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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,594 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,594
Reviews: 729
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 432
Gots: 167 | 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: 1,594 | Reviews: 729 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of seanpachefddfa
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

thanks to mikesgroove for this one

appearance- poured a dark brown maybe the darkest brown ale I have seen. A good sized light brown head.
Smell- dark malts, sweet caramel, some grassy hops, and just a bit of chocolate and fruit
taste- getting all the taste from the nose + some a bit of coffee and some nice spice
mouthfeel- medium body with good carbonation.
Drinkability- I am in love with surly all of their beers are great. makes me wish I lived in Minnesota

Serving type: can

seanpachefddfa, Dec 19, 2008
Photo of MacDomer
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from MasterSki - thanks for the extra, Alex. My first Surly!

A - Pours a deep brown with burgundy and ruby highlights around the edges. An easy pour gives this one a nice one finger head, but this dissipates within about five minutes, leaving a smooth light brown froth dancing on the surface. Great colors to look at! Some pretty respectable lacing to boot.

S - Nice, accessible pleasant smell of light coffee, caramel, pale malts. Really nice for the style. Hints of graham cracker and sweet honey.

T - This is very tasty. Really good flavor here, including coffee, a bit of milky sweetness, caramel and toasted malts. This one has some porter characteristics in the flavor profile. As it warms, I'm beginning to get the faintest hint of milk chocolate and smoke, as well as grainy brown bread. Anyone else know Brownberry?

M - Smoooth! Perfect light carbonation to help this one flow...boy, this is velvety. On the medium side of medium-light body. Some hops at the end help with balance and provide some decent bitterness. Pretty long finish, actually.

D - I'll seek this one out again, and if it were local, I'd have this on hand all the time. Great mouthfeel, really good everything else. I bet this one would be great with all kinds of food, too.

MacDomer, Dec 17, 2008
Photo of Fatduck
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another beer from surly, The only reason It's taken me so long to review this beer is because I drink it all the time, one of the beers that frequents my fridge a lot.

Pours a dark brown, with a big tan head. Its not a brown ale, its not a porter, its a Surly!

Taste great, feels great and at 5.1ABV its one of the lower alcohol beers they offer. I can drink a 4 pack in a sitting, and on a cold ass day like today (-4F) I just might.

Fatduck, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of Mistofminn
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz tall boy into the only clean glass I had on hand (I couldn't wait to clean something else haha)

I finally got around to trying this and boy was it a treat! It pours a dark amber color with caramel highlights. A nice 2 finger tan head with impressive lacing that stays the course of the drink. No carbonation present.

The aroma was of roasted coffee, dark bakers chocolate, and malts. What a pleasant smell!

The taste is wonderful. Pretty much what you would expect from the smell, dark chocolate, coffee and malts. There is also a slight bitterness at the end that blends perfectly with the other flavors, but doesn't stand out.

The mouthfeel is honestly my favorite part. I don't think I've had a beer this smooth in quite some time. Perfect! It's heavier than I expected, not thin or watery in the least. No carbonation present but that doesn't hurt it in any way in my opinion.

It is fairly drinkable, but not something you would chug. The thing is though, I don't want to drink it fast. I want to savor it and make it last as long as possible!

What a great brew. To date I think it's my favorite. This, in combination with Summit Oatmeal Stout I think will get me to adventure more into darker ales and other brews. Bravo!

Mistofminn, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of swizzlenuts
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The beer is poured a brown/dark ruby colour with a nice off white head, with okay retention, but great retention. The nose of the beer is chocolaty and sweet, which is a great surprise. When drinking this beer it's apparent it's not a normal brown ale, but that makes it that much better. There is a nice chocolate flavour mixed with some great sweet malts. There is also a bit of maybe hazelnut in the back as well. The flavours are complex for this relatively low alcohol beer. To me, this is one of the ultimate session beers. I could and would drink this all night. The mouthfeel is solid as well.

swizzlenuts, Dec 15, 2008
Photo of Wetpaperbag
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- This is a dark brown beer with a fluffy tan head. The head is very pillow/cloud fluffy. The head is not wanting to go to say the least.

S- Subtle hop smell, with sweet malts, honey and kind of a clove smell.

T- Good malt taste, but there is a slight hop bite as well. I'm getting the sweet coffee taste, but didn't get that in the smell. Cherry is there as well as some darker fruits. Nice solid tasting beer.

M- Not too thin, but almost.

D- Very drinkable, nice solid beer, especially one that is in a can.

Wetpaperbag, Dec 13, 2008
Photo of Risser09
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16 oz can poured into a snifter · Fridge temp · 2008

Appearance: Dark brown beer with a 1" light tan head. Good retention & plenty of lace.

Smell: Caramel, nutty, pecan, almond. Lots of nutty brown flavors.

Taste: Bitter forefront gets taken over by deep, nutty flavors. Toasted coffee, almonds, charcoal and lots of other dark flavors.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth drinking. Dry, bitter finish is acceptable. Nice beer from a can. Alcohol is slight.

Drinkability: Very good. Nice brown ale. A good canned beer that I would buy if it were local.

Risser09, Dec 12, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with a thin creme head. Nose is vegetal. Minor coffee. Flavor is brightly coffee like. I feel like it's unroasted beans. Still gives a full and fairly robust profile though. I like. Feel is smooth on liquid and the carbonation is middle of the road (I remember the carbonation being abrasive when I had it on-tap.) I like this beer. Easily an all night brew (if it were readily available that is.)

RblWthACoz, Dec 12, 2008
Photo of kkipple
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This can has been sitting in my fridge for too long now. I forgot where I got it... probably some trade up in Chicago... anyway, tonight it is 65 degrees in early December and pouring rain outside. I'm going to eat a bowl of chili after this and put on a film and pretend like it's really 15 degrees and snowing softly. Yeah, right.

Anyway, Surly Bender is an attractive rich brown beer with red highlights that looks muddy and thick, yet really isn't. A fine toothsome head rises as I pour from the 16oz can into my tall glass, and leaves no lacing as it departs for... well, wherever beer head goes to die, I guess.

Aroma is tight and clean, if a little on the fruity side. Typical brown ale malt profile with hints of nuts and brown bread is bolstered by an oaty richness and more than a few whiffs of dates, light roasted coffee, and... ah, there's the malt sweetness! It's hidden, but there.

Flavor is a mixed bag, mostly good. Medium-toasted malts, hop bitterness that is borderline excessive, coffee, and a grainy oat-rich creaminess that gives this brew some heft and saves the day. This brew has style but has been hit with the ole "American" hammer and is just a little too much of a flavorful mashup to hit classic status. Which is too bad, because this is ultimately interesting.

Mouthfeel is good; creamy and smooth with a fine level of tingly carbonation and a bitter, almost sour, date-malt-coffee finish. Holds up to repeated drinking, anyway.

Yeah, I could have another. If I were making this, I'd tweak the hop bill down a notch, add a bit more sweetness and while we're making a kitchen sink beer, maybe some wheat malt to aid retention... but I'm not, and this is still solid.

And there goes 350 reviews. Time flies when you're drinking beer!

kkipple, Dec 11, 2008
Photo of emerge077
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Two pints today at Four Moon Tavern.

Black body with foam that is the true definition of creamy. It leaves rings of in the glass that are connected by sheets of lacing. Head retention is good, and stays for the majority of the glass. Toasty malt nose. This beer showcases the malt, very smooth with some mellow wood and tobacco up against brown sugar and dry malt, with a hint of apple from the yeast. An earthy hop presence is noticeable in the first few sips, and even more later into the session. This seems to be the point of intrigue for me, that lasting earthy bitterness that lingers into the aftertaste, but disappears shortly thereafter. Very smooth and medium bodied, not filling, easy to session without sacrificing flavor. Nice stuff.

emerge077, Dec 10, 2008
Photo of BeenJammin
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surly Bender pours black with a large creamy tan head. The nose is roasty, coffee, and cocoa with some citrus hops in there too. There are some really bold flavors in here. There is a chocolate, roasted coffee and vanilla. There is also some fruitiness and some nice bitterness and citrus hops for a brown ale. Very drinkable.

BeenJammin, Dec 08, 2008
Photo of Douglas14
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to deliriumfest for the Bender!

Pours out a super dark brown...not see through at all. The Bender has a nice off white head that resides too quickly, which lowered the score. But the color is incredible for a brown. The aroma is immediately of brown sugar and then hops. The taste is similar but I am getting a wonderful brown ale flavor; sweet, sugary, but with an awesome crisp hop touch. It is super bitter also...awesome. It drinks heavier than I thought I would...and that;s a compliment. Great beer and great to know it's 5% since I could drink a lot of these...even though I wish it were higher haha.


Douglas14, Dec 05, 2008
Photo of paco1029384756
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to MasterSki for the can.

Pours a dark brown color with 2 fingers of off white head.

Scent of brown sugar, nuts, malts and a hint of spice.

Taste is nutty with a pretty strong malt character, brown sugar and a hint cinnamon. Good, but I'm not a big fan of Brown Ales.

Mouthfeel is light, but not watery; very drinkable.

I found no discernible difference from the can with this beer.

paco1029384756, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of jojox
3.3/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - Dark amber. 1 finger head, solid.

s - Rich maltiness. Almost some belgian characteristics? I had Furious before this and Bender is so different, so... blah.

t - It's a balanced, but malty ale. A bit of roasted going on here. A bit too bitter to be smooth. It's kinda boring next to Furious.

m - Not smooth. A bit bitter

d - Okay, but really I'm done after one.

jojox, Dec 03, 2008
Photo of srandycarter
3.48/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours dark cola/ dark tea. Off white frothy head with excellent retention. Thick bubbled and somewhat webby lacing.

S - Mostly dark roasted malty goodness.

T - Heavy on the malt, no alcohol presence, finishes off clean. Howver, flavor kind of drops off in the middle, and the bitter is not completely enjoyable.

M - Medium body, creamy texture, fair carb.

D - This flavor tires fast for me.

srandycarter, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of cokes
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Somewhere between shadowy auburn and black. Dark but not opaque with a moderate pale, sandstone rise on top.
It noses of roast- both grains and coffee beans, purple grapes, and wintergreen hops.
In the mouth, malt issues roasted grains, sweetened java, candied nuts, chocolate oranges, and black cherries..again candy-like and accompanied with vanilla and caramel nougat and whispers of booze. Hops bring a stern, reedy bitterness with background mint, pine, and citrus peels.
Medium bodied, with a fluffed-out fleeciness that presents it as larger than it is. A ton of flavor in a compact package. This is a much larger drinker than it appears. Once the mouth becomes accustom to this brash a Brown Ale, it's downright poundable.
Basically, this is just tons of fun, and that's even more impressive in a style that is usually staid.

cokes, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of ccrida
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16oz can courtesy of milwaukieclassic (thx!) poured into an impy pint, Bender is a dark hazy garnet with a tan head that leaves pretty heavy lace.

Smell is caramel, vanilla, toffee

Taste is milk chocolate chocolate and caramel, bittersweet, with grassy hops and light toast and phenols lingering on the malty finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium bodied. Perhaps a touch solvent-like.

Drinkability is good. Bender is a very solid brown, I wish it was a widely available local value. As is, I'll just have to savor my one last can and keep my eye out for it in my future travels...

ccrida, Dec 01, 2008
Photo of vacax
4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Persistent khaki head is big on the pour. Dark maple syrupy brown beer with just a touch of cloudiness.

S: Molasses and cotton candy with grapes and fruits.

T: Semi-sweet chocolate covered raisins, hints of oakiness and a thorough hop presence to balance these flavors out. Unexpectedly rich and rewarding.

M: Somewhat thick and viscous for a brown ale, oatmeal presence is evident but not overstated. Carbonation is spot on.

D: This is a brown ale, but oh so flavorful, thick, and balanced. A delicious beer and I am shocked this is only 5.10% ABV as it is so satisfying for this beer geek. The idea of sessioning this beer is appealing indeed. Whatever hype there is for this beer is definitely lived up to, and now I want to try some Coffee Bender.

vacax, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of jjanega08
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a= beautiful dark color with a respectable tan head that leaves you quickly but leaves a beautiful ring with great lacing
s= typical of surlys brews you get a bright amount of smells starting with chocolate and toffee, caramel and a nice creamy malt smell and of course the typical surley hops smell
t= chocolate, toffee, coffee with a creamy milky taste and a nice hop finish
m= smooth with a medium to heavy body very milky and smooth tasting with some low carbonation. very smooth
d= high, great session beer with the unique surly fresh taste. awesome beer from an awesome brewery!

jjanega08, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of midaszero
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark brown body with two fingers of off white head and good lacing

S - Malty and a little sweet. Not very complex

T - Malty and nutty flavor with a little bitter in the back. Can also pick up on some molasses

M - Medium thick body with medium carbonation

D - Pretty easy to drink and pretty enjoyable

midaszero, Nov 24, 2008
Photo of MrMonkey
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to maximum12 for hooking me up in our recent trade!

Pours a thick dark brown with some red highlights and a one-finger tan head that fades slowly. Lots of thick sheets/lacing left behind. A beautiful looking beer!

Smell is roasted malts, caramel, molasses, cocoa, vanilla, and a hint of coffee.

Taste starts surprisingly with some floral hops before they are overtaken by the caramel sweetness. Roasted malts lead into some coffee flavors before finishing with notes of vanilla and bittersweet chocolate.

Definitely on the fuller side of medium-bodied, with a silky smooth creaminess. It coats the mouth, but is not too thick.

I really wish I had more of these. I could see this one becoming one of my everyday beers in the fridge if only it was available here in NH. Thanks again Corey!

MrMonkey, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of calise1122
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Into a pint from a can..

A nice mahogany brown that turns a ruby red when I pull it between myself and the light. It almost looks like a dark deep blood red, but not exactly because of the brown tint. Big frothy light tan head... craters forming every second as it slowly drops down. Lacing galore.

Smells sweet... light fragrance of caramel, brown sugar and malt.

Taste is great, really nice caramel, chococoffee and vanilla. Strong malt-driven notes and a noticeable roastiness. Its smooth and after the sip goes down, I realize there was a nice hop character involved.

Mouthfeel is smooth and silky, but still carbonated and fairly light bodied.

Very drinkable, lots of different flavors going on... they all swirl together and leave the mouth with an interesting aftermath.

calise1122, Nov 14, 2008
Photo of PatronWizard
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks deliriumfest!

Bender - she's brown all right. Nice almost non-white head of well graded, poorly sorted bubbles.

I smell slight sweetness. I do. Maybe some caramel.

I taste caramel and iced tea.

Mouthfeel is just like iced tea. Carbonation is absent; goes down super easy.

So that's about it. It's not bad. Not evoking a rash of emotion either. No trouble drinking it but I won't be in search of again. Burps taste like oatmeal with brown sugar (that's a compliment and a highlight).

Overall: solid brew

PatronWizard, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of wagenvolks
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to deliriumfest for the trade...

16 oz. can into a Corsendonk tulip.

Bender pours beautifully from the can, quickly forming a two inch cookie-dough-colored head. Excellent retention and honeycomb lacing around the top of the glass. Body transitions from a rich, seal brown to a mahogany red hue when held up to the light. Sweet, toasted caramel malts are the first notes noticed by the nose. Espresso coffee, earthy hops, and dark fruits of the plum variety provide a great balance and complexity to the aroma.

Sweet caramel and pale chocolate malts hit the palate first, quickly giving way to a delectably bitter coffee and hop finish. For a brown ale, the flavor is complex and transitions nicely, but, as I've noticed of other canned craft beers, the middle notes fall a bit flat. Mouthfeel is pretty standard, but still good, with a medium-light body, gentle carbonation level, and a short-lived lingering bitterness on the finish. Overall, a highly drinkable brew, but if I were in the mood for a hoppy brown ale, Terrapin and Dogfish Head's India Brown ales edge out Bender (albeit slightly).

wagenvolks, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of tedsox31
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this while bottling homebrew with a friend. Poured into a 16 oz. pint glass from a can. It poured a dark brown with some red intermixed. There was a bit of a head from initial pour, stuck around through the drink, nice lacing along side of the glass.

The first thing that hits me is the malt, and then some grain. Also some hops in there somewhere as well. Definitely enjoy the smell.

Taste is of oats, unsweetened chocolate, and a very nice roasted malt presence. Not too much hops in the taste for me, despite what I smelled. I notice it at perhaps the back end of the taste.

Mouthfeel is creamy and carbonated. It has a very nice texture to it. This is a very drinkable beer. I think I'll have to make an effort to find it around here.

tedsox31, Nov 06, 2008
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,594 ratings.