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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

The Lager Queen of Minnesota

Edith Magnusson's rhubarb pies are famous in the Twin Cities--they were named the third-best in the state of Minnesota, but when she loses her job at the St. Anthony-Waterside Nursing Home, she struggles to get by on two low-paying blue-collar jobs.

Meanwhile, her sister, Helen builds her husband's family soda business into the top selling brewery in Minnesota, using the inheritance their father left entirely to her.

"The person who first documented and prescribed the use of hops was a woman, for God's sake. But when the books had photographs...she saw a lot of people who looked like her grandpa...but no one who looked like her." - The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stradal

Before page 1, I neither cared for nor knew anything about beer, but The Lager Queen of Minnesota described the art and soul of brewing a craft beer, lager, gosh, stout, and session ale with such passion and delight, it made my taste buds tingle! Still, the best thing about The Lager Queen is the characters that drive the story with their big-hearted dreams and familial heartbreaks. I'm usually skeptical of novels about women written by men, but author J. Ryan Stradal writes beautifully about two generations of hard working women who age with grace and wisdom alongside their beers.

"Everything about Tippi's Café was captivating. She'd been in small bakeries and local coffee shops many times, but the commingling of sweet desserts, fresh loaves, women's voices, the scent of coffee, and calming vocal melodies lulled her. The wood-paneled space lined with crafts tables, candle displays, and the staggering assortment of baked goods were designed specifically to make a sucker out of people like her--she knew that--and she was all for it."

I would recommend this book to fans of books such as Olive Kittridge, and foodie favorites such as The School of Essential Ingredients, and Cooking for Picasso.

"Linda also struggled with her chocolate stout. Even with Mo's help at the beginning, and Diana's advice throughout, she still went a little overboard with the cacao nibs and ended up with a beer that was way too harsh for her taste, or probably anybody's. This time, with Diana's hands-on guidance, Linda soaked the nibs in vanilla vodka for a week before adding them during secondary fermentation, and used half as many.
'Last time you also poured too early,' Diana told her. 'This isn't a race. You do this right, we should lay it down for a little while, and not touch it until May at the earliest.'"

Paperback 384 pages, Audiobook 11 hours 13 mins ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 on Goodreads - - join our Goodreads RipeReads group for more book recommendations featuring mature adults! Click below to order on Amazon, or better yet, ask for it at your local bookstore!


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