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Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,071 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,071
Reviews: 770
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.3%
Wants: 618
Gots: 247 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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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Ratings: 2,071 | Reviews: 770 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CuriousMonk
2.85/5  rDev -31.5%
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.

Photo of claspada
4.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Aromas of nutty and caramels and a boat ton of fresh-brewed coffee with cream. Really nothing else to say her either.
The taste begin with some roasted malts and a lot of nuttiness. Lots of java going on here as well. Slightly bitter, coffee not hops, really nice balance between the coffee and malts.
Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, same as the original Bender but the flavors are exponentially better in this beer. Overall this is one of the three best coffee beers I have ever had. Maybe a bit too tilted to the coffee side but the drinkability is off the charts especially for the ABV. Sessionable, definitely. Recommended, definitely. If I was given the choice of this compared to the original Bender, I would take this 10 times out of 10.

Photo of beerhan
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz Can.

Poured into a tulip. Dark brown with foamy white head. Medium Carbonation.

Smells much like coffee. Almost the perfect amount of coffee for this beer. There are also hints of cocoa and molasses.

Tastes a lot like coffee and maple. Very light milk chocolate and some sugar. Not too sweet, really good though.

Carbonation is dead on. This beer is really really drinkable and the coffee flavors come out great through the perfect carbonation. It leaves a nice dry black coffee after taste with a sweet initial blast.

Overall this is one of the finest and most unique coffee beers I have ever had. I can safely say that this is also the only sessionable coffee beer I have ever seen and would love to seek this one out again.

Photo of brystmar
4.44/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer my first time visiting Hopleaf in Chicago when I lived there a few years ago, but it's been elusive ever since. Surly doesn't ship to NY, so thanks to claspada for the heads-up on where to find it online (france44.com).

A: a hearty dark brown brew settles below one finger of tan head. Beady lace adorns the glass.

S: huge aroma of roasted coffee beans right off the bat. I don't particularly like coffee (except the sugary Starbucks versions), but I've always LOVED the smell of raw coffee beans. And this aroma rivals that of the best coffee stouts..

T: mostly just coffee and sweet malts. Nutty aftertaste mixes with the coffee and lingers pleasantly. Not complex or "FPS"-y, to use a poker term. Just damn good beer.

M: thin and light with average carbonation. I guess this works for a brown ale, but I can't help but think 'coffee stout' when drinking this brew. Give me thick and creamy nitro Coffee Bender!

O: A very pleasant, supremely refreshing, sessionable coffee beer if there ever was one. Glad I bought two 4-packs instead of one; I'll be ordering this again very soon.

Photo of MattyG85
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16 oz. can into pint glass.

Appearance: Dark reddish brown. Small tan head that slowly fades with decent lacing.

Smell: Very strong coffee aroma up front followed by sweet malts. A slight sniff of hops in the background.

Taste: Coffee and sweet roasted malts up front followed by a slightly nutty and bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and carbonation. Very smooth.

Overall: A very solid ale that almost seems more iced coffee than a beer. A very interesting and tasty brew.

Photo of duffcalifornia
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of UMNbeerhunter (thanks again!). Poured into a nonic pint.

A: Pours the darkest of cherry red, but absolutely clear when held up to the light. A huge 2" super-light-tan head comes with the initial pour, but fades quickly to half an inch, but provides subtle lacing as the beer is consumed.

S: Smells just like the roasted malt of Bender, with a very present, but subtle, coffee aroma. Not overpowering like some coffee beers, but then if you put much more coffee into this beer, it would completely hide the base beer.

T: This is wonderfully complex. The coffee is there at the front, followed by bits of chewy dark bread and roasted grains. The coffee reappears on the finish. A faint taste of hops (what else would you expect from Surly?) but nothing overpowering.

M: This is about as thick as one would want from the style. It sticks around on the tongue, but nowhere near as viscous as a big stout. An excellently appropriate moderate-low level of carbonation is present.

O: I wish I lived closer than six hours to MN so I could get this beer more often. It's absolutely delicious, and may be one of the best year-round beers anywhere. Easily up there with Two Hearted. Really nothing to complain about with this great offering from Surly.

Photo of ucis
4.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours from that can like 10/30 motor oil. Large frothy head that slowly dissipates. If you don't like coffee why are you drinking this? Smell is biscuits malt and COFFEE. Please don't add any creamer. This ship is meant to go down black. Mouth is just north of light and crisp. Coffee is overwhelming. Is there really Surly Bender under there? I am blown away by malts, chocolate, coffee. Skipped my morning coffee in exchange for this. Doesn't appear to have any caffeinated effects. Only the faintest of light penetrating this dark bean.
One of the best coffee infused drinks I have had the privilege of wrapping my taste buds around.
The very local watering hole "THE WHITE HORSE" has this on tap every so often. From memory I can clearly announce that it's even more amazing from a spigot.

Overall if you like coffee- you need to try this. If you like flavored, fake coffee--stay away.

Photo of cpmichael
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty good looking, dark brown with perfect clarity, good head with staying power, and good lacing.

Smell is pretty good, nice coffee aroma but plenty of nice chocolate, sugar cane, and lightly bready malts.

Taste is easy going and moderated, with a good coffee and chocolate base, accented by a good biscuit malt, slightly smoky.

It's pretty light bodied and medium carbonated, with a good bitter aftertaste that lingers.

Pretty good beer. Easy to drink for sure, and I like that it's in cans.

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As usual, 10oz into snifter and I keep the last 6oz to drink straight outta the can.

A - Similar to the regular bender but heavier on the browns and a little bit less red edging. Pillowy light brown head that kept nice lacing in rings.

S - Strong coffee, some of the sweet malts show through. Very minor pine bitters, less so than the bender.

T - Tastes like an iced coffee without sugar or cream. The only difficulty was the fact that it was carbonated! It would have been a very tasty barley iced coffee! Anyways, the coffee flavour is very strong but you can also tell it is high quality coffee. Minor nuttiness as with the regular bender, pine, and some caramel, toffee.

M - Medium, less dry than the regular, interesting..

D - I would have another one but I wouldn't seek this out on a regular basis. Tasted too much like an iced coffee.

Photo of n2185
3.17/5  rDev -23.8%
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.

Photo of Phelps
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Canned in November 2010. Should still be good, right? This was poured into a wine glass. Desperate times.

Deep grape in color, so dark it seems opaque, with light orange highlights at the edges. A fuzzy one-finger head of light tan collapses quickly, leaving a super sticky ring, a thick, silky top layer and some jagged horizontal lace.

Mild light roast iced coffee in the nose, along with nutty peanuts, caramel and light spicy hops. Less coffee than I expected.

In the flavor: bitter and unsweetened iced coffee again, pronounced spicy hops and subtle dark chocolate. Not as much depth as I expected, but it is in nice balance.

Peppery medium carbonation amidst a medium-light body with moderate fizz as it moves. It's a little thinner than I'd like.

Somehow the addition of coffee seems to have taken away a bit of Bender's complexity. It's neither the best coffee beer or the best brown, but the can is still disappearing down my maw pretty quickly.

Photo of scottfrie
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz bottle into SN tulip pint glass. Thanks again to Chriscrundwell12 for this one.

A: Pours a very dark ruby-brown (darker and more brown than regular Bender) with a similar large, dense, light brown head that took forever to recede into a fuzzy thick film. A solid sheet of sticky lacing was beautifully left down the glass.
S: Rich notes of coffee grounds and oil. Smells similar to (just as the can says) an iced coffee.
T: Tastes like an iced coffee as well. Light watered down coffee taste is refreshing with a sweet malty finish. I get just a suggestion of leafy hops in the finish as well. Aftertaste doesn't leave much coffee flavor in my mouth which is nice.
M: Medium body with an oily mouthfeel that coats my mouth. Carbonation is soft and even.
O: Really good light flavor of coffee that isn't overpowering or too potent. Tastes just like an iced coffee. Thanks again Chris!

Photo of julian
3.91/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours very similar to the regular Bender; dark brown with crimson highlights on the edges. Thick fluffy tan head that that stays for awhile but then reduces to a minimal think film on the surface.

S: Smell is of subtle coffee, mild roasted malt. Nothing intense in the aroma here, but definitely more than regular Bender.

T: Lots of watered down coffee, but tastes fresh. Roasted malt, some very subtle chocolate.

M: Carbonation is good, body is a bit thin, similar to regular Bender, but overall goes down easy and drinks very well.

O: Another solid beer by Surly. This is average to above average. Nothing here really wows me but then again, there is nothing to complain about either.

Photo of Genghis22
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Kevin, my Secret Santa!

A - Pours a ruddy brown. Ruby highlights when the glass is held up. Frothy coffee colored head. Good sticky lacing.

S - A strong smell of nice coffee. Not overly strong and burnt smelling like a stout, but also not weak and watery like the stuff they serve at Denny's. Bready, malty, touch of chocolate, with a bitter finish.

T - Nutty, malty delcious. The first taste is all brown ale, but the coffee creeps in and builds over time. The end result is less brown ale, much more coffee, with the hops coming in at the last moment. The aftertaste is bitter, mostly hoppy bitter, but also the coffee plays into it as well. Very nicely down.

M - Viscosity is nice, medium body. Not thick or chewy, but very fitting for a brown ale. Moderate carbonation, which really accents all the differnt flavors. Very well done.

O - If I could get my hands on this, I would be all over it. This beer is super tasty. It combines two of my three favorite beverages in one can, and does a fine job of it. The abv is also low enough to make this a beer you could have a few of in a session. I would love to take this camping, would be a great way to start the post dinner camp fire huddle.

Photo of veinless
4.11/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had Bender earlier in the night, so thought I might as well have this iteration and compare the two. Thanks again to ChadQuest for hooking me up with this beer in a trade.

Pours a very similar dark brown, approaching black, that Bender poured. Has the same red edges and large light tan head. Head dissipates faster this time but is more finely bubbled, leaving exquisite lace all over the glass, looking like specks of sand on your feet after a day at the beach.

Nose is not as pungent as Bender, offering a fresh coffee grounds smell that is high in quality but just a bit lacking in strength compared to expectations lent by the description on the can. Very, very nice coffee smell though, and expectations aside it is a good strength of scent. A bit of caramel and toffee linger in the back, but it appears the coffee infusion process smacked them a bit.

Taste then proceeds to hit the smell out of the ballpark. Intense fresh black coffee hits your entire being to start, going from bitter to sour and back all while a light sweetness akin to brown sugar tip toes around the scene. The oatmeal character from Bender helps out the coffee a lot, as the earthy and smooth nature it provides combine well with the fresh grounds. They aren't joking when they say it is a dilemma deciding whether to have this in the morning or at night. A bit of spice at the finish offers a contrast, but not much of one. An absolutely delicious oaty coffee bomb that could use a little bit of something else, but is fine the way it is as well.

Mouthfeel is the same as Bender (slightly watery, smooth and with creamy moments) but with these flavors it works so much better. Drinkability is helped a great deal by the balance on the coffee, as it isn't just raw beans with no sweetness added - the caramel and toffee from the nose mist be doing it, even if I can't pick them out specifically on the tongue. Great, great beer, and a confirmation of why Surly has the reputation it does.

Photo of azdback
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- 16 oz. can poured into Stone imperial pint glass. Dark brown, and very coffee like. Coffee ice cream colored three finger head. Very thick lace. It is billed as a brown ale, but it is bordering on a porter.

Smells like my morning coffee spiked with yeast and hops, instead of cream and sugar. Coffee definitely dominates, but there is some chocolate coming through, as well as molasses.

Taste- Coffee is definitely still dominating. Backed by a nice malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel is well carbonated, but a little thin, which may be OK for this style but not OK for my taste. I expect to be able to chew on my beer.

Drinkability- Very drinkable. I wish I could replace my morning coffee with a can of Coffee Bender.

Overall maybe this style just isn't up my alley. A tasty beverage at any rate. Definitely recommended.

Photo of Chico1985
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown, translucent red when held to the light. Beige head retains as a cap and ring, not much lacing left.

Sweetened coffee up front in the smell, with some milky and vanilla notes. Fades fast.

Coffee is much stronger in the taste, beats out the smell. A pretty nice balance between roasty and sweet, but overall leans more towards sweet I'd say. Slight molasses, vanilla and cream. A very small grassy/earthy hop presence. Comes off as a bit acidic in the finish.

Has a very smooth malty feel to it, great body for 5.1%, low carbonation.

The highlight was the overall smoothness of the beer, it's good, but as far as coffee beers go not one of the best. Not much complexity.

Photo of THECPJ
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

reviewed from notes:
thanks goes out to tmcelvain for sending this one my way.

appearance: dark brown with a 2 finger head

smell: roasted coffee, malts

taste: coffee is very prominent

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, thin to medium body, smooth

drinkability: enjoyed this do to the coffee flavor. very smooth


Photo of IdrinkGas
3.1/5  rDev -25.5%
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.

Photo of gregshead
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

an extra from mnbearsfan (thank you). Tasted on 2/18/11, reviewed from notes:

A: Pours a brown w/ a small amount of red hue in it. Half finger of head that dissipates slowly.

S: Lots and lots of coffee smell. A little confused by the smell.

T: Good coffee taste up front with the sugary malt taste of a brown in the middle finished with a dry coffee taste/finish.

M: Lots of carbonation with a smooth dry feel.

D: Enjoyable for its style. The coffee is slightly overpowering but I was still glad to try a tallboy of it.

Photo of fastpass17
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz Can

A: espresso brown with a wonderful creamy head and nice carbonation

S: rum, a touch of coffee, dried fruit

T: Chewy caramel melts into espresso, with maple syrup in the mix.

M,D: Warms real well in the glass, creamy and rich on the palate. Very drinkable.

Photo of ne0m00re
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Live review of a pint can canned 12/30/10 courtesy of arvjunk.
A: Clear mahogany with reddish hues, nice dark cream head, and good lacing.
S: Nutty (walnut) caramel, mild fresh-brewed drip or French press coffee, cream. Mild aroma.
T: Similar to the aroma, with a slight diacetyl or toffee, nice orange citrus hops. Good. You'd just think that the flavor would be more intense.
M: Moderately or lightly syrupy, frothy, and crisper in the finish.
D: Pretty good. A little more watered-down than you'd expect, but decent flavors for the lower alcohol.

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

Canned 02/23/11

A- Pours a deep brown/ black, with a tan finger head.

S- Rich roasted coffee aroma, and a hint of dark chocolate.

T- Sweet, dark chocolate, and coffee. Slightly bitter, really amazing balance between the coffee and malts. Definitely gives you coffee breath.

M- Medium body and carbonation, I guess I would have liked it a little thicker. Nice clean dry finish from the bitterness of the coffee and hops.

D- Damn fine beer, if I didn't have an aversion to caffeine I think I could down a few of these. Compared to a couple years ago I really get the balance in this beer.

Photo of Florida9
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 2,071 ratings.