Bender | Surly Brewing Company

1,961 Ratings

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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Ratings: 1,961 |  Reviews: 760
Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.48/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was thrilled to death when I opened up a package from a certain trader that shall remain nameless but he knows who he is, that contained some wonderful goodies from Surly, with a nice can of Bender being among the prizes. Now I HAD NEVER HAD Bender before mind you, but I was thrilled to get the chance to try it. Immediately took this bad boy out and threw him in the fridge to get nice and cold. I knew I was going to want to enjoy this as soon as possible. So last night I decided that this might go well with Mexican and popped it out and poured it into a UFO Hefeweizen, well Hefeweizen glass and served it at 45 degrees with dinner. Lovely sixteen ounce can that I could not wait to tear into.

Appearance - Poured into my glass an absolutely love deep dark russet brown with loads of hints of reddish tones around the sides and bottom of the glass. Very dark and opaque, essentially no light was shining through on this baby, except for the slightest little bit on the bottom of the glass. A very nice large tannish head of foam rose up over the top and crowned it beautifully, reaching a height of nearly three inches before finally starting to receded and come back down to earth. There was a very nice small pillow of foam left over at the top which stayed with it throughout the entire session. Some light carbonation could be seen streaking skyward, and the side glass lace was rather impressive as well.

Smell - The aroma was intoxicating right of the bat. A very deep and rich sweet smell graced my nose the second I poured it. Huge aromas of caramel and sugar were easily the most evident thins found in here. It really was much sweeter than I thought it would be, and this was a good thing. I was picking up some light notes of chocolate and a touch of nuttiness as well. There were definitely some hops way down deep in the profile as well, providing a touch of promising bitterness in the end.

Taste - The flavor followed off right where the aroma left off. This was insanely well put together for something with only 5% abv. Such a rich full profile, I did not know where to begin, but let's give this a try. The first flavor to come washing through was a rich caramel sweetness. Very nice and big and very evident from the very first sip. Really a malt bomb here for sure. Some notes of the roasted nuts then following it along and really pulling it together quite well. I was shocked at how nice this was coming together. Very light hints of chocolate now coming through, very light though and just enough to add some sweetness, a touch of sweet coffee now on the horizon as well and really giving it even more depth than it had before. The finish was very strong, a nice little hop bite to dry it out and get the flavor to linger, and the sweet caramel notes were really becoming prevalent here. Some nice grain flavors way in the back, light cereal grains. Very nice overall.

Mouthfeel - Super rich and smooth, this was by no means a light bodied ale. Easily a medium bodied brown ale this was intensely smooth and delicious. Each sip was like a velvety smooth liquid drenching over the tongue. Super rich. Lots of carbonation, all the way down to the final drop. Never a dull moment or any kind of thinness to this one at all, really well done.

Drinkability - I literally could have sessioned this one all night. At first I thought to myself there is no way that this was just a 5% brown ale, it was so rich and flavorful. I was damn impressed here and if I could have gotten more I would have drank a six pack of these is a heartbeat. Really an awesome beer.

Overall this was one the best brown ales I have ever had. It was richly complex and sweet and very full bodied. Very cream and almost porter like in its presentation this was just outstanding. Not only would I not turn this away if it came my way, but I will actively seek it out for sure. Go get this it really is a winner.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A – A beautiful brew. Deep mahogany with ruby highlights. Off-white head hangs around with nice retention and leaves a nice lace.

S – Sweet roasted cashew, walnut and hazelnut. Brown sugar and nutmeg.

T – Bitter chocolate covered hazelnuts. Nice soft roast middle with a resurgence of chocolate through the finish.

M – Medium light body with a soft mouthfeel. Shade thin.

O – A great brown; one of my favorites.

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Photo of atrocity
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of mdfb79
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz. can into a pint glass.

a - A dark dark brown color with 1 finger of a brownish white foam, lasts about 1 minute. Very carbonated.

s - Smells of chocolate, coffee, dirt, also some roasted malts.

t - First got a taste of chocolate, but coffee quickly took over. Has a little bit of a bitter taste to it, as well as roasted malts again.

m - Light body with moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth and creamy.

d - Overall, I thought this was a decent brown ale. Pretty new to Surly's products, but I would have liked a little less coffee taste since they already have a brew in Coffee Bender. I would definitely try this again, but it was not my favorite brown ale.

 683 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Alicia for sending this one to me. Shared with some kind folks at the Bruery.

A: The pour is a light brown color with a finger's worth of slightly off-white foam.

S: The nose is sweet and malty with some nice nut, bread, and roasted malt notes.

T: The flavor is quite similar to the nose offering up some toasty, bready malts. There is a nice sweet caramel malt flavor as well, which is nicely balanced by a touch of bitterness on the finish.

M: A medium bodied beer with a pleasant creaminess on the tongue.

D: Another solid beer from Surly. One of the better brown ales I've had the chance to try as it balances the sweetness and nuttiness quite well.

 668 characters

Photo of ZEB89
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of woodychandler
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The below was one of my lesser efforts in terms of reviews. I was talked into opening that CAN even though it was just a case of gilding the lily and I did what I CANsider a poor job on it. CAN you forgive me? Re-reviewed Sa, 02 July 2011.

From the CAN: "Beer For a Glass, From a CAN."; "Fresh Beer, Keep It Cool!"; "Get Surly! Here's what happens when substance meets smooth. This oatmeal brown ale defies traditional categories. Bender begins crisp and lightly hoppy, complimented by the velvety sleekness oats deliver. Belgian and British malts usher in cascades of cocoa, coffee, caramel and hints of vanilla and cream. An easy-drinking ale with many layers of satisfaction."

At last, a Crack & Glug - the first in a while. I got a finger-and-a-half of dense light-tan head with good retention. Color was garnet/deep-ruby with NE-quality clarity. Nose was very chocolaty up front with caramel and grassy hops underneath. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, not quite creamy, but close with tastes of milk chocolate, caramel and a light coffee bitterness in the mouth. Finish reminded me of coffee with cream. Not bad, but I really dig the Coffee version better.

Original review follows.

CAN you believe it?!? I really thought that I had screwed the pooch on this one. Omar specifically brought some cans with him to Boston to give to me for review and I thought that I forgot to review them before drinking. Instead, I have copious notes encompassing numerous notebooks and I just got them back from a local transcription service. Lo and behold, here was my review!

A small, wispy tan head. Mouthfeel was thin to medium. Color was a deep brown with ruby highlights. Nose had a definite chocolate scent. Lots of chocolate in the mouth. Warming, it was better. Lots of brownie-chocolate in the mouth. Finish remained very chocolaty, more of a dessert beer IMHO.

Well, not one of my better reviews. If anyone would like to trade me for some more in a CAN, I would happily re-review this beer.

 1,993 characters

Photo of orangesol
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one in a recent BIF package from biglobo.

A - Pours dark brown with a fluffy one and a half finger tall off-white head leaving sticky lace down the glass.

S - Smells of caramel, toffee, vanilla, roasted nuts, chocolate and a bit of hops. Not too bad so far.

T - Starts off with a bit of sweetness - mostly caramel and toffee - slowly giving way to hints of vanilla, chocolate and a touch of molasses. Some faint hop bitterness comes through as it warms up.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Creamy feel initially growing a touch thin toward the end of the glass.

O - This one was pretty damn good. It had a lot of flavor but it remained easy to drink. One of the better brown ales I have had in quite awhile.

 742 characters

Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of TMoney2591
2.94/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Served in a Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

Thanks to VDubb, I finally got around to trying the coffee-less version of Bender. It pours a clear sunset topaz topped by a finger or so of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises mild graham cracker, grass, flowers, and a touch of Oreo. The taste focuses on the grass, flowers, and mild lemon peel, all to the detriment of the grain-y, biscuit-y base. Basically, they took the "American" label stereotype and ran with it, over-hopping what may have been a nice enough brown ale. A shame, really. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slick-ish feel. Overall, this brown just didn't sit right with me. It's too hoppy for its own good, and those grains mentioned in the blurb above don't come through at all. I wanted to like this stuff, especially given my love of Coffee Bender, but I guess I'll just stick with the coffee-infused version for the duration.

 942 characters

Photo of thatoneguymike
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

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.

 730 characters

Photo of Zaphog
2.74/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Photo of InspectorBob
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from can into my Duvel Tulip, a dark deep rich chocolate brownie color with about one finger of tannish head leaving some nice lacing.

Aroma of caramel,toffe and chocolate.

Hoppy, malty, a nice balance

Mouthfeel was medium bodied, very smooth and creamy with slight bitterness on the finish.

Best brown ale I've ever had.

When are you coming to Jersey.

 365 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
3.48/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received in trade from phisigben, thanks for the opportunity!
Pours a deep clear dark brown color with ruby highlights when held to light. A Huge fluffy beige head sits on top for a good long time before impaling itself to the sides of my glass. Smells of caramel and chocolate mostly with some vanilla, a hint of nut and a bit of earthy hop presence. Taste is caramel and toffee mostly. Hints of butter, alcohol, and a slightly earthy citrus hop flavor seems a bit out of place. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet watery mouthfeel. I didn't enjoy this one as much as I had hoped I would. The malt bill has a distinct English esb meets dark mild feel to it while it also seems heavy on the American hops for a brown. I thought the flavors clashed a little bit. For a brew with oats in the bill I would have expected a much creamier feel than this beer has.

 882 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of stakem
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thank you to Heath (Kegatron) for giving me this can.

Poured into a snifter, bender appears a dark brown color. However, when it is held up to the light it shines as a clear deep amber red color. More than 2 fingers of tan stained foam for a head sit atop this brew and slowly receed leaving a webbing of lace around the glass.

The aroma of this brew has a pleasant forwardness of mildly citrus hops that come across with a light touch of herbal character. A scent of mineral quality is present before the onset of the maltiness smelling mildly nutty and with a bit of chocolate. As this brew warms it has a very mild and sweet vanilla scent about it that I did not pick up on right away.

The taste includes all things covered by the aroma and then even more. The hops present themselves with a light citrus taste and mild bitterness that persists into the finish. A bit of the mineral quality is present but blends into the flavor of the malt which tastes mildly nutty, chocolately and like roasted grains. In the backend there is a sweetness quite contrasting to the initial light bitterness that has a mild fruity flavor.

The feel of this brew is quite smooth and excessively drinkable. Medium in the feel with an acceptable amount of carbonation. Lots of flavors going on in this that reach outside the spectrum of the typical brown style. Very well done.

 1,367 characters

Photo of ejimhof
2.75/5  rDev -33.1%

Photo of AlexFields
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of rolltide8425
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of chippo33
1.75/5  rDev -57.4%

Photo of rab53
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with a thin creme head. Nose is vegetal. Minor coffee. Flavor is brightly coffee like. I feel like it's unroasted beans. Still gives a full and fairly robust profile though. I like. Feel is smooth on liquid and the carbonation is middle of the road (I remember the carbonation being abrasive when I had it on-tap.) I like this beer. Easily an all night brew (if it were readily available that is.)

 416 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the can into a nonic pint glass. Can dated April 6th 2011.

Nice creamy head of light tan brown three/four fingers tall. Body is a nice dark brown clear amber, very nice color. Nice solid cap on the head as well. Gorgeous body color almost black with these dark walnut brown and red hues.

Airy malt and faint roast on the nose, with a good hint of nut. Seems like a good dry roast nut.

Roast character and nut character comes through on the taste. Dry feeling of walnut on the swallow, and a strong malt aftertaste. Pretty good mouthfeel but feels a little fizzy and prickly for carbonation.

Overall though this is avery solid standard nut like brown ale and would have no problem grabbing again.

 711 characters

Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 1,961 ratings.
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