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

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1,745 Reviews
Samuel Smith's Imperial StoutSamuel Smith's Imperial Stout

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

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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Reviews: 1,745 | Ratings: 3,665
Photo of JeffreyG
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is what one expects in an exceptional beer. This beer has a beautiful deep black color and a rich foamy head. It has a wonderful molasses cookies character to the aroma. It's the complex tastes that make me want to keep coming back to this beer. It has a coffee-like robustness and just a hint of sweet. Even the finish is complex and develops into roasty sweetness. While this beer leaves you wanting more, with it's strength and fullness you probably won't drink these all night. This is truly a great beer.

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Photo of stoutman
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This rich, powerful, and flavorful stout has a deep chocolate color with a roasted barley nose and a noticeable burnt currant character. Serve with rich cheeses, caviar, oysters, or double-dark chocolate cookies in a brandy sniffer at 60°.

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Photo of Tballz420
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Re-review on the basis that my original analysis was horseshit.

This brew is completely black with some slight brown hues coming through when held to the light. Large, creamy brown head maintains its shape for quite some time. Thick sheets of lace line the glass. Roasted and sweet chocolate malt nose. Sweet chocolate malts dominate, some roasted characteristics, alcohol well hidden, virtually unnoticeable. Chewy soft mouth. Excellent stout.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thick looking black, with a thick burnt beige head floating atop. Completely opaque. Very nice. Great retention, maintaining a collar of head all the way through.
Aroma is very big and roasty, heady, with a subtle hopping. Tons of roasted black malts, subtle and refined. Light alcohol. Some estery black cherry and currant, with a hint of chocolate and black coffee. Very much in the english style, mellow and subdued.
Flavor is very bold, yet subtle, with huge sweetness and a big roasted flavor. Fairly easy drinking for an imperial stout. Hints of black cherry, coffee, chocolate, plum, and currant. Wonderfully rich, yet not overwhelming. Mild alcohol towards the ned, mingling with a soft hoppy bitterness. Slightly dry in the finish, with a lingering roasty bittersweetness. Body is a touch thinner than its american counterparts, but the subtleties more than make up for it. Smooth carbonation. Black liquid satin. Hearty and warming. I don't think my palate can handle too many of these, but it's very drinkable for an imperial stout.
A great dessert beer. Easily one of my favorite imperial stouts. Incredibly easy drinking for it's power of flavor. Top shelf.

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Photo of 196osh
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is my first review on BA. Lets hope all the beers I will review in future will be as nice as this Samuel Smiths RIS.

One of the only Imperial stouts I can find regularly. Pours dark black, not total blackness but close enough. Smells of dark fruits, chocolate and coffee. Execptional flavours which mimic the smell but improve upon it.

Mouthfeel is on the slightly light side for a RIS. But that vastly improves its drinkablity for a RIS.

Brilliant beer.

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Photo of rvdoorn
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer in my favorite beer pub in Wageningen, de Vlaamse reus. Poured into a sniffer. The beer pours a very deep black color with a fantastic full creamy, brown head that lasted very long.

Smell: fully of flavor, wow. Coffee, roasted malts, dark fruits (plums, figs), sweet caramel, chocolate brownies and a nice warming alcolhol.

Taste: as impressive and full as the smell. Roasted malts, hops, plums, figs, coffee, chocolate and a clear hint of salty liquorish. Aftertaste is a bit smoky with some nice bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy smooth, medium carbonation. This is a feel good beer

Overall: This is surely one of the best imperial stouts out there. If only this one would be a "limited production" or "very rare", it would likely be voted in the top three at BA. This because many people seem to be biased by the hype of limited productions....Hail the czar of Russian imperial stouts! Highly recommendable!!

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Photo of francisweizen
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is an extremely well-made Imperial Stout. This beer pours a super-dark, black with a nice off-white/tan, frothy head. The aromas are of chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, and some hops in the background. The taste is all about the malts, chocolatty, caramelly, coffee-like, lucious! The mouthfeel is very thick, smooth and creamy and the drinkability is near-perfect. One of the greats!>Cheers to DrewS for the samples!,

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Photo of palliko
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is absolute black, with a massive head of coffee colored foam that clings to the glass forever. Aroma has a smorgasbord of fruits, lactose, molasses, chocolate, black coffee and ethanol. Initial taste is incredibly complex! There is so much going on! It tastes like the best Starbucks macchiato with caramel; plus citrus/floral hops, smoke, chocolate, dried fruit, and Lord knows what else! I think I will just savor the experience.

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Photo of sinistermadman
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This stout pours a deep dark brown. Light transmittance is next to nothing...Emanates a pancake looking burly head which sticks around with a vengeance. This is a good looking stout.

Smell consists of burnt toffee, roasted barley, coffee, some residual sweetness in what I describe as a subtle raisin aroma. Smell is very crisp and sweet, very earthy.

Taste is damn good. This stout has a medium body which is delightfully smooth. Righteous roasted barley at the forefront which tapers into a slightly astringent sensation on the palate. I get a sense of toffee, some caramel flavors; alcohol sugars are a perfect finish to this very well crafted stout.

Mouthfeel is lighter than a lot of stouts, but the flavor is not subdued in the least. Very tasty. Drinkability is a 5 in my book. This would go great with an espresso or a nice cigar.

All in all a delicious stout that is worth the price of admission. Cheers.

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Photo of JohnWaynes44
4.76/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big frothy pour, almost black. Huge thick head dark tan in the middle fading to darker brown on the edge. Nose is faint. I pick up alcohol, coffee. On to the taste. Can't get here quick enough. This is so good, every time. Coffee and dark, charred mocha and sweet toffee are blended perfectly. Finishes with bitter smoke. Mouth is very creamy and dense with just the right amount of carbonation. This is such a classic. It is different than any imperial by U.S. Just... done right and consistently great. The standard in my opinion, as is many from this brewer. Long live the Tadcaster!

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Photo of MONKandTUCK
4.76/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"Small" by style standards, but otherwise dead-on for the style. Not overwhelming in any aspect. The lower than Avg ABV even makes this one you want to drink more than one in a sitting.

Appearance: poured freely into a La Trappe chalice and swirled, this beer first appears deep opaque, but towards the bottom black gives way to mahogany and brass tones. The soupy body is capped with high, frothy brown head. It's like a whipped chocolate nought over a chilled chocolates liquor. Very enticing.

Aroma: consummate Sam Smith, I'll chalk that up to their exceptional yeast strain and premium base malt. Roasted notes and port wine accents peak through and then dominate when drinking. More muted than other Stouts, certainly very mild astringency.

Flavor: immense! No, its not the most complex RIS, thank God. It holds itself together quite well.
This beer has clearly matured and I'm glad for it. No doubt, even "green" offerings are worthy of Sammy Smith fame. It's the matured version, though, that really provides what this style is all about.
Yeast comes thru in a big way. Not like a Belgian, but as a sure supporting role.

The roasted profile hasn't really mellowed, it has settled. Dark crystal malts shine through, backed by a hefty alcohol warmth that settles in the belly. Prune, candied cherries, rum-raisin syrup, fine bitter chocolate, spice cake, Port and currant liquor all share in making the pleasure the coats over the mouth on way to the gut.
Roasted qualities never match the level Guinness or your preferred RIS, but provide enough bite to hold this beer together and provide another dimension of flavor.

Hops are mild.... wow! Responsible brewing! It hasn't been lost!

Mouthfeel: I was surprised at the density. At 7% a leaner need might be expected, nut this one was respectable crafted more maturation. That said, it wasn't syrupy... like Dogfish Head beers or certain Winter offerings often are. It was just a beer substantial enough to fit the style, while managing to conclude dry.

One of my all time favorites. Moat will want bigger and wilder and,more eccentric. I prefer this beer for being on Que with style guidelines, but acting in moderation. Make sure your bottle has some age to it, that is the secret ingredient. ;-)

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Photo of bruachan
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

$3.50 at gambier's village market. i may stock up if this turns out to be a winner (i have a premonition...)

tall head back up by some relentless carbonation. it's stuck all over the glass

ooh that smells good. rich, winey, soy saucey, oaky. and there's even a suggestion of sourness (just a slight yogurty something). did i say oaky? apple juice? i think the aroma might remind me of powdered hot chocolate

that tastes fuckin good. rich but not heavy (i would go velvety). hops are for balance only. a hint of coffee, but otherwise...wait, was that apple juice? a touch of hazelnut or something sneaks in, as well. there is a touch of bitterness, but it really is a simple rearjaw sensation...minor

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Photo of JamesS
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a great dark color with nice tan head (that rapidly diminishes) and almost no lacing. Excellent scent, very deep and dark with a great burnt grain and coffee aroma. Wonderful flavor, exceedingly dark and deep, wonderful coffee and chocolate flavors with a great coffee burst finish, and it as a nice slight bourbon barrel/alcohol tinge that is slightly warming. It goes down very smoothly for such a slightly higher gravity beer. This is one of my new favorite stouts.

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Photo of mschofield
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pure opaque black, topped with a two finger small bubbled chocolate head, leaves bits of webbed lace.
Chocolate, raisin and alcohol aroma.
Coffee, dark chocolate, raisin and other dark fruits, anise and grape in the taste, roasted malt with burnt edges, toasted biscuit.
A complicated classic beer
Full feel, acrid, with a bit of an alcohol bite, but still smooth.

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Photo of luciusgilmer
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had read some good recommendations of this beer here and had reason to think I'd like the imperial style as well, though I've not had many. I had this beer from a 12 oz bottle poured into a mug (at a bar), then the same but poured into a tulip glass.
A: Excellent dark color, nice foam but not a long lasting head.

S: Just magical, even a bit wine like (though here maybe I'm just reacting to the alcohol content?), with a fruity aroma (not wine cooler fruity, just not a bitter coffee like aroma).

T: Rich grains and some subtle cocoa and chocolate flavors.

M: Rich to the tongue and full in the mouth. It's very smooth. I savored several mouthfuls; the carbonation is a bit on the low side.

D: This is a costlier beer, but I'd drink several if I could, and I hope to get some more on occasion. Its ABV is not overwhelming, and it's definitely flavorful.

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Photo of cokes
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This lives up to all expectations. I shied away from this for a while due to the foolish I was.
Pours absolutely pitch black with a clinging tan head..lasts all the way down.
Bombards the nose with a plethora of aromas....dark fruit (plums, raisins), dark chocolate, brandy..God only know what else. Huge.
Taste follows suit. So many levels to this that I have to consciously focus on each one to make sure I get the most out of it. The dark fruit and dark chocolate show up right away with some roasted barley as well. The hopping of this Imperial really sets apart it my book. Puckering and fruity at the same time. Almost astringant at times. But not overpowering either. Try it and see.
Finish is more roastedness with some pronounced nutty flavors as well....yum.
Maybe just a little thinner than some others...something about the mouthfeel just wasn't perfect...the rest of the beer was. Very drinkable for the style.
Believe the hype. This is it.

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Photo of Phatz
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer pours black with dark ruby highlights. It has a nice brown head that is thick and foamy. Substantial lacing.

Smell: It is definitely a black licorice aroma. That is what hit me right up front; then there were hints if red, like cherry or birch. Very enticing!

Taste: Chocolaty; with a hint of this mixture: Birch-beer and Cherry-cola mixed with dark cola (Coke), in other words it is a thin syrupy characteristic in the taste, with those flavors. I got a slight bit of dark tobacco and vanilla in the aftertaste. I tried some dark chocolate next to this beer and it was a beautiful match.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel was surprisingly thinner than I expected from a Russian Imperial Stout. Still it was pleasant and very creamy.

Drinkability: The drinkability of this beer was actually, surprisingly, exceptional. This is a R I S with a relatively low ABV and it does not sit heavy in your stomach. As a huge fan of Imperial Stouts, I must say that their one drawback is that they were you out quickly. This beer is an exception. It has most all the positive attributes of RIS and avoids the one drawback. That sounds like a darn fine beer to me. I highly recommend.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of saintwarrick
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Has this brewery ever made a false step? Long answer: Nope. Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale and Oatmeal Stout are still their top brews, but this is another masterpiece by the boys in Tadcaster.

Pours an ebon black into my snifter (fancy) that settles nicely into a thick malt chocolatey lace around the glass. Smell is pure dark chocolate and Colombian coffee with a little brown sugar, molasses and anything else that tastes sinful. Braised walnut aftertaste with bitter chocolate.

Awesome brew. Feel like I should be in a hunting lodge, sipping this in a snifter with all the other gents and such. Other RIS's will be stronger, but you'll never find a more drinkable one. Cheers.

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

another excellent selection from samuel smith. it poured nice and dark with brown foam leaving its mark all down the glass. aroma was nice and roasty with a little hint of chocolate.

it hits the tongue a little thinner than i had expected. i thought i was going to be loaded with dark malts coffee and chocolate, but it was a little bit light. very smooth and absolutely delicious.

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

Presentation: 335 ml custom clear bottle with a gold foil neck and old style label. Statements like, "Contractors to Her Majesty's Forces" and "Awarded 1st prize and silver medal-bottled beer 1930", "1896 awarded gold medal", and such, adorn the label. A very distinguished looking bottle. No freshness date.

Appearance: Opaque black, so don't even bother trying to find a hint of light through the glass. The head is a huge, majestic, light coffee coloured float of creamy foam -- with no intention of dissipation as it ever so slowly clinges on its retreat.

Smell: Sweet nose of fruity (prunes), milk sugars, molasses, brownies, coffee and rum-like alcohol.

Taste: Okay, where do I begin? I feel as if I am in the presence of the beergod itself. This is a rich, full to medium-bodied brew with a smooth, creamy, light mouthfeel. Roasted notes are in the forefront and pair with a lemony/limey-rind-like hop presence that takes the entire taste to a near astrigent level. You can pick up some floral-like flavours from the hops too. Malt flavours of coffee, plump raisins, prune/plum, bitter chocolate and faint smoke beckon to balance a foundation of bitterness, both roasted malt and hops. Nice rounded background sweetness. The finish on this stout contains notes of smoke and a roasted/sweet feel on the palate.

Notes: I've had quite a few Imperial Stouts in my day, each attempting to dethrown the other. In my opinion, Samuel Smith's might not be the most powerful in alcohol, or as assertive as others, but it is the king. All yield and recognize the truth.

Thanks to Merchant Du Vin for the fresh sample.

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Photo of DagFishHead
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black ink pour, huge, creamy, dark tan head relents from three finger to two and stays for the duration. The thickest, creamiest lace I've ever seen.
Smell: Regardless of your favorite beer style, I implore you to at least smell this... Deep dark chocolate, strong espresso, dark ripe fruits (raisins, dark cherries, prunes), toasty roasted malt, smoke... oooh, baby. Thank the maker, this is heaven!
Taste: Big smoked malt sweetness immediately bolstered by dark fruits that linger with the carbonation, then the tide receeds to a semi-dry hop finish that allows the mellowed original flavors to mingle with a smooth alcohol warmth. Whoa...
Mouthfeel: Slick, smooth, chewy smoked malt, but just slightly thinner than other examples (more English-style I would say).
Drinkability: A stunning imperial stout. My personal preference for the slightly fuller American-style mouthfeel in no way detracts from how incredible this example is...

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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 drmeto
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

-pours the darkest of brown with a small khaki head
-sweet chocolate,slightly roasty,caramel,toffee,vanilla,mocha
-chocolate,toffee,plums,raisins,dates with a strong coffee finish
-low carbonation,medium-full body
-alcohol not noticeable
Lovely imperial stout.

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Photo of jwc215
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured BLACK with fairly thick, tan head that became a well-retained lace.
It had aromas of sweet chocolate, coffee, and anise. Robust smell.
The taste was extraordinary. Very complex and robust. Chocolate, anise, coffee tastes were well-balanced. Just the right balance between sweet and bitter. Very invigorating.
Left a nice bitter-sweet mouthfeel.
This beer is exceptionally drinkable. It's silky smooth with a slight alcohol finish. It's characteristics are god-like. Well worth the price for this one!

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

Package: Appropriately regal, extra-tall 12oz. foil-topped, crowned, clear bottle. Label notches, but no date key or ABV. Old-fashioned white label with gold and black lettering.

Cost: $6.99 per 4-pack

Presentation: Imperial pint at ~50º

Appearance: Very dark brown with some ruby glow. Generated a moderate 1 to 2 finger head, that quickly resolved to a thick foam collar that gradually receded. Not the darkest stout, but plenty dark enough.

Smell: Very toasty, with some fortified-wine notes, coffee, chocolate, and dark blackberry and currant fruitiness on the nose. A generous, round, full aroma.

Taste: The flavors follow through on what the aroma promised, adding just the right amount of burnt-sugar sweetness, nuttiness, bitterness, and alcohol volatility to keep things from being bland or cloying. An homage to good water, skilled brewing, and the art of toasting malt. Very multi-dimensional, with the finish of Methuselah.

Mouthfeel: Excels. This powerful, flavorful beer defines finesse. Creamy, perfectly carbonated, with a full, rounded body. Coats the tongue, but remains dry enough to remind you you’re drinking beer!

Drinkability: Stouts don’t get more drinkable than this! Rich, satisfying, but not overwhelming. Delivers a surfeit of flavor without being hugely filling and lets one have two or three without repercussions. I should deduct 0.5 because I want a 20oz. serving!

Backwash: I haven’t had this in some time, and more’s the shame! A recent article in the Times led me to buy some and try it again. Boy, was I impressed. Not the darkest, not the hoppiest, not the highest ABV; but still the archetype of Imperial Stout. You can have all the Storm King you want, I’ll be happy with this! They haven’t forgotten that malt is at least as important as hops when it comes to stouts. And, what are you guys who mention the price talking about? It’s beautifully made and shipped over here, for less than what a lot of US microcraft brewers charge for inferior beers, and worth every cent! This beer clearly proves what Mies van de Rohe said, “Less is more.”

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Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
4.17 out of 5 based on 3,665 ratings.
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