A short video trying to convey the size of our hops plants this year. Hops die down to the roots each year. They are a "bine" - using the winding of the stems to climb - as opposed to a "vine", which uses tendrils to grasp.
We rig a flag pole augmented by two-by-fours, from which a line is strung to a hub cap, and from there to a third floor window. From this horizontal line and the spokes of the hub cap, we dangle twine down from the bines to climb up. On the ground, we have three tripods made of coated steel rods. The bines climb up these (and each other) until they reach the dangling strings.
Hops are the flower of the plant. They look like pale green pine cones, but are soft. Under the scales are little sacs of yellow stuff. This is the source of the bitterness that adds flavor to beer, and it also acts as a natural preservative. When harvesting, you have to be careful not to break the sacs.
When Jon brews, he usually uses purchased hops for the wort, and uses our harvest for dry-hopping his Astral Ale, an India Pale Ale (IPA.) That could change if we get a bigger harvest!
Update August 18th: Here's a short piece from Jon this Spring about rigging the trellis, including a picture of the hop plants when they were only a foot or two tall.