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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,733 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,733
Reviews: 736
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.07%
Wants: 440
Gots: 208 | 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:
Beer added by: tavernjef on 02-04-2006

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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,733 | Reviews: 736
Photo of tprokop7
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Got a bit of this in trade a while back, and opened it tonight to compare to coffee bender.

Pours dark amber brown with little head into a tulip. Smell is very sweet. Nice medium malt base with maybe too lively carbonation. Little to no hops, but this can is at least a year old. Overall a great brown.

Photo of hardy008
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap on 3/20 at Old Chicago.

Appearance - Dark brown, came to my table without the head.

Smell - Caramel, malt and coffee.

Taste - Sweet from caramel combined with some bitterness from the coffee. Creates a nice balance.

Mouthfeel - Medium body and smooth. Low carbonation.

Drinkability - Quite drinkable. Smooth, and went well with the Old Chicago Seven Calzone I had. I had the 25 oz. mug and it went down easy.

Photo of Hophead101
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got in a trade from natasha (thanks). drank on 3.5.09 at home while I was working.

pours a really nice dark brown color with a wonderul foamy tan head. head left us quite quickly, but was good to look at while it was here. also leaves a great lacing on the glass. strong malty smell, roasted malt, burnt toast, rather earthy. oats are very present and also get hints of cocoa.

no roasted flavors while tasting, but all the flavors balance very well together. don't get a whole lot of in your face oats or cocoa, but again, well balanced. great beer overal. initially a crisp mouthfeel, but became creamier as you drank more of it.

Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 ounce can into my nonic pint glass. Appears a mildly hazy rich mahogany color with a solid two fingers of creamy tan head. Thin lacing sticks to the inside of the glass. Smells and tastes of nutty, roasted caramel malts, cocoa, brown sugar, molasses and mild coffee. Medium in both body and carbonation. Creamy, satisfying mouthfeel. This is one great brown ale. A really tasty beer that you can enjoy all day.

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving Type: Can!! into mug. Thanks to Dev (buckeyesox)for this one.

Pours dark brown, with a gorgeous khaki head that reminds me of the head on an ice cream float. Fantastic lacing as well as the head dies.

Nose is nutty, toasty, bit of espresso. Some slightly acidic hops poke through. Light.

Flavor is delicious - nutty cocoa, hints of coffee, toasty bordering on roasty, with a light hoppy bitterness towards the finish. Finish is light but long, with the hops lingering lightly on the palate alongside hints of cocoa and nutty coffee.

Mouthfeel is very lightly carbonated, medium-full bodied. A bit creamy. Would like to see just a hair more carbonation, but otherwise nice, and unbelievably drinkable.

I would buy this by the case if I could. Great, great beer.

Photo of ThePeskyDingo
3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in color. Poured with a thick yellow 1 finger head. Dissipated very slow for me, lasting 30 minutes. Lots of lacing left on the sides of the glass. There was still some head left when I finished.

Smellsa bit like caramel, with chocolate and malts.

Tastes like caramel, chocolate, and coffee. Great taste.

Low carbonation, and a medium feel to its body. Creamy in my mouth.

Drinkability is good, took me a while to finish it. Could probably have one or two in a sitting, but thats all.

Photo of israel
3.63/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to dyan for a can of this....

A- pours a dark brown with some ruby hues intermingled in the glass. Frothy tan head with some nice lacing.

S- I thought overall there wasn't much in the aroma but I was able to pick up on some bready qualities as well as some subtle fruit scents.

T- Starts out bitter from the hops and then quickly changes direction with bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavors.

M- Carbonation makes this seem medium bodied at first but finishes a bit thin, but I feel this adds to the drinkability which is high with this beer..

D- so drinkable....absolutely delicious. could see myself drinking several of these in one sitting...

Photo of dfillius
4.52/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed in a pint glass
A: Aggressive pour yields 1 finger tan creamy head with good retention. Clear dark brown liquid with ruby highlights. Darker than I expected, but still good looking.
S: Tropical fruit from hops come raging forward - Man candy. Sweet malt (not as sweet smelling as the hops though) balances it out with chocolate, coffee, vanilla and caramel. Doesn't smell like any brown I've had, but great smelling nonetheless.
T: Equal surges of malt and hops with some DMS and alcohol in background. Tasty and more brown flavor than the smell. A little roasty and fairly strongly bittered for the style. Tastes like a dark chocolate malted milk ball with a slight Hershey's chocolate syrup edge.
M: Creamy and smooth with a tiny amount of estery warmth despite low ABV.
D: Enjoyable. A good session beer that is very hearty. I'd order a second, but won't buy in a 4-pack

Photo of yourefragile
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into a nonic

Deep translucent hazel brown color with ruby flares against light. Light tan colored frothy head with low retention and streaky thin lacing. Nose is roasted malt, bready, nutty, slight coffee and sweet chocolate. Flavor has amazing balance of both sweet and bitter, alternating between roast malt and nuttiness versus a fresh hoppy bitterness. Creamy, medium body with light carbonation but strong bite from hops. An excellent, refreshing hoppy brown.

Photo of afinepilsner
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz can

Bender was dark brown in color. It had a nice rocky beige head with good retention and lacing. The aroma was toasty malt, some chocolate, and a little coffee. The taste was dark malt with some chocolate and a touch of coffee with a nice bitterness towards the dry finish. It was medium bodied with good carbonation. Drinkability was good. This is one of the better brown ales that I have tried.

Photo of roadhouse
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 oz. can into a pint glass.

Appearance is a dark brown that sort of appears ruby red in the light. A perfect one inch plus cream colored head sits on top. It falls to a cap and leaves a fat sheet of lace.

Aroma has some caramel and nutty toffee notes, a hint of chocolate, fruitiness that is hard to pinpoint any particulars, and a hint of some vanilla.

Taste is caramelly and nutty up front with the fruitiness kicking in, which now seems kind of like plum. A very slilght chocolate tinge. Some piney and slightly earthy hops, also a touch of grapefruit citrus appear towards the finish along with a touch of lightly roasted coffee with cream added.

Mouthfeel is medium-light with a very creamy texture. Way too easy to drink.

This is easily the best version of an American Brown Ale I've had. It's very complex, yet insanely drinkable. I am going to stock up when I go to MN.

Photo of Jwale73
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received as a generous extra from DbHog. Served in a nonic. Poured a translucent brown with ruby red highlights when backlit. Two inch dense, khaki-colored head left behind delicate bands of lacing as it receded. Nose suggests chocolate malt. Taste reveals, cocoa, coffee, a slight roasty char and a kiss of hops at the finish. Mouthfeel is between light- and medium-bodied, lightly effervescent with a creamy smooth texture. Incredibly drinkable Brown Ale; sessionable and tasty. This is a solid reminder that not all beers have to be extreme to be flavorful and satisfying.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Huge fluffy light brown head with great retention and awesome lacing. The beer is a very dark red almost brown that does not let much light through.

S- Lots of sweet and bitter aromas in the nose. Some good roasted nuts and brown sugar right away then a nice bitter hop tingle. Hints of chocolate and caramel with a touch of lemon.

T- Smooth and creamy with great chocolate and roasted nut flavors, also some brown sugar and molasses. Hops make a good presence on the tongue with a light piney bite.

M- This beer is very smooth and silky feeling on the tongue. Pretty good body with a nice hoppy bite in the end. Very pleasant.

Overall- This is a great brown ale. Surly has done it again, another great beer.

Photo of Dubbercody
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Canned thanks to a trade. Brown brew with a big fluffy and creamy tan head. Smells of roast malt, some coffee or toffee smells as well. Tasty beer, even if my better half said "I thought you didn't drink beer from cans."

Probably one of the best browns I've had to date. Darn glad I have a few extra for camping season.

Photo of Monkeypaws
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Having had a love-fest with Furious, it was rare that I had a Bender. Recently, as Surly became more widely available in my area, I decided to see what this beer was all about.

The can of beer pours a solid brown with garnet highlights, modest head and lacing. The smell develops as the beer warms up, and reveals earthy grains with nutty overtones. Taste is outstanding for a brown, loads of oatey malts, but a great hop bite makes for an exceptionally crisp beer; I'm no expert on brown ale, but this beer seems unusually clean and brisk in a category rich in sweet and mellow quaffers. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, pretty rich, with the hops clearing things out nicely, without the sweet sticky residue some brown ales leave behind(again, I'm no expert). Drinkability is outstanding, very sessionable. I'm delighted to have this one on draft within stumbling distance from my home.

Photo of htomsirveaux
3.62/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can tried 13 Jan 2009. Courtesy of hogwildliquor, thanks for the opportunity.

Poured in 0.5 L Adambrau becker. Huge amber brown head fills the glass. Well carbonated. Clear dark brown color with red highlights. Smells of oatmeal, dark toast, maple, brown sugar and coffee. Moderatly roasty bitterness, hint of pine. Chocolate and coffee through the middle. Finish is roasty with some brown sugar. Medium body, milky mouthfeel. Alcohol is moderate.

Seems more like a porter than a brown ale.

Photo of CrazyMacHarris99
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark amber with a half inch tan head that quickly faded to a thin layer. The smell is malty with a slight milk chocolate and a hint of espresso. The taste is slightly sweet and malty with a hint of bitter chocolate, creamy milk chocolate and some coffee notes on the finish. There are some dark fruits mixed in the sweetness and not much of a hop presence at all. The mouthfeel is creamy and this seems bigger than the 5%. Drinkability is great! No alcohol burn yet still a lot of body. I find it very hard to get that combination. Overall I am truly impressed with Surly and this beer.

Photo of craytonic
3.65/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Churchkey DC

Appearance: With a light behind it, pours a bright amber-orange-red. Nice crown and lacing.

Smell: Malty caramel, nuts, tea, coffee, cocoa, milk chocolate. Some light hops. A bit earthy.

Taste: Does not taste how I expect a brown ale to taste. I get malty caramel, toffee, tea bags, coffee, coca, chocolate, hops. Not crazy about the unsweet tea element.

Mouthfeel: Creamy on draft, the cans can be a bit flat

Drinkability: Not a fan of brown ales, and this is middle of the road for the style.

Photo of sonicdescent
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Masterski for this one!

Pours a dark red/brown with a nice off white creamy one finger of head.

Smells of caramel, bready malts, nutty. Not much in the way of hops in the nose. Dark Malt is all strong here. Very nice.

Taste is very much caramel, vanilla, chocolate, nutty, and minimal hop presence (but it is there!). Complex and tasty!

Mouth is medium with low/moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good, will have no problem finishing this, only wish I could easily get more. Coffee bender is next!

Photo of Bung
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost a reddish brown pour. Miniscule off white head. Smells, surprisingly floral, some pine with some malt and molasses. Light/medium body with a healthy dose of carbonation. Flavors of malt molasses and brown sugar. A surprisingly strong coffee note to me, would be curious to see how much more the coffee Bender has. Finishes real clean. Drinkability is not a problem for this one. Somewhere between a brown and a porter I guess. My friend did not like this one, I thought it was excellent.

Photo of optiontwo
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz. poured into generic pint glass

Appearance: Dark brown with a frothy one inch head and great lacing.

Smell: Clean crisp, chocolate, coffee, caramel, and citrus hops. This aroma is as hefty as an imperial stout's.

Taste: Bitter chocolate quickly followed by coffee, toffee, and sweet caramel mixed with grapefruit and piney hops. It's amazing how prominent the hops are but still don't overtake the beer.

Mouthfeel: The oatmeal makes this brew nice and smooth but it remains crisp and refreshing.

Drinkability: Full flavored, low ABV. Great!

Overall: I love Bender. It is the best of its style, even though it doesn't fall into a category. I highly recommend getting your hands on this if you can.

Photo of HopHead84
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received as an extra in a trade with objectivemonkey. It took me two months to get around to drinking this one, but I think now is as good a time as any.

Poured into my Bruery tulip. The beer is very dark brown. The light brown head is large. After two minutes it has fully receded and left a lattice-like pattern evenly around the glass.

The aroma is of caramel and toasted malt. No alcohol is present in the nose and there is a mild note of earthy hops. Initial flavor has some bitterness to it. The beer tastes like light roast coffee with some chocolate notes to it. The sweet malt is nicely balanced by a nice level of hop bitterness which has a mild citrus element to it. The finish reveals a bit of alcohol and is long and dry. The mouthfeel is fantastic. Medium full bodied with great carbonation.

I'm surprised by the subtleness of this beer. I'm never impressed by brown ales because I find the style to be lackluster but this was very enjoyable!

Photo of jdklks
3.18/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

from notes:

A- brownish amber, off white head.

S- tree bark. fruit- apricot. smells like any other brown ale, sweet, etc. etc.

T- sweet. brown sugar sweet. just as it smelled, like any other brown ale, but it is even sweeter than most.

M- light-medium bodied. nothing special.

D- drinks okay, but i wouldn't want to drink it again!

Photo of Jmoore50
2.92/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Got this fatty growler in the mail through a trade. The best part of this beer is the quote from the brewery. "Good beer is an acquired taste, you just acquired some." ha ha awesome.

This is my first Surly brew, not impressed at all.

The appearance was average for a brown ale, poured pretty thick, the growler held the carbonation and the head came to a two finger beige head.

The smell with the pour was like brown sugar. It actually was a text book brown ale smell. It smelled too sweet for me though, and for the record, I really don't care for brown ales.

The taste was okay at first, but I got some fruity taste off of it. Just something that I don't really care for. I am sure if you're a brown ale connoisseur then you probably would love this, but I am nothing like a brown ale connoisseur.

Overall I had to have a friend drink sixty percent of the growler for me, so I would never buy this ever again, but since it was a gift....Thanks.


Photo of tconboy
3.23/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours a deep dark brown with puffy tan head. Smells of coffee and malts and chocolate. Tastes a little bitter, nice coffee and sweet flavors blended together in this. Less than moderate carbonation, very thick. This is ok, I think I will try something else next time around.

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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 1,733 ratings.