Happy Halloween! I hope you all have recovered from the weekend and are ready to start partying again.

One thing I’ve noticed through my daily trips to buy booze over the past few weeks is that there are some interesting-looking pumpkin beers. After consistently brushing them off, I finally decided to buy a six-pack and try them out.

The first type of pumpkin beer I tried was America’s Original Pumpkin Ale from Buffalo Bill’s Brewery in California. Upon opening the bottle, the beer smelled like pumpkin pie. I excitedly started sampling the beer, but was immediately disappointed by the taste. This “pumpkin”-flavored beer did not taste at all like pumpkin. I imagined that while taking a swig of this nice, cold beer, I’d experience the rich, delicious taste and full body of a fresh, warm, pumpkin pie. After I unhappily chugged the remainder of the bottle, I wrote pumpkin beer off altogether.

A few days later, I found a different bottle at Trader Joe’s. It had a badass jack-o-lantern with a sweet king’s crown on the front. The bottle was also about twice the size of the crappy little pumpkin ale with the dumb-looking pumpkin in its patch on the label. I decided to give pumpkin beer one more shot, and I’m certainly glad that I did.

I didn’t have much to compare my new pumpkin beer to, but it definitely lived up to its name – the Pumking. Made by Southern Tier Brewing Company in New York, it kicked ass. The beer was bold and consisted of a variety of spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, vanilla and, of course, pumpkin. The beer even has an awesome story about a Celtic creature named Puca printed on the back label. To top it off, the beer is 9% alcohol by volume. After drinking a few of these delicious little treats, will definitely be for some tricks.

The Pumking beer got me excited, so I began searching for more brands of pumpkin ale. To further my quest, I went directly to the greatest liquor store around: Keg ‘N’ Bottle, which just so happens to be only a two-minute walk from my crib. There I quickly found a new brand of pumpkin ale. The beer, called Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale, is brought to us by our favorite makers of Bud Light – Anheuser-Busch. I grabbed a six-pack of this brew, and brought it home to my roommates and fellow alcoholics. We said cheers, and found ourselves immediately satisfied by the refreshing autumn flavor. Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale doesn’t smell or taste as pumpkin-esque as the Pumking, but it is still a delicious pumpkin beer.

I began perusing the Internet for more types of pumpkin beer and where I could buy them. Although I didn’t find many specific locations, most pumpkin beer can be found in the seasonal section of liquor stores and grocery stores.

Even though I have only sampled three types of pumpkin beer – America’s Original Pumpkin Ale, Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale – there are dozens of others out there. A few common ones you might come across are Lakefront Pumpkin Lager, O’Fallon Pumpkin Ale, New Holland Ichabod Ale and Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale from Coors Brewing Company.

Not only did I discover many different seasonal brands of pumpkin beer, I also found out why pumpkin beer can be “hit or miss.” As it turns out, many pumpkin ales are not brewed with actual pumpkin. When canned pumpkin is used in the mash, the beer can sometimes be more difficult to brew, and the result often doesn’t even taste like pumpkin. Instead, many brewers use a few drops of Lorann Pumpkin Oil or a variety of malts and spices that taste like pumpkin when combined.

This Halloween and Thanksgiving season, I highly encourage you to pre-game with a sixer of some type of pumpkin ale. Out of the few I came across online, the ones that were rated the highest were the Pumking and Lakefront Pumpkin Lager. Try to cruise by Keg ‘N’ Bottle and pick up some pumpkin ale while it is still in season. Nothing starts a night of crazy fun and drunkenness off like drinking a few delicious beers with some close friends.