New farm market/brewery opens: Ridge Runner Farms focuses on family, farm to table and craft brew

Russ Anderson, of Ridge Runner Farms, holds a smoked Virginia ham and cheese sandwich on sourdough bread with fresh garden pesto and a glass of Cock and Pullet amber ale along the back deck of his farmers' market and brewery off Alonzaville and Back Road in Maurertown. Anderson's heirloom tomatoes are available seasonally and include 40 varieties. Rich Cooley/Daily

MAURERTOWN– When Russ Anderson and his family moved to Shenandoah County, he became interested in sustainable farming. His family raised meat chickens, Cornish game hens, egg-laying chickens and grew a fairly large garden. This eventually led to Anderson taking part in local farm markets, selling his meat and vegetables to the community.

Then he met Matt Clem.

Clem, a Maurertown native, was Anderson’s banker and had a love, along with Clem’s friend Curtis Falkenstein, for making small batch craft beer. Through their friendship, Anderson explained to Clem and Falkenstein his idea of opening a farm market near his home. Anderson was also impressed with the work ethic of both Clem and Falkenstein, so he asked them to come on board.

“They have an entrepreneurial spirit and a really good work ethic,” Anderson said. “As we developed a friendship, we began to just put the pieces together.”

The pieces formed to create Ridge Runner Farms and Brewing Company, which Anderson, Clem and Falkenstein have spent time building from the ground up.

“It’s been a year and a half in the making,” Anderson said. “We’ve built our taproom and the market back here. Everything has been done by us, with the help of friends and some family. Over the process, they (Clem and Falkenstein) began to develop the beers and that’s sort of their end of the business.”

The pair have developed a blonde ale, a pale ale, an amber ale, an IPA and an oatmeal stout that will be on the tasting menu when the market opens. Anderson said that he also hopes to be able to introduce a new brew around once a month.

On Anderson’s side of the business, he wants to take his love for food and combine that with local farmers to bolster the market side.

“We’re trying to source all local produce from other farmers,” Anderson said. “To kind of put a plug out to other people in the area to get in touch with us because I’d love to carry local and as natural as possible, organic as possible and chemical free as possible.”

On top of selling local meats and vegetables, the market will also serve prepared sandwiches and cheese plates.

The market and brewery are having their grand opening from noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 5. Both parts of the business will be open and food will also be served by the Sexi-Mexi Burritos food truck. Concrete Blues will be performing, as well as other local acts.

After working on this vision for over a year, Anderson ultimately wants Ridge Runner to be a place where people can come to have a beer, but also a place where people bring their families to enjoy the down-home experience.

“We want a little homestead atmosphere so when people come out, they bring their kids,” Anderson said. “We want to be a destination that’s not only known for the beer but also for the farm, farm market, farm cafe. Everyone should feel welcome, a place where families can come because that’s important to us.”