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Cacao Bender - Surly Brewing Company

Cacao Bender
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165 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 165
Reviews: 14
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 8.76%

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Mahogany hued ale infused with coffee, vanilla beans and cacao nibs.

45 IBU

(Beer added by: MasterSki on 07-20-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 165 | Reviews: 14 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of gatornation


4.09/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap @red cow
A-pours a dark brown color with a tan head that dissapears quickly nothing special here
S-Chocolate nibs with vanilla roasted malts slight coffee
T- this is where this brew shines what a great use of cocoa in an already great brown ale mixed with vanilla and malt the cocoa is so smooth
M-sweet creamy chocolate velvet
O- a great addition to a great brown ale

Serving type: on-tap

02-16-2014 23:34:12 | More by gatornation
Photo of jsprain1


4.74/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a terrific beer and exactly how breweries should use chocolate. This is a great balance of sweet and slightly bitter chocolate. Nice and deep dark brown with a thin, but long lasting cocoa colored head. The smell is slightly sweet at first, like a milk chocolate bar, but some dark cocoa and roasted malt notes come in stronger as it warms. Initially it tasted sweet, but in the back of the palate it becomes slightly bitter and roasty. It is silky smooth in body with moderately low carbonation. Really a top quality beer. Definitely worth seeking out.

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2014 01:47:08 | More by jsprain1
Photo of NODAK


4.51/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at a bar in uptown, Chino Latino.

Poured black as night with a fair head that lasted a while.

Had an awesome, sweet chocolate aroma to it...the girl I was with told me she could smell it from a few feet away where she was sitting. That really was the dominant note on the nose....one of the more chocolate smelling beers I've had.

Taste really followed the smell quite well. Such a sweet, but not overly sweet, chocolate tasting beer. Many chocolate beers have a bitterness to them, or a roasted quality, but I didn't get that here. A very pleasing, easy drinking, moderately sweet chocolate ale. Their regular Bender is such an excellent beer by itself, but I must say that I do prefer what I'm tasting here with the addition of cacao.

All in all, so impressed. The girl I was with was impressed enough to order her own, despite the fact this beer was the only beer not on happy hour special.

Serving type: on-tap

12-26-2013 04:07:10 | More by NODAK
Photo of Stevedore


4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

10oz poured into a Darkness goblet at Surly's tap room today, 11/29/2013.

Pours a very dark brown (clearly appears brown sitting next to a glass of Darkness) body with a nice 1cm white head with good retention and lacing.

Smells delicious- so much bitter black espresso along with lighter notes of dark chocolate. Comes along with a nice caramelly sweetness. Really strong nose and smells like morning coffee with chocolate syrup.

As in the nose, a lot of coffee along with bitter dark chocolate complemented by a nice caramel, toffee malt backbone.. with a nice vanilla flavour on the backend that I could not get in the nose. Quite delicious, but there is a bit too much coffee bitterness there.

Lighter bodied, especially next to Darkness, with less than ideal carbonation. Actually seems to be a little flat, would have liked it to be a bit more creamy and carbonated. Otherwise its rather drinkable and flavourful without too much of anything off-putting.

Very interesting take on Coffee Bender; I think if they decreased the coffee contribution and let the other adjuncts shine even more, they would have an even bigger hit on their hands.

Serving type: on-tap

11-30-2013 00:02:39 | More by Stevedore
Photo of lurpy1


4.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bender's never been my favorite of the Surly beers, so what Surly has done with this take on it is remarkable. Chocolate takes the lead, in fact this has more of a chocolate presence than most chocolate forward beers. A woody, grainy sensation follows. But it wasn't aged on wood? Well, it's in there anyway. More of a sipper than a slammer. Damn good brown ale.

Serving type: on-tap

11-19-2013 22:53:11 | More by lurpy1
Photo of Dad_of_Rad


4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at a Surly taproom

A: Dark brown/black. Thin, tan head.

S: Coffee, roasted almond, cocoa. Not a sweet chocolate smell. Very AM wake-up.

T: Much like the aroma, but cocoa finish is fantastic. Flavors are prevalent, no subtlety here. More bitter chocolate than sweet, which I prefer in this style.

M: Interesting that feel is medium to thin. Still creamy, but not cloying. Very good for the style.

O: A fantastic beer. Roast flavors are mellowed (e.g. not burnt) and blend well with the cocoa. Wished it was always available and I lived in Minneapolis.

Serving type: on-tap

08-28-2013 23:44:07 | More by Dad_of_Rad
Photo of MCImes


4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Coffee bender with vanilla beans and cacao nibs? Yes. Its awesome. I remember Moe's Bender which is this same beer aged on Oak, and this reincarnation nails it. It was slightly better oaked, but this beer still rocks my world. Its tied for my favorite surly beer (its tied with Wet and Pentagram followed closely by Abrasive)

Anyways, go to the taproom whenever this is on. If you like bender or coffee bender, this takes it to the next level.

Serving type: on-tap

08-15-2013 21:26:11 | More by MCImes
Photo of deebo


4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First time trying this one. On tap at the brewery. Had Moe's many times and all except the last time in which it was syrupy and cloying it was a superb beer that managed to be so flavorful at such a low ABV. Anyway this similar version to Moe (without the wood aging) is also a fantastic beer. Tons of flavor yet not filling and easy to drink multiples of. Rich cocoa powder flavor on top of the already solid coffee taste and the rich roasted malt backbone of Bender with a fair amount of vanilla to top it off...this is so tasty. The mouthfeel on this version is lighter than Moe's but still has a rich, silky mouthfeel upfront that quickly dissipates inviting that next drink. Similar to Moe's I would love to see Surly make more of either one of these beers. Just takes Coffee Bender to the next level. What a beer that is so flavorful yet very drinkable!

Serving type: on-tap

07-25-2013 03:32:47 | More by deebo
Photo of Tucquan


4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this on 2013-07-19 in Minneapolis, MN at the brewery.

A - Opaque dark brown with a 2-finger tan head and great lacing.

S - Big chocolate nibs and vanilla. Medium roasted malt. Smells sweet and rich.

T - Medium roasted grain, CHOCOLATE, some coffee, big kick of roasted and hop bitterness. So very rich for a lowish ABV brew.

M - Medium body and light-medium carbonation. Not as thick as it tastes.

O - Delicious and better than their normal Bender.

Serving type: on-tap

07-21-2013 15:32:53 | More by Tucquan
Photo of yamar68


4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery - review from notes:

Dark chocolate brown body with a healthy dose of creamy khaki head.

Powdery cocoa, roast, fresh vanilla, cold coffee, bittersweet brown ale goodness.

Smooth... bitter chocolate flavors with dessert sugars, smooth caramel, nutty malt flavors, definite vanilla presence.

What a great twist on Bender! Ended up ordering a second. Really tasty stuff.

Serving type: on-tap

06-29-2013 01:04:16 | More by yamar68
Photo of MattyG85


4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Groveland Tap in St. Paul, MN. Served in a 10 oz. tulip glass.

Appearance: Color is a very deep and dark brown that is somewhat hazy. Lots of bubbles and a solid three fingers of light tan head with good retention. Has some pretty good lacing on the glass.

Smell: Big aroma of sweet chocolate dominates. Smells a lot like chocolate milk. Dark roasted malts with big hints of cocoa chocolate and coffee. Also some hints of vanilla, nuts, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and syrup. Some earthy hops linger around in the background. A very good aroma here. Sweet but not overly cloying.

Taste: Like the smell previews, a big taste of sweet milk chocolate. Dark roasted malts with a big taste of the cocoa, chocolate, lactose, coffee beans, and vanilla. Also notes of nuts, burnt caramel, and toffee. A sizable amount of brown sugar and syrup is tasted. Behind the dark sweetness is a nice presence of earthy hops that provide some bitterness towards the finish. Really solid taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy, smooth, and somewhat syrupy. Starts out pretty sweet but has a drying finish.

Overall: A pretty good chocolate beer. Has the big cocoa taste you would get from a big chocolate stout with a smaller body and lower abv. A good session chocolate brew.

Serving type: on-tap

09-29-2012 05:35:02 | More by MattyG85
Photo of tewaris


3.5/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at ABR after waiting in a moderately long queue.

Looks like your typical porter/brown ale, not that I expected it to look any different. Now I really liked the aroma on this beer, insanely chocolate milkshake like; but the taste was a relative let down. Also, having had Bender way too many times, I can tell that there is some added astringency to this version which in my opinion is a downgrade from the regular Bender.


Serving type: on-tap

09-23-2012 16:21:35 | More by tewaris
Photo of NWer


4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Surlyfest mug at Surlyfest '12.
This was my first taste - not really a 'taste' at all but a full 16 oz pour - at Surlyfest and the best.
Full bodied dark chocolate in appearance. One finger head that retained well.
Chocolate, cocoa beans, coffee.
At 5.10% very sessionable. Not big on the alcohol which allows me to enjoy the festival and not get wasted.
Smooth aftertaste. No cloy whatsoever.
It sure would be nice to see them can this one not that it would do me any good. I don't get to Minnesota very often.

Serving type: on-tap

09-23-2012 11:51:57 | More by NWer
Photo of Florida9


4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ever so slightly hazy chestnut brown. Served with a moderate sized light tan head. Copious lacing. Aroma is predominantly lightly roasted coffee with notes of toasty cocoa, chocolate and roasted peanuts. There is a hint of vanilla as well. Flavor is a bit thinner than the aroma. Dry cocoa, peanuts, slightly bitter coffee and a tiny bit of sourness. Medium mouthfeel, a bit thin for the style. Moderate bitterness.

Serving type: on-tap

08-11-2012 18:25:19 | More by Florida9
Cacao Bender from Surly Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 165 ratings.