Dean Gunderson, a city of Spokane urban planner, is eagerly anticipating the day he gets to blow the froth off an I-90 Pale Ale, made with locally grown hops created and harvested atop a “living wall” along a downtown stretch of Interstate 90.

The hop plants will alternate with ivy varieties and is expected to cover about 300 feet of the 600-foot wall running along Fourth Avenue between Wall Street and Lincoln Street near MultiCare Deaconess Hospital.

The city will plant the hops near an I-90 gateway into downtown in the spring, and a local nonprofit will harvest the crop in the fall.

The idea came about in jest, as a then city urban designer suggested something that was living: alive and in need of being tended in the area instead of a mural, because of heavy graffiti tagging in that part of the city.

Gunderson piped up, "Why not hops?"

Bend Bulletin
Bend Bulletin

Gunderson discovered hops are one of Washington Department of Transportation’s pre-approved plant options.

The harvesting and maintenance of the hops will be handled by the Spokane Edible Tree Project, or SETP, taking on the labor and donating the hops to local brewers in return for a percentage of the beer sales.

Gunderson said providing ongoing landscape maintenance, especially along I-90, has been a problem in the past, but this new venture looks promising: “By partnering with a nonprofit who can come in and provide that necessary maintenance, then it’s a product that has value to that organization to help underwrite some of their costs for their other efforts.”

The SETP tree project was formed in 2013 and the organization picks fruit from local trees and donates it to food banks, among other efforts.

Operators of Bellwether Brewing, which in the past has used fruit from the Spokane Edible Tree Project, think plums for a plum ale, for instance, hope to receive some of the I-90 hops when harvested.

Put a hold on my beer.

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