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Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Educational use only; do not reuse.

810 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 810
Hads: 2,409
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 18.8%
Wants: 657
Gots: 347 | FT: 25
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: feloniousmonk on 05-28-2006

Bender steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala.
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 810 | Hads: 2,409
Photo of CoryJones
1.22/5  rDev -70.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.25

Coffee bender such as this one is supposed to have a lot of body and great flavor to it. in addition, I was expected something that resembled coffee. This can had no flavor, bland, and for being touted as a great microbrewery, I was left very disappointed.

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Photo of ChadQuest
1.86/5  rDev -55.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Pours a dark brown/black with minimal lacing.
smokey and roasty on the nose, also on the palatte,with tons of coffee. literally tastes like the time i cold french pressed sumatra beans with storm king out of curiousity, but a little less offensively stale coffee flavor then that was, but non the less this coffee does have that stale personality to it. some nutty characteristics is the only other note that sneaks past the aweful stale coffee onslaught.

I had to drink this one very cold,around 35-40f. I had one at 55f or so,how i drink all my beers, and the coffee flavor was so offensive i couldn't even finish. Chilling it down to 35-40 hid alot of the off flavors and made it somewhat more enjoyable.

Before you say i must not be a coffee drinker, you are wrong. i have been in the coffee industry and geek'd out on coffee for years.
While the Casual coffee drinker may like this, i would be surprised if a real coffee geek tried this and found it enjoyable.
Cardboard box lovers may love this.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
1.99/5  rDev -52%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured a pretty much solid black with one finger tan head.

The smell was pretty much only coffee. And when I say coffee I don't mean coffee notes or beans I mean straight coffee.

The taste was also JUST of coffee. It tasted like day old coffee served cold with a little carbonation and a light mouthfeel.

I tend to love beers with coffee added but this one was just gross. I guess I could have gotten an off can but I tend to think this beer is just not for me so take this review as you will.

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Photo of Keith238
2.46/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

16 oz can received in a trade as an extra. Looked interesting but I immediately thought of "Buzz Beer" from the old Drew Carey Show.

Poured very dark brown, not quite black. Head disappeared quickly with no lacing in the glass. The mouthfeel and appearance were about the only aspects that I found remotely appealing about this beer. The taste was acidic. The combination of coffee and beer smells very unappealing like a sink with dirty glasses of coffee mugs and beer glasses.

Judging by other reviews, people obviously like it so don't let me disuade you from giving it a try. This was my first and likely my last because I don't see my taste changing that much any time soon. In the mean time, I'll do my coffee and beer drinking at separate times.

Thanks just the same to Joe for including it as an extra, I'm always looking to try a new beer.

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Photo of thanksforcoming
2.51/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

The nose is coffee. The taste is coffee and a stout. I think they accomplished infusing the coffee with beer. Folgers is what I smell and taste. I really liked Blakkr. Look forward to tasting more from Surly but this brew was a bust.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.64/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Served on-draught at a bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Reviewed from notes. Serving vessel was a Surly Mug. Cost was $5.00 USD.

A: No real head at all. Solid black colour. Mildly appealing.

Sm: Coffee, mocha, and alcohol. A mild strength aroma.

T: Coffee, light chocolate and vanilla, and buried caramel. Not horribly complex, but balanced and decently built.

Mf: Smooth and wet. A bit too thick. Doesn't really suit the flavours; it should be coarse and dry.

Dr: Not really drinkable. More of a tame sipper, which is inexcusable at this low an ABV. I wouldn't have it again, but it's okay for the style. Coffee beer fanatics might be the only ones that will truly like this. Give me a Black Damnation II Mocha Bomb any day of the week, but leave this one be.

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Photo of harrymel
2.72/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Canned 25SEP11 A: dark brown with a transient finger or so of off tan foam which falls quickly to a scattered surface. excellent clarity and spotty lace. (2.5) S: Smells like breakfast coffee. Plain and black with the slightest hint of burnt nuts. Maybe a little bit of a cinnamon tone. (3) T: coffee is present, but seems stale. The beer itself seems a bit stale with a bit of soil and bitterness. Again, a hint of nuts. (2.5) M: Thin with moderate carb and a semi dry finish. Sadly, this so far has been the best part. (3.5) O: Not impressed with this offering. Like the regular version much better. (2.5)

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Photo of johnnnniee
2.74/5  rDev -34%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Received in trade from GPHarris, thanks for the opportunity! Pours a deep brown with garnet highlights when held to light. Tightly bubbled beige head shows moderate retention and lace. Smells like freshly ground coffee beans mostly. I try to find something else in the aroma but the coffee is overpowering my olfactory system. Taste really follows the aroma. Upfront I get bitter roasted coffee, midway through I get a hint of sugary sweetness (cream maybe?) finish is a long lingering acridic roasted coffee. Did I mention this tastes like coffee. Medium body and carbonation level, acridic bitter mouthfeel. I will preface this by saying I don't drink coffee. I enjoy some beer with coffee flavors or with coffee added, but this one is to far over the top for me. I can't find the beer underneath the coffee. One and done on this one.

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Photo of zoolzoo
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Surly Coffee Bender tastes strikingly similar to unsweetened iced coffee. Mission accomplished?

Firstly, I have to give Surly credit for infusing this beer with so much coffee flavor and aroma, pretty impressive. Unfortunately overall, I don't think the base beer can stand up to the beans. I cant really find many characteristics that are indicative to the brown ale buried under all of this coffee.

The aroma is pretty good actually. Ground coffee beans, slight bit of malt. I love the smell of coffee.

Taste is somewhat acidic, derivative of low quality, unsweetened coffee. Theres not enough malt to balance out the raw nuttiness - it needs to be a little sweeter and more well rounded. Goes down a little rough!

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Photo of Rifugium
2.78/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Had a can of this alongside the base beer.

Good appearance, much like the regular Bender, deep dark brown, but still clear when held to the light; a medium-sized off-white head held for a few minutes and sank to a ringlet, leaving a few dabs of lacing on the glass. Nose full of coffee, with lesser notes of caramel malts. Taste was pure, straight-up bitter black coffee and nothing else. Just blew me away and made me cringe. There's a good way of using coffee in a beer, but for me, this isn't it. I pretty much hate coffee, unless it's in beer, then I actually like it a lot. But when I do have a coffee beer, I want a coffee beer, not a cold can of pure coffee. This was bitter, acrid, one-dimensional, and lacking any sense of balance. I literally could not drink this. But if you love cold, bitter coffee, get as much of this as you can.

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Photo of craytonic
2.8/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at churchkey DC

Appearance: Dark amber-brown pour with some blood red tint; tan head with little lacing. Not entirely opaque.

Smell: Old coffee, sweet dark candy malts

Taste: Loads of thin, stale coffee and some residual sweetness

Mouthfeel: Way to thin

Overall: Too thin and too much coffee. I've had this in both a can and on draft and didn't enjoy it either time.

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Photo of badbeer
2.81/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured out black with a nice head that retained well. Smell was of old coffee, maybe a little cream to the nose as well; wasn't good. Taste was full of old and not enjoyable coffee. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and medium carbonation levels. Drinkability is not good. I didn't even finish my first glass of it. Surly makes good beer, but this was disappointing. Give me the regular Bender.

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Photo of jmarsh123
2.83/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours deep brown with a small tan head.

Smells of coffee obviously and some chocolate. Not bitter roasted coffee like I'm used to, but a smooth general aroma.

Lots of coffee flavors, but again not exactly like fresh roasted. It's kind of weird. A little earthy bitterness on the back end.

A little bit light on the mouthfeel with good carbonation.

Kind of weird and kind of a disappointment. I love Surly and I love coffee beers, but this one isn't for me. A little one note and kind of tastes like cheap coffee as opposed to something gourmet. I'll stick to the regular Bender.

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Photo of Cresant
2.85/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this 16 oz. can into a Sierra Nevada Hops glass. The modest head sat atop a murky brown body. It reminded me of really strong brewed tea that has sat too long. Not too pretty.

Smell was porter-like. Some raisin notes. No coffee aroma? Odd.

Taste was coffee. Sweet fruitiness, raisins. Tangy. Light brown sugar. Much more Brown Ale than Coffee.

Mouthfeel was thinner than expected. Mild carbonation. Not a favorite.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
2.85/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is a great low ABV beer for coffee lovers. Unfortunately, I am not a coffee lover hence the low ranking here. Poured from fresh can into a tulip glass. Pours a dark brown body with a few reddish hues. Inch thick, dense and creamy, brown head that dissipates slowly and leaves a nice lacing. Aroma has lots of fresh coffee up front. When this warms up a bit, some nice roasts, caramels, and toffee brown malts come out. A light chocolate, nuts, and vanilla. Flavor is similar. Lots of fresh, espresso coffee with a nice, rich brown maltiness. Caramel, chocolate, roast, vanilla, some biscuit, and a light earth. Finishes dry and lightly bitter with lots of coffee and a nice earthy roast. Lengthy aftertaste following a medium, somewhat watery body at times and a moderate, creamy carbonation.

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Photo of PatronWizard
2.88/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Shared by Mauerhan (getting really tired of typing that).

Pours a dark cola and super deep burgandy. Froths up a creamy half finger head. Nice looking.

Smells of straight coffee grounds. Reminds me of my grandparents roasting coffee in an old percolator over a fire at the river. I like coffee flavor but this may have pushed the boundary too far.

Tastes like old coffee. Trying to enjoy it. Fresh coffee now. Fresh coffee grounds.

Very dry and not very thick. Did I mention that it's dry as dirt?

Overall: they went too far with the coffee

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Photo of AgentZero
2.91/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Deep dark brown with a tan head. Quickly receeded leaving some nice lacing to look at.

S - Smells like burnt cocoa and wood. Almost reminds me of gin.

T - And the taste reminds me of gin, has that really woody taste to it. Definately get the roasted malts but I don't really taste any coffee in this at all. Too woody, don't care for it, and just not a whole lot going on.

M - Solid, medium bodied with some solid carbonation.

D - It's not hard to drink, but it's just not particularly pleasant either, not going to do much of this.

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Photo of biglite351
2.96/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - odd combination of brown and red. Tall creamy tan head that leaves spiderweb lacing.

S - very mild. Some coffee, malts and something mildly sweet. Actually it seems to have some "freezer burn" smell for some odd reason.

T - mild iced coffee flavor that increases in the after taste. A bit of q bitter hit, but not from the coffee.

M - light coating good tingle on top and sides of tongue.

D - maybe one, depending on the other choices.

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Photo of djmichaelk
3.02/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16oz can into a perfect pint. Courtesy of pullen (thank you!).

A - Translucent brown, with a rocky one-finger head. Retention is poor, it's gone after a few seconds, and some lacing down the glass.

S - Nothing too special here. Very much the standard brown ale, with some stale coffee flavors on top. The coffee helps, but otherwise it's a bit underwhelming.

T - Well, hmph. I had very high expectations for this brew. What I'm getting instead is the standard roastiness from a brown, maybe a bit of toast and some nuttiness, but then completely blown out by the three-day-old stale coffee flavor in the finish. The base beer seems to taste pretty good, but that coffee is killing any subtlety or flavor. Disappointing.

M - Again, nothing special. Thin like a standard brown, high carbonation. Medium to dry finish.

D - For the most part, I could drink a ton of this based on the ABV. The problem is the aftertaste from the coffee. The staleness and bitterness of it just gets to me. Still maybe a bit above average, but only just.

O - This was a huge disappointment for me after having such high hopes for it. It's possible I just got an old can of it, so I'll be seeking this out again to give it another shot, and I'll come update this if there's any difference.

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Photo of beertunes
3.04/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Thanks to Kurmaraja for this one. Upfront, know that I hate coffee. Don't drink the stuff, and tend to find that it overpowers any beer that it's in. Caveat complete, let's crack this can!

Poured into straight pint glass. Poured a deep brown, with a slight reddish tint, and had about 1/8 inch of light brown head that had decent retention and OK lacing.

Whoa! The aroma is like walking into a diner just before the breakfast rush hits, all coffee all the time. Only the slightest bit of of malt shows through the bast of Joe. Same on the tongue, thoroughly coffee, and just the slightest bit of beer appears.

The body was pretty nice, just a bit thinner than I prefer in a Brown Ale, but smooth, except for some coffee bitterness at the back end. Drinkability will totally depend on your view of coffee. You can figure out where I'm at. Overall, a solid brew, and one that a lot of people would love. I'm not one of those people. I just didn't enjoy the beer, but I'm thankful for the gift, and for the experience for having tried it. YMMV.

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Photo of IdrinkGas
3.1/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from the can into a snifter.

A: Reminds me of water from a rusty pipe. Watery brown color.

S: Coffee in the nose but much less than I expected.

T:Burnt watered down coffee flavor. This is what I imagine artificially flavored coffee seltzer water to taste like.

M: A little high in carbonation. I would like this more if the carbonation was toned down slightly.

If I want a coffee beer I would chose a coffee stout instead of this. The brown ale and coffee just seems like an odd pairing to me. Not my cup of tea at all. The only beer from Surly that I have disliked thus far.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.12/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to amerak for sending me this alongside other awesome Surly offerings. Poured into a tulip glass out of a 16oz can. At the time of consumption (late December), this was about 2 months old. Bender may be one of my favorite brown ales brewed in the country, so I was excited about this one.

Pours a far more blackened appearance than anticipated - nearly opaque, save for the brownish reddish tinges glowing at the sides of the glass when held against the light. Contains an off-khaki head that sticks around for a good long while, although does eventually dissipate into a small ring. The effect does make it look like a cold cup of freshly brewed coffee, which is quite appealing given what I'm about to venture into.

Cold ground coffee immediately hits the nostrils upon the first whiff, followed by some solid malty notes and slight sweetness soon after. The coffee is so intense on this beer that I cannot make out hardly anything else other than, interestingly enough, actual phenolic components that make up the *coffee* rather than the beer. Roasted espresso, light black pepper, caramel, fudge, vanilla, as well as a brief touch of dark dried fruit (I'm thinking berries?). The finish is a little bit more of the biscuity traits of the malts, as well as more caramel and toasted grainy notes, but it's really pushed to the back from where you can smell the coffee. Really unique, but quite one-dimensional in some ways.

What's up with the flavor, though? One sip, and things seem horribly wrong - rather than a pleasant roasted, spicy flavor from coffee, everything feels abnormally tannic and astringent. Even stranger, the coffee feels progressively charred, or burnt, or worse. This tastes like coffee that's been brewed from grounds that were seeped one time too many, and then watered down with ice and served a few days later. The malty profile from the Bender base is luckily there to add some textured balance, as well as a bit of sweetness (mainly caramel and vanilla) but the coffee is way too overpowering and far too charred in flavor for me to continue to go on. Carbonation is fine, but perhaps more body would saved this from feeling thinned, putrid, and watered down. I could not finish - I had to pass this on to someone else.

I absolutely am ashamed for not having enjoyed this beer as others apparently do, so I may blame this review on an off can or something. I'm actually a casual fan of iced coffee, but there was something really wrong and burnt tasting about the coffee profile at hand. It's ability to overpower the (good) base beer didn't help the cause any further, however. I'll gladly revisit this if someone pushes for it, but this really wasn't for me at all.

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Photo of jegross2
3.13/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Reviewing the Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company.
Score: 79

Canned 11/01/11, served in a pilsner glass (the only beer glass available), and and enjoyed 1/4/12.

Appearance: Pours three and a half fingers of foamy khaki-colored head (obviously exaggerated by the glass it was poured into) on top of a dark soda/caramel red/brown colored body that falls between transparent and translucent. Head settles into a half finger, leaving lots of sticky residue on the side of the glass. Good lacing. 4/5

Smell: Coffee and vanilla cream soda. Plenty of caramel aroma too. The aroma is a little fizzy, with the sugarier smells from the head of the beer "crackling" and "popping" such that they shot up my nose (akin to taking that first sip from a freshly poured Coke) when I got in too close for a smell. 3.5/5

Taste: My first impression was coffee up front that quickly turns into a caramel finish. Very malty middle (in fact, very malty overall), but not overly sweet. Hints of vanilla soda in the linger. As the beer layers, it becomes a more consistent coffee and caramel flavor throughout, including the finish. For a beer with a fizzy smell at pour, this beer tasted surprisingly flat. Did not detect any nuttiness. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied with light-plus carbonation. Felt a little flat and much waterier than expected. Finish is slightly sweet and the mouthfeel kind of reminds me of a totally melted malt ball. 2.5/5

Overall: Perhaps I cannot adjudge this beer too harshly because it was slightly over 60 days old, but I was not overly impressed with the base beer (Surly Bender) either (though that one too was old -- I tried a "fresher" can recently, but that can had no carbonation). I guess this one could be a step up from Bender if fresh, but I honestly felt like Bender had more "freshness upside" to it. Alas, some have informed me that Bender and Coffee Bender are not particularly the type of beer to "rapidly age," unlike Surly Furious (which was much better fresh). I really do not know how to feel about this beer, other than I did not particularly enjoy my first experience with it. Both Bender and Coffee Bender looked and smelled much better than they tasted. If you are buying Surly beers right now, do yourself a favor and skip this one and buy some (more) Abrasive Ale for a few extra dollars

Recommendation: Worth trying, but not particularly worth seeking out -- at least not if its 60+ days old. Flavors are not too intense or too harsh to put off casual beer drinkers.

Pairings: Peanuts?

Cost: $11.99 for a four pack of 16 oz cans.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.15/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

16oz can, courtesy of sonicdescent. Interesting beer. I should preface this by saying I usually like about 1/5 beers I try with coffee added. Call me a purist... Anyway - pours a robust brown color, edges of ruby. Not unlike the regular Bender, but I think it's a little lighter if that makes any sense at all and not as nice of a head. Nose is all coffee - really great clear coffee bean aroma. Unfortunately that's pretty much all I'm getting, besides a muted cry from the roasted malt trying to be heard. This is a tasty beer, I just find it a bit one-dimensional. If you like coffee beers, this will surely do the trick. I really like the coffee flavor I'm getting here but I just wish there was more to go along with it in this case. I had the regular Bender the other night and thought it was actually more full and more complex than this spiffed up version. Mouthfeel came across as a bit thin and watery, I don't know why. All in all this is a fine beer, it just might not be my thing. I've loved everything else I've tried from these guys so this beer was definitely worth the try, especially if coffee is your bag.

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Photo of n2185
3.17/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a very dark brown with only hints of red coming through at the edges and a finger of light tan head. The head quickly recedes into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: Coffee dominates the nose. There are a sweet creaminess and some chocolate notes to it as well, but mostly coffee. As it warms, a slight nutty aroma comes out.

T: Robust coffee up front followed by some slight roasted malt characters. The finish has a nutty and lightly bitter character to it.

M: Medium body and carbonation, though the body has a slightly watery characteristic.

O: Overall, not a bad beer, but almost indistinguishable from a typical coffee stout. I pick up on a slight nuttiness in the finish, but that's about the only brown ale characteristic this beer has. You could put it in a lineup of coffee stouts and likely not be able to pick it out. As a brown ale, it's almost unrecognizable and as a coffee stout it doesn't really stand out from the pack.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 810 ratings.