Bender | Surly Brewing Company

760 Reviews

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Here's what happens when substance meets smooth. This oatmeal brown ale defies traditional categories. Bender begins crisp and lightly hoppy, complemented by the velvety sleekness oats deliver. Belgian and British malts usher in cascades of cocoa, coffee, carmel and hints of vanilla and cream. An easy-drinking ale with many layers of satisfaction.

Added by tavernjef on 02-04-2006

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Reviews: 760 | Ratings: 1,956
Photo of ipeters1017
4.11/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark reddish brown with a finger of tan head that dissipates quickly. Smells malt-heavy, and I get a bit of toffee and caramel sweetness. Nothing super distinct, just a lot of malt. Taste is similar to the smell, with a touch of coffee as well. Mouthfeel is smooooooth and the carbonation lingers just a tiny bit, and it's not terribly heavy. The oatmeal really shines here.

The brown ale is one of my favorite styles, and Surly never disappoints. Very easy-drinking, and it makes a great base for the coffee variety as well.

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Photo of Lucular
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I would give this a slightly higher score if it weren't for an ash-like flavor. Not quite a cigarette flavor (that would be worse) and not entirely off-putting, but not a beneficial flavor either. Still definitely a tasty and well-balanced beer.

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Photo of Taybeh
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hard to believe I haven't rated this one before, though I suppose that I drink this less often than most of Surly's other offerings often found on tap around the Twin Cities. This one is from a tallboy into a nonic. Pours a sienna slightly hazy brown, a good off-white head that leaves some decent lacing. Nose has some great bready malts, baker's chocolate, a little vanilla, and some herbal hops. The brown ale isn't really a favorite style of mine, but...for the style, this is a real winner, and the taste follows the nose, though there's some coffee and caramel as well. medium body, oats make it nice and smooth, really great mouthful.

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Photo of obrike
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very easy drinking brown ale with a bit of porter to it. This baby is uber smooth and would be the perfect compliment with dessert. A bit of brown sugar and maybe raisin on the taste? Quite good.

Low abv makes it a safe and tasty treat. Enjoy.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Surly Bender, 5.1% ABV, 45 IBU, American Brown Ale. Pours thin and dark brown, with one finger white head. Nose is slight coffee and malt, hint of chocolate. Taste follows - not much flavor, tastes brown. OK mouthfeel, and overall meh. I prefer Coffee Bender, but this was a better alternative than the macros and ex-craft on tap.

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Photo of Ricelikesbeer
3.86/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I really haven't tried very many (if any at all) American brown ales that have really wowed me or made me want to buy them more often. coffee bender and other coffee brown ales or imperial versions have been far more interesting, but the base style really isn't one of my favorites. Still, it is Surly beer, and rare in Colorado, so I thought I'd give it a try. The thought of a malty tall boy during the fall season sounds good to me.

L: light brown with some ruby highlights, decent clarity. looks filtered. medium carbonation. light lasting white head

S: light malty nose, some toasted notes with suggestions of bakers chocolate

T: light caramal sweetness up front. this beer is sweeter than I would have thought. some toasty malted notes, and feint chocolate, like dutch cocoa. really no hop suggestion, slight esters on the finish but overall clean and crisp finish. although sweet, the beer finishes dry enough to keep it in balance. perhaps the 45 IBUS of bitterness listed on the can also keep things in check.

F: nice lingering mouthfeel. light carbonation. not overly thick or cloying

O: This is an interesting enough beer that I would certainly buy it again, and it is extremely easy to drink. If you're looking for an approachable malt bomb this ones for you! Would be a great gateway beer for non-craft drinkers.

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Photo of ctylinebeer
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

16 oz can poured into a pint glass. Comes in a 4-pack.

L - reddish brown color; hazy hue; no lacing on the glass; layer of foam covering the surface

S - chocolate, coffee, cocoa, dark roasted malt, earthy English hops. Quite aromatic for being in a pint glass.

T - coffee and cocoa, dark malt, bitter black coffee, malty oatmeal, dark chocolate, slight noble hops. Mostly malt flavor, little to no hop character

F - crisp ale feel; semi heavy body; no leather or syrup feel

O - awesome brown ale by Surly. Balance is what they're good at and they really did well with this one. They let the malt be the main event and not the hops. A sessionable dark beer without the weight of a porter or stout

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Photo of tone77
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Yep. You guessed it. This beer came courtesy of the amazing woodychandler. Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a very dark brown color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of chocolate, nuts, coffee. Taste is much milder than the aroma would suggest. Chocolate, vanilla, touches of oats and coffee. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of woemad
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

16oz can from a ninja box sent me by SammyJaxxx. Canned on January 6, 2016, per the stamp on the bottom of the can.

Poured into a Selkirk Abbey pint glass, this was a dark brown color with lighter highlights towards the bottom, and became a hazy dark ruby when held up to light. Big, beige foam head initially, which dropped fairly quickly, but was easily agitated back to life. Spotty lace.

Roasty malt aroma, with hints of coffee and some nuttiness. It gets a little sweeter as it warms.

Fairly expectable Brown Ale characteristics, but still better than a lot I’ve had. Slightly bitter, roast malt flavor, some coffee notes, some brown sugary notes, a little bit of a nutty flavor, and a dry finish, which is about the most obvious hop component. I really like how the sweetness is not overstated the way it is in a lot of Brown Ales.

Medium bodied, with a good level of carbonation, and a slightly creamy mouthfeel.

Nothing dramatic, just an excellent example of a Brown Ale. I’d keep this in my fridge pretty regularly if it was available locally. Thanks, SammyJaxxx!

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.06/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hits the clarity meets brown color conundrum. Good off white head 3/5". Aroma flicked the vanilla bean. Some nice brown malt tones.

Taste had a plethora of different flavors. Brown malt, vanilla, coffee (from the malt), even a slight hoppiness. Very good, very sessionable. Would bang again.

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Photo of Rockjocknroll
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Thick and hazy SRM app. 25 with great lacing off a big tan head.
S: Crystal malt, bitter roasted grain, toffee and sugar
T: Very similar to aroma with tons of roasted malt, brown sugar and an almost coffee-like note.
M: Big and bold up front with minimal carbonation and a fast mellow finish.
O: A great brown. I love a good brown and they're hard to find; seek this one out. Lots of great flavor but not too heavy. Thanks Jesse!

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Photo of BIll_Currie
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

one of the best browns i've had. good smell. very refined taste. not overly hoppy. just right. doesnt feel like it fills you up. good malt feel. Surly is awesome

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Photo of stevoj
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Flight at MSP. Sweet, smooth brown ale. Sweet malt nose, some chocolate comes on at the tail end. A bit on the sweet side, but very tasty. This was my second favorite of the bunch.

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Photo of BeerGeek50
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours lightly hazy to a deep reddish brown hue. dark beige head with lots of lacing. caramel, brown sugar, nuts, chocolate, vanilla, ready aroma. super smooth. loved it.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.84/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

16 oz can into Tulip.

Pours a chocolate brown color with highlights of honey; a popcorn yellow 2 inch head that leaves webs of dense lace.

Aroma is of coconut, chocolate, glazed pecans, and antiseptic/alcohol.

Taste has a sting bomb of citrus/pine to start; moves into a malt assault with roasted nuts and charred barley; ending on a light chocolate note and a chaser of vodka or some other clean alcohol.

Painful carbonation to start...fills up the belly with foam; has a noticeable coffee-like nutty dry parch on the finish.

An ale with only 5.1% ABV should not smell OR taste like alcohol. At $10.99 a 4 pack, this was a huge flaw that I cannot look over for the price point. I do like this one better than the Coffee Bender (which I will review later), and although it's an almost solid brown ale, it's just got some glaring flaws on top of a premium price tag.

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Photo of superspak
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 ounce can into pint glass, canned on 7/24/2015. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep reddish brown color with a 2 finger fairly dense and fluffy khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted oats, nuttiness, chocolate, cocoa, light coffee/vanilla, herbal, floral, and roast/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted oats, nuttiness, chocolate, cocoa, light coffee/vanilla, herbal, floral, and roast/toasted earthiness. Light herbal/spicy hop and roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted oats, nuttiness, herbal, floral, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; with a great bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/silky, and slightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish as expected of 5.1%. Overall this is an excellent American brown ale. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L (4.5) - Very very dark colored beer. Almost cola. Not a lot of head, but my glass was too small!
S (4.25) - Nice roasted aromas. A little nutty and a bit chocolatey.
T (4.5) - Very tasty beer. Has the expected roasty coffee taste, but a bit more. A little bit of that alcohol taste. Very well balanced beer.
F (4.5) - Very and creamy beer. Easy to drink. A slight alcohol burn, which I like for this style.
O (4.5) - This is a great beer. It hits everything you want in this type of beer. I would like to have this in my cellar most all the time.

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Photo of tedvr
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours very dark with a thin white head. Smells are coffee with a malt background. Taste are coffee and malt with a nice balance. Mild carbonation. Really nicely balanced beer.

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Photo of Stevem68
3.87/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice caramel like dark Amber color. Has a caramel malt like aroma. Flavor is a little malty, caramel, a hint of vanilla and hops. Very smooth mouthfeel but a little light to me. Overall not bad but it feels like it doesn't know what it wants to be.

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Photo of bwood06
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap into pint glass

A - Very dark mahogany. Almost black in color. Thin khaki lacing. Can't see carbonation due to color. 4/5

S - Dark stone fruit. Chocolate. Nutty and earthy. Light caramel sweetness. Floral hops. 4.25/5

T - Sweet caramel up front transitioning to dark stone fruit and dark chocolate. Herbal hops finish with a slight pineyness. Very nicely layered. 4.25/5

M - Very smooth and creamy with a moderate tingling carbonation. Coats the mouth very nicely which allows the flavors to come out. 4/5

O - Very nicely layered beer which I find to be uncommon for a lower alcohol offering. Would gladly drink this beer again, with or without food. 4/5

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours brilliant brown under a 3” light tan foam cap that slowly recedes and produces fine lace. S: Light roast, chocolate, spice. T: Mild bitterness, chocolate, coffee, caramel, spice. F: Creamy smooth, medium body and carbonation. O: One of the better brown ales out there.

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Photo of leroybrown10
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a medium brown color with big ruby/garnet highlights. 2 finger head is tan in color and quite long lasting. Big sticky lacing left behind.

Aroma is very subdued. Some mild coffee and chocolate. Toffee and light molasses.

Taste is similar to the aroma. Subdued but not to the extent of the aroma. Coffee, cream, mild roasted malt. Some toffee and caramel. Not really getting any hop flavors. Undercurrent of chocolate though out.

Very nice mouth feel. Medium body with a cream/velvety feel. Medium carbonation.

A decent brown ale that was a mild letdown after having previously had Coffee Bender. Flavors and aromas are good but need a boost in intensity.

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Photo of Welch
4.58/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Great Ale! Pours a extra dark brown but not quite black. Light oatmeal colored head dissipates after a few minutes. Smells of caramel, oak, coffee beans, a hint off vanilla and a faint tinge of alcohol. Tastes of oatmeal, oak, dark chocolate at first but finishes very malty. It is lighter in taste than expected, which I like. The can states that it begins hoppy but I only detect a little hops. The mouthfeel is rich. It leaves a slight film on your tongue similar to a very dark chocolate. That quickly dissipates. Overall I am hugely impressed with this beer. This drinks just as well in winter as it does in the heat of summer. I will definitely have this again.

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Photo of AlpacaAlpaca
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I spy a few dubbel-esque qualities lurking in this well executed, lightly hoppy, very balanced brown ale. I generally like my brown ales to be a little less thin, but not all browns can have the body of a Palo Santo.

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Photo of Cheeseboo
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great beer! I had this while in Minneapolis. I can see why Surly's is popular. Great looking pour, not too bitter, and pretty smooth taste. I'd like to try some other Surly brews.

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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 1,956 ratings.
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