Coffee Bender - Surly Brewing Company

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Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

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792 Reviews
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Reviews: 792
Hads: 2,323
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.86%
Wants: 645
Gots: 317 | 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: 792 | Hads: 2,323
Photo of Sammy
3.45/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Barley John's. The aroma is coffee-ih. Good looks, black with lots of white head. Better tasting than Town Hall's coffee stout, average mouthfeel. Appropriate carbonation. Just too coffee, what is it about these local coffee beers?I just couldn't take more than a couple sips. Overated. (296 characters)

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

On tap, pours a deep brown with half a finger of mocha head. Nose- huge waft of coffee rinds, very fresh and medium roast, some chocolate just beautiful. Taste- fresh coffee in forefront, with nuts, caramel and light milk chocolate. freaking delicious! Mouthfell is medium bodied with carbonation on the low side to made it go down like melted butter. Hops show up in the finish to help clean away the strong coffee flavour and make you go back for more. (454 characters)

Photo of joe1510
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Imperial Pint
Flossmoor Station

Coffee Bender was brought to my table in an imperial pint glass. The body was the darkest of browns bordering on black even in the fairly bright restaurant. A two finger beige head sat atop this beer and took its sweet time to settle down to one finger which lasted throughout. Drink lines were left behind after each sip. This is an attractive looking beer.

The nose showed a good amount of freshly roasted coffee but it integrated very well with the other aspects of this beer. The coffee sits on top of a mild chocolate and caramel base with a tendril of smoke and hazelnut-iness. The mildly citric hops are noticeable without much work which makes for something I don't see everyday in a coffee infused beer.

The coffee comes through as freshly pressed with a mild roasting but that doesn't stop the coffee from being large and in charge. As big as the coffee is in this beer the caramel and chocolaty notes of Bender are still very much alive. The nuttiness is smooth and runs from start to finish while there's bitterness on the finish from both the mildly citric hops and coffee grounds.

The body of this beer is surprisingly light as it leans toward the lighter side of medium. The bitterness steps forward on the finish but never rises above mild. With the body as light as it is on the tongue it does manage to keep a light creaminess.

My first glass of this went down fast. As a matter of fact it was gone before I even realized it. The second glass went just as quickly. This beer is super drinkable and goes down like a champ.'

Today was my first dance with Coffee Bender and hopefully I see this one around more often. Bender is very unique and enjoyable brown ale all by itself, the addition of coffee just adds to the depth of the original. (1,800 characters)

Photo of younger35
4.97/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After double fisting this glorious liquid at every possible opportunity during 'Darkness Weekend' '08, I finally got to sit down at the Bavarian Lodge and enjoy a couple pints and review this. It's even better than I remembered it. Drank from a small non-logo'd nonic pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a dark brownish amber with a nice ½ finger fluffy light tan head. Nice cap and collar remains the entire beer while leaving a bit of spotty lacing down the glass.
Smell- My first whiff of this always is lightly smoky which is fairly surprising considering how overly abundant the coffee is. Feint aromas of chocolate and toffee mingle with the coffee adding a Starbuck like aspect. A light herbal and citric kick appears as well every so often. There are indeed hops in here. This is by far the most intense coffee nose I've smelled in a beer. Easy.
Taste- Coffee lovers rejoice! Big, huge, massive, mammoth lightly roasted breakfast blend integrates perfectly with the lightly sweet nuttiness of Bender. Hints of caramel and chocolate tend to sneak in every now and again when the coffee allows. A tinge of citrus and roasted bitterness towards the finish adds a little something to break up the coffee. Amazing stuff.
Mouthfeel- Very crisp and clean body with a medium feel that somehow manages to also be silky smooth and creamy.
Drinkability- This is by far my new favorite brew and probably favorite of all time. I think it edged out the ABYSS and Alaskan Smoked Porter. I drove all the way to Minneapolis to drink as much Darkness as possible and ended up have two glasses of it and probably ten glasses of this. Obviously I love my coffee. I also loves me a good Brown Ale. Well, Bender + Coffee = Amazing! Seek, this, out. (1,730 characters)

Photo of roadhouse
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Bavarian Lodge 11/05/08.

Appeared a very dark brown with a thin head that sunk to a skim and left little to no lacing.

Aroma was of mild chocolate, slight caramel, but mostly bold roasted coffee. Kind of like sticking your face in a bucket of ground coffee.

The taste had a bit of mild caramel sweetness up front with some chocolate but that was quickly taken over by the profound fresh coffee taste that dries up on the finish.

Mouthfeel was medium, and came across quite creamy and drinkable.

For a coffee beer this stuff is very drinkable. You kind of have to like coffee to really enjoy this one to it's full extent as it's bursting with it. (668 characters)

Photo of spointon
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I had this one on tap at the Bavarian Lodge, in Lisle, IL on 11/5/2008.

A= This ale poured a medium dark brown color with cola colored highlights around the edges. The dark tan head started at 1/2", then dropped fairly quickly without leaving much lacing down my glass.

S= The smell was completely dominated by the roasted coffee aromas. I also detected signs of a brown ale within the coffee, finding notes of malt, chocolate, and some earthy hops.

T= Much like it smelled, this ale was full of (delicious) roasted coffee bean flavors as well as the underlying characteristics of the brown ale within. Sweetness was provided by the malts and a mild chocolate flavor. A small hop bite, and a bit of astringency came forth near the end.

MF= This was definitely on the lighter side of medium bodied. At times it felt a bit thin to me. Carbonation was crisp without being overly sharp.

D= Decently good drinkability, though the big coffee flavors make this one I wouldn't want to drink all night. Definitely worth a try though! (1,033 characters)

Photo of beerad666
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this out of the keg around 8:00 am at Darkness Day '08.

Poured into a plastic cup... A dark dark brown color with a huge light brown head. I believe there was a lot more head in this more then there should of been. Someone else mentioned that it almost looked like a cappuccino with the head and I can totally see that as well. There was a very delicious coffee aroma with some hints of sweet chocolate. Coffee is my true favorite drink so when I can have it with my second love of beer that is pure ecstasy in my book. The roasted smell is great especially for the morning. With the first sip you get that bitter roasted taste you would expect from coffee and then hints of the sweet chocolate comes in. But surprisingly the coffee isn't too much, you can definitely taste that this guy has its roots in a porter.

Drinkability is great! Coffee and beer - I love it! Surly hits another home run here. (907 characters)

Photo of icefisherman
4.8/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

as with some of the other nuts on this site i also had this wonerful concoction at about 8:00 am at darkness day when they set out a keg for all to have a verry classy move if i do say so my self anyways on to the reveiw most delicious with the smell of fresh coffee just the kick i was looking for the flavor of a nice french press cup of good coffee (not to be comfused with the crap i drink all day at work) an exceptionaly smooth feel and man oh man could i drink this all day long but the keg was dry soon after no appearance decription as i drank mine out of a 20 oz dite coke bottle i found in the back seat of my car (624 characters)

Photo of accordselux
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Darkness day.

A: Dark ale with a nice tan head. Not very exciting in a plastic cup, but it looked appetizing.

S: Coffee. This stuff is cold pressed, so it smelled like cold coffee. My nose may have been runny after hanging around outside in the cold for two hours, so that was the only thing I smelled.

T: Cold coffee. Very high quality coffee taste, roasted well, with a bit of hop and roasted malt aftertaste. If I could categorize it, i'd say it's a good breakfast beer, but I'm pretty sure most places of employment wouldn't like the term 'breakfast beer' at all.

M/D: Very smooth to drink, but i'm not very sure how much of this I could drink, as I'm not much of a coffee drinker to start with. It's good to have on occasion, but I wouldn't want to session this. (790 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this for free at 8 AM on Darkness Day. It takes a good goddamn bunch of Americans to leave a whole keg of fancy beer unattended around a bunch of drunken strangers. That--it just about brings a tear to my eye thinking about it. A more or less grown woman did a keg stand in front of me. At 8 AM. Yes, she was annoyingly drunk and everyone wanted to kick her before noon finally rolled around, but that was still something special to see.

Then I had this again, the day after, at a little hippy beer cafe downtown. They poured it in special translucent glass mugs that looked like big Coffee mugs and were emblazoned with the surly logo.

What I'm getting at is that the guys at Surly got class.

Pours dark black and thick with a decent head that quickly settles and gives the whole thing the look of a cappuccino.

Smells strongly of rough chocolate malt, roasted, raw like a porter but evened out and nutty sweet, like a crown ale. Also coffee. Bags and bags of coffee. (Just Bender plus coffee, pretty much...)

Tastes almost exactly like it smells. Very bitter, from the roasted malt flavors of the Bender. Then right after that there's a brief respite of brown ale sweetness but that quickly goes away and and coffee bitterness slams into you. This lingers for a while, pleasantly, and then nearly cloyingly--which is why it gets a 4.5 instead of a 5.0. But before it gets to be too much it zips away, you get a sweet brown ale finish, a light kiss of hops, and then a wonderful aftertaste of pure coffee.

Goes down like water, even at 8 AM. Thanks for turning my cute little drinking problem into full-blown alcoholism, Surly. (1,640 characters)

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

Poured generously by the Surly guys at their doors while people waited in line for Darkness; nice gesture, nicer beer.

Brown in color, fluffy, voluminous head, tan, good retention.
Rich coffee aroma, chocolate, some hops. Nice.
Medium bodied, creamy and pleasant on the tongue, with overpowering coffee, but a very nice coffee. Still ,some other bender nuances come through once in a while to offer some measure of balance.
For coffee lovers, a very nice treat indeed. (473 characters)

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Arrives in a snifter glass with a nice dark brown color and a big creamy light tan head on top. As the head falls the aromas come out of the brew with a wonderful fresh pressed coffee that mingles with a malty, slightly roasty nuttiness as well. The cold pressed coffee comes out the most with a touch of hops in the background.

First sip brings the same big, fresh pressed coffee flavors upfront that meld in wonderfully with the nutty, rich malty flavors in the brew. Flows down with some good bitterness with hints of chocolate and a touch of hops as well. Really robust flavor that keeps me coming back sip after sip. Coffee beer loves rejoice!

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, crisp and smooth. This is really an easy drinking coffee brew and very damn enjoyable if you ask me. I would have like to have ordered another but I had to run. One of my favorite Surly offerings from fests and I'm glad to see it on tap in my area. (927 characters)

Photo of cdflem
4.92/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my first review, so bear with me.

Had this beauty on-tap (pint-glass) at Hopleaf in Chicago.

A: Dark brown with deep amber/auburn tints. Slight tan head with a little bit of foaminess (almost nitrogen smooth head).

S: Absolutely amazing. Like a cup of good coffee, but not overwhelming. Sometime got a strong roasted malt flavor, which balanced nicely with the coffee.

T/MF: First notice the coffee flavor, but it backs off fast to remind you that you are drinking a beer. Ends with a bit of hoppiness that works well. Very smooth.

D: I could have this all day long, which was unexpected from a coffee-style beer. Absolutely another great Beer from Surly. (668 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Map Room.

Dark auburn tone with a ruby glint where the light gets through. Creamy foam, a few bigger bubbles on the surface. Rings of drippy lacing all around.

Nutty aroma, dry coffee hint, pretty clean, but not super pungent.

Big coffee flavor, high quality, freshly ground. Acidic fruitiness, long lingering bitter/dry finish. Nutty almond flavor, lightly malty. The coffee really dominates, but it's balanced enough to drink quite a bit. Easy going with light carbonation. This is a unique and flavorful coffee beer, not too under/overdone...just right! (578 characters)

Photo of mcallister
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark almond with ruby hues and a thick stagnant off white head leaving a lovely lace in it's wake.

Aromas of fresh ground ethiopian coffee beans dark malts, toffee, honey suckle, burnt figs, brown sugar, and other dark fruits. Some pined hops show through toward the finish.

Nice coffee flavors really meld with the brown ale characteristics and subdue the hop somewhat until the very finish. Hints of milk chocolate, burnt malts, dark breads, roasty caramel tones, with a good amount of light coffee showing in the middle that leads into a piney earthy hop finish. Not overly complex with a mouthfeel that shows spicey carbonation. Very good and easy drinking but something has got me. (689 characters)

Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.89/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled on tap at the Map Room in Chicago

A: Pours a rather dark brown, nearly black with some minor ambery brown highlights along the edges of the glass. The head is about a half inch thick and recedes about a quarter of the way through the session while leaving behind some decent lacing.

S: Aroma is out of this world. It smells like walking into the walk in cooler at starbucks, its just about the most amazing smell there ever could be in a beer, it makes my mouth water just thinking about how fresh and how much like fresh gound coffee this beer smells like while also backed by some decently fruity hops. This is no way on earth one could possibly improve on how good this beer smells.

T/MF: Tastes almost exactly how it smells. Waves of fresh ground coffee and bitter chocolate wash over the tongue in wave after wave of pure beery goodness. I don't care how well this beer matches the brown ale style this beer tastes huge feels huge and smells huge without having to jack up the ABV. There are 10-15%ABV beers out there that dont taste or smell half as good as this beer does. An absolute marvel of a beer, just the tiniest bit weak and grainy in the mouthfeel at some points but otherwise this beer is perfection in a glass.

D: Yet again another beer I could drink all day and all night, if you put this under my nose with a blindfold one I would never ever mistake this for a beer, I dont really see how that description fits into the drinkablility factor but thinking about it makes me want another one of these beers so bad it makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. (1,589 characters)

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

On tap at Blue Nile. Thanks Al for your hospitality.
Good appearance. Smallish dark head that left small lacing. Very dark brown.
Coffee dominates aroma. In both aroma and flavor has a quality of ground beans as opposed to whole beans. Not that I'm a coffee expert (cuz' I'm not, I disliked coffee until a few years ago), but there is a grittiness to the feel and aroma that reminds me of ground beans. Anyway, in the aroma this the dominant aroma with hints of brown ale, and slight brown ale (chocolate).
Flavor is similar, but the bender parts are more apparent. Intermittently, the hops show forth with nice flavor and mild bitterness, which really rounds out the drink nicely. Good brown ale flavors of mild roast malt and soft chocolate.
I like the feel of bender with it's lighter quality and flatter carbonation. As noted seems like some grittiness with the coffee, but it's hard to express here well.
I've noted this before, but I like flavored beers more with brown ales than porters. I like the blending better and the drinkability. This is a good drinking experience. (1,079 characters)

Photo of msubulldog25
3.97/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Was very happy to see this beer available at Oregon Brewers Festival 2008. I made it my first sample of the fest on Thursday afternoon, to a clean mug (a 4 oz. pour, followed by a second one).

OBF program lists a slightly higher 5.8% ABV.

A: Very dark brown, though some amber highlights show in the sunlight. Nice frothy, vanilla-colored half-finger head - lasts a couple minutes and leaves flecks of lace.

S: Full-on aroma of brewed coffee and a roasted nuttiness; hints of sweeter vanilla and oatmeal in the finish.

T: Robust coffee-roast flavor, just a little acrid/astringent. Dark chocolate bitterness blends with notes of vanilla and spice.

M: Light-medium body with a fairly lively carbonation. A lasting 'burnt' coffee bitterness, growing thinner and a little slicker.

D: Another tasty brew from Surly, one I'd want to find again - perhaps at the source? (I found it good, but not as outstanding as many previous reviewers). Coffee flavor grew a little heavy and bitter, but I am a fan of dark roasts and drink my coffee 'black', so I was still pleased. Not the type of beer you'd want to have every day, but certainly a nice addition to the lineup - I'm glad Surly finally made an appearance in Oregon! (1,220 characters)

Photo of John_M
3.27/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on tap at the OBF today. Was looking forward to this beer, so came armed with pencil and paper, and bought the full glass.

The beer pours a dark brown color with very good head retention and lacing. The nose on this beer is really impressive, with a huge aroma of (surprise, surprise) coffee. It really drowns out pretty much anything else.

On the palate this beer is a surprise. I appreciate the fact that the abv. is low, but the flavors on this beer are anything but impressive. The one dimensional flavors come across as light and disappointing, smacking of cheap coffee dumped into some boring brown ale. There's almost a grainiess/grittiness, from what tastes a bit like coffee grounds. I'm not the least bit impressed. A friend I was with made a very good comment I thought; noting that it tasted as if Surly used a very low grade of coffee making this beer. Texture is light and almost watery, and drinkability is unimpressive. You can tell the abv. is low, thankfully, but the flavors are so disjointed, it's really no fun drinking this beer. It really tastes like an uninspired brown ale with some cheap coffee grounds thrown in.

After drinking a can of furious last week, this beer more then any other was something I was looking forward to at the OBF. All the more reason it was the disappointment of the festival. Maybe it just didn't travel well from Minn. to Portland. Oh well... (1,401 characters)

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

I had this on tap at the Map Room in Chicago. Previously I've had the standard Bender from a can several times thanks to my brother in Minneapolis, but it's been a while and I can't compare it easily with this coffee-infused version. Anyway, the coffee style is really good. The beer is very dark, almost black with a thick creamy tan foam. The aroma is coffee and chocolate, a little sweet malt also. Very appetizing, and the taste is just as good. Lots of coffee, a solid malt base, and a little chocolate sweetness as well (maybe my imagination). I've liked just about every coffee beer I've tried, and Surly does it well. (625 characters)

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

Thanks to Todd and the folks at Surly for hooking Sierrags and I up with this beauty!

A-Deep, dark, clear brown with a thin light tan head that reduces to no lacing.

S-Absolutely a cup of fresh roasted cold coffee. Man, this is really nice.

T-Sweet joy at the onset and then a rush of coffee bitterness on the swallow. Man, this is fantastically balanced! Like a cup o' joe with sweet cream.

M-Medium body with full flavour. So nice and easy to drink.

D-This is a wonderful coffee beer. A "light" bodied brew wtih gobs of coffee...I love it! (559 characters)

Photo of kdesch
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had no idea what to expect with this beer. I've had some monster stouts with coffee before, but nothing like this. I was very impressed.

Points of note:

- The mouthfeel: wonderfully thick.
- Smell: nice iced coffee
- Taste: a really nice combination of beer and coffee

Glad I had this beer. I would not drink it all night long, but it was a great way to start the night. (375 characters)

Photo of GbVDave
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tulip glass at Map Room 3/8/08.

A: Dark coffee brown, just shy of black, featuring some faint ruby-colored highlights. Capping this is a creamy, light tan, one-finger head.

S: Incredible aroma of fresh roasted, dark roast coffee and chocolate.

T: Fresh roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and peppery hops. Like drinking cold, french press coffee out of a beer glass!

M: Felt a little thin and porterish at first, but it thickened considerably as it came closer to room temp. Nice bitter interplay between the coffee and hops.

D: This left a wonderful high quality coffee aftertaste in my mouth. So sessionable. I could start with this one in the morning and drink it all day! (689 characters)

Photo of Maerzen
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the tasting last night at Common Roots Cafe. This was my first coffee infused beer and it was quite enjoyable. The appearance was a little muddy but attractive. I'm curious to know if it's difficult for the coffee to completely meld with the beer. The smell was of what else, coffee - a nice, dark, rich coffee. It was the taste that really got me. The bitterness of the coffee and hops seemed to compliment, encourage and smooth each other other as if they were always meant to be together. Nice creaminess and very drinkable - especially during the extreme cold we're having now. It's not something that I would want to have at any time but it is very good. (671 characters)

Photo of badbeer
2.81/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured out black with a nice head that retained well. Smell was of old coffee, maybe a little cream to the nose as well; wasn't good. Taste was full of old and not enjoyable coffee. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and medium carbonation levels. Drinkability is not good. I didn't even finish my first glass of it. Surly makes good beer, but this was disappointing. Give me the regular Bender. (388 characters)

Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 792 ratings.