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Moe's Bender - Surly Brewing Company

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Moe's Bender
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35 Reviews
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Reviews: 35
Hads: 146
Avg: 4.37
pDev: 21.28%
Wants: 123
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  5.52% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2010

Coffee chocolate vanilla brown ale aged on cherry and birch woods.
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 35 | Hads: 146
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.77/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

At last in my grasp, Moe's Bender…

dark brown with transparent, crimson footing, slim cocoa-tinged head.

If I remember correctly, the cocoa is coming from Guatemala, and the vanilla from Zimbabwe…? Or, maybe another African nation? The coffee is the same

Aroma: soft and spicy, warm and inviting, a complex and beguiling mix of chocolate and coffee with vanilla underneath, but slowly rising.

Taste: espresso tones come first, just the smallest bit bitter, but not an iota harsh or astringent. Very mellowed by the cocoa, charmed by the vanilla. Medium-bodied, with a strong flavor, and a long finish. Becomes languid and creamy.
Settles sweetly on the palate. You'd think it would be a tug of war, a cacophony of flavors, but it's nothing but harmony, melody, and deliciousness.

Every sip begs another, the flavor finds a lovely place in the mouth and it beckons out, "don't let me leave."

Halfway into the pint, it only makes my mouth happier. This joy spreads out through the senses, and touches the soul. Deep down contentedness.

In other words: "ahhhh…"
Furthermore: "Mmmm…"

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Photo of MasterSki
4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Darkness Day. Served in a Surly-embossed plastic cup.

A - Served with a big billowing light tan foam that had great retention and eventually settled to a chunk cap with plenty of lace. The body is a nearly transparent cherry/mahogany brown.

S - Huge coffee, light chocolate, and a hint of nut brown ale.

T - Loads of coffee here as well, some some vanilla sweetness and a bitter espresso finish. Not sure I could easily distinguish this from Coffee Bender, but I did find the added sweetness blunts some of the harsher coffee notes.

M - Somewhat grainy gritty body, but pleasant carbonation is a plus. Medium-light body with a sticky finish.

D - Good brew, although it felt a little too big and intense after so many beers in such a short period of time. I'd totally have it again, and I find it less astringent than regular Coffee Bender.

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Photo of mothman
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Also called Moe's Bender. Had this at Great Taste.

Pours a light tan head. Color is pretty much brown like bender.

Aroma: This is basically a creamier version of bender with more roasted malts and vanilla. Plus, a bigger amount of chocolate malts here.

Taste: It seems to have more coffee than bender, somewhere between the level of bender and coffee bender. It has a big amount of chocolate. A big amount of vanilla makes this beer very sweet.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, and sweet. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation.

Overall, this beer is very good, but ever so sweet. It is fairly drinkable, but the sweetness from the vanilla makes you want to enjoy it on certain occasions only. I definitely enjoyed this one. Awesome brown ale!

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Photo of jrallen34
4.2/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Darkness Day, drank from plastic Surly cup...A bright brown pour with a decent tan head...The aroma is tons of coffee with lots of vanilla mixed in, very creamy, roasty and probably a touch to sweet...The taste is all coffee again with lots of cream, this is basically an espresso. I like it though, maybe because it is sweet and cuts a lot of the coffee.

I drank my glass pretty easy, I'd recommend trying this.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.12/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Darkness Day, reviewed from notes.

A - A dark brown beer that had a tan head that foamed up a bit. Nice lacing left on the sides, good retention on the head.

S - Lot of coffee and roasted notes. A little bit of earth and some chocolate. Smells good.

T - Vanilla, chocolate, and big coffee. The end of the taste bitters to an espresso like finish. Little bit sour and ale like at the end. Interesting taste, something different, not bad at all.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

D - A very nice beer, glad I got the chance to try it as it is something pretty different. Would not mind drinking again.

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Photo of mynie
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Coffee Bender with cocoa and vanilla added to it? What kind of a monster would refuse to try that?

Pours like fizzy coffee. Smells like... like nothing I was expecting.

What was I expecting? Something simpler, I guess. Like, Coffee Bender with some CoffeMate added to it. That wouldn't have been very nice at all.

This smells spicier, sweeter, and smoother than regular Coffee Bender. The vanilla is quite rich, which greatly subdues the coffee nodes. Chocolate nodes become more present as the beer warms, it's a pleasantly dull and soft chocolate, sort of like a tootsie roll.

Tastes more coffee-ish. My friend said it was like espresso but I didn't think it was nearly astringent or bitter enough. More like Folger's (and if you think that's necessarily a bad thing, you are a weird, gross snob). The aroma's spiciness gives way to something more like what I had imagined the beer would be. You got the coffee of Coffee Bender, but then in the back end, where sticky sweet n' sour brownness of Bender usually comes in, you get nodes of spice, vanilla, and rounded milk chocolate. Very nicely done.

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Photo of jera1350
3.65/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at DD 2010.

Dark brown color with a foamy tan head.

Strong roasted coffee bean smell with some dark cocoa and vanilla bean.

Huge roasted coffee taste with bitter dark chocolate and vanilla extract mixed in. Not a trace of sweetness to be found. Like iced coffee with vanilla extract and cocoa powder.

Thinner feeling like an iced coffee would be. Smooth feeling however.

Personally, this one is not for me. It lacks in sweetness which I think would make it more enjoyable. I do see coffee lovers really enjoying this one however. Glad to have tried it, but wouldn't need to have it again.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at FFF XV and poured into tasting glass.

A - Pours a chocolate brown color, tan-colored head, thin ring, quick dissipating head.

S - Chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, burnt sugars. The malts and chocolate work wonderfully together. Sweet, but not too sweet. Nice balance.

T - Like a Cafe Mocha with some toasted malts, light roast, and some oak. The chocolate is more pronounced and I was expecting more coffee, but hey, it's still really darn good. Nice vanilla and chocolate finish with light roast.

M - Light to medium, good carbonation, creamy finish.

O - Really an excellent brown ale to begin with (Bender, Coffee Bender, and Moe's Bender). I think that Moe's is even more impressive, if that's even possible. One of my favorite beers at FFF XV and glad I was able to try it.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Free keg served while in line at Darkness Day. Thanks Omar and crew for this awesome gesture!!

A: the appearance is pretty much identical to Coffee Bender... deep brown color with some clarity, white head, decent retention

S: the nose is big with fresh coffee, a fairly big malt profile with notes of roasted barley and caramel, some vanilla and sweetness in the middle, a touch of chocolate. The aroma is very similar to regular coffee bender, the one difference being that the vanilla really smooths out the aroma and balances things out.

T: compared to regular coffee bender, the coffee is a little less pronounced on the palate and melds seamlessly with vanilla. This brew is much more balanced and smooth than its counterparts. Very nice.

MF: smooth and silky, perfect for the style

D: another delicious brew from one of the best breweries in the world! Wonder if we will ever see this outside of special events...

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Photo of grub
3.83/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

sampled on tap at surly on darkness day, oct 23/2010.

pours deep red-brown with a hint of haze. when held to light flares of orange and ruby come through. a small dense dark tan head forms, dropping slowly with tons of thick lace.

aroma is good. coffee. vanilla. dark and milk chocolate. caramel and a bit of toffee. multi-grain bread and biscuit. light alcohol. hint of smoke.

taste is pretty similar to the aroma, but the coffee is more forward, with teh chocolate and vanilla more background players. medium-high bitterness level that builds even more along the way. vanilla and tobacco.

mouthfeel is good. medium body. medium carbonation level.

drinkability is so-so. the bitterness builds and by about the 6oz mark it was definitely overwhelmingly high. strangely, the alcohol feels a touch warm too. i think perhaps this is just a matter of trying to jam too many ideas into one beer. interesting though.

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Photo of hardy008
4.42/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Darkness Day. Reviewed from notes.

Dark brown with a small tan head with nice retention. The aroma has coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. Quite nice.

This beer tastes just like the aroma. Coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. Maybe a little cocoa powder. Medium bodied, smooth, somewhat creamy, with nice carbonation. I like the original Bender a lot, and this version is also very good.

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Photo of zeledonia
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Surly 5th anniversary event at the Blue Nile. Reviewed from notes.

This was the beer I really wanted to try at this Surly event, and I wasn't disappointed. Pours a nice dark brown with a heavy head that gradually relaxes. Smell is heavy on the coffee, with a nice mix of cocoa and vanilla backing it up. Flavor is so complex it's hard to believe. Take normal Bender, which is already a fantastic beer, then add some coffee, then some chocolate, then a bit of vanilla. These flavors come in waves, making for an incredibly sophisticated beer. Just wow. I really wish this were more widely available - I'd drink it all the time.

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Photo of herman77
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Surly's 5th Anniversary party at Cafe 28.

A: Dark brown with a modest light tan head. Decent retention and good lacing.

S: Smells amazing. Lots of chocolate, vanilla extract and some roasted malt. A bit of coffee. The chocolate smell is incredible!

T: A lot like normal bender with a lot of bitter chocolate. Bitter like a bakers unsweetened chocolate. Coffee. You can barely pick up some vanilla sweetness.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth.

D: Good drinkability. A good twist on the classic Bender.

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Photo of kbutler1
4/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft at the Great Taste. Pours a nice brown ale color with a nice tan head, very similiar looking to the regular Surly Coffee Bender. Strong coffee and vanilla in the nose with some subtle chocolate aromas. I don't get too much oak in the aroma. Very smooth and velvety medium mouthfeel. Sweet up front chocolate taste followed by some coffee flavors. The vanilla is pretty pronounced and you ccan taste it the whole time you are drinking. Very well done and tasty. So far a favorite at GT.

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Photo of younger35
4.52/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stopped by Mackenzie's on my way home to try a glass of this version of one of my favorite beers. I'm a big fan of vanilla in beer if done right. Drank from a Surly Coffee Bender coffee mug.

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- Loads of vanilla right from the start that literally seems to jump out of the glass. Lots of coffee still makes its way through along with some raw cocoa nib like chocolate. I'm not sure I'd ever guess this was Coffee Bender by just smelling the beer since the vanilla is so dominate.
Taste- Tootsie Roll through and through. Loads of vanilla and cocoa with none of that coffee goodness I live so much in perhaps my favorite all-time beer. The vanilla makes the beer seem a bit sweeter than it is (or maybe it's the chocolate but the vanilla is what's more noticeable) but at least the vanilla tastes real. The chocolate plays second fiddle in this combo and perhaps even accentuates the vanilla. A bit of toast sneaks through as does just a snippet of citrus on the end. A long lasting vanilla richness lingers.
Mouthfeel- Very crisp and clean body with a medium feel that somehow manages to also be silky smooth and creamy.
Drinkability- Doesn't have the drinkability of the regular version but is most definitely unique and enjoyable. This is a desert beer to the fullest and fully showcases the power of the vanilla bean. No way I could drink more than one of these but hopefully we'll see this around town on more of a regular basis.

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Photo of deebo
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had multiple pints of this at Surly's Power of the Pint event a couple weeks back.

Rather than write up the normal review, I'll simply focus on this beer relative to the other Benders from Surly. As much as I think coffee bender is better than the already solid bender due to the great balance between the roasted malts and the coffee notes. Moe's Bender takes it to yet another level. The balance of roasted malts, with chocolate espresso notes, and a hint of vanilla give this a wonderful smooth taste. This has a nice rich taste yet goes down way too easy.

I would love to see Surly keep making this one, simply a terrific beer.

If you get an opportunity to drink this beer, do it. And if you are lucky enough to get it for $4/pint, don't feel bad about drinking the tap dry.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Darkness Day 2011.

Poured black with a half inch cap of tan foam that receded slowly leaving lacing.

Smell was roasty..malts, espresso, chocolates.

Tasted excellent. Roasted malty, espresso, hints of chocolate, porter notes, very smooth.

Medium body is creamy and, again, smooth. Very easy to drink. Can't wait to have it again, someday.

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Photo of stealth
4.87/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I wish Surly would decide to produce this one for the masses to enjoy. Enjoyed at Darkness Day 2011. Coffee bender with additional vanilla and cocoa. It's Coffee Bender, but more chocolately and sweeter. Mother of god this is good. I drank more of this than anything else at DD, and will do the same next year.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this from a keg while getting doughnuts at Darkness Day 2011. It was served in a plastic Surly cup. This beer is reviewed from notes.

Appearance- It's a dark brown opaque body. The head was only about half an inch and receded to a slight, tan film.

Smell- There is some coffee roast in the beer with earthy malts. Also some caramel malt sweetness and milk chocolate.

Taste- This beer has loads of roasted malt and coffee notes. There is also a little bit of chocolate and caramel malt sweetness.

Mouth feel- It is really smooth. The medium body is appropriate and really helps the beer. There is just enough carbonation to stop this beer from being too sticky.

Overall- Yes, it is a very good beer. Is it that much of an improvement over regular Bender? I think that is certainly debatable. Regardless, I'm very happy I got a shot at this, and would have it again if offered in a heartbeat.

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Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.12/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lucky to try this one on-tap at the Hanger Room. Pour left a bit to be desired, though it was served in a sweet glass mug with the Surly logo. Nice dark brown color, little head to speak of though. Nose is good with a bit of coffee, some dark malt, and a hint of vanilla. Flavor, however, really packs a punch. This one hits hard for a 5-ish% ABV beer. A nice coffee brown ale falls into some leafy hops, following by a smooth hit of sweet vanilla. This is a pretty sick beer, though I guess my love for the regular Coffee Bender gives me a bit of bias. MF was a bit thin, not quite as smooth and silky as I recall Coffee Bender to be. Overall a good experience, missing some technical points to me, but a tasty beer nonetheless.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a surly pint glass at Mackenzies during MN Craft Beer Week.

A- Very dark brown, nice lacing, slight carbonation, ½ finger head
S- Chocolate, roasty espresso aroma, malts, hints of vanilla, very delicious, desert smelling beer, I cannot wait to try this one.
T- Very good, everything you smell you taste and more, chocolate and vanilla right away, malts, nice hops added, slight bitterness, very tasty, hints of roasted coffee as well. Very smooth.
M- Medium bodied, slight carbonation, smooth and well balanced.
O- Delicious chocolate flavor, very good, a lot better than regular bender, very surprised by this beer, only wish they brewed it more often. I look forward to my next poor of this delicious offering from Surly.

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Photo of nkersten
3.86/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into plastic surly cup, opaque brown with thick mocha head. Smell is mostly coffee and chocolate, some hops. Taste is bitter coffee, bakers chocolate, roasted malt and hops. Mouthfeel is light body with medium carbonation. Drinkability is good, but the flavors are a bit strong to drink a lot of these.

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Photo of TheDudeRules
3.97/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a snifter.

Dirty brown appearance.

Coffee smell was right up front for me. Chocolate followed, rounded out by vanilla.

As far as taste went, I was hit by chocolate first. The coffee played a small role. Vanilla on the back end and still on the tongue after I swallowed.

Carbonation was descent. Had a nice light body to me.

It was a descent beer. Nothing blew me away but was very enjoyable. Certainly a session beer to the right person.

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Photo of dpnelson1978
3.85/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the tap into a plastic Surly glass!

$4.00 / ea.

A: Bright dark brown body topped with small loose tan head that quickly dissipates leaving just a trace of lacing and a thin creamy head.

S: My experience seems to vary from other reviews, but I immediately thought this was a wild version of Bender. The aroma was just slightly tart lactic with hints of coffee and a roasted nut character.

T: Again, I tasted what seemed like a wild beer. There was a bitter coffee flavor followed by what I thought was just a slight lactic sour. There were hints of vanilla and the same roasted quality I've come to expect from Bender. Hop flavors were subdued, but the overall flavor was excellent.

M: Light to medium body and moderate carbonation. Left a light sour bite on the tongue, but no prolonged bitterness.

D: I enjoyed this offering quite a bit, and would have tried more if it didn't run out within 30 minutes of tapping. Not for everyone, but I could have tipped back several.

O: Great offering, I'd love to get more information from Surly on exactly what was changed from the original Bender.

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Photo of joshuaseresse
4.22/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Whistle Binkies South last night for Surly's 5th Anniversary party. Served into a tulip:

A - Dark brown to black with light egg shell white head that dies pretty quick. Web lacing and OK retention.

S - Nice chocolate and roast malts. Vanilla and cream. Kind of like a roast chocolate milk.

T - Chocolate, coffee with a smooth vanilla and coco. Pretty nice but I wish it had just a bit more chocolate.

M - A bit watery but smooth. Just a tad creamy but again I wish it had a bit more body.

D - Easy to drink. Nice flavor and smell. It was just a bit thin in the body. But I'd drink this stuff all the time if I could. It would be nice if they canned it soon...

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Moe's Bender from Surly Brewing Company
94 out of 100 based on 35 ratings.