Sleigh’r—pronounced “slayer”—is the Eugene, Oregon-based brewery’s ode to the holiday season and thrash metal. Now on the tenth iteration, you can call Sleigh’r a winter ale turned up to eleven. Essentially, it’s a turbo-charged altbier (German ale fermented at lager temps) with a higher-than-average ABV and IBUs that lands somewhere between an amber lager and a black IPA.
Appearance and Aroma
The best way to describe the Sleigh’r bottle’s label design would be very metal. Edgy lettering and flames framed by runner sleds make the beer stand out from your snowman-covered Christmas ales. Out of the bottle, Sleigh’r pours dark brown with ruby hues and a frothy, tan head that sticks like cookie dough to the side of the bowl. Once poured, it smells like those cookies are almost ready for Santa: toasty malt mixed with notes of caramel.
With Sleigh’r, though, Ninkasi bucks all expectations. It’s got the flavor I want without the clichés.”
Sleigh’r is seriously smooth. Rich flavors of sweet bread and toasted malt are paired with a hint of roastiness. This rich malty flavor gives way to an herbal, piney hop bitterness much like a black IPA. And much like a metal song, the beer ends with a bold, yet dry finish that leaves me wanting more.
While winter seasonal often fall into the trap of being too sweet or too spiced. With Sleigh’r, though, Ninkasi bucks all expectations. It’s got the flavor I want without the clichés. Combined with its lusciously dry finish and bold hops bitterness at the end, this beer has me cheering for an encore.