Hops are, by nature, climbing plants. They need to be trained to grow up strings or wires which support the plants and provide them with significantly greater sunlight exposure as well as growth than if they were left to grow along the ground.
Male and female flowers of the hop plant develop on separate plants; it is important to note that only the female plants are grown in hop fields to prevent pollination and preserve the integrity of the hop for brewing and other uses.
Hops are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, although they are also used for various purposes in other beverages, medicines, personal care products, and more.
Many different types of hops are grown around the world, with different types being used for particular styles of beer. They can be dried before they are used in the brewing process; something that must be done carefully and precisely to ensure that the hops retain their flavor and structure. More recently, many microbreweries are using "fresh hops" to construct truly unique beers.