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Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing Company

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Coffee BenderCoffee Bender
2,675 Ratings
Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

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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Ratings: 2,675 |  Reviews: 860
Photo of msubulldog25
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Was very happy to see this beer available at Oregon Brewers Festival 2008. I made it my first sample of the fest on Thursday afternoon, to a clean mug (a 4 oz. pour, followed by a second one).

OBF program lists a slightly higher 5.8% ABV.

A: Very dark brown, though some amber highlights show in the sunlight. Nice frothy, vanilla-colored half-finger head - lasts a couple minutes and leaves flecks of lace.

S: Full-on aroma of brewed coffee and a roasted nuttiness; hints of sweeter vanilla and oatmeal in the finish.

T: Robust coffee-roast flavor, just a little acrid/astringent. Dark chocolate bitterness blends with notes of vanilla and spice.

M: Light-medium body with a fairly lively carbonation. A lasting 'burnt' coffee bitterness, growing thinner and a little slicker.

D: Another tasty brew from Surly, one I'd want to find again - perhaps at the source? (I found it good, but not as outstanding as many previous reviewers). Coffee flavor grew a little heavy and bitter, but I am a fan of dark roasts and drink my coffee 'black', so I was still pleased. Not the type of beer you'd want to have every day, but certainly a nice addition to the lineup - I'm glad Surly finally made an appearance in Oregon!

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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 TurdFurgison
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the Map Room in Chicago. Previously I've had the standard Bender from a can several times thanks to my brother in Minneapolis, but it's been a while and I can't compare it easily with this coffee-infused version. Anyway, the coffee style is really good. The beer is very dark, almost black with a thick creamy tan foam. The aroma is coffee and chocolate, a little sweet malt also. Very appetizing, and the taste is just as good. Lots of coffee, a solid malt base, and a little chocolate sweetness as well (maybe my imagination). I've liked just about every coffee beer I've tried, and Surly does it well.

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Photo of Deuane
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to Todd and the folks at Surly for hooking Sierrags and I up with this beauty!

A-Deep, dark, clear brown with a thin light tan head that reduces to no lacing.

S-Absolutely great...like a cup of fresh roasted cold coffee. Man, this is really nice.

T-Sweet joy at the onset and then a rush of coffee bitterness on the swallow. Man, this is fantastically balanced! Like a cup o' joe with sweet cream.

M-Medium body with full flavour. So nice and easy to drink.

D-This is a wonderful coffee beer. A "light" bodied brew wtih gobs of coffee...I love it!

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

I had no idea what to expect with this beer. I've had some monster stouts with coffee before, but nothing like this. I was very impressed.

Points of note:

- The mouthfeel: wonderfully thick.
- Smell: nice iced coffee
- Taste: a really nice combination of beer and coffee

Glad I had this beer. I would not drink it all night long, but it was a great way to start the night.

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

Served in a tulip glass at Map Room 3/8/08.

A: Dark coffee brown, just shy of black, featuring some faint ruby-colored highlights. Capping this is a creamy, light tan, one-finger head.

S: Incredible aroma of fresh roasted, dark roast coffee and chocolate.

T: Fresh roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and peppery hops. Like drinking cold, french press coffee out of a beer glass!

M: Felt a little thin and porterish at first, but it thickened considerably as it came closer to room temp. Nice bitter interplay between the coffee and hops.

D: This left a wonderful high quality coffee aftertaste in my mouth. So sessionable. I could start with this one in the morning and drink it all day!

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

Had this at the tasting last night at Common Roots Cafe. This was my first coffee infused beer and it was quite enjoyable. The appearance was a little muddy but attractive. I'm curious to know if it's difficult for the coffee to completely meld with the beer. The smell was of what else, coffee - a nice, dark, rich coffee. It was the taste that really got me. The bitterness of the coffee and hops seemed to compliment, encourage and smooth each other other as if they were always meant to be together. Nice creaminess and very drinkable - especially during the extreme cold we're having now. It's not something that I would want to have at any time but it is very good.

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Photo of badbeer
2.81/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured out black with a nice head that retained well. Smell was of old coffee, maybe a little cream to the nose as well; wasn't good. Taste was full of old and not enjoyable coffee. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and medium carbonation levels. Drinkability is not good. I didn't even finish my first glass of it. Surly makes good beer, but this was disappointing. Give me the regular Bender.

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Photo of Dotcubed
4.64/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was lucky enough to get an early christmas present, my wife & mother inlaw stood in line the other day for a growler. I am a lucky guy. Not sold it stores, it has a clever lable painted on.

Pours like a stout, fumes of lovely coffee. You can see a bit of light threw it, a nice deep brown. Not enough cabonation to give any foam. That's ok. It smells really good.

I mention this and the ladies want a sip. I'll share because I know how cold it is outside in a line.
Heavenly smooth and sweet. nearly perfect balance. Nice coffee bang in the middle. Not a cheap sanka flavor either, this is the real deal. Reminds me of the good stuff I drank at the independent homegrown coffee house back home before they sold out.

I really hope I get to re-fill before they sell out of this.

I think the hops are lost in the coffee but still worth the trip.

I think I could spend a long Sunday morning with this beer.
Roast beef, Chocolate, maybe some game.

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Photo of hero27
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled for free on-tap @ the Darkness release.

I love the "original" Bender, but the flavor of this brew is truly unique...the coffee flavors are just so fresh & rich that it's hard to imagine our beloved brown ale in there somewhere. Now that being said, this conceptual "java brown" is just fine on it's own.
Heavy roasted coffee aroma.. Rich malts...and flavors of bitter chocolate, nuts, and the spectacular fresh coffee taste. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel helps all the flavors blend together perfectly. Alcohol goes undetected.
A superb coffee beer in all aspects. Really glad I got the chance to try this one. I find myself anxiously awaiting them to can/bottle this...

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Into (several)(free) pint glasses poured on D-Day.... pours a dark brown to black with a nice fizzy light tan head, doesn't stay too long due to the coffee most likely, served a bit too cool. The aroma livens up as it warms, but all throughout... the most delicious coffee aroma, stunning... they sure use damn good beans for this one. There is also a faint malt wafting about, and some hop too.

Upon first taste, I realized this was the perfect beer to this even... 10AM, sitting around with a bunch of folk who've been up for hours. Coffee, rich and glorious roasted coffee paired with that beautiful brew Bender, sweet toffee, chocolate, all those fine qualities plus the added dimension make this one special brew. The body and carbonation are the same as normal Bender, very creamy smooth. Three cheers to the Surly crew for one fine beverage.

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Photo of ryantupy
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on Tap at the Darkness release day.

A - Very dark, much darker than the regular Bender obviously due to the infusion of coffee.

S - Coffee Bender smelled of nice fresh roasted coffee mixed in with mild toffee, sweetness, and a mild hop undertone.

T - Fresh roasted coffee (dark coffee), the beer has undertones of toffee, mild hops that help balance the flavor out. The coffee seems to become stronger as this beer warms.

M- Good and thick oily mouthfeel.

D - Defiantly a nice drinkable coffee beer. This beer is very nicely balanced making it more enjoyable than standard coffee beers in my opinion.

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Photo of pheggeseth
4.89/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled at the Darkness Release Event

A: Dark, dark, brown, almost totally opaque. There wasn't much head seeing as how it was in a plastic party cup, and the keg was quite cold right after tapping.

S: Smells like a good, rich Sumatra coffee, fresh bready malt, faint hops

T: Tastes like regular Bender, but with a nice coffee glow to it. As it warms, the coffee flavor starts to balance the "Bender" flavor. Just as rich as it smells.

M: Very thick and smooth, the coffee mellows it out, great

D: Wow. This was terrific. Could drink it all day...not just at 10am...

Probably the only chance I'll get at this beauty. Glad to have been given the opportunity.

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Photo of zealot
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was on tap at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis. One of the Surly folks was playing in a band that night. God Came from Space, I think is the name of the band.

First time Coffee Bender experience. Admittedly, I don't drink a lot of coffee, so I may be the wrong person to review a coffee brew. But I do love beer, so hopefully I can appreciate a good beer on its merits.

I have had the Bender many times - big fan. When this was set in front of me, I was surprised at how different it looked than the regular Bender - much darker & viscous looking, more density, and a frothier head. It looked phenomenal, but with beer, it's usually form following function, so I was hoping this meant I was in for a treat.

The nose was just a little light from what I was expecting. The coffee was certainly there, and the more noticeable of the aromas, but the hops made an appearance. The barley sweetness balanced out the rich coffee fairly well. Since the Bender is a great brew, it held its own against the bullying nature of the coffee bean. I don't know, not as much in the nose as I was expecting, but then again, we're not sitting around sniffing beer - let's give this bad boy a try.

Holy Coffee, Surly! This is a coffee beverage. Coffee is by far the most prominent flavor. Yowza. I have to say, though, that I kept going back to the well. The coffee but me off at first, but like I said, I just don't drink coffee all that often. Once the coffee subsided with each sip, I was better able to discern the blend of the Bender and the coffee. Vanilla, smooth chocolate, and a drying vinous characteristic were what I picked up on, as well as a nice finishing hop that rounded it out really well. After a while, I was surprised at how easily I was able to polish the pint off, although, the second one was a sharer.

The mouthfeel on the CB is incredible. It's like drinking a silked out iced coffee with all the cream you want, but know you shouldn't have.

It's almost as if the coffee they use is too good to be mixed with beer.
Overall, I really liked the beer, but it's certainly not an everyday beer. Tip of the cap to Coffee & Tea Limited, who apparently provide the coffee for the CB. I'm sure you will benefit from this partnership.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a growler at DLD 07, This was an awesome sellection, I had to take some notes. The liquid was dark brown chilled just right with a nice toasted caramel head about one fat finger thick. My snifter did some some lace.

The smell was a medium coffee aroma, mixed with chocolate and toasty caramel notes.

The taste followed, this beer was nice, very nice tasting, The rich malt and coffee flavor was mixed very well. I really like a coffee brew that has a good malty primary taste. The coffee was there but did not over power like a cold bitter Cup O'Joe. A great chocolate note as well. The beer seemed to warm great as well but it did not last too long in my glass.

The mouthfeel was good, better then medium body, carbonation worked well also.

The drinkability was very good, this is one fine easy drrinking coffee brew. Prosit, MK

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Photo of beckje01
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Looks black with a thin head and no activity.

S- Light coffee note but a very enjoyable nose.

T- Good coffee start not over powering, good malt back end. Just wonderful balance.

M- Nice thickness for the flavors and still.

D- Very easy and simple to drink not hard at all as some coffee beers can be.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.73/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to JeffKrenner for another great growler.

A: Into the 22oz mug it goes. HUGE frothy head comes forth with medium sized bubbles popping through it, giving it a roasted marshmallow colored swiss cheese look. Body is a clean, dark ruby brown hue. Very much remeniscent of iced coffee.

S: I could smell the coffee when I popped the cap on the growler. Very spry, like fresh grounds were added straight to the brew. Nutty roasted hazelnuts, pumpernickle and Hershey's syrup can be found as well.

T: My god this is like coffee chocolate milk. A faint whisper of coffee cross my palate quickly but my attention goes to the lactose like sweetness that flickers around the tip of my tongue. Very subtle milk chocolate mingles perfectly choreographed with iced coffee and fresh cream. God this is good. Chocolate lingers for a while as fresh coffee gets ready to really shine during the aftertaste. Long after the swallow coffee can be found all over the mouth, beckoning the drinker for just another sip...just another pour from the growler :banned:

M: Medium body with a full, creamy mouthfeel. Kickass.

D: This is the second best coffee beer I've had next to the legendary Speedway stout. But the Speedway didn't "focus" on the coffee like this one does. T-R-E-M-E-N-D-O-U-S. This is so much better than the standard Bender its ridiculous.

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Photo of Tizzod
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out of the growler beautifully, very dark with a nice brown head. The smell is one that I will dream of - fresh roasted coffee and malty beer goodness. I couldn't stop smelling the empty growler after the beer was all gone. Really spectacular.
The first sip was an intense coffee flavor mixed beautifully with the beer. Coffee flavor was very predominant but didn't get in the way of the malt taste of the Bender. Beautiful mouthfeel, smooth and creamy.
One of the best beers I've ever had the privilege of drinking. The friends who shared the growler with were also very impressed and the beer went faster than I thought. For such a flavorful beer it was extremely drinkable. In fact I wish I was drinking it right now.

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Photo of budgood1
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours out of the growler a nearly opaque brown. more garnet and ruby hues. thin head and lace. huge earthy coffee aroma. flavours of fresh pressed java...earthy and spicy...darkly roasted like the espresso varieties i dig in coffee. very well intermingled with the assorted bender malt flavours i was baffled by the other nite. the sweet malts provide such an amazing balance with the bitter and dark roast of the coffee. the hops are lost in the black caverns of coffee house nirvana. have no illusions, the coffee is the star of this brown ale....it certainly could pass as a coffee stout if one had no idea that this is a brown ale recipe spiked with kick ass coffee beans. it's layered and complex. i have a whole growler to myself and i'm gonna be wired after drinking this! the body is full and the mouthfeel is feeling flattish....probably due to the fact that it's almost been two weeks since this growler was purchased and subsequently opened and consumed. drinkability hard to describe...i dig the extreme earthiness and burnt coffee notes on top of a brown ale that i found outstanding. this seems like a totally different brew, though. like steeping bender in coffee beans killed the best attributes of bender in itself.

regardless, if you want a brown ale stewed in a dark and bitter roast of espresso...this is the ticket to iced espresso heaven.

i wonder what this would be like in the morning as a hair of the dog tonic paired with some aspirin and ham and eggs?

a big caffeinated thanks to my sis for procuring a growler of this for me at x-mas.

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

If you've had (and enjoyed) Surly's original Bender...(and why wouldn't you???) then you'll freakin' love this...
Comes to me in the glass...dark, rich, almost like a porter or a deep brown ale (like Bender)...but with a frothy tan head that beckons you in.
Make sure you smell this beer! Aromas of roasted coffee, nuts and chocolate. Mmm...
The coffee tastes (as others have reviewed) definitely overpowers the flavors of original Bender...but original Bender this is not.
Rich, delicious flavor...caramels and roasted coffee, sticky malt and a little hop finish.
It would be nice to pour this from the Coffee pot every morning. Great beer.

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Photo of bignick
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ The Linwood. Served in a pint glass.

This beer has a remarkable scent. It smells like Starbucks coffee. I think that it is a bit overcarbonated and that the body is a bit thin, but the smell and taste are absolutely wonderful, and I could drink this all night.

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Photo of tempest
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at the Blue Nile.

Its a shame this beer is just about out as it should rock the world of any coffee and beer lover. I had 12 oz. pour in a trappist goblet, pitch black with short than head. I'm thinking the coffee oil took a bit out of the head, but it still looks delicious. Aroma is heavy, dark roasted coffee. I think the bartender told me it was Guatemalian, locally roasted and a few other special things. Either way, this is the best coffee beer I've had. Where others hint at coffee, or the coffee taste feels watered down, this one goes all out. Its true that most of the flavors of Bender are no where to be found, but you'll still get some chocolate peeking around the coffee. Smooth but dry mouthfeel. I could definately start out every day with a glass of this.

UPDATE 7/31/09:
Just tried the canned version and this is beer is more balanced, but hardly less tasty. You can still taste the malts and hops here. Delicious.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.69/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Written from notes I took when I got home from the Blue Nile tasting.

Same dark brown as regular bender, identical until the nose. Massive rich, fresh brewed coffee, it’s rare that a coffee beer smell this fresh and deep, I could smell this beer all day, perfect. Taste is much more like the standard bender at first, but with a little more warmth the coffee really stands out and is great with the roasted and hoppy flavors of the Bender. Great, rare, yet worth seeking out. Keep 'em coming Surly

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Photo of dfried
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is one hell of a beer, not for the faint of heart. Alright, so the regular Bender by Surly is one outstanding beer, it's tough to put your finger on just what it is, porter or brown ale, but there is Belgian malts and its quite hoppy. As Feloniousmonk, the first reviewer of this beer, said Bender's more 'subtle' qualities definitely get wiped out by this coffee infused treat, but who cares?! This beer is awesome! If you didn't tell them, some people might not even know there was booze in this right when you handed it to them. It is dark, rich, and bitter just like espresso. When we finally got to try this at the Blue Nile, we just sat around smelling this beer for probably 5 minutes or so before we even tasted it. It was almost like putting your nose into a bag of fresh ground coffee, delicious. The taste was rich and bitter like espresso, but oh wait, the edge gets taken off because it's actually a beer! A deep creamy beer at that. Perfect combination, thank you Surly. This would be a tough one to have more than two beers of, it’s just too rich and dark, but the two you do are damn good.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.77/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Surly Bender infused with coffee, ...what bean, what blend, what process? Golly, I don't know, but it's great.(an edit to cover my ignorance, info from the brewer: Beans are from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation located in Agua Dulce area in Huehuetenango,Guatemala.
Grown by the Martinez family.
Full City roast by Coffee &Tea Ltd.,Linden Hills,Minneapolis. Cold-steeped.)

Solid ebon color, browish at bottom, with a beautifully hued head, a deep cocoa tan looking for all the world like a shot of espresso, with a generous dollop of froth.

Aroma's where it's at, wide open and long-lastin, rich with coffee, with a hint of cream.
Herbal, nutty, chocolatey, brimming with coffee essence. A treat to drink in with the nose.

But now let's let the lips and tongue go to work. More delights. The coffee has overpowered the subtler parts of Bender's character, but there's no sorrow in this, as the coffee flavor that controls it now is an exceptional playmate for the palate. Really sticks to the tongue and lays long in the finish.

Medium to full body, long, coffee-tinged finish, unflinchingly flavorful, and still an easy treat to drink down. This has met with near unanimous praise among those I've witness enjoy it, and I can only hope it's attempted again and again, so that more may discover this jolt of joy for java freaks, and beer geeks alike.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 2,675 ratings
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