With a sip of mead or beer and a beautiful view, Pittsfield farm will welcome you, marry you 

  • Mike Fairbrother on the farm he purchased in Pittsfield that he is developing into a destination venue. Here, Fairbrother shows the main living room where he plans to have intimate tables for guests. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Mike Fairbrother on the farm he purchased in Pittsfield that he is developing into a destination venue. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Mike Fairbrother on the farm he purchased in Pittsfield that he is developing into a destination venue. He is working on converting this barn into a tasting bar. “I looked all over the state,” said Fairbrother, standing on his property on a hill, the two mountains off in the distance. At top, Fairbrother looks over the plans for his new venture. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Mike Fairbrother holds up one of his most expensive bottles of Mead from the fireplace mantle. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • ABOVE: Mike Fairbrother on the farm he purchased in Pittsfield that he is developing into a destination venue. He is working on converting this barn into a tasting bar. TOP: Mike Fairbrother looks over the plans for his new venture. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Mike Fairbrother holds up one of his most expensive bottles of Mead from the fireplace mantle. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Fairbrother holds one of his most expensive bottles of mead on the fireplace mantle.

  • Fairbrother's family portrait hangs on the wall.

Monitor Staff
Published: 5/22/2021 12:00:26 PM

Call it a match made in heaven. This one just happens to be in Pittsfield.

That’s how Mike Fairbrother, the owner of Moonlight Meadery and Hidden Moon Brewing, felt as soon as he laid eyes on what used to be the 98-acre Early Bird Farm. He searched for a spot that would speak to him, tell him that his goal – dream, really – of owning and operating a venue will touch people in different ways.

He saw the space for weddings in an old barn, which has yet to be remodeled. He saw the potential for high-end dining in the shellacked, pine-floored restaurant, which is not yet finished. And he saw several rooms that were perfect for tasting his homemade mead, cider and beer, a skill that morphed into a passion and moved Fairbrother into the top echelon of experts in the state’s winery/brewery community.

The tasting area will be unveiled first. Fairbrother said that could be in weeks, once the last obstacle, the planning board, is hurdled. No problems are expected.

The chemistry between this mead maker and the acres of maple, birch and white pine trees, covering a huge area near Prospect Mountain and Mount Major, clicked like nothing Fairbrother could have imagined. All he had to do was drive up the hill, see the land and the view and the inside of the house that they will turn into the main building.

Game over.

He even declared to the owner of a nearby apple orchard that it was love at first sight. “I will buy that property across the street,” he told his future neighbor during that very first visit.

“I looked all over the state,” said Fairbrother, standing on his property on a hill, the two mountains off in the distance. “But every delivery person that comes and sees the view here, with the turkeys and the deer, says, ‘Wow.’ It’s one of a kind, the ultimate destination.”

He said he first noticed the farm and its nearly 100 aces – purchased for $840,000 – online in October. It was a Sunday morning, a little early for his wife, Berniece Van Der Berg, to wake, but Fairbrother, already confident he’d buy the farm merely by seeing photos, couldn’t stop himself.

So Berniece got out of bed and the couple drove from Londonderry to Pittsfield. Fairbrother’s dream was waiting for him. Currently, there’s some fairly big reconstruction going on, featuring the remodeling of a pair of barns and landscaping. Still, Fairbrother expects to open his mead, cider and beer tastings within a few weeks.

That’s his thing. He’s forced the winery snobs in Northern California as well as the hard cider makers and brewers from nearby Vermont to accept him and his strange beverages with names like Kurt’s Apple Pie and No Need to Argue. His mead is fermented using the sugar in honey instead of grapes. It’s a hit with customers and at competitions. The heavyweights had to step aside and allow him into the winner’s circle.

“Passion,” Fairbrother said, explaining his key to success. “I don’t enter these things to lose.”

Moonlight Meadery is currently located in an industrial complex in Londonderry, certainly not the right environment for someone this good to be serving award-winning products.

“Right now we are still in a warehouse,” Fairbrother said. “We knew it was not where we wanted to be, but it was at least bigger than my garage, and we grew into a national and international distributor.”

He’s gotten media coverage from The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and Rachel Ray.

He’s won multiple gold titles, awarded by the Mazer Cup International, for his mead, including three in 2015 for his Embrace tart black currant mead, the bourbon barrel-aged Last Apple, and Fury, which provides a sweet heat by using ghost, scorpion and habanero peppers. He’s brewed beer and won back-to-back titles recently at the San Diego Beer Festival. He’s been invited to serve as a guest speaker in Australia, Belgium, Germany and Scotland.

But he achieved all that success while living and working in Londonderry. That wasn’t home and he knew it.

These days, he points to different spots on a blueprint to show the size of the project to be called Over the Moon Farmstead. He points to the views in the valley. He’s remodeling a 6,000-square foot barn for weddings. Another barn will serve as the gift shop. They’re both in decent shape, but they need sprucing up.

Tasting rooms are everywhere in the central headquarters, a big white house with an apartment out back. That’s where Michael and Berniece will live.

The house is 268 years old and still has wood boards that slide sideways in the windows, used to keep out unwanted intruders back in the 18th century.

The tasting rooms are intimate. A real New England feel. The plan is in place.

“I thought that I could do something that I love commercially and it would be something people could enjoy,” Fairbrother said. “I’d been looking for something like this my whole life.”




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