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Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,033 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,033
Reviews: 768
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.3%
Wants: 611
Gots: 234 | 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: 2,033 | Reviews: 768 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of cpetrone84
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a deep brown color with hints of red on the edges, very hazy with particles floating around. light tan head that is quite thick and creamy in appearance, decent retention with very little lace.

S-lots of caramel right up front, notes of carmelized brown sugar and a hint of molasses. sweet with hints of coffee and a touch of dark fruits.

T-molasses and burth brown sugar up front with a good bit of caramel malt as a base. roasted, slightly burnt coffee with a strong hop presence in the finish with floral esters.

M-extremely smooth but medium to thin body that falls off in the back and feels a little watery. almost no carbonation at all.

D-smooth and thin, more like a strong ale, some balance and a light coffee notes.

cpetrone84, Jun 06, 2010
Photo of beerwolf77
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It's hard to beleive I've never reviewed this beer as many times as I've had it.

Poured into my imperial pint glass the beer is a work of art. Dark blood red with black edges. Full three finger beige head sets up shop and refuses to fade. After some serious waiting thick chunks of lace stick the glass.

The aroma is a hop forward brown ale. With a coffee back bone. Basically Bender with a scoop of coffee. A mix of hops, roast nuts and coffee.

The flavor is about as close to and iced coffee as you can possibly get in a beer. It starts of with a modest nutty hop kick reminding you that it's a beer. Then the flavor switches into full on coffee mode. The finish is so rich and coffee like it's almost comical.

Medium to light body with a hint of carboantion as it washes over your tongue.

Overall a wonderful beer that you can easily enjoy from morning until night.

beerwolf77, Jun 06, 2010
Photo of zoolzoo
2.65/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Surly Coffee Bender tastes strikingly similar to unsweetened iced coffee. Mission accomplished?

Firstly, I have to give Surly credit for infusing this beer with so much coffee flavor and aroma, pretty impressive. Unfortunately overall, I don't think the base beer can stand up to the beans. I cant really find many characteristics that are indicative to the brown ale buried under all of this coffee.

The aroma is pretty good actually. Ground coffee beans, slight bit of malt. I love the smell of coffee.

Taste is somewhat acidic, derivative of low quality, unsweetened coffee. Theres not enough malt to balance out the raw nuttiness - it needs to be a little sweeter and more well rounded. Goes down a little rough!

zoolzoo, May 26, 2010
Photo of HitokiriNate85
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dzyneguru for hooking me up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HitokiriNate85, May 24, 2010
Photo of Spica66
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark color, one-finger head, short retention, moderate carbonation.

S: Very espresso smelling!

T: Coffee, malty, roastiness! MMMM.

M: Sort of thin, but not to a fault.

D: Very easy to drink.

Very tasty to drink. Can't wait till I get my hands on more of this!

Spica66, May 20, 2010
Photo of CrossFitAlex
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz can into a pint glass. Served a bit too cold; I had to hand-warm it for a bit.

A- Frothy, nice dark foam on top. Looks delicious. Dark brown / coffee color.
N - Strong coffee smell. Not a lot else-a few roasted malts.
T-strong coffee flavor to start--I really didn't get much else until it warmed up a bit. Roasted nutty flavor underneath.
M- strong carbonation, nice nutty brown ale


CrossFitAlex, May 14, 2010
Photo of GregSVT
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

16oz can into a snifter

A: Pours a dark cola color with a brown head that fades to a ring and leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

S: The first whiffs have a ton of coffee along with a vanilla and malty aroma. Smells like an espresso with vanilla.

T: The taste initially is all coffee with a roasty bitterness that fades to a sweet malty taste on the finish.

M: The feel is slightly creamy but on the lighter side of medium bodied. Could be a bit thicker here...

D: If you like coffee beers I could see someone drinking good amount of these. It's roasty and relatively refreshing.

Glad I got to try it and recommended.

GregSVT, May 14, 2010
Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 2,033 ratings.