There is an oasis in Adamstown amongst the endless fields of corn and hay. Some passersby will happen upon it purely by accident while others may be intrigued by their website or Facebook page. Mad Science Brewery at Thanksgiving Farms appears at first to be a quiet country nursery. In fact, on a weekday, customers in search of plants, trees, shrubbery and knickknacks may not even notice its dual purpose.
Saturday is when Thanksgiving Farms partially transforms into Mad Science Brewery. Happy flags call to drivers that cold beer is available for anyone looking to stop and stay awhile. The taps are turned on and live music invites guests to relax from noon to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Often a food truck is present as well. Guests can sit on a plethora of patio furniture or under umbrellas and cabana tents next to kids’ plastic climbing equipment.
Brian Roberts, founder and brewmaster at Mad Science and part owner of Thanksgiving Farms, started brewing back in 2004 as a hobby. “In April 2012, after the General Assembly passed the bill creating the farm brewery manufacturer’s license, I asked my mother-in-law if I could plant some hops on the farm in anticipation of starting a farm brewery. It took two more years of educating her on the industry, farm visits to Frey’s Brewing and Milkhouse Brewing, and multiple discussions on operating models before I got the green light to apply for our federal permit. It took 13 months to get fully approved to sell our beer at the farm.” Mad Science officially began pouring in 2015.
Roberts has been part of the farm since 1995 when he began part-time. He began dating the daughter of the owners, Louisa, got married and has been with the business ever since. And that’s just his side job; Monday through Friday he still works as a scientist. That is why Mad Science Brewery is only open Saturday and Sunday, but the farm and nursery itself are open seven days a week.
All the hops for the beer sold at Mad Science are grown on the property. At this time, the brewing process takes place under contract at other brewing facilities, primarily Antietam Brewery. Musical acts are either customers or musicians who find Mad Science through fellow friends or seek out Roberts on the brewery’s social media pages. The same goes for food trucks. Both aspects of the farm generate revenue from loyal, regular customers.
Families enjoy the kid-friendly atmosphere. It was Louisa Roberts’ idea to turn some fenced-in dead space into a childhood haven of outdoor play equipment. Most of the items in the space came from Freecycle or Facebook Marketplace. Parents enjoy the safety of the spot that allows them to relax with a beer and the music.
New as well as returning customers can look forward to many more musical acts while the weather is warm, as well as the arrival of canned Mad Science beers, starting with Helles Belles, which premiered in June, and several more in the second half of 2019.
For more information on Mad Science Brewery and Thanksgiving Farms, visit them on Facebook or www.madsciencebrewing.com.