Edith Magnusson never thought she’d be figuring out how to translate the flavors of her award-winning pies into beer. But when her granddaughter, Diana, turns a severance package into ownership of a fledgling craft brewery, she’s surprised to find that brewing is in the family bloodline. A chance to mend decades-old resentment resurfaces, and Edith, her sister Helen, and Diana have to decide how to best navigate the tricky waters of reconciliation.
[An] engaging debut ... Stradal skillfully develops his story in a nonlinear fashion ... It’s a shrewd strategy. Providing Helen’s perspective humanizes her without whitewashing her behavior ... the novel is so rich and satisfying. Characterizations are pleasingly three-dimensional ... The zingers don’t disguise Stradal’s fundamentally optimistic view of human nature, a belief that people can change and virtue can be rewarded, at least sometimes. This generous spirit makes The Lager Queen of Minnesota a pleasure to read and the perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer day.
A love story to Minnesota, craft beer, and the power of second chances, Stradal’s second novel goes down easy. Perspective shifts among Helen, Edith, and Diana, letting each woman speak for herself and allowing their narratives to build off one another, despite the non-linear timeline. Imbued with Midwestern references and the importance of a 'can-do' attitude, this warm, witty novel will appeal to fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Meg Wolitzer.
... delightfully intoxicating ... Throughout the many plot twists, Stradal perfectly ferments sediment and sentiment ... While Stradal skillfully insinuates you into small-town Minnesota life, he also takes you into a fascinating insider backstory of the rise of the craft beer industry in America over the past few decades. Yes, you can see the plot trajectory brewing, especially when never-tasted-a-beer grandmother Edith lends a hand at Diana’s brewery and brings along her grandmotherly friends. But allowing this story to age slowly is a pleasure ... Stradal is an understated storyteller whose American voice and quaint, ambling prose reads like it would feel at home in A Prairie Home Companion or A River Runs Through It. Raised in Minnesota and now living in Los Angeles, Stradal clearly knows Midwestern women, and his sensitively crafted portrayals read authentic and come from the heart ... This hopped-up story will make your smile with its droll humor, and its poignant moments will stop you to reread and confirm that they are really that good.