Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing Company

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Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

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: 2,557
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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Shango42
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Serving type-can poured into pint glass

A-Dark brown with decent head retention. Great lacing throughout.

S-Roasted dark coffee smell but not too strong. Not like a coffee porter.

T-Sharp bitter flavor right away-not what you'd expect from a coffee beer. Coffee flavor for real coffee drinkers. Blend of the coffeee flavors and the Bender's medium hoppiness and sweet brown ale is perfect. Finishes smooth and lets coffee linger on the tongue. Better with every sip.

M-Full and creamy for a bitter coffee beer. Little carbonation.

D-I could drink this all morning, all afternoon, and all night. So easy going down and so drinkable.

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

Poured from the tall-boy can into a chilled glass.
Comes out a muddy opaque dark coffee brown, almost black, with a small tan head that resembles the consistancy of whipped cream out of the can.
It smells of ... guess. Yes, coffee, and also of mocha.
It tastes of course of coffee but it isn't too strong to hide the brown ale which comes through in the middle but then gives away again to the coffee in the aftertaste.
It is medium bodied, crisp then smooth.
Very easy to drink. The coffee makes this brew seem so dark to look at but it's certainly nice to realize that it isn't too heavy or overly filling upon drinking. Maybe that's why they went with a brown ale rather than a stout for this coffee beer; but, whatever their reasons were, kudos to them for making this delicious concoction.

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Photo of davexisxrabid
4.51/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got this in a trade with skinnyguy, thanks!

Poured into my Sam Adams pint glass. Medium to dark brown with a nice two finger thick fluffy head. Great lacing and good retention during the drinking period.

Aroma of cocoa powder and a hint of roasted coffee beans.

Flavor of dark chocolate, caramel, a bit of roasted malts and watered down coffee (not in a bad way).

Amazingly thick and chewy mouthfeel but the carbonation cut the body a bit. A coffee like aftertaste that really lingers on your palate.

Very good overall and very easy to drink. Excellent flavor and a healthy 5.1% abv means you can have more than one in a night. Looking forward to more of these!

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

Pours like an iced coffee, clear with a BIG foamy light tan head that leaves a good amount of Belgian lacing behind. The smell on the timid side, but classic lightly roasted malt and caramel topped off with coffee. I really appreciate the big mouth feel on this one. It works really well with the malt and coffee flavors. It's very smooth and creamy; finishes with a touch of sweetness and a light coffee note that lingers nicely. I also appreciate that the roasted character isn't over done. It's been a while since I sampled Bender, but I think that I prefer this one over the original. At 5.1% ABV, I recommend that you fill your coffee station at work with this stuff...if you can get it. Hell of a drinker...had a lot of fun considering it. Many thanks to maximum12 for this opportunity!

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Photo of dukedevil0
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks for Alex (MasterSki) for simply giving me a can of this one day because it was on my wants.

A: Pours a pretty dark brown with maybe a hint of red color and a few fingers of nice frothy khaki colored head and laced the glass.

S: Smells initially like roasted coffee beans, then chocolate, chocolate/roasted malts, some yeast, nuttiness and other typical brown ale scents.

T: Very similar to the smell - roasted coffee, some chocolate and roasted malts, some nuttiness, and other brown ale type flavors that are harder to pick out through the coffee - like molasses, caramel malts, brown sugar - the roasty bitterness wins over everything else in the end

M: Very nice, full mouthfeel here...about creamy as I'd want a brown ale while still being thin enough to be refreshing

D: The roasty bitterness takes this down a notch for me, but overall this is a great brew that seems to be exactly what Surly was going for with this coffee flavored beer...easy to drink and no alcohol picked up in the flavor.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Chilled can into a glass, courtesy of busch03. Thanks Waylon.

I'm normally not a fan of coffee beers, so I didn't expect to enjoy this one. But wow.... here we go:

A: Pours a murky light brown with reddish tint when held to the light. Head is a limpid finger's worth of tan bubbles that quickly recede into a collar, and leave no lacing behind.

S: Coffee is very strong on the nose on this one. Caramel and nuts waft out as the beer warms.

T: This is where the beer shines. Coffee lays down the groundwork, but there is a pleasant caramel and biscuit malt backbone that compensates nicely for the bitterness. The end taste sees mostly grain and nut flavors, and I felt like I tasted vanilla, but none of my friends picked that up.

M: Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation. Very fitting for the style, and for a drinking session this was a good starter.

D: Pretty high. I'd like to try the regular Bender, if not get more of this. The most enjoyable coffee beer I've had.

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

From a can.Pours dark brown with a decent head , some lacing.

Aroma of of coffee , light hops present.

Nice infusion of light coffee , caramel sweetness with a slight hop bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel is light and creamy with good carbonation.

I could drink these for breakfast.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft. Pours brown with a small head. Aroma of sweet malt and light coffee grounds. Flavor is sweet initially with a coffee ground finish. I would have liked to see a stronger malt backbone to balance out the bitter coffee but perhaps that is expected when using a brown ale as the base instead of a porter or stout, which I am more used to. Anyway, it was very good for a brown ale.

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Photo of katan
3.96/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can into a pint

A - On the dark side of brown - almost amber. Very opaque - almost porterish. Head formation is strong, well retained at a few mm. Mocha color. Not possible to determine hazing or yeast suspension.

S - A chocolate and roasted scent leads the way, with only the lightest in american hops. Upon closer inspection I do detect a few light coffee note - almost from a very weak batch sitting at my office all day long (a good thing). I also think some yeast breadiness exists as well.

T - The first flavor off the CB is where I certainly notice the coffee - bitter, roasted, and biting. It immediately is sweetened, rather than bittered by the mid-taste. No hops are detectable. Moves to a very sweet, malty crystal malt flavor in the finish. Aftertaste is somewhat bitter, but not well retained.

M - Moderate body - not extremely clinging or cloying. Carbonation is light to hardly detectable (no sting). Some sweetness does start to cling after a long drink.

D - Very easy drinking - the coffee flavor is a bit direct after a full can, reducing the drinkability for me. Not filling nor overly abusive in terms of ABV.

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

Poured from a 16 oz. Can at Cafe Twenty-eight in Minneapolis, an establishment owned by the Surly brewmaster.

Pours a dark brown clear fluid with amber hues. A light tan frothy head tops the beer which slowly disipates to a thin ring atop the beer.

The aroma captures all the greatness of fine coffee. Bouquets of earthy toasty coffee strongly carry from the glass coupled with a slight malt caramel sweetness with hints of cocoa.

The flavor brings together the desired maltiness of a fine brown ale and the bitter roasty, dare I say surly, nature of a fine cup of coffee. This is definitely a beer for coffee drinkers, but isn't so strong to turn away non coffee drinkers. The balance of the infused flavor with the beer works very well in my opinion creating a rather refreshing brown ale.

The mouthfeel is moderately full with good complimenting carbonation. Their is a slight alcohol sting in the dryish finish.

The drinkability is very good considering coffee is such a strong flavor. This beer would be appropriate in many circumstances whether sessioned, on a cold Minnesota winter night, or even at a cook out.

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Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark brown-black with about two inches of tan head. Looks like a big stout or porter. Laces great.

S- Like an iced coffee. Little or no beer character to it... I guess that's what they were going for, though.

T- This is good. A nice roasted espresso flavor dominates. Some dark chocolate notes are in there, followed by some vanilla and maybe a hint of citrusy hops. Coffee doesn't overpower the flavor like it does the nose. Definitely a different beer than Bender, not just a variation... good stuff just like Bender itself.

M- Moderate carbonation with medium body. Slightly syrupy.

D- Good stuff here. Mouthfeel and taste keeps this one going. Surly is the real deal.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 2,557 ratings.
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