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Bender - Oak Aged | Surly Brewing Company

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Very Good
58 Ratings

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-24-2007

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Ratings: 58 |  Reviews: 24
Photo of Norvelljeff
5/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of millelacsmark
5/5  rDev +26.3%

Photo of objectivemonkey
4.78/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally getting this review down.... So Todd stops by Cafe 28 the evening before Thanksgiving, cask in hand. As funny as it seemed, we'd been drinking Darkness all night long, but that wasn't the beer we were excited for...

Into a pint glass, poured the same dark brown with ruby hues, a thick and creamy head of light tan that stuck around for a long time, leaving rings and blobs and tons of lacing. The aroma was unmatchable... the most oaky nose I've ever encountered, with all that lovely Bender chocolates and thick malt and bit of earthy hop. The taste follows suit, oak being the first though... it was just dripping with the woody goodness... it was just unreal. Add a smooth a tasty mouth and you have yourself one fantastic brew.

 741 characters

Photo of brandoman63
4.75/5  rDev +19.9%

Photo of blackearth
4.68/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this beer at Surly during the AHA rally. It poured a dark brown to black body with large amount of foam that ranged from large bubbles at the top of the head all the way down to micro-scopic white bubbles at the bottom of the head. Subdued aroma of chocolate and roasted malts. The mouthfeel was medium bodied and creamy. The taste was terrific - it was like chocolate milk or a chocolate malt. Just amazing.

 414 characters

Photo of hardy008
4.62/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at Darkness Day, and it was one of my favorite beers of the day. Poured a dark brown color with a small tan head. The smell was oak, whiskey, some sweet malt, and vanilla. Same for the taste. This was just fantastic to drink. Light bodied with low carbonation. This beer stole the show for me at Darkness Day. It is insanely drinkable.

This review was missing after a server crash. Added back on 10/28.

 412 characters

Photo of pwoods
4.52/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Cask at D-Day. Notes from text.

How much better could Bender get? The body is so smooth and creamy. The oak adds so much dimension. Along with the toffee, coffee, and cocoa, the oak adds a great woody, earthy note and then rebalances with a hint of vanilla. The hops pop beautifully when the beer is this damn fresh.

 317 characters

Photo of EROCK75
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of jera1350
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at DD 09. Deep dark brownish black color with a thin layer of foam. Smells like sweet roasted malts with a slight bourbon and vanilla extract scent. Hint of oak on the nose as well. Taste is outstanding. A lot like the nose. Sweet deep caramel malt with a bourbony oak and vanilla extract flavor blended in. Silky smooth, almost full bodied. Creamy texture. So tasty and easy to drink. If you like Bender, chances are, you will love this one. Care for a can of this anyone??? I do!

 489 characters

Photo of camp0474
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this one at the Happy Gnome Surly beer dinner. Aged in cask with oak spirals for 11 days, told it was "younger" than usual.

Appearance was similar to regular Bender. Head appeared different do to natural carbonation during cask aging.

Smell was sensational. Malty goodness with almost a bourbon smell punching through from the oak.

Tasted great. Fine balance of smoky flavor from the oak balanced with the malt.

Mouth feel was something I haven't had before. The cask aging created a great velvet texture.

This was my first experience with cask aged beer and it was a great one. One of my top beers I have ever enjoyed. I would highly recommend trying this beer if the opportunity arises.

 700 characters

Photo of Duffman
4.45/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Sampler glass at the Firkin Fest at the Happy Gnome

Pours a dark, though not too dark (lighter than a porter or oatmeal stout) with a light coffee colored head and some beautiful amber-wood tones to it.

The oak is dominant, overpowering slightly. Coffee is prominent, and chocolate to a lesser extent. Toffee, nutty A robust scent with some kick to it.

The taste is delicious. A deep oakiness, complimented by some of the traditional flavors of bender. Scotch-like in the oaky smoothness, a most welcome beer experiment. Roasted nuttiness, lots of coffee, some chocolate, and the faintest hint of vanilla.

Exceptional woody smoothness, a clinging and inviting, though deep body. It just feels right, it has a texture and a quality unlike any other beer I've tasted.

Drinkable, but a tad bit heavy, not something you would drink quickly or in large amounts--despite the smoothness--even if you wanted to. Not bad though.

 925 characters

Photo of mothman
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served into Surly pint glass

Pours a fizzy tan head. Head fades away semi-quickly. Color is a dark brown.

Aroma: Wood, oak, chocolate. Very malty. Some earthy hops. I like this better than bender

Taste: Big oak/wood flavor with vanilla, chocolate, coffee. Very malty with earthy hops. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: Very refreshing feel, crisp. Light to medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Very smooth and clean. Ends clean and coffee flavored with oak aftertaste.

Overall, damn drinkable. Very great and easy drinking. Tasty and I want more. I wish I had access to this on a regular basis.

 602 characters

Photo of Zatch90
4.34/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Oboogie
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of Narthax
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bfirkin45
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of herman77
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at Cafe 28 for Surly's 5th Anniversary party.

A: Dark brown, nice light tan head with amazing retention. Good lacing.

S: Lightly roasted malt, some woody/oaky notes, a bit of coco and hints of coffee. I remember it having a better and stronger nose when I've had it in the past, but I guess this one could have been aged longer/shorter on the oak spirals.

T: Again, its a lot like normal bender with obviously a more oaky/woody taste and a hint of smoke.

M: Medium body, soft carbonation from the cask. Very smooth and velvety feeling.

D: Great drinkability. Brings out all the high points of normal bender.

 621 characters

Photo of younger35
4.16/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had a couple glasses of this stuff at the American Homebrewers Association rally at Surly. Surly was kind enough to let us drink our asses off AND giving us free wort. Kudos to Surly and Northern Brewer for their generosity.

Appearance - Pours a very murky dark brown and since it's on cask it come out with about a 4 finger dirty tan head. Loads and loads of yeasties floating about and the cap never really falls below one finger.
Smell- Very subtle nose for the most part. Very toasty and nutty with a deep earthy maltiness. A slight bit of fruity hops waft out as does a light yeast. Not much in the way of oak, hope the taste is a bit stronger.
Taste- Starts briskly toasted and nutty with a nice smooth cocoa-ish quality. Has a way more chocolaty aspect than the original. Macadamia nuts and some nice citric hoppiness make their way in. A bit of lemon peel adds a nice crisp zest. Again, like the nose the oak isn't all that strong. Maybe a tinge of vanilla but that's about it. I think the oak may have something to do with perceived strong cocoa character that I don't necessarily get in the original.
Mouthfeel- F you gotta love cask beer. Smooth as velvet with a creamy slickness that is absolutely amazing. Hardly any carbonation with a bit of stickiness.
Drinkability- I don't know how this could be anything but a 5. This is one of those brews that you could literally drink all day. The normal Bender is great but this is a nice change of pace. I don't know if the oak does much if anything but its great none the less.

 1,535 characters

Photo of brdc
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not sure if I can call the serving a cask, but that is how it has been rated by others.
Had it at Darkness day.

Slightly darker than the original, with a small tan head that fades quickly but has sticky lacing.
It still resembles more a porten than a brown ale: caramel, malts, burnt sugar, coffee and a tiny bit of hops, some fruitiness that resembles cherries, and a bit of vanilla too; the aging added more vanilla, it appears.
Taste is very similar, and it might have gotten lighter and even easier to drink, but the flavor profile did not later much from the can version.
Bitter coffee, followed by some sweet caramel, then bittersweet chocolate.
Medium-bodied, creamy, it is a great brew but not necessarily a lot better than the can.

 746 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this via cask both at Darkness Day and Sheffield's Beer School Bar Festival. Actually got a glass (and not a plastic cup) at the latter so I thought it'd be fair game to review at this point.

A - Tiny tan foam that dissipates quickly. Not much visible carbonation (no surprise here) - dark reddish-brown color that actually looks lighter(!) than the regular Bender.

S - Typical Bender smell, but with mild whiskey overtones. You've got the usual biscuit, molasses, vanilla, chocolate malt, coffee, and candy that you'd expect. Not as hoppy as regular Bender. There isn't a huge difference here.

T - Definitely some whiskey bite in this one, particularly at the back end of the palate. The sour whiskey character balances what is otherwise a very sweet beer.

M - I found the original Bender to watery, and the cask conditioning solves that problem - this is one smooth and creamy brew. However, the lack of carbonation is unfortunate, as the whiskey screams for that complementary tingle.

D - It's almost as drinkable as the regular Bender. I'm sure the ABV is a little higher but it's not really noticeable. The reduction in carbonation is definitely a plus for long sessions. However, the whiskey taste wears on the palate in a way that the original beer doesn't. There's also the obvious issue of availability and portability here...

This was a little bit of a disappointment. I think some of Surly's other experiments (Tea-Bagged Furious, Ashed Cynicale) are much more successful. This doesn't really improve on Bender - it's just a different riff.

 1,561 characters

Photo of tempest
4.12/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a firkin at Groveland Tap.

Delivered with zero head and a murky body from the firkin, served a touch too cold. As it warmed, a nice aroma of vanilla and oak came out with a little cocoa behind it. The flavor is a subtle mix of the oak and vanilla with smooth chocolate malts, a touch of coffee, and fruit punch hops. And it finishes with a long aftertaste of mocha coffee/dark roasted grains.

This is a must-try for Bender fans, the oak adds a nice extra level of flavor.

 486 characters

Photo of MPLS
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stumbled upon this cask well after I thought it would be polished off.

A: Bad ass brown with the bottom of the pint glass looking almost red hue. The cask gives this beer no lacing and a saliva like layer of head, maybe.

S: Almost the same nose as regular Bender, perhaps a little less vivid.

T: Milky, malty goodness. The hop profile of regular bender is really tamed with this one and replaced with oak. Maybe think Bender plus vanilla tootsie rolls?

M: Smooth as silk, creamy, but no carbonation to speak of.

D: The silky smooth mouth feel made me spring for multiple pints, easy easy drinking because of its cask nature.

 629 characters

Photo of MNMike
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of rudylaw
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

@ Clark St. Ale House

Pours a tan, foamy head from the cask. Looks and smells like regular Bender but with some vanilla, oak and malt. We also have bits of coffee and chocolate, of course. Almost no carbonation as it glides down extremely easy. I'm glad I got to experience this.

 280 characters

Photo of tribeerguy70_3
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Bender - Oak Aged from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 58 ratings
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