Happy Halloween! Hope you got more treats than tricks in your goodie sack.

Over the course of this month I tried six different pumpkin ales–there are many more out there–but I got to a half dozen, not bad. I love a really heavily spiced pumpkin ale, so my first place winner was an easy choice: Southern Tier’s Pumking Ale. To me it was pumpkin pie in a glass. The first time I had it was at Melt Bar & Grilled, and the bartender said it would be my favorite. He was right, and that didn’t change as I tasted more of the seasonal samplings. I had the Pumking a second time at Chagrin’s newest restaurant, The Burntwood Tavern, where the bartender seemed pleased I knew what I was getting. And I found it at least once on my Heinen’s store shelves in bottles, and then at Lilly Chocolate in Tremont. After that it was gone, and that was only two weeks into October.

My second place finisher was Akron’s Thirsty Dog Brewery Pumpkin Ale. I first tasted it during Cleveland Beer Week, when I met brewer Tom at Parnell’s Pub and he explained that each batch was made with 140 pounds of hand-roasted locally grown pumpkins. It has a nice pumpkin flavor, good spice, and is very smooth.

I give third place to Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin. Tried that one at the Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood, also during Cleveland Beer Week. It has a very nice pumpkin taste, and good spices, and really could be my second, but I went with the local brewer. So if you like a nicely spiced pumpkin ale and see this one, buy it. (From their website, it looks like the Beer Engine still has quite a nice selection of pumpkin ales on tap–even the Pumking! Maybe I should go do some more taste-testing…)

My fourth place finisher is St. Ambroise Citrouille Pumpkin Ale. Recommended by Bob at my local Heinen’s during Beer Week, it was a little on the not-enough-spice side for me, but still had good pumpkin flavor.

I put Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela in fifth–it has a bit of a funk to its flavor for me. And I know a lot of folks love it, but the Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale is just all right to me.

Of course this list is based on nothing but my own tastes, so go out and explore what you like in pumpkin ales. What else have you got to do on a Halloween Sunday? <insert Vincent Price laugh>