The storms hit during the evening of the 26th May and seem to have spread south and east as the night progressed. There are unconfirmed reports that some of the Czech acreage may also have been damaged. Initial estimates vary but from the figures reported below it can be seen that the acreage affected is quite significantAccording to that report, the storms destroyed 19% of the Hallertau crop and 25% of the Tettnang crop. These are two of the most important hops for German lagers. Hallertauers are regarded as one of the finest hop varieties in the world, imparting an absolutely lovely spicy, herbal quality. Although particularly associated with German lagers, it's enjoying some prominence in American craft brewing these days (though probably not this year).
Charlie Papazian has been following this, and according to reports he's seen, the Czech Saaz crop may also have been damaged:
Damage to approx. 130 ha (325 acres) is also reported from the Saaz growing region, with 70ha (175 acres) suffering severe and 60 ha (150 acres) moderate damage. Another source reports: The Saaz area was partly hit by the storms; around 500 acres in that region was more or less hurtSaaz are, of course, perhaps the most famous hop in the world, giving that distinct flavor to Czech pilsners. It's almost as if someone who hated hops selectively targeted the very best fields. If you're a homebrewer and you plan on making anything with these varieties, you might go snatch up what remains of the '08 crop. It seems doubtful that any will trickle down to lowly homebrewers in a hop shortage.
PHOTO: SOCIETY OF INDEPENDENT BRWERS