By Maria Surma Manka | Photography by John Linn
What do vaccine production and beer brewing have in common? It all comes down to science, according to Nick Huisinga. As a vaccine production manager and a beer lover, Nick realized the scientific processes for formulating vaccines and for fermenting beer were quite similar. So he decided to test out whether his scientific chops could translate into a tasty homebrew.
After trying a few home-brewing kits, the answer was a resounding yes. Nick added more equipment to his stockpile, experimented with grains and invited enthusiastic neighbors to taste-test his creations.
Soon, Nick and his wife, Laura Huisinga, dreamed of opening a brewery. When Nick visited a friend in Crosby, his dream started to come together. Nick’s friend convinced him the community could support a local brewery. After taking in the area’s stunning beauty and meeting with economic development officials, Nick was also convinced.
The Crosby area was reinventing itself from a former mining town into a vibrant recreational community (see related story about the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area on page 44). The energy was palpable and Laura also saw the potential. “We just knew something cool was going to happen in the area,” she said.
In 2016, the Huisingas purchased a building downtown and began renovations. Nick worked 40 hours Monday to Thursday in Willmar while Laura worked part-time from home and homeschooled their three children. Every Friday, the family drove two-and-a-half hours to work on the brewery.
“It was a ton of work,” said Laura, co-owner of Cuyuna Brewing Company alongside Nick. “We slept in a camper in the building’s garage. We opened the brewery
in January 2017, less than a year after we closed on the building.”