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Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing Company

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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

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Reviews: 838 | Ratings: 2,573
Photo of beertunes
3.04/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Thanks to Kurmaraja for this one. Upfront, know that I hate coffee. Don't drink the stuff, and tend to find that it overpowers any beer that it's in. Caveat complete, let's crack this can!

Poured into straight pint glass. Poured a deep brown, with a slight reddish tint, and had about 1/8 inch of light brown head that had decent retention and OK lacing.

Whoa! The aroma is like walking into a diner just before the breakfast rush hits, all coffee all the time. Only the slightest bit of of malt shows through the bast of Joe. Same on the tongue, thoroughly coffee, and just the slightest bit of beer appears.

The body was pretty nice, just a bit thinner than I prefer in a Brown Ale, but smooth, except for some coffee bitterness at the back end. Drinkability will totally depend on your view of coffee. You can figure out where I'm at. Overall, a solid brew, and one that a lot of people would love. I'm not one of those people. I just didn't enjoy the beer, but I'm thankful for the gift, and for the experience for having tried it. YMMV.

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Photo of IdrinkGas
3.1/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from the can into a snifter.

A: Reminds me of water from a rusty pipe. Watery brown color.

S: Coffee in the nose but much less than I expected.

T:Burnt watered down coffee flavor. This is what I imagine artificially flavored coffee seltzer water to taste like.

M: A little high in carbonation. I would like this more if the carbonation was toned down slightly.

If I want a coffee beer I would chose a coffee stout instead of this. The brown ale and coffee just seems like an odd pairing to me. Not my cup of tea at all. The only beer from Surly that I have disliked thus far.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.12/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to amerak for sending me this alongside other awesome Surly offerings. Poured into a tulip glass out of a 16oz can. At the time of consumption (late December), this was about 2 months old. Bender may be one of my favorite brown ales brewed in the country, so I was excited about this one.

Pours a far more blackened appearance than anticipated - nearly opaque, save for the brownish reddish tinges glowing at the sides of the glass when held against the light. Contains an off-khaki head that sticks around for a good long while, although does eventually dissipate into a small ring. The effect does make it look like a cold cup of freshly brewed coffee, which is quite appealing given what I'm about to venture into.

Cold ground coffee immediately hits the nostrils upon the first whiff, followed by some solid malty notes and slight sweetness soon after. The coffee is so intense on this beer that I cannot make out hardly anything else other than, interestingly enough, actual phenolic components that make up the *coffee* rather than the beer. Roasted espresso, light black pepper, caramel, fudge, vanilla, as well as a brief touch of dark dried fruit (I'm thinking berries?). The finish is a little bit more of the biscuity traits of the malts, as well as more caramel and toasted grainy notes, but it's really pushed to the back from where you can smell the coffee. Really unique, but quite one-dimensional in some ways.

What's up with the flavor, though? One sip, and things seem horribly wrong - rather than a pleasant roasted, spicy flavor from coffee, everything feels abnormally tannic and astringent. Even stranger, the coffee feels progressively charred, or burnt, or worse. This tastes like coffee that's been brewed from grounds that were seeped one time too many, and then watered down with ice and served a few days later. The malty profile from the Bender base is luckily there to add some textured balance, as well as a bit of sweetness (mainly caramel and vanilla) but the coffee is way too overpowering and far too charred in flavor for me to continue to go on. Carbonation is fine, but perhaps more body would saved this from feeling thinned, putrid, and watered down. I could not finish - I had to pass this on to someone else.

I absolutely am ashamed for not having enjoyed this beer as others apparently do, so I may blame this review on an off can or something. I'm actually a casual fan of iced coffee, but there was something really wrong and burnt tasting about the coffee profile at hand. It's ability to overpower the (good) base beer didn't help the cause any further, however. I'll gladly revisit this if someone pushes for it, but this really wasn't for me at all.

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Photo of jegross2
3.13/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Reviewing the Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company.
Score: 79

Canned 11/01/11, served in a pilsner glass (the only beer glass available), and and enjoyed 1/4/12.

Appearance: Pours three and a half fingers of foamy khaki-colored head (obviously exaggerated by the glass it was poured into) on top of a dark soda/caramel red/brown colored body that falls between transparent and translucent. Head settles into a half finger, leaving lots of sticky residue on the side of the glass. Good lacing. 4/5

Smell: Coffee and vanilla cream soda. Plenty of caramel aroma too. The aroma is a little fizzy, with the sugarier smells from the head of the beer "crackling" and "popping" such that they shot up my nose (akin to taking that first sip from a freshly poured Coke) when I got in too close for a smell. 3.5/5

Taste: My first impression was coffee up front that quickly turns into a caramel finish. Very malty middle (in fact, very malty overall), but not overly sweet. Hints of vanilla soda in the linger. As the beer layers, it becomes a more consistent coffee and caramel flavor throughout, including the finish. For a beer with a fizzy smell at pour, this beer tasted surprisingly flat. Did not detect any nuttiness. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied with light-plus carbonation. Felt a little flat and much waterier than expected. Finish is slightly sweet and the mouthfeel kind of reminds me of a totally melted malt ball. 2.5/5

Overall: Perhaps I cannot adjudge this beer too harshly because it was slightly over 60 days old, but I was not overly impressed with the base beer (Surly Bender) either (though that one too was old -- I tried a "fresher" can recently, but that can had no carbonation). I guess this one could be a step up from Bender if fresh, but I honestly felt like Bender had more "freshness upside" to it. Alas, some have informed me that Bender and Coffee Bender are not particularly the type of beer to "rapidly age," unlike Surly Furious (which was much better fresh). I really do not know how to feel about this beer, other than I did not particularly enjoy my first experience with it. Both Bender and Coffee Bender looked and smelled much better than they tasted. If you are buying Surly beers right now, do yourself a favor and skip this one and buy some (more) Abrasive Ale for a few extra dollars

Recommendation: Worth trying, but not particularly worth seeking out -- at least not if its 60+ days old. Flavors are not too intense or too harsh to put off casual beer drinkers.

Pairings: Peanuts?

Cost: $11.99 for a four pack of 16 oz cans.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.15/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

16oz can, courtesy of sonicdescent. Interesting beer. I should preface this by saying I usually like about 1/5 beers I try with coffee added. Call me a purist... Anyway - pours a robust brown color, edges of ruby. Not unlike the regular Bender, but I think it's a little lighter if that makes any sense at all and not as nice of a head. Nose is all coffee - really great clear coffee bean aroma. Unfortunately that's pretty much all I'm getting, besides a muted cry from the roasted malt trying to be heard. This is a tasty beer, I just find it a bit one-dimensional. If you like coffee beers, this will surely do the trick. I really like the coffee flavor I'm getting here but I just wish there was more to go along with it in this case. I had the regular Bender the other night and thought it was actually more full and more complex than this spiffed up version. Mouthfeel came across as a bit thin and watery, I don't know why. All in all this is a fine beer, it just might not be my thing. I've loved everything else I've tried from these guys so this beer was definitely worth the try, especially if coffee is your bag.

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Photo of n2185
3.17/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a very dark brown with only hints of red coming through at the edges and a finger of light tan head. The head quickly recedes into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: Coffee dominates the nose. There are a sweet creaminess and some chocolate notes to it as well, but mostly coffee. As it warms, a slight nutty aroma comes out.

T: Robust coffee up front followed by some slight roasted malt characters. The finish has a nutty and lightly bitter character to it.

M: Medium body and carbonation, though the body has a slightly watery characteristic.

O: Overall, not a bad beer, but almost indistinguishable from a typical coffee stout. I pick up on a slight nuttiness in the finish, but that's about the only brown ale characteristic this beer has. You could put it in a lineup of coffee stouts and likely not be able to pick it out. As a brown ale, it's almost unrecognizable and as a coffee stout it doesn't really stand out from the pack.

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Photo of gatornation
3.18/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pored very dark brown with thin beige ring with little head it did have some nice sticky lacing smell was all coffee and some vanilla some burnt malts..the taste was coffee first strong coffee it overwhelmed the bender with roasted somewhat bitter taste.. the malts and the hops could not be detected..overall i did not enjoy this one like say Peruvian morning it was not balanced between malt hops and coffee..ill stick to plain bender for my brown ale fix

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Photo of xpdrinker
3.18/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into my Surly pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with reddish hue, more murky than Bender. Mocha pencil-thin head, not much lacing.

Aromas include empty metal coffee can, dry malt, mixed nuts, a bit leathery.

Light body, medium carbonation. Standard brown with extra roastiness, most of the coffee comes on the dry finish. Bitterness hangs out on the perimeter of the tongue. Slightly peppery.

Enjoyed it a bit more than regular Bender but still don't find anything about it that stands out. Balanced but not very complex. I'd like to try it again but wasn't extremely impressed this time around.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.18/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I drank this form the can into a chalice.

The beer is a very dark fown with about a finger and half of light tan head that fades way to quickly. The lacing is good. As the head fades it sticks to the sides like a shadow from the past.

The aroma is combination of wood and coffee, but despite these two normally dominating aromas the aroma overall is pretty light.

The taste is very light and somewhat disappointing because it is pretty flavorless. If it wasn't called coffee bender I wouldn't even think of coffee and be able to pick any out of it. To me its tastes like a light fun of the mill brown ale.

The mouthfeel is heavy and lasting but because of its blandness its not very drinkable, not because its filing but because its just bland.

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Photo of beerkittycat
3.19/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From a can poured into a smaller tasting glass and shared with others. Appearance is a murky amber brown with a tan head. Decent lacing. Aroma smells awesome of freshly ground high-quality coffee and some citrus hops in the background. Taste was....a little disappointing compared to the aroma. First off was the thin mouthfeel which surprised me considering the line-up of big beers that Surly makes. The flavors were rather thin, too, and was dominated by the coffee with little malt or hop flavor to balance things out. Too much carbonation in this beer probably allowed the mouthfeel to seem a little thin. I'll try it again, but I've had much better coffee beers than this.

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Photo of Roland45s
3.19/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Surly compares to a starbucks iced coffee in a can, almost like one of the starbucks energy drinks. A very strong potent smell of coffee and beans, but a very weak beer. It's almost like a light beer with color additive. Overall I would drink it again b/c I am a coffee fan, but I truly believe the "coffee" added makes it like left over coffee from the pot in the afternoon.

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Photo of Hayley_86
3.25/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This beer has a pleasant look and smell to it that promisses a lot for a good coffee beer. The taste is okay but not strong enough and the feel doesn't hold up to the better coffee beers. High hopes but I wasn't as impressed as I had hoped.

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Photo of bashiba
3.26/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a deep clear shade of brown with bright clear cherry wood colored highlights and a thick tan head, some nice lacing.

The smell is that of very fresh ground coffee with hints of roasted malts creeping through.

The coffee flavors are very aggressive with a mix of slightly bitter coffee and dark roasted barley. There seems to be a strong level of bittering hops as well as it continues to get more bitter as I drink it in a very even and earthy sort of way, some light smoke and toffee flavors sort of come out as it warms has a touch of astringency as well.

The mouthfeel has a medium body and a bit of oily and resiny quality to it.

Very much a coffee beer, its not bad, but a big to heavy handed with the coffee for my taste.

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Photo of John_M
3.27/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on tap at the OBF today. Was looking forward to this beer, so came armed with pencil and paper, and bought the full glass.

The beer pours a dark brown color with very good head retention and lacing. The nose on this beer is really impressive, with a huge aroma of (surprise, surprise) coffee. It really drowns out pretty much anything else.

On the palate this beer is a surprise. I appreciate the fact that the abv. is low, but the flavors on this beer are anything but impressive. The one dimensional flavors come across as light and disappointing, smacking of cheap coffee dumped into some boring brown ale. There's almost a grainiess/grittiness, from what tastes a bit like coffee grounds. I'm not the least bit impressed. A friend I was with made a very good comment I thought; noting that it tasted as if Surly used a very low grade of coffee making this beer. Texture is light and almost watery, and drinkability is unimpressive. You can tell the abv. is low, thankfully, but the flavors are so disjointed, it's really no fun drinking this beer. It really tastes like an uninspired brown ale with some cheap coffee grounds thrown in.

After drinking a can of furious last week, this beer more then any other was something I was looking forward to at the OBF. All the more reason it was the disappointment of the festival. Maybe it just didn't travel well from Minn. to Portland. Oh well...

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.28/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

After having the Bender, this one was next up.

About the same color in the pour, a tad darker than brown. Clean and clear. Head is a bit sparse as is the lacing.

Coffee aroma. Sanka it seems. Unlike some coffee beers, this one doesn't seem as rich. Coffee dominates aroma

It pretty much dominates the flavor. Some sweet caramel at first, but the nuttiness of the Bender thwarted by the coffee. And this coffee seems thin. Too bad, some nuttiness would provide some more smoothness. Seems a bit hollow, and not like a Brown ale much at all. Still, it's not a bad beer...just not a two-canner for me

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.29/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Light black in color with some penetration to light. A fingernail of khaki colored head sits on top. Strong aroma of very bitter intense coffee is present. The flavor is extremely bitter coffee with no room for anything else. The mouth is thick and creamy.
Appearance: 3.5

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Photo of Sabtos
3.29/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Light red-brown, darkens at full pour, with a large tan head that dissipates to a persistent film, leaving tons of cobweb lace.

Roasted coffee aromas are almost the sole influence, with the exception of a little astringent, metallic note in the background.

Taste is old school coffee grounds. It reminds me of the 80s actually, and I didn't realize I would have that distinct a memory of coffee in the 80s, but now that its hits me, it's very clear to me that coffee in the US was quite different at that time. Aside from that tin tub of coffee grounds, I also get some raisin in taste.

Frothy, a little tangy, but overall, quite a weird one for a basic coffee beer. I actually liked it better completely at room temperature.

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Photo of ELS
3.29/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

I was expecting more from this beer. I thought the beer had nice color with a half inch of foam that slowly dissipates. The smell was pretty good with the obvious coffee aroma. However, the taste was bitter, dare I say second rate coffee that isn't well integrated into the beer. The base malt backbone does little to save the taste with a weak, underwhelming flavor. The beer did get slightly better as it warmed. I'm glad I tried it but I've had many much better coffee brown ales and porters brewed here in Florida. No reason to seek it out in the future.

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Photo of KBoudreau66
3.3/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this brew as an extra with a trade from Skinnyguy. It pours a nice dark brown color with two fingers of foamy off white head. It smells exactly like a pot of coffee, but with sweet undertones in the aroma. I don't really know what to make of this beer. I can't tell if I'm impressed with it or not. Very strong coffee flavors with a bit of sweetness that I detected in the nose. I really can't explain the taste of this too well, if I had to take a stab at it I would say that it's like a Newcastle with a cup of coffee poured in it, buty obviously with more flavor than a Newcastle. Overall, not a bad brew, and I'm glad that I got to try it. I always look forward to trying new beers, especially ones that I'm unable to obtain in Massachusetts.

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Photo of beagle75
3.3/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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

A: Slightly hazy, dark brown color with a stable residue of light beige foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass and a small amount of fine black sediment remains at the bottom.

S: Very freshly ground coffee. The smell would be extremely authentic if this was coffee, but for a beer it is more than a little unbalancing.

T: Begins dry, with scorched malt and strong aromatic coffee flavors. Acidity is restrained into the middle, with some black pepper complexity marking the transition. The middle tastes mostly of coffee, slightly astringent with just a touch of unctuousness. The finish is moderately bitter with a coffee quality that remains assertive to the end.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, slightly astringent on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: While this beverage represents a remarkable showcase for honest coffee qualities, it is fairly mediocre as a brown ale. Its beer qualities remind of Sierra Nevada Tumbler, a little too dry to be compelling. Expect it to lose some of its coffee focus as it warms, becoming more like a beer but still fairly lacking in distinct qualities.

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Photo of bengore
3.31/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a rather dark brown with a big foamy head that sticks around for quite a bit leaving minimal legs on the glass.

S: Nothing in particular stands out to me, sure you can smell the coffee but there is nothing quite exciting about it.

T: Initial taste is extremely reminiscent of a sip of iced coffee. Flows into a malty goodness with some chocolate notes

M: Very light, easy to drink.

O: A pretty decent brown ale, but overall I'm not sure it deserves the high rating it holds here on BA. Perhaps I need to spend a little more time with this one, but I am not in love with it.

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Photo of CoolJosh
3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to treyrab for sharing this can of beer with me. Where would be in life without beer...err...Friends?

Split pour into a perfect pint glass. Pours a foggy light brown, with some red hues, and is pretty clear around the edges. No head from pour, just a light tan ring. No lacing on the side of the glass.

The smell is neither good nor bad. An off-putting airiness is present, but as the beer warms a lot of creamy caramel scents come out. Still, not what I was expecting for a nut brown ale with coffee. Some slight coffee latches onto the caramel and provides a segway for a subdued sweet chocolate scent. There is a rather nice nutty scent, but there is nothing about the smell of this beer that makes me jump and say, "Wow!!"

Again, the taste is not what I expected for the style. Nutty, and very old aged mature coffee that tastes like its been sitting out for a few days. Match that with primarily biscuit malts and roasted chocolate malts and a very watery taste and mouthfeel and you have a very underwhelming taste. I'm really shocked buy this one, I'm not the biggest fan of regular Bender, but I had higher expectations for this one. There is an almost sweet cola taste that appears on the end. Still, I attest to the fact that Surly is one of my favorite breweries, given that they brew one of my favorite IPA's.


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Photo of crossovert
3.34/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a hazy coffee color with a frothy off-white head.

It smells like coffee, I have never had a beer that smells prety much 100% liek coffee like this before. i am not a coffee drinker but I enjoy most coffee beers, this one smells like it could be cold, carbonated, alcoholic coffee.

It tastes just like coffee too, I'm not a fan of coffeee but this is somewhat tolerable. It literally tastes like coffee, thar bitter, roasty, but almost fruity flavor.

Overall it is decent, kinda gives you a stomach ache.

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Photo of zaphodchak
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thinnish, offwhite head, cola reddish color. Some decent lace.

Coffee grounds on the nose with some dark cocoa.

Nutty (walnut?) in the taste, pretty dry. Not too rich, some hop citrus.

Kinda course mouthfeel.

This ended up reminding me of some kind of coffee-flavored soda. Not bad, but not particularly good.

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Photo of herman77
3.37/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown with a ruby red hue. A little bit of khaki colored soft-head. Nice sticky, small bubble lacing is left everywhere.

S: Fresh roasted coffee with a hint of carmel malt.

T: Wow. This is very very coffee flavored. Holly shit! Its too coffeeish for me. Intense dark roast up front that goes bitter with a touch of toasted malt. Its like an iced coffee with malt flavoring. If I was a coffee drinker, I'm sure I would love this.

M/D: Medium to lighter body. Carbonation seems on the higher side. Drinkability is pretty low for me due to the intense coffee flavor. A pint is too much for me.

Too coffee forward, its not my thing.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 2,573 ratings.
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