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Pepe Nero | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Pepe NeroPepe Nero

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Mahogany color, black pepper aroma, roasted malt and spice flavor, creamy body.

Added by adamette on 03-30-2010

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Reviews: 497 | Ratings: 1,772
Photo of Jono0284
3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer poured a dark tan color with a tall light tan head. The head quickly faded. In the glass the beer is a dark color that resembles a porter.

I smelled the maltiness and yeast and dark fruit like raisins and the alcohol. My wife's gut reaction on the smell was ceder. As the beer opens up both the yeast and malt fade and I get more of the fruit and booze aroma.

It was very thin in the mouth which was very deceptive because of the color.

The taste was light but the fruits came through. Did not get a lot of the normal "Belgian" tastes. There is some bitterness on the finish and some slight sour notes.

Drank in February 2011 - will drink again in a few years.

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Photo of mryuk
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours very dark and could pretend to be a stout or a porter if you could only see the beer. Unfiltered and translucent with a smallish yellow head that does not stick around.

smells spicy and malty with some chocolate

taste is malty and alcoholic with some bitter at the end. Lots of spices throughout and some fruit.

lots of carbonation and medium-thick bodied.

Overall this beer was only OK. I think this beer could likely get a lot better with age and I will throw a few in the basement and maybe review again in a few years.

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Photo of CMB2012
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a wide mouth wine glass.

This ominous brew pours black as night with a minimal tan head that dissipates quickly.

I really wish someone would have given this to me as a blind taste test. The experience is confusing as my eyes say stout and my nose says saison. It smells bright and sparkly with traditional farm house funk, but there is something unusual here. The dark malts show up towards the end with some bitter coffee and dark chocolate notes. It isn't unpleasant, but certainly unique.

The taste is citrus, slight funk, with dark chocolate and some bitterness (not overwhelming). In the end it is what I would call a sparkling stout. Some sort of stout/champagne hybrid.

The mouthfeel is highly carbonated and all saison, perhaps the only thing about this beer that is. It cleans the palate well and lingers only slightly.

First the black IPA and now the black Saison, I certainly applaud the creativity. Whether or not this beer would ever be top notch for its "kind" it has definitely set a path for a new direction that I hope will be explored by other brewers. I don't know if I would give it a definitive saison label, but I have little to suggest otherwise. I would say if you can find it, and you like either saisons or stouts, give it a try. There are worse things you could spend $7.99 on.

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark cola brown with a healthy, creamy, thick, full, off-white head. Really nice retention with a very nice creamy lace.

S - Strange aroma. First whiff I did get some of the hay and floral type of saison aroma (not really funky/barnyard though). Next whiff I get some spice with pepper, rye, and clove along with some roasted malt and chocolate. Hints of banana that along with the dark flavors, resemble a dunkleweizen.

T - Not really all that much like a typical saison flavor. Spiced with a lot of rye, clove, and roasted malt/chocolate. Pepper is definitely present but it's not a peppery saison like I was somewhat expecting. A good amount of earthy flavors and a faint phenol hint. Interesting and fairly spiced although I would probably say more earthy than spicy, but definitely not what I was expecting.

M - Medium body with average carbonation. Slightly crisp and dry.

D - Not exactly what I was expecting from a saison, just a little too earthy and slightly spicy to be all that drinkable. Glad I had one, but probably wouldn't really want to drink another right after.

Notes: Bottled 01/03/11. Interesting beer, not quite what I was expecting and doesn't seem entirely focused but it was good and definitely has some potential. Not really like a saison with roasted malt, chocolate, rye and earthy flavors being strongest. Worth of try and it is good, but it could be better.

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Photo of aasher
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been anxiously awaiting this beer's release, especially since I've never had a black saison before this one. This beer pours a silky dark, dark brown that is on the verge of black with a light half finger dark khaki head that laces the glass. It resembles a stout. The smell is very funky and earthy. It kind of smells like wet dirt after a rain, but in a good way. The aromas are a little subdued. The flavor is interesting. Comparing this to a usual saison probably isn't fair. It has a lot of funk, a good amount of yeast, but then it finishes with this slightly bitter flavor, kind of like plastic. I don't know if it's the peppercorns or what. The mouthfeel is probably the strongest part of this very fresh saison. It drinks and looks like a stout. It's crisp when it hits your palate then mellows to go down very smoothly. I'm a little disappointed yet I didn't know what to expect from my first black saison. The flavor is just very different. I'll age another bottle to see if it ages as gracefully as Goose Island's other bombers.

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Photo of jjanega08
4.09/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A= The color is a dark black color that I suspect is more of a brown with a little light shining throught the edges of my tulip. While I look at the beer coming out of the glass it looks hazy. The head is a small off white color with a little retention and some spotty lacing. I feel like a saison should have more head to it.

S= Smells pretty good. Interesting i would say. I'm not gonna say it smell pepper in perticular but I do get some sort of earthy quality buried in there. It has a little bit of a roastyness to it but not much by any means. There isn't much of a typical saison smell to it maybe a little Belgian yeastiness to it.

T= The taste is very interesting. I do get a lot of the pepper. It melds well with a sort of banana flavor but it is there. The Belgian yeast makes itself known as well but it sort of takes the way side. There is a nice smokeyness to it that I attribute to the peppercorns I suppose.

M= For a saison I would say the mouth is spot on. Great carbonation and a nice medium body. The color of it makes me wish it were a little thicker. I will rate it by the saison style because I don't think there are many other black saisons.

D= A very tasty beverage. I can see myself drinking this with some grilled meat in the early spring for sure. This begs to be paired with grilled meat. Drinking it by itself I don't think it holds up as much. This is really a beer that is for pairing and sort of makes one step back and realize how well integrated beer can be in cuisine.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance -- Pours a deep cola brown with two fingers of tight cream head. Truthfully, it looks like a BSDA.

Smell -- Roast malt, cocoa, banana, clove oil, cracked pepper, and earthy yeast.

Taste -- Gently roast malt, banana, clove, earthy malt, and faint woodsmoke. Malt sweetness is quite mild, though there is an iota of plum sweetness. While the peppercorn flavor is certainly present, it's not spicy. There is a hint of what seems to be brett funk in there; think Matilda. Overall, very mellow.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-bodied, slightly slick, with moderate prickly carbonation. I typically like saisons to be more active with regards to carbonation, but this is really working for me.

Drinkability -- While this beer didn't wow me, it was incredibly easy to drink. This could possibly be my favorite of the non-sour Goose Island Belgians. A quality dark saison.

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Photo of Beejay
3.92/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A very deep brown with ruby hues at the edges. A nice tan head on top, though it fades relatively quickly.

S: There is a little bit of a sweet/sour thing going on in the smell. There is a tartness with a hint of fruit in it.

T: Very interesting. Sweet right at first, but a tartness takes over quickly. The finish is peppery and dry.

M: Fairly light, the feel of the carbonation is very smooth, like it is comprised of very fine bubbles. Very creamy mouthfeel perhaps the growler knocked down some of the carbonation.

D: Quite drinkable. Very nice overall, and the peppery finish is interesting.

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Photo of swanny28
3.57/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: supprise this beer was dark.... as supposed to most saisons.. has a small head when poured then fades quickly...

s: not a lot here thought i'd be getting a lot of peper here but not so much on the nose-

T: Here this saison shines: lots of flavor. the pepercorn is not overflavoring... in fact it doesn't overpower at all, but lots of hints of it peper in the after taste.

M: peppercorn is in play here not alot but a hint. any more than this could be overbearing..

D: easy to drink: i love that it is a dark saison - unique and interesting beer. worth a try....

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Photo of emerge077
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tumbler glass. Khaki tan foam, sticks at the edges, dark mahogany body. Delicate crown of lacing in the glass.

Earthy, sweet aroma, dominant Belgian yeast.

Creamy feel, medium bodied, dry and slightly bitter. Not so much as a tingle from the pepper. Pleasant mellowness in the finish, the light roast and mild coffee flavors arrive first, with some earthy peppercorn notes, but again, not all that spicy. Feels more like a straightforward Belgian Dark Ale without the sweetness. Not sweet at all, again fairly dry. Some estery qualities for sure, banana almost... Fairly phenolic with notes of clove and licorice.

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Photo of BeerLover99
3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: onyx body, 1 finger head, fair lacing

S: light fig/date, whiff of citrus, mild coffee, dash of pepper

T: same as the scent, tad sweet in front, malt middle, mild bitter finish with pepper.

M: Medium, prick on tongue, above average carbonation, mild creamy and sticky after sip

D: This tastes nice, BUT very disappointed after reading the label stating it a was Belgian Saison/Farmhouse Ale w/peppercorn. Tasted more like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale meets a porter. Still worth trying, but not cosmically divine.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.36/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass. Bottle is dated January 7th 2011.

Resembles and American stout in appearance. Watery dark walnut brown in body with a tan head of about two fingers. Minimal lacing, some but not a lot.

Faint yeast and floral aromatics with barnyard character and must. Not quite unique though and sort of actually boring kind of pedestrian. At least it's not really awful, but this doesn't smell like pepper at all.

Stinging club soda front in the mouth with a quinine and malt taste. Has a bit more body than most saisons I've had, and has a neat kind of malt chew finish which is a nice touch and spin. A little bit of pepper on the tongue after a swallow but not much, and it comes across like fast food take out pepper packets.

A fairly easy to drink saison for a change, but seems to be missing the so called pepper feel that it boasts about. So I am not exactly drawn to it.

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Photo of MarkFy
3.61/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter.

A: very dark brown, no head

S: very faint, hard to tell, some wheat, bread.

T: Again, starts out with a slightly sweet, grainy, bread like taste. The Belgium style shows up on the front with the black IPA characteristics showing up in the end. Finishes dryer with hints of coffee.

M: Maybe slightly too carbonated for my likes, thin.

D: Glad I tried it, a nice version of the style, but wouldn't personally seek it out again. The alcohol is about right with the 6%

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Photo of bbarrows
3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from bottle to chalice.

A: Very dark brown, opaque. 1/2 inch head; poured too cold (47deg)

S: Spicy like black pepper with a ample yet not over-powering smoke aroma

T: More smoke than spice, long lingering smoke, but again, not overpowering. (And I'm not a fan of smoky beers)

M: Thin, no body to it.

D: It'll take me a while to finish this 22oz bottle, and I wouldn't be longing for another.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Boulevard tulip.

Bottled: 01/07/11

A: Pours a dark cola-brown color with some lighter chestnut at the edges. Sitting on top is one short lived finger of khaki colored foam that quickly melted down to a thick ring and whispy skim. Some specks of lace were present.

S: Interesting yeasty aromas. A tad floral and definitely fruity. Roast, bakers chocolate, dried flowers, grassy hops, some ground black pepper.

T: Just as above with the addition of flour-less chocolate cake, a little pine, and some tart lemon during the finish.

M: Interesting. Just medium bodied with some jammy sweetness, peppery sizzle, and hoppy astringency. Finishes with with a nice mixture of dry, ashy malt, bitter dark chocolate, and prickly pepper.

D: I really dug this. I really liked that this take on a black Saison included lots of earthy hops, pepper, and bitter dark chocolate. This is not a dark Saison with lots of bright fruit, funk, and hay...it's somehow a little more sinister.

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Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.25/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Goose Island Belgian goblet.

A: Pours a beautiful dark brown with a wispy Champagne-like head.

S: Delicious funky Belgian yeast and spicy pepper.

T: Taste is dynamic and complex. First you taste breadiness and funk, then some spicy hops and finally the pepper. Every other sip a new flavour emerges.

D: Alcohol is completely hidden in this one; only the uniqueness and amount of flavour in this can slow you down.

Overall: A great beer from a great line of beers. It is a unique and interesting twist on the typical Saison, and is unapologetically original and interesting. Recommended!

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Photo of JEdmund
3.3/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out looking like black tea' you can certainly see through it, and it's no where near as dark as a stout or even a porter. A disappointing lack of head doesn't form.

Smell is restrained, but what I can detect is slight fruitiness and maybe a hint of funky yeast. But it's hard to tell.

Taste thankfully isn't as muted, though it's by no means full-flavored. Body is thin-medium and carbonation seems dialed too far down; I'd like this with a much more effervescent texture. Flavors are like de-bittered malts, slight fruitiness, and a little pepper spice. Again, I'd like these all amped up a few more notches.

Pepe Nero is a let down after being so pleased with Sofie. I'd be interested in trying this after spending some time in a cellar.

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Photo of samie85
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a burgundy-hued brown color with one and a half fingers of light brown head.

S-Spicy smelling clove yeast notes with hints of some spicy black pepper.

T-Mild clove yeast notes with some light malt and roasted notes and a tiny bit of lingering black pepper.

M-Light bodied with medium carbonation at the forefront and ends a little thicker and sticky on the finish.

D-This is a pretty easy drinking saison. I've had a couple that were a little too in your face with the yeast notes and barnyard, but this one avoids going in that direction. As a result, this is a very approachable beer that I would recommend to people who are new to the style.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a maple brown color with tints of walnut and ruby in the corners, along with a gorgeous fluffy beige head. It majestically sits on top, retaining very well, and leaving a web of lace on the glass.

Smell: Tons of yeast spice, black pepper, toasted malt, relaxed toasted malt and a bit of chocolate.

Taste: It starts with a soft sweetness, some general dark fruit notes, and a hint of cocoa. Lots of fruity yeasty esters that I expect out of the style. A full helping of black pepper completes the spiciness. Light earthy hops finish out the taste. The finish is lightly bitter but a little bit more sweet.

Mouthfeel: It starts out juicy with the sweetness, slowly drying out over course of the sip, It finishes fairly dry. A fairly full body for the style, with medium creamy smooth carbonation.

Drinkability: I have not had a black saison before, but this is a valuable addition to their lineup. Definitely something I will come back to when I am thinking about a GI, particularly after their very middle-of-the-road Belgian series thus far.

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Photo of Redrover
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the Beer Bistro. It was served in a very cool Goose marked chalice.

The beer is almost jet black with a fairly dense tan head. It has an aroma of subtle spices, a bit of roasted malts, yeast and dark fruits.

The taste tracks the smell very closely. It is slightly funky with pepper, some raisins, roasted malts and fruit. Earthy in the best way.

The mouth is smooth with a touch of slickness and pinpricks of carbonation.

I liked this beer, but it is not a session beer for me but is an exteemly easy drinker. Well worth repeating and it went well with my Farmer's Panini.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Relatively new to the brewing circuit, Black Saisons have potential as an alternative to these ultimately dry Belgian golden-type of ales. But there are some dangers...

Pepe pours a medium brown color with medium haze. Very froathy with a fantastic foamstance, good lacing, and retention. Off white foam caps the snifter with a marshmallowy type of consistency. Very solid.

Muted aromas of fruit and yeasty spice are met with toasty/bready notes. Where the estery and phenolic notes of typical Saisons are present, they share the stage with the added toast and mild chocolate scent. But overall, much lighter than I expected.

Superbly balance flavor of the apple/pear fruitiness and peppery spice weave in and out of the malt complex of toast, fresh baked bread/bread crust, and mild chocolate and woods. Where the added complexity of dark malts give the beer more interest, it also provides some distraction and works against the purity of true Saisons.

Creamy and full textures early fade evenly into a dry toast finish and fleeting aftertaste. Quite refreshing and clean in the end for so much complexity in the early sip and mid palate.

Though Pepe Nero is a very clean and drinkable Saison, it lacks the intensity of flavor and the raw earthy notes that make authentic Saisons so desirable.

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Photo of despainmakesbeer
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1/2" dark tan head at pour. Dark brown/black, pretty much opaque. Good head cover doesn a good job of trying to hang on throughout entire drink. Spotty lacing on glass. Spicey, peppery, dry saisony aroma. Has that musty, earthiness to aroma. Mild to moderate carbonation. Hop and woodiness to the finish, malt picking up a little on the long finish. Mild fruitiness to the middle of the drink. Also picking up some roasted malt and coffee notes. Really carries the drinkability of a regular saison. Flavors overall seem balanced with a good level of complexity. Not your typical Saison/Farmhouse but a good take on the style and another good speciatly from Goose Island.

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Photo of JamnesCameron
4.18/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber poured into a MJ tasting glass.

Something different, a black saison/farmhouse. Interesting, something I've considered as a homebrew. Let's see.

Pours a deep, black hole black, with some deep ruby highlights around the bottom edge of the glass. Big, light tan head, about two fingers worth that drops slowly to about one, leaving tons of lace. Lots of small, creamy bubbles in the head, intermixed with a few large ones.

Aromas of a light roasted malt, with some farmhouse funk. Breath deeply, and you'll find some roast coffee, and a hint of alcohol. Otherwise, a very "clean" aroma.

First sip is of a typical saison, some peppery spice, belgian yeasty qualities, and some roasted malt and a thin cup of coffee. A little medicinal quality, likely from the yeast. A slight carbonic bite. A mild roast husk graininess to it.

Mouthfeel, is light to medium. Dry, and thirst quenching.

Very drinkable beer. Interesting to see what it would be like with 6 or 12 months in the cellar. Have to stock up on a few, or just brew my own.

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Photo of MrDriscoll
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured fairly aggresive into a snifter leaving a slight off white foam.

Aroma: Nice hint of spice from yeast and peppercorns and a hint of rye breadiness. Nice roasted malt notes with very subtle fruits notes.

Taste: Slight hint of banana at the front end followed by a collection of roated maltiness and hint of chocolate. Agree with a couple of the other reviews that it is slighty dunkle-weiss.

Mouthfeel: Pretty light viscosity so not to heavy on the pallet. Medium body with medium carbination. Slightly dry finish.

Very drinkable, but not a beer I wold make a long session out of. Had one 22oz bottle and that was a good amount. Will be picking up another bottle soon to see how it conditions over time.

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Photo of mothman
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours 1/2 finger of beige head. Color is brown with a copper hue to it. Lace was left.

Aroma: Dry, spice, and rye. Pepper with roasted smoked malts. Light fruits show (bananas). Very odd.

Taste: Bananas, cloves, roasted/smoked malts, some other spices, rye flavors. Kind of dunkel-weisse-like.

Mouthfeel: Dry , spiced, and roasted. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Clean feel to it. Ends dry and spiced again.

Overall, an interesting take on the style, but I kind of like it. Somewhat drinkable, but I wouldn't want too much of it.

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Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.76 out of 5 based on 1,772 ratings.
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