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: 848 | Ratings: 2,635
Photo of bamadog
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Pwoods for sharing this on 5/10/09. Poured from the can into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a very deep brown but has some light coming through when held to the light; small 1 finger head that disappears almost immediately; no lacing; solid carbonation bubbling throughout.

Smell: Wow - really just like coffee with some raw brown sugar. Pretty potent smell and it makes me pretty excited to taste this beer.

Taste: A nice malty backing with a strong presence of coffee, but not nearly as strong as I would have expected based upon the smell; there is a slight hint of mocha/chocolate; slight burnt sugar prsence; a bit of a bitter unpleasant aftertaste; gets a little bready and biscuity as it warms up a little bit.

Moutfeel: A bit of a let down, actually. Very watery and thin; strong carbonation but it doesn't reamin lively or tingly on the palate. A pretty quick and clean finish.

Drinkability; It's not bad, but the mouthfeel really let me down a bit and I was hoping for a stronger coffee presence in the mouth and not just the nose. I'd definitely drink it again, but I'm not sure I'd really go too far out of my way to get ahold of a can.

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Photo of Martin2D
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Pitch black with a huge carbonated head that is tan

S - Coffee and malt

T - Flavor is not full, but the coffee is very apparent. Almost thinner in flavor then a cup of coffee, but intertwined with very interesting malt flavoring. Perfect balance of coffee and roasted malt.

M - Medium-high in carbonation and medium in body. Mouthfeel is very thin

D - Low ABV, delicious flavor. Can't really fault this one except for the strangeness in the thin mouthfeel accompanied by the coffee flavor. Really interesting take on a brown ale with great results.

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Photo of aggiearcher13
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into an imperial pint glass. Dark brown, about a half inch of light brown head that hung around for a minute or so before going away and leaving a little bit of lacing. Not a bad start.

S: Full of coffee and malt.

T: Bam, coffee right up front. Not too bitter, very nice. Smooth, sort of a bright, acidic finish.

M: Medium body, I would say a little more carbonated than is ideal for me.

D: Very easy drinking, the coffee doesn't wear on me like a lot of coffee ales do, and it's 5%.

By the time I finished it, I had to go back and bump up this review on the appearance. I actually had a couple (maybe a dozen) very small coffee grounds in the bottom of my glass at the end. That's just awesome.

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Photo of kels
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pwoods was nice enough to share a can of this with me last night.

Appearance: Poured into the snifter a dark, somewhat cloudy brown, slightly like tea or cola. Small, tan, watery head fades immediately to a skim with bubbles sticking to the glass and slight, slippery lacing struggles to hang on.

Smell: DELICIOUS! Smell is full of roasted coffee and a toffee-like sweetness. A bright hop presence breaks through the richer coffee aromas.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The feel is surprisingly bright and well-carbonated, and the taste is full of loads of bitter, burnt coffee grounds - like chewing on those chocolate-dipped espresso beans. Definite hop presence comes through in a bright and bold fashion and the alcohol is slightly present in the aftertaste.

Drinkability: Moderate for the style as the hops knock it somewhat off-balance. I'd definitely love to drink this for breakfast on a day I didn't have to be at work.

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Photo of BDLbrewster
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this bad chicken into my 1845 pils pint. Coffee bean hued plum color with raging little bubbles everywhere. Thick rich head with wonderful retention and thin lacing. Smells like a bag of fresh ground coffee beans with a touch of sweet malt. I wish the coffee shop would serve this to me blended with ice on the way to work. Coffee up front then a bitter touch of raw beans followed up by an nice vanilla malty finish. The mouthfeel is a tad thin and watery, but the taste pays dividends. 5%, this is my new early morning fishing beer. It says coffee on the can, so it must be good for you!

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Photo of washburnkid
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mikereaser for this extra!

A: 2-3 fingers of tan head over chocolatey brown hues. Great head retention. Not too much lacing to speak of.
S: Big coffee bean malt aromas. Roasted coffee beans fresh from the market/coffee shop come to mind. I can't discern many more aromas because of how strong (and pleasant) the coffee is.
T: Did you guess? COFFEE! There is coffee on all parts of the tongue. A hop bitterness pulls through at the back, which makes the beer a bit more balanced. I could swear that some alcohol characteristics pull through every now and then, which is interesting considering how low the ABV is.
M: A slick/oily mouthfeel that is slightly undercarbonated. Still decent for the style.
D: Easy and smooth. This is the ultimate coffee lover's beer. I can't decide if I should drink it at the end of a long day or for breakfast. I can easily drink more than one and would recommend it to many.

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Photo of prototypic
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to BuckeyeNation for the can. Been wanting to try it out for quite a while.

Coffee Bender's very dark, nut brown color. It's not hazy, but it is difficult to see through. A little backlighting reveals some ruby highlights. A light mocha colored head reaches about a finger deep. It took a while to completely dissipate, leaving sticky strands of lace clinging to the glass.

The nose is nothing short of excellent. Roasted coffee is very prominent. I'm an admitted coffee lover, but the aroma here isn't going to overwhelm a coffee avoider. There's actually a lot here to appease the masses. It is nice and malty. Toasted nut and a prailine-like aroma are secondary and smell delicious. There's a little chocolate or cocoa hovering in the background. A whiff of yeast on the tail wraps it up. This one hell of a deep and delicious smelling Brown Ale.

This is fantastic beer. That much is evident from the first sip. Roasted coffee is strong and predominant. But, it's rounded out nicely with a sweet, malty base. A little sweet chocolate and cocoa blend very well and perfectly complement the other flavors. I really like the nutty, prailine factor. It's something you don't really expect, but it's a delicious surprise. I recall liking that about Bender. Hops are noted, but are background music (although they play that role very well). It features a slight yeasty flavor on the tail. One hell of a tasty beer!

The body is medium and very, very smooth. Carbonation is very well restrained and contributes much to its lush feel. I'm not sure you could find a more drinkable beer. This stuff is downright delicious and goes down so smooth and easy. Couple that with the fact that it's only 5.1% abv and it's as good as it gets.

I'm amazed that Surly found a way to cram this much flavor into a 5.1% beer. It's incredibly deep and flavorful. Any coffee fan will surely appreciate this beer. But, it's not so coffee heavy that others will be intimidated or turned off. While it is a very prominent flavor, it's not overbearing at all. Simply another testament to Surly's ability to do things right.

So, is it better than Bender? Well...maybe a little. Despite this being an incredibly tasty beer, I can't ignore the fact that Bender is too. I think the coffee flavor gives it a slight edge for me. I find it a little more drinkable as a result. But, there's not a real material difference. They're both spectacular beers. But, I believe coffee fans will find just enough to give this one a slight edge...just like I do. Thanks, Brad. This is excellent stuff.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fluffy head of light brown (indeed, much like the foam on top of a freshly pressed French press--but much more of it, of course). Color is also coffee-like, somewhere between the darkest shade of brown and good old solid black. Sheets (at first) and then splotches of lace are splattered against the glass.

Aroma will be intoxicating for the coffee-lover, with a super-fresh waft of medium-roast coffee sitting on top of light cream, nut husk and buoyant, well-incorporated hops.

Coffee is definitely the featured flavor, but there isn't much else around it. A mineral element works its way in, as does a touch of hops and a rough nuttiness, but without any sweetness acting as an offset, the flavor stays stiff and bitter. Even though this is based on a great brown ale, Bender, the best elements of that beer get muted a bit by the coffee.

The too-thin body and prickly carbonation don't convince me totally; I think a creamier, rounder, thicker feel would've helped lift the flavor higher.

I feel like coffee beers work better when a big creamy stout is used as the base (Southern Tier's Jahva remains my personal standard-bearer). Even though this isn't my favorite Surly beer, it's still a quality quaff and a fairly unusual one. Long may they brew (and can). Thanks to mnwags for the opportunity!

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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 Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared a can of this courtesy of Grant. Thanks for the opportunity. Pours a brownish/black with little head, but nice color. Nice big coffee aroma, quite fresh smelling, and earthy and a little vinous. More lively coffee makes an early appearance in the taste, slightly sweetened. Very balanced, and this is coffee black, done well. Very smooth and only slightly sweet. Very nice, and very full flavored for the very reasonable abv.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Josh for this one...
Appears a light brown with a small, tan head that quickly fades out into a mild cap.
Smell is of coffee beans, and sweet, ripe fruity, yeastiness.
Taste is of the obvious coffee goodness with a touch of mocha pulling through.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, sugary, with a bitter coffee ground sting being felt along the palate during the finish.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sixteen ounce can, courtesy of Br3wmeister. Dude, what an excellent send.

Moderate pour into a chalice yields a medium tan two-finger head over an opaque dark mahogany body. Head fades slowly to a ring, but leaves nice lacing. Pretty beer. Darker than some American Browns -- maybe all that coffee?

Smell is like a pot of coffee: I mean an OVERT coffee aroma. Underneath the java there is some nice roasted malt and a bit of floral hops. Smells pretty sweet with malt as it warms.

Taste is COFFEE!!! Coffee, coffee and more coffee, then some sweet cakey malt comes in followed by a nice dry, grassy floral hops finish. This taste so much like coffee, I want to put cream and sugar in it!

Mouthfeel, as with most American Browns, is a little thin for me, but is right on for style.

Drinkability is pretty good.

Overall, a stretch for the style: most beers with this much coffee in them are sturdier brews. For Surly to add this much coffee to a style as easy-going as a Brown Ale really brings the coffee all the way to the front. Go get some! Oh, and, yeah, I love the 16-ounce can! I want more beer in this format.

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Photo of joepais
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Buebie for sending another Surly want my way.
Can poured into my Sam Adams glass produced a good finger worth tan of head that settled down to a thick lace. The body of the brew was brown in color with red highlights'

Guess what it smells like coffee ;-) Probably no surprise there, but it also has a nice sweet aroma a well. The flavor mimics the nose with a light bitter finish. Comparing it to other coffee brews I have experienced this is a lot more like a Ice coffee flavor and feel in my mouth. I like it, I could easily see myself kicking back a few of these on a hot day and feel quite refreshed. If you are into ice coffees you got to give this a try

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Photo of swizzlenuts
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer smells, exactly like a cold coffee with a slight bit of chocolate. The beer is poured dark brown, with a off white fluffy head. When drinking this beer you get a nice hit of coffee, but sweet chocolate and hoppy flavours come through. The beer is so tasty. The balance after the coffee flavours are quite flavourful. The mouthfeel is light, but quite drinkable. I could drink a lot of these. What I love about this beer is that by the end of the beer, you don't taste as much coffee, but the hops and the chocolate sweetness from regular bender come through. This is an outstanding beer.

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Photo of BeenJammin
4.59/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

They say it's a brown ale but it looks black. Nice tan head and lacing. The aroma is almost all 'dark roasted blend'. It is almost like I am smelling an iced coffee. The taste is much the same. Has a great refreshing coffee flavor, plus a ton more roasted malts. Goes down with a smooth mouthfeel and is as drinkable as a cup of joe.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can into mug. Huge thanks to Dev (buckeyesox) for the hookup!

Reviewed at about 45 degrees F and up.

Pours very dark brown, a few ruby highlights around the very edges when held up to direct light but not many. Nice, thick finger-and-a-half light khaki head, creamy and dense, that takes a nice while to recede into a dense cap. Amazing stickage, it's like the head turns into silly putty whenever I tilt the glass to take a sip.

Nose is just gorgeous. Brown ale happens to be one of my favorite styles, and this is the best nose I've ever gotten from a brown ale. So rich - coffee, cocoa, nutty, breadcrust, a very smooth, rich roastiness - everything just blends in beautifully with each other.

Taste is rather like the nose. Smooth roasty and coffee notes, a rich nuttiness, hints of cocoa, a sharp, breadcrusty bitterness on the back of the tongue leading into a trail of nutty coffee, hints of pine, rich bready dark malt... yum. Not quite as epic as the nose, but still excellent. Tone the bitterness down a hair and you'll be spot on.

Mouthfeel is a bit creamy, smooth, light carbonation that's plenty adequate, drying towards the finish.

Drinkability is great. The hop bitterness is a bit more than I like in a brown ale, which is probably the only thing holding it back from 5s in taste and drinkability, but that's a minor quibble. Bender is very good, Coffee Bender is superb.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one from tprokop7 as an extra in a recent trade. Thanks man!

16 oz. can poured into a nonic.

Pours a dark brown with some ruby highlights here and there. A khaki colored two finger head rests atop the brew with very little webbing clinging on the sides of the glass. Aroma is coffee with a good dose of cream and sugar. Roasted malts, toffee, caramel and a touch of earthy hops...just a great beer to stick your nose into. More bold coffee flavors on the tongue with a sweet malty backbone. Midway some hops and vanilla emerge with espresso as well. Aftertaste is pretty nutty with a touch of cocoa powder. Light body with a soft but bitter feel. I wish it was a bit smoother, but the light body definitely is a plus. The drinkability suffers only slightly from the sweetness, but this is still a killer coffee brew. You rock Todd, thanks again for throwing this one in as an extra!

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Photo of cvfish
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - This beer poured a brown color with ruby highlights that produced a fluffy white head which had great retention and left beautiful lacing on the side of the glass

S - The aromas produced by this beer were a good bit of maltiness followed by wonderful wiffs of real coffee

T - The taste of this beer was surprisingly refreshing, very malty, some caramels notes, and followed by a mad rush of coffee, but it works really well here, very good and fresh tasting

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had medium body followed by a light to moderate amount of carbonation

D - This was a very good, well crafted beer, as my first official Surly review, I must admit that I can't wait to try more of their beers

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Photo of Lothore
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a deep brownish red letting almost no light through. Creamy, two finger head fades with a little lacing.

S- Coffee Coffee and more Coffee! Lots of roasted malt.

T- Very coffee heavy all the way through slightly acidic, bitter coffee flavor is left on the tongue.

M- Medium bodied with medium to low carbonation.

D- This is very flavorful for the amount of alcohol. I personally felt the acidity and raw coffee flavor was a little too much to handle but i'm sure coffee lovers will get their fix on this one.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Backdrop: Just got done cleaning my garage from about 10AM - 4PM (It was WAY overdue), chillaxin' now - it's my time. Gorgeous 80 degree day out today and the ipod shuffled some great songs for me today. Oh, and I just washed both cars, too. It's definitely time for daddy to enjoy a nice beer...

A: 1 pint, great colors and style on the can -I love all Surly artwork though. Before I forget, thanks go out to newtonty for gifting me this one. Pours a dark root beer brown into my over-sized Duvel tulip. The head on this is amazing! Large 2 inch head with streaky lacing down the sides.

S: Light coffee, malts and slight earthiness on the nose.

T:/M Coffee is much more dominant in the mouth. This is a medium flavored beer and after the coffee, I get lightly sweet malts, biscuit yeasts and a light floral hops presence. Light bodied with average carbonation. Coffee grinds are detected in the aftertaste. Coffee isn't dauntingly heavy on this one, but rather lighter and refreshing.

D: Like all Surly beers, HIGHLY sessionable. With the 5.1% ABV, I could put these back all night. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of Grafter
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a goblet

Appearance is a dark brown with a small tan head that forms on top

Smell is very much of coffee beans a malt just like promised

Taste is where this really pens up the malty sweetness of the brown ale almost acts as sugar for the coffee balancing to a very nice beer the coffee flavor is very dominant but not quite overpowering

Mouthfeel is good medium body and carbonation fits well with the style of the beer

Drinkablity is high if you like coffee for me the strong coffee flavor will wear me down a little but this is still a nice drinkable beer.

I really enjoyed this, and is I every turn into a raging alcoholic and need to start my morning off right this is definitely the beer I would go to.

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Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to markwise for the try.

A: Pours a nice shade of brown with a nice tall foamy tan head. Good retention and lace exhibited.

S: Lots of fresh coffee and roasted malt.

T: The bold coffee flavor carries over to the taste. Nice malt backbone with subtle hints of nutty toffee. This one is all coffee though.

M: Medium in body smooth.

D: Drinks like iced coffee, I like it. This one is all coffee, which is fine with me. Yum!

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Photo of ppoitras
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can obtained in trade with Grbdg. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" tan head over the cloudy reddish brown brew. Head falls gradually, with heavy and leggy lacing. Aroma is rich coffee and ample sweetness. Taste follows the nose, more acrid from the coffee, closes with evident hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is reasonably smooth, and drinkability is good as well. Nice one.

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Photo of badmoon
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served in a tulip from a bottle.

A: Black. Just like good coffee. Very little head and next to no lacing.

S: COFFEE! What else should I say here? Rich coffee aroma.

T: Again, COFFEE! Awesome! This may be my all time favorite beer. OMG!

M: Full. I love it! Just like drinking an iced coffee.

D: Drink one and stop. Please don't attempt to be a hero.

Overall: Awesome beer. Try it and savor it. It is truly unique!

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Photo of Larrytown
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm actually not a huge fan of Brown Ales or Bender, so I didn't have high hopes for this one, but wow. It caught me off guard. Pours a very dark brown with a light brown head. The nose is coffee and some nice malts. And coffee. This one's not messing around.

I love that this beer doesn't play it safe. It's not going for a "hint" of coffee to bring out "highlights" in the beer, no sir. We've got a distinct coffee-ness here, but it works. It's really something different, but you've got to commend the brewery for giving something like this a shot. When you take risks like that, everyone once in a while it works out. This is an example of it working out.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 2,635 ratings.
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