Last year's heat wave stunted all our outdoor plants, and I got no hops for my annual beer using them. But our hops are looking much better this year, and in a week or so I should be able to harvest a bumper crop. Hops love our typical Pacific NW climate, and soon after we bought our house, I planted a Centennial strain to grow up our deck. Commercially, they like to grow vertically, but my wife has trained them to grow horizontally on a wire I strung across the deck; she's the green thumb in our family: The bitterness of the hops comes from the yellow stuff inside the cones, called Lupulin. It isomerizes (melts) in the boiling beer, and is added at different times to create the desired bitterness. The hop cones are typically dried and packaged whole, or ground and processed into pellets, kinda like rabbit feed. Dried hops are much more potent than freshly-picked ones, so when using fresh hops, I need to use pounds rather than ounces to get the same results. The fresh hop brew day is always an exciting time; I harvest the hops in the morning and start brewing soon after- they're best if used the same day they're picked.