An initial dream of becoming a nurse ended up fermenting into a full-fledged brewery in downtown Willmar, MN.
Liz Heimer went through several majors — nursing, dietetics and physical therapy — before settling on Community Health. She graduated from Minnesota State in 2017 with a master’s degree in science and has since worked with a variety of public and community health organizations.
But her current gig might be her most interesting. Heimer is co-owner and marketer of Intuition Brewery in Willmar. It’s not what she planned to do when she enrolled at MSU, but she’s happy her journey has led to a world of hops and barley.
But her road to get there was long, and included many stops along the way.
“I work as a program manager for Healthy Families America which is a home visiting program for new parents and that’s been a cool experience,” Heimer said. “I’ve also worked with the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and the American Lung Association which was really cool because I was able to leave policy change within that.”
Heimer said the public speaking skills she gained from her time at MSU helped prepare her for her job.
“Public speaking was a big part of my classes and here I am, nervous and embarrassed because I didn’t know Robert’s Rules at the time or how to conduct a meeting, but a professor I had helped encourage and support me,” Heimer said.
Heimer also said she keeps in touch with Professor Joseph Visker who asked her to be on the board of the Minnesota Society for Public Health Education.
“MSU has been a huge part of my experience with leadership,” Heimer said. “A lot of credit goes to the professors for encouraging, giving opportunities and leading by example.”
On top of working with several organizations, she is now the marketer and co-owner of Intuition Brewery. Heimer and her “partner in life and business” Micah Larson started planning to open the brewery in January 2023 with it officially opening in December.
A typical day in Heimer’s life starts by brainstorming with Larson what their day will look like before working her 8-5 job at home. Around 5 p.m., she heads to Intuition to either call trivia, pour beers or plan the brewery’s events and marketing.
“It’s really nice to have a variety of things to do during the day. It doesn’t feel like I’m going from work to work because they’re different things I’m passionate about,” Heimer said.
The idea for Intuition Brewing came when Heimer and Larson moved to Willmar and Larson was looking for a job after working as a brewer at the August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm. They kept having a gut feeling about a bar called the Foxhole Brew House and one day, Heimer said her ears started ringing and she told Larson she had a feeling about the Foxhole.
A few months later, they found out the owners of Foxhole were moving locations and Larson pitched the idea of moving in and starting their own brewery.
“That was why we called it Intuition because we’ve just been kind of following our guts with it and going in a direction that felt most right to us and most genuine to us,” Heimer said.
While Intuition has a wide variety of beers including stouts, lagers and ales, Heimer said their signature flagship drinks are their two IPAs.
“We have one called ‘The Collective’ which is named not only because of the collection of hops in it but also the collective energy that makes the world go round,” Heimer said. “The other one is named ‘RUEPA’ which is named after our spunky but sweet cat, Rue, which is kind of the flavor combination.
Heimer said the vulnerability to step outside of their comfort zone and talk about “weird, impossible” ideas is what sets Intuition apart from other breweries in Minnesota. One of the ideas Heimer and Larson have been implementing is doing commercials for themed nights.
“It shows people the type of experience they might get coming to Intuition, a place where people show up and can be seen and be able to be whatever self they are,” Heimer said. “I think it just kind of helps other people have permission to be kind of funky.”
Another “impossible idea” in the works is to incorporate an indoor pedal pub for the winter months.
Heimer’s advice for those who would like to start their own business is to take calculated risks and try new things.
“If we have these dreams and they only stay a dream, we’re going to keep them with us for the rest of our lives,” Heimer said. “Don’t be afraid to at least open the door to talking about your dreams out loud to somebody because when you say it out loud, somebody can help complete the idea.”
To learn more about Intuition Brewing, head to their website: intuitionbrewing.wordpress.com/aboutus/
Photo caption: Minnesota State University, Mankato alum Liz Heimer (left) and Micah Larson stand in front of their brewery in downtown Willmar, MN. (Courtesy Liz Hemmer)
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