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The Lager Queen of Minnesota

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  10,578 ratings  ·  2,011 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
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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…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 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…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 4.07  · 
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 ·  10,578 ratings  ·  2,011 reviews

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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
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mediocre, 2019, library, boring
“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 but
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
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
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 ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
“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
Jessica Woodbury
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
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
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.

Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A generational story with so much heart, a good deal of droll humor and a pleasure to read!

That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of heartbreak and misfortune, but it’s the resilience and determination of these characters that stole my heart. This is a family saga that authentically captures Midwestern women, but also happens to have a little bit of history about the craft beer industry and beer making. Don’t think you’d be interested? Neither did I, until I read this book.

I loved Kitchens of
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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 if
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
Cathrine ☯️
"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 as
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
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
J. Ryan Stradal won my heart with the novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest by weaving together a story of family, tragedy, strength, and food.

In his upcoming release The Lager Queen of Minnesota, readers once again journey to the midwest and this time we follow the lives of three women determined to succeed, though their definitions of success are wildly different based on their values.

Sisters Edith and Helen haven't spoken in years. Their father left the family farm to Helen who used the profits
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: womens-fiction
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
Judith E
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, food
Plenty of Midwest wholesomeness in this tale about beer making and perseverance. The tone of the book reflects honest, common sense approaches to life just like Minnesotans are known for. Enjoyed reading about pie making, but not so much about detailed beer ingredients. DNF at 80%.
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.
(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 ...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
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
When this book appeared on Netgalley I just about lost my mind with excitement, since I have spent the past several years worshipping at the altar of Kitchens of the Great Midwest. This one is a worthy followup, albeit lacking (for me) just a bit of the warmth and magic of Kitchens. I still really loved it, though. And it made me super thirsty.
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 ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I have a new favorite author. Most male authors can’t write characters if their lives depended on it but J. Ryan Stradal is an obvious exception. Now I have to read his debut novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, which I skipped because I didn’t like the title…stupid reason I know.

I don’t drink beer but this novel made me want to start. I don’t know an IPA from a lager from a stout from a pale ale from a gose but Stradal made me want to learn and the way he did that was by giving me two
Kate ☀️ Olson
(free review copy) I adore books set in my home state of WI and since this one is SO close - right across the river in western MN - and references so many WI locations, it’s an honorary member of the club. I really enjoyed this story, not *quite* as much as Kitchens, though, and I wanted just a little bit more from it. More on Helen, more at the end. Overall, it was a satisfying and heartwarming tale of the northern Midwest and I want to buy a copy for all of my beer drinking friends and family.
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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
“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.” 6 likes
“Money allows people to survive their mistakes, she knew from having observed that phenomenon from a distance, and people like her were fucked.” 4 likes
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