RATINGS: 826   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.68/5   IBU: 45   EST. CALORIES: 153   ABV: 5.1%
Get Surly! Here’s what happens when substance meets smooth. This oatmeal brown ale defies traditional categories. Bender begins crisp and lightly hoppy, complemented by the velvety sleekness oats deliver. Belgian and British malts usher in cascades of cocoa, coffee, caramel, and hints of vanilla and cream. An easy-drinking ale with many layers of satisfaction.

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MoreHead (355) - Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA - MAR 31, 2006
suprised to see this spread out to the burbs and available at old chicago. had 4 beers this evening and this was definitely my favorite. nice balance of coffee malt and piney hops with a slight metalic finish. nicely done, cannot wait for more.

ElGaucho (2401) - Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA - MAR 20, 2006
UPDATED: DEC 13, 2007 12/13/07: Can courtesy of Vikingbeau. Aroma is better than it appears from my previous rating. Creamy, chocolate hop aroma. Mostly opaque, murky reddish brown body with a thin tan head. Sheet lacing. Quite a bit of flavor for only 5.1% ABV. I’d love to know what the caloric content is. A very enjoyable brew. Bender picks up 3 points from my earlier rating, all from aroma and appearance. Overall score dropped a point. 3/20/06: Not much aroma; a little faint chocolate malt. This is a dark brew (like coffee) with very little head. Very nice flavor; has some hops like a good American brown should. Chalky and chocolatety, perfect balance. Very nice finish; lovely. Ar 6, Ap 3, Fl 7, Pal 5, Ov 17

tennisjoel (1493) - Rochester, Minnesota, USA - MAR 18, 2006
UPDATED: MAR 21, 2006 On tap at the Blue Nile. Got to meet Pigfoot, who works there. This is my first from this new brewer, and this one did not disappoint. Bready flavor, with roasted nut and coffee overtones. Head was light brown, mostly diminishing. A clear body. Hard to categorize the style, but nonetheless, it was enjoyable. I can’t wait to try the furious; I’ve heard it’s pretty good from others.

WankerWeasel (18) - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - MAR 8, 2006
Had this beer at Champs in Maple Grove and Barley Johns in New Brighton. The 2 glasses I had at Champs had a definite hoppy aftertaste whereas the one at Barley Johns lacked the hop flavor. Beer was great at both locations. Going to pickup a 5 gallon keg The Liquor Barrel in Golden Valley this weekend for at home. Todd rocks!

Brewso (238) - Mt Kisco, New York, USA - FEB 24, 2006
On tap at Bryant Lake Bowl. Nice to see a new brewer in town welcome! As I tasted this beer I was plagued by the need to categorize. I say plagued because idealy one should approach each beer as if it were unique and appreciate its own nuance apart from the strictures of style. But I’m human so I kept thinking "too thin to be a porter", "not dry or nutty enough to be a brown". When I finally settled on "scotch ale" I could relax and enjoy. This tastes very similar to Three Floyds Robert the Bruce. It is dark, malty and chocolaty like a scotch with a scotch’s sessionability. The hops were unique and quite pleasant and reminded me very much of the Three Floyds interpretation. Well done and a nice addition to the regular taps.

Pigfoot (2268) - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - FEB 4, 2006
The Surly Brewing Company had intended from the start to create beers without definitions, that went beyond stylistic boundaries. With their initial releases, they have shown this ambition and realized it well. though we call this an American Brown Ale, it’s much more than that, and seems like a porter at times, which is how the brewer described it as, an Oatmeal Brown Porter. And why not?

Burnt sienna body, a crisp mahogony hue, with ruby crimson feet. Warm cocoa-toned head, like a cappocino topping, lasts long into the life of the pint.

Aroma is lightly nutty, slightly sweet, some caramel/toffee notes, then reveals itself dry and roasty. Earthy, open, inviting. I like it.

The brew boards the palate with confidence and lets loose an array of flavors. Malt is the main ingredient here, and some compelling ones were put into play, several caramels, some chocolate, (to make it more of a brown porter than a robust one) some Belgian Special B (yum, I’m reminiscing on some favorite dubbels at times), and aromatic hops. Chocolate is here, nuts, and toffee, sweet for a second, then dry again, and toasty. The oats add an excellent amount of texture and grit to the mouthfeel that makes every sip something to savor.

Body is medium to full, but it’s that texture that makes it memorable. It’s smooth, but substantial, with a long, memorable finish, the flavors echo with every drop that rolls back over the tongue.

Here’s a brown ale you can drink, and which makes you think. Rather than pass the time in between gulps of a light, uncomplicated sweetish brown brew, it grabs your attention and your palate and makes you wonder a bit about it, and ponder on what makes you like it so much. It’s an excellent introductory brew for this upstart, as people can reach for it again and again over a night at the bar,("another Bender", you say to the barman, and pretty soon you’re on one!) and still ponder on it’s quality and taste, and come back for more the next night.

beermatrix (1497) - Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA - FEB 4, 2006
On-tap at the Blue Nile: Murky mahogany color with a ruby glow at the bottom and edges. A mediumish sized capping of soft, light cocoa colored foam sits a top with good stamina. Fades to a thin collar and the lacing sits well across the glass in a broken sheeting.

Aroma is fairly solid of dryish black malt and chocolate malt husks. Tipping towards a sweet side with dark caramel malts and a milky powdered cocoa sense. There’s a nice little grassy hop note feathered into the husky tones thats quite nice.

Taste is rounded and immediate with a fairly full maltyness of caramel sliced with vanilla slivers, dustings of brown sugar, and breadish sweetness. Stays in place for good length adding oat barley flakes in there for some extra girth of sweetened breadyness before the sublime finish where it drys out with one fantastic realm of black malt-like grainyness and chocolate malt fluffyness. Slightly doughy but holds dry with a finely set tone of husk-like dryness. Very natural tasting and has a perky little hint to some grassy hops mixing in with the chocolatey dryness. A very nice taster. Nearly porter-like in stature.

Feel is fairly full and well-rounded; balance is slightly tilted in sweetness but then the finishing areas slide in with its intricately woven dryness pulling the sweetness off the tongue only leaving reminders of what once was. What’s left is a bready smooth porter-like soothingness with a small grainy, dryish, chalky, chocolatey milken texture. Unique and wholey acceptable in its sensibility.

Fully drinkable and sessionable. At around 5% this stuff can be had at the bar for a good long while and then some, and not get to terribly tiresome either due to its intriguing finishing qualities. A very nice American Brown/Porter-esk hybrid of a beer.

footbalm (1219) - Western Minneapolis Suburbs, Minnesota, USA - JAN 22, 2006
On tap at Winterfest.Very cloudy brew with moderate carbonation.Lots of brown sugar and something like a fruity doughball that sat up uncovered in a barn for a week or two, like they were trying to cross this with a gueuze.Not bad for there first offering.

MilkmanDan (1942) - Eagan, Minnesota, USA - JAN 15, 2006
Murky, deep brown. Nose lightly peaty, some caramel, bit of smoke. Hoppier than expected with some spicy and sweet earthy caramel. Great aftertaste, maple syrup sweetness hangs on for a very long time. Sampled from the brewery’s inaugural keg served at the St. Paul Winterfest in 2006.

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