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Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Educational use only; do not reuse.

804 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 804
Hads: 2,376
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 18.8%
Wants: 652
Gots: 336 | FT: 26
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

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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Reviews: 804 | Hads: 2,376
Photo of raoulduke37
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straight fours across the board. This was one interesting beer, speaking of which, here goes.

A - Pours a black, with a thick, viscous consistency and a nice tan head - it really does look like iced coffee.

S - Coffee, roasted chestnuts, burning wood - smells like camping, I like it.

T - Up front bitterness, but not from hops, it really is the bitterness of coffee. It works well with the ale - Roasted espresso beans, malt highlights, lots of smokiness going on. mmm....I really recommend pairing this one with one of those chocolate muffins you get from CostCo.

M - Slight tingle of carbonation, but overall very smooth and not offensive in any way.

D - I'd love to try one of these for breakfast!

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Photo of bennetj17
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark brown, I can just barely see through it if I hold the glass up to the light, as deep ruby hues shine through. The head is medium thick, tan, leaving a hearty lace. The aroma is all coffee, no malt sweetness really, like a freshly roasted pot. I like it.

This thing tastes like a cold and carbonated cup of coffee really. I don't like coffee all that much, but for a beer this is great. The dry roasted bitterness is really pleasant with just enough malt backbone to balance things. The mouthfeel might seem a bit thin, but the rather sharp carbonation compensates for that nicely.

I must say this coffee-flavored beer is excellent. It's really nothing like the original Bender, but that is fine. This Packs alot of flavor into a really sessionable brew. Highly recommended...

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Photo of wagenvolks
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz. can passed around at the Austin BA gathering.

Poured into my Delirium Tremens tulip a dark, seal brown body with a semi-opacity and sluggish carbonation. A chestnut head rises to half an inch and falls quickly, leaving behind a wisp of foam. "Perfect" does not begin to describe the aroma on this beer, as it achieves a sublime espresso and fresh-brewed coffee note that reminds me of a cold-steeped coffee stout I once home-brewed. Dank, dark fruits and a slight waft of citrus hops provide a great balance.

Flavor begins with a creamy, almost milk-like espresso note that quickly gives way to dark roasted coffee and chocolate. Hints of vanilla, fig, and pine thrown in the mix, and the aftertaste is laden with a potent hop & coffee bitterness. Body is a tad thin, but well carbonated, and finishes with a slight dryness. All in all, an exceptional beer that "bends" the style guidelines, but tastes so good it can afford to.

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Photo of mday
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16oz can into a tall shaped glass.

A :: Very dark brown, almost black, pour with a thick, frothy head. After a few minutes a small amount was left with some lacing where it had been.
S :: Lighter on the coffee aroma than expected. Smells more of a roasted barley with some chocolate, very little hop spice and some nuttiness.
T :: This is where the coffee hits. Tastes like a nice dark roast with a touch of chocolate. The finish is not as bitter as expected with the amount of coffee that comes through. Very nice indeed.
M :: Medium body and silky smooth. It's like a well done iced coffee.
D :: Mighty drinkable. Low alcohol content and smooth texture makes you want more.

I'm not huge on coffee, but when I have it I'd rather have iced which makes this a wonderful choice. This may be the best part of waking up...if only it were acceptable to drink in the morning...at work...from a coffee mug.

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Photo of wheatyweiss
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my wife for picking this up while in Minnesota.

Poured from a can into an imperial pint.

Pours a dark rust, medium brown color with a frothy head that recedes to a sticky lace clinging cap.

Aroma is coffee and slightly bitter malt. The coffee is upfront and in your face. The smell of this beer is not to be reckoned with.

Flavor is dark roasted malt on the front, dark fruit and chocolate with a touch of cream. Surprisingly the coffee on the nose is not as strong on the tongue. Middle is dark roasted, fresh brewed coffee. The bitterness of the coffee balances the sweet malt nicely. Finishes dry with bitter coffee and slightly roasty nutty flavor. Smallish metallic flavor on the finish from the coffee I imagine.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for a beer that seems to be a porter or stout. Refreshing to drink and very nicly done.

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Photo of hopdog
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz can acquired in trade with wetherel (thanks!).

Poured a deep and dark amber color (almost brown) with a an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of coffee, roasty, pine, earthy/diirt, and nuts. Tastes of coffee, roasty, vanilla, and caramel. Light lacing left on the glass.

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Photo of stumac
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this brew pours up a dark brown color with crimson edges and a big frothy tan head. the nose is straight coffee, big malts, not much else but DAMN it smells good! the taste is coffee bitterness, nice malts, light to medium body, medium carbo. A very nice brew but I wish that it could have had a little bit more of a chewy malt characteristic that I so love in Brown Ales.

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to natasharai for the trade.

Pours a dark brown with amber highlights when held to the light. Thin head that dissapated with decent lacing.

Smells like I shoved my nose in freshly ground espresso beans. Super amount of coffee. Maybe some hazelnut but the coffee masks alot of the other aromas.

Tastes just as it smells. A ton of coffee mixed with a pretty strong brown ale taste. Weird bitter aftertaste. Too much coffee in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is a little thin.

Overall a coffee bomb. Don't think I will trade for this one again but I was glad I tried it.

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Photo of gregc
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Pour was a nice caramel like brown.

Aroma of lots of coffee, dark malts and the faintest hop aroma. A very nicely smelling coffee beer. Flavor was full of coffee beans, some chocolate and a got that nice malt brown ale flavor. I really like how smooth this beer is, its very creamy and very drinkable. This is an awesome coffee beer. Too bad i only have one can, and its impossible to get here in NY.

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Photo of mothman
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #200 for me.

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory Glass

Color is a dark carmel brown, slightly dark ruby. There is a tan head with fades of light yellow in it. Not a very large head, but good lace rings.

Aroma is like a coffee shop. Lots of rich coffee aromas. A roasted smell with a lot of malts. Very good.

Taste is pretty light for a dark colored beer as this. It tastes like dark coffee meets beer. Definitely mainly malts. Amazing, if you enjoy coffee.

Mouthfeel is simply refreshing. Smooth and creamy. Ends with a super-clean aftertaste. Good carbonation.

Overall, amazing and easy to drink. I definitely want more surly. I highly recommend this beer, as it is all-around amazing.

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Photo of ZAP
3.77/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am not a big fan of coffee (although I do drink it from time to time) or coffee beers but this is well done. It has a good dose of coffee bean flavor on the aroma and on the nose. In fact my only complaint is the bender qualities are overwhelmed by the coffee. I guess that is why it is a coffee beer but I would have liked to have seen a little more of the bender brown qualities emerge.

Body is a little thin and slightly acidic feeling.

If you like coffee beers you will most likely find this appealing. If you are looking for bender with subtle coffee notes you will be disappointed as this is a coffee bomb.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


An update as I really feel I've had a different experience the second time around - mainly when it comes to aroma! I am pushing that from 4 to 4.5 this time.

Pour - out of the can this floods my glass and settles as a reddish brown color with a big, thick, off-white foamy head. Looks like a nice beer right out of the can.

Aroma - wow. Once you pop that tab it smells like you cracked one of those little Doubleshots from Starbucks. The smell is that of super fresh roasted coffee and can easily be detected from across a room. Hay-soos! Coffee galore when it comes to the aroma, not much else to say. Hooray for coffee!

Taste - a big wave of bitter, dark-roasted coffee heaven takes center stage followed by some sweet malt and some tangy flavors. This is a very solid brown ale mixed with some ridiculously fresh (and quality) tasting coffee.

Overall - I had this once before and wasn't all that impressed. For some reason the second time around is a totally different experience. Maybe Surly changed things? Maybe this can was fresher? Who knows. All I know is that the coffee flavor in this beer is intense and makes for one hell of a great tasting beer.

Would I buy more of it? - part of me wishes I lived in Minnesota and part of me is glad I don't. I'd be spending a lot on Surly beer....


Pretty psyched to get a couple of these from Kiefdog. Thanks!

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a half inch of stark white head. The head fades quick leaving a perfect ring.

The initial smell is pretty mild, I don't get a lot more than some caramel, cocoa and brown sugar. All the prototypical brown ale smells, no coffee at first.

Taste upfront is that super nice Bender brown ale taste followed by a nice bitter wallop of dark roast coffee. It all comes together very, very nicely.

This is a great drinking very rich and complex beer at only 5.10%. Most beers with this much flavor also have a super high ABV leaving you pretty numb. I love it. I need more low ABV coffeee brown ales!!!

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Photo of tprokop7
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Buebie for this one. Got in trade last week.

Slightly more head than the standard bender, and somewhat darker. The coffee flavor is strong, but the malt base still comes through a bit. Expected carbonation. Not much for hops. I like this a lot, I'm glad they made it a standard offering.

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Photo of bonkers
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I acquired this through a trade with wery0001. I poured from a 16 ounce can into a standard pint glass. It pours a deep reddish brown with a fuzzy white head. It has great aroma. It is sweet, dark roasted coffee. The flavor follows. It has great balance, a great combination of beer and coffee. The beer has medium body and just the right amount of carbonation. This is better than my normal cup of morning joe.

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Photo of beveritt
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured from a 16 oz can into an Imperial pint glass. Label is typical red, gold, white, and black of Surly. However, the logo is on a pint glass that is blasting off, I suppose a reference to the coffee. No freshness date. Thanks to biniek13 for this one.

Appearance: Pours with 3 1/2 fingers of medium to light tan head. This settles very slowly, and still maintain nearly 2 fingers of height. Areas of the glass which have been uncovered show nice, sticky lacing. The beer itself is a deep mahogany and nearly completely opaque. Hints of light sneak around the edges.

Smell: Strong aroma of slightly sweet coffee, though the aroma does not contain much bitterness. Some underlying caramel malt with a hint of roastiness in the finish.

Taste: Semi-sweet coffee flavor upfront, with enough roasty bitterness to balance it out. Finishes with a lingering, mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Lower than average carbonation level. Body is very good.

Drinkability: As touted on the can, this is an iced coffee for adults. Smooth and immensely drinkable, it is also very flavorful. Another hit from Surly. I hope they eventually expand their distribution, but will give them time to do it right.

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Photo of BrewerB
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to tytoandreso, one of the best BA traders out there, for hooking me up with this beer.

A - Poured into a Samuel Smith pint glass. Dark mohagany brown color with slight burgundy highlights. Well-retaining light tan head with some lacing left on the sides of glass.

S - Moderately-intense amount of ground coffee aroma. Toasty and caramel malts. Slight citrusy hop presence. Nutty.

T - More of the coffee coming in here, mostly a brewed coffee-type taste. Medium-dry finish with lingering coffee and toasty notes. Bitterness is moderate. Caramel presence.

M - Medium bodied, moderate to moderate-high carbonation. Smooth.

D - Great breakfast beer, coffee flavor pairs well with what is a very well-balanced, drinkable American Brown Ale. Wish I had a sixer of this.

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Photo of BigBry
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a four pack of 16oz cans on my last trip through Minnesota. Beer for a mug, from a can.
Deep, dark brown (almost black) with ruby red highlights. Large head of tight bubbles, good retention, but does slowly fade to a thin cap. Decent amount of lacing.
A nice whiff of coffee at the start, strong but not overpowering.
Taste has enough malty sweetness to stand up to the coffee/espresso flavor. Nice mix of sweet malt, coffee kick, and bitter finish. If you like coffee, you'll like this - my wife doesn not drink coffee and found this to be too much.
Good mouthfeel, thick and creamy, slightly dry finish. A new favorite of mine, but still just a touch below the Great Divide Espresso Yeti.
Will enjoy a couple and trade the other two, and let someone else enjoy too.

Note to self: #1 American Brown Ale when I tried it.

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Photo of DrewOSU
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Given to me by Newtonty, thanks man.

A: Pours java brown with a ¾ inch tan, foamy head. Lacing is thick on initial pour and looks like a step ladder going down the glass. Lacing is draped down the glass after finishing. 4.5

S: Coffee grounds heavy on the nose. The java smell came up fron the glass even before I was done pouring it. This coffee smells delicious.

M/T: A low medium mouth feel, a slight carbonation bite on the tongue on first drink. The coffee hits the pallet first, followed by some bitterness in the under tone. I can taste the fresh 45 ibus kicking in the background. Roasted malts are always present. This is still a light beer and the description on the back of the can saying this beer is like a "iced coffee", I would say is very accurate. You get the coffee flavor, but it is still refreshing. Finishes semi clean.

D: Nice and light. You forget your a drinking an alcoholic beverage after a few drinks. Very little to no lingering aftertaste. Very easy going beer, drink it till you can't sleep! Surly does not make a bad product.

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Photo of supercolter
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ok so another good offering from Surly, but definately not my favorite. Appearance is good, nice deep brown color, lots of life to it. Smell and taste are quite similar, unfortunately, I'm not a huge coffee fan and that kind of overpowers the rest of what is going on. Some malt and rather sweet for the style. Mouthfeel is nice and medium in body. Drinkability is good, but again coffee is not really my thing so a bit much for me.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Sheffield's. Served in a pint glass.

A - One and a half fingers of tannish foam with great retention and solid lacing. Color is kind of unattractive - a murky, uneven, dirt brown. Not as handsome as regular Bender, that's for sure.

S - Roast coffee, but not bitter at all. Think coffee with too much cream & sugar in it. Chocolate, vanilla, biscuity malt sweetness - all the regular Bender smells are in there too, but further in the background. It's Bender, but with nice coffee - what more do ya want?

T - Roasty coffee, some floral hops, chocolate, malt, biscuit. The taste has a fair bit more roasty bitterness than the smell.

M - Some similar complaints to regular Bender - kind of thin and watery. Nice carbonation - just a little tingle on the upper lip. Otherwise creamy & velvety.

D - Less drinkable than Bender, as the coffee is a bit fatiguing, but the lower ABV and carbonation are definitely positives.

I don't like this quite as much as regular Bender, as the coffee masks the hoppiness that I really like and gets a bit tiring after a pint or two. It's still a nice, lighter, coffee brew.

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Photo of Viggo
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can, big thanks to oakbluff for throwing me a few of these.

Pours a slightly murky dark reddish orange, light brown hues, very thick tan head forms, drops a ton of lace chunks on the glass, slowly settles down to a thin layer, good retention, looks nice. Smell is yummy, caramel, toast, floral and grapefruit hops, nice and earthy, light coffee roast, fruit, pineapple, biscuity malt, coffee plays real nice with the normal Bender. Taste is just as nice, caramel and biscuit, dry toasty malts, light chocolate, coffee, grapefruit and pineapple although not as pronounced as the aroma, earthy, light bit of sour fruit, more coffee roast, nicely balanced finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, very smooth and drinkable. Still think I prefer the regular Bender, but the coffee gives this a pretty cool dimension, just enough to make it interesting. Really nice stuff, thanks Scotty!

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Photo of DoctorDog
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 1 pint/16oz can into a nonic. Thanks to beveritt for sharing his fortune and passing a few of these babies along to me.

A- Deep brown with nice ruby highlights. Sturdy pour produces ~2 1/2 fingers stiff tan head, which settles slowly into a fairly thin cap, and leaving a fair amount of lacing.

S- A bit of nutty earthiness and coffee. Malty sweetness pokes through after a few minutes.

T- Moderately sweet, caramel maltiness and coffee. Solid, moderately high level of bitterness on the finish. If you like black coffee, you'll probably like this.

M- Moderate carbonation and feel. Quite dry on the finish.

D- Pretty good. Low-ish ABV%, and goes down easy. I could drink coffee all day, and I dare say, were it not for the fact that it contains alcohol, I could drink these in a similar manner.

Future outlook: Sigh....I love all 3 of the Surly brews that I've been lucky enough to try...BUT....I cannot purchase Surly here in Ohio....so I'll enjoy the few I have left, and then start wondering when and from where my next fix will arrive....

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this brew in a trade with akokandy, Thanks Adam!

16oz can served in a beer mug.

L - very dark brown color with a beige head that left some good lacing behind.

S - coffee, coffee and more coffee.

T - rich roasted coffee flavor is the most dominant taste in this brew, malts and hop flavors are mixed in but the coffee is the star of this show.

F - medium bodied with a smooth, creamy feel.

D - goes down smooth and easy, it's just a matter of how much coffee taste the drinker can stand, personally 2 in a sitting is enough for me.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep dark pour with lovely lacing as the beer disappears down the ole' gullet.

The sniffer detects iced coffee

Taste meets smell. Mild bitterness, chocolate, iced coffee, and a sugary quality.

My only real complaint with Surly beers is there is a watery mouthfeel to many of their beers. It's a rather small complaint considering I really enjoy their stuff.

Easy and enjoyable to drink.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Coffee bean brown that becomes dark cherry with bright orange highlights when held up to my sunlit front window. The golden brown sugar colored head is several finger's worth of wonderfulness. It's loaded with character and is beginning to deposits gobs of moth-eaten lace all over the sides of the glass. Easy call.

I've never been a coffee drinker, but there's something about the smell of the good stuff that appeals to me. Marry that with the best American brown ale on planet Earth and you have sheer olfactory perfection. I haven't even tasted it yet and can already imagine lovers of both coffee and beer going apeshit over this brew.

My biggest fear was that the coffee would completely obliterate what makes Surly Bender so outstanding. The java beans do blur the complexities of the base beer, but then they could hardly do otherwise. Coffee Bender is *almost* as good as the straight stuff... probably better if you're a coffee aficionado.

This just might be the perfect morning libation. All good beer is good at any time of the day or night, but you get the idea. As often happens with coffee-added beer, the initial palate shock fades after a while and the rest of the flavors begin to shine. Those include: brown bread, cocoa, sugared pecans and a handful of leafy hops that brings each mouthful to a snappy close. Wow, that's pretty close to my description of Bender.

The mouthfeel is exceptional for the style and the ABV. It wouldn't be fair to expect any more chewiness from a beer that barely tops 5.0%. As with everything that Todd and Omar release, there's no chink in the armor.

I honestly didn't know that Coffee Bender would be this good. Then again, with Bender as a base beer, it would pretty hard to go wrong no matter what was added (within reason). The original is still the best, but damn!... this is outstanding ale.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 804 ratings.