Seasonal in the abyss

It’s time to slay fall with some Sleigh’r Black Bean Chili

The second the weather turns cooler, I start planning soup recipes, and I always look forward to making the first pot of my famous, not-so-famous chili.

Not only does the recipe include beer, it’s also mandatory that you drink a beer while you make it. Maybe even two. I’ve used a few different styles, mostly on the sturdier, full-bodied side—including Sierra Nevada Porter, IPAs like the 10 Barrel Apocalypse (Bend, Ore.), and a Laurelwood Free Range Red (Portland).

This time I went with Ninkasi Brewing’s seasonal (don’t be scared, I know it’s only October) Sleigh’r winter ale, a dark and malty beer that has just the right amount of hops to give it a boost. The malt also adds some sweetness, which is part of what I’m going for here, as you’ll see. Plus, it’s named after the band Slayer, so horns up to that.

I’ve been making this recipe for years, and it’s gained a cult following among my friends. The problem is, every time someone asks me for the recipe, I can’t tell them. Not because it’s top secret, but because I don’t measure anything when I cook—a pinch and a dash and a skosh is the way I roll. However, for this, I was forced to measure everything, and it felt like I was taking a damn calculus test. But I did it for you. For us.

In keeping with the Sleigh’r heavy metal theme, I used dark red kidney and black beans, and added more cayenne for extra fire. The result is a hearty, blood-red chili that’s slightly sweet with a nice kick.

Sleigh’r Black and Red Bean Chili


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small or 3/4 large yellow onion, chopped

3-4 smoked andouille chicken sausages (I like the ones at Trader Joe’s— really good, with a nice kick), halved and sliced

1 tablespoon garlic, crushed

2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes (low sodium)

1 12-ounce can tomato paste

1 12-ounce bottle Sleigh’r

3/4 cup chili powder

3 teaspoons cayenne

2-3 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

1/3 cup brown sugar

4-5 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

2 15.25-ounce cans kidney beans

2 15.25-ounce can black beans

Cracked pepper to taste

Directions: Add olive oil and onion to Dutch oven and set on burner at medium heat; add salt and pepper and cook 5-10 minutes, then add sausage. Add more salt and pepper, and add garlic. Once those stew together nicely, turn heat to medium-high and add tomatoes and paste. Bring to a boil, then add beer, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Add oregano and thyme. Add brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir and let that work around a little (taste chili, sip beer) while you rinse the beans in colander. Turn heat to low and add beans. Stir well and cover. Cook on low heat (the longer the better). After an hour or so, invite significant other in to give a taste test. Sip beer, and serve.

The Sleigh’r proved a good pairing, and any IPA will work, too.