1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,567 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,567
Reviews: 725
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 10.02%
Wants: 430
Gots: 171 | 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:
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bender Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,567 | Reviews: 725 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of elmore


4.53/5  rDev +10.8%

Purchased this beer on a recent trip home to MN at Surdyks in Minneapolis. Also had the beer on tap at Stasuis in "Nordeast". Reviewing the beer poured from a 16oz can into a snifter. An opaque amber color with a 1 finger tan head.

Very balanced in both smell and taste. Smooth is the first word that comes to mind. Roasted slightly sweet malts with a perfect balance of hops. A little watery on the mouthfeel, but for the style, not bad. A supremely drinkable, solid beer.

01-04-2008 03:34:24 | More by elmore
Photo of Lothore


4.4/5  rDev +7.6%

A- Pours a deep reddish brown with a very small head which dissapates fairly quickly.

S- Smell is sweet with hints of coffee, very enticing.

T- Taste is malty sweet with an underlying coffee flavor and a slight malt backbone that makes this one tasty brew.

M- Fairly viscous. My major complaint with Surly is they just don't have the amount of carbonation I would like. None the less, good.

D- This is an extremely drinkable brew, not only is it tasty but at 5% you can easily throw a few back without worrying about passing out face down on the floor.

12-31-2007 20:18:04 | More by Lothore
Photo of OWSLEY069


3.9/5  rDev -4.6%

Pours a hazy deep amber color with a tan head. In the aroma, sweet oatmeal, yet kind of bland. In the taste, sweet oatmeal, and somewhat malty. A decent bitterness in the mouthfeel and a sweet malty aftertaste. Interesting brown with the oatmeal presence, smooth and a small bitterness.

12-31-2007 11:42:48 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of PEBKAC

New York

4.22/5  rDev +3.2%

Received in a trade with Leftmindedrighty. The can has a rather large set of teeth marks in it. I hope Aaron doesn't feel too conflicted or he may hurt another inanimate object real bad next time. I can just picture him, "If I can't have you, no one can! /CHOMP". :P

The can pours out a little lackadaisical, obviously still reeling from the sudden attack, barely escaping with its beer intact; Barely a quarter inch of head, & no noticeable activity down below.

Minimal head on this dark, ruby-hued beverage. First off, I smell a mixture kind of like the first time I had coffee; 4 creams, six sugars, a swig of milk, another sugar, some hot cocoa mix... all added to about six ounces of Colombian coffee. The sugary toffee & creamy lactose I smell is very obvious. It smells sweet, but so far, I don't have the coming ons of a headache, so we're good to continue.

Muted coffee, a little marshmallow, something like a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream dunked into a cappuccino(but with the addition of a mildly lingering, leafy bitterness). It doesn't quite knock down all the pins set up by the beer with its scent, but I doubt that anyone could easily fit someone's imagination into just a 16oz can.

It feels insanely creamy & even frothy like a nice cold glass of milk. More like a stout in this department then brown ale, I appreciate getting the best of both worlds... a great texture, without the blackened taste I personally try to avoid.

I came in expecting a brown ale, but got something a little off center. It was tasty regardless. Thank you Aaron. :)

12-28-2007 03:48:02 | More by PEBKAC
Photo of jasonjlewis


4.43/5  rDev +8.3%

Thanks to muenchnerkindl for the sample.

Pours A 1 1/2 finger head with good retention. Nice, full brown color.

Smell is of cocoa, tofee, vanilla, belgian candy sugar and malts, caramel malts and a slight cofee undertone. Very complex nose with a nice balance. Slight mint comes out as the beer warms.

Beer stars off with caramel and chocolate malts. This is balanced by a cofee bitterness. Underneath is a tone of mint. Vanillla adds a nice balance. There is also belgian candy sugar and malting going on. Adds a little unique complexity that I would have never thought of and haven't experienced yet. This is balanced by a nice hop bitterness that is sligthyl lemony. Such wonderful complexity and originality in this beer.

Mouthfeel is smooth slightly creamy.from the oatmeal. A little bit of dryness in the palate. It clings vert well.

The overall uniqueness of this beer has me very intrigued and wanting more.

12-23-2007 05:39:05 | More by jasonjlewis
Photo of Redrover


4.33/5  rDev +5.9%

I had a couple of these during my recent visit to the Blue Nile. Served in a standard pint, the beer is a dark brown with garnet highlights. Just a bit of beige head.

I like the aroma. I get some browned but not burnt malts, bakersÂ’ chocolate and something a bit nutty.

I like browns and I like the extra dose of hops this one seems to have. Nice malts, a touch of wood smoke, toffee and black coffee. Is that oats or nuts that emerge late? Regardless, this is tasty!

Not overly carbonated which adds to the soft mouth feel of this one.

This is a session beer for me. Was the perfect post diner beer.

12-20-2007 21:13:59 | More by Redrover
Photo of WxAxGxS


4.78/5  rDev +16.9%

Finally got my hands on a few 4-packs (16oz cans) in the cities, after tasting this oh-so-tastey brew last year while driving cross country.

Poors dark and almost red, but clear with a light brown head. Very sweet at first, opening up to a bready aroma with perhaps a hint of baking chocolate and brown sugar. Taste is smooth and creamy, almost a little light with a very slight metallic finish. Hints of chocolate and bread and a little hop citrus to it. Perfect amount of of carbonation for this brown ale.

I love Surly... Discovered it while drinking with a friend back in Minneapolis.... A shame I live in NY now.

12-18-2007 04:53:23 | More by WxAxGxS
Photo of ByTor2112

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +3.2%

Received via trade with tpd975.
Aggressive pour produces a small beige head, fading to a partial filmy covering. It has the appearance of a cola with some reddish hues when held to the light.
Aroma-hoppy with a big whiff of caramel and some vanilla aromas are there.
Mouthfeel-bitterness followed by a killer brown ale flavor. The bitterness gives way to a sweet roasted malt flavor towards the finish. A froth on the palate intensifies the hops and releases some chocolate and espresso flavors. Some vanilla flavors come through also. Almost like an sweet Indian Brown ale. Very tasty and drinkable. Looking forward to more Surly!

12-14-2007 13:37:04 | More by ByTor2112
Photo of NJpadreFan

New Jersey

4.68/5  rDev +14.4%

Surly- Bender

Big thanks to Pimpp for this 1.

A- Hazy reddish brown with a moderate size sticky tan head.
S- Light/ faint bread crust, hazelnut, and molasses.
T- Molasses malt with a big dose of hazelnut coffee. 12 grain bread crust like flavors; oat, bran, sunflower seeds. A touch of vanilla extract comes through as well.
M- Very creamy very smooth. The flavors very stay with you.

Overall- I had this for breakfast, and sh!t it was good!! I can't believe I was in MN last year and didn't get any of this. 1 of the best canned beers I've had so far!

12-08-2007 14:18:54 | More by NJpadreFan
Photo of ncvbc

North Carolina

4.6/5  rDev +12.5%

Quite possibly my favorite offering from Surly. Pours a ruddy brown color with a tan head and leaves sticky lacing down the glass. Smell is very nice. Starts more sweet at first and as it warms other scents come through. Vanilla and caramel. Oatmeal, some light chocolate and coffee. Taste is comprised of everything I picked up along with a great citric hop twang. It adds a wonderful slight dryness in the finish at the end of the swallow and is also present right when it hits the tongue, though the vast array of other flavors soon enter. A smooth and almost creamy mouthfeel and again a slight dryness in the end. Light carbonation tickling the tongue. Overall an excellent brew and a superb brown ale.

Thanks so much tayner...they came and went quickly!

12-08-2007 02:31:37 | More by ncvbc
Photo of number1bum


4.4/5  rDev +7.6%

Thanks to mymrnngjckt for this one. He loves his cans. This particular one looks like an energy drink. I don't know how much sense that makes from a marketing perspective, but whatever.

Pours a darkish scarlet brown that shows off the reddish tinges when held to the light. A good two fingers of creamy tan head build on top, and retention and stick are quite good.

Smell is primarily caramel malt, which is in abundance, and is quite sweet overall with maybe some molasses or brown sugar in there, as well. Pretty one dimensional smell: sweet.

Taste is also sweet and malty, with lots of caramel malt, but then has a very tasty nutty/roasted malt flavor midway through that is very pleasing. I think that's what I was hoping for more of in the nose but wasn't getting through all the sweetness. Mild level of hop bitterness to finish it off along with a lingering roasted malt flavor.

Mouthfeel is a good medium-body, very smooth on the palate. And a very drinkable brew, too.

This is a top notch brown ale. Good stuff, funky packaging.

12-05-2007 18:11:16 | More by number1bum


4.35/5  rDev +6.4%

More head than body with a strong pour. Deep ruby brown body hosts a thick foamy light tan head with nice staying power. Nose is full of spicey zest and yeasty malt. Enters the mouth with a nice mingling of hops and rich roasted oats. Slightly burnt malt gives almost a coffee like after taste. Hops have a little bite on the end of the palate. This is a unique brew that I could drink everyday and that would go with a variety of foods. Boldly drinkable with a very bitter rich mouthfeel.

12-03-2007 21:05:34 | More by SPLITGRIN
Photo of DavidEddie


3.95/5  rDev -3.4%

Thanks to Eric Bart for setting me up!

Deep dark brown in appearance with a thick head. Aromas of coffee, roasted malts, and a hint of hops. Taste of chocolate, coffee, popcorn, roasted malts and a small bit of citrus to finish it off. Mouth fell is slick and light. Drinkability is definitely easy. All Brown Ales should taste this good. Highly recommended!

12-03-2007 01:35:31 | More by DavidEddie
Photo of pwoods


4.3/5  rDev +5.1%

Thanks a ton, Scoobydank, for this excellent trade.

16oz. can poured into a pint.

A: Very deep brown with just a bit of ruby hues coming through in the light. 1-1 1/2 finger light tan head. Head holds for a bit then drops to a 1/4in + for most the ride. Nice patching of lace.

S: Subtle. Rich bread and toasted grains. A slight hint of sweetened chocolate.

T/M: A small touch of grassy hop zip for a split second then only a beautiful malt dominance. Roasted malts and bread with a touch of chocolate and vanilla. Very good and very clean. Body is about medium, not too heavy on the palate.

D: I know it's not the same style but I just want to say "Guinness, eat your heart out". The drinkability of this is everything Guinness Draught wishes it could be.

12-02-2007 06:08:09 | More by pwoods
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.88/5  rDev +19.3%

Surly Bender aquired in trade with tavernjef
16oz can, served in a pint glass.

A - very dark brown color with a tan head that thinned to a ring/clouds leaving a wall of lacing.

S - sweet roasted malts, espresso coffee and slight cocoa aromas.

T - excellent tasting brew, roasted malt and chocolate flavors hit first, then a bitter espresso coffee taste kicks in for the finish.

M - medium/full bodied beer with silky smooth feel.

D - I think it would be very easy to drink these all night, but I only had 2 cans and wish I had 2 more.

Note: After drinking this beer I know why it is rated amongst the best for the style.

12-01-2007 01:11:10 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of SargeC


4.33/5  rDev +5.9%

Appearance: Rich brown brew with a tan head.

Smell: Nice malt with a solid hint of hops.

Taste: Great malt flavor with a slightly sweet quality. Nice hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with great staying power. It allows the flavor to evolve.

Drinkability: Well crafted brew that is a pleasure to drink. I hope this will have wider availability in the future.

11-26-2007 03:19:34 | More by SargeC
Photo of RiekerStarBrew


3.88/5  rDev -5.1%

The beer, poured from the can into my sniffer, sported a clear, ruby brown color. I really enjoyed the aroma of this beer. It had a sweet grainy quality with fruity tones. The flavor had an upfront hop presence with toasted grains and a slight sour finish. The mouthfeel was a little off because of a lack of carbonation. To be fair, the beer was on the warm side and the can had been open for a little while, but nevertheless, this is what I tasted. All together, I thought this was a decent beverage. I like the concept of canned micros.

11-23-2007 03:57:20 | More by RiekerStarBrew
Photo of Overlord


3.73/5  rDev -8.8%

Thanks to Faro for the trade.

Not a big fan of brown ales, per se, but this was quite good. Pours a dark, deep brown, with a minimal head that quickly dissipates. Smells earthy, with nuts and malt. Not much carbonation.

Surprsingly flavorful for a brown ale. Lots of almonds, malt, citrus(?) to spruce it up a bit. Fills the belly.

Not to sound snobby, but it's been month since I've had a beer from a can. Nice to see it can be done without compromising on flavor.

11-22-2007 10:39:59 | More by Overlord
Photo of tpd975


4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Objectivemonkey is THE MAN. I have been hankering for Surly brews for quite some time, and this guy sent me 12!!! Man am I lovin him.

A: Pours a dark brown almost black color with a big fluffy bulky head. The head dies down but does leave behind ample amounts of lacing.

S: Nice malty brew with hints of oatmeal, caramel, toffee, and hazelnuts. Very nice.

T: I will be the first to tell you that I am not a huge fan of brown ales, well true to form Surly has changed that. This beer is huge on taste. Tons of caramel malt with almonds mixed in. Coffee and a hint of chocolate can be detected as well. Now this is what a brown ale should be.

M: Medium bodied and oh soooo enjoyable.

D: I loved it, I have promised a can or two in trades, and I will hate to share.

Overall: I have heard rave reviews about Surly and I can see why. The guys over there can brew great beers no doubt about it. Furious is so big and aggressive, and this one left me saying this is what a brown should be. Cheers to ObMonkey for sending a bevy of Surly brews over. I will kill for a growler of darkness, I'm begging name your price, eh beer!

11-17-2007 23:32:38 | More by tpd975
Photo of tayner


3.15/5  rDev -23%

Thanks to MikeWeiss for this brew.

It poured out of the can dark with a nice medium tan head that stayed awhile.. pretty aggressive pour.

smelled good, roasted malts, slight hoppy scent, dark fruits lingering.

taste for me is over rated and just average. It was okay, malts, maybe some dark fruits, touch of hoppiness at the end. It was good, but nothing to set it apart in my mind from other brown ales.

A lighter mouthfeel than i expected based on the appearance.

It is drinkable, and i could drink many of these if that was the session beer of the night, but i wouldnt seek them out.

11-17-2007 11:49:12 | More by tayner
Photo of BioBilly


4.43/5  rDev +8.3%

Actually drank this beer in out of a growler, in a can, and on tap at the 331 club.
This is my second favorite Surly beer behind the Furious. I am not huge on Brown Ale's which is why I did not rate this higher, but this is my fav. It is very drinkable, and you can definately taste the carmel. The 4.0 for mouthfeel is becaue it was good but I think it could be fuller.

11-14-2007 00:25:49 | More by BioBilly
Photo of brewdoc75


4.28/5  rDev +4.6%

Poured from a Surly can into an English Pub glass

Appearance: Dark brown, almost black. Thick creamy, off white head relaxes on top. Persists throughout the life of the beer.

Smell: Malty w/ caramel and toffee tones. Sweet and some mild bitter aromas. A little nutty as well.

Taste: Smooth. Very malty brew w/ a definite sweet character. Caramel and toffee flavors. There is a nice bitterness towards the end that provides adequate balance. It seems like a light porter rather than a brown ale, but that is what makes it good.

Mouthfeel: Like butter. So smooth and soft. Medium to thick bodied. Fantastic.

Drinkability: I could put back a few of these. This is a good, easy drinking beer. Its dark, but not to dark. Its complex, but not too complex. It would be nice to have this one in my fridge at all times.

11-08-2007 23:56:45 | More by brewdoc75
Photo of Winter


4.3/5  rDev +5.1%

Pours near black with dark brown highlights. Thick creamy khaki colored head. Malty aroma consists of cocoa and chocolate with hints of fruit. Medium-bodied mouthfeel that's fairly smooth. Some carbonation around the edges. Chocolate and roasted malt flavor initially. Very smooth. Some burnt malt appears toward the middle and the finish is pretty clean. Very enjoyable brown ale. Nicely done!

11-07-2007 03:28:48 | More by Winter
Photo of Bitterbill


4.5/5  rDev +10%

I got this one in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

This pours from 16oz can a deep brown with a large tannish head of foam that sticks around forever as a 1 finger layer and there's a butload of sticky lacing.

The smell is of sweet malt, grain, and roasted malt.

The taste has a nice malt sweetness up front. I get caramel malt, chocolate, dark fruit, coffee, and toffee. It has a good thick mouthfeel to it, the carbonation is on the light side, and it finishes slightly bitter and slightly sweet. Very tasty. And with its low abv content, it would be *easy* to kick back a few of these. Wow, this is *so* drinkable indeed!

Bottom line: This is an excellent example of the style...one of the best that I've tried to date. Highly recommended!!

11-04-2007 15:31:20 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of supercolter


3.58/5  rDev -12.5%

Not my favorite Surly offering, but not a bad beer none the less.
A- good, nice deep brown color, looks thick with an ok head and more lacing
S, T- Dark fruits, dry malt, this beer borders on sweet, but not too sweet, a touch of hops
M- medium, a bit lighter than expected, but good
D- not the quickest drinker, but the thicker body is the x factor there

11-01-2007 04:10:14 | More by supercolter
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,567 ratings.