1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,920 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,920
Reviews: 764
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 11.27%
Wants: 601
Gots: 216 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Bender steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala.

(Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 05-28-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,920 | Reviews: 764 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of macrosmatic
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Cyclone8 for this one. Reviewed from notes. Poured from 16 oz. can into pint glass.

A: Pours a nice rich brown color. Not a particular lot of visible carbonation nor does it form a lot of head.

S: Aroma is like a coffee sledgehammer. Awesome.

T: Coffee predominates. There is some earthy, spicy maltiness as well, enough to prevent this beer from being a one-trick pony.

M: Smooth, like a stout but not nearly as thick. The coffee bitterness does hang for a beat or two.

O: Definitely a good beer, and one you can start your morning with.

macrosmatic, May 21, 2012
Photo of Thingus
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Live tasting, can into Duvel Tulip... Huge thanks to OtisCampbell for this!!

Appearance; pours a dark, maduro cigar colored brown, with a two finger khaki colored head... Retention is moderate, and the head dissipates over a couple minutes to a thin ring around the glass... Lacing is pretty good, with patches of lace on the glass.

Smell; Smell is pretty mild, some slight coffee aromas, and a slightly bready, yeasty presence... Nothing extraordinary, but certainly not bad...

Taste; a great coffee flavor without any of the associated acidity or bitterness. The coffee kind of "sits on" the beer, and by that I mean it is the first flavor that pops right out, and as it gently fades out, a great , slightly nutty, bready brown shines through... The way the flavors meld together is wonderfully complex and it is perfectly balanced.

Mouthfeel; medium bodied with medium carbonation... Drinkability is superb at a touch over 5% ABV, it goes down extremely smooth... I could drink this all day.

Overall; probably the best brown I've ever had... Drinkability is superb, flavors are outstanding... Definitely a winner from Surly and I would drink this daily if I could... I also think it would make one hell of a beer bread...

Thingus, Mar 16, 2012
Photo of callmemickey
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown body with reddish hues. Light brown head that receded to a solid cap. Spotty lacing.

S: This is a unique beer. Unlike most coffee infused beers, this doesn't come across as roasted or burnt coffee. Instead, it is straight freshly ground coffee beans. Take some fresh ground coffee and rub it between your fingers right under your nose, and thats the smell of the Coffee Bender. Light caramel, toffee and nutty malts are in the background.

T: The fresh ground aroma doesn't translate as well to the flavor profile. By no means is it bad. It just loses that "freshness" of the coffee. The coffee is more of a roasted flavor here, and the malts shine through nicely.

M: Smooth, medium bodied. Lingering aftertaste. Solid carbonation from the can.

D: A very nice, if not unique, brew that anyone who enjoys a little coffee in their beer should take a chance on. There is a reason why Coffee Bender (and its kid brother Bender) rock the top of the American Brown Ale charts. They are that good.

callmemickey, Oct 07, 2009
Photo of abecall98
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Thank You Chewy08x.

*Accidentaly reviewed this under "Bender", it was coffee bender that I had, even better!

A - Looks like an average brown, slightly darker. Head is rather low and quick on the dissipation, not the prettiest beer, but not un appealing in the slightest.

S - Has a sweet, roasty, coffee, slight bitter smell. Smells like a hot brewed coffee with some sugar in it. Nice.

T - This beer tastes great. Heavy on the coffee flavor in a great way. Some slight sweet brown sugar sweetness follows, and then a coffee/hoppy bitterness in the finish. Lovely.

M - Weak. I could tell by the weak head that the mouthfeel would be rather bland. It feels wet, undercarbonated, and sticky. I wish there was more pop in it.

D - This beer has enough flavor to keep me asking for another sip, and doesn't get too overpowering in any aspect. Damn Drinkable!

O - I know why you guys love Surly. Because it is good.

Serving type: can

Reviewed on: 12-16-2009 02:35:50

abecall98, Dec 18, 2009
Photo of Mississipping
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights. A very small khaki colored head forms on top and dissipates quite quickly, simply leaving a thin ring behind. Sparse lacing on the glass.

S: Coffee is certainly dominant. It smells of a perfectly brewed coffee house coffee ... not roasted, not burnt. Chocolate is just below the coffee, along with much subtler hints of vanilla and nuttiness.

T: Following the smell, the coffee flavor is the most noticeable, but it isn't overwhelming. Hints of chocolate and vanilla are noticeable, but subtle. This really tastes a lot like a not-so-sweet iced coffee. It finishes with just a touch of hops and a delicious nuttiness.

M: Medium mouthfeel with ample carbonation. A nice weight on the tongue and the carbonation level seems very appropriate. Slightly creamy and very smooth.

D: This is extremely drinkable. Very flavorful, very well balanced, no hint of alcohol, and an appropriate mouthfeel make this really easy to put down. I'd have another one or two if I had any more of this. Delicious!

Mississipping, Apr 22, 2011
Photo of BDLbrewster
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this bad chicken into my 1845 pils pint. Coffee bean hued plum color with raging little bubbles everywhere. Thick rich head with wonderful retention and thin lacing. Smells like a bag of fresh ground coffee beans with a touch of sweet malt. I wish the coffee shop would serve this to me blended with ice on the way to work. Coffee up front then a bitter touch of raw beans followed up by an nice vanilla malty finish. The mouthfeel is a tad thin and watery, but the taste pays dividends. 5%, this is my new early morning fishing beer. It says coffee on the can, so it must be good for you!

BDLbrewster, May 08, 2009
Photo of TheDudeBeers
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into a pint glass

A - Aggressive pour produces about 2.5 fingers of head

S - The smell is fantastic. Pure coffee

T - Coffee and perhaps some creaminess. Definitely a pretty coffee forward beer for an ale. Perhaps it's because i'm a habitual coffee drinker but I find it to be a little bit bland. Almost like watered down coffee.

M - Tastes kinda thin if that makes sense. I guess most coffee beers i've had are stouts or porters which have a much thicker taste to them.

D - For a coffee beer I could drink a lot of this. Very easy drinking beer. Definitely more than a coffee Stout or Porter.

TheDudeBeers, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark brown with a nice sized off-white head, almost a light brown. The head retention is great but the lacing only made about half the glass.

S: Surprise, strong coffee lying on-top of Bender.

T: The taste is quite interesting here. The coffee doesn't hit strong at any particular time, it just is there, but not in an overpowering way. It's like drinking a bender and getting the roasted malts, chocolate, and slight hops, but all the while having a coffee taste spiked into every individual flavor. If you like coffee, you'll probably love this, if not....

Overall: Amazing beer, great mouthfeel, well carbonated and light-medium bodied. Not as drinkable as Bender though, the taste wears you down a bit.

AdmiralDiaz, Mar 07, 2009
Photo of Scotchboy
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another Surly can from Aaron, thanks man! Poured into a Samuel Smith nonic and paired with Maple Bacon biscuits for breakfast...epic...

A: Pours darkest brown, black and opaque where the beer is thickest and caramel and ruby at the edges. The head doesn't stick around too long or leave much lace.

S: The coffee isn't as prominent as I thought it might be but it's definitely present...nice espresso aromas mixed with caramel, wood, sweetness and nuttiness...some dark fruits as well maybe. Good coffee brown ale smell, subtle and well blended.

T: Coffee is a little more prominent here, especially on the finish. More caramel and roasted malts, nuttiness and woodiness. The beer has a touch of sweetness too, with a good bitter coffee finish.

MF: Moderate body, wet feel, decent carbonation.

O: A good coffee beer that really grew on me. I really like how the good Brown Ale characteristics come through and blend with the coffee. Nothing seems overpowering with this brew.

Scotchboy, Oct 15, 2011
Photo of samie85
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-This one is a ruby-hued brown color with a two finger head.

S-Coffee and chocolate malt with some earthy hop notes.

T-Bready and chocolatey malt notes with a nice bitter, roasty finish.

M-Really smooth mouthfeel with really low carbonation and medium body.

D-This is a really easy drinking coffee beer and one where the coffee component doesn't overwhelm the other flavors in the beer.

samie85, Jul 18, 2010
Photo of rfgetz
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color, letting some light in around the edges, cap of stiff creamy off-white head with decent retention. Scent is of fresh brewed black coffee on top of a carmely sweet and nutty brown ale base. Taste is a bit deeper then nose lead towards, coffee is fresher, more bean then brewed, and mingles perfectly with a rich nutty, light chocolaty, fresh grain and malty sweet brown ale base. The hallmark of Surly beers continues to be the smooth creamy body all of their beers acheive and the oats in this beer only continue to contribute to that. Overall, well balanced between coffee and brown ale.

rfgetz, Jun 27, 2011
Photo of ktrillionaire
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

G - Samuel Smith's pint

A - Black hue and tan foam, sticky lace everywhere. Basically perfect.

S - The mild understated nose is of chocolate and some light roasty tones, but mostly mocha-milk chocolate. Faint.

T - Same as the nose, although the roasted tones are much more present and impactful. Vanilla nuances and a smoothness imparted from the oats make this quite a mild and understated coffee-centric beer. And that is likely a good thing; there is certainly a glut of crass coffee beers out there, and it is nice to see something more reserved.

M - Softly carbonated, enhances the flavor.

D - Surly needs to get distribution here in Florida. This stuff is great.

ktrillionaire, May 03, 2010
Photo of number1bum
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

mymrnngjckt brought back a can of this for me from MN. Thanks man.

Pours a dark mahogany color with some dark garnet hues at the edges. Creamy two plus inches of tan head on top settle slowly to a full lace and leave some beautiful webbing on the sides of the glass.

The beer absolutely attacks my nose with an aroma of fresh coffee beans, and I love it. The coffee is amazing, and the aromas of caramel and chocolate malt go wonderfully with it. There is also some light roasted malt.

Taste brings out the bitter elements of the coffee beans, which I like but don't love as much as the nose. Don't get me wrong, this beer is super tasty, but on the palate the coffee flavor leans a bit more toward burned cup o Starbucks than bold cup o columbian. The caramel and chocolate malts also don't come out as much as in the nose; I'd like a bit more sweetness. The subtle nutty flavors from the original Bender are also lost from the attack of coffee. Finishes quite bitter and roasty. This is so nitpicky because this is still very good.

Mouthfeel is a creamy, slick medium body with a dry, bitter finish. Carbonation is pretty modest.

This is a very good beer, and the nose is just out of this world. On the whole I think I like the original Bender better, but this would be a wonderful change of pace to mix it up every now and then. If the sweet malts came out a bit more I think it would be truly superb. Still, a great beer.

number1bum, Sep 22, 2009
Photo of MeLikeBeer
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

If you've had (and enjoyed) Surly's original Bender...(and why wouldn't you???) then you'll freakin' love this...
Comes to me in the glass...dark, rich, almost like a porter or a deep brown ale (like Bender)...but with a frothy tan head that beckons you in.
Make sure you smell this beer! Aromas of roasted coffee, nuts and chocolate. Mmm...
The coffee tastes (as others have reviewed) definitely overpowers the flavors of original Bender...but original Bender this is not.
Rich, delicious flavor...caramels and roasted coffee, sticky malt and a little hop finish.
It would be nice to pour this from the Coffee pot every morning. Great beer.

MeLikeBeer, Oct 09, 2006
Photo of joepais
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Buebie for sending another Surly want my way.
Can poured into my Sam Adams glass produced a good finger worth tan of head that settled down to a thick lace. The body of the brew was brown in color with red highlights'

Guess what it smells like coffee ;-) Probably no surprise there, but it also has a nice sweet aroma a well. The flavor mimics the nose with a light bitter finish. Comparing it to other coffee brews I have experienced this is a lot more like a Ice coffee flavor and feel in my mouth. I like it, I could easily see myself kicking back a few of these on a hot day and feel quite refreshed. If you are into ice coffees you got to give this a try

joepais, May 03, 2009
Photo of Adamostella
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out almost like the Mississippi river, kind of a muddy, slightly opaque brown/red. The appearance is actually my least favorite part of the beer. Moving on to what's important though.

The smell and taste of this really set this beer apart from me. They set out with a very clear goal--coffee flavored-- and this drink delivers it in spades.

I am a huge fan of coffee flavored beer and often seek them out, a good many of them manage to get the smell at least partially correct, then kind of fade on the actual taste.

Coffee Bender though delivers on that promise from wire to wire from the first rich coffee scented whiff to the ultra smooth rich coffee taste that is the closet actual beer I've had to drinking coffee. It is quite incredible what they managed to pull off with this one!

Adamostella, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of BretSikkink
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Same rich mahogany color of the Bender, along with the impressively sticky and full brownish head and lacing.

The aroma is fucking badass. Not some insipid, bourgeois, fine-ground and drip-brewed coffee; more like French pressed boutique beans. Very strong and very impressive; the beer hides underneath with the same quality dark malt character as usual.

The flavor is dominated by the coffee, and makes short work of any of the subtler aspects of the original Bender. The strong, dark fruit body still remains, along with the long, slightly sweet, slightly roasted finish. Now accompanied by the java, it's even longer!

The mouthfeel is still broad and rich, with tons of little caressing bubbles that still stays far away from over-carbonated.

Surly knows how to do it, and they've done it again. This is fantastic beer, and I would get myself a ton of this if I lived nearby. I had two pints on tap and felt like moving on, but my sister gave me a 4 pack of regular Bender and I've been leaving a cup or so of coffee in my press each morning to stir in with my beers that night. One to go!

BretSikkink, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of gford217
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can courtesy of Buebie poured into a tulip.

Pours dark mahogany and settles almost completely black in the glass underneath a huge beige head that lingers as a cap and leaves tons and tons of lacing.

Fresh roasted coffee aromas jump out of the glass with hints of the caramel malts in the background.

A quick roasted coffee hit gives way to the caramel malts in the taste. The roasted coffee comes back strong and leaves a slightly acidic bitterness in the finish. There are hints of chocolate in the background that enhance the sweetness and keep the coffee from thoroughly dominating.

The mouthfeel is extremely smooth with good carbonation and has an overall velvety feel to it.

Another winner in a can from Surly. A very drinkable brown ale with some good coffee character.

gford217, Feb 10, 2009
Photo of nickapalooza86
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep brown, with a light brown head, nice lacing

Smell is COFFEE, cream, hazelnut, ya it smells liking sticking you face in to a bag of coffee beans.

Taste is coffee, roasted nuts, hazelnut, toffee, coffee, coffee and and a little coffee in there to!

medium light mouthfeel, finishes like a bittering coffee.

Wow, never had a beer that had this much Coffee flavor before, it is delicious, I drink my coffee black so this beer floats my boat. If you do not like coffee steer clear of this beer, it is not like FBS where you could like the beer and not coffee.... If you do not like coffee I can garuntee you will hate this beer with a passion!

nickapalooza86, Aug 30, 2013
Photo of Treebs
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 oz. can into a Great Divide cervoise goblet. Canned on 6/24/11.

A: Pours a dark brown with some light deep cherry wood hues around the edges. The light squeaks through at random points. A light tan head forms on the pour, about 2 finger in height with some nice retention. Some splotchy lace down the edges of the glass.

S: Smells of wood, nuts and malts. The coffee comes through just slightly in the end in a bitter ground fashion. Slightly disappointing as I expected more of the coffee upfront.

T: There's the coffee I was looking for. I taste some mocha and vanilla with a slight hint of chocolate. Nice bitter coffee grounds with a toasted malt at the backend. This tastes like a nice iced coffee.

M: Light prickly carbonation with a very smooth, but somewhat thin. Goes down very easy with a high drinkability.

O: What a great beer. While the nose slightly disappointed me the taste and drinkability more than made up for it. Nicely integrated flavors and no taste overpowered the other.

Treebs, Sep 01, 2011
Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 16 oz can.

A - Pours a nice rich dark brown with some ruby red hues on the edges. There is a nice light tan head that forms that is about 1 inch tall. It is quite dense and frothy.

S - Nice coffee notes are present with some slight nuttiness typical of AB Ales. Very good coffee notes that are not too strong. There is also some nice chocolate notes on the back end.

T & M - Starts off with some delicious grainy biscuity malt then supplemented by some nice strong coffee espresso notes that are mellowed out by some sweet chocolate. Mochaccino notes as well as some nice grainy and earthy malt tones. There is some caramel note present as well. Mouthfeel is quite nice and medium with some good frothiness but still it is not too overwhelming.

O - Very good brew with delicious coffee notes that are not too overwhelming. Great overall and all around. Great version of Bender that IMO is more enjoyable.

JoEBoBpr, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of Florida9
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a shaker's pint. Forms a very small, but stable, tan head that leaves some nice sheets of lacing on the side of the glass. Beer itself is a deep chestnut color, but is still fairly translucent.

S: Unmistakable scent of coffee with some roasty, toasty malts and a complimentary nuttiness.

T: Loads of nuts, like peanuts and walnuts, some roasted malt and a slight creaminess. Some light coffee notes, but not nearly as prevalent as in the scent.

M: On the lighter side of medium - no matter how many times I have drank this beer, I am always surprised at how light the body is. Appropriate carbonation.

D: A very nice blend of flavors with a light body that makes this beer quite easy to drink and enjoy.

Florida9, Feb 27, 2011
Photo of AApparel
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours two fingers of a light colored foamy cream colored head on top of a dark soda with slight caramel red hints. Head settles into a half finger, leaving slight lacing.

Smell: Plenty of caramel aroma, with a full vanilla and coffee body. The aroma is a carbonated with a very sugarier smell. Almost that of a coffee cola smell. 

Taste: Plenty of fresh brewed dark coffee, over a classic brown ale flavor. A roasty nuttiness with hints of coco and some slight fruity, earthy hops. Though the hops are not a strong. Coffee up front, with malty middle, and a brown ale hoppy finish. Not as sweet as the smell makes you think. Definitely a well rounded taste. 

Mouthfeel: Has a great mouthfeel and drinkability. Decent carbonation level and very smooth. Lighter bodied than you would expect, especially since it has such a big coffee flavor to it. Bitter finish on the end. Very good beer, a must for any coffee lover or coffee brown ale fan.

AApparel, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of cvfish
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured a brown color with ruby highlights that produced a fluffy white head which had great retention and left beautiful lacing on the side of the glass

S - The aromas produced by this beer were a good bit of maltiness followed by wonderful wiffs of real coffee

T - The taste of this beer was surprisingly refreshing, very malty, some caramels notes, and followed by a mad rush of coffee, but it works really well here, very good and fresh tasting

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had medium body followed by a light to moderate amount of carbonation

D - This was a very good, well crafted beer, as my first official Surly review, I must admit that I can't wait to try more of their beers

cvfish, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of woosterbill
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz can into a La Chouffe tulip; shared with a couple friends at NEBCO. Big thanks to HopStoopid120 for tossing me this can in an in-person trade.

A: Looks just like the regular bender we split right before this one: i.e., a clear deep brown body with reddish glints under an inch of fine tan foam. Pretty good retention, light lace. Attractive.

S: Coffee. Nothing but clean, bitter, dry, nutty, roasty coffee. A little thin (some malt would be nice), but still excellent.

T: Coffee jumps out, of course, followed by some nutty malt and light hoppy bitterness. Long, super-bitter finish. Lightly fruity. Delicious.

M: Lively, highly carbonated, medium body. A bit over the top, but fun.

O: I love coffee beers in general, and this one did a pretty great job delivering a pure coffee onslaught. For that I give it tremendous credit. As with some lighter-bodied coffee stouts, though, this beer just didn't have the body to stand up to the dominant coffee flavors, and the result was just a one-note show; while I'm a big fan of this note, I can't get too excited about a beer that gives away its beer-ness so completely.

On a more positive note, the Coffee Bender made a terrific blend with some fresh Gandhi-Bot on tap at the brewery - I was trying to convince Matt to brew a coffee IPA (after being absolutely blown away by one of those from The Kernel Brewery in London), and the CB/GB blend was pretty impressive. Fingers crossed!


woosterbill, Jul 09, 2011
Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 1,920 ratings.