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 ritzkiss
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Loving the pint size can. Pours a dark dark brown with shades of auburn around the edges in the light. Lots of fluffy tan head that leaves a lacing on the top.

Smell is all coffee grounds, though perhaps not as premium or as rich as I might have hoped. There's a hint of spiciness and perhaps even a touch of earthy/peat.

Taste is akin to having your cup of coffee in the morning. Bitter roasting coffee, a slight sweet smoothness in the body, just the hint of roasting malts. Again, more Folgers coffee than premium but still amazingly tasty. A faint herbaceous hop quality in the finish that leaves a slightly dry finish. Smooth mouthfeel, amazing drinkability. At such a low ABV, this is a coffee lover's session beer and I wish it was available a little easier. Really nice.

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

A big shout out to BA Beerloco for this generous gift. Many thanks...

1 pint can. 5.1% ABV. 45 IBU's.

Appearance - A cautious pour into an imperial pint glass yields a big, fluffy, mocha-colored head of foam. The body is a dark, almost opaque brown. Patches of lacing. Somewhat attractive, quite inviting.

Smell - Wow. Beautiful aroma, an incredible combo of chocolate, coffee, cream, just a hint of alcohol. It smells so good that I don't just want to drink this beer, I want to brush my teeth with it. (Apologies to the makers of "Beerfest")

Taste - Mocha latte. Slightly roasty but mostly creamy coffee. Not overly sweet, just enough hops to rein this in.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, thick and somewhat dextrous. Slightly astringent at the end.

Drinkability - Well if you like coffee, or well-crafted brown ales, or good beer in general, this is extremely drinkable. If you don't, pour yourself a Zima and go to another website...

If Coffee Bender was available in New Jersey, I would buy it frequently. (Do you hear me Surly?) This is an eye-opening brew, in more ways than one. A winner. Highly recommended.

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Photo of CMitchell
3.92/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Jar. . .yes a jar.

A: Color was lighter than I expected, but nice, like a cup of coffee.

S: nice gentle notes of coffee, perhaps some chocolate in there.

T&M: Taste is pleasant, with coffee, roasted malt, slight vanilla. It's much thinner than it looks, but not in a bad way. . . .

D: Quite drinkable. Would love to drink this with a slice of good cheesecake. . .excellent job.

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Photo of russpowell
4.67/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let me start out by apologizing to Justin??? he traded me this & some mama masala & failed to record his user name. No on this review based on notes

Pours chestnut/mahogany with 2 fingers of tan head. Super lacing & average head retention

S: Big time java

T: Folgers with a touch a milk up front, Dryness & roasty coffee comes through as this warms, along with a touch of cream. Finishes dry, roasty & with much java power!

MF: Medium bodied with nice creamyness

Drinks pretty easy for all the flavor this is throwing out. Not a huge coffee beer fan, but I love this & believe this is the bench mark for Coffee brews. Another winner from Surly!

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Photo of hardy008
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours a dark brown color with a tan two finger head.

Smell - Coffee, malt, and some caramel.

Taste - Same as the smell, nicely balanced and smooth.

Mouthfeel - light bodied, smooth, very easy drinking.

Drinkability - Would make a nice session beer. Another solid offering from Surly.

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Photo of alovesupreme
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Great scarlet color with a light brown head that sticks around and has nice lacing.
Coffee and brown sugar dominate. Vanilla caramel and dark fruit (mostly prune).
Stale coffee and dark fruit, not much else.A slightly bitter coffee finish
Full body with good carbonation for the style.
A nice concept, but its not for me. The stale coffee was not a desirable characteristic in my opinion.

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Photo of macktbone
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Recieved as an extra...(a really good extra).

Pours like an Iced coffee, but with a nice head of light brown and white. Visible carbonation pulls you in to decide if it is a benefit or a hinderence to the drink.

Smells like a coffee mocha. Toffee and cocoa.

Tastes like a Cold cappucino, chocolate syrup, tons of coffee and sweet malted coffee shop foam.

mouthfeel is thin...similar to an iced latte.
Carbonation is very level. Not too much, not too little.

Drinkable as a coffee bender, not much as daily drinker.

This is my Birthday Review!!! Yeah Me...Yeah Beer...

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well, ckeegan04 hooked me up with many fine regional treasures in a trade, and this was one of them. Entirely unexpected since the package came from Tennessee. And an extremely pleasant surprise it was...thanks Chris! I have enjoyed every Surly offering I've sampled so far. This seems ripe for my Portsmouth snifter.

Pours an iced-coffee brown that gets a little heavier as the snifter fills up. A nice root-beer styled ginger-colored head is a little less than a finger and goes relatively quickly. A little decent lacing though. Body is a little opaque.

Oooh, coffee, sweet coffee. Almost reminds me of a thin Peche Mortel in a way. Malt profile is midly dark with no tannins. Nice. Hops have a little grass and pine. Smooth, very smooth.

Now the hops come out a bit more with the first sip or 2. Mostly grass and pine, but by no means earthy - they have a nice zip. The backdrop of dark malts and coffee make this quite a velvety concoction. Very well-played.

Palate feel on this one is mighty fine. A little hop tang - even a little citrus..up against rich coffee texture. Finish is even-keeled and well-balanced. There's some Beautiful Chemistry going on here.

To me your average brown isn't the easiest drinking thing in the world...but this is not average by any means. Very solid - a little brighter than usual for style from the nice tangy hop bite. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to try this one.

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Photo of theghost3
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a mug.

Appearance is dark brown, almost black with some ruby highlights. Head is thick, frothy & cafe au lait in color; much like iced capuccino. Minimal lacing.

The scent is strong of quality roasted coffee with some toasty/caramel malts. Taste is roasted black coffee & bitter, toasty malts with a hint of nuts. Mouthfeel is thick & smooth.

This is an incredibly drinkable beer. Although, I'm not sure if it should be considered a true American Brown. It really seems more like coffee with alcohol than beer but still delicious.

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

Served out of a 16 oz can into a standard pint glass.

A: brown/black color with a dark tan head that dissipates slowly while lacing the glass

S: roasted grains and coffee aroma

T: tastes just like the can says, like you are drinking an iced coffee. the coffee and hop bitterness is balanced nicely with the sweetness from the malts.

MF: smooth and creamy

Drinkability: definitely would drink this beer again. coffee and beer, great combination.

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Photo of Kadonny
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gotten in a trade from Nebrewm, thanks. Poured from the can into a snifter glass.

A: A dark brown with no light filtering through. Minimal ring of head and medium glass lacing.

S: Coffee with hints of creamy sweetness and some chocolate.

T: Coffee flavors first, but they are lighter coffee flavors, almost like a latte. Coffee and cream maybe is how I describe it. Sweetness stays in the mouth with some milk chocolate, cream, and some caramel. Finish is bitter with a slight metallic taste as the floral hops come through. Different take on a brown ale.

M: A bit thin actually, not what I expected. Low ABV so the alcohol is not detected.

D: Pretty good, they are drinkable but I couldn't have more than one or two.

Overall a different take on the style that does work. I'm not a huge brown ale guy, but I enjoyed this can.

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

16 oz can into a pint glass.

Pours a deep clear amber with several foamy fingers of light mocha colored foam. Sturdy 1/2 finger of creamy retention leaves some massive sticky lacing back. Good look here. The aroma is roasted coffee and sugary sweet smelling malts, with a touch of astringency and floral hops in the back. Solid balance between the java and sweeter notes here in the nose.

The taste is a nice silky blend of coffee character and some sweet malt notes of toasted caramel. Nice evenness between the bitterness of the coffee and the more sweeter character of the Brown Ale. This definitely finishes more on the sweetened side, with the malts lingering on the lips for a bit. The mouthfeel is lighter-medium bodied with a nice mellow creaminess to the proceedings which makes for some very easy drinking.

The mocha notes in this seemed a limited more muted than when I had previously had this from a growler, allowing more of the Brown Ale qualaties to come out. Never the less, this is still a great coffee fix, complete with an awesome feel and super easy drinkibility. Glad this one is in cans now.

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

Had this on special at Downtime. $3 a can. Not a bad deal at a bar considering that some liquor stores sell them at $13.49 or $12.49 a 4-pack.

I asked for a pint glass to enjoy this properly. Dark brown coffee bean color with a creamy tan head. Can't tell if there is carbonation or not. Lacing is great.

The nose is where it's at on this one for sure. I could drink this in with my nose all night. Incredible coffee scent, with subtle hints of coffee, nuttyness and an almost vanilla smell, maybe cream. This is coffee beer perfection, from the aroma stand point.

Taste is pretty dang good, but not quite as good as the nose is. Great coffee taste. I was worried that, like many other coffee beers, the taste wouldn't show as much coffee as I'd hoped. Often times the nose is great but the taste is more watered down coffee or non-existent. I'm pleased to say that the coffee presence in this one is strong and assertive. Chocolate and nuttyness are there as well. Honestly, this is very different from normal Bender, I think it's better.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy. This is truly a treat. If this wasn't as expensive as it is normally (when it's not on special) I would order it more often. Top notch brew. Kudos Surly, again.

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

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

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Photo of Sean9689
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a dark dark brown with a light tan head. Some stickiness along the sides of the glass, like a cup of coffee (who woulda thunk it?).

S - Coffee, really good coffee with some sweetness on the end.

T - Coffee, really good coffee. A nice sweetness as well, very creamy. Some bitterness on the end, which I expect from a coffee-type beer.

M - Medium, very nice and rich for a ABA. Not overly carbonated and very smooth, perfect.

D - I wish I could drink one of these in the morning to get my coffee fix. Screw Starbucks, I want Coffee Bender!

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