Cover Image: The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Lager Queen of Minnesota

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Member Reviews

I like the writing style of J. Ryan Stradal.  I find that I can  easily put myself into this book as I was raised with Midwestern Values.  It's a tale of family, family conflicts and resolutions and along with that we learn about the beer industry
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A wonderful book to get lost in when those lazy, hot days of summer come rolling in.  Find that perfect lounge chair and dive into this story of family, hard work, and what can and can’t bring happiness - oh and the beer making is great too!
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An entertaining, humorous, and heart touching story with a dose of midwestern values thrown in. A good read for a relaxing summer day.
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Loved this book. It was a really fast read. The characters seem like friends. Great book you won’t be disappointed
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This book was an absolute delight.  Perfect follow up to Kitchens of the Great Midwest.  I loved the family saga, the characters, and the beer making grannies!
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As a native MInnesotan, of course I loved this book!!!  I'm not a huge beer fan, but I still thought the parts about beer were interesting.  I do love pie, so I did quite enjoy the descriptions of pie!  This is, of course, more about family.  A warm read with lots of heart.  Looking forward to his next book!
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No nonsense midwestern female characters drive this generational tale of loss, redemption, and stubbornness ... ostensibly packaged around a blue collar, determined perspective on creating your own path, let alone food and beer. Enjoyable, quick read; likeable protagonists. Would recommend this title to others, though I found the fuzzy logic of the characters and the rationale for various narrative threads too often lacking or unrealistic. Still a fun read.

(Reviewing ebook galley edition provided by NetGalley.)
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I loved everything about this book! The Midwest setting and authentic characters were by turns lovely and heartbreaking. Brava!
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The Lager Queen of Minnesota is a family story of strong women and their ability to stay strong through whatever comes their way. Edith is famous for her pies. Her sister, Helen married the heir to the family soda business and turned it into one of the top breweries in Minnesota. Helen also managed to manipulate her father into giving her the farm, and leaving Edith to fend for herself. Diana, Edith's granddaughter, whose life has generally been a mess, is given a chance to learn the beer business. Diana's launch of the brewpub coincides with the time she's ready to give birth. Diane needs help and it comes from an unlikely source - her grandmother Edith. Edith, along with some other grandmas, launch the brewpub and along the way, develop new beers and create a successful venture.

The early sections of this book follow Edith and her pies. We hear some about Helen, and then she pretty much vanishes until near the end of the book. Edith's daughter, Colleen, is skipped right over. 

 The rise and fall and the struggle of the characters is interesting, and a small brewery in Minnesota will almost always have a special appeal.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Penguin Viking Group.
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When you begin this book and read about Edith you think they must have messed up the title and it is about pie but you would be wrong.
The story centers around craft brewing but it really is all about the mid-western work ethic and how they are just good people who take what life hands them and make beer (or pie).  It is also about the stubbornness of sisters.  Warm, serious characters but also filled with beer foam drops of humor, this book is like a cold brew on a hot summer day - refreshing and leaves you with a nice fuzzy glow.  As an added bonus you will have a much greater appreciation for the craft brewing industry. Cheers and thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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J. Ryan Stradal's books touch me so deeply.  As a native Minnesotan, these characters so accurately portray the culture and remind me of home.  I also appreciate how he shadows characters, and yet still tells their stories.  Eva from Kitchens of the Great Midwest was like this, and in turn, so was Helen in Lager Queen.  They're not a part of the main story line for much of the time, yet they remain central.  I almost don't know how to talk about this book because it's doing something truly different, but in the best way.  I'm in love.
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I absolutely loved every second of this book.  It's Garrison Keillor and Fannie Flagg with beer nerdery. Which is certainly not a combo I ever would have thought I needed until now.

A generational tale that champions the unsung working class women of the midwest.  Power to the grandmas!
A family loving, losing, and growing within the realm of beer.

The setting was often so spot on, I felt like I was a customer sitting at one of those dark smokey Elks Club bars.  
This was also a wonderful history of brewing in the US within the past 50 years.  It certainly has changed! Also name-dropped some of my personal favorite midwestern breweries. And who knew there are so many female brewers?!? I didn't!  If the grandmas can do it, maybe I can too.

Best line ever "IPAs are just pumpkin spice lattes for basic white dudes."

Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for the advanced reading copy.
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Hearty Midwestern women are at the forefront of this warm, homespun novel. Told in nonlinear fashion, Edith, her sister Helen, and Edith's granddaughter Diana's lives revolve around economic survival in the food and drink industries. More than that, however, this book is about coming together over good food and great beer, and how family can be both discouraging and encouraging at the same time. This is a delightful family drama, both touching and humorous, with sparkling food writing.
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Helen falls in love with beer upon her first taste, and making her own beer becomes her passion and life's work.  To achieve her dream, she pursues it at all costs, including leaving her sister, Edith, out of the sale of their family farm, and severing their relationship for decades.  As the sisters age, Helen finds success while Edith experiences loss and hardship. J. Ryan Stradal captures the economic realities of middle and lower middle class Midwesterners, and celebrates the strength, talent and ingenuity of women, especially women in their seventies who aren't content to sit at home.  A terrific book to suggest to readers who loved Kitchens of the Great Midwest and Olive Kitteridge.
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This book will be greatly enjoyed by readers of Stradal's earlier book, "Kitchens of the Great Midwest".  In the Lager Queen, two sisters stop talking when one of them coaxes her ill father into leaving her all his money, effectively disinheriting her sister (whom she feels is financially stable).  The sister left with nothing becomes poverty-stricken after the untimely death of her husband, and is left caring for her granddaughter after a sudden car accident kills her parents.  The sister who inherited funds uses them to start up a brewery, and after tremendous hard work, is successful.  After years struggling, the granddaughter also becomes a beer brewer and savant and starts up a competing brewery.  While I did not find this book quite as emotionally engaging as "Kitchens", it was tremendously enjoyable in its own right and I will be recommending it to many.
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I recently read the quote, “IPA’s are just pumpkin spice lattes for basic white dudes.” After reading this book, I would have to disagree. I don’t drink beer and don’t know a whole lot about the process involved in brewing, aside from the fact that hops, barley, and yeast are used. That’s the extent of my knowledge. But, I like to cook so I do know that love and other feelings comes through in the creative process.
I devoured Stradal’s previous book, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST, and then listened to the audiobook soon afterward for another fix. So I jumped at the chance to read the advanced copy of THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA. It was worth every second of the wait.
There are three main characters in this book, their stories loosely intertwined, but the thread tightens as we progress through the book. How did beer become such a big part of their lives? Who is the Lager Queen?
While I am not from Minnesota, I did grow up with parents around the same age as Edith and Helen, two of the main characters. Like them, my parents were raised with practical values, a strong work ethic and a sense of frugality, which plays into these women’s story.
If you’re looking for a book that spans approximately 50 years, and you like to cook or drink beer, then this is the book for you.
P.S. Make sure you have a nice slice of pie and/or a tasty drink while you read this book. It will make a nice pairing!
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Beer?  Minnesota?  I'm in!

J. Ryan Stradal's <em>The Lager Queen of Minnesota</em> is a story of family and the pursuit of dreams. Edith Magnusson is famous for her pies since they were named third best pies in the state of Minnesota. Edith's sister is Helen Blotz. Helen turned the family soda business into one of the top breweries in Minnesota. Diana Winter has been a bit of a rogue, but when given a chance to learn the beer business she takes to it immediately. But just as Diana is about to launch her own brewpub, during the rise in popularity of IPAs, she's also ready to give birth.  Diane needs help and it comes from an unlikely source - Edith Magnusson.  Can a rhubarb pie IPA be the next best thing?

Stradal really captures the Midwestern/Minnesota vibe. There's an entrepreneurial spirit here among these three women (and in many of the other characters), coupled with subtlety and understatement. If you know many Minnesotans you will recognize this trait.

The early sections of this book mostly follow Edith and her pie making, which confused the heck out of me.  Twice I flipped to the front of the book to make sure I was reading the correct ARC because there was no sign that I was on the path to what the book was presumably about.

Books with female leads are incredibly popular today and it's great that Stradal takes on the challenge of bringing three women into focus, but the problem here is that Stradal only gives us superficial female characters.  They do some really wonderful things, and they struggle in a male-dominate world, but when you really get into it, there isn't much depth to these women. The genders could be changed and it wouldn't change much in the story.

Still, I enjoyed my visit here overall.  The rise and struggle of the characters is interesting, even if I didn't feel they were too gender-specific, and of course, small brewery in Minnesota will almost always have a special appeal to me.

Looking for a good book? <em>The Lager Queen of Minnesota</em> by J. Ryan Stradal is a fun look at the building and running a small beer business with Midwest ethics.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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I could read a hundred J. Ryan Stradal books about Midwestern women. I really enjoyed Stradal's debut, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST. In his second novel he tells a tighter story, focusing on three women in one family whose paths take them to work in breweries. Helen and Edith are estranged sisters who haven't spoken since one of them managed to get the entire proceeds from the sale of the family farm while the other got nothing. The story jumps around in time but we spend most of it with Edith when she's a grandmother, doing her best to scrape by with menial jobs. 

You don't get to see people working for minimum wage in an Arby's much in modern fiction (which tells you a lot about modern fiction) and it's to the book's credit that it finds the story of Edith and the granddaughter she ends up supporting much more interesting and worth telling than that of Helen, the one who gets the money. In a normal book this would be Helen's story. Helen has the kind of story we like to tell, it says something about a moment in time, about a driven and talented person, about what success looks like. But I, like Stradal, find Edith the better tale. Hiding within this story of women making their way is a pretty serious indictment of capitalism, over and over again we see the people at the bottom struggling while the people at the top get to decide everyone's fates, but prioritizing their own fates, of course. Even the chapters focus on money and what it means to these characters, with each one being named for an amount that will be pivotal to the part of the story you're about to read, whether it's a handful of dollars or hundreds of thousands.

I find this book so warm and cozy and comforting, though it isn't always a happy story. A lot of people die in this book, a lot of them run into real hardship. There's a lot of just-getting-by and struggling to get through. And it isn't like Edith is a warm and cozy type. Yes, she is a grandma who will make you a dozen pies if she thinks you need them. But she's a hardworking Midwestern woman who doesn't complain and who doesn't want the embarrassment that goes with a compliment. It's Stradal that brings the heart here, you immediately share his love for his characters. Your faith in him will be rewarded, you will get an ending where it seems like something is once again in balance, and the world maybe isn't quite so bad.
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A first purchase for adult collections where foodie fiction is popular. Perfect for fans of Amy Reichert and Louise Miller.
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An entertaining family story, The Lager Queen of Minnesota details the lives of two sisters, Edith and Helen, and their rise and fall from foodie fame in the latest book by J. Ryan Stradal. Bitter since their father left the family farm to Helen, Edith becomes famous for her pies that she bakes at a nursing home while Helen's lifelong dream of brewing her own beer comes true. Years later, both sisters struggle with their fallout from fame when Edith's granddaughter becomes a famous craft brewer. You will fall in love with the characters and root for their success as you read this tale about food and family.
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