Book Review: The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal


Title: The Lager Queen of Minnesota
Author: J. Ryan Stradal
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publish Date: July 23, 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.13


A novel of family, Midwestern values, hard work, fate and the secrets of making a world-class beer, from the bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, her older sister, Edith, struggles to make what most people would call a living. So she can’t help wondering what her life would have been like with even a portion of the farm money her sister kept for herself.

With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots. It’s Blotz.” Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota, Helen’s is as rigid as a steel keg. Yet one day, Helen will find she needs some help herself, and she could find a potential savior close to home. . . if it’s not too late.

Meanwhile, Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, grows up knowing that the real world requires a tougher constitution than her grandmother possesses. She earns a shot at learning the IPA business from the ground up–will that change their fortunes forever, and perhaps reunite her splintered family?

Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that’s often stacked against them. In this deeply affecting family saga, resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we’re surprised, moved, and delighted.

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Two sisters, Edith and Helen, lose touch after their father’s death. Edith struggles to make ends meet, but has a good heart. Helen uses her daring, yet sensible, personality to build a successful brewery.

Told using flashbacks and multiple points of view. Edith and Helen have very different personalities. After their father’s death, Helen uses the money from the sale of the family farm to open a brewery. Edith receives nothing, and has a lifetime of working low-paying jobs. Helen works hard to succeed in the male-dominated industry of beer making. Edith has a talent for making delicious pies, and works mostly in the food industry. Edith is also raising her teenage granddaughter, Diana. Diana works to help her grandmother pay bills, and ends up working in a brewery… and loving it.

I wasn’t all that interested in Helen and Edith’s stories. I loved Diana’s story though. There is a fair amount of beer lingo used in this novel, but you don’t have to be a beer drinker to enjoy the book. Personally, I do enjoy drinking and brewing beer, so I found the beer/brewery parts the most entertaining. Ultimately though, this book is about family and relationships.

Family drama with strong female characters. Told with a touch of humor, this is a delightful read. Light and smooth with a (heart)warming finish.

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