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Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Educational use only; do not reuse.

803 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 803
Hads: 2,377
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 18.8%
Wants: 652
Gots: 336 | FT: 26
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: 803 | Hads: 2,377
Photo of Sammy
3.45/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Barley John's. The aroma is coffee-ih. Good looks, black with lots of white head. Better tasting than Town Hall's coffee stout, average mouthfeel. Appropriate carbonation. Just too coffee, what is it about these local coffee beers?I just couldn't take more than a couple sips. Overated.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to UMNbeerhunter for sending me this one!

Pours an almost opaque dark reddish-brown color with a 1 inch khaki head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Smells of dark malts and coffee grounds fresh from a machine. Taste is of carbonated black coffee and maybe some dark malt. Extremely coffee forward with a lingering bitterness on the palate. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the coffee overpowers any other smells or tastes that may be present in this beer.

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Photo of nmann08
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 16oz can (3/29/13 can date).

Pours with a tan, airy 1 inch thick head. It doesn't last very long, but laces the glass. It is dark brown, with dark red hues. Think dark cherry wood.

The smell is what you would expect, heavy coffee, but not much more is coming out. However, it doesn't have that pure coffee grinds smell that some coffee beers have.

The taste is smooth. You get coffee up front, a little bitter. A few hints of toffee or maybe some nuts.

Medium body, a bit thin, which is nice since its only around 5%.

Rarely would I reach for a coffee beer in the warm summer heat, but this is oddly refreshing.

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Photo of metter98
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is clear yet very dark amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a thin creamy dark beige head.
S: There are moderate to strong aromas of roasted coffee beans in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, strong flavors of roasted coffee beans dominate the overall taste, which has some hints of sweetness in the initial taste and finishes with a slight amount of bitterness with flavors of coffee grinds.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is deceptive in that it has strong aromas and flavors of coffee beans for not that full of a body, but this also makes it very easy to drink and go down very easily. I would have no problem drinking several of these in one sitting, although it would probably to do so in the afternoon or you’ll be up all night with a coffee buzz.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

what i love about coffee bender is its drinkablity, and intense coffee smells and flavors. its more coffee heavy than any other beer ive ever had, yet it drinks real easy, and could work as an all day beverage. the color is dark brown, but lighter than porter, its got some transparency to it, and has a fading inch of off white head. the nose is all coffee, earthy and bitter, even a little fruity like blueberries, but there is very little acidity. there is also some brown ale style chocolate malt, but the coffee dominates. same in the flavor, its all coffee start to finish. just enough beer here to give some backbone, but this is almost indistinguishable from a cup of coffee, at least in beer terms. the cold pressing really helps the feel stay light and refreshing, and the caffeine is detectable. clean though, not long bitter in the finish, just sharp enough. carbonated well, medium body seems lighter. a four pack of these would be a nice dose i think, a good beer to start a big night with as well. i have loved everything from surly, and i love this too!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with some reddish hue; tan head and good lacing.

S: Brown malts overshadowed by plenty of coffee notes.

T: Lots of coffee and a little bit of a hop presence. The coffee provides a little bit of earthiness.

M: Medium bodied and fairly dry.

D: The coffee is a bit overwhelming for too many, but the can my wife and I shared was gone rather quickly.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a deep brown color, might as well be black. The head was tan and creamy looking. There is a thin scattered lacing on the glass with a pretty good retention. The smell of the beer has a great coffee aroma with a subtle malt sweetness in there too. The taste follows the nose, a very nice coffee flavor from start to finish on this beer with a touch of bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is smooth as hell, and has a soft carbonation to it. Overall it's a great beer, no surprise there because it's from Surly. This is a killer brew, well worth trying.

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Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Unlike the draft version I had last year, the can pours out with a firm tan head that has a whipped egg consistency and leaves plenty of lacing to boot

Smell: Brown bread and roasted grains are dominated by the coffee

Taste: Roasty, up front, with a bready character underneath, but by mid-palate, the coffee flavor dominates both before and after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: While the beer is certainly enjoyable, I can't help but believe that the coffee overwhelms some of the more interesting aspects of Bender

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's kind a hit or miss on whether coffee infused beers help or hurt the base beer... at least for me. I'm hoping that the intesity of the coffee doesn't mess up the medium nature of the base Bender.

If the aroma is any indicaiton, they've hit a home run. Chocolate covered espresso beans hit the nose (not the stale ones from T.J. Max or Marshalls, but the good ones from Starbucks) and combine with a malted milk scent of Whoppers candies... this could be one delicidant beer. Light earthy hops, malty caramels, and mild nuttiness enter the mix but can't compete with those chocolates and espressos.

Getting back to the pour, the beer looks exactly like Bender. A medium viscocity with dark browns, crimson highlights, good clarity, lightly tanned head, very good head formation/retention, and great lacing.

Flavors start with a malty caramel taste, but quickly turn to bitter coffees, over-attenuated maltiness, and moderate grain tastes. Columbian coffees still pick up the nuttiness but promote a dry bitterness that isn't nearly as balanced as the nose suggested. No fruitiness or finess in the malts, the coffee aggression eventually proves to bully the beer too much.

Lacking a balanced sweetness, the beer shows acrid dryness, fully attenuated sweetness, complex bitterness from the hops-coffee oil combo, and a malty-crisp texture. That creamy-dry-woodsy-nutty-powdery thing makes the beer inviting, yet off-putting at the same time.

Coffee Bender is a well controlled and well attenuated beer but I really enjoyed the insenuation of sweetness that I found in the nose and really wished that it could have found its way into the flavor and body.

Thanks jctribe25!

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Photo of largadeer
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've sampled this one several times during local tastings over the past year, but this the first can I've had all to myself. Big thanks to kbutler1 for the four-pack, this is one of many great Surly beers I'll be enjoying thanks to him.

Coffee Bender pours a translucent mahogany color, dark nearly to the point of being opaque but not quite there. A thin tan cap tops the beer, never quite rising to a large height but exhibiting good retention.

The nose displays equal amounts of coffee and toast. The coffee has a freshly-ground quality to it, nearly espresso-like. Malt is reserved but it has a distinct toast character, which only serves to enhance the air of breakfast; it's like a cup of black coffee and a plate of freshly toasted bread.

Toasted malt hits the palate first, with coffee not far behind. The coffee character obliterates a lot of the depth and subtlety that regular Bender has, but the coffee character in itself displays a lot of complexity; it's earthy, roasty, lightly acidic - one of the most rounded and complex coffee profiles I've detected in a beer. The finish has equal amounts of toast, roast, toffee and coffee. It finishes coffee-forward, slightly bitter and decidedly dry with a coffee grounds finish. This is stellar, up to Surly's usual high standards and pretty unique to boot.

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Photo of emerge077
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Map Room.

Dark auburn tone with a ruby glint where the light gets through. Creamy foam, a few bigger bubbles on the surface. Rings of drippy lacing all around.

Nutty aroma, dry coffee hint, pretty clean, but not super pungent.

Big coffee flavor, high quality, freshly ground. Acidic fruitiness, long lingering bitter/dry finish. Nutty almond flavor, lightly malty. The coffee really dominates, but it's balanced enough to drink quite a bit. Easy going with light carbonation. This is a unique and flavorful coffee beer, not too under/overdone...just right!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Coffee bean brown that becomes dark cherry with bright orange highlights when held up to my sunlit front window. The golden brown sugar colored head is several finger's worth of wonderfulness. It's loaded with character and is beginning to deposits gobs of moth-eaten lace all over the sides of the glass. Easy call.

I've never been a coffee drinker, but there's something about the smell of the good stuff that appeals to me. Marry that with the best American brown ale on planet Earth and you have sheer olfactory perfection. I haven't even tasted it yet and can already imagine lovers of both coffee and beer going apeshit over this brew.

My biggest fear was that the coffee would completely obliterate what makes Surly Bender so outstanding. The java beans do blur the complexities of the base beer, but then they could hardly do otherwise. Coffee Bender is *almost* as good as the straight stuff... probably better if you're a coffee aficionado.

This just might be the perfect morning libation. All good beer is good at any time of the day or night, but you get the idea. As often happens with coffee-added beer, the initial palate shock fades after a while and the rest of the flavors begin to shine. Those include: brown bread, cocoa, sugared pecans and a handful of leafy hops that brings each mouthful to a snappy close. Wow, that's pretty close to my description of Bender.

The mouthfeel is exceptional for the style and the ABV. It wouldn't be fair to expect any more chewiness from a beer that barely tops 5.0%. As with everything that Todd and Omar release, there's no chink in the armor.

I honestly didn't know that Coffee Bender would be this good. Then again, with Bender as a base beer, it would pretty hard to go wrong no matter what was added (within reason). The original is still the best, but damn!... this is outstanding ale.

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Photo of zeff80
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a two-finger, tan, thick, foamy head that head big bubbles. It left sticky sheets of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of fresh coffee beans with notes of chocolate and caramel.

T - It had a bitter coffee bite with dark chocolate flavors. A mild caramel flavor emerges as it warms. There were also subtle fruity flavors, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium-bodied beer with a dry finish.

D - This is a fantastic beer with a great coffee taste. I'm glad I got my hands on one.

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Photo of oberon
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber brown with a thinner slight off white head atop.Full on coffee in the nose,not beerish at all really,if your into coffee this is it.The beer is good...very good but the coffee is dominant and it maybe leaves the fact that it's a beer behind,besides the coffee on the palate I get some chocolate and mild caramel.I have had alot of coffee infused beers this cuts the cake as far as coffee goes,is it caffeinated?That's the question.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A big thanks to my man up in MN for sending these cans down to me right after the release. I have been hunting this one for a while as I truly appreciate a coffee beer above all others. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 01/23/2009.

The pour was damn wonderful I have to say. Deep dark brown with some light shining through on the edges and bottom, but mostly opaque. Huge tan head maybe three inches high coming up and over the top and falling down into a full, sticky ring of lace around the sides of the glass.

The aroma was steeped with coffee. Rich brewed, medium coffee with a nice bitterness to it. Some light sweet notes bouncing around in there as well and a very nice roasted quality to it. Smooth, rich flavor, Bitter coffee notes dominated with an amlost tea like flavor in there as well if that makes any sense. Huge vcoffee flavor from beginning to end and the smoothness of it was wonderful. Mellow finish and light abv made it very sessionable and this one went down in no time, offering little challange to me.

This was a great coffee beer. One of my favorites. Lighter then others in feel, but the freshness of the brewed coffee flavor was soo spot on. I am very happy to have a good supply of this one.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Greg for including this in a recent trade box.

A: The pour is a dark brown color with an initially fluffy tan head.

S: Pretty much what I expected from this one: big time coffee aroma with only some slight undertones of nutty, toasted malts.

T: The flavor profile is pretty much what you would expect from the nose. This is obviously very coffee forward on the flavor with a nice nutty sweetness that you expect from the base brown ale.

M: The mouthfeel is nice, but nothing spectacular. On the light end of medium in terms of body with moderate carbonation.

D: Fantastic coffee beer! This one really just tastes like a cup of coffee, and is just so easy to drink, especially with the lower ABV.

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Photo of oline73
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a somewhat murky very dark brown color with little light coming through. There is a one finger tan head that dissipates but leaves some lacing.

Smell: The first thing you notice is definitely the coffee, but it doesn't completely overpower everything else. I'm also picking up some malt sweetness. There is a nutty quality in there as well. Quite nice.

Taste: Coffee brown ales are some of my favorites, and this ranks up there with any that I've ever had. As in the taste, the coffee is the main thing going on here, but it leaves room for the other flavors to come out. There is also a nutty caramel malt flavor that is really nice. The finish is mildly bitter and roasty. Awesome!

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a good amount of carbonation. The finish is a bit dry.

Overall: Again, I'm a sucker for this style. I love the balance of this beer and I really hope that I'm able to get some more in the future.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

Big thanks to GoGriz for this can!

Finally, I get to try one of Surly's regular brews. This one pours a lovely ruby brown topped by a finger or so of light ecru foam. The nose is dominated by a light coffee breeze, while some chocolate, toffee, and maple syrup form a sturdy foundation beneath. The taste is very similar, though the coffee doesn't assert itself as much until the finish. Instead, it shares the spotlight with cocoa and maple syrup, the latter two spiraling into the wings to allow for the coffee's final aria. The body is a staunch medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat fizzily smooth feel. Overall, a very nice beer. I can now understand how this thing has such a strong reputation 'round these parts.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can into a pint glass.

Pours a deep clear amber with several foamy fingers of light mocha colored foam. Sturdy 1/2 finger of creamy retention leaves some massive sticky lacing back. Good look here. The aroma is roasted coffee and sugary sweet smelling malts, with a touch of astringency and floral hops in the back. Solid balance between the java and sweeter notes here in the nose.

The taste is a nice silky blend of coffee character and some sweet malt notes of toasted caramel. Nice evenness between the bitterness of the coffee and the more sweeter character of the Brown Ale. This definitely finishes more on the sweetened side, with the malts lingering on the lips for a bit. The mouthfeel is lighter-medium bodied with a nice mellow creaminess to the proceedings which makes for some very easy drinking.

The mocha notes in this seemed a limited more muted than when I had previously had this from a growler, allowing more of the Brown Ale qualaties to come out. Never the less, this is still a great coffee fix, complete with an awesome feel and super easy drinkibility. Glad this one is in cans now.

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Photo of jlindros
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drinking this while watching Futurama, specifically the episode where Fry drinks 100 cups of coffee, how relevant. Thanks to both grub and KeefB for this shiny metal ass-can. I've been told by quite a few people to try this, so here it goes.

A: Pours nice large 1 finger head that bubbles around for a bit but fades to a light head covering. A nice roasted brown color with brilliant clarity. An interesting red hue appears as light sneaks through.

N: Some coffee on the nose, but a butt load of roasted malts. THis is a lot more beer than coffee, and opposite of some other coffee beers I've had. I also get a slight aromatic hop aroma and spiciness.

T: Taste starts with a crisp beer like taste, and lots of roasted malts. A huge frothy carbonation builds up in the mouth too. A nice bitterness and American hop flavor add a nice touch to it. It has a very slight fruity malt quality like a raisin almost, but very slight. The bitter hop goodness and roasted malt taste really blend well, and the coffee is still surprisingly light taste. A slight sweet brown sugar like taste can also be hinted at.

M: Very frothy and carbonated, a nice spicey hop taste, and some thick mouth feel.

F: Finishes pretty bitter, and nice. It dries off, but not too much. A nice roasted charred quality taste really show through towards the end. The finish is not too long and pretty crisp and clean, and leaves your mouth ready for more, which is good cause I want to keep drinking it.

Final thoughts: Yes, this is much more beer than coffee, unlike most of the other coffee beers. And it's blended really well with the roasted malts, coffee, and good hop bitterness. The finish is pretty bitter and tastes great. Can't wait to have another sip.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired from pochman, courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009 so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 16oz can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is all roasted coffee beans and dark malts and exactly what you look for in a coffee-flavored beer.

T: The taste likewise is loaded with a strong flavor of black coffee. There's a hearty malt character and just a mild enough sweetness to keep the beer from being too bitter. The hops presence is very mild but is exactly where it should be for this kind of beer. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of the coffee-flavored beer segment, this is an excellent darker but milder beer that is worth drinking for an entire evening.

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Photo of LXIXME
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium sized off white to tan head ever so slowly settles into a nice lacing above a clear burnt amber colored beer.

Rich black Folgers coffee aroma, no cream, no sugar, just straight ahead rich morning coffee aroma like your parents had brewing back in the day when you tried to smell the bacon, eggs, and toast but that strong black coffee smell overwhelmed the senses.

Rich coffee taste, not quite as bold as the aroma, but roasted coffee malt tastes above all else.

Almost a full bodied beer, it seems to be lacking some of the body other such beer seem to have, if my memory serves me correctly.

An almost dry aftertaste that brings the roasted coffee notes to a close.

If I was a coffee drinker this would be my beer of choice or at least one of the finalists. Surly seems to be doing some pretty good things up there in Minnesota, can't wait to get back and watch the Twins or Vikings choke while I drink some good beers from Surly, Summit and a host of other pretty good breweries in the area.

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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 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 russpowell
4.67/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let me start out by apologizing to Justin??? he traded me this & some mama masala & failed to record his user name. No on this review based on notes

Pours chestnut/mahogany with 2 fingers of tan head. Super lacing & average head retention

S: Big time java

T: Folgers with a touch a milk up front, Dryness & roasty coffee comes through as this warms, along with a touch of cream. Finishes dry, roasty & with much java power!

MF: Medium bodied with nice creamyness

Drinks pretty easy for all the flavor this is throwing out. Not a huge coffee beer fan, but I love this & believe this is the bench mark for Coffee brews. Another winner from Surly!

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 803 ratings.