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: 837 | Ratings: 2,547
Photo of aasher
3.46/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a can into a wine glass. I bought the four pack this past weekend in Minneapolis. It pours a hazelnut brown in color, pretty light in body, with a one finger beige head that turns to lacing around the glass. The aroma is of very fresh coffee grounds with light chocolate. The grounds are very pungent and bitter. It's not very complex and is on the verge of being completely one dimensional. It's just so much ground, yet not much actual coffee. The flavor too is in your face coffee grounds with some slight sweet roasted malt and a light bitter finish. It's ok, and easy to drink, but it's just ok. I just wish it had more complexity. It drinks light and you can tell it's built for a can the way it poured and due to how light it is. Overall it's just an ok brown ale without much complexity. I'd say this is the first beer from Surly I'm not overly impressed by.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The brother and I shared this one... Awesome.. Received this one in a surprise box from Kbeals... Just amazing.

Pours with a 1" nice tan head.. pretty good drapes of lacing with the entire glass.. the brew is actually NOT black.. instead just a deep brown with beautiful dark garnet highlites when held to a light.

Aromas can go a long way to jogging forgotten memories.. Coffee Bender immediately takes me back two decades to my first hunting trips in PA. My Pappy DeShong with all of his hunting buddies sitting at Johnnies Diner in McConnellsburg. Firm, bright, yet dark coffee before the smells of breakfast ever made it into the air... The coffee is the only thing that is present and I am okay with it... just near perfect... Smells amazing.

Flavor has all the abundant coffee notes with (if I try) hints of dark toast and dry roasted nuts.. minor bits of cocoa.. but forget about everything but the coffee beans..

I am an occasional coffee drinker... maybe 2 times a week.. but this brew is better than any cup of joe that I've had in months... maybe ever.

Very nice medium/lite mouthfeel with lite carbonation.. wonderful.

Thanks a bunch Kevin.... I've had this a couple of times before, but I suspect never as fresh and never when I had time to really contemplate. Thanks for my walk down memory lane.


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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a light shade of brown with a white head. Aroma of fresh coffee grounds and malts. The taste has big ground coffee flavor and light malts. Coffee all day. Creamy, with a delicate nutty flavor underneath the coffee Medium bodies, fair carbonation. I love surly beers and coffee so this was a win. Very delicious.

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Photo of stevoj
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Flight at MSP. Rating based on my personal distaste for coffee beers. Coffee forward, dominates taste and aroma. Completely obscures wonderful brown ale (previously rated). Go with the overall ratings here, not to my liking.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can shared with and by a friend.

I enjoy trying non-stout coffee beers and I like the base beer Bender so I have high hopes for this. Appearance wise everything is as expected, looking similar to bender, dark browns, relatively clear, frothy mocha head with nice retention and lacing. Aroma is also very nice, a strong malty, nutty base with what smells like fresh coffee beans, not overly sweet, but not bitter either. The flavor and mouthfeel is where I miss the original bender or some of the bigger coffee stout beers. Not to say this isn't well made or enjoyable, but I feel like it's splitting the difference between the two without hitting the peaks of flavor or mouthfeel from Bender or something like Breakfast Stout. Unlike the stouts, the body is less chewy and full, but still a robust medium-full. The most disappointing part of the beer is the finish which has a nutty, dry Bender like flavor, but is overall rather thin and has a watery character. The body has a nice fresh brewed coffee characteristic with mild malt and nutty background, but not much sweetness or roasted flavors. Overall, a very drinkable, enjoyable coffee beer, but I don't feel like the coffee adds that much to the original base beer, nor does it satisfy me if I'm looking for an intense coffee infused beer fix.

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Photo of Zorro
3.47/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear brown colored beer with a short yellowish brown colored head.

Smells of chocolate and coffee with coffee being the stronger scent. Pretty much the scent of Central or Southern American coffee medium roasted. Some lighter scents mostly vanilla.

Starts out semi dry and medium roast coffee. Pretty much doesn't develop much beyond the initial flavor. Stays mostly coffee soda in flavor.

Mouthfeel is average.

An OK beer but not a complicated one. An OK sample but not a mainstay beer.

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

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

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

Another fine offering from Surly. Thanks to my brother for driving all those cans across the country! Dark brown, coffee-colored beer with a good sized tan head that settles slowly. Good lacing as well.

Aroma is balanced between freshly brewed coffee, roast, bready malt; perhaps a touch of bitter hops underneath but they’re subdued. The flavor is much the same; a well balanced brown ale with coffee blended in. The coffee doesn’t overwhelm but rather compliments the toasted bread, caramel malt flavor, roastiness, and mildly bitter herbal hops. Very lightly sweet with a faint but appealing nutty note.

Body is medium-thin and carbonation is lively; crisp and dry, refreshing. Not over-the-top in terms of flavor or aroma; just a well-made, very drinkable brown ale with a decent coffee hit.

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

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

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

A: Brown-black with a light tan head, some retention, good lacing.

S: Big coffee aroma with hints of nuts.

T: Coffee, nuts & roasted grain. Good bitterness.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body.

D: It's alright, but not a knock-out like some of the Surly brews.

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Photo of corby112
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes:

Pours a very dark chestnut brown color with a two and a half finger frothy beige head. Excellent retention, only slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves large chunks of soapy mocha lacing behind.

Roasted malt aroma with tons of fresh ground coffee bean along with hints of chocolate, caramel, hazelnut and toffee in the nose.

Medium bodied with some tight carbonation up front that smooths out mid-palate. Very roasty wiu a huge coffee bean presence but this beer is never to acrid or dry. There is planety of rich chocolate maltiness as well as some caramel, toffee and nut to balance things out. Well balanced, complex, delicious and very quaffable. Recommended, especially for breakfast!

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown with great caronation and big tannish head. Nose is big coffee beans and very yummy. taste is a good. It has one of the best tasting coffee flavors I have experienced. It tastes like fresh, natural coffee beans, more so than any beer I have had. Very smooth, not over the top. Also has some oats and vanilla. Mouthfeel is thinner but the fresh coffee roams in the background.

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Photo of rudzud
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received as an extra in a trade. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice clearish chestnut pour with a good two finger khaki head that fades to leave a nice thick, creamy blanket.

S - Oh wow. This one really pops with the iced coffee aromas. Really big and bold coffee, nice and still light and creamy though.

T - More of those tasty iced coffee notes. There is some light malty sweetness along with good delicious iced coffee type flavours. Quite good.

M - Mouthfeel is quite nice. Enough carbonation to keep this up and. Stuff is super, super drinkable.

O - Overall this was a very tasty brown ale. The coffee really jumps with this one in the nose and taste. Only complaint would be the coffee overpowers the brown ale aspects of the beer.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(Served in a nonic)
A- This beer has a dense dark body with a deep amber highlights showing at the base. There is a thick light tan head that last and last and a few tiny bubbles stuck to the glass.
S- The fresh espresso roasted beans have a nice black malt aroma to support them and a nice graham note that grows as the beer warms.
T- This beer has a rich cold coffee bean flavor with chocolate and cream finish with a nice light tangy note. There is a pine hop flavor that lingers just a bit and blends well with the coffee.
M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with no alcohol heat or astringency.
D- This beer is like eating chocolate covered espresso beans and the hops let you know that there is a great beer base underneath. Delicious.

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Photo of jbaker67
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear brown pour with a ruby hue and a one finger off white head. Aroma is 100% dark iced coffee. Taste is exactly as billed: brown ale and coffee. In the background are aromatic hops and a touch of smoke. Bitter cold coffee flavor lingers in the back of the mouth. It’s bitter but not astringent. I would have liked a touch more sweetness and mouthfeel, but that may just be personal preference.

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Photo of kscaldef
3.47/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

A: Reddish-brown with moderate light transmission. Pours into an imperial pint from the can with a 1/4" head with limited retention and splotchy lacing.

S: Smells like strong, freshly brewed black coffee, with hints of chocolate

T: Very coffee forward. This is straight-up standard black coffee, no fancy-pants artisan-roasted espresso here. And yet, you would expect that sort of coffee to be undrinkably bitter and acrid when cold, but this stays pretty smooth, so they're definitely doing something clever with their extraction process. There's a bit of bready malts hiding in there too, but boy the coffee really takes this over.

M: Medium carbonation, light body, medium-long linger. Fairly low bitterness

O: This works out to be one of those beers that I'm technically impressed with, but don't particularly enjoy. They've packed an intense amount of coffee flavor into this beer, but it seems to have lost any subtlety or balance it might have had. Ultimately I'm not sure how different this is from taking a cup of cold brew and adding a shot of vodka to it.

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Photo of beertunes
3.04/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Thanks to Kurmaraja for this one. Upfront, know that I hate coffee. Don't drink the stuff, and tend to find that it overpowers any beer that it's in. Caveat complete, let's crack this can!

Poured into straight pint glass. Poured a deep brown, with a slight reddish tint, and had about 1/8 inch of light brown head that had decent retention and OK lacing.

Whoa! The aroma is like walking into a diner just before the breakfast rush hits, all coffee all the time. Only the slightest bit of of malt shows through the bast of Joe. Same on the tongue, thoroughly coffee, and just the slightest bit of beer appears.

The body was pretty nice, just a bit thinner than I prefer in a Brown Ale, but smooth, except for some coffee bitterness at the back end. Drinkability will totally depend on your view of coffee. You can figure out where I'm at. Overall, a solid brew, and one that a lot of people would love. I'm not one of those people. I just didn't enjoy the beer, but I'm thankful for the gift, and for the experience for having tried it. YMMV.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased in DC at CT Ave Wine & Liquor. Canned on 3/29/13 and poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a brown coffee color with a 1.5 inch beige head. very nice looking pour . 4.5

smell is...COFFEE! we've got a super strong coffee scent here. just as i expected 4.5

taste is roasted iced coffee. this almost doesnt even taste like beer. not exactly sure how to take that. being a lover of coffee, i enjoy this, but if you arent a fan of coffee youd absolutely hate it. 3.75

mouthfeel - extremely easy to drink this one. medium body and medium carbonation. absolutely no bitterness or alcohol present. tastes like straight up coffee. 4.5

overall this is more like drinking an iced coffee than a beer. so with that being said its very hard to rate. bottom line is dont even approach this if you arent a big fan of coffee, because you will not enjoy it whatsoever. if on the other hand you enjoy a good cup of joe, youll enjoy this one.

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Photo of dar482
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

The color is a brown color with some light that comes through.

The aroma is freaking huge. It literally smells seriously like ice coffee. It’s seriously very huge, but also some toasted notes. Literally like walking into an espresso café. Just huge on the coffee.

The flavor follows with a coffee flavor. It’s almost like a British brown ale with that has been simply mixed with black coffee. But then it drops off the tongue pretty quickly.

Despite the wonderful aroma and flavor, this beer I guess could benefit from being slightly bigger. Not like Victory at Sea, but in the middle. I could imagine this beer blowing my mind with some bigger malt backbone. So in that sense, it’s disappointing slightly, but at 5.1% ABV, I couldn’t imagine a beer really doing coffee in a brown ale better for its ABV.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Can(s) courtesy of russpowell. Thanks Russ!

Another lower abv brew from Surly...hehe...they do some fine ones.

It pours from the 16oz can a dark brown with hues of red and a good 2 finger billowy head of offwhite foam.(served near room temp) Some good lacing ensues.

The smell is of freshly brewed coffee and it seems to overpower anything else that may be there. Not too bad a thing in my book.

The taste is the same as the nose. Big coffee, as expected but also a good smackering of roasted malt and even a touch of caramel malt sweetness that I taste just before the finish where it returns to the tasty fresh coffee goodness that I enjoy so much. Damn, when these "coffee" brews do it right, they almost make me want to convert and become a coffee drinker. Weird isn't it as I enjoy tea more than coffee!

Medium bodied with a light amount of carbonation. Very smooth mouthfeel here.

Drinkaility? Give me a cup of cup, and I'm done. Well made coffee inspired beers seem to defy any sensible reasoning, given my "stand" on coffee, as I find them very damn drinkable. This is one of the easiest coffee brews to quaff. 'nuff said.

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

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

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

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured 16 oz. can into a large mug. L: Brilliant black under a 3” cream colored foam cap. S: Roast malt, coffee and chocolate. T: Has a big initial iced coffee taste with some eventual balancing by malt, caramel, and chocolate flavors. F: Creamy, medium body and carbonation. O: My wife, a black coffee drinker who hates stouts, likes this a lot.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours brown, quite like Bender but the head is much thicker and denser. Doughy, bubbly head with tons of webby lace.

A-Whoa that smells exactly like coffee. Fresh brewed pot of coffee. Really a far cry from the normal Bender. The beer's base is almost masked by the coffee and I am totally digging it.

T-Like a cold cup of iced coffee. Iced coffee with a bit of milk and sugar. I could go into specifics of the other nuances of this beer but I won't; this beer is all about the coffee. It's delicious.

M-Medium to light in body. Softer carbonation and no booze...Could almost pass for iced coffee.

O/D-Wasn't super impressed with Bender but Coffee Bender is a beautiful brew. The genuine coffee flavor is impeccable. I loved this beer.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 ounce can, canned on date of 12/09/11. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours dark brown with an inch tan head. Both the head retention and lacing are good. Aroma is coffee, roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, and some nuts. The taste is pretty much the same as the aroma, but there's also a bit of vanilla noticeable. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and slick and is well carbonated. I think this is a pretty good overall brew, I liked it a lot. It's heavy on the coffee in both the aroma and taste, and that's a good thing for me. It's certainly worth trying, I know I'd like to get more of this brew in the future.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.
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