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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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 804 | Hads: 2,376
Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

YYEESSS can party. Thank you evanlarkin for an amazing trade.

Dark hazy brown that leaves a fluffy tan head of approximately 1 finger after pouring. Lacing is evident. When held to the light the truth comes out, this beer is actually a magnificently dark ruby/maroon. I am unable to observe any sediment, but would not be surprised.
This is an exceptionally dark brown ale, I would have suspected it as being a porter/stout.

A fair amount of coffee comes out initially with a light caramel maltiness. This beer could provide more boldness in its aromatics. Unfortunately the focus is mainly on the coffee elements and not the beer's other qualities.

This is a good beer, I like the lower abv given this is a late-night review. There are mostly qualities from the brown ale driving this beer's flavor profile, but there are still subtle notes of coffee that bitter and linger in the aftertaste. This is my first coffee infused brown ale that I can remember and this beer is a nice adjustment from the heavy malt expectations I have with porters and stouts. The brown ale's lighter body makes this beer an acceptable spring/summer time sipper.

Light-medium bodied beer with minimal contribution from the alcohol. Strength resides in the beer's bitterness and delicate sweetness. I would have liked a bit more body and sweetness, but maybe that's just my inherent nostalgia for coffee infused porters and stouts. Definitely a different experience.

This beer wasn't super captivating, but is also cheap as hell! I love the beer's price and the fact that it's canned.
However, overall the beer is an average sampling in my book. I would definitely try it again, recommend it to a friend, and could easily sip this beer all day.

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Photo of Bone53
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to the Brew Review Crew for the trade!

Appearance: Brown pour with a ruby hue when put up to the light, and a one finger light beige head

Smell: Black medium roasted coffee, hazelnut, cream

Taste: Medium roasted coffee, brown malt flavors, hazelnut

Mouthfeel: i know this is only 5% abv but my God is the body light; too light. Goes down like bitter water.

Overall: The smell is by far the best aspect of this beer. Unfortunately the taste doesnt match it, and the mouthfeel is as watery as a lager. I look foward to trying more Surly beers, but i find this highly overrated and wouldnt seek it out again.

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Photo of BruChef
3.87/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Acquired this via trade From JimLetson. Thanks for the hook-up!

I assumed, since there wasn't a precise description of the beer itself on the can other than that it had coffee in it and also since this was the first beer i ever had from surly, that this was a coffee stout. So, as one might think, i was a little perplexed when i poured this brew into a snifter, only to observe that this brew seemed a little thin and pale for a stout. It was more like a nice looking brown ale (ding, ding, ding! Which i now know it is); somewhat transparent, especially around the edges. (The rest of this review is being so based on the realization that this beer is in fact an American brown ale)
A lacy head developed as i poured and dissipated just as quickly except for a thin layer resting on top. I could smell the pleasing coffee aroma before i even placed the glass to my nose but i knew that it wasn't going to be overwhelming.

The taste did not disappoint: Burnt/brown sugar, hops not too forward unlike most typical American brown ales, and plenty of delicious coffee. Super well balanced in the coffee dept. not like some of the other highly touted, over coffee'd beers rated on this site (ahem Kentucky garble something or other), and also a much more unique and defined coffee flavor unlike the traditional roasty, bitter acridness that coffee added to beer usually lends.
The mouth feel is my only slight complaint. It's just slightly more carbonated than i would like and slightly on the thin side but again, very small complaints. This beer is very drinkable and over all pretty tasty.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.86/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Portion of a 16 oz can poured into a Duvel tulip. From two day old notes.

A: Pours a dark brown color. I didn't really get much head from my pour, just a creamy offwhite film with poor retention.

S: Pure black coffee. That's it. Still, this is as good as purely single-note brews can get.

T: Follows the aroma - which is to say it's pure black coffee. Luckily, the coffee isn't vegetal/stale, and the brown ale base does *just* enough to iron out any excess finishing bitterness. Simplistic, but very enjoyable.

M: It's light, crisp, and rather dry...just like coffee!

O: It is what it is - carbonated black coffee with a splash of beer. It's so simple, yet so unbelievably satisfying. Those looking for a more balanced approach to a coffee beer would be better served by FBS or Wake-N-Bake, though.

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Photo of macktbone
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Recieved as an extra...(a really good extra).

Pours like an Iced coffee, but with a nice head of light brown and white. Visible carbonation pulls you in to decide if it is a benefit or a hinderence to the drink.

Smells like a coffee mocha. Toffee and cocoa.

Tastes like a Cold cappucino, chocolate syrup, tons of coffee and sweet malted coffee shop foam.

mouthfeel is thin...similar to an iced latte.
Carbonation is very level. Not too much, not too little.

Drinkable as a coffee bender, not much as daily drinker.

This is my Birthday Review!!! Yeah Me...Yeah Beer...

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Photo of gregshead
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

an extra from mnbearsfan (thank you). Tasted on 2/18/11, reviewed from notes:

A: Pours a brown w/ a small amount of red hue in it. Half finger of head that dissipates slowly.

S: Lots and lots of coffee smell. A little confused by the smell.

T: Good coffee taste up front with the sugary malt taste of a brown in the middle finished with a dry coffee taste/finish.

M: Lots of carbonation with a smooth dry feel.

D: Enjoyable for its style. The coffee is slightly overpowering but I was still glad to try a tallboy of it.

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Photo of triptens
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a thick quickly dissipating off white head. Color is an amber/brown, cola like.

Smell - Roasted grain, bittersweet chocolate, cocoa nibs. There is a floral hop presence as well.

Taste - Roasted coffee beans, cocoa, herbal and floral hop character.

Mouthfeel - Feels like I'm drinking a big roasty blend of coffee or an espresso. It's thin but dries your mouth out and coats your tongue like the crema from an espresso would. This with the hoppy bitterness blend well together.

Drinkability - I could drink a lot of this. Unfortunately I didn't really get to experience it warm up a lot because it went down so fast. A really good beer, I wish we had Surly in Michigan, I would always keep some in my disc golf bag.

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Photo of jdhowe
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Beer for a mug, from a can, poured into Avery Tour Glass. Canned 02/24/14.

I've not written one of these in a while, so I figured I'd sit down and do a review for this beer.

A: Pours a deep brown with clear mahogany light through the edges and 1/2 finger of cappuccino-colored head that dissipates after a couple minutes to a ring and mottled film, leaving plenty of sheet lacing.

S: Huge coffee right out of the can and even more abundantly from the glass. Roasty notes of iced coffee alongside a mild chocolate and what I can only describe as the slight malty sweet waxiness that is characteristic of brown ales. This beer smells like what it claims to be, full of coffee and cocoa powder.

T/M: Astringent up front with a burn of carbonation, the first real flavor that emerges is, unsurprisingly, unapologetic coffee. Underneath an abundant coffee character is a slight hint of malt sweetness, but the brown ale-ness of this is somewhat lost in the coffee. Which I think is really what they were going for. The finish is clean and roasty, and the lingering character is of very earthy coffee, with a hint of a flavor that is vaguely plant-like... almost like a tree or a leaf, but not from hops. Just something that brings back fresh-cut grass. Mouthfeel is medium to thin with a moderate to high level of carbonation. Finish is clean and watery with a reasonable coffee astringency.

O: I am impressed, but not chomping at the bit to get my hands on more. This is definitely a cool beer and I'm glad I tried it, because I've not had anything quite like this.

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Photo of Klym
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a surly nonic. Big thanks to expedition for both the can and the glass!

Basically, this beer was bender hiding behind a bunch of fine coffee. I was hoping for something more like bender with the coffee subtlety just a little more accentuated, but instead it was overwhelming (perhaps the most straight up coffee taste) coffee with the subtleties of bender hiding deep behind the flavor. Not bad, and if you love coffee much preferable, but basically just bender with a twist that isn't necessarily praiseworthy. If I could only choose one, still stick with classic bender.

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Photo of heyta
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A -- This beer pours with a great big white head, but as it subsides it leaves pockets of white floating on the surface that look remarkably like mold -- not very inviting.

S - Smells like folgers instant coffee with a slight sour cherry note in the background.

T - Tastes as it smells. I like the coffee taste even if it tastes like a below average coffee, it's refreshing to find it in something other than a stout.

M - Nothing really special here, but the carbonation is good for this style.

O - I would drink it again. For the price and the alcohol content, it's a tasty beer to not get blasted off of.

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this can in an EXTRA! Big thanks. Was not very impressed with Bender, but this is much better.

The appearance on this one is a dark brown heart with lighter edges. It has a mocha colored frothy head that pours two fingers and stays at one for the entire tasting. No lacing.

The smell is of cold roasted coffee with burnt grain.

The taste is of coffee, and lots of it. I feel like the coffee is strong, but not backed up very well. It has a tastes of roasted grains and not much else to back up the coffee flavor.

The mouthfeel is light, but makes it really easy to drink. It is a lighter ale, so taking that to mind it is one of the better brown ales I have had. I have not had a lot from Surly, but Furious is one of my favorites from them so far.

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Photo of InebriatedJoker
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from can into pint tulip - no best by date visible -

A: Pours a deep brown with one finger head that descended into a thin frothy tan lacing, decent carbonation.

S: Faint whiffs of coffee , slight roasted malts and barley.

T: Light coffee hints with a smooth creamy feel , slight roasted malts and barley, minimal hops.

O: This is almost exactly like drinking an iced coffee , a little on the thin side but tasty non-the-less , worth a try.

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Photo of ChopperSmith
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a big can into a tall .5l weizen glass.

Appearance: Deep dark brown/ruby color with a fluffy tan head that doesn't last long, but laces nicely.

Smell: Sweet dark coffee and chocolate notes. Smells like an iced mocha coffee. If I smelled it blindfoled, that's what I would think it was. Doesn't smell like beer, but it smells very good.

Taste: Dark roasted malts and coffee co-mingle with a minimal amount of noticeable hops (or maybe the coffee just overpowers them). An interesting flavor and I like it. However, this is a little too hearty and powerful tasting to do more than one in a sitting, and it's definitely a sipping beer, not easy to chug this one down quickly.

Mouth Feel: Dry, medium to full bodied, lightly carbonated. Not bad.

Drinkability: It's good, and I will definitely have another, but not for session drinking due to it's strong flavors. It's a delicious "one-and-done" brew. Another creative and interesting brew from the excellent brewmasters at Surly.

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Photo of morimech
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wonderful coffee flavor but it seems unbalanced in this relatively light body. Other coffee beers have more substance to them. Does not look as nice as regular Bender as a head never really forms and there is minimal lacing left on the glass. Coffee dominants the aroma and flavor. I do not get anything to even come close to balance or compliment the coffee. I just feel coffee compliments bigger beers than a brown ale.

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Photo of MartzMimic
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours from the can a dark brown with an off-white head that reduces quickly. The aroma tells you quickly that it's coffee, coffee and more coffee. So it tastes like, well, coffee. There's a bit of chocolate and roasted malts. Medium mouth, and it goes down pretty easy. I taste very little of the Bender base. This reminds me more of a porter or thin coffee stout. It's good, but not what I expected.

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Photo of Beerking721
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

We made beer floats by combining this with sweet cream liqueur. Absolutely delicious!!!

A= Poured into a Surly Pint glass, the beer exhibits the color of an October midnight - black. The head is thick and off-white/brown in color upon pour and disipates rather quickly into fine lace.

S= Aroma showed deeply toasted malts combined with expresso and roasted hazelnuts.

T= A cooperative combination of brown ale flavor with a lighter than expected coffee enhancement. Malty, earthy, and nutty with some fruity essence.

M= A little thinner than expected for such a dark beer. A decent finish makes up for thinness.

D= As stated above, we did beer floats. This made the experience more fun and added a unique dimension as the coffee up front was followed by rich, sweet cream. On it's own, I would be hesitant to have more than one at a time.

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Photo of twbrewer
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-As I poured this into my glass I couldn't help but notice that it looked just like my morning coffee,but had better lacing.

S-The aroma is the same as a coffee that has been left on the counter for a half hour.The smell is wonderful.

T-It has a cold,dry coffee taste with a hint of chocolate malt and a ever so slight bitterness.Coffee taste was alot weaker than the smell.

M-Medium bodied almost full.Smooth feel and low carbonation make for a great mouthfeel.

D-Lower abv makes this a very easy drinking beer.It would be a tough call between my morning coffee or a Coffee Bender on the weekends.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Since it was out of my distribution I paid the premium on this "grey market" beer. 6 bucks for the can.

A - Looks pretty sweet for a coffee infused brown ale. The head on this one is a solid inch with acceptable lacing on the glass. Beer itself is a deep amber brown, almost coffee black.

S - Smells has some sweet nuts and brown malts but not too much coffee or at least not as much as I expected.

T - Not that great it starts off nice with a blast of herbal like coffee but then takes the herbal part too far with too much hops in the mid-palate. Brown malts and other nutty flavors do give it a nice finish but the hops distract it from being a malt forward brown ale.

M - Medium and chewy spot on for a coffee beer.

Overall I am kind of glad I didn't love this since I shouldn't get it in the first place. Could have been the sculpin or 120 heightening my hops preception but it wasn't a bad beer overall.

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Photo of cbros
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type- 16 ounce can poured into a pint glass. I got this as an extra in a trade with mnjeff.

A- Pours a dark chocolate brown. No visible activity after the pour. A small one finger tan head present after the pour that stayed throughout the beer. A small amount of cling present troughout the beer.

S- Hints of coffee(obviously) that seem to be roasted.

T- The roasted coffee taste comes out in the taste as well. There is a medium flavor of hops and malt, nothing overpowering in this beer. If anything I am getting the coffee flavoring the most. There is a strong bitter feel to the beer that is constant throughout the taste.

This is the first 'craft' beer that I have had from a can and I was interested in how that might alter or affect the taste. As far as I can tell there is no difference from bottled beer. This is a decent offering but not something that I would get again. Jeff sent me various stuff from Surly and I can't wait to try out the other stuff. I am sure they will be solid beers just like this one was.

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Photo of cpmichael
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Stone RIS Snifter

A: Pours a dark brown, light does penetrate through the glass. The head on it actually resembles drip coffee that had been poured into a coffee mug.

S: Smells like day old coffee and hints of chocolate.

T: It has a very pronounced iced coffee flavor, does not have the best coffee flavor, it's not bad, just not what I expected from it. It is a refreshing coffee drink. It would be nice on a warm summer day.

M/D: very carbonated, had an interesting iced coffee thing going on. The coffee flavor did not seem to be of the highest quality, but it was still tasty nonetheless.

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Photo of coldmeat23
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Samuel Smith Nonic
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees
Thanks to thehand for hooking me up with this one!

This pours up a very dark amber color. Very nice deep red highlights. About one-finger of lightly creamy, light tan colored foam makes the head. It recedes to a thin, filmy covering which stays around. Lacing is pretty good and lightly sticky.

Smells hugely of fresh ground coffee beans. Very nice undertone of dark chocolates. I believe there is a touch of lacto sweetness here, also.

Good, yet mild, flavor of dark roasted malts combine with a big presence of fresh ground coffee to give this a great taste. There is a mild brown sugar sweetness in the middle, which brings some balance to the roastiness. It finishes with a touch of acrid bitterness, which doesn't kill it, but it could finish a little bit smoother, IMO.

This is the weakest part of it, for me. The body is on the thinner side of medium. Carbonation level is fairly low. A bit of tweaking could get this one in the thicker range and bring in some very welcome creaminess.

The weak body certainly wouldn't keep me from drinking this one, alot. Damn, I wish Surly had better distribution. Nicely drinkable.

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Photo of urwithdave
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Drank this from my cigar city snifter.

A- Pours about as dark as u can get without being called black. Two fingers of a tan head that has pretty good retention. Tons of lacing left. A very looking beer.

A- I get roasted malts in a big way up front. There is some biscuit or bread in the mix. The coffee isn't shining through and is pretty faint.

T- follows the nose. A ton of roasted malts rolling up on me right away. The coffee is present, but I was expecting it to play a biiger part. There is a faint chocolate in play along with some very distant vanilla. As the beer warms, I get more coffee.

M- perfect level of carbonation, but way to thin. I really enjoyed this beer, I just wish it was a little creamier.

D- very good. I could drink it all night long and be happy.

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Photo of CooperEllis
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
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.


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Photo of ne0m00re
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Live review of a pint can canned 12/30/10 courtesy of arvjunk.
A: Clear mahogany with reddish hues, nice dark cream head, and good lacing.
S: Nutty (walnut) caramel, mild fresh-brewed drip or French press coffee, cream. Mild aroma.
T: Similar to the aroma, with a slight diacetyl or toffee, nice orange citrus hops. Good. You'd just think that the flavor would be more intense.
M: Moderately or lightly syrupy, frothy, and crisper in the finish.
D: Pretty good. A little more watered-down than you'd expect, but decent flavors for the lower alcohol.

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Photo of fastpass17
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz Can

A: espresso brown with a wonderful creamy head and nice carbonation

S: rum, a touch of coffee, dried fruit

T: Chewy caramel melts into espresso, with maple syrup in the mix.

M,D: Warms real well in the glass, creamy and rich on the palate. Very drinkable.

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