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: 438
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 mdwalsh
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Nice dark head, very dark body, maybe too dark to be a real Brown Ale, but we all know that's not really what it is.

S: Hoppy, but not for Surly. I remember the first time I had this, I had a Furious also. I called Furious Hops and this Hops with Beer. The malt makes an appearance though, which is nice. Mild grainy oatmeal.

T: Again, Hops with beer. Not the hoppiest beer I've had, but perhaps one of the more skewed. The grain is there though and I get a slight SLIGHT breadiness. But really, citrusy bitter hops dominate.

M: Full bodied, but the biting bitterness cuts it back to feel lighter.

D: For a beer this hoppy, superbly drinkable.

Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.63/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

props to mchlipala for going out of his way.

brown with a secret of maroon. an upstanding creamy head. smells a bit chocolatey, creamy and touch nutty. i wish i could pluck just which one. mild flavor, a nice taste, nothing very punchy, just a really drinkable beer with a bit of a roasty, creamy character and a widening body. a pleasant drink, i'd like to try the coffee bender, i think that intensity is what is missing in this one for me.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 16oz. can into a Surly pint glass.

A: Standard pour yields an upward cascading 1 finger fine, fluffy, cream colored head that flattens rather fast to .5 finger. Beer is a clear reddish-brown. Lacing is ruler like and thick. Outstanding considering the body.

S: Nose is very clean. A bit of hops, creaminess, maybe some barely detectable brown sugar and nuttiness.

T: Starts off light and fruity with a touch of nuttiness. Sours a bit in the middle and then mellows out nicely. A touch of brown sugar, hoppiness, and maybe some caramel characters at the finish.

M: Light bodied, coarse, and carbonated. Thirst quenching comes to mind. Finish is super clean. It leaves near nothing behind.

D: Surly makes some of the most drinkable beers of all time and this is really no exception. The body, mouth, and nice but simple enjoyable character make this the definition of a sessionable beer. Seek it out. Drink it. Its good.

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

16oz can served in a pint glass. Can't remember which BA sent me this, but thanks as always for Surly brews!

A: Pours a nice dark, reddish brown. A finger head of tan, soapy foam which fades into a very thin layer. Impressive lacing for the style.

S: Toasted malts, oats and candied sugar sweetness. Almost smells like some Belgians I've had before. There also seems to be some dark fruit in there. Very nice.

T: The malty, bready backbone is present with some sweeter, dark fruits pulling weight. Also in the mix are some caramel, vanilla, and light coffee highlights. Rounding things off are some faint, fading hips on the finish.

M: Medium bodied and surprising thick and creamy for the style. Carbonation is just right.

D: This is easily sessionable at a paltry 5%. I found the finish to be a little cloying at times, but my 16oz still went pretty wast. I think you could knock back several of these fresh.

Yet another winner from Surly. I have a feeling this can of Bender had some age on it, but I still found it to be quite enjoyable. Hopefully down the road I can pickup a fresh one to compare.

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

A - This beer poured a walnut brown color that produced a fluffy tan head which had a great amount of retention and laced the side of the glass beautifully

S - The aromas produced by this beer were toasted nuts, some light hints of cocoa, mild coffee, and some earthiness

T - The taste of this beer was toasted malts and nuttiness, some mild cocoa and coffee, followed by some earthiness, much like the nose, much like a coffee muted Coffee Bender (no shit, Sherlock), but I tried that one before the regular Bender

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had a medium body and a moderate amount of carbonation

D - The Brown Ale style, I feel, is one of the most under appreciated styles in America today, but this beer is one of the best in the biz and love the art on the cans, kudos to Surly

Photo of crossovert
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Pours from the can with a dark red tinged brown and a tan/off white head that stays for awhile before leaving.

Smells decently hoppy with the classic surly hop scent that smells like fresh hops. There is also some nuttiness.

This is a smooth easy drinking beer, there isn't anything fantastic about it. The taste is far less onthe hppy side and instead is very nutty with hints of coffee and cocoa. Hops appear more in burps.

Overall it is an average, semi watery easy drinker.

Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Photo of jpalarchio
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

Photo of tobin999
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
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

Photo of Lunch
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of pmccallum86
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

Photo of woodychandler
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

Photo of beerwolf77
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of blackdog1101
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Photo of alleykatking
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

Photo of kjyost
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

Photo of dudemuskie
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

Photo of wardough
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

Photo of drabmuh
4.53/5  rDev +11%
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.

Photo of Ratman197
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

Photo of cdkrenz
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
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!

Photo of drumrboy22
4/5  rDev -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!

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