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Pumpkin beer season is officially here, and so are the fanatical feelings that coincide with its release each year. A quick Google search brings up an assortment of headlines ranging from “Find fall bliss with pumpkin beer” to “Why pumpkin beer is the worst.” There’s no question that this seasonal offering creates a love-love dynamic for beer drinkers—those who love it, and those who love to hate it. For those who fall on the “love it” side of this polarizing question, we’ve prepped a little guide to help you get maximum enjoyment out of all things pumpkin beer.

But first, a little history lesson. It would be easy to assume that pumpkin beer was born out of the country’s ever-growing obsession for anything with “pumpkin-spice” added to the label. Alas, pumpkin beer dates back to colonial times, when brewers latched on to pumpkin as a fermentable ingredient because it had two desirable attributes: cheap and plentiful. Pumpkin beers enjoyed a good run through the 18th century, but its popularity dipped in the early 1800’s when high quality malts became readily available. It made its return in the 1980’s and has evolved over the last couple decades. Demand has waned a bit in recent years, but there’s still a wide variety of pumpkin beers released each year. So, without further ado, here are some ways you can make the most out of the season.

Let’s start with the obvious. The pumpkin beer itself. Thrillist waded through this year’s vast options and put together a list of “The Best 21 Pumpkin Beers in America.” This should serve as an excellent starting point for your own taste-testing.

Wondering what to eat while drinking your pumpkin beer of choice? From mole negro to chocolate cheesecake, the Food Network compiled mouth-watering recipes for their favorite pumpkin beer food pairings.

For anyone feeling sheepish about their love of pumpkin beer, you can go into stealth mode. Behold, eight ways to eat your pumpkin beer.

Lastly, you can experiment with pumpkin beer cocktails. Check out this recipe that combines pumpkin ale and Goldschlager. Mix up a batch of it in your uKeg and be the hit of your next tailgate or house party.

However you choose to partake, we hope you enjoy this once-a-year treat while you can!

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