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Small Business

Crooked Run Offers NoVA Locals Homegrown Spirits, Eats

Crooked Run Fermentation

Northern Virginia (NoVA) has long been associated with the suburbs of Washington, D.C. — a quiet, clean place to raise your kids. However, most people probably don’t recognize the number of hidden gems and local watering holes around the Arlington-Fairfax-Sterling area. 

One brewery, Crooked Run Fermentation, is a good representation of the growth of NoVA as a food and beverage haven. With two locations in NoVA and a third planned spot in the District, Crooked Run is committed to using Virginia-grown ingredients for its extensive line of beer and wine. 

Opening their doors in Leesburg in 2013, founders Lee Rogan and Jake Endres have curated a refined pallet of alcoholic beverages while fostering a close-knit community of loyal customers. What began as traditional beer and wine-making now include hard seltzer and ciders

The essential component of Crooked Run’s business model is using ingredients sourced from Virginia farmers. They are dedicated to showcasing the beauty and unique tastes of the state in a beer mug or wine glass.

Photo Courtesy Crooked Run Fermentation

Four years after the Leesburg location opened, the brewery expanded to a second location in Sterling, VA. That site is a bit larger than the original, with a private event space, an outdoor Biergarten, and various dining options. 

The food definitely sets the Sterling location apart, with the Local Source Group, a section of the Sterling location that houses two eateries. One is Daybreak Kitchen & Biscuit, famous for its fried chicken and biscuit brunch. The other is Nectar Cocktail Bar, which uses cold-pressed juices in cocktails like mimosas, fruit-infused beer, and wine. 

Señor Ramon Taqueria also sells tacos and a variety of street-style Mexican favorites at the Sterling location. And, of course, the brewery’s brews are on tap, as well as its wine and ciders. 

Perhaps the product that really got Crooked Run’s name in several publications has been its fruit beers produced over the last three years. Dubbed the Native Culture line, they are brewed using raspberries, blueberries, peaches, and grapes. Many of the fruit comes from Virginia farms, such as blueberries grown outside Richmond for the Buckshee coolship ale. 

“We’ve begun to source our fruit locally, and we’ve been very happy with the results,” said Endres. Despite some customer apprehension, Native Culture has done decently well with craft beer fanatics.

Photo Courtesy Crooked Run Fermentation

COVID-19 slowed down Crooked Run’s business slightly. The brewery switched to fully to-go orders when the pandemic hit in 2020. However, this allowed Rogan and Endres to experiment with new recipes, research their hard seltzers and cider lines, and make more wine. They also bought 100% Virginia malt and fruits for the Native Culture line to support the state economy, staying true to the locally-sourced philosophy. With the storefronts back open, it’s business as usual for the company.

The reopening of the locations allowed Crooked Run to host numerous events, continuing the theme of community relationship strengthening. The brewery held an original festival called Propagation in 2021, where customers could come in and sample upcoming releases. It had its second annual Propagation this past April. This past September, the company hosted its own Oktoberfest celebration.  

“Our GM suggested the idea of a different kind of beer festival, one that was focused more on mixed fermentation beers and lagers rather than the typical IPA/kettle sour/stout focus,” Endres said of the first Propagation. 

Not only was it a great way to test the waters (or beers, in this case), but it was a sign that normalcy was starting to return. Crooked Run’s support for local restaurants and Virginia-grown ingredients has shown how sustainably buying local produce can yield profits and strong community ties.  

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