Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

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Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

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790 Reviews
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Reviews: 790
Hads: 2,312
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.86%
Wants: 642
Gots: 316 | 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.
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Reviews: 790 | Hads: 2,312
Photo of rye726
4.52/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark brown with a silky tan head. Excellent lacing. Nose has coffee, chocolate, roasted nuts, and bready malts. Taste has more rosted malts and sweet coffee beans up front followed by cocao, molasses, a hint of hops and earthy cocoa with bitter espresso through the finish. Nice creamy body is well carbonated. Good to see another quality beer in a can. (361 characters)

Photo of Gyle41386
4.52/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Brown pour with some reddish tint. Nice tan head sits atop, and deposits streaks of lacing on the glass.

Huge coffee nose and flavor. I don't even like coffee, and I love this beer. Loads and loads of fresh coffee, but that doesn't overwhelm the brown ale underneath. Lots of sweet caramel and toffee, with some bittering hops in the finish.

Medium-full body. Plush carbonation. This beer, like everything else I've tried from Surly thus far, is an absolute joy to drink. (473 characters)

Photo of digitalketchup
4.52/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 16oz can into a pint glass.

Appearance - 3 toothpicks of head vanished into a thin brim inside the glass. Thick and brown throughout. Little lacing.

Smell - Similar to what the inside of a Starbucks smells like. Rich coffee smells

Taste - I can taste the darker ale underneath the coffee notes. Very refreshing and inviting brew. It's not as bitter as I expected. It's sugary sweet, rich, and down-to-earth!

Mouthfeel - Thin carbonation and a little less "meaty" than I was hoping for.

Drinkability - Keep em coming! This is a delicious, delicious brew and I am pleased to have picked up a 4-pack! (617 characters)

Photo of HopHobo
4.52/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Enjoy several pints of this brew on tap at the Hopleaf in Chitown over the weekend.

A-It was dark so the beer appeared to pour very dark for a brown ale. Decent one finger head that diminishes very quickly to leave lacing on the sides of the glass and a thin layer of froth on top of the beer.

S-The immediate smell that dominates this brew is roasted coffee. Some underlying sweet smells along with smells of nuttiness that can be detected in the base bender beer as well. Overall, one of the best smelling coffee beers that has ever graced my nose.

T-Oh mama, thank god someone bought me a different beer because I could have drank this one all night long. Great coffee flavor without being too abrasive. The sweetness of the brown ale really blends together well with the roasted coffee flavor to make this a very tastey brew.

M-Mouthfeel was medium with good carbonation, very distinguishable as a brown ale and not a stout or porter.

D-My only regret with this beer is that I had it after having several other beers, I would love to try this beer as my first of the night...oh and get a growler(hint, hint). Very good beer and as always...I'm impressed with Surly. (1,174 characters)

Photo of hero27
4.52/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled for free on-tap @ the Darkness release.

I love the "original" Bender, but the flavor of this brew is truly unique...the coffee flavors are just so fresh & rich that it's hard to imagine our beloved brown ale in there somewhere. Now that being said, this conceptual "java brown" is just fine on it's own.
Heavy roasted coffee aroma.. Rich malts...and flavors of bitter chocolate, nuts, and the spectacular fresh coffee taste. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel helps all the flavors blend together perfectly. Alcohol goes undetected.
A superb coffee beer in all aspects. Really glad I got the chance to try this one. I find myself anxiously awaiting them to can/bottle this... (674 characters)

Photo of alphagnome
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, borderline black body allows little light to penetrate. Pours with a half inch thick head that fades to a thin ring within minutes of pouring. Carbonation is noticable, if only just, and fine sediment can be seen navigating the dark liquid.

As good as a coffee bee can get! The aroma is jam packed with freshly brewed coffee. There are light notes of chocolate and the faintest hint of pecan - but none of that matters, because coffee.

Much like the aroma, this one is loaded with coffee. It's not as in your face as the aroma would lead one to believe, but it's still surprising. Right away, roasted, bold coffee hits you with just the right amount of bitterness. Nutty notes on the tail-end and trace vanilla. A tinge of sweetness attempts to breakthrough, providing a bit of balance.

Medium body. Vague carbonation. Refreshing and easy to drink with a clean finish. Notthe smoothest beer in this catagory, but it's a small complaint (Note to Surly.... PLEASE offer this on nitrous!).

An incredibly satisfying coffee infused beer. This is without a doubt one of my favorite beers, the fact that I am willing to drive 3 hours to get it should tell you something. If you're able to get your hands on this, there is no reason you shouldn't! (1,301 characters)

Photo of VincentFrey
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour / Appearance: Fantastic, tan and mocha head. Head is pretty retentive, with a good bit of lacing. Black as pitch everywhere but the edges of the glass, where a faint hint of ruby brown appears. Super opaque and reflective. Very beautiful brown ale, although it doesn't necessarily fit the BJCP category for any brown ale. That said, screw it. It looks damn good.

Aroma: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. Like smelling a cold pot of coffee, with all the bitterness and aroma therein. While coffee's in the name, it doesn't smell at all like a beer. I mean maybe some of the bitterness is earthy hops, but it really smells more like coffee grounds. So points off for not smelling like beer; points on for smelling what it wants to smell like.

Taste: Oh god this is refreshing. The can actually says it's a bit like an iced coffee, and that fits it to a tee even at room temp. A bit more hops come through as it warms up, which is refreshing in a way. A dark malt background adds hints of chocolate and a little bit of toffee.

Overall: This is a beer for people who like coffee. It is a FANTASTIC beer for people who like coffee. It's a brown ale at the end and a specialty beer from the start. Very good.

Bottom Line: Buy if you like coffee, Surly, or experimental beers. Taste or buy a single if you're unsure of any of those things or are just getting into brown ales. Don't buy if you have any problem with coffee. (1,423 characters)

Photo of BeerLover99
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: cloudy coffee drk brn/black body,
finger off white head, great lacing

S: big fresh roasted coffee nose, nutty,

T: same as nose, firm smooth nutty malt
mild pine bitter finish

M: med/light body, smooth
with hint of oily mouth

O: Such a delight to finally explore.
Thrilled that I have 3 more cans in the frig.
Balanced and fun, coffee fans may explore this.

DELICIOUS; GET SOME! (387 characters)

Photo of doughanson78
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16oz can poured into a snifter. Big thanks to storminspank for this one.

A: Dark brown, ruby red when light comes through. One finger big bubble, light mocha head with alright retention and great lacing.

S: Aroma is light but good. Coffee mainly with hints of chocolate and toasted malts. Light oatmeal notes.

T: Roasted coffee and chocolate. Toasted toffee and some light caramel. Aftertaste of coffee lingers forever.

M: Medium body. High carbonation. Crisp yet slightly creamy. Best mouthfeel in a brown yet.

O: Although lacking in aroma this might be the best brown ale I've had. Very flavorful. (604 characters)

Photo of dogfishandi
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had this at an awesome tasting last night. thanks tom!

pours out nearly black, dark brown color, decent looking biege head.

blown away by the aroma! tons of coffee, like smelling a handful of expresso coffee beans. the aromas of the regular bender (sampled minutes before) are lost behind all the coffee.

again lots of high quality coffee, the regular bender base is more noticable. some light roasted malt and bits of cocoa. creamy, smooth mouthfeel, medium bodied.

overall: as a lover of coffee beers, this is definatly at the top of my list. one of the more memorable beers of the night, which included almost the whole surly lineup, including darkness, four, and smoke. (677 characters)

Photo of PeterParker
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

My brother traded for a four and generously gave me one. Happy birthday me!

Pours to a nice dark dark brown with a decent sized head. Some scant amounts of lacing.

Smells of rich coffee, fresh coffee grounds, coffee beans, coffee coffee coffee.

Tastes just like it smells. Just like sipping on coffee, only better. Bittersweet coffee would best describe it. Tastes just like a Manhattan Special. Really great.

As smooth as anything.

Overall, this is the most coffee I've ever tasted in a beer. That's a good thing. If you even remotely enjoy coffee, you would love this. I know I did. (589 characters)

Photo of pwoods
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this multiple times over the weekend in Minneapolis. This review is from notes taken at Cafe 28 when Linda gave me a free mug when she found out I came all the way from Cincinnati :D Thanks a lot!

Served in a Surly mug.

Pours a muddy, murky brown, looks almost creamy. A good frothy head forms and holds pretty good for so much froth. Good lacing. Tons of coffee. Maybe a bit of toffee or cocoa in the back but mostly just big time coffee. Taste reminds me of a great iced coffee with an adult twist. Very nice raw flavors deeply roasted coffee with a nice harsh touch. Sweetness balances things out a bit. Body is actually only medium and has a great creaminess. Drinks every good and went great with my brunch. (720 characters)

Photo of cokes
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the "It's never too early to be Surly" "coffee" cup.
Dark mahogany brown with a thick crop of tan lace.
Toasted hazelnut aroma with a backing (or, fore-ing) of medium roast beans. The coffee shows a great deal of nutty, roasty, easrthy complexity. I'm a coffee nut, and I'd love to have it as my daily grind.
Across the tongue, it gives that mildly toasty, roasty, grainines of Bender, with hazelnut nuance. Coffee usurps the usual foward hoppiness, and brings medium roast, oily beans. These linger teasingly into the close. I really like these fucking beans. Mild, complex, earthy, nutty, and a perfect compliment to the beer itself.
The oiliness of the coffee thins the beer a bit vis a vis the original. But for a bean head, this is drinkable from sun up to sun down.
This is one of the best coffee beers I've had, and equal kudos go to Surly and the roaster. The result is a coffee-focused beer that is harmonized with the beans it is juiced with. (964 characters)

Photo of Amalak
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Extremely dark brown with only a hint of light showing through. Nice deep tan foamy head that leaves a good deal of lacing. Bubbles on the bottom.

S. Beautiful toffee scent.

T. Not an overpowering coffee ale. Very nice. Mild coffee taste. Some chocolate kick. A vegetable taste.

M. A burnt aftertaste.

O. Well blended and balanced. Very nicely done. (357 characters)

Photo of angrybabboon
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review adapted from notes taken 7/22/11

Appearance: Dark brown with some clarity around the edges - a little beige head, nice lacing, nice retention - looks more or less the same as Bender

Smell: According to my notes, "magic" - freshly roasted coffee beans - an overwhelming aroma of coffee, and it's a really delicious-smelling coffee - underneath the coffee, there's some burnt, and some more roast - sweet, cooked malts, some creaminess - honestly reminds me of Ben & Jerry's Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz ice cream...

Taste: As the aroma would suggest, this has a ton of coffee - fresh, glorious coffee - very roasted but really not burnt - some hints of chocolate - malts impart a nice amount of sweetness, breadiness - the coffee definitely overpowers some of the subtleties of Bender, but it works surprisingly well

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, could definitely be heavier, smooth, nicely carbonated

Overall: Just about the best coffee beer ever

I've criticized some coffee beers in the past for being more like coffee than beer, and I must admit that Coffee Bender is very close to that line. Yet somehow I love this beer. I think a major reason is that I really love the coffee that they used. (1,203 characters)

Photo of rangel2
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from pint can into pint glass.

Nearly two fingers of creamy, tan head, that fizzles. Pretty dark, not pitch black but the body of a cola.

The aroma is of rich coffee, decadent coffee with faint nuttiness, lovely cocoa, and the smallest smidgen of licorice -- the smallest, I swear. This ale smells effin' incredible. So lovely.

First sip is creamy, cool coffee with rich chocolate notes, and a lingering bitterness you would expect from a cup of black coffee. Has a slight tartness to it, which doesn't detract from the beer at all. Head just won't dissipate!!! Solid brown ale underneath, really giving it that perfect toastiness, faint mocha and toffee taste. Slight alcohol finish, though, not unpleasing. Vanilla qualities start coming through as it warms.

Mouthfeel is initially velvety, which thins out nicely as the bitter, medium carbonation starts to break things up. Thinner than a stout, more of a porter body, heavier brown. Nice chewy. The perfect drinkability for this type of beer: not super sippable due to its weight but, rather, a great beer to enjoy in a 30-minute sitting.

Overall, this beer is remarkable. The best coffee aroma in a beer I've ever had. It just brings you in. And it never lets up. And it's in a pint can. It's a big juicy coffee beer, as good as they come. Take your time on this one to fully enjoy the coffee bean blast that is Coffee Bender. It awakens fully with time.

I recommend you trade for this if it's not in your area, as I did.

Thanks again, Dan Turnbull (Tballz420) for the batch of Surly.

Also, don't try to compare this to a stout or porter because it's just not. You're doing yourself a disservice with those expectations. (1,693 characters)

Photo of deapokid
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My third Surly. Big thanks to chewy08rx.

Love the crack of the can.

Pours a brownish black in color. Look is clean and not deep enough to be impervious to light. Holds a thin finger of brown foam with decent lacing and relatively high carbonation. This looks super tasty.

Aroma is like a slap in the face. Huge burst of fresh espresso (amazingly authentic) with a slight hint of cream. This smells like a big foamy cappuccino and the roasted bean scent is perfect.

Upon first sip, your mouth is immediately hit with a strong blast of dark roast bitterness, leaving behind a wonderful dryness that you'd expect from a great shot of espresso. I can feel it warming my body and waking me up at the same time. Follow up sips provide a nice dose of cream, some light caramel and one packet of sugar (the real deal... no Splenda). This beer perfectly provides the coffee drinking experience.

It's also low enough in the ABV to sip morning noon and night and the fact that it's secretly still a wonderful brown ale under all that coffee makes it uber drinkable. (1,059 characters)

Photo of WeisGuy
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On-tap at Cafe Twenty-Eight.

a - pours a hazy deep brown with a one-inch tan head, great retention and lacing, props to Surly for one of the coolest mugs/glasses I've ever seen - a 12oz. mug with the words "It's never too early to get Surly" on one side

s - deep roasted malt and some roasted nuts complement the big dark roast coffee aroma, hints of dark chocolate as well, not much alcohol evident

t - moderately sweet up front with roasted malt, nut and dark chocolate flavors, mid-palate and finish has a prominent coffee flavor that's mildly bitter, hints of hoppy citrus peak through, alcohol is virtually invisible

m - medium-bodied, moderate carbonation, slightly bitter finish, not much alcohol warming

d - extremely drinkable, a true sessionable coffee beer if I've ever had one, very easy drinking but complex and interesting at the same time

Great beer overall and yet another star in Surly's lineup. (918 characters)

Photo of Spider889
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Live review.
Big thanks to badnewsbeers for including this want in our trade.

Poured into my Duvel tulip. Looked nearly black, but in actuality is a deep cherry-hued mahogany. Short tapioca colored head that was retained throughout the entire glass. Lace is a little spotty, but otherwise an impressive appearance.

The smell was a little weaker than I had anticipated. That said, this beer certainly doesn't try to hide the precious coffee within. Fresh whole beans mingle with a little of the acidity of brewed coffee. There's also a little roastiness in there, but otherwise I was wishing for more malt character.

The first sip will blow you away with coffee. It's a veritable shot gun blast of coffee beans, wet grounds, and creamily smooth iced coffee. The malt is heavy as well - full of bitter roast and char. A light chocolate sweetness finishes off the flavor. This is easily one of the best tasting coffee beers I have ever had. At first thought, I think only FBS and maybe Peche Mortel can rival Coffee Bender.

The mouthfeel is also quite gripping. The Bender goes down smoothly and quickly, while the Coffee lends a bitter dryness as well as a bit of a grainy texture as well. It all adds up to create a very appropriate and appealing experience.

Overall, a wonderful beer. For my first real Surly review, I believe I may have set the bar a little high. And until I get my full bottle to review (soon), I can say that I'd even rather be drinking this over the Darkness I sampled a couple weeks ago.

Now I really want to try the regular Bender. I also find myself wishing that Surly would commission this recipe for a clone kit through Northern Brewer. While I don't like using kits anymore, I'd likely buy a Coffee Bender clone kit in a heartbeat. (1,765 characters)

Photo of Martin2D
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Pitch black with a huge carbonated head that is tan

S - Coffee and malt

T - Flavor is not full, but the coffee is very apparent. Almost thinner in flavor then a cup of coffee, but intertwined with very interesting malt flavoring. Perfect balance of coffee and roasted malt.

M - Medium-high in carbonation and medium in body. Mouthfeel is very thin

D - Low ABV, delicious flavor. Can't really fault this one except for the strangeness in the thin mouthfeel accompanied by the coffee flavor. Really interesting take on a brown ale with great results. (556 characters)

Photo of grandq
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours almost black with a hint of ruby showing as light peeks through, evincing a deep dark brown instead. Perfect two finger head is light tan and fluffy and doesn't want to go away. Coffee hits the nose first and strong - a full bodied dark roast. Some sweeter tones along the lines of milk chocolate creep up as well. Caramel malt hits up front followed by a tidal wave of iced coffee - unsullied by any frou frou frappawhathaveyou. Straight black and bitter. The substantial body of the brown ale underneath helps the flavors stick to the tongue, allowing nutty notes, toasted oat, tobacco, and a tinge of prune emerge from the added beans. The more i sip the more I notice the cherry and baker's chocolate I recall spotting in the regular Bender. Finishes acidic from the roast, masking a faint noble hop character. Slight lactic sweetness lingers as the bitter and acidic qualities play out. As a serious coffee fiend, I could drink this all day - though there's a bit of tongue fatigue to that lingering last note. Still, upgrade from an already good beer and a serious contender for top coffee brew.

Big ol' kudos to jjanega08 for the 4 pack. If only I could keep my s.o. from drinking the rest. (1,205 characters)

Photo of DrewOSU
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Given to me by Newtonty, thanks man.

A: Pours java brown with a ¾ inch tan, foamy head. Lacing is thick on initial pour and looks like a step ladder going down the glass. Lacing is draped down the glass after finishing. 4.5

S: Coffee grounds heavy on the nose. The java smell came up fron the glass even before I was done pouring it. This coffee smells delicious.

M/T: A low medium mouth feel, a slight carbonation bite on the tongue on first drink. The coffee hits the pallet first, followed by some bitterness in the under tone. I can taste the fresh 45 ibus kicking in the background. Roasted malts are always present. This is still a light beer and the description on the back of the can saying this beer is like a "iced coffee", I would say is very accurate. You get the coffee flavor, but it is still refreshing. Finishes semi clean.

D: Nice and light. You forget your a drinking an alcoholic beverage after a few drinks. Very little to no lingering aftertaste. Very easy going beer, drink it till you can't sleep! Surly does not make a bad product. (1,062 characters)

Photo of trbergman
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

16oz can poured into a shaker pint.

A - Pours a rich, dark brown with ruby highlights and a one-inch tan head.

S - Loads of coffee goodness waft out of the glass, along with brown malts, toffee, and licorice.

T - Bready malt, chocolate, plenty of coffee, and assertive hop bitterness. I really like this beer, but if you're not a coffee lover, you probably won't.

M - Medium body, pretty much what I'm looking for in a brown ale.

D - Superb. A sort of cousin to Peak Organic Espresso Amber. Sometimes it's nice to have a coffee beer without roasted malt and a huge body. Definitely worth a try. (599 characters)

Photo of beckje01
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Looks black with a thin head and no activity.

S- Light coffee note but a very enjoyable nose.

T- Good coffee start not over powering, good malt back end. Just wonderful balance.

M- Nice thickness for the flavors and still.

D- Very easy and simple to drink not hard at all as some coffee beers can be. (315 characters)

Photo of bennetj17
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark brown, I can just barely see through it if I hold the glass up to the light, as deep ruby hues shine through. The head is medium thick, tan, leaving a hearty lace. The aroma is all coffee, no malt sweetness really, like a freshly roasted pot. I like it.

This thing tastes like a cold and carbonated cup of coffee really. I don't like coffee all that much, but for a beer this is great. The dry roasted bitterness is really pleasant with just enough malt backbone to balance things. The mouthfeel might seem a bit thin, but the rather sharp carbonation compensates for that nicely.

I must say this coffee-flavored beer is excellent. It's really nothing like the original Bender, but that is fine. This Packs alot of flavor into a really sessionable brew. Highly recommended... (784 characters)

Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 790 ratings.