Arctic Devil Barley Wine - Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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Arctic Devil Barley WineArctic Devil Barley Wine

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

1,141 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 1,141
Reviews: 351
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 978
Gots: 293 | FT: 37
Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  13.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 03-24-2005

Arctic Devil Barley Wine, aptly named after the ferocious wolverine of the north, is an English-style (meaning malt-inclined) barley wine. Though the recipe and process for Arctic Devil have evolved over the years, it is brewed once a year then aged in oak barrels for several months before the entire batch is blended, bottled and released.

In its youth, Arctic Devil gnarls and snarls its way across the palate. Containing this beast of a beer for long periods in oak barrels--some having previously aged port, wine or whiskey--tames the unleashed malt and fierce hop flavors, melding and mellowing this powerful liquid into an incredible elixir worthy of a brewer's table.

Each annual batch of Arctic Devil Barley Wine represents the brewers' resolve to create an intriguing and sought-after barley wine by precisely brewing to well-designed specifications, carefully selecting the type and combination of barrels to use for aging, and meticulously checking the beer as it ages. Distinct nuance and complexity are contributed by the wood's previous tenants, resulting in unique flavor profiles in each batch that continue to change over time. We invite you to savor Arctic Devil Barley Wine upon its release then cellar some for future enjoyment.

20 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,141 | Reviews: 351
Photo of Sean9689
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to spycow for this one. 2007 vintage into Narke tulip.

A - Pours a brownish/reddish color, off-white head, thin collar.

S - Caramel, smooth booze, oak, burnt sugars. A nice level of sweetness and booze, not too hot and not too sweet. The caramel notes are excellent and the bourbon melds perfectly.

T - Caramel, toasty malts, smooth bourbon, oak, burnt sugars. Again, a perfect mix of sweetness and booze for the style. Just how I like it. The booze has smoothed out nicely since 2007...really a nice vintage.

M - Medium, soft carbonation, creamy boozy finish.

O - A excellent English Barleywine. The combo of booze and sweetness is really well-done and I really don't have much bad to say about this beer. Try it!

Photo of jdense
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle from Fred Meyer Hawthorne PDX, shared with colleague to celebrate end of a very tough week 5.4.12. 2011 vintage, 13.4% ABV listed on bottle.

Half finger tan head, uneven size bubbles, fairly quick dissipation with above average lacing over reddish amber clear body, a few streams of slow rising bubbles. Prominent toasty oak notes, rich malt backbone, Maris Otter?, brown sugar but not overly sweet, some citrus hops, good balance in the nose. Taste is a wee bit on the sweet side but not overly so, light brown sugar. Mouthfeel is a bit on the full side of medium, good effervescence. This brew packs a powerful punch, splitting a bottle multiple ways is highly recommended. A very good example of English style Barleywine, malt-forward and very tasty.

Photo of papat444
4.29/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Boozecamel for my first taste of Midnight Sun!

Poured from a 650ml. bottle.

Appearance: Thick, dark brown pour; gorgeous cascading effect of the dark brown foam. Good retention and minimal lacing.

Smell: Vanilla beans, powerful bourbon, heady aroma, some caramel.

Taste: First flavor is like licking caramel followed by oak, bourbon, vanilla, classic barleywine candy flavor, layers of flavor here.

Mouthfeel: Brash yet melts in your mouth, textured yet deceivingly easy to drink.

Overall: This is an excellent barleywine, very fortunate to have tried this.

Photo of portia99
4.29/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle (2008 Vintage) received a long while back from alaskajoe in a great trade. Thanks! Poured into a Brooklyn snifter. Pulled this out so many times to share and never got to it. Couldn't wait any longer...cold night in front of the fire.

A - Bottle opens with a smallish muddy pop. A fairly aggressive pour into the middle of the glass yields an equally muddy body of nearly opaque brown color that is a step above the yeasty remains found at the bottom of a carboy of homebrew. A finger of cream colored, somewhat loose bubbled foam lingers briefly and falls to the surface.

S - Sweet smelling overall with definite notes of molasses and brown sugar. Whiskey is also quite up front in the aroma with some booziness and some nice hints of vanilla and caramel. As it warms the whiskey really starts to take hold and becomes more potent.

T - As expected from the aroma, whiskey takes a strong role in the flavors as well. I'm getting strong hits of whiskey up front backed solidly by some sweetness of varying types - lots of burnt, caramelized sugar - creme brulee'ish, some molasses too. There's also a touch of smokiness and dark roasted malt that pushes towards a coffee-like bitterness but doesn't quite get there. Not really getting much for hops but this ends up being rather well balanced and not nearly as much of a malt bomb as I expected. The whiskey really seems to offset the sugary aspects quite well.

M - Body is medium/full with a low level carbonation just strong enough to let you know its alive...like a low level pulse but lingers close to a lifeless state. Initially I get a tingle on the lips from each sip - but that quickly disappears and leaves behind largely just whiskey flavors and really not that much heat. Booziness is really well controlled here. Actually ends up being quite a smooth drinker through the entire bottle - rather surprised in a very positive way.

O - Obviously this beer has a decent amount of hype behind it (and plenty of good ratings with it), but I've also heard several rather negative experiences with this too. Came into this with high hopes but prepared to be disappointed. Although not the perfect barleywine for me, this trended towards meeting the hype. Really well balanced with sugars and alcohol in control without being disguised to the point that one could down this quickly with unexpected results. For me the highlight of this beer is the well placed and lingering creme brulee effect. I can almost imagine the crunch and crackle of the burnt sugar coating on top of the dessert...really, really nice effect. This absolutely makes this beer for me. The overall balance and complexity are just bonuses - quite like a dessert in a glass for me.

Photo of francisweizen
4.29/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ruddy, muddy, dirty, cola coloured brown with a fizzy, fizzly head that dies out quickly. Aromas are all raisins, dark fruits, plums, residual sugars, and not really a hint of booze. Impressive. Taste follows suit with plenty of malty dark fruit flavors, and candied spicy flavors. Rum raisin cake, maybe? This is really like an old ale, not so much of a barleywine, but hey, who's keepin' score? Mouthfeel is medium bodied and drinkability is pretty good as well. A nice one from AK.

Photo of axeman9182
4.29/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle of the 2011 vintage, with the hookup coming from FunkyMacGroovin. It was allowed to warm some before being poured into my petite Duvel tulip.

Arctic Devil pours a fairly clear polished mahogany. There's about two fingers of khaki colored foam capping the beer. Head retention is solid, but lacing is fairly spotty. The nose is just a series of wonderful aromas washing over me one, after the next. Port inspired dark fruits, coconut, vanilla, caramel, and nutty sherry-like aromas all take a turn in the spotlight, not to mention a slight smell of alcohol. After all that, the flavor profile has a hard time living up. Darl fruits and a nutty sweetness are the dominant flavors, with vanilla and caramel showing up as well. A lid more presence from the base barleywine would be great, because what's in my glass is tasty, but I think I could come up with something similar just by blending some port and sherry to taste. The slight alcohol warmth creeps in pleasantly for the finish of each sip. The body is pleasantly rich and full, though not as heavy as I might have expected from a 13+% beer. The carbonation is wonderfully understated, doing its job while staying out of the way of the malt and barrel flavors. Arctic Devil is a great brew to have in your glass for a couple hours, I just wish it wasn't so clearly dominated by the barrel aging.

Photo of claaark13
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured at cellar temp into a Hill Farmstead tulip. Thanks schmaltzy, you've made my evening with this one.

A - Pours a ruby color with an inch or less of an off-white head. Seems thick, great head retention. Looks really good until it is gone.

S - Sweet malts, some fruit and slight oak. Notes of caramel as well. As it opens up, some heat and licorice can be found. Really not much of a dominating aroma, takes a battle to get in there and pick things out.

T - Malts, dark fruit presence...like a cherry mixed with a raisin (charaisin I believe), woodiness, caramel, licorice and sweet heat on the finish. Fairly smooth overall. The more I sip it, the more I really like it.

M - Medium body that feels heavy on the tongue.

O - I'm trying to be critical about this because I've been wanting to try this beer for a while. After fighting with it over 30 minutes, I'll say that it is one of the best of the style that I've had. Deserves more than a 4.0, but there is no 4.25 overall option. The real thing holding it down in the overall is the heat. I think another year in the bottle will bring this thing to another level. Now I need to find another one...

Photo of airohead2001
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been waiting to try this one for a while - thanks glazeman.

Appearance is actually very nice, which is something on which I rarely comment. Color is dark brown/red, maybe even black with a nice one finger mother-of-pearl head that fades to a nice thin film with a 1/4 finger head that lines the edge of the snifter. The beer just looks very elegant and appetizing in the snifter. Impressive.

The smell is very complex. I get rich aromas of dark fruits such as figs and prunes, with licorice, booze, cough syrup, and sugar.

The taste is incredible. One of the best barleywines I've had that hasn't been aged in bourbon barrels. Sweet, rich bubble gum up front with candied, dry, dark fruits and molasses and licorice. The finish is a nice combination of roasts and hops.

Mouthfeel is great - thick and sticky. Perfect.

Overall, this is a great barleywine - one of the best I've ever had. However, the huge ABV is very noticeable, and it clearly hinders this beer's drinkability.

Photo of TheBlackMallard
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

3:30am and I'm sober and awake...Why not open Artic Devil?

Pours a nice Caramel Brown into my giant snifter.

Smell: Alcohol, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Raisins, Sweet and Boozy.

Taste: Sweet Caramel, Dark Fruits, Vanilla, Toffee, and Booze. Very Thick and Syrupy.

Do I really need to say it? Thanks Frank!

Photo of Treebs
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Eric (Holland) for the bottle. You made some fellow beer geeks very happy. 2011 vintage bottled the first week in February. 22 oz bomber served in a FW tulip.

A: Pours a very dark ruby color a light khaki head forming on the pour. It recedes to a thin film and ring that leave some splotchy lace behind.

S: Light whiskey and oak with some sweet, fruity esters and dark fruit. Caramelized malt sweetness as well.

T: Whiskey and light oaky body with a nice sweet malt body. Dark fruitiness with some light green hops. Minimal sweet berry flavor as well.

M: Medium bodied with a nice medium carbonation level with just a dash of heat on the finish.

O: The whiskey barrel was nicely integrated and a liked the sweetness it entailed. Very happy to have tried this guy.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Okay, so I was a bit hasty. I was just so eager to finally crack open the bottle of Arctic Devil that I made no note of its production year. Now, this beer was received in a trade waaay back in early 2008 (mid-February, IIRC). So, if we suppose it was, at the time, a current bottle, it was from the November 2007 release, making it a 2007 vintage. Let's roll with that!

2007 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a delicately hazy, deep, russet-hued body with a thin, wispy, ecru-colored head.

Smell: Strong, sweet-smelling malt aroma with plenty of dark caramel, toasted toffee, and brown sugar. While there is a ripe plum and dried fig fruit character, it's simply bursting at the seems with a rich cherry fruitiness. There's even room enough for vanilla, damp oaken barrels, and some nose-tingling alcoholic wafts.

Taste: Thickly sweet and oh-so delectable dark caramel ice cream topping flavor garnished with a pinch of hearty cinnamon and brown sugar. Plenty of fruitiness, and, as with the nose, it's big on the cherries! Drizzle of Grade A maple syrup straight from Vermont. Touches of vanilla and lightly tannic oak wood. An earthy bitterness melds in well with the rest of the brew. Now, mind you, there's an ample amount of alcohol warmth coursing through this brew, but, thanks to the assertive maltiness, it prevents it from coming across as overly hot. Finishes long with plenty of drying alcohol and an enduring maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is both silky and smooth.

Drinkability: Another skillful release from Midnight Sun. Barleywines are addicting enough on their own, but Arctic Devil takes it to a whole new level of hedonistic indulgence. Overall, an exemplary brew!

Photo of DaveJanssen
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Split a 22 3 ways. Poured into red wine glasses. Reviewed 9/9/10. 2008 vintage.

Ap: Smooth whiskey and oak, caramel and toffee, strong alcohol, smooth citrus oriented fruit, dark hints, candy sweetness, *perfumey alcohol, mild pineapple, *restrained cinnamon, brown sugar

Ap: Tan medium head good retention, fine haze pink amber, legs, light lace

T: Rich malt, caramel, whiskey, oak, smooth full malt, sweet but good, malt not too complex, pleasant woodiness, date, esters, mild earthy spice, GREAT CARAMEL, mild pineapple, *candy, *cookie dough, toasty, *rye bread, *restrained cinnamon, raisins, prunes, mild chocolate

M: Warming alcohol, burn hints, heavy body, low carb, alcohol increases with warmth but balances beer

O: Excellent example of an english barleywine, alcohol is appropriate, hard to drink a lot of, *no oxidation, *whiskey character melds great with the beer, a sipping beer, *increadible

* = ideas form fellow tasters

Photo of abuliarose
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark ruby body with thin creamy head that devolves into a ring fed by lacy bubbles. Enjoying this one out of my Rock Art tulip. Smells like candied fig (fig molasses, anyone?) with a little burnt caramel and some decent alcohol presence. In effect, smells like dessert!

Tastes sweet and smooth with fine, tingly carbonation. Medium to heavy-bodied in a grade B maple syrup way. Lots of dried dark fruit presence. Caramel malts come out nicely. A lot of sherry likeness, maybe even a little bourbon. I guess that's the aging process coming through. Some wine character in the aftertaste. Many flavors; this brew has a nice depth to it. Very slippery on the tongue. Quite warming. Not what I would consider to be highly drinkable... though I find it highly sip-able. Carbonation lightens it a fair amount, but not enough to cut through the syrupiness. Would like to try this on french toast.

My only wish: for it to come in smaller bottles. Or with a hinge cap. Otherwise, it's quite yummy.

Photo of HopHead84
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11/6/2011

2010 batch, thanks Jonny!

A: Dark crown with a crimson tinge. The head is a finger of beige foam.

S: Strong dark toffee presence with notes of whiskey and caramel. Earth and pine waft from the glass. Oak is pronounced.

T: Big toffee notes blend with caramel and green wood. There's a moderate earthy, piney bitterness. I get light grape notes and a dash of whiskey. Alcohol is well hidden.

M: Upper medium body with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel I dry and sticky.

Overall: Great stuff. This is always a pleasure to drink.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick, viscous , hazy, dark chestnut with a thin swirly head that disappears to a thin ring. Smells rich, malty, winey, and syrupy with some spicebox notes and yeasty fruitiness. The taste is huge and thick and spicy. Quite sweet up-front, but spicy, tannic, and dry at the finish. Big pine spiciness, some rich cellared fruit, alcohol heat, sweet mat, and a big tannic bitterness. This is a huge, over-the-top beer- and I love it! Mouthfeel is rich and viscous and tannic and hot. Can't drink too much of this stuff!

Photo of paco1029384756
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a ruby brown color with a small off white head.

Scent of grass, earth, molasses, caramel, tobacco, and fruit. balanced and complex, alcohol is masked very well.

Taste of maple, sugars, tea, tobacco, and a hint of mint. Strong and tasty Barleywine.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and rich with some carbonation.

Photo of jimmy82063
4.26/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Finally the beer ship came in! Poured in to a snifter glass. This beer pours a jet black with a very minimal head. The nose gives deep caramel and toffee. Taste is caramel & toffee with some chocolate, coffee and vanilla. There is a lot going on with this. Some slight tobacco notes are on the finish. Very smooth with some slight bourbon notes! Well done!

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.26/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: Poured a deep dark cloudy brown color ale with a small dark brown foamy head with light retention and some minimal lacing. Aroma of toffee, residual brown sugar and caramelized malt is pretty awesome. Taste is also dominated by toffee with some brown sugar notes and caramelized malt. All rough edges have been rounded by the bourbon notes with light vanilla notes also noticeable. Body is full with limited filtration and a good amount of carbonation. This beer has so many layers of complexity while retaining such a good amount of drinkability. Really amazing beer that I wish I could try on a regular basis.

Photo of orcasteve
4.26/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into my duvel tulip glass, poured a rich thick borwn that cant be seen through, a rich creamy five finger head rises to the top and stays awhile, the smell is rich grain and alchoal with a sweet fig overtone, the flavor is figs, hazelnuts, molasses, honney, sweet malt, a hint of folaral hops then malt for days. this hides the alochal well and is a beer that i would love to get more of

Photo of kaseydad
4.26/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2011 Vintage

Pours a pretty clear dark amber/brown colored ale with a small cream colored foamy head. Ring around the glass during the session and no lacing.

The aroma is great. Brown sugar, wood, vanilla, raisin, caramel, cinnamon, and booze. Almost singe the noise hair aroma. Candied fruits. Really impressed with the aroma. Wasn't sure what the age would do but it seems to have blended nicely.

The taste is very oaky. Big oak and wood taste with some brown sugar, butterscotch, butter, hops and booze burn finish. Tingling of the lips and gums after each sip. The 13.4% abv doesn't lie. Getting some caramel as well, but the flavor almost goes away as soon as it shows itself. Odd. Left with a dry oak aftertaste.

Smooth mouthfeel though it's a little thin.

Overall I think this is a really good barleywine. Great? I dunno. I will definitely try this fresh and see the difference it makes. For me, the beer was a little bland which could have been from the age. The aroma is the best thing about it, though the taste left me a little let down given the love for this brew.

Photo of GOBLIN
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

An exceptional ba barleywine. Aromas of oak, vanilla, bourbon dominate the nose along with worn leather, raisins, figs, plums and other dark fruits trailing close behind. Spices and another cast of flavor characters playing parts as well. Taste is spot on and similar to the aromas and nothing comes through as harsh . . . as a matter of opinion Arctic Devil's time in the barrel is dialed in perfectly. Aged for about a year and ready for consumption on this rainy, dreary early summer afternoon. Wish I would have drank this this past winter or even had been a just a tad more patient until this next winter. It would have been perfect as a warming beverage to be sipped slowly. As is though, it's drinking fantastic ! I can honestly say this will not just be another "tick" or "notch" but definitely a must seek out again beer.

Photo of WeisGuy
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage

a - pours a deep deep brown with a garnet hue, modest cream colored head, retention around the edges, not much by way of lacing, quite cloudy

s - rum-soaked raisins and plums with a healthy dose of caramel, unexpected dose of bitter, piney hop aroma on the nose as well

t - big sweet caramel malt flavors up front, rum-soaked raisin and plum on the midpalate with more caramel, some light piney hop bitterness balances out the sweetness a little on the finish, alcohol fumes present on the finish as well with the lingering dark fruit component

m - full-bodied, moderate carbonation, well balanced on the finish, strong alcohol warming effect

d - definitely a sipper of a barleywine, but par for the style, alcohol and sweetness aren't as overwhelming as I expected

Overall, a very good English Barleywine. This isn't my favorite style - I lean more toward hoppier American Barleywines - but I found this quite enjoyable. I imagine this would age quite well, but it's drinking quite nicely right now.

Photo of brotherloco
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. 2011 Vintage. 13.4% ABV.

Pours a deep translucent mahogany. A very small beige head quickly dissipates to a small ring.

Aroma brings on strong dry-bread malt with hints of vanilla and sherry. A touch of sulphur. Noticeable alcohol.

Flavor of the malt is much more toffee-like than the aroma. A lot of oak and vanilla from the barrel aging. Still getting a little of that sulphur. Tobacco notes. Sweet through the middle and then finishes with a dry alcohol note. The heat comes on after a few sips but flavor wise the alcohol is extremely well blended.

Medium-full bodied with a nice moderate amount of carbonation. Slick and very drinkable given the strength.

A great beer at this age and one that you can tell will get even better with age.

Photo of illidurit
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

05 bottle sampled at the RBSG 08 Grand Tasting. Big thanks to whoever brought it. Pours golden brown with a tan head that leaves wet spotty lacing. Deep caramel aroma with some leafiness. Tobacco? Hops? Flavor is toffee based, with notes of prune, molasses, berries, and wood. Finish is earthy with some vanilla. Full bodied with a very smooth mouthfeel.

Photo of mnapier
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Service Temperature, 55 degrees. Service Glassware, 12 ounce Tulip.

A dark pool with little or no light escaping that pours a mild khaki head that leaves no lace behind.
The nose is a strong alcohol nose that wafts along with some brown sugar, raisins, and a slight bit of cherry.
The mouth is mostly brown sugar with some raisins, figs, and a slight berry zest. Mouthfeel is medium to strong but not overwhelming.

I like this beer but will have to wait till the winter period to fully appreciate it.

Cheers

Arctic Devil Barley Wine from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 1,141 ratings.