A fire in Yakima, Wash., destroyed a warehouse full of hops with contents worth between $3.5 million and $4 million. Early estimates indicated that up to 4% of the 2006 U.S. hope crop could be lost but the impact on brewers and beer prices is not yet clear.
According to an Associated Press report the fire destroyed a 40,000-square-food warehouse operated by S.S. Steiner, one of the largest hop growers and merchants in the Yakima Valley. The valley produces about three-quarters of the hops in the U.S., which in turn grows one quarter of the world’s hops.
Fires have long been a problem for those drying, bailing and storing hops. Spontaneous combustion is the biggest danger.
The impact of the fire will be apparent after Steiner sorts out what variatels were lost. Seventeen varieties of hops are grown in the U.S., which some in short supply and already under contract for delivery in 2007. These include high alpha hops that may have been destroyed in the fire.