The best and worst pumpkin beers for fall

Seasonal beers get heavier as the temperatures get cooler and summer turns to fall. They feel weightier in your mouth, full of spices and other flavors characteristic of that time of year. There are, overwhelmingly, two major kinds of seasonal fall brews: pumpkin and Oktoberfest. Pumpkin beers tend to be something you either love or hate, however not every pumpkin beer is created equal. Even if there are pumpkin beers you love to drink each fall while sitting beside a bonfire, you may not love them all. Here are the best pumpkin beers you can drink each fall — and the ones you should avoid at all costs.

Best: Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

If you like pumpkin pie, you'll like Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. It's by far my personal favorite pumpkin beer (that I've tried thus far) and I make sure to drink at least one every fall, otherwise, well, it's just not really fall. According to Thrillist, though it's undoubtedly a heavily spiced beer, it's also quite smooth. It's a bit heavy and more dessert-like than something I'd drink during a meal, but, it's still pretty easy to drink because of that smooth mouth feel. It's spiced, but not overwhelming.

Best: New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin

For its brand-new pumpkin beer, New Belgium created a pumpkin version of its popular Voodoo Ranger beers. It's spicier than other pumpkin beers, thanks to the addition of habanero peppers and Saigon cinnamon. Sweet and spicy is the perfect combination in so many things, why not in pumpkin beer as well?

Best: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Pumpkin beers can be a bit of a touchy personal preference kind of a thing. As noted earlier, just because you're obsessed with one pumpkin beer doesn't mean you'll like (or even be able to tolerate) them all. According to Esquire, Delaware-based brewery Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale — which has a bit of a cult following — is one of the best. It has hints of caramel from organic brown sugar that melds perfectly with the allspice that's also added. It's more than just a standard squashy pumpkin flavor.

Best: Cigar City Brewing Good Gourd

According to Thrillist, Good Gourd, made by Tampa's Cigar City Brewing, is the best-tasting pumpkin beer in the U.S. Between the spicy notes, brilliant burnt orange color, and pumpkin pie-like flavor, you might want to pick up as many bottles as the liquor store has available, as one single-serve bottle is certainly not nearly enough of this picture-perfect pumpkin brew.

Best: Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale

If pumpkin spice-flavored lattes are your fall jam, Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Company's Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale might be just what you're looking for. According to Vine Pair, it's everything that a pumpkin spice-flavored latte should be and more. The coffee comes from Stumptown, a favorite of coffee connoisseurs. It's creamy, spicy, well-rounded, and perfectly acceptable to drink any time of the day or night.

Best: Ballast Point Pumpkin Down

San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing Co.'s Pumpkin Down takes its Piper Down Scottish ale and makes it seasonal just for fall by adding baking spices and a ton of roasted pumpkin, which makes the pumpkin flavor all the better. According to Ballast Point, the spices are intended to complement the pumpkin, but you're definitely supposed to taste the pumpkin too. The caramelized flavors of the Piper Down Scottish ale base round it all out, providing the perfect backdrop for all of that roasted squash. Drink up.

Best: Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

If the balance of flavors is what's most important to you when seeking out interestingly flavored beers, you might want to try the Pumpkin Ale from New Hampshire's Smuttynose Brewing Co. According to Esquire, this particular pumpkin ale is one of the most well-balanced pumpkin beers you can buy. It tastes of pumpkin and baking spices, of course, as well as malty and bitter flavors from the hops and beer base. If you've never like pumpkin beers because of their overwhelming hits of spice, this one just might be the one to change your mind.

Best: Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale

According to Men's Health, Rogue Ales and Spirits' Pumpkin Patch Ale is one of the best of the best. It's made from pumpkins that were grown and roasted the same season that the beer is produced, which means, unlike so many of the others, it doesn't hit store shelves in July or August. When you drink it, it tastes of roasted pumpkin, classic baking spices like cinnamon and allspice, and deliciously complementary caramel notes that round everything out and make it a seasonal release worth tracking down.

Best: Saranac Pumpkin Ale

If you're looking for a pumpkin beer that encompasses fall flavors beyond just pumpkin and those delicious baking spices, you might want to try the pumpkin ale from New York's Saranac Brewery. According to Drink Craft Beer, in addition to the expected notes of pumpkin, baking spices, caramel, and toffee, you'll also get a bit of apple and vanilla, which you may not be expecting. The vanilla serves as a flavor enhancer, making sure each and every fall flavor in this beer pops.

Worst: Cisco Pumple Drumpkin

Nantucket, Massachusetts' Cisco Brewers created a pumpkin beer called Pumple Drumpkin for the fall, however it didn't impress testers at Paste Magazine. According to Paste, it was a thin, super-spiced pumpkin beer that tasted more like potpourri than anything else — yikes. If the weight and heaviness of other pumpkin beers are the number one reason you dislike them, then you might want to try Pumple Drumpkin, but otherwise it might not be the pumpkin beer for you.

Worst: Shipyard Pumpkinhead

According to Vine Pair, this pumpkin-flavored beer from Portland, Maine brewery Shipyard Brewing Co. isn't one worth drinking. They say it's a somewhat bland beer that made the pumpkin flavor seem like an after-thought. The brewery encourages serving it with a cinnamon sugar rim, which, on the one hand, could be a delicious addition with pumpkin, but, according to Vine Pair, is kind of necessary to bump up the flavors in this lackluster brew.

Worst: Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

If Blue Moon is your beer of choice, you might be tempted to try the brewery's pumpkin-flavored fall special release, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale. When compared with other available pumpkin beers, however, it just doesn't hold up. According to Paste Magazine, it tastes more like a citrusy wheat beer with a hint of pumpkin than a true pumpkin beer, while, according to Esquire, it's too watered down and doesn't taste like pumpkin. No pumpkin flavor is not really what you want from a pumpkin beer, you know?

Worst: Wasatch Brewery Nitro Pumpkin

While Utah's Wasatch Brewery has some truly great fall beers, according to Vine Pair, the brewery's Nitro Pumpkin just isn't one of them. The seasonal brew smells like straight cinnamon, unfortunately, so you're likely better off picking another (like Wasatch's Black O'Lantern) instead for a more pumpkin-y flavor. You want your pumpkin beer to at least taste like pumpkin, even if it's only a tiny bit. This one just isn't pumpkin-y enough. Bummer.

Worst: Southern Tier Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout

According to Paste Magazine, New York-based brewery Southern Tier Brewing Company's is one of the worst pumpkin-flavored beers available on the market. It's a stout, so it's a super-dark beer, with medium levels of squash and lots and lots of baking spices. Paste compared this somewhat popular brew to tar, black licorice, and stale brownie mix, so it's safe to say that unless those are your favorite flavors, you might want to look elsewhere when it comes to the best pumpkin brew for you.

Worst: Boulevard Funky Pumpkin

Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing Company makes many, many delicious beers, but, according to a Beer Advocate forum, Funky Pumpkin is not one of them. A poster on that forum said that it was the worst they've ever had. It's possible that the taster did not enjoy the funkiness of the beer, which is, undoubtedly, a matter of personal preference, you have to be pretty prepared for some funk with a beer called Funky Pumpkin. If funk or sours aren't your thing, this might not be the beer for you.

Worst: Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

Like with Blue Moon, if Shock Top is your go-to beer, you might wonder how the brand's Pumpkin Wheat stands up to the competition among available pumpkin beers. According to Paste Magazine, it doesn't taste like pumpkin (or any other type of squash) and it also doesn't taste anything like baking spices, meaning, well, it'll likely disappoint you if you're looking for a deliciously pumpkin pie-flavored beer for the fall. You might want to try something else instead.

Worst: Block House Pumpkin Ale

According to RateBeer, this Pumpkin Ale from Pennsylvania's Block House Brewing Company is fairly disappointing when compared with other available pumpkin beers. Reviewers noted that it's exceedingly sweet, over-the-top when it comes to the baking spices, and also a bit of pumpkin in there, as well. Several noted that they couldn't drink it because it was so sweet, so they ended up pouring it out. That's definitely not what you want when you're spending money on a new beer, especially one from a smaller, more local brewery. If you like sweet, go for it, if you don't, you might be better off skipping it.

Worst: Elysian Dark O' The Moon

Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Company makes many pumpkin-flavored beers come fall. Some of them are considered to be some of the best pumpkin beers available, however, according to Vine Pair, the brewery's Dark O' The Moon isn't one of them. The beer itself is a good choice, with sweetness balanced by bitter and some notes of cacao, however, it doesn't have an overwhelmingly pumpkin flavor and if you're going to drink a pumpkin beer, you want it to taste more like pumpkin than chocolate (still, yum).