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Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,965 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,965
Reviews: 767
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.54%
Wants: 605
Gots: 220 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Bender steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala.

(Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 05-28-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,965 | Reviews: 767 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of blackie
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: tyranena pint, the beer is a deep mahogany brown in color, capped with a nicely retained dark khaki head

s: nutty brown roasts and big aromas of iced coffee, fresh and vivid light roast coffee beans, earthy dried citrus hops, dry chocolate, nice

m: carbonation around moderate in level, with a medium body, creamy

t: nice blend of smooth brown malts and clean iced coffee, nutty and pretty rich, light but crisp citrus pith hop, a light roasted edge, like this

d: straight poundable, great

can 1/3 brought back from MSP

blackie, Sep 11, 2010
Photo of hopsbreath
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Doing this one live tonight. Big thanks go out to Zimmerbloke for hooking me up with some Surly. In all he sent six cans of assorted styles in a trade. Alas, this is the last can I have and the first I've reviewed (hint, hint Minnesota traders). Thanks Matt.

Poured into a large snifter, I get about a finger of frothy cappuccino type head on top of a beautiful garnet-brown body. The head dissipates to a thin wispy circle but leaves decent lacing. Nice.

Smell is a little faint but I'm picking up more of a tea aroma instead of coffee and some light sweet cherry. A little milk chocolate round this thing out.

Taste is pretty hard to describe. This is my second Coffee Bender and I remember having similar difficulty with regular Bender. Its a unique taste for sure. The stale cold steeped bitter coffee is there for sure but then the nuances of Bender are the more difficult to define. There's a certain herbal quality to this beer (basil?) as well as perhaps a hint of licorice and smoked meat. None of that is a bad thing however. This is the primary reason I did not rate Bender. I like it a lot but have an extremely hard time saying why and describing the taste.

Mouthfeel is thin and well carbonated. The herbal quality lingers and keeps the brew from finishing clean. The aromatics hang on just a little longer in the nasal passages than the taste does on the palate but its actually pretty pleasing.

All Surly beers I have had the pleasure of drinking to date drink fast and smooth. This is no exception. By definition this is not quite a session beer but I could definitely enjoy a couple pints (or three) of Coffee Bender without getting tired of it. This isn't a mind blowing beer by far but its so intricate, complex and interesting that its going to be on my wants list permanently along with regular Bender. Highly recommended.

hopsbreath, Sep 08, 2010
Photo of djmichaelk
2.98/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djmichaelk, Sep 04, 2010
Photo of domtronzero
3.63/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Clear dark brown. Big, quickly-collapsing, long-lasting, tan head. Little lacing.

S - Bitter chocolate. Earthy, almost spicy hops. Caramel and coffee.

F/M - Light coffee, slight caramel. Medium bitterness, accentuated slightly by roasty malts. Earthy hops. Lite alcohol flavor in the finish. Medium-lite bodied with moderate carbonation. Dry finish with a clean aftertaste. Slight lingering coffee.

D - Good for a coffee-infused brown ale. Dryness and clean finish make it a smooth beer, suitable for multi-can sessions.

domtronzero, Aug 31, 2010
Photo of wcintula
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Everything looks better in a Duvel glass, and all 16 oz of this baby fit. Great 3 finger puffy sticky head on a brown/black body with mahogany highlights. Nice lacing. Smells of chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, nuttiness. Great matching taste profile and then some. Chocolate is bitter, some hop bitterness too, woodiness. Medium body with carbonation. Excellent beer, so happy the cans are 16 oz.

Check it out:

wcintula, Aug 25, 2010
Photo of stakem
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mothman for the opportunity to try this one.

Poured into a snifter, this brew appears a dark brown but when held to the light it displays a clear amber red color. More than 2 fingers of fluffy tanned head sit atop this brew and receed leaving patches of lace about the glassware.

The aroma of this beer slaps you with the scent of coffee beans straight out the gate. Mingled in with the coffee is the smell of sweet chocolate, citrus and floral hops. There is a super faint twang or sour note about it that makes the smell of the coffee seem more "bright."

The taste of this brew has the coffee character right upfront. It has a decent citrusy sweet hop bitterness to back the coffee character. Just like the nose led on, there is an extra bit of twang in there that doesn't directly seem like a contribution of hops but it is provides both a citrus note that also comes across a bit tart. Either there is a flavor of hop coming out in this brew that I am not familiar with or a bit of sourmashing was done to this brew that adds a layer of complexity to this brew that really accents the coffee character. Regardless, it works and I like it. Other flavors of dark malt and roasted grain are throughout the profile of this brew.

The feel of this beer is medium with a moderate level of carbonation. Long lingering aftertate of coffee and dark grain bitterness is left on the tongue that at times comes across like chocolate but mostly coffee. It also finishes with some citrus hop character and a bit drying that makes you want to sip this brew more and more. Overall a wonderful brew. Being a coffee lover, I thought this beer was fantastic.

stakem, Aug 25, 2010
Photo of Docer
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this puppy in a trade from Brentk56,, great beer!

- Clear dark brown, light mocha, cola-colored.. fizzy thin layer of foam... large lace-making ring.

- Smells like a cream soda.. light coffee, sweetness.. grainy, malty, bitter zesty hop.

- Nice, smooth, and light.. sweetened coffee, grain, hop... very good light sweetened balanced brew.. light bitterness.

- Light bodied, mouth watering, bitter dry..

- Fantastic brew all around, very balanced and one I could surely even drink for breakfast!

Docer, Aug 24, 2010
Photo of brewcrew76
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark ruby red, mahogany with a creamy tan head and good retention.

S - Coffee, nutty, chocolate, toffee, hazelnut.

T - Slight brown sugar sweetness, hazelnut, coffee, dark chocolate, bready malts with some roasted malt.

M - Medium body and smooth with a dry finish.

D - Like a mix of brown ale and iced coffee.

brewcrew76, Aug 23, 2010
Photo of Reaper16
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz. can served into a mason jar

Pours a roasty, darkish brown. Pretty clear body in terms of translucency. Small bubbles compose a white head that has decent volume (one and a half fingers) but is somewhat lacking in density. Pretty nice looking brown ale.

Whoa. There aren't many beers that have this much unadulterated coffee aroma to them. I've had coffee-centered imperial stouts that were less overtly coffee-based than Surly's Coffee Bender. Nutty brown malt provides the spine for a blast of Folgers coffee grounds that never lets up. I get a hint of vanilla but that might be remembrances of coffee drinks overlapping on my perception of this beer. This isn't complex but it gets points for originality and execution. I hesitate to give it a 4.5 but the coffee aroma is so good that I am persuaded to.

The taste follows the nose almost exactly. While I feel that the relative lack of complexity doesn't hurt the nose, I feel differently about the taste. Apart from brief flourishes of nutty, toffee-like brown malt this beer is incredibly coffee-centric. This is like a cup of iced coffee with some beer in it, rather than the other way around. That isn't a bad thing - this beer still tastes very good, after all - but it does hold the score back.

A nice medium sized body compliments the brown ale flavors and the coffee without being overbearing. Carbonation could be higher, but that is nitpicking. I find this beer to be very drinkable. The low ABV% is a blessing and this is the rare coffee-centric beer that you actually would consider drinking with breakfast.

All in all an impressive brown ale from Surly. Very unique and well-executed.

Reaper16, Aug 22, 2010
Photo of DNICE555
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received as a extra from SpeedwayJim. What a good guy. Poured a nice dark brown with a tan head. Smelled like a dunkin doughnuts hazelnut iced coffee. Very impressive. Tastes the same. I am blown away how an ale can taste like an iced coffee. The coffee beans are so rich and vivid and yet the brown ale is still dominating and skillfully crafted. I've only had the furious and this offering and would love to try more from surly.

DNICE555, Aug 19, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16oz. can poured into an imperial pint. Thanks again to beerwolf77 for this one.

(A)- Pours a hazy deep brown color that produced a great tan colored fluffy head with great retention behind it. Bits of lacing too.

(S)- A rich roasted profile with bitter coffee grounds. Bits of a creamy nuttiness behind that. Bits of dusty cocoa as it warms.

(T)- Similar to the smell, but not. A good roasted profile with the coffee addition. Creamy nuttiness and a smooth finish.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Very smooth and creamy feel with just a touch of bitterness from the coffee.

(D)- A great brown ale made even more dynamic with the addition of coffee into the mix. A great beer for the fall time.

sweemzander, Aug 14, 2010
Photo of billshmeinke
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks go out to G311 for this brew. Poured into a nonic.

A 2 finger off white head of tight rocky carbonation sits atop a semi opaque brown body with amber hues towards the edge of the glass. Quite impressive retention and lacing left behind.

The nose is chock full of freshly ground coffee and vanilla with a faint dose of hops in the background.

The taste is of fresh coffee, subtle vanilla, sweet caramel malts and a somewhat distracting hop presence. As the beer warms the coffee flavor begins to become more subtle and strikes a better balance with the hop bitterness. A lingering smokey coffee flavor remains between sips.

The mouthfeel is on the light end of medium bodied with smooth and creamy carbonation. The creaminess almost makes you think you are drinking an actual coffee with cream. Good stuff.

A great beer. Would have this in my fridge on the regular if Surly distributed to CA.

billshmeinke, Aug 05, 2010
Photo of dirtylou
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can, grabbed a 4-pack on a recent pass through Rochester

appearance: served in imperial pint glass - very dark mahogany body, creamy tan head with decent retention.

smell: lots of coffee, roasted malts, nice bitterness present from the coffee, chocolate covered coffee beans

taste: comes at you like a nice bold iced coffee (with alcohol), chocolate covered espresso beans, slight bitterness, light roasted malt,a little woody, dry chocolate. very nice beer, but i think i'll give the edge to Central Waters Coffeehouse

mouthfeel: light bitterness, dry finish

drinkability: good

dirtylou, Jul 23, 2010
Photo of Axic10
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to notCreative for the can. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with a finger of tan head that quickly settles to almost nothing.

Smell: Pretty much all I am getting is coffee, which is a good thing as usually the coffee aroma is from a porter or stout. Amazing aroma.

Taste: Wow, pretty much like drinking an iced coffee. With a name like Coffee Bender I'd expect nothing less. Roasted coffee, some roasted malt and a tiny bit of dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth.

Drinkability: I think this is a very amazing beer. I really liked the regular Bender, but the Coffee Bender is a completely different beer. Amazing coffee aroma and flavor, I wish I had more of this on hand, it's that good.

Axic10, Jul 21, 2010
Photo of jsanford
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Extra generously received from BarrytheBear. Thanks Barry!

A - Dark coffee brown with a creamy tan head. Nice lacing.

S - Coffee and roasted malts. Smells sweet, almost milky with a faint vanilla whiff. Mmm.

T - Wow! More coffee and dark, sweet roasted malt. Absolutely no bitterness from the coffee, this is a nicely constructed coffee brew. Very nicely balanced too, there's no mistaking that its a coffee beer, but the malts even it out.

M - Creamy and incredibly smooth. Carbonation is nice and prickly, just how I want a beer like this. Medium bodied.

D - I could easily drink a couple of these, if only Surly distributed to GA. Great melding of coffee and beer and another great example of an "exciting" brown ale.

jsanford, Jul 19, 2010
Photo of robwestcott
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured aggressively and - very cold - , a milk chocolaty brown, to a sun king brewery shaped pint glass with a super foamy finger and a half, long lasting toffee head that leaves lace all the way to the rim of the glass after each sip.

aroma of roasty toffee, chocolate and corner diner coffee.

buttery dark brown sugar up front, moving toward coffee to the back of the tongue. a nice, sweet, brown. the malts balance the coffee well and while the coffee is indeed ever-present, it's not at all distracting. it's a brown with coffee, rather than a coffee brown.

very light and smooth, again, enjoyable. if there's anything approaching bitter hops here, they're sure well-hidden.

at 5.1 abv, this one's very drinkable.

robwestcott, Jul 19, 2010
Photo of samie85
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-This one is a ruby-hued brown color with a two finger head.

S-Coffee and chocolate malt with some earthy hop notes.

T-Bready and chocolatey malt notes with a nice bitter, roasty finish.

M-Really smooth mouthfeel with really low carbonation and medium body.

D-This is a really easy drinking coffee beer and one where the coffee component doesn't overwhelm the other flavors in the beer.

samie85, Jul 18, 2010
Photo of crossovert
3.28/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a hazy coffee color with a frothy off-white head.

It smells like coffee, I have never had a beer that smells prety much 100% liek coffee like this before. i am not a coffee drinker but I enjoy most coffee beers, this one smells like it could be cold, carbonated, alcoholic coffee.

It tastes just like coffee too, I'm not a fan of coffeee but this is somewhat tolerable. It literally tastes like coffee, thar bitter, roasty, but almost fruity flavor.

Overall it is decent, kinda gives you a stomach ache.

crossovert, Jul 17, 2010
Photo of kbeals
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Traded for this one at DLD day with a very generous younger35...

A- Pours a deep brown, nearly black in color with an inch of tan creamy head. Good lacing and head retention. I still can't get over how good all of Surly's beers look.

S- Pleasant aromas of coffee and roasted malts. Surly really knows how to put coffee in their beer, lots of rich coffee aroma makes it feel as though I'm smelling a fresh cup of coffee. One of the better coffee-infused beers I've had in a while.

T- Once again, a good amount of roasted coffee and malts. No real detectable bitterness in here from the coffee, very nice.

M- Heavy body with detectable amounts of carbonation. About right for the style.

D- Good, I could drink a couple of these and with the mix of the coffee complementing the original Bender so well it made this one hard to put down.

kbeals, Jul 15, 2010
Photo of hwwty4
3.7/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to iasanlee for this one.

Now let me preface this review, by stating that I think the Bender is probably the best American Brown Ale brewed. Its just about perfect for the style and I have huge hopes going into this review for Coffee Bender.

Poured a 16oz can into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a muddy brown with amber highlights when held up to the light. A massive 4 inch brown cap leaves mild lacing down the sides of the glass. Surly really knows how to make a pretty beer. I stuck my nose down in the glass for the first whiff, and bam, a full frontal attack to the olfactory by freshly ground, roasted with love, coffee beans. And nothing with else. Even as I let it warm, nothing else really comes through. Its like the coffee has completely drowned out the Bender aspect. The flavor is only slightly better. Fresh ground, artisan coffee. The best type of coffee you can buy, but that's really all i get. Hints of chocolate come through on the tail buy really nothing else. The coffee has overwhelmed everything that makes this beer great and turned it into a one dimensional monster. I'm not saying its bad, Coffee Bender tastes like great coffee. Like i could drink it warm, out of a big mug in the morning, but its really lost every other aspect of the beer. The mouthfeel is soft and creamy leaving a little coffee astringency lingering on the palate. I really like the beer. Its tasty. But its one dimensional and not as good as Bender is.

hwwty4, Jul 09, 2010
Photo of newk340
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a fantastic beer from a can, love the mantra "beer for a mug, from a can." certainly could have had this for breakfast in place of my typical cup of joe.

A: a very dark coffee stout, one finger head when poured from the can.


T: COFFEE!! absolutely no taste of alcohol, shocked by its resemblance to my favorite morning beverage.

M/D: could easily replace a cup of coffee in the morning, nearly no carbonation, smooth feel down the throat.

newk340, Jun 30, 2010
Photo of Aguirre
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another absolutely stellar beer from Surly. The smell on this one is unreal, thick, rich coffee mixed with dark malty ale goodness. The taste follows suit with a great mix of sharp coffee and delicious Bender, which stands on its own as a great beer. You don't get as much out of the hops as you do with regular Bender, but it's still incredible.

When I drank this, I couldn't stop smiling. Simply one of the most delicious and interesting beers I've ever had. If I lived closer I'd drink it regularly. I expected big things out of this beer, and wasn't even close to being let down. Long live Coffee Bender!

Aguirre, Jun 20, 2010
Photo of lackenhauser
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Deep, deep chestnut color. Smallish off white head. Nice, mellow coffee aroma. Mildly nutty. Great, great flavor-very malty with an evenly balanced coffee taste. Somewhat nutty-just a whisper of hop flavor. Bitterness comes more from coffee and roasted grains. Very full mouthfeel. Boy I could drink this all night. very drinkable and nice to see a coffee beer that is not a porter or stout. Damn good all around.

lackenhauser, Jun 18, 2010
Photo of Pabs311
3.55/5  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.

Pabs311, Jun 15, 2010
Photo of jampics2
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A can from a trade. Had this beer for the first time as my wake-up beer at Dark Lord Day and saved a can to rate at home.

Into my snifter, this looks great. Opaque dark brown, almost black liquid with a tan head and primo lace greet me when the can is opened and emptied.

Smells of coffee, chocolate, nice roasted dark malts, and a touch of cream. Nice nose, but a bit subdued. I do like the coffee, though, which is premium, fresh, and well integrated.

Nice taste. Great coffee presence, milk chocolate, caramel malt, and even a touch of bitterness from the hops. Finishes with sweet toffee, caramel, and coffee. Really good.

Mouthfeel is nice and medium bodied. But the carb is a touch high for me. Overall, I love this beer and would drink a ton if I had access to it. But it's not stunning to me, more like a well rounded and unique beer that tastes really good!

jampics2, Jun 14, 2010
Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 1,965 ratings.