bitter.

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

16oz can into a snifter. Thanks to biniek13 for hooking me up!

A- Pours an insanely dark brown with a nice slight reddish hue at the corners of the glass with little to no head just a nice khaki rim around the glass.

S- Really sweet sugar or molasses with a slight roasted malt note and a we bit of alcohol surprisingly if you get a good whiff.

T- Nice dark roasted profile in the malts that hits you up front pretty strong with a nuttiness in that comes out in the end with a slightly faded hop bitterness.

M- Medium bodied with a serious amount of carbonation, was kind of blown away first sip and a pretty wet slightly dry bitter finish.


Photo of wcudwight
4.61/5  rDev +13.3%
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
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
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
4.03/5  rDev -1%
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
3.26/5  rDev -19.9%
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
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
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
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
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
4.11/5  rDev +1%
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
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
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
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
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 -3.4%
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 +2%
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.

Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,712 ratings.