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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,673 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,673
Reviews: 732
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.29%
Wants: 437
Gots: 183 | 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)
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Ratings: 1,673 | Reviews: 732 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wagenvolks
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
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).

Photo of tedsox31
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of LordofTime25
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours to a deep brown body with a thin white head resting on top.

Can smell cocoa and vanilla.

Can taste cocoa, coffee, vanilla, and some hops.

Silky, smooth, and creamy in the mouth! Nice!

Very good full flavored beer! Has a nice complex flavor. Recomened

Photo of schellsbeer
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As far as Surly goes, not their best.

As far as most other beers go, exceptional!!

Minnesota could definitely have a contending world class brewery located in the heart of it. FANTASTIC!!!

Don't get me wrong, I do love August Shells, Summit, and many of the other smaller breweries, but Surly stands higher than any of them.

Bender is a great beer. Not rated as high as Furious but it is still great.

Appearance is very good. Clean brown with a great look.

Smell - If you have ever had a Surly, you know that smell. Exceptional. So many different things going on in that can of theirs. Wonderful.

Taste - Good for a Brown Ale. Many wonderful complex overtones going on. It grabs you and says "Hey, drink me. I am that good!" Just like other Surly beers, this is one that shouldn't be rushed. Take your time, enjoy her. You will be glad that you did. It's ok. You aren't drinking a Macro brew from Colorado or Wisconsin...(sorry Colorado and Wisconsin BAs, I wasn't talking about the wonderful micro brews that you have....Just the big boys.)

Mouthfeel - EXCELLENT. Very clean and crisp. Once again that surly comes shining through.

Drinkability - Heck yes. What do you expect? Its a Surly!!!

4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice dark brown, amber body with very little off white head even with an aggressive pour.

S- Caramel, Brown Sugar Sweetness, a little roasted malt. Nicely balanced smell with no one smell over ruling the other.

T- Sweet caramel. Burnt sugar, roasted malt, slightly bitter finish from the hops with the residual sweetness on the finish. Absolutely perfect balance. A mimic of the smell.

M- Slightly light and carbonated. Nice wet mouthfeel and smooth on the tongue. A true delight.

D- Done and done. I would drink a lot of these. I love the 16oz cans too. My first dive into Surly. I'll be back for more.

Thanks to Tolann for this one. I can't wait for the other can of Surly I've got. I owe you. Dry Dock?

Photo of jraycee
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours into my pint galss a very dark brown with a decent head that shows some good retention.
Smell is big malts. Coffee, Caramel, chocolate, and just a hint of hops in a citrus form.
Taste is amazingly smooth. The oats come up big, creamy and smooth with coffee and chocolate notes. Hops are hard to find when its cold, but as it warms they add a nice fruit and piney finish.
Mouthfeel is light and a little slick. Not sticky at all, and nice light carbonation.
Drinakability is off the charts. I got eight of these in a trade with OHLRangers, and I didn't review it till the last one because I was enjoying them too much.

Photo of hwwty4
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to theisti for this one.

From a 16oz can. This beer pours a dark chocolate brown that has ruby hues when held up to the light. It poured an ample beige head that melts into just a thin layer around the rim of my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. The aroma is a good nuttiness up front, with hints of chocolate, vanilla, and oatmeal coming through. The taste is almonds and chocolate that turns into just a hint of vanilla and toffee. The mouthfeel is thin and a little over carbonated. This is another very drinkable beer by Surly.

Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Dan for the sample. Can into Shorts Imperial Pint glass...

A - Dark, Dark Brown body with two fingers of head that calmed down to a thin ring with no lacing.

S - Smells like a brown ale, with lots of almond like nuttyness at first, with roasted malt chocolate, growing vanilla and some metalic notes mixed in.

T - Again, starts out almond like, but the chocolate and coffee flavors really do pick up by midpalate, mixed in with apricoty hops, that become continually more present at the swallow. The finish really impressed me, with chili, vanilla, pecan, smoke, and cocoa all blending into a really nice, long finish.

M - I did not really notice the oat here in the mouthfeel. But full bodied still.

D - Big, roasty and nutty, with a good hop kick. Lots of flavors going on here, and they really come together in the finish. Solid beer from Surly.

Photo of MiScusi
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- dark brown, large frothy tan head with really good structure.

S- initially a big amount of chocolate malt hits. There's a hint of deeply roasted malt, maybe black patent or something. There seems to be a definite hoppiness to this, when it's usually hard for me to detect that against an abundance of sweeter, more roasted malts in a beer that doesn't put hops front and center. It seems as if an amount of roasted barley is also contributing a little roastiness in the mix.

T- Chocolaty, sweet caramel malt, and oh yeah it's there, hops. A pretty fair hoppiness causing a lingering bitterness. Really creates an interesting set of flavors here.

M- At first I was expecting this to be on the more full side ie- DFH Indian Brown but it really is a notch below that.. on the thinner side. The body is fine though, and the carbonation is worked in there pretty nicely and doesn't take over the beer.

D- This could be a beer I go to a lot if it were local to me.

Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to KeefD for the trade

Looks like this will be review #300, yippee!

a: Deep brown body with a thin white head resting on top.

s: Notes of Cocoa and vanilla.

t: Cocoa, coffee, vanilla, and some tasty hops too. Complex and delicious.

m: Smooth, silky, creamy. You can tell they used oats in this thing.

d: Full flavored, but still fully quaffable. What a brown ale should be. Put this on the short list of excellent brown ales.

Photo of Lupe
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Part of my Beer Powerball winnings.

Pours a deep mahogany color with some lighter hues when held to the light. The 3 fingered tan head is slow to settle, sticking around for awhile and leaving behind a nice amount of lace.

Intriguing aroma of coffee, cocoa, caramel, and nuts combined with a healthy dose of floral, and a touch of citrus, hops.

I was in love with the first sip. Solid roasted bitterness upfront, with coffee, dark chocolate, and faint char. Sweetens up with caramel stepping in along with a rich oat smoothness. Mild nutty and vanilla tones play on the tongue. Hops come in adding dryness, a touch of citrus oil, and amazing balance. Incredible.

Silky smooth on the tongue, medium bodied, and a perfect level of carbonation. Probably the easiest drinking beer I have ever had, and the definition of a session beer. One can is not enough. I could have this morning, noon, and night. Just has whatever you're in the mood for - roast & toasty, sweet, nutty, and hoppy. I love this beer and must have more.

Photo of paytoplay
3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16oz can, what a solid brew out of a can. My I've had the 4 major Surly's out of can now and it's tough to decide a favorite. They are all pretty good. This one is dark and rich but still focused. You don't realize it comes from a can, a major achievement. Coffee, and great aroma. Really easy to drink and like I've said about other Surley cans, great price and quality.

Photo of beveritt
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Got this one from Packforever1976, thanks man. Poured into a Surly pint glass he included as a bonus. My first good beer from a can, so I am pretty stoked to try this.

Appearance: Pours with over 3 fingers of tan head. This settles very slowly into a nice dense cap, leaving behind a fair amount of lacing. The beer itself is a dark mahogany color, with parts so dark as to be opaque.

Smell: Strong caramel malt with strong notes of roasted barley.

Taste: Roasted barley bitterness upfront, with strong coffee and bitter chocolate flavors. Rolls well into a smoother semi-sweet caramel malt. A little bit of slickness in the finish, maybe from the oats? Long, lingering finish.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is good.

Drinkability: Okay, all preconceived notions about canned beer have been smashed. This beer is great! I either need to move to Minnesota or set up bi-weekly shipments from Packforever1976. How about Minnesotans? who wants to be a beer mule?

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours brown in color. Looks a little thin on the pour and has clear/ruby highlights around the edges. Smell is hops and roasted malt. Taste is even more of the hops. There is a good roasty quality and some coffee as well. The oatmeal really smooths this beer out. This is good, just really thin for my liking. Another solid beer from Surly, but it's no Furious.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to starofindia for giving me my first taste of Surly.

Pours a brown color with a dark amber color when held up to the light, decent sized head that fades fast.

Smell is mostly roasted malt, hint of caramel, a bit of a metallic smell though.

Taste is crisp and tingly, slight hoppiness at first but the malt quickly takes over, weird aftertaste that I can't quite place but it doesn't really complement the beer, not as smooth as most oatmeal browns.

Photo of mjryan
3/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer comes off to me as a cross between an Irish stout and Newcastle. Very dark brown, boardering on black. Nice head, no lace, good retention. Aroma is mild with a sweet malt character up front with a small dose of citrus hops. Flavour is rather bland. A little roasty, a little hoppy and kind of sweet. Very mild bitterness. Mouthfull is very creamy and smooth. Carbonation is medium. Not bad by any means.

Photo of Goliath
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color and is opaque. A thin light tan head forms on top and lingers with decent retention receeding to leave some fine lacing.

The aroma is quite nice. A gentle hoppiness presents itself, and lays back to reveal notes of coffee and caramel.

Taste is quite nice. A nice bit of hops up front that finish with a nice bittering bite. Notes of coffee and caramel are available, and even a hint of chocolate. Really quite delicious.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with tons of fine carbonation.

Drinkability is high. Great flavor and low alcohol make this easy to consume and a real treat.

Big thanks to objectivemonkey for bringing this to Lawrence for me!

Photo of thethrone
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a garnet brown, with off white that disappears almost immediately. No lacing to speak of.

S - Rich malty aroma; caramel, dark fruit, roasted coffee.

T - Coffee, caramel malts, and some sweetness. Very nice and well balanced.

M - Nice and smooth, medium bodied brew.

D - A great beer that I could see myself drinking all night long. The can I opened, however, didn't quite scream world class brew at me.

Photo of bound4er
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

My first Surly!! - thanks to Matt G. from Minneapolis for dragging a 4-pack down south (Furious and CynicAle to be tasted in the next night or two).

Pours to a golden brown color with a thin, light tan head that leaves nice lacing. The smell is somewhat muted, even as it warms. Mostly a caramel-like maltiness and coffee undertones. The taste does not dissapoint with the malt flavors of caramel and coffee meeting a perfect hit of hops as it slides to a nice, lingering finish. This is scary stuff in the drinkability department - my tall-boy disappeared in no time flat. I could pound a few of these in a night without a problem. Looking forward to trying more Surly brews.

Photo of EGledhill
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to BeerBeagle for hooking me up with this one.

Poured into my yuengling pint glass.

A. dark brown with a thin off white head theat leaves quickly.

S. Roasted sweet smelling malts, hazelnut, and a slight bit of coffee. not overly strong but nice. better than mst in the style that I've tried

T. A hop bite up front and malt on the finish. sweet taste the whole way through with hazelnut, Slight bitter chocolate, and a nutty flavor

M. thin and smooth, good for the style

D. After one I'm kind of craving another. definitely could drink these more often.

All around a very solid beer. glad I got the chance to try it.

Photo of kasper
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to scubarex for tossing this one in.

A: Pours an almost opaque dark chocolate with a tall airy coffee creamer colored head that fades slowly to a blanket, leaving thick lacing patterns.

S: Aromas of nuts, creme, brown sugar -- very welcoming.

T: Quality taste lives up to the hype from the pour and smell. There's a rich malty component and potent dose of hops. (I find it similar to DFH Indian brown ale but a dad lighter.) Flavors of nuts, chocolate, malts.

M: medium bodied, creamy smooth.

D: This is certainly one of the best brown ales I've had. It's light enough that you could have quite a few. Will need to find more.

Photo of lpayette
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance- pours a deep ruby brown color with excellent clarity given the hue. Head is 1 1/2 to 2 fingers initially. Leaves some nice lacing up and down the glass.

Smell- surprisingly lively hoppy notes intermingle with a strong malt backbone.

Taste- produces a nice balance between bitter and sweet. Cocoa powder overtones. Herbal background.

Mouthfeel- very clean with a slightly bitter finish. Perfect carbonation.

Drinkability- yet another very sessionable beer from surly. Just wish I could get ahold of this more often.

Photo of trill
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Packforever1976 for getting me this one as an extra.

This one comes out a murky dark brown, more like a porter than a brown ale, with a small off-white head that sticks and leaves a bit of lacing. Nose is milky coffee, bread crust, some hazelnut and a little bit of cinnamon; not extremely aromatic, but quite pleasant. Carbonation is higher than expected given the appearance of the beer, but it helps clean the palate, and keeps you reaching for another sip. Taste is a very straightforward pop of earthy hops, with the toasty/roasty brown malts following behind and taking over.

Proper serving temperature is key with this one. Ice cold, and it's mediocre, but allow it to warm to slightly below cellar temperature, and it's a killer drinker with some substance.

Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: snifter. pours a nice rich brown, like black coffee. light tan head. great retention rate and wonderful lacing.

S: wonderful roasted malts, caramel, toffee, some vanilla, ans sweet wild flowers.

T: wow this is really complex. tons of chamomile, tea flavors, oats, light vanilla, coffee, caramel, and tons of oatmeal. light flowery hops. huge vanilla in the finish.

M: very chewy. extremely smooth and crisp. perfect carbonation level. buttery.

D: what a great brown ale. so unique, great flavors and definitely worth a try. absolutely delicious.

Photo of Jerzdevil1116
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can drank from a pint glass. Thanks goes out to jasinviso for this one.

A: Brown body with red highlights. Tall tan head settled into a small foamy head, leaving plenty of lacing behind.

S: Sweet malty aroma. Notes of caramel and coffee.

T: Starts slightly malty, not as prevalent as the smell. Malt quickly gave way to coffe flavors and finished with a mild, dry hoppiness.

M: Medium to full bodied. Smoothe.

D: Very smoothe and easy drinking. Niceley balanced flavors. At 5.1% alcohol, I could easily do a session of this beer.

Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,673 ratings.