Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
839 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bender steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala.

Added by feloniousmonk on 05-28-2006

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 839 | Ratings: 2,579
Photo of KATCanada
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served at fridge temp from can. Dark brown with tan foam. Ban huge ground coffee nose. If you have ever had iced coffee in southeast Asia, this is what it smells like. Big coffee taste, bit of mocha. Mouthfeel is pretty thin when compared to the big coffee stouts, not in a bad way. Bitter coffee. Pretty one dimensional for me but fine since that's the ways it's advertised. Very good quaffer.

 394 characters

Photo of drewba
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - murky brown with a thin khaki head and very light lacing.

S - Carmely brown malt, chocolate, root beer, lots of fresh roasted coffee, brown sugar.

T - Highly acidic coffee which is actually kind of distracting, even though the coffee is the point of this beer. The usual brown characters are here to backup the coffee - molasses, brown sugar, roasty malt. The hop profile is more prominent than your average brown. There is a slight lemon citrus and bitterness coming out in the end, but the coffee and bold malt flavors are still taking over in the finish.

M - Super easy finish, satisfying carbonation though it's thin.

D - The acidic coffee bitterness hangs around for awhile, but I could definitely pound a few of these back to back.

 746 characters

Photo of joeseppy
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a burnt caramel that morphs into black with a generous mocha head. Lacing is decent.

Smell foremost is initially fresh ground coffee. Sweet cream/milk with toffee drizzle but not overbearing. Aroma is to be admired.

Taste follows aroma in that primo coffee is the center stage. Some malty sweetness holds it together. Generally good.

Mouthfeel is lacking comparatively. Nice sparkle on the carbonation. Quite quenching if you are in the mood for a coffee brown.

Really was expecting more because of the hype. What you get here is a palatable coffee brew. Not a fan of the base Bender mainly because of the lightness of it. This follows the same thread but in this case quality coffee has been added to make it a gem in its own right. If you love a coffee brew then this is one you will like.

 801 characters

Photo of MUTINY
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

16oz can into a smallish tasting tulip.

A: Pours a nearly-opaque mahogany with slightly reddish hues around the edges. 3/4" tan head recedes at a moderate pace. Retention & lacing are both quite good.

S: Coffee, milk chocolate & an indiscernible nutty quality. Traces of brown sugar. Faint plum.

T: Comes on with more milk chocolate that quickly becomes more of a coffee with cream character that ultimately defines the mid palate. The finish is just off-bitter with an almost overripe raspberry quality.

M: Moderate-to-high carb married to a surprisingly light, dry body.

O: I like this brew, it maintains a certain simplicity throughout. Overall quite good!

 675 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to morimech for this one!

16 oz. can:

Pours dark brown with rubyish highlights. A thin light brown head leaves lacing.

The smell is of roasted coffee beans.

The taste is of iced coffee - roasty. After a little while, a caramel/toffee brown ale undertone comes through to back up the roasted iced coffee, improving it. It has a roasty finish.

Medium-to-full bodied. Medium carbonation. Smooth.

Roasted iced coffee and Bender mix. Balance leans towards the coffee. Becomes more balanced as it progresses. I'm thinking that this could have replaced one of my weekend morning coffees. Certainly one for coffee (and of course beer)lovers to try!

 654 characters

Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving type: 16-ounce can. The “CANNED ON” date printed on the bottom of the can is “01/14/13.” Kudos to Surly for printing freshness dates!

Appearance: Poured into a nonick pint glass. The color is deep, ruby brown. I was expecting it to be darker and opaque, but I will take it. (Honestly, I always assumed Coffee Bender was Surly’s stout.) A finger of tan, uneven head left a thin but spotted skim of foam and a buttery ring around the edge.

Smell: It offers a powerful dose of straight black coffee roast, which dominates the aroma. Frankly, it is hard to smell a hint of anything else.

Taste: Straight black coffee, complete with that coffee-like, bitter, roasted astringency that grates the taste buds and fouls the breath. It is coating my entire mouth. Unlike the aroma, though, there are hints of other flavors, especially on the tail of each sip — presumably remnants of the Bender base: toasted caramel, toffee, cocoa, and maybe molasses.

Drinkability: Good stuff, but can I get some beer with my coffee? I love coffee infused beer, but this is more coffee than beer. I would have liked more complexity.

 1,131 characters

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty good looking, dark brown with perfect clarity, good head with staying power, and good lacing.

Smell is pretty good, nice coffee aroma but plenty of nice chocolate, sugar cane, and lightly bready malts.

Taste is easy going and moderated, with a good coffee and chocolate base, accented by a good biscuit malt, slightly smoky.

It's pretty light bodied and medium carbonated, with a good bitter aftertaste that lingers.

Pretty good beer. Easy to drink for sure, and I like that it's in cans.

 503 characters

Photo of Khazadum
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I couldn't wait any longer. Retail hell has hit Chicago and I needed this one after a shift that ran longer than it was supposed to... Beer labeled #12 poured into my HopLeaf pint glass and reviewed instantaneous for everyone's pleasure.

I'm so used to seeing pale ales in cans that I was shocked to see this brown ale come billowing out. Very creamy head with tons of pancake batter style bubbles destroying the clean appearance. Edges are filled with a gentle mixture of miniature bubbles and a couple average sized ones.

Liquid body of ruby that does not completely block out the light... deep brown hues, caramel soda. Lacing is similar to lacy, white lady gaga gloves stained with cigarette use. Not many streams of bubbles seen when held up to the light.

Sharp astringent character of hops come forth and faintly after numerous intakes a floral pattern. Sweet hazelnut and caramel middle with biscuit tendencies. Hints of wood? Something earthy... as it warms. Guess this is the coffee coming forth that is overwhelming the palate in flavor.

Flavor Profile
Big malt bomb in terms of flavor. Big coffee bomb in terms of flavor. Big sweet bomb in terms of flavor. Explosions, much? Opens sugary sweetness, caramel-like flavors. Middle is coffee, that bitter freeze dried variety that is quite common from my experience as of late. Bitterness of the coffee blends well and obscures the hops for a portion of its existence. Pine flavors right before the finish, resinous and lasting into the final onslaught. Biscuits and pine jelly. Yummy! It is surprisingly tasty.

Oral Sensations
Medium bodied with a smooth flow. It has the lingering flavor molecules that cling to everything but the teeth. Never noticed them there at all throughout the entire can. Crisp carbonation at the beginning that supports the overall presentation.

Hoppy, coffee infused, brown ale? Who the hell makes something like that. It is quite interesting and super easy to drink. Five and a half percent is my guess for the alcohol. I'd like to try this on draft if at all possible in the future.

Reveal is.... Surly Coffee Bender!... wait.. really? Huh... I was expecting something... I don't know... better?

 2,219 characters

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Slightly hazy deep brown, no carbonation visible, has a nice tan head that has faded to a paper thin layer.

S: Like fresh coffee beans. Incredibly natural. Undertones of chocolate. Simple, but wow, is this concept well-realized.

T: Like drinking a coffee bean, acidity and bitterness and all. I'm curious what hops and how much were used here, I could see them backing up the coffee quite a bit, secretly. Roasted malt/coffee finish lasts and lasts. Bitterness is restrained, but there is very little sweetness. Again, this is well created, but this much acidity is off-putting in a beer.

M: Watery, much too watery. Heavy flavors require at least a medium body.

O: Definitely worth trying, you will not find more realistic coffee flavors in a beer. Unfortunately, I think they spent too much time on extracting this flavor and not enough time working on the other components to back it up.

 897 characters

Photo of scottfrie
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz bottle into SN tulip pint glass. Thanks again to Chriscrundwell12 for this one.

A: Pours a very dark ruby-brown (darker and more brown than regular Bender) with a similar large, dense, light brown head that took forever to recede into a fuzzy thick film. A solid sheet of sticky lacing was beautifully left down the glass.
S: Rich notes of coffee grounds and oil. Smells similar to (just as the can says) an iced coffee.
T: Tastes like an iced coffee as well. Light watered down coffee taste is refreshing with a sweet malty finish. I get just a suggestion of leafy hops in the finish as well. Aftertaste doesn't leave much coffee flavor in my mouth which is nice.
M: Medium body with an oily mouthfeel that coats my mouth. Carbonation is soft and even.
O: Really good light flavor of coffee that isn't overpowering or too potent. Tastes just like an iced coffee. Thanks again Chris!

 891 characters

Photo of Kadonny
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gotten in a trade from Nebrewm, thanks. Poured from the can into a snifter glass.

A: A dark brown with no light filtering through. Minimal ring of head and medium glass lacing.

S: Coffee with hints of creamy sweetness and some chocolate.

T: Coffee flavors first, but they are lighter coffee flavors, almost like a latte. Coffee and cream maybe is how I describe it. Sweetness stays in the mouth with some milk chocolate, cream, and some caramel. Finish is bitter with a slight metallic taste as the floral hops come through. Different take on a brown ale.

M: A bit thin actually, not what I expected. Low ABV so the alcohol is not detected.

D: Pretty good, they are drinkable but I couldn't have more than one or two.

Overall a different take on the style that does work. I'm not a huge brown ale guy, but I enjoyed this can.

 831 characters

Photo of Brez07
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can poured into a Maine Beer Co logo glass

A: Pours a mostly translucent brown with amber highlights. Leaves a 1 finger tan head. No lacing

S: Small nose. Fairly weak coffee, roasted malt and coffee beans. Accompanied by some nuttiness

T: Bigger coffee presence then the nose would cause you to think. Some bittersweet chocolate, roasted malt and nut. Similar to coffee without sugar

M: A little thin despite there not being too much carbonation. Just a bit of roastiness that lingers after each sip

D: Easy drinking, but seemed to be lacking something. Enjoyed the beer, but wish the coffee had a bigger presence

 623 characters

Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

YYEESSS can party. Thank you evanlarkin for an amazing trade.

Dark hazy brown that leaves a fluffy tan head of approximately 1 finger after pouring. Lacing is evident. When held to the light the truth comes out, this beer is actually a magnificently dark ruby/maroon. I am unable to observe any sediment, but would not be surprised.
This is an exceptionally dark brown ale, I would have suspected it as being a porter/stout.

A fair amount of coffee comes out initially with a light caramel maltiness. This beer could provide more boldness in its aromatics. Unfortunately the focus is mainly on the coffee elements and not the beer's other qualities.

This is a good beer, I like the lower abv given this is a late-night review. There are mostly qualities from the brown ale driving this beer's flavor profile, but there are still subtle notes of coffee that bitter and linger in the aftertaste. This is my first coffee infused brown ale that I can remember and this beer is a nice adjustment from the heavy malt expectations I have with porters and stouts. The brown ale's lighter body makes this beer an acceptable spring/summer time sipper.

Light-medium bodied beer with minimal contribution from the alcohol. Strength resides in the beer's bitterness and delicate sweetness. I would have liked a bit more body and sweetness, but maybe that's just my inherent nostalgia for coffee infused porters and stouts. Definitely a different experience.

This beer wasn't super captivating, but is also cheap as hell! I love the beer's price and the fact that it's canned.
However, overall the beer is an average sampling in my book. I would definitely try it again, recommend it to a friend, and could easily sip this beer all day.

 1,776 characters

Photo of Bone53
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to the Brew Review Crew for the trade!

Appearance: Brown pour with a ruby hue when put up to the light, and a one finger light beige head

Smell: Black medium roasted coffee, hazelnut, cream

Taste: Medium roasted coffee, brown malt flavors, hazelnut

Mouthfeel: i know this is only 5% abv but my God is the body light; too light. Goes down like bitter water.

Overall: The smell is by far the best aspect of this beer. Unfortunately the taste doesnt match it, and the mouthfeel is as watery as a lager. I look foward to trying more Surly beers, but i find this highly overrated and wouldnt seek it out again.

 617 characters

Photo of BruChef
3.87/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Acquired this via trade From JimLetson. Thanks for the hook-up!

I assumed, since there wasn't a precise description of the beer itself on the can other than that it had coffee in it and also since this was the first beer i ever had from surly, that this was a coffee stout. So, as one might think, i was a little perplexed when i poured this brew into a snifter, only to observe that this brew seemed a little thin and pale for a stout. It was more like a nice looking brown ale (ding, ding, ding! Which i now know it is); somewhat transparent, especially around the edges. (The rest of this review is being so based on the realization that this beer is in fact an American brown ale)
A lacy head developed as i poured and dissipated just as quickly except for a thin layer resting on top. I could smell the pleasing coffee aroma before i even placed the glass to my nose but i knew that it wasn't going to be overwhelming.

The taste did not disappoint: Burnt/brown sugar, hops not too forward unlike most typical American brown ales, and plenty of delicious coffee. Super well balanced in the coffee dept. not like some of the other highly touted, over coffee'd beers rated on this site (ahem Kentucky garble something or other), and also a much more unique and defined coffee flavor unlike the traditional roasty, bitter acridness that coffee added to beer usually lends.
The mouth feel is my only slight complaint. It's just slightly more carbonated than i would like and slightly on the thin side but again, very small complaints. This beer is very drinkable and over all pretty tasty.

 1,597 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.86/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Portion of a 16 oz can poured into a Duvel tulip. From two day old notes.

A: Pours a dark brown color. I didn't really get much head from my pour, just a creamy offwhite film with poor retention.

S: Pure black coffee. That's it. Still, this is as good as purely single-note brews can get.

T: Follows the aroma - which is to say it's pure black coffee. Luckily, the coffee isn't vegetal/stale, and the brown ale base does *just* enough to iron out any excess finishing bitterness. Simplistic, but very enjoyable.

M: It's light, crisp, and rather dry...just like coffee!

O: It is what it is - carbonated black coffee with a splash of beer. It's so simple, yet so unbelievably satisfying. Those looking for a more balanced approach to a coffee beer would be better served by FBS or Wake-N-Bake, though.

 804 characters

Photo of macktbone
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Recieved as an extra...(a really good extra).

Pours like an Iced coffee, but with a nice head of light brown and white. Visible carbonation pulls you in to decide if it is a benefit or a hinderence to the drink.

Smells like a coffee mocha. Toffee and cocoa.

Tastes like a Cold cappucino, chocolate syrup, tons of coffee and sweet malted coffee shop foam.

mouthfeel is thin...similar to an iced latte.
Carbonation is very level. Not too much, not too little.

Drinkable as a coffee bender, not much as daily drinker.

This is my Birthday Review!!! Yeah Me...Yeah Beer...

 573 characters

Photo of gregshead
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

an extra from mnbearsfan (thank you). Tasted on 2/18/11, reviewed from notes:

A: Pours a brown w/ a small amount of red hue in it. Half finger of head that dissipates slowly.

S: Lots and lots of coffee smell. A little confused by the smell.

T: Good coffee taste up front with the sugary malt taste of a brown in the middle finished with a dry coffee taste/finish.

M: Lots of carbonation with a smooth dry feel.

D: Enjoyable for its style. The coffee is slightly overpowering but I was still glad to try a tallboy of it.

 524 characters

Photo of triptens
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a thick quickly dissipating off white head. Color is an amber/brown, cola like.

Smell - Roasted grain, bittersweet chocolate, cocoa nibs. There is a floral hop presence as well.

Taste - Roasted coffee beans, cocoa, herbal and floral hop character.

Mouthfeel - Feels like I'm drinking a big roasty blend of coffee or an espresso. It's thin but dries your mouth out and coats your tongue like the crema from an espresso would. This with the hoppy bitterness blend well together.

Drinkability - I could drink a lot of this. Unfortunately I didn't really get to experience it warm up a lot because it went down so fast. A really good beer, I wish we had Surly in Michigan, I would always keep some in my disc golf bag.

 738 characters

Photo of jdhowe
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Beer for a mug, from a can, poured into Avery Tour Glass. Canned 02/24/14.

I've not written one of these in a while, so I figured I'd sit down and do a review for this beer.

A: Pours a deep brown with clear mahogany light through the edges and 1/2 finger of cappuccino-colored head that dissipates after a couple minutes to a ring and mottled film, leaving plenty of sheet lacing.

S: Huge coffee right out of the can and even more abundantly from the glass. Roasty notes of iced coffee alongside a mild chocolate and what I can only describe as the slight malty sweet waxiness that is characteristic of brown ales. This beer smells like what it claims to be, full of coffee and cocoa powder.

T/M: Astringent up front with a burn of carbonation, the first real flavor that emerges is, unsurprisingly, unapologetic coffee. Underneath an abundant coffee character is a slight hint of malt sweetness, but the brown ale-ness of this is somewhat lost in the coffee. Which I think is really what they were going for. The finish is clean and roasty, and the lingering character is of very earthy coffee, with a hint of a flavor that is vaguely plant-like... almost like a tree or a leaf, but not from hops. Just something that brings back fresh-cut grass. Mouthfeel is medium to thin with a moderate to high level of carbonation. Finish is clean and watery with a reasonable coffee astringency.

O: I am impressed, but not chomping at the bit to get my hands on more. This is definitely a cool beer and I'm glad I tried it, because I've not had anything quite like this.

 1,566 characters

Photo of Klym
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a surly nonic. Big thanks to expedition for both the can and the glass!

Basically, this beer was bender hiding behind a bunch of fine coffee. I was hoping for something more like bender with the coffee subtlety just a little more accentuated, but instead it was overwhelming (perhaps the most straight up coffee taste) coffee with the subtleties of bender hiding deep behind the flavor. Not bad, and if you love coffee much preferable, but basically just bender with a twist that isn't necessarily praiseworthy. If I could only choose one, still stick with classic bender.

 585 characters

Photo of heyta
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A -- This beer pours with a great big white head, but as it subsides it leaves pockets of white floating on the surface that look remarkably like mold -- not very inviting.

S - Smells like folgers instant coffee with a slight sour cherry note in the background.

T - Tastes as it smells. I like the coffee taste even if it tastes like a below average coffee, it's refreshing to find it in something other than a stout.

M - Nothing really special here, but the carbonation is good for this style.

O - I would drink it again. For the price and the alcohol content, it's a tasty beer to not get blasted off of.

 610 characters

Photo of Jmoore50
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this can in an EXTRA! Big thanks. Was not very impressed with Bender, but this is much better.

The appearance on this one is a dark brown heart with lighter edges. It has a mocha colored frothy head that pours two fingers and stays at one for the entire tasting. No lacing.

The smell is of cold roasted coffee with burnt grain.

The taste is of coffee, and lots of it. I feel like the coffee is strong, but not backed up very well. It has a tastes of roasted grains and not much else to back up the coffee flavor.

The mouthfeel is light, but makes it really easy to drink. It is a lighter ale, so taking that to mind it is one of the better brown ales I have had. I have not had a lot from Surly, but Furious is one of my favorites from them so far.

 763 characters

Photo of InebriatedJoker
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from can into pint tulip - no best by date visible -

A: Pours a deep brown with one finger head that descended into a thin frothy tan lacing, decent carbonation.

S: Faint whiffs of coffee , slight roasted malts and barley.

T: Light coffee hints with a smooth creamy feel , slight roasted malts and barley, minimal hops.

O: This is almost exactly like drinking an iced coffee , a little on the thin side but tasty non-the-less , worth a try.

 451 characters

Photo of ChopperSmith
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a big can into a tall .5l weizen glass.

Appearance: Deep dark brown/ruby color with a fluffy tan head that doesn't last long, but laces nicely.

Smell: Sweet dark coffee and chocolate notes. Smells like an iced mocha coffee. If I smelled it blindfoled, that's what I would think it was. Doesn't smell like beer, but it smells very good.

Taste: Dark roasted malts and coffee co-mingle with a minimal amount of noticeable hops (or maybe the coffee just overpowers them). An interesting flavor and I like it. However, this is a little too hearty and powerful tasting to do more than one in a sitting, and it's definitely a sipping beer, not easy to chug this one down quickly.

Mouth Feel: Dry, medium to full bodied, lightly carbonated. Not bad.

Drinkability: It's good, and I will definitely have another, but not for session drinking due to it's strong flavors. It's a delicious "one-and-done" brew. Another creative and interesting brew from the excellent brewmasters at Surly.

 993 characters

Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 2,579 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!