Surly Coffee Bender
Type: Brown Ale
I had this beer almost a year ago on my birthday when it was available at Mikkeller & Friends. Little did I know that in the coming year I would get to meet the brewer responsible for this giant can of java bliss. Not only that but get to chat with him and his wife over a glass of it while at Copenhagen beer celebration! Thats right I have had the privilege of having this beer twice within a year, something I am guessing those that don't live within the distribution footprint don't get often. Sometimes I have a beer, think it's great, then months or even years later have it again and totally change my tune. The hazards of being a beer blogger and trying hundreds of different brews. There is almost always a better example of a style, or something more to your liking that will knock an old favorite down a few pegs. In this case though, even after many other coffee brown ales tried in the past year, I am happy to report this coffee bender is still the reigning champion.
Pours a medium brown or deep amberish color, the perfect brown ale color in my opinion. Not much of a head to speak of, but who cares, there's tons of coffee in there!!! Smell is all coffee, I mean it smells like cold brewed coffee. Little bit of maltiness makes it through, but that might be more wishful thinking because I know there is supposed to be beer in there somewhere. Onward to the taste, because honestly that is where the excitement is. Coffee is omnipresent here. Just like the can says, it tastes like an iced coffee. If there is any trace of the original bender...it is overpowered by the coffee, but not in a bad way. Sometimes an ingredient can take over a beer, and yes I just got done saying thats what happened here, but this is different...because it's coffee! You can tell the coffee used for this was super quality stuff. This is no Nescafe beer (if it was nascafe I would be so embarrassed). Even though I mentioned the powerful presence of the coffee, you can kind of tell this was pretty expertly blended. The wonderful brown ale is there underneath the coffee, and it adds a nice creamy malty sweetness as well as accenting the bitterness of the coffee with a bit of hops and a general nuttiness. Creamy thick mouthfeel, bitter coffee and hops in the aftertaste, but it smooths out into a creamy coffee and chocolate that lingers. It is a beer, but it is coffee, but it is a beer, but it tastes almost entirely of coffee! My head is spinning, this is like an amazing iced coffee with a little bit of cream and simple sugar, just like I order it when I am back in the US! So if you are a fan of traditional styles or using the adjectives "hint", "touch" or "subtle" when describing beer, this is not for you. On the other hand if you are a coffee fanatic who has always dreamed of alcoholic coffee (without the bottle of jameson), then this is for you. Bonus because it is session strength and therefore great for summer. Just like that tall iced coffee. Wholeheartedly recommended if you can get your hands on a can.