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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,590 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,590
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: 1,590 | Reviews: 729 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of Ringo9er
4.83/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

If I didn't live in MN I would have to move here for this beer. I consider Bender as my go to beer for any drinking occasion. Wonderful appearance, smell, taste , mouthfeel, etc... I like brown ales in general - add the oatmeal smoothness and light hoppy presense and this is a great drinker. This is one of those beers that stretches the limits of its category, almost creating a new one. Now if I can only find a Coffee Bender tapping...

Ringo9er, Feb 23, 2008
Photo of khiasmus
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Lothore for the trade on this one. It was cold when it came in the box about an hour ago, and I couldn't wait. Stuck it straight in the fridge, ate dinner, and here I am.
Pours a very dark brown into my glass, with a single finger of light tan head that seems not to want to stick around. There is very slight lacing, and the clarity is excellent. Perfectly dark amber when held to the light. Pretty. Head retention is the only thing I can knock down on this one, otherwise it's perfect.
Nose is full of rich, dark malt - well-balanced by the smooth, not bitter hops. The hops are piney, not grapefruit. The faintest hint of alcohol, but also some slight roasted grain and a bit of the oatmeal spoken of on the label.
Rich roasted malt character, the toastiness complimented by the molasses-like sweet notes. Finish is slightly bitter with the lingering sweetness, roasted grain, and faint hops. The hops in the finish turn it just a hint too bitter, but the effect is such that one wants to take another sip.
Perfect carbonation, full body, smooth. Could not find a better mouthfeel in an American Brown.
I wish Surly was available in SC. This would be a go-to beer for me. Extremely tasty, one of the best brown ales I've had. Highly recommended.

khiasmus, Feb 21, 2008
Photo of gpcollen1
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this one into my Nonic. Arrives a dark auburn brown with a large head that quickly settles.

Aromas are lightly sweet and roasty but nothing jumps out at me here.

Hits the palate with a nice roasty sweetness that is quickly squashed by some smooth and dry hops rolling in - finishing dry and bitter.

A nice touch on the tongue where this one begins a bit thin but leaves the mouth feeling well taken care of - like it leaves a skim around the mouth keeping the flavor going an going...I could see haveing a few of these but the jury is still out on if I would drink it all day or night. I love the drinkability of browns and the hops kind of ruins that - but - who knows.

gpcollen1, Feb 15, 2008
Photo of JohnGalt1
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

16oz can received in trade from awesome BA, Mully. Thanks a bunch. Poured into my New Belgium snifter.

2" lite tan rocky tan head dies back leaving very nice lacing... Dark brown brew with dark ruby highlites.. pretty.

Aroma is pretty damn good ... A little bit of cold coffee with chocolate and a defined nuttiness... sorta citrusy hop notes play through all the goodness. As it warms the coffee and nuttiness really comes out quite a bit.

Flavor is very much an American Brown ale ... but an incredibly dialed in American Brown.. all the waves of flavors play together perfectly with the very smooth palate keeping everything intermingling and providing a long complex finish. Very toasty and nutty with distinct chocolate overtones .. more cold coffee.. righteous citrus hoppiness ... silky smooth mouthfeel and immensely drinkable.

I could honestly say this may be the ultimate session beer... Mully provided 2 cans in trade ... My trading partner drank 1 the first night we got the package... damn it damn it damn it! I really need a steady supply. This is the perfect beer for when you just want something complex and flavorful but don't wannt to get knocked on your ass. Cheers to Surly for packing so much comlexity into 1 little 16 oz can.

Matt, thanks again .... I've been dying to try Surly beers and you were the hook-up. Let's do more business.

JohnGalt1, Feb 14, 2008
Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pretty dark for a brown ale, not quite black, but a shade darker than most. Clarity is good as it thins.

Smell - Semi-sweet. The aroma hints at caramel, toast and vanilla, but it's very rounded with no single character dominating.

Taste - Layers of caramel, vanilla and cocoa play off of a toasty, bittersweet foundation. Smooth and full on the palate with a dry coffee-like finish. Impressive complexity without compromising drinkability.

largadeer, Feb 13, 2008
Photo of Stoneman78
4.83/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

One pint can, contents poured into Sam Adams Specialty glass

Appearance is a clear, deep brown hue with amber highlights, big thick brown craggy head mostly sustains, thin spotty lacing

Smell is a nice mix of malts including sweet cocoa, roast, toffee, coffee, and caramel, tones of nuts and surprising amount of grassy hops, slight alcohol, very aromatic

Taste is amazing and follows the aroma, roast and cocoa malts initially intersperse with grass hops and ride a creamy milk backbone, midway comes tones of strong oatmeal, caramel, and vanilla, finishes dry and bitter

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, creamy smooth texture, mild to moderate carbonation

Drinkability is amazingly high and in the session range, this is probably the most flavorful brown ale I have ever had, the oatmeal, cocoa, and hops are all so well-balanced that i wish i had better access to Surly beers, looking forward to more of their beers very soon

Stoneman78, Feb 08, 2008
Photo of Junnila
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy, dark brown with the tan one finger head that recedes fairly quick while leaving some nice lacing. Smells of chocolate, caramel, roasted malt, and a slight hint of hops. Taste is amazing, very well rounded and not like another run of the mill brown ale you might expect. Drinkability is excellent, I can easily session this beer during disc golf tournaments. Thank you Surly!

Junnila, Feb 05, 2008
Photo of StoutJunkie
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After hearing countless praises about this brewery, I finally decided to make a run to check em out for myself. On my third liquor store attempt, I found the last 4 pack of this nectar!

Color looked about normal for the style. I was unimpressed, however, with the head - or should I say, lack thereof.

Very nutty, w/ strong overtones of coffee and a bit of chocolate and some oatmeal smoothness.

FANTASTIC! Here's where the turnaround for me started. I wasn't expecting it to taste this damn good!

Just the right amount of carbonation. Enough to remind you that it's a beer your drinking, without too much to make you bloated.

I COULD DRINK THIS ALL NIGHT! I haven't run across too many browns that I can drink for a long stretch w/o getting sick of them...until THE BENDER!

This is my new favorite beer! I can't wait to try the other Surly goodies. If they're anything like the Bender, I'll be incredibly impressed.

StoutJunkie, Feb 05, 2008
Photo of Metalmonk
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I wonder if these guys are Futurama fans? A beer named Bender, an attitude, a metal can...it adds up!

Pours an extremely dark brown with a light, milky tan head. Head thins out quickly but is layered on top for the duration.

Lots of elements that remind of a stout or porter, with chocolate and fresh cream thick in the nose. Graham cracker and husky/nutty aromas emerge through the fog.

My oh my, this tastes nice. Nut, caramel, milk chocolate, frothy cream, and something that must be the oatmeal, a slick, earthy sort of graininess complementing the sweeter, more dessert-like flavors. Moderately carbonated, smooth and with a pleasant thinness. Hops make an appearance at the front of the sip, they're even green-tasting; probably could've aged a good while longer before losing character. It's nice to see hops being such an integral part of a brown ale. But this clearly isn't just any brown ale. Finishes on an earthy, bitter note.

Sure, it's a very stout-like brown ale. What else would you expect from this brewery? And besides, I'm in the camp that says the average brown ale could use a kick in the ass. Here's that kick in the ass.

Metalmonk, Jan 29, 2008
Photo of joepais
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to MuenchenerKindl for the chance to try this one
A 16 oz shinny can poured into a pint glass two fingers of tan head on top of a mahogany brown body

Aromas of oatmeal, roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and some light hops

Taste great lots of sweat malty goodness along with chocolate with a nice light hops to balance it all out

Smooth and creamy awesome palate on this one

Great brown ale I could drink these all night real easy drinking

joepais, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of MMAJYK
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Deep brown color with creamy tan head of 1/2" thick. Nontransparent.

S- Wonderful aroma of sweet milk chocolate at first sniff along with roasty malts. There is a faint hoppy scent that is hidden in there too.

T- Very close to the nose: milk chocolate for sure, toffee, roasty malts that are smoky too. Hops are in the finish leaving the taste dry and mildly bitter.

M- Medium to thick and carbonation is midway up the scale.

D- Very smooth and creamy and the aftertaste leaving dry is a great way to up the drinkability of this brew.

Overall- A little bit thicker and richer than most brown ales I have had. Nice spin on the style and an all around good brew. One of the better brown ales on the market. It is a shame it is so hard for me to come by. I really like the chocolate tones that it has in it. Very nice!

MMAJYK, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of zeff80
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

A - Poured out a dark, almost cola-brown with ruby tints and a tan, creamy, two-finger head that left lace.

S - It smelled of oats and roasted malt. There was also a floral hoppy nose, too.

T - It was such a complex blend of flavors. There was cocoa, caramel, vanilla, oatmeal and hints of hops.

M - It was smooth, like a Russian Imperial Stout. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is my second Surly product and it didn't disappoint.

zeff80, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of dcgrp
4.55/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can from Surdyks. Minneapolis, MN

A - Quite dark, small head with some lace left behind.

S - Not terribly strong in any department. Maybe I'm keeping it too cold. No foul odors however. Anything I am smelling is quite pleasant.

T - Incredible. Complex malts with just the right amount of bitterness.

M - Even more incredible. The oatmeal they add to the mix makes it really smooth. Surly is genius.

D - So smooth and tasty. I could drink this all night.

dcgrp, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of rsyberg01
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

S - 16 oz. can recieved in the group two powerball, awesome

A - Pours a deep red, cant see through it except at the edges, head is about a fingers worth and a creamy shade of brown. lacing is divine. beautiful

S - sweet roasted malt, nutty, slight fruit character, slightly tangy notes, fantastic.

T - nutty, tangy, bitter from the roast, slight hop edge in there, perfect balance of sweet to bitter, freakin awesome.

M - creamy, smooth, refreshing.

D - I want a neverending supply of this.

rsyberg01, Jan 21, 2008
Photo of Atron67
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- poured a delicious golden hued brown with red notes. creamy looking, with a inch of so from a soft pour and a light tan head of tight knit foam that left decent foam on top as well.

S- maltiness throughout, some solid complex maltiness. toffeeish and crystal malt scents. has a scent that suggests a decoction mash because it has that extra bit of maltiness.

T- creamy smooth malt flavors. light coffee flavor and a smooth pale flavor, hints of other small scents. turns into a lingering lightly hoppy but still mainly malty flavor that slowly fades. not much hop presence but stays balanced and smooth

M- pretty thick light carbonation, lingers on the tongue awhile

D- very good

Atron67, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the Hopleaf a while ago. I liked it, and it was a slightly unusual take on a brown ale, but it didn't blow me away like Furious did. Poured a dark brown with a creamy head that fades away to athin cap that sticks around. Excellent lacing. The aromas are spicy and malty up front, almost prickly, and then slightly sweeter and more roasty on the finish. There is a slight sour graininess at the end as well. Almost porter-like in its aromas. The taste is very smooth and the flavors are a little lighter than expected from the nose. Light chocolate, light roastiness, fresh cream, and a light grainy flavor at the end (rye?). Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with some light grainy tannins on the finish. A good effort if not speectacular. Goes down real easy.

Georgiabeer, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of theformula
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer #15 in my 366 Days of Beer Quest, tasted on 1/15. My second Surly thanks to esch, I was equally impressed with this as I was Furious.

A: Pours a dark ruby body into a tulip glass. A smallish tan head lacks retention but leaves fine lacing on the surface. Ok.

S: Nice. Really appetizing. Smooth oatmeal malts give out vanilla, light roast notes and milk chocolate. Some caramel and coffee with cream in the background as well.

M: Med. body, low-med. carbonation. The M.F. is full and super-smooth and creamy, thanks to the oatmeal.

T: Very tasty and a complex brown ale. An easy-going sweet malt character of vanilla and caramel pair w/ bitter roasted malts and some roasted coffee bean. Leafy, oily hops really kick in the middle and provide a hoppy balance w/ an assertive bitterness. It finishes long w/ residual roast, smoke, bitter hops and cocoa notes.

D: So good, highly recommended. This is a hophead's brown ale yet still has a great smoothness and complex malt backbone. Go find some and drink it!

theformula, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of timbro81
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Pitmonkey for the opportunity. Pours an impressive black that is actually a deep amber/brown when held up to the light. An off white 1/2 inch head meets the top of my imperial pint glass. The nose seems kind of weak, but I do enjoy the presence of the hops in there, as I do in most beers. Maybe I have it too cold but all I can really pick out is a light presence of some roasted chocolate. Taste is much more complex. Nice bitterness up front that transforms to a bitter chocolate that moves onto a subtle roasted sweetness and silky all the wayh through. A very balanced and layered beer despite my 3.5 in the "smell" category. Would make one hell of a session beer.

timbro81, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of jaxon53
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to Faro for sending me this brew in the Secret Santa '07 BIF. Served slightly chilled in an Imperial pint glass, from a sixteen ounce can. Poured out a deep, dark brown that had some garnet highlights. Almost two fingers of thinnish, bubbly, tan head. Decent retention on this one, leaving some thin streaky lace on the glass. Nose was a bit fruity, hoppy, and malty with an almost woody aroma tucked away nicely in the background. Taste was quite malty with a bit of plum in there. Just a tiny bit of noticeable hops in the taste. Even a bit of underlying coffee, brown sugary sweetness, and a thick nuttiness. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and smooth, with just enough carbonation.Very good drinkability.

jaxon53, Jan 06, 2008
Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,590 ratings.