M’s drunk review of The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal—I’m back!
What I drank prior: Drink Lotz, It’s Blotz! Just kidding, we were at Denizen’s Brwe Co—I had a seasonal flight plus a glass of my fave one.
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 she can’t help wondering what her life would have been like with even a portion of the farm money her sister kept for herself.
With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots. It’s Blotz.” Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota, Helen’s is as rigid as a steel keg. Yet one day, Helen will find she needs some help herself, and she could find a potential savior close to home. . . if it’s not too late.
Meanwhile, Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, grows up knowing that the real world requires a tougher constitution than her grandmother possesses. She earns a shot at learning the IPA business from the ground up–will that change their fortunes forever, and perhaps reunite her splintered family?
Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that’s often stacked against them. In this deeply affecting family saga, resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we’re surprised, moved, and delighted.
My Summary: The Story follows two sisters—one of whom is obsessed, like weirdly obsessed with beer—and one of their granddaughters. We follow the sisters as they grow up and in current day with their estrangement and the granddaughter, too.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: Honestly was feeling mostly meh, but it really kicked it up at about the 75% marker. Dug the premise of this book since I’m generally into inter generational stories. I didn’t think this tied in all the stories in a way that I found completely satisfying, but still here for it. The beer descrips were everything, though also a little judgey. Absolutely made me want to drink a beer, but unfortunately I was still pregnant, wah.
Characters: The two sisters—Edith and Helen—were the main focus in the past, then Diana, Edith’s granddaughter, were the main characters. I actually could really relate to Helen though she is super selfish. Edith is very much as the other end of the spectrum which wa sharper for me to relate to, but I think we were supposed to get it. Diana I also kind of got, but her perspective is predominately in the middle of the story and didn’t seem as, um, important as the rest. There are also three other grandmas and they are adorable, but they come in so late to the story it’s hard to care that much.
Plot: It becomes obvious really early so I don’t think it is a spoiler, but I less so liked the fact that the older sisters were estranged—it made it kind of weird whenever Helen’s part of the story came in. For being lager queens, it just took a long time to really get why.
Writing Style: Less so about the writing style, but I loved that the chapter titles correlated to the dollar amounts referred to in the chapter. And also, you can definitely feel the love for beer and the descriptions were incredible.
Pairing: Grandma Edith’s Rhubarb-Pie-in-a-Bottle Ale! Or another fruity sour ale that actually exists.
Rating: 4/5 (beer) shots