Hops successfully grow up the retaining wall on a lot in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The black circles at the base of the plants are old plastic drum barrels that were cut into rings and filled with mulch from a nearby community compost. This helps to keep the hops moist. (Pete Bell)
After all, many of the growing number of craft breweries in Pittsburgh source their hops from non-local suppliers, like those in Oregon and Washington. Plus, hops seemed relatively easier: You can avoid the pest problems you face with other urban crops, since hops are so bitter. They also grow vertically, so they need little space on the ground. “I came up with an idea to grow brewing crops … to be used locally in a beer to be able to create a truly local beer,” Bell says.