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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,528 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,528
Reviews: 724
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 427
Gots: 169 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,528 | Reviews: 724 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of aerozeppl

New York

4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to littlebreeze for the can.

A: Clear brown. Minimal white head.

S: Sweet with hints of caramel. I swear to god I got gummy bears as well.

T: Sweet up front molasses. Hints of fruit.

M:Dry finish medium body.

D: Super easy drinking beer. Would love to have this as a local.

Serving type: can

06-08-2008 19:24:53 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of Brad007


4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got this in a trade with kplynch.

Color: Pours a dark brown color with a thin one-finger head. Some ruby hues at the bottom of the glass.

Aroma: Rich and malty upfront with a hint of brown sugar and molasses. Hops add another dimension to it but not to a point that detracts from the overall aroma.

Taste: Hoppy upfront with a nice, smooth dose of chocolate and brown sugar. The oats contribute to a silky mouthfeel that is reminiscent of a cross between a brown ale and oatmeal stout.

Mouthfeel: Rich and velvety. Hop bitterness is present and adds another layer to the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Very impressed with how drinkable this beer is. It's certainly a mixture of two distinct styles that offers the best of both worlds for lovers of both styles. Pick it up.

Serving type: can

06-04-2008 19:51:54 | More by Brad007
Photo of brewdlyhooked13


4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - pours a reddish brown, a finger of light mocha head atop. A fairly solid wall of lace around the glass as the head falls back.

Aroma - toasted grain aroma, hints of rye/pumpernickel bread.

Taste - toasty grain, a trace of metal (maybe grain-related). Mild coffee notes on the swallow, and a hint of creamy vanilla in the aftertaste. Nice length on the finish, coffee and vanilla lingering. Low abv and IBUs, but it drinks a lot bigger than its metrics.

Mouthfeel - nice smoothness from the oats. It tempers the carbonation some and enhances the otherwise average body.

Drinkability - very enjoyable. Thanks to WankerWeasel for the cans. While these are safe to take to the pool as is, I'll have to bring a Solo cup along or something; it just won't be right to keep this in the can.

Serving type: can

06-04-2008 03:20:57 | More by brewdlyhooked13
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.95/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16oz can thanks to Bennetj17!

A muddy brown body embraced by more gentle, chestnut highlighted edges. A thin, sienna coloured line ropes around the beer.

For me, the smell of this beer, in part to whatever ingredient, summoned thoughts of autumn. It is a warm home. It is wet leaves, damp air, cooler evenings and rediscovered fireplaces. I'm not exactly sure where I get this idea from... but I do know for what reason: the beer offers such an over-abundance of smells that its aroma lets the imagination run wild.

To my nose, this offers teeming, plentiful notes of pumpkin pie, brown sugar, molasses, chocolate cream, vanilla and a ton of hops! I mean literally - a ton.

The mouthfeel is smooth and crowded with flavours and textures. A bursting amount of hops demand attention as they instantly leap onto the palate and grasp the taste buds, vinous notes throttle the throat. Sweetness and bitterness are in perfect harmony. The tastes seem to pinnacle with a coffee bean bitterness and lingering notes of roast, smoke, and dark chocolate.

The beer just keeps getting better: Chocolate covered hops, with lots of chocolate and even more hops. Deliciously toasted malts. Hazelnut. An epic struggle that fits caramel vs. vanilla, coffee vs. cocoa, and an over toning presence of oak. This is all the most wonderful flavours beer has known somehow rolled into one...

The beer is exactly what the brewers boast: 'substance meets smooth...with many layers of satisfaction'. In very few beers can you find such a superabundance of flavours so well blended and with such refined character. I was simply amazed with how the many scents, textures and tastes of this beer could not only co-exist, but come together as they do. Like no other, Surely Bender balances sweetness and bitterness and leaves no element overlooked or shortchanged.

A most sessionable beverage that manages to pack in more flavours and textures than reasonably imaginable for a beer its strength. I can't find any ways to improve this beer; it is simply wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

This does blur style guidelines and is a reflection of talent and craftsmanship. Befitting to its name, I could easily drink this endlessly, day and night.

Serving type: can

06-04-2008 03:16:21 | More by biegaman
Photo of GClarkage


4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

05/29/08- Shared with BA member Talisker.

Presentation- 16oz can, did not check into the freshness info. Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Deep amber in color with a full almost inch slightly off white head. Leaves some light sugary lacing.

Smell- Equal scents of caramel malt and fruity and earthy hops. Probably more hops in the nose than malt.

Taste- Lots of varied flavors in this beer. Almost want to say too many. Hops have a bitter fruityness. Almost, actually, definitely put forth a tart and almost sour taste. The malt is about even with the hops though. It's like a two part taste. The malt is lightly sweet and caramely with an earthy nuttiness with maybe even a touch of coffee and chocolate.

Mouthfeel- Good carbonation level, with a definite bitter hoppy aftertaste.

Drinkability- Very good, and very eccentric ale. Well balanced with lots of stuff going on. Would have again for sure.

Serving type: can

05-30-2008 18:45:56 | More by GClarkage
Photo of Blybloke


4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

How good is Bender?

Poured into a pint glass a clear dark brown with just a shade or two of red. An inviting appearance to be sure. A sandy white head stood firm at about 1 inch for a couple minutes before dropping into moderate lacing.

Very mellow smells of caramel, chocolate, oatmeal and almonds along with a whiff of.... pineapple?

Tastes clean with a nice hop tang which is surprising in a brown ale. Caramel, oatmeal and brown sugar at first, then that pineapple again.

Low to moderate carbonation ensures Bender goes down very, very easy. Silky but not oily. The mouthfeel is just fantastic.

Perfect session beer imo. Bender's superb blend of flavor, tolerable ABV, and drinkability elevate this beyond any of the other beers in the style that I've tried.

Serving type: can

05-30-2008 02:43:02 | More by Blybloke
Photo of mhewes


4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A : Pours a nice dark amber color with a nice off-white head

S : Some malt, coffee, oatmeal, and a little hops

T : Sweet with some roasted malt flavors. Some good oatmeal flavors in the middle followed by a nice hop bitterness. Some vanilla at the end.

M : Creamy and smooth

D : Really good. Definitely a session beer.

Serving type: can

05-27-2008 15:26:54 | More by mhewes
Photo of JonathanL7890


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a two finger head into my pint glass.
Color is a deep amber -- not quite opaque.
Smell: first thing I get is British hops. Next is roasted malt. nice.
Taste. Pretty typical for a good american brown. Oh wait... incredible mouthfeel.. must be the oatmeal. very silky smooth. I don't want to swallow.
Drinkability. I had one and I'm wanting more. I guess that rates at least a 4 in my book.

A very nice brown ale. This is my first Surly and I'm impressed. I have more in my fridge to keep me waiting in anticipation.

Serving type: can

05-23-2008 23:20:36 | More by JonathanL7890
Photo of gford217


4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Can courtesy of SixPackSunday and SQNfan poured into a snifter.

A: Poured a very dark brown with mahogany hints when held up to light. Off-white head is nearly two inches thick and shows some retention and great lacing.

S: Smell is of roasted malts, oatmeal, and a bit of coffee. There is also a subtle brown sugar or molasses sweetness. Smells are all very subtle and the nose is not overpowering.

T: Taste starts with the sweetness up front with molasses, caramel malts and some nuts. This flows into a coffee and oatmeal taste that gives way to the hops which are much more present than in the aroma. The finish is crisp with a slight hop bitterness.

M: Mouthfeel is medium bodied, extremely smooth and creamy with moderate carbonation.

D: This is one hell of a sessionable brown ale and I could drink it all night long. Extremely well balanced and easy going down. Highly recommended!

Serving type: can

05-23-2008 03:35:48 | More by gford217
Photo of Greggy


4.63/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Perfect fluffy mountain of head with some nice lacing as it recedes into the dark ruby body with some light sediment.

S- Dark toasty chocolate, light coffee, cherries, nice hopiness as well.

T- Creamy dark chocolate with light coffee, with some light dryness in the finish due to the hops. Definite hop taste here.

M- Low carbonation and very creamy.

D- @5%, this is a great beer and very sessionable.

Serving type: can

05-22-2008 03:23:46 | More by Greggy
Photo of mynie


4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at the Map Room.

Pours very brown, like the hair of a very pretty girl in an old novel. Something you've never really seen before so much as you've pictured it.

Brown ales ain't usually my style. Even from good brewers, they always leave me wanting more. This smells kind of like a brown ale, kind of like a porter, and kind of like something else--something sweet but nutritious. Like carrot cake, I guess. Only not like carrot cake in the least.

Tastes like brown ale malt up front, giving way to the cakey middle of bittersweet malt that tastes good in weird way that makes you think it's healthy, and then ends with a surprisingly strong bitter hop node that just didn't come up in the smell.

Very nice, especially freshly poured.

Serving type: on-tap

05-19-2008 07:56:14 | More by mynie
Photo of jamie2dope


4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This will be my second brew from Surly (the first being Furious). Thanks to danielphoran for the four pack. Poured in to a tulip glass an extremely dark color for a brown ale. Very dark brown, with a tan medium sized head, and ruby hues towards the bottom of the glass. Nose has lots of earthy spice, hops, light powdered chocolate, definite herbal tea smell, and just a little bit of coffee. Taste starts off on a very earthy hoppy note, followed by a nice round, roasty coffee/tea edge, and finally ending on a bitter note. Mouthfeel is medium, full of flavor, and leaves the palate without much of an aftertaste. It sort of comes in, hits you with a ton of fllavor, and then leaves as if it were never there. Usually I don't find darker ales to fall within the realm of session beers, bit this one might be an exception. A bit more body on this one, and you might be venturing in to Porter territory. Surly continues to impress me with this offering. If only I lived in Minnesota...cheers!

Serving type: can

05-16-2008 23:45:25 | More by jamie2dope
Photo of throwitallaway


4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks for hooking it up zealot! Decanted from the can into a pint glass. Pours an amber color with a small head that sticks around. Smells like citrus hops with caramel malts and a pleasant nuttiness underneath. Tastes very interesting. First there's bitter, resiny hops. Then the malts kick in with a nice breadiness, and a little caramel. Mouthfeel is right in the middle and smooth. Drinkability is massively high, as this beer goes down extremely easy. Overall this is a very interesting brown ale that's been hopped up to IPA levels. Totally into it.

Serving type: can

05-15-2008 22:23:03 | More by throwitallaway
Photo of francisweizen


4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark red brown, with a nice head of off-white/beige foam. Aromas of steeped deep coffee, nice roasted malt, a bit of chocolate, a hint of vanilla, and some caramel candy. Taste is malty and roasty up front with some coffee and a tad of chocolate and vanilla in the malt profile. Hopping is light, but noticeable and blends the overall flavour very well. Mouth feel is medium bodied, but not thick, drinkability really remains quite awesome for a brown ale. One of the best browns I've had.

Serving type: can

05-15-2008 07:05:33 | More by francisweizen
Photo of bgramer


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Maproom.

This was given to me off tap with a finger of head. This is a very dark brown beer with strong nutty and coffee aroma. It's very malty, roasted, a hint of burnt, some nuts and coffee flavors dominate and it's dry and a bit spicy.

This is a very drinkable brown ale.

Serving type: on-tap

05-13-2008 16:09:26 | More by bgramer
Photo of Murchmac


4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to the AKBeast for this one!

I have been wanting to try Surly stuff forever. This does not disappoint.

Pours a really eye grabbing dark dark brown, in the scary scary woods.

I didnt wait to smell it, just jumped right in and drank the s.o.b.

Nutty, chocolatey, malty, a little hops thrown in there, smooth with a lingering sweet and alternating tangy aftertaste. With every sip this beer gets more complex, never really liked vanilla in a beer until I had this one. Is a little annoying at the end of the beer. This beer is special though, and not adam sandler little nicky special.

I love the smell of malts in the morning. Dark sugars, coffee smell too. Nutty smell as well.

As Peter Griffin says, "Fricking sweet" I'd sell my mother to get another one of these, just not on mothers day.

Serving type: can

05-11-2008 04:37:35 | More by Murchmac
Photo of AKBelgianBeast


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to kplynch for the trade.

Bender pours a dark brown with ruby highlights and a good light tan head. nice lace. Nose is very malty with a touch of schwarz smell. Nice malty taste with good subtle coffee, some grain, ever so slight roastiness. Mouthfeel is good, a little dry. Drinkability is quite good, easily poundable. A good brown ale, but I don't think it is quite as spectacular as most feel it is. A solid brew, defenitely would be a regular if it was local. I would much rather have access to some Furious though! Good beer.

Serving type: can

05-01-2008 23:40:50 | More by AKBelgianBeast
Photo of genog


3.68/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got to sample bender for the first time on tap. Had two pints at hopleaf last weekend while we were in town for DLD.

Poured a very light brown color with minimal head. Smell was a little spicy, with some strong fruity, floral aromas and some limited chocolate sweetness in the back. Taste was slightly sour, and a little to the funky side, with some dominant grain but not as much as I remember. Mouth feel was a little creamy, but much more watery than other surly beers.

Bender in the can is one of my favorite beers of all time. On tap it was not as good. I am hoping it was just a bad keg, or line and this is not the way it usually is. But this is all I have to go on.

Serving type: on-tap

05-01-2008 20:06:52 | More by genog
Photo of soupyman10

District of Columbia

4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Got this one in Minnesota and took it along for the ride. 16 oz can into a pint glass. Pours a nice looking deep brown color with a finger of tan head. Fairly weak in the lacing department. I can smell is across the room; tons of caramel malt, spiced up with delicious funky hops. Lots of dried fruit aromas floating around. Flavor is excellent. Deep, roasted malt starts it off. Interesting lemony hops show up later and linger. Make sure to drink this one warm; otherwise you're missing on the real fun. Interesting roasted feel to the hops, how the two elements mix themselves together. Some light fruitiness in the taste as well. Body is full and delicious, creamy and with a perfect spicy carbonation. Overall, a very tasty beer. Doesn't really touch the Furious, in my mind, nor is it quite as good as the DFH Indian Brown, but its a solid effort, nonetheless.

Serving type: can

04-16-2008 22:27:50 | More by soupyman10
Photo of ckeegan04


4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark brown with a two finger dirty brown head. Excellent lacing throughout the entire glass.

S - Some chocoalte and caramel. Almost smelled like a porter.

T - Roasted malts and chocolate. Some faint sweetness as well. Piney hops at the end as well to provide some good balance.

M/D - Very smooth and creamy. A very sessionable beer.

I would say this beer is almost porter like in smell and taste. I'm not a huge brown ale fan but this one was darn good.

Serving type: on-tap

04-14-2008 20:06:32 | More by ckeegan04
Photo of Tucquan


3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at Ike's bar and resturant at the Minneapolis / St. Paul airport in Minnesota.

The ale was served in a 16 oz glass. It is very dark and has a short head.

The taste is somewhere between a brown ale and an outmeal stout, hinting at chocolate and dark cherry with a bunch of hops thrown in to give it a citrus overtone. With medium mouthfeel and carbonation, tt was a nice surprise that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Serving type: on-tap

04-12-2008 11:58:49 | More by Tucquan
Photo of TheBlackMallard


4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best enjoyed while listening to Off With Their Heads.

Pours a dark brown with ruby highlight and a tan head.

Smell: Cocoa and crystal malts.

Taste: Toffee, chocolate, finishes of caramel with a hint of coffee.

Smooth, creamy, and would be an awesome go to beer.

Serving type: can

04-12-2008 04:33:36 | More by TheBlackMallard
Photo of TheodorHerzl


4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received in Week2 Powerball from MMAJYK. Thank you!

Bender pours with a very dark brown body with a two finger frothy tan head on it. It left great lacing that lasted the entire beer. The nose is earthy and nutty with caramel undertones with loads of chocolaty malt coming through. The flavor profile is a big surprise for a brown ale. The malt base with the chocolate and caramel is coming through very strong. Secondary flavors also include grassy hops that go from earthy to an almost slight pine that seems to fade in and out with each drink. As the beer warms I get some bittersweet coffee and vanilla beans in the flavor profile as well. The mouthfeel on this beer is creamy and velvety smooth that leaves just a slightly dry finish. The drinkability is very top-notch on this offering and at this ABV is quite sessionable.

I loved this beer. If it were available near me it would always have a place in my fridge and belly.

Serving type: can

04-11-2008 03:21:33 | More by TheodorHerzl
Photo of maximum12


3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As a rabid Surly partisan, I generally stick with Furious, but will take on the odd Bender.

Bender is brown, a little light leaks through around the edges of the beer. Almost no head to speak of. Little in the way of smell, either, beyond a faint whiff of malt & alcohol.

Tastes good, for a brown. Not my favorite style, but this is the second best brown I've had, & since the other was bourbon-casked, I'm not even sure that's a fair comparison. Bender is smooth as a baby's butt, malty, fills up the mouth.

Extremely easy drinking - perhaps I've been sampling too many 10% ABV beers. And thanks again Surly for the full pint pours. Beautiful.

A very good brown.

Serving type: can

04-10-2008 01:36:52 | More by maximum12
Photo of BigJTrucker


4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to BA "Turbine2475"

Pours a deep mahogany, very little head. smell is very light, but reminiscent of raisins, hints of vanilla. Taste is nice and malty, some fruity notes, faint coffee or tobacco, not much hops bitterness to speak of. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a bit drying on the back end. A very good, drinkable brew. Wish this was distributed in my area, i'd definitely pick up some more.

Serving type: can

04-06-2008 01:07:39 | More by BigJTrucker
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,528 ratings.