Bender | Surly Brewing Company

759 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: 759 | Ratings: 1,953
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 emyers
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark ruby-brown with a big off-white head. Leaves a nice lacing.

Smell: Mild, but pleasant. Toffee, bread, yeast, just a hint of chocolate.

Taste: Toasted biscuits, more toffee, roast, nuts and caramel sweetness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: The oats really come through here. Very smooth. Light to medium carbonation. Goes down easy.

Overall: A solid representation of a brown ale. I really like the addition of the oats.

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Photo of vande
3.59/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: nice, thick looking dark brown with a healthy head that leaves behind a sticky lacing all along the top of the pint glass.

S: light molasses & brown sugar...essentially, smells a little sweet

T:slightly sweeter, bit of brown sugar, grainy...

M: creamy, but heavier than some browns. I like!

O: I typically like my browns more on the nuttier side, but this was a pretty good can of beer..

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.6/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to funkyaudio for the extra! Poured from can into tulip glass. Pours muddy brown with a rocky, fluffy, tan head that sticks around leaving excellent poofy lace along the sides of the glass. Aroma is fresh, floral, light peppermint, mint chocolate chip. Taste is cola, sweet, roasty, bitter chocolate. Soft, bubbly palate. Really just a solid session beer. A good brown ale is a difficult thing to find.

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Photo of deebo
3.62/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Tan head that quickly dissipate, very dark brown color.

S-Dominated by nutty malt

T-Smooth, heavy toasted malts. Some residual lingering hop aftertaste

M-Simply smooth and easy to drink.

D-Easy to drink, very nice

O-Good flavor-toasted malt is the dominant flavor, very drinkable.

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Photo of weeare138
3.62/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to zrrbrrt for opening this...
Appears a slighty hazy(though still transparent), dark brown with a mild red hue. A rocky, tan head slowly quickly fades out and leaves scattered spots of lacing around the glass.
The smell is yeasty, toasty nuts, fruits, grassy, light caramel, brown sugar, cocoa, and a touch of clove like spiciness.
The taste is of the mentioned aromas with perhaps a touch of mild sourness picked up, along with an astringency that is noticeable.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied, mildly roasty, with cocoa hanging on the palate leading to a gentle bitterness.
Overall, I'm not really sure what the hype is about. I thought it was good but it didn't really knock my socks off in any way. Maybe I'm just not a huge Brown Ale fan?

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.62/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can tried 13 Jan 2009. Courtesy of hogwildliquor, thanks for the opportunity.

Poured in 0.5 L Adambrau becker. Huge amber brown head fills the glass. Well carbonated. Clear dark brown color with red highlights. Smells of oatmeal, dark toast, maple, brown sugar and coffee. Moderatly roasty bitterness, hint of pine. Chocolate and coffee through the middle. Finish is roasty with some brown sugar. Medium body, milky mouthfeel. Alcohol is moderate.

Seems more like a porter than a brown ale.

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Photo of Docer
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from Brentk56 in a trade.. cheers! Great stuff!

- Large off-white ring of lace-maker over a murky dark brown cola-colored or sun-tea colored brew. Dusting of foam.

- Light sweetness, brown sugar, grain, bready.. light bitter hopping. Grassy.

- Sharp clean water, sweet grain, oats, bread, dry bitter hop.. pine-like.

- Thin to medium bodied, creamy and slightly dry.

- Overall drinkable, flavorful, and light. Must say the coffee version is a bit better.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very dark, deep brown color. Some nice lacing remains as it goes down the glass. OK aroma-somewhat nutty and malty. Some bitterness upfront flavor wise. Somewhat of a grainy/chocolate like flavor. Nutty-again the bitterness dominates. Ok mouthfeel. Decent US brown. Nice caramel/nuttiness. I was not impressed the first go round with this beer-much better this time.

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Photo of israel
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to dyan for a can of this....

A- pours a dark brown with some ruby hues intermingled in the glass. Frothy tan head with some nice lacing.

S- I thought overall there wasn't much in the aroma but I was able to pick up on some bready qualities as well as some subtle fruit scents.

T- Starts out bitter from the hops and then quickly changes direction with bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavors.

M- Carbonation makes this seem medium bodied at first but finishes a bit thin, but I feel this adds to the drinkability which is high with this beer..

D- so drinkable....absolutely delicious. could see myself drinking several of these in one sitting...

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.64/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Brown body with flecks of red. Not a head on it to speak of, although I poured carefully. After a few minutes, there's no sign of life.

Smell - Light chocolate and a strong toffee aroma, followed by some earthy hops. Not a strong smell, but what's there is nice.

Taste - Follows the smell a lot. Toffee and chocolate from the malt, finishing with a hefty bitterness. The hops at the end are earthy and slightly grassy. Maybe it's even a little astringent in the finish.

Mouthfeel - The bitterness in the back are a bit off-putting. The astringency is too, but it's otherwise easy drinking. Medium-low carbonation.

Overall - Nothing that stands out, but what it's got is good.

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Photo of n2185
3.64/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown with only traces of red near the edges and a finger of tan head. The head recedes into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: Some roasted malts up front followed by sweet, nutty aromas. There is also a surprisingly strong citrusy hop aroma on the finish.

T: Roasted malts at first followed by a fairly subtle nutty flavor. The hops kick in, providing a piny bitterness to go along with the bitterness from the roasted malts. I also pick up some slight nutty flavors on the exhale.

M: Medium body and carbonation that goes well with the bitterness and leaves a clean finish.

O: A pretty decent beer. Nothing spectacular and very porter-like for a brown ale, but decent nonetheless. I wish the nutty flavors had come through a bit more instead of hiding behind the hops and roasted malts.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to LaCoursiere for adding this in our recent trade.

A- Surly Bender pops open with some ivory foam already formed in the can. Once out, the liquid takes on a shoepolish brown look with some red poking in at the sides. Not much of a cap, no lacing.

Smell is fairly easy for a fairly simple beer, Bender does have pungent strength. This includes a boatload of English malt giving off nuts and slight toffee and grain.

Taste starts off malty and nutty and well, that's pretty much it. But wait, English malt is just large in this. A bit of chocolate malt in there as well, maybe a pich of cocco flavor/brown sugar. Bender is a str8 forward style with a str8 forward taste. No bells or whistles.

Feel is kinda tame and the carbonation is pretty dull. It just sort of goes down smooth like and there is no prick. For the style though, not everything needs to pop like that.

Bender is great beer and one I would take down with some BBQ, it seems like a great match. 5% leads to all day drinking.

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Photo of matttttYCE
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2 Finger, slightly off-white, creamy head. Head retention is pretty good. Lace not so much. Color of the beer is cola/deep burgundy.

Aroma is of cola, some roasted and lighter malts, caramel, plenty of nutty aromas, hints of coffee, cocoa, and vanilla. Hints of hops in there as well, but they're really drowned out by the cola aromas.

Very similar to the aroma. Cola, sweet caramel and roasty malts, nutty taste, lighter chocolate and coffee, a bit of bitterness from the hops, maybe some slight vanilla in the background there. Easy drinking for sure.

Consistency is crisp, carbonation is light as well, body is light, almost thin, and the finish fades quickly but not in an instant. Mouthfeel overall leaves a bit to be desired.

Overall - A decent beer overall. One worth trying in my book, but not anything that knocked my socks off. Just a good brown ale.

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Photo of craytonic
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Churchkey DC

Appearance: With a light behind it, pours a bright amber-orange-red. Nice crown and lacing.

Smell: Malty caramel, nuts, tea, coffee, cocoa, milk chocolate. Some light hops. A bit earthy.

Taste: Does not taste how I expect a brown ale to taste. I get malty caramel, toffee, tea bags, coffee, coca, chocolate, hops. Not crazy about the unsweet tea element.

Mouthfeel: Creamy on draft, the cans can be a bit flat

Drinkability: Not a fan of brown ales, and this is middle of the road for the style.

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Photo of hoppymeal
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a coffee brown with a decent sized medium tan head that slowly fades. Aroma is rich and malty, some cola-y sweetness with some fruitiness. Rich and malty in the taste as well, some chocolate, big dose of caramel malt and finishing with a nice hoppy dryness. Fairly smooth with a tingle of spicy hops on the tongue. An easy to drink and solid brown.

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Photo of Franchise
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This offering picked up in MN by a fellow BA poured from a 16oz can a light brown deep ruby with overlaying colors leaving a thick tan head. The aroma is cocoa, vanilla, oats, sweet nose.

The taste starts tart, crisp, with dark chocolate, cocoa bitterness, hop profile is suttle semi-bitterness, strong burnt coffee. Roasted flavor profile dominates this beer. The flavor is nice, sweer oats, bitter, nice beer strong roasted flavors dominate this beer overall very nice offering.

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Photo of brydeen
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown, almost ruby body, with a thick, creamy khaki colored head. Good retention and lacing throughout.

S: Slightly roasty, with a slight nutiness. A little bit of bitter aroma too, but nothing coming through too clearly.

T: Starts sweet, but finishes a bit of hoppy bitterness. A little roasted malt, with chocolate and day old coffee.

M: Body is much thinner than it looks. A tad watery, with creamy smooth carbonation.

O: Solid, but something seems to be lacking. The taste is there, but has a bit of a stale finish. A little thicker body would do this beer well too.

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Photo of genog
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got to sample bender for the first time on tap. Had two pints at hopleaf last weekend while we were in town for DLD.

Poured a very light brown color with minimal head. Smell was a little spicy, with some strong fruity, floral aromas and some limited chocolate sweetness in the back. Taste was slightly sour, and a little to the funky side, with some dominant grain but not as much as I remember. Mouth feel was a little creamy, but much more watery than other surly beers.

Bender in the can is one of my favorite beers of all time. On tap it was not as good. I am hoping it was just a bad keg, or line and this is not the way it usually is. But this is all I have to go on.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

props to mchlipala for going out of his way.

brown with a secret of maroon. an upstanding creamy head. smells a bit chocolatey, creamy and touch nutty. i wish i could pluck just which one. mild flavor, a nice taste, nothing very punchy, just a really drinkable beer with a bit of a roasty, creamy character and a widening body. a pleasant drink, i'd like to try the coffee bender, i think that intensity is what is missing in this one for me.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can, about 10 oz into snifter, the rest I drink outta the can, my favourite. From notes

A - Dark brown with reddish edging. Nice off white head, clingy lacing.

S - Lots of caramel and toffee malts. Some pine bitterness and grain.

T - Nice balance of sweet malts, much like the nose. The pine bitterness is there but doesn't seem to be involved in the end. I pick up a pleasant hazelnut with a toffee aftertaste.

M - Good carbonation, slight biting on sides of tongue. Semi dry and medium

D - A good brown out of a can. I'd take another!

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Photo of BrewerB
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with good clarity and thin-light tan head that is partially well-retained. Fills the nose with powdered cocoa, caramel, and brewed coffee. Darker roasted malts. More cocoa coming through in the flavor backed up by some sweeter caramel-like notes. Moderately bittered bit an herbal hop presence. Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can. Pours a clear brown with a thick light tan head. Aroma of sweet malt and some coffee grounds. Flavor of slightly roasted malt with a touch of creamy smoothness. Thankfully, this is a brown ale that's not dominated by super sweet malt. Pleasant and easy drinking, certainly one of the best brown ale's I've had.

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Photo of Ratman197
3.69/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a reddish brown with a lingering ring of tan foam. Smells of cocoa, carmelk, light vanilla and light coffee. Tastes of carmel, cocoa, light coffee, light toffee and a hint of vanilla. Mouth feel was light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a smooth finish.

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

I really enjoy the beers our new little local Minnesota brewery, Surly, is putting out. Brown Ale's aren't my favorite style, but I can appreciate that Surly has done something very unique and tasty with this beer.

I *love* the Surly Cynic Ale, I like their Furious Pale Ale and this one isn't too shabby either. Although it's my least favorite of the year round Surly varieties that are available.

Appearance: Pours dark brown with a small tan head that doesn't retain for long.

Smell: The nose immediately brings to mind coffee, burnt caramel, and malty goodness.

Taste: The flavors up front are burnt caramel, toffee and hints of coffee, followed by a malty and slightly bitter aftertaste. More flavorful than the typical Brown Ale.

Mouthfeel: A little thin and undercarbonated for my liking, but smooth and somewhat creamy.

Drinkability: Like I said earlier, not my favorite beer style, but this is one I would make an exception for. A tasty little brown ale with enough extra flavor to make it interesting.

Serving suggestion: Standard pint glass.

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Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 1,953 ratings.
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