Trouble Brewing

Author Suzanne Baltsar pens a debut love story set in the Twin Cities’ brewing scene, available Sept. 25

PHoto courtesy gallery books

The Twin Cities is rightfully known for its growing brewing scene and now there’s a romance novel about it. Piper Williams, a 27-year-old brewer, has high hopes of opening her very own taproom. She knows she’s one of the few female master brewers around, but that’s not stopping her from getting her beer in bars and pubs or leaving her permanent mark on the male-dominated Minneapolis brew scene. Enter Blake Reed, the attractive owner of the newest gastropub downtown (I personally imagine it somewhere in Northeast Minneapolis, although one could probably make a case for the North Loop), who decides to stock four of Piper’s beers.

Instant attraction between the two leads to some compromising situations, but Piper and Blake make a pact: She’ll only go out with him if two additional pubs start carrying her beer. From the start it’s clear Piper has to tread carefully; she has a lot to lose if brew community reacts poorly to her dating one of her vendors.

Trouble Brewing is filled with memorable characters, including Sonja (Piper’s motivated and encouraging roommate), and Blake’s fun-loving best friends, Connor and Bear. Readers will find themselves rooting for Piper’s Out of the Bottle Brewery and, of course, the kindling romance between Piper and Blake. Every other chapter switches points of view between the two protagonists, offering insights into Blake’s emotions, thoughts, and life with his unsupportive family. I found myself wishing for a Sonja or Bear chapter, even though they were only secondary characters.

Readers who haven’t visited Minneapolis or St. Paul may have a hard time picturing the surroundings throughout the novel; however, local Minnesotans and Twin Citians will appreciate the familiar nods to Lake Calhoun (Bde Maka Ska), Stella’s Oyster and Fish Café, Ford Parkway Bridge, The Original Pancake House in Edina, and Summit Avenue’s line of historic mansions.

Through and through, Trouble Brewing is a classic, feel-good love story. It’s a quick read and a page turner, thanks to the likable characters and Piper’s inspiring determination. Readers hoping for an insightful look into the brewing industry may be disappointed—there are no paragraphs dedicated to the craft—but fans of beer and happy endings will close the book with satisfaction and possibly a craving for a local craft brew.

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