Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Cheers to J. Ryan Stradal, now among my favorite Minnesota-raised writers January 14, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Pulling The Lager Queen of Minnesota from the Lucky Day bookshelves at Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault proved my lucky day. I’m always up for discovering a new-to-me Minnesota author like J. Ryan Stradal.

Yes, I admit a partiality for Minnesota writers and/or books with a strong Minnesota bend. The Lager Queen is both, although native-born and raised Stradal now lives in Los Angeles. I’ll forgive him for moving to the West Coast because I love his bestselling book that much.

You know a book is good when you don’t want to put it down, when all you want to do is keep reading, despite life’s obligations. I finished the book in days, not a single day, only because, well, I can’t realistically devote an entire day to reading.

As the cover art and title suggest, this is a book about beer. But not just beer. The Lager Queen is also a book about strong women, generations of women in one family who overcome challenges and tragedy. Stradal creates strong characters who grow and evolve and stretch themselves.

This is a story, too, about how generations interconnect, about relationships broken and built, about decisions that ripple their impact.

This is a story, too, of place, of Minnesota. There’s a familiarity in setting, both of real places and fictionalized locations.

As a fan of craft beer, I appreciated learning more about the business through Stradal’s writing. And, yes, he tapped into the knowledge of real craft brewers in Minnesota and beyond. I almost felt like I should be drinking a Minnesota-made craft beer while reading The Lager Queen of Minnesota.

Cheers to a Minnesota-rooted author whom I hope will continue to write similar books. Because I’m a fan. Even if I prefer IPAs to lagers.

FYI: Stradal is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, Kitchens of the Great Midwest.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


15 Responses to “Cheers to J. Ryan Stradal, now among my favorite Minnesota-raised writers”

  1. I am putting this one on my reading list! Thanks so much for sharing – Happy Reading and Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  2. jhc1218 Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I enjoyed Kitchens of the Great Midwest after buying it on a whim at a Duluth bookstore.

  3. Gunny Says:

    As a beer drinker ( I wasn’t when I started) I had an opportunity to get a brew called Cold Spring right there in Minnesota. Almost ruined me from drinking beer for life! I can get one beer, locally made for under $10 for a 12 pack! And – it is good! However, Southern beers are distinctly different than Northern beers. I do have a preference for Lagers. One of my favorites was discontinued a few years ago that was light, with subtle lemon, tequila and Agave (sweet) flavors. It went down so WELL on days where temps were pushing past the 100 degree level. I am always up fro a good brew and a good book. Thanks

  4. Sounds like a book I need to add to my “to buy” list while I am home this time.

  5. i bought this awhile ago in my favorite independent bookstore in Brevard and meant to tell you about it -bet I didn’t! I loaned it to my friend Beth who has an appreciation of beer but is a Southern gal so I wanted to introduce her to a little midwestern charm as well. I enjoyed the book and thought it was well written with characters that were believable and interesting.

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