Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing Company

848 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: 848 | Ratings: 2,635
Photo of chicagobeerriot
3.69/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark brown with deep ruby highlights when held up to the light. Light, downy head that rapidly disspates to a thin film on the surface. The appearance is more stout-like than you ordinarily see in this category.

Nice robust smell for this style: light cappuccino notes, with burnt sugar and whole-grain bread notes in there.

The taste is a bit less complex than the smell. Here, coffee takes an unambiguous lead. The sugar and bread flavors that were promised by the smell are there, but they play a background role. Tasting blind, I'd be hard-pressed to differentiate this from an above average coffee stout (except perhaps for the lighter mouthfeel). Don't get me wrong, I love coffee flavors in beer and its presence here is appreciated. The problem is that none of the other flavors that make a brown ale are allowed to shine. This is a tough one for me: I love the flavors, but they don't belong in this setting. I'm rating this one to style, but if you love coffee as I do, bump it up a notch or two.

 1,014 characters

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!

 666 characters

Photo of MasterfulIdiot
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass. Liquid is a dark mahogany that produces a pretty thick tan head. Head fades slowly and leaves a moderate amount of lacing at first, but very little as you drink it. There are a handful of straight lines of bubbles rising up through the liquid.

Aroma hit me as soon as I opened the can! Definitely smells like coffee. Really nice roasted notes, and just the perfect amount. Other than coffee, there's maybe a bit of cinnamon, but not much else, which is exactly what I wanted!

Taste has the nice roastiness of the aroma, mixed with a kind of lactic tartness. Little bit of dark fruit, and some cinammon. The coffee is really well-done, and really well-matched with the base beer. I feel like often coffee beers will use an overly roasty stout that ends up being unnecessarily bitter, but here it's well-made to focus on the smooth, creamy, fruity coffee flavors. I wish there was a little bit less of that lactic tartness, but otherwise perfect.

Mouthfeel is super creamy, with lots of carbonation. Body is moderately thick.

Overall, one of the best coffee beers I've had! Really does a good job getting actual coffee flavor from the beans, rather than just bitterness and roastiness.

 1,214 characters

Photo of Cfred371
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pours a dark brown with some ruby red edges to it, and a slightly khaki head.

Smell: The aroma is almost pure coffee. I get a lot of roast, chocolate, and earthiness

Taste: Similar to the nose, the taste is dominated by a coffee with some chocolate, malts, roast, and other complexities. I feel like a lot of these flavors actually come from the coffee added.

Feel: Almost light bodied, Coffee Bender is slightly disappointing. I need to remind myself that this isn't a stout or porter, so the body shouldn't be viscous, but the flavor and color with the light body throws me off.

Overall: This is a delicious beer, and well worth the occasional four pack. The coffee is rich, and chocolate forward.

 712 characters

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

16 oz can into Guinness pint glass:

A - rich, dark brown - on the verge of black. Pour produces huge creamy white head, frothy and fizzy lacing.

S - light roasty malts and coffee beans. Bits of nut and oatmeal. Reminds me of a iced cappuccino.

T - Tastes just like a iced coffee. Its weird because I don't like coffee at all but I really enjoy coffee brews. Bits of milk chocolate and vanilla, nuts and oatmeal. Its really good.

M - Refreshing. A bit drying from the roast and coffee bitterness. Pretty clean and crisp.

D - Really easy to drink. I wouldn't mind drinking this in the morning with my breakfast. Its not quite coffee and its not quite beer, but a nice mixture of the two. If you're a coffee drinker, this is right up your ally.

 746 characters

Photo of badboyrsl84
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a coke brown with a fizzy white head

Smell - roasted coffee for sure , malts, with no hop presence.

Taste - amazing! It tastes like a no sugar added cup of coffee. I get some roasted malt character as well. It finishes with a strong roasted sugarless coffee aftertaste.

Overall - its unlike any brew I've had in San Diego. I'm very impressed.

 351 characters

Photo of mwagner1018
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Poured from the can nicely, thick 3 fingers of head, but very airy, settles down to a nice 1 finger of cream, up to the light has a deep cherry coke color. Very nice lacing down the glass, caramel cream color.

S- Definite roasted dark coffee, hints of chocolate...overly distinct in it's aromatic coffee smell.

T- Deep malt, very light and smooth, nice acidic bite of the coffee balanced with caramel, malt, very much like a smoked or chocolate stout...but also not specifically like anything else I have had...very clean.

M- Very balanced, smooth across the tongue, very low carbonation, creamy...very nice.

D- Drinkable, yes, if you enjoy a nice hint of coffee...and a very smooth texture, mellow, and light, very well balanced. I could put down these...and probably be up all night!

Another great beer by Surly...

Wow...I had to come back in and amend my review...this beer really hits me in two distinct ways....I feel like I just pounded a triple shot espresso of dark Italian roast...and like I mainlined some 180 proof...feel great...all to the head...very clean...feels very nice!!

 1,098 characters

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.

 449 characters

Photo of hellbilly
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

growler from psprings... wtf! who just pulls out a growler and hands it to you?

this poured a chestnut-y brown... i'm gonna go with a shade darker than the regular bender and a creamy tannish head.

if i smelled this blind i would've told you it was stale coffee. crazy... aromas of whole medium dark roasted beans beans, brown sugar, toasted nuts and vanilla. i'm amazed by the sheer volume of real coffee stink coming off of this thing!

awww, the flavor is a bit of a let down. not bad, just not very... esoteric... a cold cup of mildly sour coffee with notes of brown sugar, faint chocolate and some nuttiness with a very bitter dry finish. there's just not a whole lot happening. it's damn good just a bit too simple and straight forward. it is medium bodied with a nice creamy mouth feel.

i have this fairy tale dream in my head of surly finding a way to get some bacon in this stuff... my personal heaven of my three loves in one glass!

 961 characters

Photo of BeerNutz324
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pint can into a oversized wine glass

Ap- dark cloudy brownish/black with minimal head.

Ar- All I can really smell is coffee and maybe a little oats.

T- very smooth coffee flavor, refreshing. A little sweet too.

M- lighter on the tongue than I expected. Good carbonation.

O- An enjoyable beer. My brother and I split a 4 pack on the night I reviewed this. I little spendy in my eyes for a 4 pack (equivalent in oz. to a 5 pack) but good nonetheless.

 454 characters

Photo of heyta
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A -- This beer pours with a great big white head, but as it subsides it leaves pockets of white floating on the surface that look remarkably like mold -- not very inviting.

S - Smells like folgers instant coffee with a slight sour cherry note in the background.

T - Tastes as it smells. I like the coffee taste even if it tastes like a below average coffee, it's refreshing to find it in something other than a stout.

M - Nothing really special here, but the carbonation is good for this style.

O - I would drink it again. For the price and the alcohol content, it's a tasty beer to not get blasted off of.

 610 characters

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

I am a coffee fanatic so this review may be slightly biased

A- Deep brown with light edges. Beautiful head holds up extremely well with minimal lacing.

S- Perfect. Best aroma I have experienced from a beer. The coffee is present and primary but not overpowering. It plays nicely with the roasted malts. Some nutty notes are noticed in the background. Excellent.

T/M- What makes this beer superb is that the coffee flavors don't drown out the flavors of the original Bender. The coffee is noticeable most on the back-end. Up front you get the delicious roasted malts and nuttiness. Really balances out well.
A titch on the light-medium side but still, good mouthfeel.

D- A great, great beer. Surly hits a gold again with this brew. Drinking this beer sincerely improves the quality of my life. I can certainly get through a few of these in one session.

 859 characters

Photo of a74gent
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lots of expectations opening this one and they are lived up to well by the boys from Minnesota.

I think letting this one warm up a little enhances the smell, but causes the flavor to get a little acidic.

The appearance is a nice dark coffee brown...exactly what you'd expect.

Smell is super nice coffee ...just great. I may have rated 5 except that I had another coffee beer yesterday that was a little better on the nose.

Taste is exactly as you'd expect..It is more coffee in the nose and beer on the palate for me though. I think the taste starts out as 4.5 and trends downward a little.

The mouthfeel is nice but a little thin.

Drinkability is a really good although seems a little boozy (if that can be at 5 ABV) when cold. As it warms it changes in a real way...just different not worse or better overall. A very interesting drink...

 845 characters

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

A big thanks to wisconsinbeer1 for throwing this my way in a trade. A fine trader you are no doubt.

A - A nice dark brown ale poured with love into my anxiously awaiting glass. Nice puffy head that quickly backs off leaving some legs and lacing behind.

S - It's all about the coffee and this one certainly delivers. Not the charred blackened coffee that meets one's nose, this one is very inviting.

T - Lots of great coffee flavor dances on the tongue along with a little chocolate and smoke. The taste goes along with the smell. My wife who is a coffee hound gave this one an enthusiastic thumbs up.

M - A little on the thin side compared to the plethora of coffee stouts that dominate the beer shelves. Since it is a brown ale, that is to be expected.

D - You could probably drink these back for quite a nice session. Given its ABV, it allows you to enjoy more than one, that is for certain.

I really enjoyed this beer a lot. Seems like you can pick probably from 50 coffee beers today if you so choose. If you do, make sure that this in one that you do pick. It is worth it. Another cool Surly can has met its match.

Thanks Jason for passing along my way. I appreciate your generous trades.

 1,201 characters

Photo of caskstrength
3.61/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on tap, some cans too.

Big Surly fan here, found this one interesting. One of my first coffee beers.

Yeah, there's a coffee smell. But it's in my beer. Thought that might be fun and unique. it was, but it took a while, didn't like it initially. Flavors hard to get used to. but once you do, it's good, if you like coffee.

not my favorite coffee beer, but still pretty good.

the more I have it, the more I like it, so maybe it's better than I think. Read some other reviews, I'm flailing here.

 499 characters

Photo of schellsbeer
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Oh are the best in Minnesota.

I have been waiting some time to try this Beer since I don't get to the Twin Cities much.

Here goes the review.

For the most part, I really like this beer. I love coffee and I love beer so when a brewery mixes the two, it usually tastes great. I have had a few that were very first review was a horrid coffee beer....but for the most part, I love the coffee beer mixture.

So, when I heard that my one of my favorite breweries was putting their coffee beer into cans for a larger distribution area, I got really excited. I think that I personally ticked off a few local beer stores with my constant calling....sorry Keith.

Anyway....Coffee Bender doesn't disappoint when it comes to a beer tasting like coffee. However, I personally like most of the other Surly beers better than this one. Now, before anyone takes my head off for the above comment, listen to my reasons why. Like I stated earlier, I love beer and I love coffee. It is just that this Bender tastes soooo much like coffee that I wanted a little more beer flavor like you get in the real Bender. Don't get me wrong, I love this beer but for a truly exceptional beer from Surly, I would have to go with the Furious, as well as their regular Bender and CynicAle.

Everything is great about the Coffee Bender. Color, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel and low alcohol which makes this an exceptional beer to drink.

This beer, in my opinion, is an exceptional cold coffee. Serve it with eggs in the morning, a good corned beef sandwich for lunch, and a thick T-Bone on the grill for supper. Excellent.

I will purchase this again, but I will purchase much more Furious to just keep on hand.

 1,703 characters

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

I waited for this one to come out in cans to review. Every time I have it on tap I proceed to drink a lot more afterward.

Pours a few shades darker than a normal Bender, it looks like coffee in my mug, with a deep tan head. The coffee smells jumps right out of the can as soon as you open it, and blows up all over the room when you finally poor this bad boy into your mug/glass. This is made with some of the finest coffee available in the Twin cities, from Coffee and Tea LTD. It maintains that creamy rich mouthfeel that makes Bender so enjoyable, and gives the kick of a nice strong cup of coffee.

This is a MUST TRY for anyone who likes coffee and likes beer. Costs about 12$ for a 4 pack, $3 a beer aint so bad, if you consider that last week the only place to find this was at the bar.

 795 characters

Photo of nitro0292
4.84/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured this into a glass coffee mug. I couldn't resist despite the fact that this is beer and not actually coffee. Pour produced a solid one finger head with GREAT retention. Looks like black coffee. Some brown and red shows through when held up to the light. Head stays around like crema on a good cafe con leche.

Smells like coffee grinds. This does not smell like the roasty-sweet or roasty-bitter of stouts that "sorta" replicate coffee. THIS SMELLS LIKE ACTUAL COFFEE. Put this in a to-go mug and nobody will know the difference.

This taste like coffee. Not hot (obviously) and not as strong or as bitter as actual coffee, but damn close. This is truly a "coffee" brew. Very dry finish, just the right amount of roasty coffee and bitterness.

Mouthfeel is almost confusing. Its carbonated, so I know its not coffee but it is has low carbonation and is light bodied. This is not quite as thick or as smooth as regular bender but it is absolutely delightful.

This is for folks who like some beer with their coffee. This is like nothing else I have had. A true "coffee" beer. Outstanding and well worth the price and shipping.

 1,132 characters

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

Poured into a tulip.

A - nice dark brown color with an off-white head on top.

S - coffee, a hint of vanilla, maple, bread.

T - the coffee was a little weaker than I suspected, but it's there. This is basically a nice brown ale with a pleasant, nondominating coffee injection.

M - good carbonation, nice flavors, etc.

D - a delicious brew with a sessionable ABV that I could sip all night.

 397 characters

Photo of pigc
3.45/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep dark brown chestnut, almost black with two finger head.

S - Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa.

T - This is literally like drinking an iced coffee. Light roast, some bitterness from the hops. Plain and simple straight forward coffee beer.

M - Very thin almost watery.

O - One of my least favorite Surly beers. I get what they are doing, just wish it had a bit more complexity. If you are looking for an iced coffee with a bit of alcohol then this might be the beer you've been looking for.

 513 characters

Photo of Lazerlobe
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Solid khaki head, brown like a brown ale should be.

S: Cold coffee, stale coffee grounds, caramel

T: The coffee rides high, lining the walls of the mouth and instantly giving me coffee breath. Medium toast grain and brown sugar combine with lower intensity bittering hops to give the brown ale a bite.

M: Standard carb level and finish for a brown

D: This goes down easy but I have to say I prefer regular Bender. Coffee stouts too often taste like cheap gas station coffee. I get it, you used coffee but work on the balance and the bean a bit.

 552 characters

Photo of Momar42
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from can into standard pint glass

A - medium to dark brown. Not opaque but dark. Fair head of light brown head forms. Faint lacing present.

S - coffee flavor is there but not as strong as many have mentioned. This surely isn't the shot of espresso to get you going but more along the "cup o' joe" variety. Maybe a faint roasted malt, but not certain.

T - coffee flavor dominates upfront. Maybe a 50/50 split with the roasted malt flavor in the middle then back to the favor of coffee as it finishes with a nice coffee aftertaste. Drinks like a light bodied, but tasty coffee porter. Tasty.

M - mouthfeel is light to medium I would say. Carbonation is spot on. Slight creaminess that yields to a smooth easy finish. Well done.

O - I actually prefer coffee beers over actual coffee. If its possible for coffee to be understated it is here. There is just enough to really enjoy but not too much to overpower the exceptional quality brown ale. If you like this style, porters and/or coffee seek this out. Maybe not earth-shattering but a damn drinkable beer. Wish it was easier/cheaper to find. Good beer.

 1,117 characters

Photo of Genghis22
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Kevin, my Secret Santa!

A - Pours a ruddy brown. Ruby highlights when the glass is held up. Frothy coffee colored head. Good sticky lacing.

S - A strong smell of nice coffee. Not overly strong and burnt smelling like a stout, but also not weak and watery like the stuff they serve at Denny's. Bready, malty, touch of chocolate, with a bitter finish.

T - Nutty, malty delcious. The first taste is all brown ale, but the coffee creeps in and builds over time. The end result is less brown ale, much more coffee, with the hops coming in at the last moment. The aftertaste is bitter, mostly hoppy bitter, but also the coffee plays into it as well. Very nicely down.

M - Viscosity is nice, medium body. Not thick or chewy, but very fitting for a brown ale. Moderate carbonation, which really accents all the differnt flavors. Very well done.

O - If I could get my hands on this, I would be all over it. This beer is super tasty. It combines two of my three favorite beverages in one can, and does a fine job of it. The abv is also low enough to make this a beer you could have a few of in a session. I would love to take this camping, would be a great way to start the post dinner camp fire huddle.

 1,212 characters

Photo of Preismj
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: nice golden brown with a lovely quarter inch head. moderate lacing, looks slightly watery

s: coffee notes and roast hit up front, some smoke and a nutty vibe. smells like a wonderful brown with nice roasted coffee...

t: Lovely coffee up front. As the sip progresses I get a nut malt in the back that is just sweet enough to not overpower the coffee. the result is a wonderful mix of the two that is like having a nice cup of joe with brown sugar and hazelnut. Well done on the flavor

m: smooth and silky, perfect amount of carbonation to help this pop just right in the mouth. I do wish it was a bit thicker in body to match the bold feel of coffee.

o: I've only had 2 brews from surly though both have been utterly fantastic. Glad I got to try this and hope I can acquire some more sometime soon.

 805 characters

Photo of amcmaho1
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to UMNbeerhunter for this one!
Poured into an appropriate "surly" snifter
canned on 1/11/11

Appearance: Out of the can, it pours a very nice dark brown with some reddish hues. The color is very opaque and is contrasted by a big coffee colored head. The head has some great retention, and slowly starts to die down, leaving some thick lacking along all sides of the glass.

Smell: Some great coffee notes on the nose, but certainly not overpowering (though this is coming from a coffee fan). I think the coffee works more as an asset to an already great beer, giving some more dynamics. There is some definite malt character there, giving me a lot of roasty and charred scent. There's small stringency likely associated with the coffee, but as the beer warms it goes away.

Taste: The coffee definitely comes through in the taste, and seems so smoothly integrated into the beer. Since the "base" beer is the regular bender, there is some great oaty notes, and lots of sweetness too, though the mild hop profile and coffee keep it really well balanced. Certainly the balance of taste is what i'm enjoying here!

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, with nice carbonation. I've been drinking a lot of coffee-infused beers, and this certainly stands out as one of the easier drinkers due to it's overall aesthetics, approachability, and drinkability. I really wish we got Surly in New Mexico now!

Drinkability: This is a great beer, and definitely one which will appeal to the coffee fans among us. This beer seems to have a lot going for it, and i would certainly seek out future trades for more!!

 1,594 characters

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