Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Bender - Oak Aged | Surly Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
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

Bros Score:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 58 |  Reviews: 24
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev +1%

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 XmnwildX12
3.25/5  rDev -17.9%

Photo of imperialking
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

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 brandoman63
4.75/5  rDev +19.9%

Photo of maximum12
3.92/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Two pints taken in the field at Grumpy's in Roseville last night where I met an old friend for a pow-wow. I've had this before, but not in quite some time.

Appearance is dead flat & brown, like a pool of limp coffee. Smell is Bender malts with dry wood thrown into the mix.

Oak-Aged Bender is a bit better than the regular version. The wood lends an extremely dry character to the base beer. Otherwise, it's malty Bender, woodyfied. The cask doesn't seem to be terribly kind to the base however. The malts & hops seem to be faded, washed out.

Very good beer. I'd take this over a regular Bender most days, but I'd love to have this on a regular tap line some day. I bet it would be even better.

 699 characters

Photo of Sparky44
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

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 gatornation
1.52/5  rDev -61.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

on cask 12 oz pour

A- a dark brown pour with a tan head and some nice lacing..looks good

S-whew..wet and used charcoal with burnt nicotine smells,smoke and malts

T- same as smell ,no chocolate,no hops,no vanilla,no malts, just a watery brown mess of a taste

M- watered down with no taste except for see above smells

O- the worst brew from surly i have ever had..it would have been a drainpour if at home

 408 characters

Photo of Hopstout
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of mychalg9
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of Sean9689
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stub N Herbs Pre-Darkness Day Party. Poured into pint glass.

A - Pours dark brown with a very small cap of cream-colored head that reduces down to a thin ring around the rim of the glass. No lacing evident.

S - Lots of oak on this for me (although some said they didn't get enough oak) which overpower some of the subtle notes I would probably pick up otherwise. Other then the wood/oak notes, it pretty much reminds me of regular Bender.

T - Lots of oak which kinda makes it hard for me to pick out much else. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad beer, but I really prefer the regular Bender.

M - Light bodied, very little carbonation, very smooth.

D - Easy to drink, but not quite my favorite Surly.

 716 characters

Photo of homebrew311
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Logged from notes, served on cask at Darkness Day 2011. Appearance is transparent brown with 1 finger of head and decent lace. Nose has roasted malts, mellow oak, subtle vanilla notes and a touch of cocoa at the end. The taste is smooth and well balanced. A touch of caramel presents a bit of sweetness with some chocolate and roast to follow. Finish has a bit of vanilla. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Overall, this is nice and drinkable but very tame in the way of flavor.

 476 characters

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 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 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 millelacsmark
5/5  rDev +26.3%

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 paco1029384756
3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep burgundy color with very little off white head.

Scent of oak, a hint of coffee and brown sugar. Not very impressive, falls a bit flat.

Taste of oak, brown sugar, and molasses. Pretty good, but not amazing, on cask I think this one loses it's appeal. I don't think I could drink often, maybe once in a while, but there are better options out there.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a fairly strong carbonation.

 424 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 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 lonewolfcry
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of jarrgal
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bender - Oak Aged from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 58 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.