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Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,094 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,094
Reviews: 775
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.3%
Wants: 625
Gots: 260 | FT: 17
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: 2,094 | Reviews: 775 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of joshuaseresse
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can into Guinness pint glass:

A - rich, dark brown - on the verge of black. Pour produces huge creamy white head, frothy and fizzy lacing.

S - light roasty malts and coffee beans. Bits of nut and oatmeal. Reminds me of a iced cappuccino.

T - Tastes just like a iced coffee. Its weird because I don't like coffee at all but I really enjoy coffee brews. Bits of milk chocolate and vanilla, nuts and oatmeal. Its really good.

M - Refreshing. A bit drying from the roast and coffee bitterness. Pretty clean and crisp.

D - Really easy to drink. I wouldn't mind drinking this in the morning with my breakfast. Its not quite coffee and its not quite beer, but a nice mixture of the two. If you're a coffee drinker, this is right up your ally.

Photo of JackieTH
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark reddish mahogany brown with a two finger light tan head leaving nice lacing.

Smell: The essence of a coffee house aroma together with toffee, hints of chocolate and substantial malty vanilla sweetness.

Taste: Rich roasted coffee presence dovetails with the sweetness of toasted malt, oatmeal, dark dried fruits, toffee and chocolates. Wonderful balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium and creamy.

Drinkability: Very high. This is a coffee lover's beer as the name suggests. This isn's an espresso bomb at all, rather the coffee is very nicely integrated with 'Bender' which is a fabulous brown ale of it's own right. Thankfully it's readily available to me down the street at my neighborhood liquour store.

Photo of nhindian
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

16oz can poured into a Surly Darkness tulip. Can provided by UMNbeerhunter, thanks Joe!

A - Pours into the glass a dark mahogany brown, almost bordering on black but still allowing some deep cherry highlights. Atop the brew is a 2.5-fingered, light tan head with pretty good retention. No apparent streams of carbonation, even though the body itself is pretty clear. Lacing is very good as well, with dense foam clinging strongly to the walls of the glass.

S - This beer really captures the essence of a nicely steeped cup of iced coffee, with strong coffee been aromatics mixed with thick malts to smooth out the nose. That's pretty much the bulk of the bouquet here, which given the name, isn't so surprising.

T - The taste takes the coffee bean aroma of the nose and really gives it a nice palate to work with. Although it's not as straightforward coffee as the nose would suggest, the smoothness and overall taste is great. I've had beers that had more of a espresso push to it, they weren't as balanced or easily drank as this. The front actually has a formidable malt presence, sweetening up the mouth and prepping the way for the coffee to intersperse and leave a nice taste. The end is also a bit hoppy to both complement and contrast with the bitterness of the espresso. No alcohol here.

M - Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, medium bodied while having a nice carbonation. Finish isn't incredibly long, but its filled with coffee and bitterness from both the beans as well as the hops.

D - Drinkability is high. An incredibly balanced coffee beer that brings a ton to the table. Easy to drink and very enjoyable. I could imagine tailgating with this all morning if only I could find it around here!

Photo of kirkpjr
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a thin but dark brown with a little light coming through. Looks like a cup of coffee only a shade lighter - and I think I notice this only because it's not in a mug. One finger head with big sheets of lacing.

S: Wow. I wished all American Brown Ales smelled like this one. Rich, roasted coffee notes with a little vanilla and oatmeal.

T: There's no a way a coffee lover could turn down this beer. Rich, roasted coffee beans - but not completely overpowering. Subtle sweet malts and some chocolate flavors round this one out.

M: Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. Coffee flavor lingers.

D: Absolutely loved this one. The only beer I know of rivaling this one in the coffee dept is Terrapin's Wake n Bake. A must try for anyone that enjoys coffee.

Photo of ryan1788a5
3.74/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Quinn and Emily for tracking this one down for me.

16oz can poured into a Guinness Imperial pint glass.

A: Pours a clear brown with tinges of red. The one-inch cream colored head is short lived. Thin rings of lacing settle into light patches.

S: An intense coffee smell. Freshly brewed coffee and coffee beans. Maybe some subtle nuttiness. A vague spiciness, probably from the hops.

T: Fresh coffee, coffee beans, nice bitterness coming from both the coffee and some earthy herbal hops. There is a soda-like sweetness that lingers underneath all of this. Finishes with some nuttiness and more coffee.

M: Light in body with seltzer-like carbonation. somewhat creamy. Not as full and robust as I would like it to be.

D: Light enough in body and in abv to session.

Notes: Pretty good. Very intense coffee tastes. A bit too carbonated and light in body though. The intense coffee flavors feel a bit out of place without a nice full mouthfeel to back them up. This is a beer that I'm very glad I tried, but I wouldn't jump through hoops to get more of it.

Photo of pisomojado8
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My Imperial Pint glasses get some action whenever I have a Surly pint at home. The contents of the 16-oz can fill the glass to perfection.

Pours a reddish brown with a decent amount of oatmeal-colored head that fades somewhat quickly, with a fingertip amount remaining throughout.

Smell of coffee, chocolate, fresh-cut straw and hops.

Taste -- assertive cold-press coffee flavor, some bittering in the middle, then a pleasant chocolate finish. Straight-forward, yet addicting.

The mouthfeel is similar to that of a lighter-bodied oatmeal stout. Very smooth.

Delicious! And highly drinkable. A perfect way to start a Sunday morning.

Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

1 pint can into a pint glass

A: Deep red toned brown-black. Pours and holds a gorgeous foamy, beige head. Spotty lace.

S: Coffee grounds and malt. That about sums it up.

T: I've had other coffee beers but this is by far the best coffee flavor I've come across. It tastes just like an iced cold press coffee. The malty backbone and sneaky hops only help bolster and round the coffee. Exceptional.

M: Very chewy, thick on the palate. Medium carbonation. Very nice.

D: For this style and flavor profile this is about as drinkable as they come. I could easily session this delicious coffee brew!

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

thanks a ton to speedwayjim for tossing this my way at the end of a tasting!!!

a-Poured into a glass mug a crystal brown with a frothy milkshake-esque head that stained the glass as it dissipated.

s-Oh joy...chocolate, coffee a touch milky, little metallic too...smell is pretty mellow (although I usually drink a brew from a glass that gives a better nose, but I had to go the glass mug route for my first taste).

t-Bitter coffee and espresso brown ale. the brown ale is there, but only in the background. Tastes like coffee shop coffee. the coffee is a nice compliment to the brown ale.

m/d-A bit watery but counter balanced with the bitterness. Slides down the gullet quite easily, but leaves a bit of an unpleasant overly bitter drying vibe in my mouth which fades to a much more pleasant chocolate bar feel.

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

Pours incredibly dark. A bit of head but fairly settled. Not too carbonated. Smells strongly of coffee and malt. Very pleasant on the nose. Definitely tastes like coffee coffee coffee... not much else to it. The malt profile peaks through a hair but the coffee overpowers. Great smooth mouthfeel but overall not much of a brown ale taste through the overly coffee flavoured beer

Photo of drewba
3.89/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - murky brown with a thin khaki head and very light lacing.

S - Carmely brown malt, chocolate, root beer, lots of fresh roasted coffee, brown sugar.

T - Highly acidic coffee which is actually kind of distracting, even though the coffee is the point of this beer. The usual brown characters are here to backup the coffee - molasses, brown sugar, roasty malt. The hop profile is more prominent than your average brown. There is a slight lemon citrus and bitterness coming out in the end, but the coffee and bold malt flavors are still taking over in the finish.

M - Super easy finish, satisfying carbonation though it's thin.

D - The acidic coffee bitterness hangs around for awhile, but I could definitely pound a few of these back to back.

Photo of scanny79
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Appearance is a very nice dark brown with some visible light through it, but not a lot. A very nice tan foam head to it.

S: Smells like a nice mild cup of coffee. Not overpowering smell of coffee, but enough to really make you want to taste it.

T: Subtle coffee taste to it, but perfect amount for the beer. Not a huge coffee aftertaste to it whatsoever.

M: Very smooth beer, with a nice dark beer feel to it.

D: Very redrinkable. I bought a 4 pack of it and I guarantee it won't be the last 4 pack I buy of it. The first one tasted like more. One of the best dark beers I have ever had.

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

from Chixdighops into an imperial pint glass.

Pours dark brown with ruby coloring at the edges. Dirty white head, some lacing, minimal of each.

Smells like the added coffee. I've waited patiently for another aroma, but it's largely just the coffee over the top of malt.

Despite the strong coffee aroma, the taste is a bit more mild than anticipated. There is only a small layering of flavor however the depth of the malt is well executed.

Mouthfeel is smooth, a bit lighter than I expected until I realized it was a brown ale and not a porter (note: previous notes are also reflective of being aware of the correct style).

It is certainly fine brew, and an ale that is well crafted. However, the coffee is present throughout the glass and I find this both unnecessary as a rule and unfortunate for the brown ale which I typically prefer to drink as a lighter style brew and which is negated nearly entirely by the coffee here.


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

I couldn't wait any longer. Retail hell has hit Chicago and I needed this one after a shift that ran longer than it was supposed to... Beer labeled #12 poured into my HopLeaf pint glass and reviewed instantaneous for everyone's pleasure.

I'm so used to seeing pale ales in cans that I was shocked to see this brown ale come billowing out. Very creamy head with tons of pancake batter style bubbles destroying the clean appearance. Edges are filled with a gentle mixture of miniature bubbles and a couple average sized ones.

Liquid body of ruby that does not completely block out the light... deep brown hues, caramel soda. Lacing is similar to lacy, white lady gaga gloves stained with cigarette use. Not many streams of bubbles seen when held up to the light.

Sharp astringent character of hops come forth and faintly after numerous intakes a floral pattern. Sweet hazelnut and caramel middle with biscuit tendencies. Hints of wood? Something earthy... as it warms. Guess this is the coffee coming forth that is overwhelming the palate in flavor.

Flavor Profile
Big malt bomb in terms of flavor. Big coffee bomb in terms of flavor. Big sweet bomb in terms of flavor. Explosions, much? Opens sugary sweetness, caramel-like flavors. Middle is coffee, that bitter freeze dried variety that is quite common from my experience as of late. Bitterness of the coffee blends well and obscures the hops for a portion of its existence. Pine flavors right before the finish, resinous and lasting into the final onslaught. Biscuits and pine jelly. Yummy! It is surprisingly tasty.

Oral Sensations
Medium bodied with a smooth flow. It has the lingering flavor molecules that cling to everything but the teeth. Never noticed them there at all throughout the entire can. Crisp carbonation at the beginning that supports the overall presentation.

Hoppy, coffee infused, brown ale? Who the hell makes something like that. It is quite interesting and super easy to drink. Five and a half percent is my guess for the alcohol. I'd like to try this on draft if at all possible in the future.

Reveal is.... Surly Coffee Bender!... wait.. really? Huh... I was expecting something... I don't know... better?

Photo of Vdubb86
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Surly pint glass

Thanks to Lenny1203 for this big want from the N00B BIF 2

This beer pours a nice reddish brown color with a good finger of coarse beige foam to top it off. The aroma is damn fine. For obvious reasons the main aroma is a robust coffee, but surprisingly I was able to detect a bit of flower notes from the hops as well as a nice caramel glaze and some brown sugar. The taste has the distinct notes of coffee in it almost as the one and only flavor. The background notes to the palate are some aggressive hop bitterness that I must admit doesn't really work here however, if you can tell your mind that this is just an alcoholic strong coffee (not moonshot, lol) it actually goes down rather smoothly. The body is a lot thinner than I would have imagined it being, but this beer is still a damn fine drinking beer. It was initially too strong for me but honestly the more I drink it the more I really am loving it. A really nice beer. God I wish we still had Surly down in Chicago.

Photo of malty
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Acquired from an awesome BA trader (maximum12) and also scored more from a fantastic BA (unclejedi) because I love it so much. This is my first official review after trying it the past few years at beer fests and a can or two since August.

Poured into my favorite hand blown (antique?) Whitbread Extra Stout stemmed tulip glass a brilliantly clear ruby-toned mahogany with a fluffy, loose and somewhat craggy 1" light beige head. Some fine visible uprising carbonation visible. Unbroken walls of fine light beige lace all the way down.

Ultra fresh cafe mocha scent is glorious. You can really smell heavy whipped cream as it melts into this foo-foo (insert your favorite coffee shop name here) mocha latte. So flippin' fresh and appetizingly accurate. I can't wait to...

...take a gulp, it's as good as it smells. The chocolate notes fade to the back a bit while the roasted malts are masterfully showcased. The coffee vs. beer flavors are articulately balanced so one doesn't outdo the other. The bitterness that cleanses the palate is coming from hops, but it very much reminds me of the nice bite of a good coffee. Now that I think of it, how do I really know where this bitter edge is deriving? Rich and malty with bittersweet chocolate and coffee cascading flavors, all beautifully intertwined and deliberate.

Mouthfeel is a litter richer than medium bodied with a perfect amount of fine, yet restrained carbonation. Silky, ultra smooth and elegant. The rich and slightly bitter coffee and rich malty finish is loooong.

Drinkability is superb. Very authentic and natural tasting.

I have to laugh at the fact Surly classifies this as a 'Brown Ale'. I've had reputable porters with less balls than this. This is one pronounced and articulate coffee infused ale for sure. Not one tasty facet of this brew tastes contrived or out-of-balance. Imagine a roasty, chocolatey, coffee inspired beer of your dreams, and you've got it right here - in spades!

Photo of TheDudeBeers
4.34/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into a pint glass

A - Aggressive pour produces about 2.5 fingers of head

S - The smell is fantastic. Pure coffee

T - Coffee and perhaps some creaminess. Definitely a pretty coffee forward beer for an ale. Perhaps it's because i'm a habitual coffee drinker but I find it to be a little bit bland. Almost like watered down coffee.

M - Tastes kinda thin if that makes sense. I guess most coffee beers i've had are stouts or porters which have a much thicker taste to them.

D - For a coffee beer I could drink a lot of this. Very easy drinking beer. Definitely more than a coffee Stout or Porter.

Photo of MbpBugeye
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was part of a birthday box sent to me from zimmerbloke.

A- "Beer for a mug, from a can." So I poured the 16oz can into a big mug. There is a strong mocha head with good retention. The beer has a semi clear dark red brown body.

S- The smell is just about ALL coffee. The only thing different from a glass of ice coffee is a tea like gentle hopping.

T- This is one of the strongest on coffee out there. Even among all the big coffee stouts. This is seriously like a glass of iced coffee with cream. A coffee lovers dream.

M- Very smooth with a medium body. Carbonation is low.

D- This stuff has to stay on my wants list. I could have used a second can.

Photo of HosP
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to patchmaster for this nice can of surly!

A- Poured nice dark brown with amber colors around the edges. Minimal head to the beer.

S- Not much from the nose. Subtle coffee notes with some nutty hints in there. Nothing really overpowering though.

T- Coffee flavors throughout the drink. Like the nose, nothing really overpowering. Roasted malts towards the end.

M - Light body with almost no carbonation. Thin feel to the drink.

D- Good drinkable beer. Gets a little boring halfway through with the flavors to it. I would prefer a stout rather than brown ale with coffee where there seems to be more substance to it. Still not bad, could drink more if had some.

Photo of deapokid
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My third Surly. Big thanks to chewy08rx.

Love the crack of the can.

Pours a brownish black in color. Look is clean and not deep enough to be impervious to light. Holds a thin finger of brown foam with decent lacing and relatively high carbonation. This looks super tasty.

Aroma is like a slap in the face. Huge burst of fresh espresso (amazingly authentic) with a slight hint of cream. This smells like a big foamy cappuccino and the roasted bean scent is perfect.

Upon first sip, your mouth is immediately hit with a strong blast of dark roast bitterness, leaving behind a wonderful dryness that you'd expect from a great shot of espresso. I can feel it warming my body and waking me up at the same time. Follow up sips provide a nice dose of cream, some light caramel and one packet of sugar (the real deal... no Splenda). This beer perfectly provides the coffee drinking experience.

It's also low enough in the ABV to sip morning noon and night and the fact that it's secretly still a wonderful brown ale under all that coffee makes it uber drinkable.

Photo of kbanks13
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this from UMNbeerhunter, thanks Joe!

Poured into a shaped pint with a chestnut brown body and a big foamy tan head that leaves good lacing and a nice ring of foam in the glass. Smells nutty and like ground roasted coffee, slightly bitter. Tastes like cocoa and hazelnut with roasted coffee. Slightly acidic/bitter and creamy sweet. Feels viscous due to moderate carbonation and it has a thicker body. Very nice drinking and very tasty, glad to have a few more of these to enjoy!

Photo of wcudwight
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with some ruby highlights when held up to the light. Thin mocha head that slowly fades and leaves behing spiderweb lacing.
Smells like a dark roasted coffee and a can of mixed nuts. Which pairs pretty good imo. How does Surly maintain the complexities of Bender yet still add all of that rich coffee flavor? It doesn't matter to me...What does matter is that this is one tasty beer. Sweet malts. Pecans and walnuts. And of course a big fat cup of joe. Smooth mouthfeel maybe to thin for some but it's a 5% beer. So I feel it's supposed to be thin. Very easy to drink. I love coffee beers and this one is right up there with the best of them.

Photo of mulder1010
3.63/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From Notes. One pint can poured into a globe glass

A-- Poured a dark brown color with some red. Two finger light mocha colored head, very fluffy. Good lacing, medium carbonation.

S-- Light coffee smell, some roasted malts and a bit of sweetness to it.

T-- Coffee, roasted malts, some lemon acidity and a light sweet mocha taste.

M-- Some coffee bitterness, not much though and not overwhelming. A little light with some sugar sweetness.

D-- Very drinkable, easy to have two or three. it is on the thin side but it is quite good. Not as much coffee as had hoped but very workable.

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

After a few hours of playing football in the park and about an hour or two of recovery from pretending to be young, I felt like a Coffee Bender might be nice.

Appearance is dark brown, almost black, with great head and lacing throughout. Not much to say about the legs, but it's low alcohol. The smell is pure coffee, with some malt thrown in. Lovely aroma. I could wake up to this.

Taste is just like the smell. Coffee, with some chocolate and vanilla thrown in. Malty like a good brown ale. Maybe just a hint of water sets it back. The mouth feels full, good carbonation on a medium body, and it's highly drinkable. I could write papers with this one.

If only it made me younger and not sore from football. Then it'd really be a beer.

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into my pint glass, this Ale pours a reddish brown with a 1iin tan head. Nothing too impressive, but still a classic looking pour.

S: The aroma is dominate fresh ground coffee. The essence of coffee is all over this brew. There is a sweet malt presence, with a little roast to it. Not bad at all.

T: For a brown ale, this is up there. The coffee explosion is smooth and refreshing. There is a presence of a little nutmeg, some cocoa, and caramel. What a great brown!

MF: The mouthfeel is full and creamy, big for the ABV.

D: Drinkability is excellent as well. Balanced and refreshing.

Overall, one of the best browns out there. Many browns are bland, Coffee Bender has solved that problem.

Photo of msjacilynn
4.52/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: dark redish-brown with tan head

S: coffee cocoa and roasted malts

T: exceptional brown ale that yields a coffee and vanilla aftertaste. Biting and crisp roasted malts.

M: perfect carbonation. Medium body.

D: drinks well for a coffee ale. I tend to find my taste buds burnt after one, but I could easily have 2 of these guys!

Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 2,094 ratings.