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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

749 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 749
Hads: 1,878
Avg: 4.11
pDev: 15.57%
Wants: 456
Gots: 285 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

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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Reviews: 749 | Hads: 1,878
Photo of slyke
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bender pours dark red-brown - so dark that it looks black until held to the light. It has a two-finger tan head that sticks well and laces very nicely.

The smell is roasty. More like a stout or porter than a brown ale. There is a bit of citrus and mustiness there as well.

The taste has roastiness and a bit of oatmeal. Oh my God - Roasted Oatmeal! There is a coffee-like note in there too.

Mouthfeel is great. Nice and full at the center of the tongue with hoppy crispness around the edges.

Drinkability is stellar. Low enough alcohol to session, but intensely interesting in flavor and mouthfeel that one is completely satisfying as well. Strongly recommended.

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can. Sea salt and orange zest aroma. Wispy. Moist and fresh. Oat dust and lemon juice. Restrained. Pours a touching florid mahogany, with blood red fringe and a soapy tan head, creamy. Nice lacing. On the tongue, a robust kick of malty sugars and roasted malt. Begins with a salty sea oat sweep and then slides into a coarse and grainy tooth of grain, orange peel, toasted almond and sweet honey. The oat brings in great character to this brown. Not overly hoppy, in my opinion, a nice balance with some floral and resin bitterness in the back end. A rather quaffable and delicious brew. Nicely constructed.

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Photo of cbl2
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my friend Anna, a Minnesota native for grabbing this while visiting home. No best by date.


Pours a dark mahogany brown topped by a thin film of tan head.


Sweet roasted dark malts dominate the nose. Notes of peanut, coffee and a faint herbal aura imparted by the hops, which lend this brew their 45 IBU's.


Slickly smooth mouthfeel kicks off this bitter/nutty brown. Dark roasted malts impart a pleasant hazelnut coffee feel to this. Malts are nicely complimented by a grassy bitterness that is imparted by the hops.

This is the first sessionable beer I've had in a while. Low alcohol combined with big flavor is something I usually don't encounter. Surly has brewed up a nice concoction here.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.6/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to JeffKrenner for the Surly hook-up.

a - pours a deep dark brown, nearly black, two-finger tan head with good retention and great lacing

s - great mix of bright hops and roasted malt and caramel, hints of vanilla and coffee as well

t - semi-sweet roasted malt up front with a nice mild hoppy bitterness in the body with some nuttiness as well, finish is vanilla and coffee mixed with some bitterness, very very nice

m - great fuller-bodied mouthfeel, probably a product of the oats, moderate carbonation, finish is only slightly dry

d - very drinkable, a great sessionable brown if I've ever had one

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Photo of GbVDave
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16oz "tall boy" can into two 20oz imperial pints. Thanks to Killer for the assist. Extra special thanks to JeffKrenner for the MN hookup. I owe you brother!

A: Grade B maple syrup brown with russet highlights. Small khaki head. Some yeast sediment in the bottom of the glass.

S: Sweet malt and something creamy like oats dominate the aromas here. Mild hoppy aroma as well.

T: Excellent toasted malt, caramel, and chocolate flavors are in the forefront. Bringing up the rear is a lightly tart fruit and hop 1-2 punch.

M: Sort of thin and quite prickly at first but it comes alive and gains thickness as it come up to temp.

D: Superlative drinkability. This is a fantastic sessionable brown ale that only loses points for being a little on the thin side at first pour.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.43/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a big can to a tall glass mug. The liquid is a nice Brown, deep and clear with good carbonation. The head is tan 2++ fingers and leaves nice lace.

The smell is sweet, nutty malt and a slight hopyness.

The taste pushes on over and above. The malt is an eye opener. Nutty with abundant chocolate notes. Yeah this beer from a can matches the best DFH Indian brown I have had. The is a superior tasting brew and really sits aloft in the style. A nice hopy finish but the malt stays for a very nice balenced beer.

The mouth feet is also superior, Very smooth and creamy, thck not sticky, great carbonation. Real nice.

The drinkability is great I will try for more in a trade.

I can not thank NFLMVP enought for enlisting objectivemonkey to sent me a taste of this great brew. you two are awesome, Thank you so much.

Prosit und Zum Wohl, MK

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Photo of bjohnson
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to skinnyelvis for hooking me up with this offering from Surly. Quite excited about this.

A: Pours a deep brown with a thin caramel colored head that has slight retention. Excellent tight lacing.
S: Yum! Deep cocoa aromas penetrate the nose. Nutty almond notes give off a sweet twang. Earthy, but very refreshing smelling. Barley notes if you swirl the glass enough.
T/M: Very smooth right from the start. Big malty notes. Robust and bold. Subtle nestle cocoa flavors mix well with sweet caramel notes. Long finish with a good level of bitterness that hangs into the aftertaste. Well balanced with actually a pretty full body--mostly from the robustness. Slight creaminess, but theres almost a crispness.
D: A fine brown ale from Surly. Excellent balance and amazing mouthfeel leaves the palate wanting more.

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Photo of kirok1999
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What the hell is this beer doing in a can? Oh well, pop it open and keep an open mind.
First impressed by the color, very dark brown with a nice light brown head.
Smells of malt, nuts, slight chocolate, hops.
Taste is the same but more. Slightly thin mouthfeel but made up for with the very nice taste. And at 5.1% ABV a very nice session beer.

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Photo of hoppymeal
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a coffee brown with a decent sized medium tan head that slowly fades. Aroma is rich and malty, some cola-y sweetness with some fruitiness. Rich and malty in the taste as well, some chocolate, big dose of caramel malt and finishing with a nice hoppy dryness. Fairly smooth with a tingle of spicy hops on the tongue. An easy to drink and solid brown.

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Photo of sloejams
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to beckje01 for including this in trade.

This pours a dark deep brown from the pint can leaving a 2 finger robust cappucino head. Aromas of coffee, roasted malts and even some hops breathe through. The malts dominate the taste too with a strong crisp hop bite finish. Almost seems to taste like a cross between a dunkel and a brown ale smothered in hops. Admittedly, American Browns are not my favorite. This is easily the best of the style that I've encountered.

Between this and Furious it's easy to see how Surly is becoming a force to reckon with in the Midwest. I find myself coming around to the cans too. Go on Surly!

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Photo of budgood1
4.63/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

pours out of the growler a deep dark brown colour, very dark, with ruby edges. frothy but fine head sticks around while i sip the whole glass leaving nice rings of lace. later pours produce even livlier head and lace. citrusy hoppy aroma with milk chocolate and dark roasted malts. hints of phenol. the taste is amazing for a brown ale, but obviously this beer defies that strict style. it's porter character sticks out most, and the hopping is evident in every sip like a juicy pale ale. sweet malts, bitter roasted malts, some belgian notes, yeasty and doughy. as it warms, it becomes fruitier both from the malt and the juicy hops. it's complex and seemingly layered to no end. damn tasty. bitter in the end...long and lingering. stocky body and big and rich mouthfeel make it hard to believe that this is only 5.1%. the flavour profile makes it hard not to want keep sipping this brew. i'm sure i'll polish off this growler no problem. would hold up well to any assortment of food. this is just delicious.

my first surly brew and i'm impressed.

thanks to my sis for hooking this up for x-mas!

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Photo of Chaz
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours cola-brown to the eye, and a deep dark amber when held to the light. Good clarity and carbonation looks about right -- a can-conditioned beer? Sure, that's a step in the right direction. Uniform tan head settles after a good couple of minutes after a medium pour from the bottom-open can (I collect these things, folks!) Good lacing. Very good aromatics on the nose, merging 1 part of the straight-up malt sweetness I'd expect from a brown with 2 parts hop (bitter, aromatic) and 2 parts very good dark malt qualities: I'm catching notes of ripe red apple under some cherry tartness, as well as toffee and light cocoa. Poured this cold, but let it warm a spell. Light on the tongue upon the first sip, with big toffee and cocoa notes. Great aromatics, a definite marriage of porter and brown ale. Slightly tangy, with the cherry tartness from the nose coming through, and supple hop bitterness helping to balance this. Not as sweet as a lot of the brown ales, but on-par with most of the better ones for drinkability. Fairly roasty malt qualities here ala a porter, but with more dryness than many porters . . . an accomplished blend of the Brown and Porter styles. Alcohol comes through at times, but fairly unobtrusively. I can't really find the APA-derived stylistic tendency in here apart from the hopping, and again I find this more in line with a West-coast American Porter - tomato - tomahto, eh? Excellent drinkability, but I'm personally torn: as I drink it I look fo the malty sweetness (and yes, even some of the diacetyl) of a couple of my favorite American Brown Ales, but halfway through I get the drying hop bite and a rather quick finish. Mouthfeel and body are a wee bit on the thin side, but in fact this does nothing but improve drinkability - no disrespect intended, but I see this as a great "style cheater" to a nitro stout ala Guinness Draught. I have enjoyed Bender served fresh from the tap on several occasions and it's been very good each time, and this can follows suit, in fact it may even be better than the taps! Great consistency, great local availability, and great packaging too. So when is Surly gonna bring these great canned ales to the rest of the (non-beergeek) world outside of Minnesota? That's the $10,000 question. I'll bet the craft beer-drinking Midwest is waiting for Surly with open arms. . . . Bring On The Cans!

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Photo of alexgash
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark, molasses brown body with a dense finger of light tan head. Laces up the glass nicely. Brown sugar oatmeal malt, nutty toasted aroma, and milk chocolate, set against herbal hops. Toasted, dark chocolate bitterness soon gives way to chewy, sugary oatmeal and chocolate. Damn fine. Light herbal bitterness takes it away, with leftover chocolate and light coffee in the finish. Medium-full body with a creamy, coating feel. Well made and unique.

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Photo of Sammy
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh and tasty pint can, thanks to Tempest. Large brown head on dark brown, much like a coffee. Moderate pleasant mocha chocolate coffee aroma, and the taste does deliver. Modest roast, malty without sweet. Secondary a bit dry and bitter. Very drinkable. A few minutes later, it is all gone.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.93/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one has a real coffee/amber color, very dark, with a slim tan head that lasts for a couple minutes. Tangy raisin with a hint of charred ash in the aroma. Somewhat dobblebock like. The taste has a good complexity of flavors: raisin, caramel, toasted nut, faint vanilla. It is tangy sweet, and after a few sips a good dose of bitterness shows up and lingers nicely. Thickness is moderate, it's not chewy at all, very smooth. Average carbonation.

Overall I thought this beer had some good depth. It was very drinkable, but I would have scored it higher if some of those individual flavors opened up more. Thanks to SkinnyElvis for this one, my first from Surly, and hopefully not my last...

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to MeLikeBeer for this one.

This beer, poured out of the colorful 16 oz. can, looked dark brown at first but glowed like grape juice when held to the light. The head was but a little collar of white.

Smells like there’s a base of a sticky sweet barley wine here with some aromatic barley that brings traces of vanilla and caramel, but this is then subsumed by some sour and woody porter-like dry-sourness and a touch of coffee. Reminds me a bit of Perkuno’s hammer, God rest it‘s soul…

The flavor comes across surprisingly dry with little hints of coffee but most consists of a dry nutty roasted caramel. This finishes ever so slightly smoky with a touch of birch bark. At the end a little lime rind creeps in and my mouth is left with a residual coffee.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with a fine, well paired carbonation. This tended, though, to dry my mouth out a bit.

Not bad at all. I must say I liked it better on tap, but I’d be happy to have another any day.

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Photo of weeare138
3.62/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to zrrbrrt for opening this...
Appears a slighty hazy(though still transparent), dark brown with a mild red hue. A rocky, tan head slowly quickly fades out and leaves scattered spots of lacing around the glass.
The smell is yeasty, toasty nuts, fruits, grassy, light caramel, brown sugar, cocoa, and a touch of clove like spiciness.
The taste is of the mentioned aromas with perhaps a touch of mild sourness picked up, along with an astringency that is noticeable.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied, mildly roasty, with cocoa hanging on the palate leading to a gentle bitterness.
Overall, I'm not really sure what the hype is about. I thought it was good but it didn't really knock my socks off in any way. Maybe I'm just not a huge Brown Ale fan?

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 16 fluid ounce, 1 US Pint Can which stands about 6” tall. Metallic silver, red and a black angulated design decorate its sleeve. Listed at 5.1% Alc/Vol and 45 IBU’s. No freshness date. Listed as “Bender Beer”, which in the UK would immediately be the cause of much ridicule.

Brewers Notes:
This beer is an amalgamation of styles; brown/porter/apa. Five distinct malts, including two from Belgium, give this beer added complexity and depth. We also add oatmeal to this beer to give it a smooth texture not usually associated with this type of beer. We add large amounts of American finishing hops to give Bender a citrus hop aroma because... we like hops. This is a session beer weighing in around 5% alcohol and 25 IBUs. Grab one today, we think you will want another! Year-round availability.
A couple quick notes on our cans...
1) The beers are not filtered, some sediment may be present.
2) If this bothers you, too bad.
3) For ultimate Surly beer clarity, store cans upright and pour slowly into a glass, leaving any sediment in the can.

Appearance: Dark brown body forms with a smooth creamy tanned cappuccino coffee head. The head sits down at just under a ¼” thick. The body is clear and I noted no sediment, no doubt thanks to my careful pouring. Appearance is top drawer.

Nose: Hints of bitter hops, not quite fresh, but the hops meld with a caramelized dark chocolate. The aromas are crisp and neatly defined but merge well together to form a seamless, smooth, nasal cap.

Taste: Wow, my first few samples had me struggling to satisfy myself that I knew what the style was. The overall experience is of a roasted stout, fresh coffee and vanilla add a lot of smoothness to the flavors. Porter like middle benefits from the oatmeal whilst the British and Belgian malts work well with the American finishing hops to bolster the Pale Ale bitterness. It seems to have the best of all Worlds and encapsulates them under the banner of “Oatmeal Brown Ale” according to the back of the Can. Sadly this description seems to undersell the magnificent flavor profile of this very tasty brew. Cracking stuff.

Mouthfeel: Controlled conditioning is apparent and a nice detour from some canned beers that always seem to be over-fizzed, no such problems here. This is a very smooth drinking velvet beer with perfect carbonation levels to support the flavors and add texture to the experience.

Drinkability: Just had the one can but could have easily managed a whole Four-Pack of these. VERY drinkable and incredibly tasty for a 5.1% brew. Sessionable.

Overall: Has a touch of Stones 8th Anniversary about it for me, not that I am comparing the two, but it immediately reminded me of one of my favorite Stone Anniversary brews when I took that first taste. And that is a good start – this is probably one of the best Canned beers that I have had to date. The beer itself is a damned tasty offering but to take the step of putting it in a Can; UNpasteurized and UNfiltered….and without the use of a thousand pounds of gas, and no sign of a “Widget” in sight…is quite remarkable. Great tasting beer from a Can, it can be done.

Says “Beer for a Glass, from a Can” around a red band on the neck - Kudos to Surly Brewing Co. for taking all the right steps forward with this one, try it and see for yourself, it really is that good.

Big Can of Kick Ass Thanks to BigHuge for this Treat.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surly's Bender pours a very dark, almost black body beneath a frothy head of tan foam. At the base of the glass some chocolate brown highlights are visible. It's clear, although it appears as if some yeast or protein precipitate is present. The head retention is good, and it leaves some slightly better than average lace about the glass.

The nose is fruity with a chocolatey and caramelish maltiness. Some leafy and grassy hops are also present, but the yeasty fruitiness and dark malts dominate.

In the mouth it's quite smooth with a medium (almost medium-light) body and a restrained, fine-bubbled, moderate carbonation.

The flavor exhibits exactly what the nose suggests but it's fuller, and the hop flavors show themselves to be much more citrusy, and even pine-like, especially in the finish. They're even a bit floral at times; and the maltiness tends towards coffee and dark chocolate as well. It's well-balanced by a solid bitterness that leads to a dry and slightly roasty finish.

Quite nice. Well-balanced and very well done with a lot of dark malt flavor, but not so much dark malt acidity, astringency, or bitterness. The hop flavors come and go nicely; and it's got enough going on to keep it interesting.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yet another great beer from JeffKrenner.

A: Clean hazelnut color with ruby highlights. Head is a bit fizzy but overall medium beige and creamy. Most of the head has fallen but a fine layer remains across the top.

S: Chocolate brownies, amaretto, cookie dough and some cinnamon. I'm intrigued.

T: Begins lightly sweet and nutty but quickly is moves towards a robust roasted personality. Almost like toasted almonds and hazelnuts. Then out of nowhere, it transitions back to a sweet profile consisting of brown sugar, caramel and fairly strong hazelnut extract. Some elderberry quips a present around the tip of the tongue. Finishes out hoppy and bitter, somewhat woody.

M: Medium body. Somewhat hard water feel

D: One of the more complex brown ales I've had. Very nice.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I received this beer thanks to bax72 as part of BC-2. This beer comes in a can but definately deserves a glass. The beer was served in a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a very rich deep brown with ruby highlights. The head was a big fluffy tan coloration. The head had fantastic retention. The beer had very little lacing on the glass.

Smell: The beer has a very pleasing roasted and toasted maltyness. Coffee and light chocolatey goodness swirl around the nose. A nuttyness combines with a pleasing earthy undertone.

Taste: The beer delivers on the roasted and toasted choco/ caramel maltyness. The beer starts to go over to the sweet side but then gives it up to a tart citrus hoppyness.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer is medium bodied and well carbonated. The beer has a very creamy mouthfeel. This beer is a dam tasty beer treat. I could session this beer all night long. The 16 ounce tall boy is a nice touch. I am going to have to get some more of this beer.

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Photo of SwillinBrew
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My second style of canned beer from Surly and i have to say, fricken-A, how can i get them to distro in So Cal???

A hearty solid soda pop brown fills my pint glass with a frothy khaki tan head resting on-top. I love the brown color here. It's like rich farm soil. Scents of bready malt and sweet biscuits wash my nose in blanket of billowy fragrance.

Nutty cocoa, toasted bagget and a little coffee swirl around my taste buds quite abundantly. Such a good meshing of flavors counterbalanced with a subdued hop presence that works harmoniously with th sweetness of the malt. Tasty.

This is one drinkable beer. Not too heavy on the palate but not too light either but as goldilocks said, it was just right. Do yourself a favor and get some of this.

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Photo of ZAP
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A nice creation here...pours a dark browen with a nice looking creamy tan head.

Very interesting aroma...I expected heavy coffee or chocolate but the first thing that hits me is citrus....particularly oranges...then lighter aromas of roasted malts and sweet milk chocolate...

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth....medium to full bodied.

Taste is complex...a pretty balanced beer overall but more hops than most brown ales..a strong roasted malt component...mild milk chocolate...light caramel...some earthy impressions and a finishing citrus splash from the hops....

Overall this is a solid effort..a brown ale with some character...I am stunned they were able to keep the ABV down to a sessionable level because it feels like a big beer.
*As I drink my second one of these I am tweaking the ratings up a little. This is highly drinkable and for a brown ale has more flavor and character than most...also looked almost "regal" in nature as it poured from the can.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.6/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Darkest hazelnut with generous ruby highlights that become cherry bomb explosions with backlighting. The two finger crown is a wonderful shade of golden beige that is a perfect color contrast to the beer beneath. It's firmly creamy and is leaving thick sheets of lace that look like they'll stick around until long after the final credits roll.

The nose is solid. It's nicely brown malty and features oven-toasted nuts above all else. I can also appreciate whiffs of cocoa, coffee and fruity hops. A little more power and a little more depth and it'd be fantastic. As it happens, warming brings about exactly that, along with a wonderful musky earthiness. I don't often assess the aroma when the beer is almost gone, but I'm glad I did so here.

Bender is as good as I remember. Whoever thinks that cans are a lesser container for beer has a screw loose. This stuff couldn't taste more fresh or more pure. Purely delicious that is. The thing that impresses me most about Bender (one of many) is that it doesn't taste like any other brown ale in existence; something that hit me like a ton of bricks with my first mouthful back in September.

It's beautifully malted and beautifully hopped, with both providing megatons of flavor. The contrast between the various members of the flavor profile and the amazing yin and yang of sweetness and bitterness is, I believe, the secret to its deliciousness (that and a fantastically talented brewer).

On the malt side of the ledger we have toasted brown bread, dark caramel/toffee, gentle chocolate and coffee notes, and sugar-crusted pecans. And on the hop side of the ledger we have surprisingly tart, citrus fruit peel with a hint of floral spiciness. Each mouthful is an absolute riot of flavors that manages to be perfectly balanced in the end. A brown ale that is as hoppy as it is malty. What a concept!

How can 16 ounces be almost gone already? Drinkability, needless to say, is completely off the charts. The mouthfeel, like everything else about this beer, is the very definition of quality. It's supremely smooth, lightly creamy and lightly silky. I can excuse a lack of heavily creamy lushness because the point wasn't to brew a big beer, but rather (I'm guessing) to brew an insanely drinkable, even sessionable one. Mission accomplished.

Surly Bender is fandamntastic beer. It instantly rockets to the top of my 'most favored brown ales' list along with the versions from Bell's and Dogfish Head. The fact that it's hoppier than both is further cause for celebration. I wonder if it's possible for SurlyMan to swing down to Des Moines in the midst of delivering his wonderful beer to the good folks of Minneapolis-St. Paul? Thanks feloniousmonk, but two cans isn't going to hold me for very long. I foresee a lot of road trips in a northerly direction.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.6/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Into a tulip glass, pours a thick black with reddish tones. Held up to a light, you see a deep red through the blackness (not, darkness;) ). Massive, MASSIVE head, tan, frothy and long lasting, with lacing down the glass and a residual bubbly film left on top.

Aroma is a little weaker than I'd anticipated, and am thus slightly miffed. But, oh wait, its damn delicious. Coffee, sweet and slightly burnt malts, some toffee swirling around, and then there is this nutty earthy thing there, really makes it something special.

And then, the taste. This is an interesting beer. And by interesting I mean wicked awesome. The brewer describes it as an 'brown/porter/apa', a pretty apt description. It really does taste and feel like a brown, but its so much beyond that. Swirling around is caramel and burnt malts, coffee, chocolate, nutty, a tiny sugar sweetness that finishes dry and slightly bitter by means of a sly hopping, with the finish long and savory.

The body is just right, medium bodied and easy to drink but feeling full and just very well put together. This is a beer for beer drinkers, easy to drink if you just want a beer, comlex enough to make you ponder it should you want to. In addition to Furious, a very good beginning line-up to what I'm sure will be a very successful brewery.

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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 749 ratings.