The Lager Queen of Minnesota

🐞 🐞 🐞 🐞 🐞


J. Ryan Stradal

Pamela Dorman Books

July 23, 2019

349 Pages


When her parents die, Helen gets the farm. Her sister, Edith, gets nothing. So the two never speak again. Both go on to lead good, solid Midwestern lives, Helen as a successful brewer of mediocre but popular beer, Edith as a less successful but very hardworking, well, everything: wife, mother, grandmother, retail worker, pie-maker, and nursing home volunteer. They each endure their share of hardship, but they weather the storms as they’ve been taught. The years pass, but even as they get older, they make no moves to make amends with each other. But when Edith’s granddaughter gets a chance to run her own brewery, Helen and Edith’s lives will intersect in surprising, unavoidable, and heartwarming ways.


I can’t believe I let this book sit on my shelf for a year before I finally read it. Oh how I loved The Lager Queen of Minnesota—like “one of my favorite books of 2020” loved it. And I should have known that I would because author J. Ryan Stradal’s previous book, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, is also one of my favorites. If you enjoy books by Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge, My Name is Lucy Barton, Olive Again, Anything Is Possible), you will love this one, too. The writing is simple and honest—no showy flair or pomp. And the characters are honest-to-God delightful: hardy, tough, warm, and endearing. I just can’t gush enough. Stop everything and buy it. Check it out from the library. I don’t care how you get the book, just read it.

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