A fire in a Yakima warehouse destroyed about 4 percent of the nation's hops. Federal investigators are working today to determine the cause of Monday's blaze at the 40,000-square-foot warehouse operated by S.S. Steiner Inc., one of the four largest hop buyers in the Yakima Valley.
"This will affect the U.S. market," said Ann George, the administrator for the Moxee-based Washington Hop Commission.
The hops, packed in 10,000 bales weighing about 200 pounds each, were probably worth between $1.75 and $2 per pound, based on average prices this year, the Yakima Herald-Republic reports. That puts the fire's monetary damage between $3.5 million and $4 million. Depending on the varieties, the hops' value per pound could be even higher, George said.
The fire will not douse Saturday's Fresh Hop Ale Festival, featuring a dozen microbreweries making ales from Yakima hops picked within 24 hours.