Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

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2,051 Ratings
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Ratings: 2,051
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.3%
Wants: 609
Gots: 240 | FT: 14
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)
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Ratings: 2,051 | Reviews: 768 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of a74gent
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lots of expectations opening this one and they are lived up to well by the boys from Minnesota.

I think letting this one warm up a little enhances the smell, but causes the flavor to get a little acidic.

The appearance is a nice dark coffee brown...exactly what you'd expect.

Smell is super nice coffee ...just great. I may have rated 5 except that I had another coffee beer yesterday that was a little better on the nose.

Taste is exactly as you'd expect..It is more coffee in the nose and beer on the palate for me though. I think the taste starts out as 4.5 and trends downward a little.

The mouthfeel is nice but a little thin.

Drinkability is a really good although seems a little boozy (if that can be at 5 ABV) when cold. As it warms it changes in a real way...just different not worse or better overall. A very interesting drink...

Photo of SpdKilz
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First of all a huge thanks to crossovert for this great extra that I've been waiting to bust out. I'm a bit tired and it's not even seven, so hell, let's open up a coffee beer!

Appearance - Pours a dark hazelnut color with over two fingers of tan head that dissipate relatively fast, leaving decent lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Damn, a smack of coffee beans hits my nose immediately...and not stale coffee but fresh smelling coffee. Slight hops, sweet chocolate, and a bit of floral characteristics (oddly).

Taste - Similar to the nose. Heavy coffee characteristics up front, hop bitterness, interesting citrus twang to it, bittersweet cocoa/chocolate. Tastes pretty damn good.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, decent carbonation, finishes a hint dry.

Drinkability - Quite so for this type of brew. A damn impressive brown ale for sure.

Photo of Brez07
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can poured into a Maine Beer Co logo glass

A: Pours a mostly translucent brown with amber highlights. Leaves a 1 finger tan head. No lacing

S: Small nose. Fairly weak coffee, roasted malt and coffee beans. Accompanied by some nuttiness

T: Bigger coffee presence then the nose would cause you to think. Some bittersweet chocolate, roasted malt and nut. Similar to coffee without sugar

M: A little thin despite there not being too much carbonation. Just a bit of roastiness that lingers after each sip

D: Easy drinking, but seemed to be lacking something. Enjoyed the beer, but wish the coffee had a bigger presence

Photo of TMoney2591
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Photo of Bendurgin
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured this into my pint glass. It's a deep brown with a thin off white head with decent lacing. I love the smell of this one. It has a nice nutty wooden aroma with a big coffee smell. The coffee is really well done. It comes through predominantly but doesn't overpower anything. The taste is a bi coffee flavor with hints of brown sugar and nuts. It finishes slightly bitter. It really reminds me of an ice coffee with just a bit of cream and sugar. Really good stuff. Mouthfeel is slightly carbonated with a smooth medium body. I really wish I had this stuff local, probably my favorite brown ale.

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

Here goes my first review. And what a great beer to start....

Can poured into a Saint Arnold pint glass

A- A deep, rich red color. A little bit of head
S- Definitely has a coffee smell. It smells delicious
T- Tastes like a good cup of coffee that has alcohol. I liked the taste
M- Not too much carbonation, really easy going down
D- I can't wait to get a few more of these when I go towards MN

I really enjoyed this beer. Cheers!

Photo of bigdonniebrasco
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If you've had (and enjoyed) Surly's original Bender...(and why wouldn't you???) then you'll freakin' love this...
Comes to me in the glass...dark, rich, almost like a porter or a deep brown ale (like Bender)...but with a frothy tan head that beckons you in.
Make sure you smell this beer! Aromas of roasted coffee, nuts and chocolate. Mmm...
The coffee tastes (as others have reviewed) definitely overpowers the flavors of original Bender...but original Bender this is not.
Rich, delicious flavor...caramels and roasted coffee, sticky malt and a little hop finish.
It would be nice to pour this from the Coffee pot every morning. Great beer.

Photo of klikger
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Growler pours served in a Bruery tulip

A - Dark brown with a shade of red. Not much head or lacing.

S - Coffee and sweet malt.

T - Coffee is evident right away and is joined by brown sugar and sugary malts. The back half is dominated by the coffee. I don't put sugar in my morning coffee, but if I did, this is what it should taste like.

M - Not much carbonation in the growler, but I've had this beer several times, and it's always spot on when on tap or from the can. It's light in the mouth and feels good - think bright coffee.

D - High drinkability - this is very flavorful, easy going down, and low alcohol.

My 2nd favorite of Surly's regulars...very good beer here. If you like coffee and/or brown ales, try this already.

Photo of mrandypandy
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16 oz can purchased from Blue Max Liquors, just outside Minneapolis.

A- Pours a murky mahogany brown with amber hues. On par for what a brown ale should look like. Minimal tan head on pour quickly dies, yet leaves great lacing.
S- I don't pick up much of anything in the nose. Muted coffe notes, maybe some nutty/malty armoas mixed in. Still, hard to detect much initially, but I do get more as the beer warms.
T- Coffee. Robust, coffee flavors dominate, yet aren't overpowering. Surprisingly balanced.
M - Medium body, light on the carbonation.
D- High, if you're a coffee fan. After a while the lack of complexity and dominating coffee flavor start to grow tiresome on the palate, but this is still a drinkable beer.

Overall - A very good coffee beer that isn't big/overpowering like a stout. I somehow feel this was actually made better by drinking it out of my Surly coffee mug. Maybe it is never to early to get Surly...

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

can poured into pint glass, shared with friends. thanks biglobo8971

A - Almost clear burnt brown with a bubby, frothy head. Plenty of lacing as the retention slowly fades out.

S - Tons of coffee and nuts with a bit of chocolate and hops.

T - Plenty of coffee and roasted malts on the front end. Hops and hazelnut eventually blend in as the style begins to rear its head. Roasty, deliciously drinkable caramel malts with more coffee and a slight hop bite finish it off.

M/D - Surprisingly light bodied and drinkable. Goes down super easy in comfortable fashion.

My first Surly beer and I cant wait to have another. Great flavors and really drinkable.

Photo of jpmclaug
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the can into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Got this one as an extra from mothman. Thanks!

A - Solid brown colored body with a tan head resting on top.

S - Nice light roasted coffee smell with a mix of sweet malts. The aroma reminds me of a latte.

T - A light coffee flavor rests on top of a slightly sweet brown ale body. A little bit of a hop bite in there but mostly a nicely balanced brown ale with a hint of sweetness. The coffee flavor compliments rather than dominates this beer. Pretty solid brew, I will have to try another can side by side with regular Bender.

M - medium body with a good amount of carbonation.

D - Goes down easy. I like how subtle the coffee flavor is. It really integrates well rather than dominating. One of the better coffee beers I've had. If this was available near me I would drink a lot of this.

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

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.

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.

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.

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:!/photo.php?pid=4801444&fbid=429853478843&id=543268843

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 2,051 ratings.