Ninkasi Experts’ Holiday Sleigh’r Pairings

Food, beer, and celebration go hand-in-hand. Here, Ninkasi experts weigh in on their favorite food pairings with our Sleigh’r Winter Ale, guaranteed to escalate your holiday table. Take a gander and let us know your favorite Sleigh’r pairings!

Jules Lerdahl – Sensory Specialist

Charcuterie Plate

I love beer and cheese together, and my favorite cheese to pair with Sleigh’r is an aged gouda. Any aged gouda works well, as long as it’s old enough to have developed crystals (FLAVOR CRYSTALS!).

To make it more of a full-on snack, I like to add a crisp, juicy, flavorful apple and some seedy crackers. Each of these elements share both complementary and contrasting attributes with Sleigh’r for a balanced and complex pairing. Sleigh’r shares notes of nuttiness and toast with the seedy crackers, fruity esters and sweetness with the apple, and nuttiness and toffee with the aged gouda. For contrasting effects, the bitterness of Sleigh’r and the saltiness and umami of the aged gouda help bring balance and harmony to the flavor party.

I also like how many different textures are represented in this pairing: juiciness, crispness, crunchiness, chewiness, crumbliness, creaminess, carbonation… It’s a simple snack, but there’s a lot going on – pairings don’t have to be complicated to create an exciting sensory experience. Cheers! – Jules

Kiley Gwynn – Creative Project Manager

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Fall in Oregon heralds two of my favorite things, Sleigh’r and fresh chanterelles. Chanterelles are golden, wavy-edged treasures that are peppery, lightly fruity, and earthy with a delicate melt-in-your-mouth texture. While chanterelles are delightful in any number of preparations, throwing together a quick risotto has become my go-to dish. Risotto is a dish that I mistakenly thought was fussy and complicated to make for much too long of my adult life. However, it’s not! It does require about 20 minutes of constant stirring, but with a Sleigh’r in hand, I enjoy the task.

Sleigh’r’s roasty notes are the perfect complement to the mushrooms’ earthy umami, and the malty sweetness adds to the richness of the butter and parmesan. While the carbonation and bitterness in the finish of the beer lifts the richness from your palate, leaving you craving another bite and the next sip. While chanterelles are my mushroom of choice, the dish is still delish with other mushrooms like maitake, shitake, or other wild foraged mushrooms.

Andrew Hroza – Executive Chef

Pot Roast

Sleigh’r is a great beer for a chef! The maltiness makes it especially good for cooking because, when reduced, the malts produce a warm caramelization that lends itself perfectly to hearty Winter flavors. This pot roast is the ultimate stick-to-your-bones meal and one that’s equally good as leftovers the next day – so double the recipe if you’re so inclined! Better yet (and not surprisingly), it pairs perfectly with Sleigh’r!

Sleigh’r Pot Roast Recipe

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 1/2 lbs. beef top round or brisket
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. oil (canola)
  • 1 large onion, large dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 12 oz. of Sleigh’r
  • 2 C. beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 1 lb. red potatoes or small gold, whole
  • 4 carrots, large bias cut


  • Preheat oven to 300 F.
  • Mix flour, salt, and pepper and spread onto a plate.
  • Roll the roast into the mixture pressing and coating evenly on all sides.
  • Heat a Dutch oven or similar oven-proof pot with oil on high.
  • Carefully place the roast in the hot oil and sear for 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove roast from the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to low.
  • Add onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste, scraping all browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add Sleigh’r, beef stock, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook down for 4 minutes.
  • Place reserved beef, potatoes, and carrots back in the Dutch oven
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven for 2 hours

Sarah Johnson – Chief Experience Officer 


Often times the best pairing is a result of flavor matching, or contrasting, or textural and visual elements.  But sometimes the best pairings result from people you love and traditions you share.  This will be the first holiday season without my family’s beloved matriarch Nadine Johnson.  Grandma Nadine was famous in our family for making the singular oddity of a dish called Tomato Aspic every holiday.  Imagine a gelatin mold using opaque tomato soup as a base and any additions that seem properly festive.  How about canned peas and corn?  Or maybe bay shrimp?  While as kids we would point and laugh and make gagging faces, we all retain a love for the cold, jiggly, coagulated blood-like gelatin ring with curly parsley garnish.  And to be fair, the savory tomato pairs quite nicely with a mildly bitter, roasty Sleigh’r.  Cheers to Nadine and cheers to tradition!

Alex Kinsman – Assistant Hospitality Manager

Gourmet Pop-Tarts

Claire Saffitz, skilled pastry chef and overall sincere and ambitious human, gifted the world a guide to homemade pop tarts this year – therefore kicking off my new COVID hobby.

Brown sugar pop tarts are super easy and fun to make, though I’d recommend a Sleigh’r or two while whipping them together.

Jamie Floyd – Founding Brewer

Sleigh’r Ice Cream Float with Hazelnut Shortbread

In a sundae cup or other deep container, add two scoops of ice cream – one each of chocolate and coffee ice cream – and then pour over Sleigh’r. Dollop with whipped cream (ideally, freshly whipped!) and serve with a hazelnut shortbread or two (recipe to follow). You can also top your sundae with cocoa, coffee grounds, or chopped hazelnuts for extra flair.

Hazelnut Shortbread Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roasted, unsalted hazelnuts
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons corn starch or rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Hazelnut Shortbread Procedure:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in center of the oven for equal heat.
  • Use four 9-inch tart pans with removable bottoms or two large cake pans. Lightly butter or spray them with nonstick spray and lightly flour them.
  • Place hazelnuts and 4 TBSP of brown sugar in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch or rice flour, and salt.
  • In an electric mixer, beat the remaining sugar and the butter until smooth. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in nut mixture.
  • Divide dough into halves or quarters depending on baking utensil. Press each into each pan. Use a sharp knife to score each shortbread into even pieces.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Put on a cutting board and cut into individual pieces.

Bryan Nelson – Director of Hospitality

Carnivorous Options

When it comes to Wintertime, you can’t go wrong with pairing Sleigh’r with any kind of meat. Some of my favorites are fried or roasted turkey legs; meat on a bone, kebabs on the grill; meat on a stick, or any meat in tube form.

Looking for Sleigh’r Winter Ale? Be sure to check out our Beer Finder to locate it near you!

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