Zoya Nikonova, a guardian of Chuvash hop gems. Photo: Ivan Mikhailov/ Calvert Journal
Nikonova compares their work to Svalbards global seed vault in its mission to sustain a wide variety of plants for future generations including the legendary Serebyanka.
The semi-wild breed with hints of blackcurrant hasnt been efficient to grow, Nikonov tells, pointing a a row of indiscreet pale-looking stems of a plant that kicked off the craft beer revolution.
As the team at the institute works to preserve the history of the glory days, there are signs around the region that the locals have never forgotten their green gold.
Many are skilled home-brewers and beer is often presented as a gift at bridals and important occasions including Seren, a pagan vacation on which evil spirits are expelled with barrels of alcohol and wild dancing.
A version of this article first appeared on The Calvert Journal, a guide to the new east