Brew Review

Beer Review – Ninkasi Sleigh’r Winter Ale

Way back in early November, an email from Ninkasi Brewing Co. of Eugene, Oregon landed in our inbox asking if we’d be interested in trying their Sleigh’r Winter Ale. We of course said yes, so by mid-December, the beer that you see in the above photo landed safely on my front porch. Our goal was to have this review posted by Christmas, but thanks to the fast, furious, and hectic holiday season, the days and weeks slipped through our fingers and we didn’t get around to sampling this beer until a week ago. Better late than never! Am I right???

Before we get to our review, here’s what Ninkasi has to say about their Sleigh’r Winter Ale:

Seize the season with Sleigh’r. Layers of deeply toasted malt are balanced by just enough hop bitterness to make it deceivingly drinkable. Paired with a dry finish, Sleigh’r is anything but your typical winter brew.

And now for our impressions of this delicious sounding beer…

  • Appearance: Dark brown color with ruby red highlights when held up to the light. A quarter inch of lingering off white foam.
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Doughy wet bread. A bit of malt. Some baking spices. Orange rind.
    • G-LO: Lightly spiced with some cinnamon, vanilla, biscuity malts, and just a bit of hoppiness. Picked up some candied orange peel too.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Medium mouthfeel with some nice caramel flavors and then some hoppy bite that lingers into a long finish. Not as much baking spice flavors as I was expecting. Perhaps it was too cold?
    • G-LO: Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Some of those cinnamon and vanilla notes are there at the start but fade pretty quickly. Mild bitterness takes over, but are balanced with a healthy dose of dark, malty flavors. The finish is a touch dry with lingering malts and mild bitterness.

The Verdict

Limpd: I’m a big fan of Winter Ales and use the Samuel Smith Winter Welcome as my measuring stick when it comes to this style of beer. While Ninkasi’s Sleigh’r isn’t quite at the level of the Winter Welcome, it’s still a very good interpretation of the style and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done, Ninkasi!

G-LO: Though Sleigh’r wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from a Winter Ale, i.e. I thought this would be more of a Christmasy, spiced up beer, what I found was a well balanced, moderately dark beer that is very flavorful and dangerously easy drinking given it’s 7.2% ABV. Definitely one to enjoy on a chilly winter night. And it’s good enough to make me wanna sing, “Oh-oh it’s lovely weather for sharing a Sleigh’r with you…”


Many thanks to Ali Aasum of Ninkasi Brewing for sending use these VERY generous samples!


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