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Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

741 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 741
Hads: 1,827
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 8.72%
Wants: 449
Gots: 263 | FT: 11
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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Reviews: 741 | Hads: 1,827
Photo of BARFLYB
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to LaCoursiere for adding this in our recent trade.

A- Surly Bender pops open with some ivory foam already formed in the can. Once out, the liquid takes on a shoepolish brown look with some red poking in at the sides. Not much of a cap, no lacing.

Smell is fairly easy for a fairly simple beer, Bender does have pungent strength. This includes a boatload of English malt giving off nuts and slight toffee and grain.

Taste starts off malty and nutty and well, that's pretty much it. But wait, English malt is just large in this. A bit of chocolate malt in there as well, maybe a pich of cocco flavor/brown sugar. Bender is a str8 forward style with a str8 forward taste. No bells or whistles.

Feel is kinda tame and the carbonation is pretty dull. It just sort of goes down smooth like and there is no prick. For the style though, not everything needs to pop like that.

Bender is great beer and one I would take down with some BBQ, it seems like a great match. 5% leads to all day drinking. (1,002 characters)

Photo of matttttYCE
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2 Finger, slightly off-white, creamy head. Head retention is pretty good. Lace not so much. Color of the beer is cola/deep burgundy.

Aroma is of cola, some roasted and lighter malts, caramel, plenty of nutty aromas, hints of coffee, cocoa, and vanilla. Hints of hops in there as well, but they're really drowned out by the cola aromas.

Very similar to the aroma. Cola, sweet caramel and roasty malts, nutty taste, lighter chocolate and coffee, a bit of bitterness from the hops, maybe some slight vanilla in the background there. Easy drinking for sure.

Consistency is crisp, carbonation is light as well, body is light, almost thin, and the finish fades quickly but not in an instant. Mouthfeel overall leaves a bit to be desired.

Overall - A decent beer overall. One worth trying in my book, but not anything that knocked my socks off. Just a good brown ale. (864 characters)

Photo of craytonic
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
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. (522 characters)

Photo of hoppymeal
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
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. (354 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.64/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Brown body with flecks of red. Not a head on it to speak of, although I poured carefully. After a few minutes, there's no sign of life.

Smell - Light chocolate and a strong toffee aroma, followed by some earthy hops. Not a strong smell, but what's there is nice.

Taste - Follows the smell a lot. Toffee and chocolate from the malt, finishing with a hefty bitterness. The hops at the end are earthy and slightly grassy. Maybe it's even a little astringent in the finish.

Mouthfeel - The bitterness in the back are a bit off-putting. The astringency is too, but it's otherwise easy drinking. Medium-low carbonation.

Overall - Nothing that stands out, but what it's got is good. (730 characters)

Photo of n2185
3.64/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown with only traces of red near the edges and a finger of tan head. The head recedes into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: Some roasted malts up front followed by sweet, nutty aromas. There is also a surprisingly strong citrusy hop aroma on the finish.

T: Roasted malts at first followed by a fairly subtle nutty flavor. The hops kick in, providing a piny bitterness to go along with the bitterness from the roasted malts. I also pick up some slight nutty flavors on the exhale.

M: Medium body and carbonation that goes well with the bitterness and leaves a clean finish.

O: A pretty decent beer. Nothing spectacular and very porter-like for a brown ale, but decent nonetheless. I wish the nutty flavors had come through a bit more instead of hiding behind the hops and roasted malts. (809 characters)

Photo of Docer
3.63/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from Brentk56 in a trade.. cheers! Great stuff!

- Large off-white ring of lace-maker over a murky dark brown cola-colored or sun-tea colored brew. Dusting of foam.

- Light sweetness, brown sugar, grain, bready.. light bitter hopping. Grassy.

- Sharp clean water, sweet grain, oats, bread, dry bitter hop.. pine-like.

- Thin to medium bodied, creamy and slightly dry.

- Overall drinkable, flavorful, and light. Must say the coffee version is a bit better. (469 characters)

Photo of lackenhauser
3.63/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very dark, deep brown color. Some nice lacing remains as it goes down the glass. OK aroma-somewhat nutty and malty. Some bitterness upfront flavor wise. Somewhat of a grainy/chocolate like flavor. Nutty-again the bitterness dominates. Ok mouthfeel. Decent US brown. Nice caramel/nuttiness. I was not impressed the first go round with this beer-much better this time. (366 characters)

Photo of israel
3.63/5  rDev -12.1%
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... (659 characters)

Photo of deebo
3.62/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Tan head that quickly dissipate, very dark brown color.

S-Dominated by nutty malt

T-Smooth, heavy toasted malts. Some residual lingering hop aftertaste

M-Simply smooth and easy to drink.

D-Easy to drink, very nice

O-Good flavor-toasted malt is the dominant flavor, very drinkable. (287 characters)

Photo of weeare138
3.62/5  rDev -12.3%
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? (756 characters)

Photo of htomsirveaux
3.62/5  rDev -12.3%
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. (499 characters)

Photo of AwYeh
3.61/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into nonic pint glass, thanks to Ankur (arvjunk) for this one.

A: Pours a very dark red; transparent if in direct light. One finger frothy off-white head.

S: Aroma is of sweet malts- toffee, caramel, biscuits, dark fruit, and chocolate. Just a bit of coffee noticeable as well.

T: Dark fruits really come out in the taste, along bready, caramel, toffee malts- all done very well and far from cloying. A light spruce/grapefruit hop presence balances things, and a bit of vanilla shows up on the finish.

M: Thin body, moderate carbonation. Velvety texture (adjective stolen from the can, but a very apt descriptor).

D: Decent drinkability; I don't have any desire to have another one (even if that was an option), though there was nothing wrong with this one glass. (784 characters)

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to funkyaudio for the extra! Poured from can into tulip glass. Pours muddy brown with a rocky, fluffy, tan head that sticks around leaving excellent poofy lace along the sides of the glass. Aroma is fresh, floral, light peppermint, mint chocolate chip. Taste is cola, sweet, roasty, bitter chocolate. Soft, bubbly palate. Really just a solid session beer. A good brown ale is a difficult thing to find. (409 characters)

Photo of vande
3.59/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: nice, thick looking dark brown with a healthy head that leaves behind a sticky lacing all along the top of the pint glass.

S: light molasses & brown sugar...essentially, smells a little sweet

T:slightly sweeter, bit of brown sugar, grainy...

M: creamy, but heavier than some browns. I like!

O: I typically like my browns more on the nuttier side, but this was a pretty good can of beer.. (395 characters)

Photo of nataku00
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Can (canned date was rubbed out, but at least 7 months old) poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a dark murky brown, like a cola, with a finger of large bubble frothy tan colored head. Head dissipated quickly, leaving a lot of large hole lacing sticking to the glass, down to a thin collar and a few patches of bubbles along the surface. Fairly active carbonation streaming up from the bottom of the glass.

Nose is pretty muted, but smells of dark crusty bread, molasses, some dark fruit notes. Some mild coffee comes through as it warms a little.

Taste follows the nose, dark bread, dark fruits, molasses, and some coffee notes.

Light bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Somewhat refreshing and easy to drink. (722 characters)

Photo of supercolter
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not my favorite Surly offering, but not a bad beer none the less.
A- good, nice deep brown color, looks thick with an ok head and more lacing
S, T- Dark fruits, dry malt, this beer borders on sweet, but not too sweet, a touch of hops
M- medium, a bit lighter than expected, but good
D- not the quickest drinker, but the thicker body is the x factor there (354 characters)

Photo of PhxHorn
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one is a medium dark brown with a lumpy yellow head. Smells mildly of chocolate and coffee. Tastes very mildly of malt, chocolate, maybe some fruit, but it's such a mild flavor that nothing really makes itself known. Mouthfeel is just a bit too thin for my taste. A good beer, very drinkable, but nothing too special. (322 characters)

Photo of emyers
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark ruby-brown with a big off-white head. Leaves a nice lacing.

Smell: Mild, but pleasant. Toffee, bread, yeast, just a hint of chocolate.

Taste: Toasted biscuits, more toffee, roast, nuts and caramel sweetness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: The oats really come through here. Very smooth. Light to medium carbonation. Goes down easy.

Overall: A solid representation of a brown ale. I really like the addition of the oats. (434 characters)

Photo of bamadog
3.57/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from the can to a snifter, review is from notes taken on 1/29/2010. Thanks to MPLS for including this in a trade!

Appearance: Pour is a very deep dark brown and starts with a 1/2 finger, light tan head that is creamy looking, but fades almost immediately to nothing but a thin ring around the surface and a light whisp that is unevenly distributed over the top; body is nearly opaque with the exception of some deep ruby highlights taht appear when held to the light that offer up a glimpse of what looks like pretty strong carbonation; lots of spotty lacing is left on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Not especially potent and kind of underwhelming. Light hints of some earthy hoppiness and a lightly sweet maltiness that becomes a little more pronounced as it warms.

Taste: Very nice flavors combine here -- right away there is a burst of that bitter and earthy hoppy flavor that combines with a nutty sweet (but not sugary or carmally) maltiness; slight hints of a dry cocoa and amildly roasted coffee presence.

Mouthfeel: Body is a little thin, and the carbonation is a little harsh at first -- once the blast of carbonation washes away the body feels smooth and even a little creamy; a moderate stickiness is left on the roof of the mouth.

Drinkability: The numbers don't really show it, but I give it a 4 overall as I really enjoy the flavors and feel that I would find this to be a pretty refreshing beverage on a warm spring day, but not in the dog days of summer, as it does start to sit a little heavy on the belly. (1,536 characters)

Photo of CoolJosh
3.56/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A big thanks to treyrab for sharing one of these with me. I enjoyed this beer a lot, but reviewed more on its representation of the style. Tasted more like an oatmeal coffee stout then it did a nut brown ale.

A. Very dark beer brown, looks more like a darker quad with some pretty nice lacing light tan head with little foaminess.

S. 3.5 Slight coffee and chocolate, and a fair amount of oats come through in my personal sniffing, some tin is coming out

T/M. 3.5 some bitter chocolates and coffee roasts. Very malty and a fair amount of oats coming through. A little on the airy side, but not out of character for the style.

D 3.5. Ok but way over rated, not what I was expecting and some bland off flavors, not at all representative of the style (750 characters)

Photo of cdkrenz
3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Two inches of medium brown head standing firm on top of a very dark brown body with seemingly little action.

S - Very mild soapy aroma.

T - The flavor is slightly chocolaty with a hint of hops. The finish is that of subtle hops that begs to be consumed.

M - This is a super smooth brew that has an easy flow to it. It goes down very nicely for a brown ale.

~ This is a very good beer with allot of fine qualities to offer. I will certainly recommend this beer to my friends. My true thanks go out to "drizzam" for his gift of the Bender. Thanks Bud! (558 characters)

Photo of goatgoat
3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks mikereaser for the opportunity.

Pours a hazy coppery brown. A thin tan head falls quickly into a thin ring. No lace.

Aroma is sweet bread, molasses, overlaid with citrus hops.

Flavor starts with sweet caramel malts, a little roasted note. Then the hop bitterness steps up, with a light citrus, slightly earthy flavor and a moderate bitterness into the finish.

Good sturdy but easy drinking feel. And even though the carbonation is a little high, the feel of it remains tame.

This seems to be a moderate brew for all the hype of it. I'd like a bit more roasted bitterness to balance with the hops but other than that it was decent. (643 characters)

Photo of MbpBugeye
3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Part of an awesome mixed 4 pack of Surly sent to me by Zimmerbloke.

A- Deep red with burnt shades of brown and purple. Moderate head with moderate lacing.

S- Herbal, grassy and tea with lemon hoppiness with an even keeled roastiness. Oats and chocolate come out and give it aromas simliar to an oatmeal stout.

T- Bitterness comes from grassy and medicinal hops and a roasted malt. Some chocolate and citrus.

M- Dry, smooth and easy going. I just wish the end wasn't so bitter. (481 characters)

Photo of srandycarter
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours dark cola/ dark tea. Off white frothy head with excellent retention. Thick bubbled and somewhat webby lacing.

S - Mostly dark roasted malty goodness.

T - Heavy on the malt, no alcohol presence, finishes off clean. Howver, flavor kind of drops off in the middle, and the bitter is not completely enjoyable.

M - Medium body, creamy texture, fair carb.

D - This flavor tires fast for me. (398 characters)

Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 741 ratings.