Thanks for everyone's advice! I had a lot of fun at the beer store, and the best part is, for a wine drinker who never liked beer, I'm looking forward to more exploring.
As far as Thanksgiving goes, it turned out only one guest wanted beer with the meal. So, I am very keen to try the three bottles of lambic (two of Cantillon and one Drei Fontanen Kriek, yes I did find them!) another time soon. (I only got a few as I wasn't too sure about my guests' preferences, but after reading further about lambics I was very interested.) For my one Thanksgiving beer drinker (and me) the Ommegang Hennipin was a hit. And I also got a bottle of Three Philosophers just for fun, since it sounded interesting, and that one didn't get drunk, so that's also going to be a future share with friends.
Thanks again, and hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.
There are some great suggestions here for a wide range of beer drinking devotion.
That said, I think before you go out and drop a few bucks on good beer you need to make sure you are pairing the right beer for the right beer lovers.
Beer lovers is kind of a loose definition.
A beer lover could be as simple as a person who does not drink wine but drinks only macros or dabbles in gateway beers.
Or they may be full blown beer geeks who would really appreciate a awsome sour as Josh is serving ( nice ).
I think before you buy you should find out what level of beer lover they are and then go from there. They themselves may even have some suggestions or if they are hardcore they will bring something special out of their cellar to share.
With a little more info you will have a perfect match of food, beer and beer lover.
There are some good suggestions here, but ultimately the seasonings of your food and the flavors are going to determine good beer matches. I've served traditional lambics w/ Thanksgiving before and those have typically been the best pairing of all. Drei Fonteinen Kriek (a sour cherry lambic) was really, really good with everything on the table. It worked with sweeter food items as well as savory.
That's an important consideration, since Thanksgiving meals tend to be eaten all at once, and not really in courses. Brown ale or porter may be great with the turkey, but fall down when confronted with cranberry sauce. This is why lambic or gueuze would be my go-to style for Thanksgiving dinner - the tart flavors make it a good match for all kinds of food, sour, sweet, savory, salty, oily.
If your guests are real beer lovers, then find some Cantillon or Drei Fonteinen bottles. It'll be worth the effort.
Just like there is a wine for every dish, so the same can be said for beer. There is a lot of info available on the web; a good site to find out about beer pairing is http://www.beerinfo.com/index.php/ind...
My son works in a pub and I went to him for most of my info .the basic two types of beer are lagers and ales. Lagers are a lighter colored, clean, crisp tasting beer, although there are some darker lagers out there; some lagers include Coors, Budweiser, Yuengling, Michelob, Sam Adams, Molson, etc.
Although there are some light Ales, the majority tend to darker & heavier, and range in flavor notes from fruity to spicy with the lighter ales ranging in crisp, dry, and light malty flavor palates to bitter for the darker the beer. Some brands of ales are: Bass Ale, Blue Moon, Budweiser Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, & Newcastle Brown Ale.
There are also specialty beers, some of which are in stores year round but some only available during the holidays. Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Pete's Wicked Wanderlust Cream Ale, Chocolate Porter, Chocolate Indulgence Stout, White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager, Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale, Imperial Smoked Porter are but a sample of the beers available either in stores or online. Hope this gets you started.
I'd go light with the first courses, so that would be wit beers and lagers. Pilsners (a style of lager) like Victory Prima Pils would be my choice for appetizers and could even extend into the meal. Belgian -style saisons and ales would be a good choice for the main course, but you have some good options if you want to keep your American theme. Try the Ommegang Hennipin, an American style Belgian ale. American pale ales and India pale ales would also be a good choice for the main course, for beer lovers who appreciate hoppier styles. Dark lagers and brown beers would work too. For dessert, you can serve stouts and porters with chocolate and Belgian style trippels with cheese.
There are many beers that could pair well with a Thanksgiving Dinner. Since you mention beer lovers, that to me means people that have personal preferences. Depending on your guests, I would plan on at least allowing for 4 beers apiece. A variety of quality brews would give options for your friends. I would look for a good Brown ale for savory flavors, as well as a clean Lager for general purposes at least. You are in Pennsylvania correct? Boston Brewery should be available in your area and does some nice brews. Avoid the American Macros (Youngling is near you), but this is Thanksgiving after all, so represent and avoid imports. Variety is great.