The island and other parts of Vero Beach will be seen by more than 50 million people this week – if PBS’s viewer forecasts are accurate – when Alden and Valerie Bing’s Orchid Island Brewery is featured on an episode of the national PBS series, “tasteMAKERS,” set to air here this Friday, Feb. 15, at 4:30 p.m. PBS projects a household viewership of 55 million nationwide.
The series “explores the ‘maker movement,’ covering artisan food and drink producers across the country who are making a lasting impact on modern day American food culture,” according to BroadwayworldTV.com.
Last January the show’s host Catherine Neville, publisher of Feast Magazine and creator of the Emmy-winning “Feast TV,” contacted the Bings via e-mail to see whether they’d be interested in doing a tasteMAKERS episode.
“At first I thought it was a hoax,” Valerie Bing said. “Why us? A PBS show?”
As it turned out, the Bings had a connection with Neville they hadn’t been aware of – her parents are Vero Beach residents and frequent visitors to the brewery, where they often sat and chatted with the young couple.
“But we never knew of Cat until she reached out to us,” Valerie Bing said.
Skepticism turned to excitement as Neville explained her vision of the show: exploring the creation of food and drink through the eyes of the maker, “diving deep to discover the passion and story behind each of the tastemakers, and showcasing what it is that drives the product.”
When they realized that Neville’s passion for creating a show that explores the creativity and passion of the people behind the product reflected their own dedication to Indian River County’s agricultural heritage and their citrus-centric beers, the Bings said “yes.”
They insisted the show include the community and those who had helped them along the way, principally local suppliers of the citrus that is at the heart of Orchid Island Brewery’s product.
“Our brewery was formed on many relationships within the community, mainly with the citrus growers,” said Alden Bing. “Through the brewery, we’ve made relationships that grow deeper each day, and to us, this show was going to recognize those individuals who help us make OIB what it is.”
The filming process took place over a very busy Wednesday through Saturday last February. Neville and her two-person camera crew filmed at a local grove, where every piece of fruit used is handpicked; at the brewery; in Humiston Park; and at a local beer festival.
The relaxed, friendly Ocean Drive microbrewery had its genesis in 2008, at Alden Bing’s bachelor party, at which Bing and his pals made a batch of home brew, which was subsequently served at the wedding – to rave reviews. The newlyweds continued to experiment with home brew until the pivotal day when Valerie Bing decided to add fruit she’d picked from one of their trees: the resulting taste fueled the “Ah ha! Moment” from which, in 2014, Orchid Island Brewery was born.
Alden Bing describes Orchid Island Brewery as “a modest microbrewery propelled by modern beers that break the mold, and, at the base of it all is the calling card of our region: world-class citrus that evolves generation after generation into a natural resource like no other.”
One of the Bings’ suppliers, Schacht Groves, is run by third generation citrus grower Louis Schacht, with whom Alden Bing grew up. Schacht hosts gatherings in the groves during the season to provide a glimpse of the industry that has put the county on the world map and produces fruit like no other on the planet.
The Bings collaborate with Schacht in these popular gatherings by providing Orchid Island brew. Another citrus family scion and Orchid Island Brewery citrus source, Birdie Hogan, provides the Schacht events with beef and vegetables from the family farm.
These are exactly the sort of people and events that Neville envisioned for her series, as she “dives deep” to find the passion and story behind each tasteMAKER.
Each half-hour episode visits a dedicated maker from around the country, according to PBS. “From an oyster farm in the icy waters off the coast of Washington and a tofu factory in the urban heart of Chicago to an inland shrimp operation in the rolling hills of Indiana and a tiny wood-fired bakery nestled in the forests of North Carolina,” the show reveals “the hard work and artistry of the individuals who are defining American food: what drives them, inspires them, how they learned their craft, how they approach the creative process.”