Surly Brewing Co. Coffee Bender
Style: American Brown Ale
Serving Type: Can
Read more about Surly on Beer Advocate.
Aroma: Grainy dark chocolate and coffee aroma are certainly in the forefront with caramel notes in the background. There is a defined “grit” in the nose that I would guess is coming from the coffee.
Appearance: Though the name suggests coffee, this beer exhibits an appearance closer to dark brown, rather than coffee black. There is a small amount of deep ruby light getting through the edges. As you pour, the head forms about 1 finger of almond brown foam. The head falls fairly quickly however, to just a ring around the outside of the glass.
Flavor: A bite of cold press coffee hits you at the first sip. It is pronounced but not bitter. There is surprisingly a fair amount of sweet chocolate following this up. The flavor moves to light roasted barley in the middle with hop bitterness coming into play with an earthy presence. Toward the finish the coffee tones come back at you with a bitter flavor. The finish is dry with lingering coffee and hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with light carbonation. Not cloying or astringent but the bitterness in the finish will have a slight puckering effect. Though this is light.
Overall: An excellent example of coffee flavors and aroma adding to the complexity of the beer. The bitterness coming off the coffee marries well with the hop and roasted barley qualities in this beer. I feel like I'm saying it all the time lately but the mouthfeel is a little thin, it moves toward watery in the end but I suppose this leads to a crisp and clean finish.
As a side note, several years ago in the great white north of Duluth, MN I happened upon an event by Surly at a pub called Carmody Irish Pub. I had the pleasure of speaking with Todd Haug, head brewer of Surly, for some time. Perhaps it was the beer but Todd was so easy to talk to it felt like I'd known him for years. Here's a picture of my brush with brewing fame.