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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,608 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,608
Reviews: 729
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 432
Gots: 171 | 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: 1,608 | Reviews: 729 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

AKBelgianBeast, May 02, 2008
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.

genog, May 01, 2008
Photo of soupyman10
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.

soupyman10, Apr 16, 2008
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.

ckeegan04, Apr 14, 2008
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.

Tucquan, Apr 12, 2008
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.

TheBlackMallard, Apr 12, 2008
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.

TheodorHerzl, Apr 11, 2008
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.

maximum12, Apr 10, 2008
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.

BigJTrucker, Apr 06, 2008
Photo of jeonseh
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to my friend who brought these back to South Bend from MN for me.

A - A dark, brown color that has amber, reddish and golden hues. A little bit of carbonation sits on the bottom of the glass and there is a small head that sits on top.

S - Actually a rather fruity scent and even a hint of a roasted nuts and a hint of caramel, toffee, and even brown sugar. There also seems to be a slight hint of orange as well. Just wish it were a bit bigger as it was a bit hard to discern and get a smell sometimes.

T - A nice balance of sweet and bitter that adds a nice complexity to this one. There was a hint of citrus and orange that seems to complement and counteract the sweeter malt of caramel and toffee that is in the beer. The orange zest taste is strong especially at the beginning as it is the primary and first taste that I get. The malt is only there really to try to counteract and prevent the orange flavor from becoming overpowering. There is also a slight roasted hazelnuts taste that comes through as well to add some complexity to it. There is a slightly dry finish as well that adds a slight bitterness to the beer as well.

MF - A nice big body to this one that is a bit chewy and thick and only a slight bit sticky. Thought this was a lot more bready than I would have expected as well.

D - Overall a nice brown ale that I was a bit surprised to find such a strong orange taste in there that balances against the sweeter malts. I was a bit surprsied as to how much the orange hop flavor shined through but I guess I shouldn't have been given Surly's love of hops. An interesting twist and I will enjoy drinking the other 4 however I won't really go out of my way to get some more. A good deal though esp for the price.

jeonseh, Apr 05, 2008
Photo of marcpal
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This was my first venture into Surly, heard many good things and really want to get at their hoppier stuff.

Pint poured from tap at Hopleaf, Chicago.

A: Looked like a light porter and there was little to no head. Mocha colored lacing.

S: Tons of nuts and coffee, chocolate and other grains. Draws you in and a really strong part of drinking this beer.

T: Oats and nuts of a toasted roasted porter.
Good but didnt quite blow me away. The malts were the factor here, and not much in terms of the hop aspect. Kind of expected more.

M: Not overly dry, carbonation fit well and good chewiness.

D: Not really an American Brown is it? Surely drinkable and it is filling without being overbearing in any way.

Definitely a well made beer, maybe its just not my style. Gotta get me some furious.

marcpal, Apr 03, 2008
Photo of DefenCorps
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Recently acquired a 4-pack at Dark Lord Day. Poured into my Russian River pint glass

A: Deep brown with a dense tan head that slowly recedes, leaving some lacing. Pretty!

S: Sweet caramel up front with some vanilla and a hint of hops. There's a nutty angle to this one too

T: Caramel, hops, coffee, and a hint of oatmeal. Fresh, this one's a treat. The hops are definitely assertive for a brown and have an earthy, herbal angle which goes very well with the sweetness from the malt. The oatmeal makes this ridiculously smooth and the finish is medium dry with a mild hop bitterness

M: It's a little flat but it goes well with the silky smoothness from the oatmeal.

D: Very drinkable, I hope i had more than 2!

Old review from an older can:
16oz can poured into my hefeweizen glass

A: A vigorous pour reveals a very deep brown beer with a solid 3 finger head. Appealing with excellent head retention. 4.5/5

S: Sweet caramel up front with a hint of hops. As it warms up, there's some vanilla too. 4/5

T: Caramel and hops up front with a hint of coffee.4/5

M: Unbelievably smooth 4.5/5

D: A delight to drink.4.5/5

DefenCorps, Mar 31, 2008
Photo of turbine2475
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Junnilla for this trade:
A - Dark Brown with a ruby hint that had a decent head that clings to the glass as it disipates into a thin lace.
S - All hints very subtle, caramel, earthy hops, and vanilla stained tobacco.
T - Caramel rules but not overwelming, has some faint vanilla and maple with a pleaureable accent of hop bitterness.
M - Smooth with good carbonation and a light coating that hammers home the light hop and caramel addition.
D - Great session beer. Whould agian love to have this beer in my area, but i will definately atempt to make what I have last as long as possible...Not making any promises though.

turbine2475, Mar 24, 2008
Photo of jokelahoma
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Apparently there's some discrepency as to what style this is. Some say American Brown, others say Oatmeal porter. I believe both.

Poured into a pint at Blue Nile in Minneapolis. It's a deep, deep brown, almost black, much darker than one might expect from an American brown, to say the least.

The aroma is also unusual, in a very good way. It's not terribly hoppy in the nose, like a good brown ale. but it has a toasted oatmeal smell that leads me to believe they put the oats in the overn before they brew with 'em. That makes the oatmeal much more upfront than in many oatmeal stouts, even. It's a very enticing aroma.

The flavor also falls between black and brown, if one can assign flavors to colors here. There's a good bit of caramel sweetness like a brown, but the sip end with a good deal of black malt dryness, just like a weel made porter. it's an interesting combination that works extremely well. This is nowhere near as hoppy as most porters, brown or robust, yet moreso than many browns. Overall, this is a good and interesting combination of flavors, and a nice "tweener" between these two styles. Impressive stuff.

The mouthfeel is a bit chewy as one would expect from an oatmeal beer. Anything with a good hearty infusion of oatmeal is going to have the creamy thick mouthfeel. It's not thick enough to require you to work at drinking it, mind you, but there's no question you're drinking *something*. That's a good thing.

As with Furious by the same brewer, I can't get into the "Jesus came back as a beer!" hype the brewery gets, yet there's no denying they make good stuff. This one is no exception. Bender is not an outstanding beer, but it is a long, long way from bad. Well worth seeking out if you're in their distribtion area.

jokelahoma, Mar 20, 2008
Photo of WesWes
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice roasted malt scent with just enough crystal malts to add a slightly sweet aroma. The taste is good. It has a smooth, roasted and crystal malt flavor that goes down real easy and finishes dry with a slight metallic edge. It has an excellent roasted character. The mouthfeel is great. It is a medium/full bodied beer with near perfect carbonation. This a very good drinking beer. It's a wonderful example of the style; great taste and aroma. Thanks again to jjayjaye for for hooking me up

WesWes, Mar 13, 2008
Photo of explosivebeer
4.7/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a lovely dark brown and immediately had a hint of banana esters. It was lightly nutty with some chocolate and caramel notes. Overall it was an excellent beer and the best I've ever had out of a can. I only wish it had a more widespread distribution!

explosivebeer, Mar 11, 2008
Photo of irishkyle21
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My second offering from Surly (both thanks to oakbluff) and Bender does not disappoint. Its dark brown color, off white head and nice lacing team up to make this a good looking beer.

Smells of caramel malts, nutty, a bit of bread and grassy bitter hops.

Mouthfeel is rich and creamy. Starts of malty (chocolate, nuts, toffee) then the hops join in (bitter, citrus) and fruits, just to mix it up a little.

irishkyle21, Mar 11, 2008
Photo of grandq
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep dark brown with a dirty off-white head. Ruby hues shine through along the sides. Caramel is the first thing to hit the nose along with molasses and a faint hint of coffee. Taking a sip, caramel and light hops greet me up front, opening the door to a more malted, roasty backbone inside. Toasted and nutty come to mind, and I'm also getting a fair bit of coffee and even a bit of baker's chocholate and cherry. A smooth flavor progression, ushered along by subtle hop bittering, practically hidden as it does its job. I've noted in several reviews I tend not to like caramel too prominent in my beers, but this does a great job of not letting it become too singular or overpowering. Still a touch sweet. Goes down very smooth and creamy, evaporating the bold body smoothly away. Seems like pretty soft water. Surprisingly low on carbonation, hardly a fizzle when I cracked the can.

A rather good brown, up there with my local go-to, Sixpoint Brownstone. Cheers to Mully for the chance to try it.

grandq, Mar 07, 2008
Photo of illidurit
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Perfect pour into a nonic. Deep opaque brown with a perfect crest of tan foam. Gobs of lacing on the glass, and pretty nice retention.

Great sweet malt aroma with a dose of nuttiness and a hint of hops.

Malt flavors up front with toasty caramel and a bit of chocolate, then nutty/oaty notes wash through, leaving a mild hoppy finish.

This would make for an incredible session beer if I had more than one here in California. Really smooth in body and taste.

illidurit, Mar 02, 2008
Photo of jjayjaye
4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank goes out to DavidEddie for this one (mind reading karma extra).

Pours a barely translucent dark brown with mahogany hues and a nice foamy tan head that resists fading. It leaves good amounts of sticky lacing patterns behind. The smell is really nice. The aroma is primarily sweet malty chocolate and brown sugar. There's something else there also that I can't put my finger on, not molasses, but it's sending "thickness" signals. A nice tingle of carbonation, full bodied mouth feel with pleasant creamy texture that finishes with a gentle note of hops. Full of flavor, the mouth complements the Tootsie roll chocolate mixed with 'malt shop' something and Malted Milk Ball...what-ever-it-is. An easy drinker and the 5.1% ABV makes it one of the best sessionable things going on...and I bet it's lo-cal too! Also want to thank Pitmonkey for the recent trade. Highly recommended.

jjayjaye, Mar 01, 2008
Photo of Tolann
4.65/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Initial review 11/24/2007:
A - Dark in color nearly opaque. Not cloudy. Lots of thick head and leaves a heavy lace like cement on your glass.

S - Sweet hops, with hints of caramel and more of a milk chocolate.

T - Some chocolate, some bitterness, sweet vanilla cream...a complex flavor. You can taste more of the coffee if you slurp the beer.

M - medium body and smooth feel. very pleasant to drink

D - I like this beer a lot and love Surly! I wish it were easier to get more!

review 2/28/2008:
Love Surly!

A- very dark in color. Not opaque and doesn't have a haze. Some creamy brownish head that appears very thick. Good for a 'milk mustache'. Leaves a lacing all over the glass that is pretty tight and will be a joy to clean...

S- Can smell this without sticking your head in the glass. Hops first as with many of Surly beers, but then caramel and malt. This is a brown ale, and shouldn't be as hoppy as the others. Then again, leave it to Surly to break all the rules. Little bit of vanilla cream. YUM

T- Some up front bitterness, but its so smooth it goes easy on your pallet. Some warm sweetness most likely from the caramel and malt. More hints of bitter chocolate and coffee.

M- smooth and not over carbonated. a medium body. some aftertaste sticks to the roof of my mouth in the back, but its not bitter hoppyness. no boozy feel.

D- heavier in the stomach that I wouldn't want to have several of these in 1 sitting. Smooth enough tho that I'm not going to share my pub can. Such a good beer again from Surly. Love this stuff and will have to get more to replenish our stash.

Tolann, Feb 29, 2008
Photo of rayjay
4.65/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ah, Surly cans. What's not to like? This is this first time I've had this one.

A hard beer to pour (for me). It foamed up in the glass, and I had to slow down the pour, which made it drip down the side of the can. Note to self: Surly cans are 16 oz, NOT 12.

Pours out cola colored with big stable foam. The cola color added to the malternative appeal from the can. A real beaut.

Interesting, I detect cola on the nose as well, perhaps black cherry flavored, along with some dusty wood and lots of big rich English floor malts. Smells top quality. It looks a bit undercarbonated (the way I like it) and I can't smell CO2 or feel it in my nose.

A great tasting beer. More of those English floor malts, and a good mix of them; some carmels, a touch of roasted barley, suggestions of rye, tastes like really delicious expensive malts all around (Maris Otter?). The faint bitterness is a perfect compliment. Noble hops are just barely there. Refreshing aftertaste implies a light touch chocolate and dark carmel malt.

In case you can't tell, I'm enjoying the shit out of this beer.

Mouthfeel is a highlight for me, as it is perfectly undercarbed and makes me feel like I'm drinking a cask ale. Light and refreshing mouthfeel; the flavors are subdued yet confidently state their case. Smooth like an oatmeal brewed ale.

Maybe the perfect Brown Ale. Very drinkable, sessionable, and absolutely delicious. SEEK AND CONSUME.


rayjay, Feb 29, 2008
Photo of JDV
3.05/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Rich dark brown/black pour with a big lasting tan head. Smell is very smooth, and muted but a bit sourish as if not quite fresh. Some roasty notes in there as well. Nice mouthfeel. Smooth, creamy and perfectly carbonated. Flavor is nice for a brown. Not intensely flavorful, but nice and malty, with some roastiness and oaty creaminess. Good, but the smell killed it for me, and perhaps it just wasn't quite fresh.

JDV, Feb 24, 2008
Photo of NoLiberty
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours from the sleek, steel-playing-card of a can into a Sam Smith pint glass, and rocks up a frothing toffee colored head almost is if straight from the draught. Color is rich and dark: deep walnut with crimson edging. This beer is smooth and light but dark and assertive.

Nutty, chocolatey with a subtle hop presence. Very nice. Toffee, vanilla and caramel. Slightly sweet with a mild bitterness and alcohol smell toward the end.

Fortunately the taste backs up what the appearance and smell suggest. This is light but incredibly well rounded for a big brown. Chocolate, caramel, roasted coffee, and dry hop-bite ending and aftertaste...that lingers. I like this beer better when it's cold. I'd normally think that flavors are fuller and more distinct in beers of this depth and seeming complexity, but as it grows warmer it's less refreshing, which is where the light hopping is really nice.

Light and crisp, fluid and refreshing. Light to medium body. Dry and clear.

Dare I ask, could this be a great sessions beer? Too bad I can't get it more often.

NoLiberty, Feb 23, 2008
Photo of mwilbur
4.83/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from can into NBB snifter.
A: Very dark brown with nice creamy tan head. Lingers well with good lacing.
S: Mmmmm...very complex...citrus hops, malt, oatmeal, and more.
T: Lives up to the anticipation the smell brings...nice balance of citrus hops and roasted malts. Smooth, but with a little dry bite at the end. Very fresh taste and the different notes intermingle...at once dry and hoppy, the next moment darker tones and malt are coming through. I pick up oatmeal and honey too. Excellent and very satisfying for discriminating tastes.
M: Simply wonderful. Smooth and medium bodied with a dry edge. Taste lingers nicely on the tongue.
D: You want to enjoy this baby. Take the time...certainly more than one will do just fine! So far Surly is living up to the hype...I've tried Furious as well and both are amazing beers...can't wait to try more from them.
FYI--Their beers aren't filtered or pasteurized...so keep 'em cold or they may suffer.

mwilbur, Feb 23, 2008
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,608 ratings.