Cover Image: The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Lager Queen of Minnesota

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this ARC of The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradel.

When young Helen has her first taste of beer, she is utterly enchanted.  Immediately obsessed with the golden liquid, she dedicates her life to it, determined to have her own brand, and brewery.  But every story has it's dark side, and in this one, Helen takes every dime of her deceased father's savings, and leaves her sister Edith, completely in the lurch.

Sweet natured Edith knows hard work.  Working her fingers to the bone working odd jobs well into her seventies, sometimes without a car, she will do what it takes to support her wayward granddaughter Diana who was left orphaned by a car accident.

Diana is desperate to help her grandmother Edith.  So desperate that she learns a sneaky way to get into people's garages to lift and sell their possessions in order to help pay the bills.  But when she is caught and picked up by a neighbor who ends up taking her under his wing at his local pub, Diana finds herself also enchanted with the world of lager, and the story comes full circle.

Definitely what I call a "story-telling story," this is simply a happy/sad family story told over years and years and how two sisters lose and then find each other again.  I really loved the characters and watching them grow, and struggle, and love through all of their imperfections.
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I absolutely loved The Lager Queen of Minnesota! I had high expectations going into this book because I had really enjoyed Great Kitchens of the Midwest. The Lager Queen of Minnesota blew those expectations right out of the water!
The characters were human and felt very authentic and alive, the storytelling was tight and cohesive, and I loved how brewing beer brought a multigenerational group of women together. Diana and Edith were my favorite characters, by far. Edith's steadfast refusal to give up reminded me of my own grandmothers. Diana's struggles in the face of major loss as a teenage girl made me root for her to find her way and become the woman she wanted to be. Helen was a very strong character and fell easily into the "love to hate" category. These three women might have been related, but what split their family and ultimately brought them back together was beer. And like any good beer, it took them several tries to find the right recipe to find happiness and success.
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Great story about three women in the same family who brew beer. Nice acknowledgement to our bookstore, Prairie Pages (page 341: Prairie Pages IPA).
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Read my 3-star review of The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2976710448
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What an absolutely wonderful story. I loved that the focus was on the strong women and not very much on their relationships. I think every woman could see a little of themselves in these empowered female characters. 

It was a little difficult at first to follow along since it would switch perspectives and time but everything came together at the very end. 

As someone who can't drink at all, I was a little worried about the beer theme but looking back I don't know why I worried. The passion that everyone had on brewing beer was universally relatable. Passion is passion and I love how it was expressed in each of the different women in the family.
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Stradel hits it out of the park again!  Maybe because I can see myself in his characters (both Helen and Diana) and their love of beer and making beer.  Or the fact the I know an Edith or two.   The characters are quirky and real and support one another.  I enjoyed this love story to BEER and the Midwest in this family drama.
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This was not as light a read as I expected but I loved the story of the 2 sisters who hadn't talked in years and the reasons why. GREAT ending though!
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Stradal's sophomore novel is just as delightful and enjoyable as his debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. With a cast of quirky characters, laughter abounds and drives the book along to a satisfying ending. As a beer lover, I particularly loved the depth of research he did.
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Growing up in the upper Midwest and having lived right on the border with Minnesota for a few years, the quirky characters and descriptions of small-town life in "The Lager Queen of Minnesota" reminded me of home. The hard work and strong determination of Edith, Diana, and Helen definitely capture the way of life up north. What a great summer read.
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An incredibly sweet story. I have a whole new appreciation for craft beers and the art that goes into making them.
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This book was absolutely delightful, so much so that I’d already read it by the time my Netgalley copy was approved!  I love Stradal’s characters and especially love to see a wide array of ages represented without resorting to stereotypes in this text.  The Lager Queen is also a deeply researched book and Stradal’s descriptions of beer and brewing made even this self proclaimed beer hater interested in learning more!
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What a sweet story!!!! I loved this multi-generational tale of strong women and their bonds that lead them through hardships toward ultimate survival. I loved the way this story unfolded. Though sad at times, it is ultimately a feel-good delight! Highly recommend.
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The best book I have read all summer.  A generational tale of two sisters torn apart by the sale of the family farm.  One sister receives all the money from the sale and goes on to be very successful, while the other lives from paycheck to paycheck.  Life goes on and yet they never once speak to each other, even as tragedy hits.  Both not knowing they are living different but parallel lives that may intersect over brewing beer.
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I really enjoyed this book as I was reading it, but having spent a few days to marinade on it I'm thinking... will I even remember this book a year from now? I'm not sure. It was just a good read in the moment. I like the way the author wrote from all the multiple perspectives every chapter, and not in chronological order because it ended up feeling like puzzle pieces fitting together as the story went on in a satisfying way.
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Make room in your beach bag for this perfectly delicious summer read- and make sure to have a tall glass of lager by your side while you do.
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I was really excited about this book. Although I am not from the midwest, I'm a female brewer and have a small farm of my own, so the premise of this book intrigued me and I was very excited to read it. I'm about halfway through, and I don't even want to finish it. Out of curiosity, I checked the Goodreads reviews and everyone loves it, but I just can't make myself read anymore. It isn't bad, but it falls flat for me. One thing that stumps me is that usually when a young person tries any sort of alcohol for the first time the overwhelming response is bad. Usually the taste is acquired over time. Helen immediately loves beer and sets out to make it her life's goal to be a brewer from the time she is a teenager. Which is very cool, except it is unbelievable to me. Not even a lot of young men set out that way just because they like beer.  I despise the fact that she picks her husband based on the fact that his family owns a company that she can turn into a brewery. Edith's story is blase and depressing and her granddaughter Diana's is even worse. I really really want to like this book, but I'm going to table it for now.
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This is the story of strong and gutsy women, two sisters and one grand daughter, who become involved in various ways in the brewing industry.  Edith is the older sister and has worked hard all her life baking exceptional pies and working in marginal jobs, while her younger sister Helen inherited (unfairly?) the family farm and was able to develop a very successful brewing company. Because of bitterness over the farm they haven't spoken in years.  Diana is Edith's grand daughter, and after her parents die, she is able to keep Edith afloat financially by shoplifting and home robberies.  Helen has loved beer since her teen years, so creating the perfect beer is a passion for her.  Diana is introduced to the beer business when one of her robberies goes bad and the victim hires her to pay restitution.  It is inevitable that the three women and their avocations and vocations will run into each other by book's end, and when they do it has been a most satisfying and entertaining journey.
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4.5 stars

Stradal has much talent in capturing the spirit, behavior and voice of the Midwest. I really like his previous book but this one is even better. It's a story of indomitable spirit and just plain old-fashioned work ethic, particularly for the strong women in one particular family.

His insights and language are wonderful. There is humor here, and pain, all presented in that matter of fact way. This is a family story, but not a simple one. It is also an homage to those moms and sisters and grandmothers who worked hard every day of their lives because it was what they knew.

The thread of beer brewing that runs through the story is interesting and believable. I highly recommend this book. I am still pondering the ending, which felt a bit abrupt, but the more I think about it, the more I think it was just right. These people feel like friends and relatives that we have known a long time. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Oh man, cannot wait to talk to J. Ryan Stradal next week in an author interview! This hit every sweet point of nostalgia for me. It may be sentimental hogwash, but I loved the main characters, the beer centered plot, and the Minnesota setting. It was perfection for me.
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Stradal writes about women and the Midwest and food (or in this case beer) with an incredible gift. I loved the characters, especially Edith but also Diana. I struggled a bit with Helen, who seemed to care so much about beer and yet dedicated her career to making something pedestrian instead of something wonderful. Of course, she was also a woman in a man's world, which contrasts strongly with Diana in the early 21st century, whose main problem is financial, not gender oriented. Stradal explores women's issues, family relationships, the choices that carry us in different directions in our lives, and all kinds of other complex concepts in a book about beer. Now, I'm not usually one who goes running for books about the Midwest (as I do for books about Virginia), but his works, in addition to being love letters to the things we consume, are also love letters to his personal geography, and I feel like this region that is basically alien to me becomes comfortably familiar through his writing. It's wonderful. I really hope I don't have to wait 4 more years for his next offering!
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