Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing Company

849 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: 849 | Ratings: 2,637
Photo of alaskajoe
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of the tall can into a standard pint glass.

Heavy smell of coffee here, reminds me of a few of the local Midnight Sun coffee brews. MSBC Brewtality has sort of ruined me for other coffee beers, but this one pours up nicely. Tastes of strong dark black coffee. I don't get much of a heavy beer taste - the alcohol is very underlying for me, and it smacks more of an iced coffee drink without any kind of cream or milk. Goes down very smooth, and as one who really likes coffee beers, and big brews, this one is a good addition to my regular quaff list. I'll be trying this one again for sure!

 603 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

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

Pours out bright red-brown and sits a vibrant mahogany in the glass with a large frothy beige head with good lacings all around.

Bright nutty aromas up front with bits of grassy hops and muddied coffee notes. Hints of cocoa, cinnamon and whipping cream.

Lightly sweet, biscuity malts and coffee up front. More dustings of baker's chocolate and finishes with mild bitterness. Hops flavors are present minimally.

Medium bodied, silky smooth and ultimately refreshing. A solid coffee-infused beer and a stellar brown overall. Only downside is the price, and the way Furthermore Oscura hits the same spot, it's a bit easier on the wallet to throw down for the local Wisco brew... but I would still trade up for this any day.

 724 characters

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coffee black with a thick tan colored head. Leaves some lacing.

All roasted coffee on the nose.

Tastes like an iced coffee. A bit of Bender taste, but mainly coffee.

Smooth, almost medium bodied. Lends a slight creaminess. Soft carbonation.

Really easy to drink. Refreshing, but coffee dominates. I am not a coffee drinker, but this is actually pretty good. I could even do a couple of these at a time.

 407 characters

Photo of PatronWizard
2.88/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Shared by Mauerhan (getting really tired of typing that).

Pours a dark cola and super deep burgandy. Froths up a creamy half finger head. Nice looking.

Smells of straight coffee grounds. Reminds me of my grandparents roasting coffee in an old percolator over a fire at the river. I like coffee flavor but this may have pushed the boundary too far.

Tastes like old coffee. Trying to enjoy it. Fresh coffee now. Fresh coffee grounds.

Very dry and not very thick. Did I mention that it's dry as dirt?

Overall: they went too far with the coffee

 545 characters

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

Cheers to morimech for this brew!!!

Holy hell...this beer is amazing. Its seriously like an ice coffee. Its really that simular!! I love this brew! I first had it D-Day (omar gave us in line early a keg) and it was great then!!!

I really enjoy the coffee taste. Its a great melt of beer and coffee! Its probably the closet to straight coffee ive ever had!

Simply lovely!!!


 385 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Unlike the draft version I had last year, the can pours out with a firm tan head that has a whipped egg consistency and leaves plenty of lacing to boot

Smell: Brown bread and roasted grains are dominated by the coffee

Taste: Roasty, up front, with a bready character underneath, but by mid-palate, the coffee flavor dominates both before and after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: While the beer is certainly enjoyable, I can't help but believe that the coffee overwhelms some of the more interesting aspects of Bender

 576 characters

Photo of GeezLynn
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with a thick, frothy beige head that recedes ever so slowly. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how a brown ale should look!

S: Deep malt aroma almost like a chocolate tootsie pop. Sweet, lighter chocolate and toffee when cold. Mostly coffee when warmed.

T: Coffee over a dark malt. I also taste caramel when the beer is a little warmer, followed by bitterness. It definitely lacks the sweetness that the aroma would suggest. Creamy iced coffee is an accurate description for much of this beer's character.

M: Silky smooth feel, with plenty of carbonation, but the minute, inoffensive kind. Spot-on.

A very, very good beer. About the only real complaint I can come up with in regards to Coffee Bender is that there is a little bit of old bitter coffee component. Maybe a bit of sweetness or fewer IBU's would help with this.

A top tier beer from a top tier brewery. Always jump at the chance to have one of these!

 927 characters

Photo of coldmeat23
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Samuel Smith Nonic
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees
Thanks to thehand for hooking me up with this one!

This pours up a very dark amber color. Very nice deep red highlights. About one-finger of lightly creamy, light tan colored foam makes the head. It recedes to a thin, filmy covering which stays around. Lacing is pretty good and lightly sticky.

Smells hugely of fresh ground coffee beans. Very nice undertone of dark chocolates. I believe there is a touch of lacto sweetness here, also.

Good, yet mild, flavor of dark roasted malts combine with a big presence of fresh ground coffee to give this a great taste. There is a mild brown sugar sweetness in the middle, which brings some balance to the roastiness. It finishes with a touch of acrid bitterness, which doesn't kill it, but it could finish a little bit smoother, IMO.

This is the weakest part of it, for me. The body is on the thinner side of medium. Carbonation level is fairly low. A bit of tweaking could get this one in the thicker range and bring in some very welcome creaminess.

The weak body certainly wouldn't keep me from drinking this one, alot. Damn, I wish Surly had better distribution. Nicely drinkable.

 1,191 characters

Photo of bret27
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

courtesy of photomike.

Appearance: Dark brown, minimal head. Little sediment throughout glass.

Smell: you guessed

Taste: Maltiness. Overpowering coffee to me. If you were a lover of iced coffee this would be your beer for sure. Other than coffee, a little brown sugar sweetness, and astringency at the end.

Oveall: For me the coffee is just too much. I can't taste much else past it. My prefence would be more subtle coffee aromas/flavors that better blend w/the brown ale. But just MHO.

 503 characters

Photo of aewinte1
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours dark brown with slight transparency around the edges. Conservative pour yields big fluffy 3" head.
S- Smells very sweet like brown sugar. Maltiness can be detected in nose, but overall aroma of the beer is not very strong.
T- Taste is excellent. Has the same malty sweetness that bender has but with a perfect amount of bittering coffee. Not like your typical coffee beer. Most coffee stouts have a much more prominent coffee flavor. The coffee flavor in this beer is subtle and delicious. Doesn't hide the sweetness like in some coffee stouts. The subtle coffee flavor does a nice job of letting all the other sweet flavors come through instead of masking them. Taste starts off sweet then transitions to a raisin-like flavor which then finishes with a slight coffee kick. Raisin flavor can be a little cloying and a little too pronounced.
M- Carbonation makes this beer super crisp and has a very enjoyable feel to it.
D- Drinkability is very good. Alcohol is not detectable and the flavors don't wipe out the palate over time. The flavors really sit nicely on the palate.
Overall, If I could only have beer in cans, I could survive off this and ten fidy. A truly excellent beer. Pity I don't have regular access to it.

 1,234 characters

Photo of illidurit
3.77/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can courtesy photomike. Pours a clear ruby brownish copper with a nice light tan head. Not exactly a 'brown' brown ale. Aroma is straight up coffee grounds. I wish I could say more but that's pretty much it. Flavor is iced coffee with half and half. Slightly green coffee beans with light acidity and moderate astringency. Body and mouthfeel are otherwise fine, and if you like coffee beer, this is pretty much the definition of it.

 432 characters

Photo of errantnight
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An extra from RoyMunson, thank you sir.

Pours a deep slightly amber brown with a fluffy finger or two of head, decent lacing and moderate/light retention.

Aroma is milk chocolate/mocha and a hint of coffee, just mild roast notes in the background. A bit faint, and the coffee is slightly acrid.

On the palate this has a really pleasant mouthfeel, round and full but dropping off clean and light. Unfortunately it's accompanied by a resonant, harsh, metallic bitterness that clings to the back of the palate long after the swallow. Other than that, nicely nuanced coffee and mocha notes against a roasty malt background, hops sneak through just at the very edges for a light bit of citrus character that's barely there, but melds well with the coffee acidity.

For all its merits the acrid finish really turns me off. What is otherwise an eminently drinkable beer becomes a bit of a chore to finish. And while I give it largely positive scores for the rest of its character, I can't help wishing I just had a glass of regular ole Bender here instead.

 1,054 characters

Photo of baggio
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

[email protected] place.

A: Dark red/brownish with a decent sized head.

S: Coffee, Roasted malts, Ripe fruit, Dark bread and some sugar.

T: Coffee, Milkchocolate, Roasted malts, Dark caramel, Citric notes.

M: Very well balanced and very drinkable. Really nice coffee-flavor in this one. A wee bit thin.

A very interesting brown ale indeed. Nice to see that there are now more and more good beers available on can.

 415 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's kind a hit or miss on whether coffee infused beers help or hurt the base beer... at least for me. I'm hoping that the intesity of the coffee doesn't mess up the medium nature of the base Bender.

If the aroma is any indicaiton, they've hit a home run. Chocolate covered espresso beans hit the nose (not the stale ones from T.J. Max or Marshalls, but the good ones from Starbucks) and combine with a malted milk scent of Whoppers candies... this could be one delicidant beer. Light earthy hops, malty caramels, and mild nuttiness enter the mix but can't compete with those chocolates and espressos.

Getting back to the pour, the beer looks exactly like Bender. A medium viscocity with dark browns, crimson highlights, good clarity, lightly tanned head, very good head formation/retention, and great lacing.

Flavors start with a malty caramel taste, but quickly turn to bitter coffees, over-attenuated maltiness, and moderate grain tastes. Columbian coffees still pick up the nuttiness but promote a dry bitterness that isn't nearly as balanced as the nose suggested. No fruitiness or finess in the malts, the coffee aggression eventually proves to bully the beer too much.

Lacking a balanced sweetness, the beer shows acrid dryness, fully attenuated sweetness, complex bitterness from the hops-coffee oil combo, and a malty-crisp texture. That creamy-dry-woodsy-nutty-powdery thing makes the beer inviting, yet off-putting at the same time.

Coffee Bender is a well controlled and well attenuated beer but I really enjoyed the insenuation of sweetness that I found in the nose and really wished that it could have found its way into the flavor and body.

Thanks jctribe25!

 1,679 characters

Photo of bwd110
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

16oz can courtesy of mnjeff
poured into SA Perfect Pint Glass

A: Pours a deep brown, just a tinge of blackness, with orange and ruby red highlights in the light. Big creamy, whipped tan head that subsides to a thin sheet of lace. Just awesome.

S: Extreme coffee bean notes hit the olfactory senses immediately, followed up with some nutty and dark malt notes. A twinge of bitterness and some sweet toffee detected also.

T: This beer is certainly big on coffee, almost like you are sucking on a whole bean. Great roasty flavors, but the sugary sweet cream flavor really puts this coffee beer into an upper echelon. Some standard nutty notes I've now grown accustom with Surly and a nice hop bitterness to clean everything up.

M: On the thinner side, but this is a good thing as the beer is still silky, creamy and perfectly smooth.

D: Gone in a flash leaving me wanting for more, but not sure I'd session this like standard Bender. The coffee could be overwhelming after a few.

Flat out great beer... Not quite on par with FBS, but damn close.

 1,048 characters

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

The can pours a solid dark brown color with red and orange tints when held to the light. A brilliant tan head which lingers long and rock, leaving a bit of lacing. Aroma is amazing-I can smell it from three feet away. Big Time Coffee. Pure, simple, and inviting.

Taste is of a wonderful iced coffee. My first can I almost struggled to remember that this was indeed a beer. Huge roasty coffee notes forward, followed by the Bender's base of nuttyness, only more subdued by the coffee, followed by a mild-and incredibly welcome, lactose sweetness which acts as the cream in this coffee beer. Nice earthy hop bitterness works in harmony with the coffee without any bitter acridness that is prevalent in many a coffee beer (read: stouts). A creamy body, slightly thin with mild carbonation.

Drinkable? You betcha. This cup-a-joe is easily in the upper echelon of coffee beers. (Central Waters Coffee Stout, Founder's Breakfast Stout, and Bell's Java Stout are it's only peers) Pert near sessionable which few coffee beers can claim. (NG Coffee Stout)

 1,049 characters

Photo of happygnome
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

a: pours a deep dark brown almost black color with about a quarter inch of head that disappears quickly leaving a thick coating of stick tan lacing
s: like coffee with a hint of sweetness a touch of bitterness towards the finish that balances out the sweetness nicely
t: at first it is sweet but that is quickly replaced b a coffee taste with notes of sweetness. the coffee flavor adds a hint of bitterness hints of a sweetness possibly caramel come out towards the end
m: medium bodied beer that has little carbonation

overall, this was an excellent beer that i thoroughly enjoyed

 582 characters

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

Pours a deep clear brown that reveals a reddish hue when held to the light. Medium-large soft beige head forms and lasts for ages. Great retention and lacing. Little yeasty chunks settle at the bottom of the glass.

The smell bursts out of the can almost before the sound of the pop-tab hits your ears. Ground, unbrewed coffee with a hint of cocoa powder and vanilla dominates. Vague winter spices come through as this warms.

This is mighty tasty stuff. As a guy that consumes more iced coffee than water some days, this is really appealing to me. Loads of only lightly-sweet coffee, vanilla and some biscuity and carmel malts. Nice understated spiciness...cinnamon or nutmeg.

Really light bodied in a way that few coffee beers are. It is really nice to see heavy coffee flavor in a non-stout/porter style. Slightly chewy as this warms--really refreshing.

Super drinkable, and at 5.1%, there's no problem there. I'd love to have unlimited access to this beer.

My first Surly, and I now understand why people love them so much.

 1,033 characters

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

Pours out a cloudy brown with one finger of white/offwhite suds leaving slight lacing on the side of the glass.
Smell is coffee. Very fresh ground dry coffee.
Strong and delicious coffee. Not much malt in the aroma.
Taste is coffee and some malt. Some fruityness like a grape skin but mostly coffee.
Mouthfeel is perfect here, the coffee just sticks in there for a while then when you are ready for another sip, the palate cleanses itself and BAM you are ready for another goround.
Drinkability would be good if I could routinely get this stuff!
Not quite a Peche or a KBS but dang, this is pretty good.

 603 characters

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

A: pours a very dark brown (almost black) with a nice one inch creamy light brown head

S: smells like delicious iced coffee. not over powering at all with a small hint of vanilla & coco powder

T: tastes like a wonderful iced coffee with hints of mocha and vanilla

M: feels light and tingly on the tongue with good carbonation.

D: This is truly a perfect beer you could drink for breakfast! Would be great for after dinner as well maybe with some ice cream. At 5.1% I could easily drink several of these with no problem.

I would very much recommend everyone try this beer. Especially if you are a regular coffee drinker like myself.

 638 characters

Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Dyan for tossing this my way. Poured from a 16 ounce can into my nonic Imperial pint glass. The ale appears a hazed chestnut brown color with about two fingers of creamy ecru foam. Nose and flavor are of medium roasted grains, caramel mocha coffee, toasted bread, pleasantly bitter earthy and fruity hops. Great balance of bitter and sweet. Nice mouthfeel for the style with light to medium carbonation. A wonderfully session-able brown ale. Thanks again Dyan!

 470 characters

Photo of cbros
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type- 16 ounce can poured into a pint glass. I got this as an extra in a trade with mnjeff.

A- Pours a dark chocolate brown. No visible activity after the pour. A small one finger tan head present after the pour that stayed throughout the beer. A small amount of cling present troughout the beer.

S- Hints of coffee(obviously) that seem to be roasted.

T- The roasted coffee taste comes out in the taste as well. There is a medium flavor of hops and malt, nothing overpowering in this beer. If anything I am getting the coffee flavoring the most. There is a strong bitter feel to the beer that is constant throughout the taste.

This is the first 'craft' beer that I have had from a can and I was interested in how that might alter or affect the taste. As far as I can tell there is no difference from bottled beer. This is a decent offering but not something that I would get again. Jeff sent me various stuff from Surly and I can't wait to try out the other stuff. I am sure they will be solid beers just like this one was.

 1,036 characters

Photo of Rooney107
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- An absolutely beautiful brown pour with a formidable, sepia head.

S- Coffee, a lot of it. Definitely a scent of roasted sweetness that mingles well with chocolate and vanilla beans.

T- I know how obvious this sounds, but COFFEE. Coffee in all its brilliance and nuanced splendor splashes across the palate. Absolutely superb, almost perfect. The bitterness and roasted qualities are just expertly balanced. This is the apotheosis of coffee beers.

M- Good, moderate (not too heavy) mouthfeel that works well with the low carbonation level.

D- Quite drinkable despite being a very dark coffee beer. One of the best, if not the best, from Surly.

 649 characters

4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer has pre set high expectations as I had sampled it from a growler a couple of years ago and loved it. Pours to the darkest blackish brown body. Head is a biscuit like tan tone and considerably rocky standing at nearly three fingers. Tons of wavy lace is left as it very slowly fades. Coffee is immediately evidant on the nose, like cold but fresh coffee. I love the nose on this one. Coffee comes first and quick with the initial sip but quickly yields a bitter dryness as it slides back. Malt profile is mineral based and adds a slight sweet feel for just the right amount of balance. Refreshing, yet bold and truely enjoyable all around. Mouthfeel is so attractive and really beckons the next sip. True drinkability that is hard to beat.

 748 characters

Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 2,637 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.