The famous English theorist Alan Sinfield determined that all hegemonic ideologies sow the seeds of their own undoing. Sinfield must have surmised this after attending many holiday parties. 

The holidays depend as much on their strict cultural traditions as they do on the annual mistakes that disrupt them—the dropped Thanksgiving turkey, the fallen-over Christmas tree. It’s built into the idea of the holiday that the holiday must go a little awry.

So allow to me continue in the time-honored tradition of reinforcing these cultural narratives, if only to ensure the survival of weird stories to share when it’s all over. Here are some beer pairings for the stereotypical characters that ought to be at your Thanksgiving celebration. Even this stupid narrative conceit is hopefully upended by the irony that hey, since when do we drink beer at Thanksgiving?

Your parents: I don’t care if your mother is a fun-loving progressive that let you have wine at dinner during your senior year in high school. When she’s standing over the turkey and wielding a large kitchen knife, you’ll be happy that you’re on your best behavior. That’s why you should pair your parents with a super low-ABV Lambic beer. Lambics are Belgian style, spontaneously fermented sour beers, meaning that the beer is fermented over a long period of time with specially cultivated “wild” yeast strains. 

Wild yeast—which begets the category of “wild beers”—imparts funky, unpredictable, but typically sour flavors, and yields a refreshingly tart and rarely boozy final product. What’s particular about Lambics, however, is the addition of fruit to the fermentation tanks, giving these full-bodied, smooth sipping beers an unmistakable fruit-juicy character. 
I recommend picking up a bottle of the Belgian Lindemans Framboise (2.5 percent ABV), if only because Lambics are uncommon, and I’ve seen this brand around my local Whole Foods. Try their option brewed with peaches.

The stately grandfather: The first time I got buzzed, my very own stately grandfather was over for dinner and I shook a lobster claw at him at the dinner table. His reprimand has left serious emotional scars, and I’ve been desperately trying to rebuild a reputation for decency ever since. I imagine the same is true for my entire readership. 

This Thanksgiving, I’m pairing my stately grandfather with a Belgian Tripel. Tripels are pale, strong beers (with ABV usually near 10 percent) that incorporate complex floral and citrus flavors with a sweet, yeasty malt backbone. This might sound similar to other Belgians beers, but the Tripel is distinct in its degree of bitterness. 

Not unlike my grandfather, the Tripel’s characteristic bite reminds me at the front of every sip that I should sip my drink slowly and respectably over the course of the night. 
The Allagash Tripel is by far my favorite on the market: it moves through stages of spice, candied citrus and buttery malt, amounting to a beer so complex you’ll need to have several to account for its entire spectrum of flavors.

The crazy uncle: You would think that this unprincipled, unshaven stereotype ought to be crushing Buds all night long. 

On principle, I cannot recommend a Bud Light. Not even in the noble pursuit of perpetuating stereotypes. Not even to my worst enemy. And so I suggest that you purchase a six-pack of West Coast IPA. 

IPAs push the limits of what’s palatable, but we love them anyway. One sip of this mouth-puckering, ultra-bitter brew will put the same look on your face as one of your crazy uncle’s dirty jokes, so why not kill two birds with one stone? 

I suggest Baxter Brewing’s exceedingly bitter Stowaway IPA (6.9 percent) and Sierra Nevada’s palate-torquing Torpedo Extra IPA (7.2 percent)—for their astringency and because you can find them, fittingly, in cans.

The fun aunt: Nobody rocks the pixie cut and technicolor scarf like your fun aunt. Her name is probably Deb. Her boozy alter-ego deserves a similarly merry character, so peruse aisles of your local liquor store (tip: specialty wine stores are often the best places to find a good craft beer selection) and see which of your favorite breweries are offering a holiday spiced ale. 

This style varies in its offerings, but spiced ales usually attempt to encapsulate the holidays with festive seasonal flavors: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger—maybe even some hot peppers.

The brooding, antisocial sibling: He claims that nobody understands him, but his cigarette-burned Joy Division T-shirt gives him away: he’s undeniably a stout. Plunge into the dark abyss of your humanity with the taste of roasted malt, smoke and ash. Forge in the smithy of your soul with the help of dark chocolate and bitter espresso. 

Either way, the depth and range of flavor going on in this popular and delicious style will make your eyeliner run, it’s that good. 

North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (9 percent) is perhaps the paragon of dark, brooding brews, and luckily, you can pick up a six pack at Local on Maine Street. Two dependable backups are Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and Allagash Black, both 7.5 percent ABV.