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It’s a good time to be a beer fan in the Roanoke Valley. By now you’ve heard the great news of Deschutes Brewery coming to the area, which means more great craft brews and new jobs in the region. And the trend won’t be stopping anytime soon—in fact, plenty of Roanokers want to capitalize on the growing trend of breweries, wineries and more in the region.
Jason Horn, host of “The Dive Whisperer,” wants to add another layer to the brew with his new PBS series “Crafted.” Currently in production, the locally produced show will explore the world of alcohol, followed by a cooking segment with a prominent local chef. Season one has worked with the likes of Local Roots, Lucky and Fortunato. Horn has already filmed at Devil’s Backbone, with plans to visit Chateau Morrisette, Blacksnake Meadery, Appalachian Spirits and more. He’s currently working with Horse Archer, who for the last several years has produced the award-winning and critically acclaimed PBS series “Songs of the Mountains.”
“It’s been quite a road to get to here,” Horn says. “This is my fifth production, but my first where I have a waiting network. There’s as much a story in the journey itself as there is in the production.”
Horn’s motto is to both learn and teach something every day. He believes “Crafted” is a well-balanced show that aims to do just that for viewers.
“From an alcohol perspective, few things are as ‘American’ or as ‘human’ as alcohol in general,” he says. “It’s theorized that around 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, hunters were out frolicking and hunting game, when someone left some random grains in a container. It rained. Very much like the brave first soul to eat an oyster, someone drank it. And soon after, they caught a buzz! So, mankind began to plant grains, and instead of hunting their prey, they began to grow their meals. One hut was built around the grain fields. Then another. Then another. Now, it’s a village. And the internet was born!”
From a food perspective, however, it’s all about the history of the dish. Horn, who is not formally trained but can cook professionally, enjoys understanding the food’s history to gather perspective on the dish itself. “You can’t effectively prepare it if you don’t know where it came from and how it got to you. I’ve eaten many different cultures and I know just enough to know I want to know more!”
Each episode will have a tie into something historical or educational. In the Blacksnake Meadery episode, for example, Horn acknowledges most people are unfamiliar with mead. Horn and viewers meet with Virginia Tech biology and agriculture students and professors to discuss bees and how they contribute to the world around us. After receiving the information, viewers will see the process of making mead, as well as watch the following cooking segment at a local restaurant. Devil’s Backbone, already filmed as well, hosts an interview with the head brewer during a tasting. Viewers will accompany Horn to the distribution brewery for an all-access tour.
Horn plans for Roanoke to have its own episode, exploring the booming beer culture. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a brewery large enough to dedicate a single episode to so we had to get creative,” Horn explains. “First, we’ll stop by Southern Home Brew Supply and watch them make a home brew beer. After that, we’ll visit Roanoke’s favorite nano brewery in Big Lick, where we will watch a small pro operation make beer. After that, we’ll head to Soaring Ridge and watch a larger brewery make beer. We’ll end the night at Blue 5, which just took the Best Craft Beer bar award in Virginia from Mekong in Richmond, and feature a cooking segment with Jeff Farmer at Fortunato.”