‘I hope we take the scenic route’: Frederick Co. brewery closes following owner’s cancer diagnosis

Pack of beers from Mad Science Brewing Company
Two packs of beers from Mad Science Brewing Company. (WTOP/Cheyenne Corin)
Customers buying beer
Thanksgiving Farms was packed with customers buying the popular beer until it sold out. (WTOP/Cheyenne Corin)
Mad Science Brewing Company inventory
On its last day, customers crowded Thanksgiving Farms helping Brian get rid of his inventory before saying goodbye to his business. (WTOP/Cheyenne Corin)
Brian Roberts and Louisa Zimmerman-Roberts
Mad Science Brewing Company owner Brian Roberts and his wife Louisa Zimmerman-Roberts. (WTOP/Cheyenne Corin)
Pack of beers from Mad Science Brewing Company
Customers buying beer
Mad Science Brewing Company inventory
Brian Roberts and Louisa Zimmerman-Roberts

It was a day of laughs, tears, well wishes and plenty of beer at Mad Science Brewing Company in Frederick County, Maryland, after the owner decided to close the business upon learning his cancer was untreatable.

The owner, Brian Roberts, is battling stage 4 incurable bone cancer but was still behind the counter working hard on his last day open.

Roberts was first diagnosed in 2021 — and was cleared until a scan last summer showed the cancer was unresponsive to treatment. He then made the decision to close his business and continue working his 9-to-5 to allow more time to enjoy the rest of his life to the fullest.

The next part of Roberts’ journey with his wife and their kids includes a family vacation this week.

“I’m hoping to get out to some of my friends’ breweries I still haven’t been out to yet,” Roberts said. “I also plan to do some fishing with my kids. We haven’t done that in forever.”

Before saying goodbye to his business, which he opened in 2015, he had one last ask from his community: to help him get rid of his inventory.

That’s exactly what the Frederick County community did on Saturday.

Thanksgiving Farms was packed with customers buying the popular beer until it sold out.

“To be honest, I’m overwhelmed,” Roberts said.

Roberts’ wife, Louisa Zimmerman-Roberts, also played a part in Saturday’s huge turnout, after posting on Facebook to invite the community to support their business on its last day at the family farm.

“I just hope that he rests and enjoys the rest of whatever we have,” Zimmerman-Roberts said. “I get to walk him hand-in-hand to heaven’s gate and I hope we take the scenic route.”

Roberts has an oncology appointment in January and plans to see if he is eligible for clinical trials.

Another local customer named Sarah told WTOP she has loved the beer and farm for years. She’s a good friend of the family and came to support them on their last day open.

“He always comes in and makes me smile,” Delise said. “He always has a joke and something kind to share.”

Becky Smith, from Jefferson, has been friends of Brian and Louisa for years, and a loyal customer of Mad Science since its opening. While fighting back tears, she spoke about Roberts’ spirit.

“I hope that Brian can fulfill his bucket list and spend his time with his family in as little pain as possible,” Smith said.

Patrick Hughes was enjoying a nice beer outside of the brewery Saturday. He said everyone coming to support Roberts is reflective of Frederick as a community.

“It’s bittersweet,” Hughes said. “The line’s out the door. It’s over an hour wait to get a beer. They’ve sold out of multiple cans. It’s good to see the support.”

Shannon Foster, from Brunswick, said Roberts is one of those people who makes the world a better place.

“I hope he takes a little time to rest, but that’s not in his nature,” said Foster. “It’s been a fantastic turnout. More than I could have ever hoped for.”


Cheyenne Corin

Cheyenne Corin joined the WTOP News team in February 2023. Prior to this role she was a Montgomery County, Maryland, bureau reporter at WDVM/DC News Now.

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