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jar 10-03-2006 03:14 PM

4% of US hop crop burned
4% of the US hop crop was burned in a fire at a Yakima warehouse. The CNN article doesn't say what varieties were involved. Hopefully it wasn't a large percentage of a smaller production hop. We'll see what, if anything, this does to hop prices. cnn article

Dude 10-03-2006 03:35 PM


Bet it smelled good though.

the_bird 10-03-2006 03:42 PM


Impact From Hop Warehouse Fire Unknown

By SHANNON DININNY Associated Press Writer
2006 The Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. Federal investigators were set to begin an investigation into a fire that ruined about 4 percent of the nation's yield of hops, used as flavoring in the brewing of beer and ale.

The fire started shortly before noon Monday PDT in a 40,000-square-foot warehouse operated by S.S. Steiner Inc., one of the four largest hop buyers in the Yakima Valley of central Washington. By mid-afternoon flames engulfed most of the building, sending up plumes of smoke and a pungent aroma.

Municipal fire crews, aided by firefighters and equipment from Gleed, Selah, Union Gap, the East Valley and West Valley fire districts, Yakima County and the Army's Yakima Training Center, ripped away metal siding to shoot water directly onto the hops.

Based on an industry official's estimate of the quantity of hops in the warehouse, the loss could amount to $3.5 million to $4 million. The impact on brewers and beer prices was unclear early Tuesday.

Company President Paul Signorotti would not comment.

The United States produces 24 percent of the world's hops, and about three-fourths of the U.S. crop comes from the Yakima Valley. Hops were a $77 million crop in the state in 2004. More than 40 families grow hops in the valley, which is dotted with orchards, vineyards and farms.

Fires have long been an expensive danger at hop warehouses, largely because of the potential for spontaneous combustion from heat buildup in bales of resin-loaded varieties.

"That's just a possibility that we'll look at," East Valley Deputy Chief Mike Riel told the Yakima Herald-Republic, "but it is very high on the list."

No one was in the warehouse when the fire started, Riel said.

With the fire under control Monday night, authorities told the newspaper an investigation into the cause would be led by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Steiner is part of the Steiner Group of Germany, one of the largest international hop growing, trading and processing companies in the world. The Yakima branch manages Steiner's North American buying and processing, according to the company Web site.

Besides being one of the largest growers in the valley, Steiner is one of three large merchants that buy from other growers in the area. The others are John I. Haas Inc., the grower-owned cooperative Yakima Chief and Hop Union, which specializes in sales to craft brewers.

The fire destroyed or ruined about 10,000 bales, each weighing about 200 pounds and likely worth $1.75 to $2 a pound, Ann George, administrator of the Washington Hops Commission in nearby Moxee, told the Herald-Republic.

"They handle a large volume of the crop, but they have multiple warehouses," George told The Associated Press. "Depending on what variety or varieties were involved in this incident, if it was a variety that was already in short supply, that could have an impact on price and availability."

Seventeen varieties of hops are grown in the United States, including aroma varieties which are added for flavor or fragrance and the bitter alpha varieties.

With a surplus from the late 1990s largely spent, growers have been optimistic about prices for their harvest this year, but some already were disappointed by lower yields for some aroma varieties, such as Willamette, because of high temperatures in July, George said.

"The crop already was somewhat mixed," she said. "If we just burned a substantial volume of an already short crop, this fire will have a much bigger impact."

Biermann 10-03-2006 03:48 PM

Crap. .. Glad I just bought my Willamettes yesterday.

Truble 10-03-2006 03:55 PM

Figures. I am running low now too. At least it was the harvasted produce, and not some accident or whatever that destoyed the farms themselves.

TheJadedDog 10-03-2006 04:17 PM

I wouldn't think 4% will have a drastic effect on price, some maybe, but nothing too major. Of course, it's a whole other story if it's a large percentage of only a few types of hops, like, say, amarillo which is already pricey. If that's the case I bet we all start looking for substitutes.

Biermann 10-03-2006 04:22 PM

yeah, but to put things into an exagerrated perspective: If it were 4% of the petroleum stockpiles that were lost, prices would go up to $5.00 a gallon.

I hope hops don't follow those trends.

the_bird 10-03-2006 04:26 PM

Yeah, it's not as simple as saying that that a 4% drop in supply means a 4% increase in prices. It depends on the dynamic between supply and demand on the margins. It is interesting that Sam Adams is up about a buck today (bouncing off a bit of a dive last week), so it would seem that traders either aren't all that concerned about the potential for a price increase or don't think it would be too extreme.

I'd make a joke about BMC doing us all a favor and cutting back their hops usage by 4% to make up the difference - but I'm not sure they use enough hops to have an impact!

homebrewer_99 10-03-2006 04:31 PM

Some interesting observations from the srticle:

1) ...worth $1.75 to $2 a pound...versus our $12.00 lb or $1.65 oz...

2) ...With a surplus from the late 1990s largely spent, growers have been optimistic about prices for their harvest this year...does that mean our "fresh" hops can be 7 years old already? :confused: :confused: :confused:

Questions, questions...

Biermann 10-03-2006 04:32 PM


Originally Posted by the_bird

I'd make a joke about BMC doing us all a favor and cutting back their hops usage by 4% to make up the difference - but I'm not sure they use enough hops to have an impact!

Nice one!:fro:

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