I’m not particularly a fan of beer. Oh, if I’m at a Mexican restaurant and the wine list looks suspect, I might make do with a Corona. For the most part, however, I stick to wine, gin, or whiskey.
But even non-beer-lovers would be unable to ignore a title like The Lager Queen of Minnesota. The author — J. Ryan Stradal — wrote what was one of my favorite books of 2017, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I liked it so much that I was delighted to learn that he wrote another, even if it was about beer.
The story revolves around two sisters. Helen loved beer from the moment she tasted it, and was determined to learn to brew beer, no matter who stood in her way. Her sister Edith, on the other hand, was a baker, renown for her delicious pies, and couldn’t hurt a fly. Helen convinces her father to leave her his entire inheritance, which she uses towards her goal of being a beer brewer. Helen’s actions drive the two sisters apart.
Helen meets and marries the son of a Minnesota brewing family whose beer business was tanking. Using the inheritance, Helen and her husband begin making Blotz Beer a household name once again. However, Edith and her husband are barely able to make ends meet. But this led to that, and eventually Edith’s granddaughter Diane (who isn’t even aware of Helen’s existence) becomes a master brewer of craft beers.
There is a lot of descriptions about brewing (and tasting) craft beers. Despite my lack of interest in beer, I must admit that I found the art of beer brewing fascinating.
While beer is the star of the show, the story is really about family and forgiveness and entrepreneurship and strong women. I loved every single page of the novel, and was sad when it ended. I can’t wait for the author’s next story about life in the Midwest.