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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 chicano4craft
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a glass mug. Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights. Creamy tan head has some staying power. No real lacing.

Lots of roasted coffee beans in the nose. It seems so good it's hard to notice anything else. Maybe I just don't want to...I love coffee!

Taste is iced coffee. Slightly sweet with a mellow bitter finish. Brown ale base gives way to showcase the coffee beans. Some may say it's one dimensional, but what a dimension.

Mouthfeel is good. Carbonation is right on.

Overall...I love this beer. The fact it's a brown ale lets the coffee shine, unlike some heavy handed coffee stouts. Thanks to LostCook for bringing this back for me. I missed out on trying this when I was in MN. Never again.

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Photo of brow1901
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can poured into my surly "coffee" mug.

A- Pretty much black, with decent cream head on top. Not a pitch black brew, it lets lots of light in around the sides. Not much retention, some lacing.

S- Strong coffee, more like a bag of coffee than a brewed cup. Not too overwhelming, it also lets the nice toasty malts shine through. No hop scents.

T- Also like an iced coffee, no chocolate flavors that accompany so many of these styles. Once the coffee fades the neat and clean malt backbone comes through, giving a toasted almost burnt flavor. The slight hop bite mixes kinda strangly, giving a slight tart or acidic taste for a split second. I guess that could be from the coffee used too.

M- A bit light, but don't forget that this is a brown ale. Seems well carbonated, really gets smooth as it warms up a bit.

D- Good drinkability, but I wouldn't call it a session beer. The caffiene gets to me after one can, kinda fun actually. Great beer!

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Photo of Martin2D
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of raoulduke37
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straight fours across the board. This was one interesting beer, speaking of which, here goes.

A - Pours a black, with a thick, viscous consistency and a nice tan head - it really does look like iced coffee.

S - Coffee, roasted chestnuts, burning wood - smells like camping, I like it.

T - Up front bitterness, but not from hops, it really is the bitterness of coffee. It works well with the ale - Roasted espresso beans, malt highlights, lots of smokiness going on. mmm....I really recommend pairing this one with one of those chocolate muffins you get from CostCo.

M - Slight tingle of carbonation, but overall very smooth and not offensive in any way.

D - I'd love to try one of these for breakfast!

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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 atomicbeer
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Got this coffee beer in 16 oz cans as a souvenir while travelling in Minnesota after having had Surly's Furious. Pours a chocolate brown with a beige head. Aroma is fairly intense fresh ground coffee with a little sweet grass background. Nice and smooth coffee, milk chocolate, and sweet grass taste. Goes down easily calling for quaff after quaff. No sipping here: down the hatch! Classed as a American Brown, I think of it more as a coffee porter, and even more so as Awesome. Nice job Surly.

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Photo of StLThrash
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 16 ounce can into a pint glass. Received from client of mine who lives in Minneapolis and brought down a Surly variety pack for me to STL!

A - Dark brown, with minimal, one-finger, thin, tan head. Left slight lacing - but barely any.

S - Lots of roasted coffee flavor, with some toasted malt and chocolate. I don't get much hop character at all in the nose. The coffee aroma is awesome though.

T & M - Again, lots of coffee. Tastes almost like you are drinking one of those iced coffees, but it's a beer. For a coffee and beer lover, it was fabulous. Very thin body and mouthfeel, not a lot of carbonation. Lacking a little bit of something - no bite.

Overall - Very tasty coffee flavored brown ale. Glad I got a chance to try it. Surly makes awesome beers.

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Photo of AllDayIPA23
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received this in a trade recently. Can was a few months old. Poured into a mug.

Strong black-coffee color, with strong carbonation appearance.
A very potent coffee scent with the nutty brown ale behind. Smells great!
Taste like carbonated coffee that was well made
Medium-high carbonation with a light-medium mouthfeel

Even with this being a few months old, I really enjoyed it. If you are a coffee fan, I can't imagine anyone not liking this beer. Would buy more!!

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Photo of GregBlatz
3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Very very dark. Held to the light you see it is a very dark red. Tan head and pretty clear. Head is small and doesn't settle.

S - Diacetyl and chocolate. Sweetness similar to an oatmeal stout. English smelling.

T - Thin and roasty finished with a bitter coffee flavor. A butterscotch flavor slowly pushes foward as you drink the beer. I'm guessing it is fermented with a British yeast strain. Bitterness comes from the malts and the coffee rather than the hops.

M - Thin and lightly carbonated. Slick mouth feel.

D - Very drinkable, good for breakfast!

Overall it is a nice beer. Enjoyable and not overly aggressive.

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Photo of xpdrinker
3.18/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into my Surly pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with reddish hue, more murky than Bender. Mocha pencil-thin head, not much lacing.

Aromas include empty metal coffee can, dry malt, mixed nuts, a bit leathery.

Light body, medium carbonation. Standard brown with extra roastiness, most of the coffee comes on the dry finish. Bitterness hangs out on the perimeter of the tongue. Slightly peppery.

Enjoyed it a bit more than regular Bender but still don't find anything about it that stands out. Balanced but not very complex. I'd like to try it again but wasn't extremely impressed this time around.

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Photo of Pabs311
3.54/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- beer pours a very rich, deep dark bown color with a nice mocha colored head. the head settles slowly, but not completely for a long while, and leaves some good lacing

S- The nose on this is mainly of dark roasted malt, some coffe can be picked up as well but not very overwhelming at all.

T- more coffee her than in the nose but still a little weak for my taste. chocolate and dark roasted malts make up the majority of the flavor for this beer.

M/D- Light-medium bodied with lower carbonation. easy drinking. would have liked a little more in just about every department from this beer.

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Photo of cpmichael
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Stone RIS Snifter

A: Pours a dark brown, light does penetrate through the glass. The head on it actually resembles drip coffee that had been poured into a coffee mug.

S: Smells like day old coffee and hints of chocolate.

T: It has a very pronounced iced coffee flavor, does not have the best coffee flavor, it's not bad, just not what I expected from it. It is a refreshing coffee drink. It would be nice on a warm summer day.

M/D: very carbonated, had an interesting iced coffee thing going on. The coffee flavor did not seem to be of the highest quality, but it was still tasty nonetheless.

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Photo of imagineiii
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured into an imperial pint glass. filled to the top, topped with an inch of crunchy tan head. recedes quickly.

nose is reminiscent of coffee grinds after brewing. hazelnut is the scent that comes to mind. slightly more impressive on the nose than bender.

taste is a bit muddled between a solid brown ale and coffee. I should say that Im not a huge fan of coffee flavors added to most beers. the impressive thing about this beer is the addition of such firm coffee characters without the astringency. in fact, the beer does drink like iced coffee. slightly sweet, almost creamy as well. full mouthfeel contributes to creaminess.

quite drinkable. nice to see a beer that infuses coffee without being over the top with alcohol and flavor. nicely done, very well balanced. probably my favorite coffee beer ive had to date.

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Photo of leif86
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in my Duvel.

A: Near black with a tan head that leaves a bit of lacing.

S: Freshly brewed coffee and loads of cereal grain. Very earthy.

T: Just like it smells: sweetened coffee and cereal. A little toasty too.

M: Good level of carbonation - I let mine sit a bit and it became nice and creamy.

D: Usually I don't find coffee beers that drinkable, but this one is very easy drinking. This is surprising giving how much coffee is actually present.

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Photo of SiepJones
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Received this in an excellent trade with translucent.
Poured into a Guinness tulip pint

A: Pours a very deep brown, like a porter or a cup of black coffee. Two inches of head sit atop this beer.
S: I can smell coffee beans the second I pour the beer. As I put my nose to it I smell rich, deep coffee flavors, it's almost like sticking your nose into a bag of fresh coffee beans. There is a slight hint of dark chocolate on the back end.
T: WOW, bigger coffee taste in the flavor than in the scent. Coffee bender tastes like a nice cup of iced joe with a little cream and sugar in it. Roast and slightly sweet up front, a touch of bitter at the end. This beer makes me think of a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee.
M: Very slick mouth, like a porter. Low carbonation.
D: If you like coffee this is very drinkable due to its excellent flavor and low ABV. If you are not a coffee drinker you probably wont drink more than one. If I ever drank a beer in the morning Coffee Bender would be my choice.

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Photo of Flatlands
4.69/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I expected to not like this beer but the flavor is excellent! I normally do not like to stray too far from traditional beer styles but thumbs up to Surly here, this one is great. Here's a twist, try it with a shot of Kuala, it's got coffee in it after all, and you will be surprised at how well everything mixes.
I cannot really compare this beer to anything else. Open you mind and give it a go!

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Photo of kevinv
4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A long-want of mine, Surly Coffee Bender, canned on 06/08/2011 poured into my new awesome Surly Mug, perfect for coffee or Coffee Bender! Both the beer and the mug are courtesy of a great trader, KeefD.

A - The beer pours a deep, dark brown, with some lighter translucent edges. Very large foamy tan head sits on top. Sticky lacing throughout.

S - I absolutely love coffee and coffee beers and this one sits near the top in terms of smell. The coffee aroma is very fresh and fairly powerful. I could smell the coffee after I poured and even walked away from the glass. Very rich coffee with notes of chocolate and a nuttiness.

T - I've never had the regular Bender, so I can't compare, but this one is damn delicious. As with the nose, the coffee is front and center. The coffee is lightly bitter. Wonderful nuttiness and a nice brown ale sweetness. A little bit of an earthy, hoppy presence. It's a low ABV beer and the taste doesn't show any sign of alcohol. The finish is dry with a long lingering coffee taste.

M - Medium bodied with a moderate carbonation. Very smooth. Perfect for the ABV.

O - Overall, this one was a homerun for me. I think I said it in a past review, but I've been in love with everything from Surly that I've tried. This is a very flavorful and easy drinking beer. Like my new mug says, "It's never too early to get Surly." I could seriously see myself drinking this with breakfast.

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Photo of BayouMafia
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a pint can into a tulip glass at The Carriage House in Chicago. Poured a nice creamy head. Smells beautiful, like dark coffee. Strong coffee flavor (duh) on the tongue as well as aftertaste. Really liked this one

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Photo of grandq
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of beerkittycat
3.19/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From a can poured into a smaller tasting glass and shared with others. Appearance is a murky amber brown with a tan head. Decent lacing. Aroma smells awesome of freshly ground high-quality coffee and some citrus hops in the background. Taste was....a little disappointing compared to the aroma. First off was the thin mouthfeel which surprised me considering the line-up of big beers that Surly makes. The flavors were rather thin, too, and was dominated by the coffee with little malt or hop flavor to balance things out. Too much carbonation in this beer probably allowed the mouthfeel to seem a little thin. I'll try it again, but I've had much better coffee beers than this.

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Photo of runner440
4.74/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Stu for hooking me up with this beer. This is a pretty awesome coffee beer. Definitely the best coffee beer I have ever had. The aroma smells like iced coffee with small hints of chocolate. The beer starts with a nice coffee burst and bitterness at the front of the mouth followed by some sweet milk chocolate notes and more coffee at the middle of the mouth. The finish is very smooth with a big coffee like aftertaste. Very drinkable also. I'd rather have this beer than my morning coffee every day!

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Photo of icefisherman
4.8/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

as with some of the other nuts on this site i also had this wonerful concoction at about 8:00 am at darkness day when they set out a keg for all to have a verry classy move if i do say so my self anyways on to the reveiw most delicious with the smell of fresh coffee just the kick i was looking for the flavor of a nice french press cup of good coffee (not to be comfused with the crap i drink all day at work) an exceptionaly smooth feel and man oh man could i drink this all day long but the keg was dry soon after no appearance decription as i drank mine out of a 20 oz dite coke bottle i found in the back seat of my car

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Photo of HitokiriNate85
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dzyneguru for hooking me up.

A - Definitely in between brown and red. The head, however, is definitely big, brown, and sticky. It's lacing as it starts to recede.

s - Lots of really nice coffee aromatics that mix with the more traditional caramel and toffee notes from crystal malt. It definitely has the smell of fresh grounds as opposed to old, stale coffee that I've found in some other beers.

T - Off the bat, it's only fair to say that I don't like brown ales. They tend to be to sweet for my tastes, but considering the reputation of Coffee Bender and hopeful thinking that I might come around to the style, I had to give this a chance. Wow. Who knew coffee and a brown ale could play off of each other so nicely. First off, the thing that sticks out most is how the coffee contrasts with the sweetness of the malt. In a coffee stout, you're essentially getting double the amount of roasted flavor, where with this I think the roasted flavors are coming just from the coffee. The coffee has a really great, mild, slightly spicy flavor. This makes sense because, based on experience, Gautemalan coffees are very mild(unless it's a darker roast, but that isn't the case here).

Coffee flavors come in upfront here, then break away against the crystal malt flavors, then fall into some chocolate notes and finish again with coffee.

MF - It's thinner than I expected(but I think I associate the sweeter flavors of brown ales with a thicker feel), but it definitely works considering the ABV and the fact that I simply can't stop drinking it. It does finish slightly sticky.

D - Well, I have to say that this is the best brown ale I've ever had, and I wouldn't be surprised if I never have a better one. That is, until someone fuses another flavor with it that can't help me cope with the typical sweetness I don't care for.

My absolute favorite thing about Coffee Bender is how it showcases the coffee flavors so well by setting them against something contrasting. It's like having complementary versus contrasting flavors with a meal in that one isn't necessarily better than the other.

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Photo of KBoudreau66
3.3/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this brew as an extra with a trade from Skinnyguy. It pours a nice dark brown color with two fingers of foamy off white head. It smells exactly like a pot of coffee, but with sweet undertones in the aroma. I don't really know what to make of this beer. I can't tell if I'm impressed with it or not. Very strong coffee flavors with a bit of sweetness that I detected in the nose. I really can't explain the taste of this too well, if I had to take a stab at it I would say that it's like a Newcastle with a cup of coffee poured in it, buty obviously with more flavor than a Newcastle. Overall, not a bad brew, and I'm glad that I got to try it. I always look forward to trying new beers, especially ones that I'm unable to obtain in Massachusetts.

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Photo of gregc
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Pour was a nice caramel like brown.

Aroma of lots of coffee, dark malts and the faintest hop aroma. A very nicely smelling coffee beer. Flavor was full of coffee beans, some chocolate and a got that nice malt brown ale flavor. I really like how smooth this beer is, its very creamy and very drinkable. This is an awesome coffee beer. Too bad i only have one can, and its impossible to get here in NY.

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