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The Lager Queen of Minnesota

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  33,896 ratings  ·  5,240 reviews
A novel of family, Midwestern values, hard work, fate and the secrets of making a world-class beer.

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
Hardcover, 349 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by Pamela Dorman Books (first published July 2019)
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Steph I, too, live in the PNW AKA "Land of nasty IPAs" & couldn't agree with you more, Rebecca. I'm just glad that the local beer obsession means that IBUs …moreI, too, live in the PNW AKA "Land of nasty IPAs" & couldn't agree with you more, Rebecca. I'm just glad that the local beer obsession means that IBUs are often listed so I can avoid the pine tree swill they're calling beer.

I also second Valeska's recommendation of Abita's fruit ales, and I'm definitely going to try that Rhubarb Wit she mentioned the next time I visit family in MN!(less)
Stuart Rodriguez Both of these novels are fabulous multi-generational family sagas. If you’re looking for something sweet, Lager Queen is a much lighter novel, where e…moreBoth of these novels are fabulous multi-generational family sagas. If you’re looking for something sweet, Lager Queen is a much lighter novel, where everything, you’re pretty sure while reading, will turn out alright.

I adored American Pop (so far, it’s my favorite novel of the year) but it’s a sadder, darker examination of a family who gains—and then loses—everything. I liked American Pop better because it has some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in ages, and it’s a must-read, in my opinion. However, if you’re looking for a light summer read, go with Lager Queen.(less)

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  33,896 ratings  ·  5,240 reviews

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Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: boring, 2019, library, mediocre
“People can change what they do, but not what they love.”

With any beer—whether a pale ale with bright citrus notes, a dank IPA, a chocolatey stout, or my personal favorite, a tart sour—palatability comes down to taste, personal preference and often exposure. What excites the palate of one patron, might not seem as bold to the next. The same can be said about readers and books.

Equating The Lager Queen of Minnesota to a pint, I would say it closely embodies a light beer. Smooth in delivery b
Meredith (Slowly Catching Up)
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
4.5 stars

Women Who Endure

A heartfelt and inspiring family drama about three exceptionally strong midwestern women who are brought together by creating beer.

Edith, married to Stanley for 40 years, has worked non-stop in a nursing home and never complains about life’s hardships. When Stanley is forced to retire, Edith’s pie baking skills bring her local fame and a new job. She experiences great tragedy and loss, but Edith keeps going and never stops working. When she finds herself raising her te
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
I love it when I can care about characters, even side characters. When all the characters make up the story world, when you can feel like they are still living even when they aren't on the page. The Lager Queen of Minnesota did this for me. The pages are filled with living, whether it's hard, backbreaking, dull, doing whatever it takes to survive, or being so caught up in an obsessive dream, that one loses sleep and ignores all else. 

Edith is five years older than her sister, Helen, who knew by
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, 2020
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stadal is a 2019 Pamela Dorman Books publication.

An inspiring feel good story!

Sisters, Edith and Helen, stop speaking when Helen inherits the family farm Edith thought she'd always be a part of. Helen, manipulated her father into making this decision, rationalizing her actions,and then arrogantly basking in the glow of her successful brewery. She always thought Edith would get over it, but as the years pass, neither sister attempts to initiate contact.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely book told in alternating chapters about two sisters who have not spoken to each other for many decades. The issue at hand was the fact that the younger sister Helen convinced their father to leave all his inheritance to her alone. You see, Helen was bound and determined with a fiery passion to produce beer at a brewery of her very own, and had a business plan.

As the book begins we find the older sister Edith working in a local nursing home making pies. In fact, she has become s
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
4 1/2 rounded up to a 5 for originality and great characters.

Living in Wisconsin, I just had to read this novel which is set in our neighboring state of Minnesota. I have never lived in a small town but have driven through and spent time in many in northern Wisconsin.

I really liked the way Mr. Stradal conveyed small town life without devaluing it or the people living there. Strong resilient women are featured in this story, three generations, represented by sisters Helen and Edith and Edith’s g
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A heartwarming, curl up in a blanket kind of read. Three strong woman, 2 Estranged sisters and a granddaughter, who successfully beat the odds and become successful in their own beer brewing ways. This was actually such a comfy, cozy read and I’ve never learned so much about beer before. Fascinating stuff. Cheers 🍻
An easy 4.5⭐️
Sumit RK
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Lager Queen of Minnesota is a family drama concerning two sisters, Edith and Helen, estranged since their father died and left the family farm to Helen in 1967. We first meet Edith first, in 2003, at age 64, who is convinced that her younger sister Helen has manipulated their father into changing his will. Edith strives to earn a living at a nursing home, where she has been baking pies, for 37 years.

Rolling the narrative back to 1959 and shifting to Helen’s point of view, Stradal draws
Anne Bogel
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rounded up from 4.5 stars.

This new title from the author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest follows several generations of a Minnesota family as they establish themselves in the brewing industry—and fall to pieces in the process. Despite the family feud and plenty of tense moments, the tone is relentlessly hopeful, and the story hugely listenable. I LOVED this on audio; it was absolutely one of my favorite audiobooks of 2019.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure if this was just a case of the right book at the right time, but I absolutely loved this tale that followed two sisters over the decades. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want to brew my own fruit-infused IPA. It is with some trepidation that I add the book to my husband's wobbly to-read stack. I know he's going to love it, but I hope it doesn't make him want to try his hand at making beer again. I'm fine with some sediment at the bottom of the glass, but the stuff he br ...more
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wish this was a better review, because I adored Stradal's first book, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. (I still recommend it to readers at the library. I REALLY loved it.)

This book is just...a mess. There is a real kernel of greatness here, and I know that because I absolutely HAD to know how this story worked itself out. But the getting there was...messy. Really messy. I don't know how you fix this, but here were some of my issues with it:
-the timeline is wonky and weird and confusing
-the early
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
“When you see a man falling off a ladder above you, Edith believed, you don't envision your arms breaking. You just hold them out.”

Traveling to the Midwest in the book The Lager Queen of Minnesota, we are introduced to three women, Edith and Helen, who are sisters and have not spoken in years, and Edith's granddaughter Diana. Pictured so well here is small town life with plenty of nods to the making of beer and the love one has for the state of Minnesota. It's an education reading this non lin
I’m a Midwesterner, and I know these women intimately. They are my grandmothers, my mother, and my aunts. Women who had their share of heartache and troubles but rose above their setbacks and carried on without complaint. They have all since passed away, but they were the embodiment of stoicism and grit. They didn’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves or bemoaning their fate. And neither did the women in this book.

Adversity can break you or it can make you strong. The author follows three of
Jessica Woodbury
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love, love, love this midwestern tale that pays tribute to family values and to beer! I am going to be recommending this one all around. I learned so much about the craft of brewing beer and now I want to go and try some new ones with different eyes. There are so many women learning the art of brewing in this book and they kick butt at it. Delightful. This was even better than Kitchens in my opinion. Highly recommended!

I am reposting as I just finished a book featuring the apple cider business i
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Everything a girl could ask for

What’s that you say, beer?

And pie?

Well, J. Ryan Stradal, you certainly got my attention.

When the individual stories of sisters Edith and Helen, along with Edith’s granddaughter Diana, are woven together, all of the women are just so darn likable. Edith is an insanely cute grandma, Helen is a sensible but thoughtful businesswoman, and Diana could be plucked right out of a Horatio Alger book...well, if he didn’t just write about dudes, but you get the idea.

They mi
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I did this one on Audio and really enjoyed it in this format. I've been wanting to read this one forever -- the cover and title are so appealing!!

Even though there is lots about beer and pies in this one, the heart of the story is about two sisters who have been estranged for 51 years! I also loved the Midwestern setting in this one. Edith and Helen grew up on a farm and their father leaves everything to Helen. I didn't particularly like Helen in much of this story. She was selfish and did anyth
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

4.5 Stars

“I want to die doing this.”

“Me too. I want to be found in a pool of my own beer.”

I would have not even heard of this book if it weren’t for the glowing reviews by JanB and Marialyce, so I’m going to channel my inner Golden Girl and tell them “thank you for being a friend.” I’m not going to say a whole lot here, but encourage you all to go to their pages because they are way better at words than I am.

What I will say is
Cathrine ☯️
4 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺
"She leaned her sweaty head against the wall of the shed and felt the beer hit her tongue. Whoa, she thought. . .
She felt it in her mouth, behind her eyes, in her blood, in places no one had touched."

Did I enjoy this story? You betcha. Every bit as much as the Barrel House double IPA I’m so fond of. But after this I need to try out a triple, and soon. My overall impression is that the body, carbonation, warmth, and creaminess came through in every chapter. But it’s not just about lager
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
[4+] Yes, please, pass me another J. Ryan Stradal novel! My beverage of choice is wine but I enjoyed every ounce of beer making in this novel. Stradal's women are complex and strong and I loved following their development over the decades. This was a book that I couldn't wait to come home to after a busy, stressful week and wished it would continue for a few more hundred pages! ...more
Did I enjoy this novel of family, Midwestern values, and the secrets of making world-class beer?

You Betcha! 🍻

And, no-you don't have to be a beer drinker to enjoy this book.

This is really a story about two sisters, Helen and Edith, who become estranged over a family inheritance, and Edith's granddaughter, Diana.

Helen has always been obsessed with wanting to make beer. She will put this desire ahead of everyone and everything-no matter what the cost.

Her sister, Edith is the opposite-she is as s
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, family
This entertaining novel follows the lives and fortunes of three strong, gutsy mid-western women over a period of five decades.

It all starts with two sisters, Edith and Helen and a misunderstanding that put a rift in their relationship and shaped their lives. Older sister Edith follows a traditional route for a woman of that time, marrying a good man and starting a family. Younger sister Helen who has been entranced by the taste of beer since her mid teens goes off to college to earn a degree in
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: domestic-fiction
After reading the NPR interview with author J. Ryan Stradal, I’m even more touched by his current novel “The Lager Queen of Minnesota”. Stradal revealed that the character of Edith is a complex combination of his mom and grandmothers. Edith’s character is one of the most hardworking, thoughtful, kind, and forgiving characters written in modern literature. She does reflect the women of the Midwest (I’m a South Dakota girl myself). Stradal also did some research on breweries, going to more than th ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Delightfully Funny Tale of Family, Pie and Beer.

Edith Magnuson‘s pies are deliciously famous. Still she lays awake wondering how her life might’ve been different if her father had not solely left their family farm to her sister Helen, a decision that split their family in two.

With the proceeds from the sell of their family’s farm Helen Blotz, built her husband Orval‘s families soda business into the top-selling brewery in Minnesota. She single-handedly created the light beer revolution
I really enjoyed this family drama, based on the lives of three family members in the beer brewing industry in Minnesota.

From the blurb:[A] charmer of a tale. . . Warm, witty and--like any good craft beer--complex, the saga delivers a subtly feminist and wholly life-affirming message." --People Magazine

The novel started out with Edith's famous pies. After some positive reviews in magazines and newspapers, the St. Anthony-Waterside nursery home, where only family members of the residence were a
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The Lager Queen of Minnesota is told from the perspective of three different women. First, we have sisters Helen and Edith have not spoken to each other in 40 years. They have both faced struggles in their lives and fought to overcome them. Then there is Diana, Edith's granddaughter, a head strong young woman who is fiercely loyal to her Grandmother. Over the decades the women face many struggles in their lives, but face them all with the kind of courage that made my heart soar and cheer for the ...more
Tess Malone
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
J. Ryan Stradal has become one of the most empathetic writers of strong Midwestern women. Like if Willa Cather’s protagonists drank beer or Jane Smiley’s has a sense of humor, Stradal captures the pragmatism, modesty, and honesty of Minnesotan women without mocking them like the Coen Brothers. The three women brewers in his second novel are stalwart, stubborn, but ultimately tender, and Stradal weaves their narrative into a moving page-turner. If you like beer, this is a compelling and detailed ...more
(2.75) I had sky-high hopes for Stradal’s follow-up after Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Theoretically, a novel about three pie-baking, beer-making female members of a Minnesota family should have been terrific. Again, this is female-centered, on a foodie theme, set in the Midwest and structured as linked short stories. Here the chapters are all titled after amounts of money; they skip around in time between the 1950s and the present day and between the perspectives of Edith Magnusson, her estra ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
4 rhubarb pie stars to this one

This book was a fun surprise – strong Midwestern women and a lot of beer. There are betrayals, drama, love, and tragedy all mixed in here. There’s some education on how much goes into brewing beer and a hearty dose of delicious pie.

At the heart of the book, we have two sisters – Helen and Edith. We learn much more about Edith, the older sister who must work hard for whatever she has in life. She’s always putting other’s needs above her own and looking out for every
Kaytee Cobb
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Warning: sentimental hogwash ahead. I Loved this book. It completely wrapped up my love of Minnesota, my grandma and aunts and mama, my love of beer, my thirst for knowledge. It's everything I wanted it to be an then some. So so so great. ...more
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J. Ryan Stradal's NYT bestselling debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, won the 2016 American Booksellers Association Indie's Choice Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year, the 2016 SCIBA award for the year's best fiction title, and the 2016 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for debut fiction. His second novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, was an instant national bestseller.

Born and raised in Minn

Articles featuring this book

  The United States of America is an awfully big place. Sensibly, we chopped it into states a long time ago. This simplifies...
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“When you see a man falling off a ladder above you, Edith believed, you don't envision your arms breaking. You just hold them out.” 11 likes
“Her mother told her once that the nicest thing you can do for someone is be happy to see them,” 8 likes
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