Beer? Minnesota? I’m in!
J. Ryan Stradal’s The Lager Queen of Minnesota 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? The Lager Queen of Minnesota 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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The Lager Queen of Minnesota
author: J. Ryan Stradal
publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
hardcover, 384 pages