Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout | Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

3,747 Ratings
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
England, United Kingdom

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 02-27-2001

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,747 |  Reviews: 1,767
Photo of zac16125
3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Samuel Smith Imperial Stout
355ml bottle poured into a mug
No born on date or other distinguishing numbers, although I do dig the tall, thin bottle and old school label

A: Pours an opaque black with 2.5 fingers of bubbly creamed coffee colored head. Some reddening is seen around the edges when held up to a bright light. Head dissipates at a moderate rate. Leaves no appreciable lacing.

S: Strong aroma. You don’t have to stick your nose into the beer to smell this one. Lots of dark fruit is noted right away, fig and plum in particular. More subtle coffee and roasted aroma. Doesn’t really smell like an RIS, more like one of the better Doppelbocks, or to a lesser degree some of the not-as-complex Belgium quads.

T: It might not smell like a stout, but it tastes like one. The first sip has some dark fruits up front with a big roasted malt character on the backend. Has some earthy/grassy flavors in there as well. There are flavors of dark chocolate that linger in the aftertaste, along with the lingering roasted characters. The aftertaste is probably the best part of the palate profile, as otherwise the flavors as a whole are on the weaker side for an RIS. Good flavors, just more subdued than I prefer in an RIS.

M/D: A lighter mouthfeel. Light to medium bodied. Over carbonated for my liking, which takes away some of the smoothness that I look for in a good stout. I also think the over carbonation detracts from some of the more subtle flavors. Heavily carbonated stouts are one of my pet peeves. Otherwise, pretty easy to drink with no hint of the relatively low ABV. You could certainly have a couple of these in one setting if you so choose.

O: Overall, a decently good beer. However, with the subdued flavors, lighter body, and over carbonation, it doesn’t really come off as an RIS to me. I would drink it again, particularly since the price is relatively low, but its not something I’d go out of my way to have again. I prefer the bolder American RIS’s. However, I do think it is much better than the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, and certainly worth a try if you've never had it. Afterall, it is one of the standards of the style which others have built off of.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This will be a quick one - watching Taxi Driver. Can't...keep my!

A: Thick, oily black pour, with a velvety tan pillow of a head - so smooth. Good lacing all around, medium retention. Looks like an Imperial Stout should.

S: Epic chocolate malts and rich caramel cream. Got some smoke and oak, too. It's wrapped up by a big butterscotch bourbon - delicious. I'm not getting a whole lot of British feel here, but that's ok; it's great.

T: Light vanilla with a maple nuttiness underneath. The flavors are rich, but they come off in that distinctly weightless British way. Roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate all have an equal stand; all hardy flavors. There's a nice hop showing as well - a bit Noble-tasting, mostly light and earthy. Just the smallest hint of mineral water and alcohol push the palate toward a slightly dry, chocolaty aftertaste. Bold, classic flavor.

M: Light, thin, with a decent showing of carbonation. Not oily at all, as the look would imply.

O: A very nice drink. Not my favorite Imperial Stout, but timeless, nonetheless. Just another reason to love Samuel Smith.

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Photo of SWMeyer4141
3.18/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into Sam Smith Pint

Appearance-Pretty dark, almost a dark dark red. Head was a tan 2 finger head that had pretty good retention for a RIS, probably cause the ABVs only 7. Lacing was pretty good.

Smell-Roasted Malts, Coffee, Dark fruits, and some booze.

Taste-Follows the smell, alot of flavors going on in a 7% stout. Only problem is it's a little bit sour, not sure whats going on here. I still get some nice Roasty Malts, Coffee, and Plum. Something about this beer is different then I remembered.

Mouthfeel-Light to Medium bodied, I'd say more on the lighter side. Carbonation was pretty low.

Overall-I remember enjoying this beer alot more a while back. Going to have to try another bottle soon. Still a good beer, but an Imperial Stout it's just to thin, I'd consider it more of a Stout.

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Photo of BMoldy
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Vigorous pour yields a pitch black brew with a big creamy, espresso foam-like head that sticks around for a few minutes before settling. Great lacing.

S: Toasted and roasted malts. Some cocoa notes. Molasses-like sweetness. A little boozy, with an almost scotch-like aroma.

T: Rich and roasted, but not overwhelmingly so. Balanced, leaning at first toward the bitter/burnt side, then opening up into a mellow, dark caramel sweetness that lingers a little through the finish.

M: Full, medium-heavy mouthfeel. Lively carbonation for a stout (I'm assuming from the added CO2 they indicate on the bottle). No signs of alcohol, except in adding robustness to the body.

O: An all-around great imperial stout. I love it for what it is, but the jaded American beer geek in me wanted something a little bolder. Still, guaranteed to please any lover of the dark stuff.

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Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle. 7,0% Abv.
Served chilled in a tulip wine glass.

Appearance: Sam Smith's Imperial stout looks black in the glass with only the faintest deep red visible on the edges when back light. The beer is topped with a large light coffee coloured head that displays great retention and leaves chunky lace.

Smell: Wow, I wasn't expecting this much power from an English stout!
Dark roasted malt, molasses, lots of dark fruits (stewed plums, and raisins), chocolate, coffee, dark caramel, slightly burned fruit cake and black licorice are all noted. I was expecting a few hops, but none are noted.

Taste: Wow, this is one tasty beer! It just shows that an RIS doesn't need to be 12% to have a bold flavour.
Again Roasted malt, molasses and dark fruits dominate. Fruit cake, chocolate, espresso, black licorice and dark caramel are also noted. The flavour is initially sweet and has a great, lasting bitter finish. No alcohol is noted.

Mouthfeel: Full body, lightly viscous with mild, very smooth carbonation. The beer doesn't feel as big as many American versions of the style, but this makes it a whole lot more drinkable!

Overall: Great imperial stout and one I would recommend and hope to have this again.

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Photo of brewskifan55
3.88/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass

Appearance: blackish-brown; thick, tan, 1 finger head that froths away. Great lacing.

Smell: Chocolate, malty, floral

Taste: Expresso, dark chocolate; smooth finish

Mouthfeel: medium; thick on the tongue, creamy

Overall: A decent example of an IRS; rich, regal. Let it warm and the smoothness dominates.

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Photo of TheAlamoWrocker
3.12/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 550 mL bottle into a Blue Star Brewery Pint Glass.


Pours a beautiful black with hardly any reddening around the edges. The only shade of red that this has is on its base, but on it's sides it's beautifully black. I can easily say that this is the blackest thing in my room and is easily one of the best looking stouts I've seen. Sadly the head comes one fingered and goes, but a small remnant stays on top and it reminds me of delicious coffee.


This oddly just smells lightly coffee-like. It does have some toffee notes, but I can't pick up the chocolate that I'm used to in a Russian Imperial Stout.


This hits the usual coffee notes that I'm used to in a Russian Imperial Stout, but it misses out on the sweetness that I'm used to from one. Roasted malts are present. There is oddly what seems like a alcoholic dark chocolate to this.


The mouthful is creamy and nicely smooth. The only carbonation this feels like it has is whatever of the head hits the palate.


This feels like a standard Russian Imperial Stout. It's far from anything special, but it's a nice starter to the style. I guess if I wanted a roasted malty coffee this would be a nice choice, but it's hard to find a time to enjoy something like this. If this was possible to drink while studying then that would be the best time, but I'm studying! The best time to enjoy this drink is probably the worst.
If you are going with a Samuel Smith then the Oatmeal Stout is a far better stout than this one in my opinion.

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Photo of Callaghan
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into a Pint glass.

A: Black, no question about it. 2 finger mocha head, borderline brown. Minimal lacing left on the glass. About a 1/2 inch of head retains for the entire glass, until the last drop. I would have scored higher if the lacing was there.

S: Sweet and malty, like chocolate and molasses. Alcohol is there too, but not strong at all. A little bit of sweet fruit brings it all around! One of my favorites for sure!

T: Dark chocolates, caramel, dark fruits, prunes and even dark cherries, bitterness that turns to smokiness. Roasted malts and then a great aftertaste that lingers around for a bit. A touch of alcohol just makes things right. There are stronger and more "slap you in the face" RIS's, but this one perfectly balanced.

M: Silky smooth, light and bubbly, yet medium bodied. I expected something heavier based of the look and smell, but I was greeted with a slightly oily feel, but not heavy. The carbonation really brings it together and finishes this beer right!

O: I can't quite give a "5" to any of these categories. The beer didn't seem to have the same depth as some other RIS. I don't think it really compares to many other RIS, in that it falls a little short in that respect, but as a beer, it is great! I do like the other Samuel Smith's stuff, and this one did not disappoint.

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Photo of depechemode1983
3.92/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours black with a brown tint when held to the light. It has a nice two finger brown head with excellent retention. Not much lacing.

S - Nose is sweet. Getting molasses, toasted malts, and alcohol up front. The middle is on the sweet side. Lots of maple syrup and toasted grains. Finish is again sweet and alcoholic.

T - There is a lot going on. Mostly toasted malts with coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits. You get nice roasted flavors along with sweet chocolate, raisins, plums and a nice alcohol warmth.

M - Medium bodied and mostly soft. Carbonation is just right on this. Washes over the palate gently with no rough edges.

O - A bit different from the American versions. Although this is lower in alcohol than most American RIS's its got some pretty pronounced alcohol notes in the nose and taste. This is perfect for a winter setting. Top notch brew.

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Photo of azorie
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

a: jet black with a large head. no lacing seen. very nice

s: earthy rich dark chocolate malts, some hops, lots of fig like fruit. a touch of booze his the nose after it warms more. Smells good to me.

t: ahh its has that well water bitterness of all the SS beers. dark bitter chocolate, some hops, a tad touch of the booze, some coffee, mostly rich fruit like a roasted fig or something. reminds me of some of the great quads.

m: smooth, rich, low carbonation, medium to heavy body.

o: outstanding beer. its a standard, too bad others go beyond this.

drank 2 550ml bottles good stuff.

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Photo of bramsdell
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to Imperial pint glass.

A: It's very dark with tan/mocha-colored head. Hold it up to light and you will not see any difference in color.

S: Coffee aromas are most prevalent with some smokiness.

T: This is not a bold entry into the style, but it is an extremely solid beer. This is a great example of the style, but never daring in any regard. There are distinct coffee notes first, some smokiness to follow. Pretty much follows the smell.

M: Feels great. Thick without being syrupy, this beer is far heavier than most, but certainly light enough to drink a couple.

O: This beer is, again, not superlative in any sense, but a great beer nonetheless. There are no risks here. It's thick without being too thick. The ABV is higher than a stout, but still low for the style. There are no crazy flavors present. This a beer that will not let you down, but also will not shock in any way.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.89/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: very dark. Handsome full mocha head. The head, were the abv higher would be quite impressive.
Smell: Black coffee with a sweet roll. Hints of cola.
Taste: Something unusual and unexpected I can't quite put my finger on as well as expected flavors from the nose. Closest I can get is that it's more like tea than coffee but that's not quite on the nose.
Body is thin for an imp. Still a fine brew.

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Photo of pBRale
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From tasting notes on 9-10-11

Appearance: Black pour, chocolatey tan head that is foamy and settles fast, leaving lots of lacing.

Smell: Sweet malts, candied sugar, alcohol booziness, ripe bananas. As the beer warms, the banana scent fades a bit while the alcohol smell increases.

Taste: Roasted malts, roasted coffee, a little bit of the sugar and fruity sweetness. The aftertaste lingers and is of roasted coffee. Bold roasty brew with a bit of alcohol in the afterburn. This becomes more prominent as the beer warms, but then diminishes as the beer warms further.

Mouthfeel: Rich, velvety mouthfeel. Mild/subtle carbonation, but enough. Just coats the mouth so wonderfully.

Overall: Bold flavorful taste, velvety smooth, and a very good beer overall.

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Photo of mtschmitz
3.33/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice dark opaque brown with single finger head. The head seems to dissipate quickly to a fine lace but inconsistent.

S: Smell is a bit less aromatic than i was anticipating being an imperial. Subtle hints of chocolate and coffee. Even after letting it sit for a while the aroma did not expose itself too much.

T: Lots of smoky flavor and a taste of coffee and dark chocolate. Tones of alcohol which quickly diminish to smoke. A bit overpowering on the alcohol taste, but good nonetheless.

M: Mouthfeel is pretty thin but the flavors evolve on the palate quite well. A bit less chewy than is my liking for an imperial

O: Overall I'd say that it's a decent Imperial Stout. Im a big fan of their nut brown and porter but this left me wanting more out of the beer. You can't beat the price and I'm I'll return to this some time in the future.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.01/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A-black with a thin tan head that thins to almost nothing

S-smells strong. boozey, some scent of mocha. intimidating.

T-comes in with a slightly boozey taste of baking chocolate and very dark malts. there's also a taste of dark fruits such as plums and dates. the after-taste is matching. has a burnt taste to it.

M-low carbonation. slightly watery. watery finish

O-a decent tasting stout that seems to have a lot of loose ends. the tastes are alright, but not very drinkable. the burnt taste seemed to be over dominating. it just isn't something i want a lot of.

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Photo of DIM
4.36/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: This was black and it poured with a huge, uneven, extremely sticky, and very long lasting tan head.

s: Very nice combination of chocolate covered cherry liqueur, cake batter, and molasses.

t: Strong roasty chocolate with fairly potent musty fruit, and darl bread. There is nice char flavor at the finish.

m: Not as big feeling as I've come to expect from the American big for stouts I've tried. But this feels right for 7% abv.

o: This was a really nice change of pace from the over-the-top American stouts I love so much.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A bought a single 550mL bottle from Woodman's in Janesville, WI for $3.79 in Summer 2011.

Pours a very dark brown/black color with a thick, fluffy light brown head. The scent is great with bold roasted malts, carmel, burnt sugar, and cocoa. It rather thick and creamy in taste. Very robust malts mixed nicely with carmal malts and sugar with just a little spice to it. A great thick creamy stout that is great for sipping with lots of great flavor. Another great beer from Samuel Smith!

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Photo of JMad
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I drank this from an imperial pint glass...

Pours a black color with a dark khaki head that left lots of foamy lacing. Smells of dark chocolate, it's a little smoky and has some herbal hops. Tastes of bitter dark chocolate and coffee grinds with a slightly metallic tang. This beer is nice and thick, very smooth and it's extra dry. Very good stout, it's very drinkable I would never guess the abv was that high.

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Photo of DavidST
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a goblet. Coded bottled date SI12J1 so maybe Oct, 13, 2010. I don't know why they try to make this so complicated.

Anyways this pours a pitch black and semi thick flow with a mocha head which doesn't last long and goes down to a thin layer on the top. The smell is of roasted coffee and malts, also some sweet smells perhaps molasses. Feel is thick and creamy, one of the better feeling beers I can remember, very nice. Taste is good, I get the dark roasted malts, come dark chocolate and the little bit of sweetness, molasses or something, overall this is a very good beer, I've had better RIS, but this is one I'd gladly pick up again and again. Good stuff.

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Photo of dansmcd
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very dark brown/black with a finger of tan creamy head. Lace rings the glass.

S - Roasted coffee, toffee.

T - Nice balance of bitter and sweet with the coffee and cinnamon. Roasted barley malts. Yeasty with some heat and a pang of saltiness.

M - Full, spicy mouthful. Creamy, rich and smooth.

O - Lots of character. Great with a dessert, possibly a slice of cheesecake.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pitch black, thick and creamy tan head, looks great.

S- Mocha, prunes, cofee, molasses, sweet rum, sweet chocolate.

T- So many great things going on here. Chocolate, prunes, malty. The aftertaste is the best, slightly bitter chocolate that transfors into a sweet yet smoky finish. Awesome taste.

M-Rich and creamy,well balanced, perfection.

Overall my favorite stout, so many flavors going on with this brew. Everything is balanced and is virtually flawless.

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Photo of Hachiman
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ebony black with a mocha-colored head that persists well. Some good lacing too.

Smell is of spicy hops, cocoa, coffee, dark-roasted malt.

Tasty but almost too balanced. Expected a deeper roasted flavor. A volatile alcohol note was actually the strongest element.

Nice full mouth feel due to adequate carbonation and hi specific gravity. A little sticky on the lips.

Not a session beer but one could enjoy two before acclimation.

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Photo of keysofebony
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is by far one of my favorite beers.

This is a pretty dark beer although a slight hint of red when held up to a bright light. Tan head that sticks around.

Smell is like a snickers bar put in coffee. a little funk to it, but that's more of a caramel smell.

Taste is outstanding. Definitely what is expected from the nose; caramel, coffee, and chocolate mostly. No alcohol taste really and it is not too dry and the slightest bit sweet. Small amount bitterness and comfortable malty taste.

I bought a bottle of this for a friend's dad who swears by Guinness and he was blown away. I have to say this is one of very few imperial stouts I have had, but every time now I have a guinness or regular stout it is just not enough. Will continue to buy (this is the third time I've gotten it)

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Photo of Krakistophales
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours jet black with a huge 3 finger tan head that sticks around for a while

S: Lots of dark fruit and sweet milk chocolate up front. This one has an especially sweet, creamy smell, something like marshmallows or chocolate covered bananas. Not sure if it's the yeast, or malts, or whatever, but it's funky, in a great way.

T: More of that interesting, funky sweetness in the front of the palate. Almost like a chocolatey yogurt, or a blackberry pie. It's extremely odd and very hard to place. It's pretty one note, but I really like the flavor, just don't know what to call it...really nice, and definitely different than most RIS.

O: Very nice brew. Totally stumped me. Not sure what to call the smell or the flavor, but both are spot on. It must be the well water they use in the brewing, or something, but very nice.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated December 15, 2010.

Beer is black, totally opaque, and has a big thick-looking tan head. Head fades, of course, but slowly. Good retention.

Nose carries roasted malt and a bit of coffee. Nice but rather faint.

Taste consists of roasted malt and a bit of dark chocolate. A bit of sweetness. Slightly bitter finish. A nice taste, but not particularly complex or strong. Enjoyable but certainly does not pack the punch that I expect for a RIS.

Mouthfeel is thinner than expected- disappointingly so. Otherwise pretty good. Very mild carbonation.

Overall, enjoyable but somewhat disappointing. Obviously not every RIS has to be over the top in strength, but I found this beer to be somewhat underwhelming. While I tend to like imperial stouts, I prefer Sam Smith's Oatmeal to this offering. A good beer, but not the gem I was hoping for.

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,747 ratings.
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