The Red MacGregor | Orkney Brewery

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The Red MacGregorThe Red MacGregor

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Red Macgregor is a unique beer: delicate and sophisticated yet the robust cask conditioned version of this beer was the first Scottish beer to win the BIIA World Cask Beer Gold Medal.

On the nose, this ruby-red beer is delicate, floral and fruity, with notes of violets, cherries, toffee and caramel.

On the palate, the fruits combine with a juicy malt character and hints of toasted malt, with a biscuit malt and spicy hop finish.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-09-2002

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Reviews: 142 | Ratings: 233
Photo of biboergosum
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle.

This beer pours a clear, very dark ruby amber hue, with two fingers of bubbly, foamy dirty white head, which leaves some semi-consistent honeycombed lace around the glass as it duly abates.

It smells of mild, thin caramel and toffee malt notes, a soft pitted fruitiness, and bitter, musty noble hops. The taste is somewhat biscuity caramel malt, mild toffee undertones, acidic dark fruit - black cherries, mostly - a subtle metallic flintiness, and soft earthy, floral hops.

The bubbles are here, there, but not quite everywhere in their weak edginess, the body an adequate medium weight, and grudgingly smooth. It finishes just a wee bit off-dry, the biscuit malt holding fast, with the hops taking on a heretofore unnoticed tame spiciness, which goes a long way towards the encouragement of further indulgence.

A decent enough UK ale, but I can't forgive the stony edginess, as inoffensive as it is, taste-wise - as it still affects the whole mouthfeel, and general perception of the whole offering - a sour, kind of unappealing 'fruitiness', where I'm expecting big (sort of) treacly malt sweetness. Sorry to say, an Orkney concern has finally failed me, in the general, keeping up with the Joneses sense.

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Photo of colts9016
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a nonic at 47 degrees.

Appearance: A two finger head that is frothy and creamy, it has great retention. The head left lacing on the glass. The color of the beer is medium brown with dark brown hues. The clarity of the beer is near opaque with some cloudiness. Some carbonation bubbles are visible on the side of the glass.

Nose: A medium malty sweet aroma that is bready, caramel, and roasted cook notes. A fruitiness, with alcoholic aroma, and low hops. A subtle peaty aroma with a smoky earthiness.

Taste: This is a light Scottish ale. A medium light malt that is bready, kettle cooked, caramel, and roasted notes. A fruitiness, with alcoholic and low hop aroma. The hop aroma has citrus and wood. Other notes is peaty, smoky, and earthiness.

The mouth feel of the beer is warm, carbonated, and coating.

Overall: The body of the beer is medium and the finish is medium too. This beer is good with lots of flavor packed into this beer. I would have like to seen more complex flavor in this beer to give it a better body. It is a good beer, but Orkney makes a better Scottish Ale.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from 5/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a deep reddish orange with a thin off-white head and lacing. Light sweet and toasted malt aroma. Flavor follows, with light sweet and toasted malts and caramel. Fairly subdued. Slightly sour and crisp finish. Hops kick in a little late to be well integrated. Pleasant, but not exceptional, probably largely due to the low ABV.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased from Plonk in Canberra.

Pours a very pleasant ruby-brown colour, perfectly clear and pleasantly still. Head is a firm but minimal froth of off-white, giving a yellow tinge to the crown of the beer. Decent mild English-style lacing. Body looks pretty solid. Good looking beer.

Mmm. Nose is a pleasant mix of smooth, sweet malt, and mild roasted characters—it has a firm roundness like sweet coffee, mingled with some dark fruity overtones like overripe raspberries. Refined and extremely pleasant.

Taste is a lot lighter, although there are some pleasant toffee overtones, and a rich fruit loaf character towards the back, giving some buttery notes. The feel and depth are what let it down a little—although this comes at the quite considerable advantage of being quite fully flavoured while remaining at only 4% ABV. In fact, although the depth and fullness isn't enough to linger on the palate with a residing sweetness, the fruit and bread notes do stick around, giving a sort of faux-length to the beer as a whole.

Overall, this is impressive stuff. It's not really that remarkable on its own, and I wouldn't be so compelled by it if I was served it blind, perhaps—but I don't recall having a richer, more flavoursome beer at below 5% ABV before. This does a really good job for what it is.

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Photo of Pencible
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a clear dark mahogany with moderate off-white head.
S: It smelled like sweet honey and fresh hay, with some roasted barley and dried cherries.
T: It tasted like sweet wild honey and earthy roasted barley and bitter metallic hops, with a little bit of dried cherries. It had a clean and metallic aftertaste.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Light body.
D: This was a decent light red ale. Very traditional, but nothing special otherwise. The scent and taste weren't my preference, and the body was kind of weak. The finish had a lingering flavor I didn't much care for either. Not worth trying more than once.

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3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle. Pint glass. Enjoyed on agt´11. Brigth medium ruby. Off-white froth. Creamy crown & spooty lacing. Floral fragancy, mildy toasted malts ,hops & subtle toffee to the nose. Malty flavor, sweet touch, smooth hoppiness & spices. Slightly watery in the middle. Medium body, soft carbonation. Gentle resiny hops on the aftertaste. Refreshing. Very nice drinkability.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My local Wetherspoons (like most) was having a ‘Scottish Week’ around the ‘Burns Night’ date and on 26th Jan 2012 I popped in and had a couple of pints: the second one being this fine beer.

First had Red MacGregor at a CAMRA festival (GBBF) many years ago: not had one since becoming a BA though, hence no review before.

Hand-pulled pint into a UK sleeve, the beer is a clear ruby red colour: on top a full head of foam, cream-coloured. Good lacing hung to the glass side as the beer level sank, the beer was in a good condition and you could tell.

The nose is a real mixed bag: malts and hops vying for attention, each coming to the fore and reducing again as the beer goes through the warming process in the glass.

The taste is also a fine blend of flavours: sweet malts and fruit/citric hop notes joined at the hip by a mini yeast presence that gives the beer that fresh and natural feel to it.

Easy drinking beer, the alcohol just about apparent although the mouth feel and body carry it nicely.

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Photo of Kinsman
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Makes a nice looking pint in the glass with a bright and clear ruby color capped by a creamy tan head. Initial aroma greets you with welcoming notes of fruit and caramel. Just hint of hops on the nose with a nice floral character to them.

Tastefully well-balanced on the palate with a fine malt presence giving you plenty of slightly sweet biscuity goodness. Some toffee/caramel notes mix in as well before the kick of the hops comes in with some earthy spicy notes. Finishes with a bit of a fruity flavor that rounds it out well.

Mouthfeel is light and thin but goes down smooth. Would love to see how this beer is served on cask, but I'll just have to dream for now.

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Photo of Flounder57
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle was poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: The beer poured a one finger cream colored head that has reduced and left some nice lacing on the glass. A nice ruby red and crimson color with clear clarity and signs of bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: Lots of citrus characters on the nose. Tangerine and grapefruit are up front with some tart cherries and sweet malts in the background.

Taste: Pretty weak taste from what the aroma gave me. The only thing lingering is the citrus. Still, all flavors blended well together.

Mouthfeel: light to medium bodied, medium carbonation, smooth, but a bit watery. Still tasty and easy to drink.

Overall: This beer was a decent beer and very sessionable. Was expecting more, but at 4% one should not complain with all the flavor.

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Photo of output01x
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500 mL. capped bottle (no date) into a pint glass.

A strong pour yields a 1-finger tan-colored head that slowly fades after a few minutes to a thin coating and moderate foam ring. The body is a clear mahogany red with a small number of rising carbonation bubbles and some small floaties. Some decent lacing can be seen throughout consumption.

Dark, sweet malts blend well with spicy hops in the nose. Notes of caramel, toffee, and cherry meet a slightly medicinal alcohol aroma. This is rather odd as the beer is only 4% ABV.

Sweet and toasty malts hit the palate first along with dark fruit flavors of cherry and raisin. Upon swallowing, the dark fruit flavors become muted and grainy malt flavors come out. This quickly fades to a rather unsatisfying watery finish. A floral hops bitterness then fades in and persists on the tongue between sips.

Medium bodied with good carbonation, the mouthfeel of this beer is just what one would expect from the style. The body is just dense enough to coat the mouth and allow the flavors to pop while never becoming sticky. The carbonation is a little fizzy and seems just right with the body.

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Photo of rangerred
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into a nonic.

Appearance is a clear medium red with a thin off white head.

Smells very floral with hops being quite noticeable which was surprising. A nice caramel maltiness comes through as well along with some fruit.

Taste is quite caramely up front with some citrus but this is quickly taken over by a sharp bitterness that is almost tannic in nature. It is a dry oily bitterness that coasts the back of your throat. A little bit overwhelming. Finish is quite dry.

I am torn on this beer. I want to like it a lot but it seems out of balance. A little more malt and a little less hops I feel would be perfect.

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Photo of flyingpig
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby amber colour with inch tall foamy tan head. Good retention with a thick lacing remaining.

Spicy hops upfront along with a blend of toffee and sweet malts. I can also detect a fruity aroma that compliments the beers overall sweetness although the aroma is not quite as strong as I would have liked.

Strong hop flavour upfront, more so than the nose indicated and quite a pine like taste to it that almost makes it seem like your drinking an IPA. Some good floral and fruit notes along with some biscuit and malts.

Medium in body and with a smooth feel to it, the carbonation levels are good and the balance is just about right.

Lighter and more hoppy than I would have imagined but this makes the beer all the better for it. It has a great session beer character to it and is incredibly drinkable.

1 of the 1001 Beers to Try Before you Die:

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Photo of flagmantho
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich, enticing amber hue with a crystal-clear body. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam. Very, very nice.

Smell: big crystal malt aroma with a good hop component which is both a little spicy and a little citrusy; not unlike Cascade hops, really. It's not bad, although the combination of crystal and Cascade makes me think homebrew in the back of my skull.

Taste: mildish crystal malt flavor with mildish, bright hop flavor. Certainly brighter than other Scottish ales I've had. Not bad but not really to my taste.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a good, well-integrated carbonation. Good mouthfeel for something with this low of an ABV.

Overall: not a bad session beer, although as I said not precisely to my taste. I wonder how this stuff is on cask?

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Photo of n00tz
3.16/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear ruby body, tight cream-colored head, with sparse lacing. Carbonation is a bit slow, but steady.

S - Fruity malts and florals are easily detectable, not much beyond that.

T - Light breadiness imparted by the yeast. Very typical scotch creaminess is quickly gone to the bitterness that follows. Alcohol flavors almost cover the bitter fruit of black cherries, blackberries, and other tart or unripened fruit. Slight hop spiciness. I felt a bit disappointed in the hop balance the rest of the ale. If the initial creamy smoothness and yeasty breadiness had more presence, or if the fruity bitterness at the end wasn't quite so drowned by the alcoholic character, I think this would be in the starting lineup for Scottish Ales.

M - A bitter fruit aftertaste and slight stickiness is no doubt their "intensely hoppy" impart. The ale is a medium body that delivers its flavors well to the palate.

D - Overall, it just leaves some room for improvement on the balance of the character it has. It's a great profile for a Scottish Ale.

AFTERWARDS - Wow, the burp is a wonderful malty cream... Did I drink it too cold (~45F)?

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Photo of palma
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ruby red body. very long lasting tan smooth creamy head. almost nitro pour looking. great appearance out of the bottle.

nose is big maltiness with fruity notes and floral whiffs. cherries, plums, raisins. Roses.

Flavor profile is very malty as expected. bready, toastiness. slight astringency toward the end. More hops than expected. more of a spicy hoppiness rather than citrus or piney.

Mouthfeel is juicy, mild, smooth. Wonderful.

A good session beer. Spicy hops brings the overall complexity of the beer to a decent level however, for a scottish session ale like this I would have liked to see a little more complexity of the malt flavors.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"The Authentic Orcadian Ale," reads the label. Never having ventured to the Orkney Islands - but having ventured to quaff their deliscious Dark Island and splendid Skullspliter - I thought, "Why not? If it's not Scottish, it's crap!" It pours a consistent froth and settles quickly atop a foreboding ruby red body. There is an abundance of gummy lacing circumventing the glass.

There are floral notes that hide minute wafts of cherry; the palate ascertains the crystal malt blanket and detects a subtle hoppiness that exits to leave a grassy finish.

This is a pleasant sessional, one that encompasses drinkability and mouthfeel criteria all the while offering enough chewiness to set it apart from the pack.

And since it provides a minimal alcohol - it being 4% abv - the Red MacGregor portends numerous quaffs to anyone who finds themselves among the craggy coast of Orkney.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.71/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby colour, slight murky brown tinge with a fairly flat, uncarbonated midst. Head is quite lovely: dense bubbles, beige colour, frothy suds on top with some thin lace and very nice retention.

Smell is really rather hoppy. Pleasant caramel malt underlies with a touch of vanilla but it's predominantly grassy from the hops with a slight medicinal bent and a mild earth character at the back. Well-balanced but somehow its appeal has worn thin the more I smell it.

Taste is quite English, with lots of rich toffee providing the major malt characteristics. Develops some earthy bitterness midway where the palate's peak of intensity lies. No real peaks or troughs of flavour though, it's quite one-note with just a mild crescendo of strength. Finish is clean, slightly herbal and XXX-tremely austere, mild and polite. A well-constructed ale, very sessionable, but the flavour just isn't quite a winner. I find it about as exciting as those bland English sitcoms, Are you Being Served? or As Time Goes By. And yes, I'm aware this is Scottish.

A bit sharp and biter on the feel, I think the hops assert themselves more through texture and really could have been more noticeable on palate as a result.

A session beer, definitely. Drinkable as hell, exciting as algebra.

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Photo of bobhits
2.55/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice looking red ale color, good carbonation, a bit of a lack of bubbles in the body, clarity could be better considering it’s 4% abv.

Not much to speak of. Amber malt and a hint of earthy hops.

Toasty bread and caramel malt, spicy hops. I know this is low abv, I know it should be refreshing and not over powering in flavor. But really this is it?

Extremely drinkable, even ding would approve calling this a session beer.

I was hoping for something else something more. I’ve had this beer many times only done a good bit better.

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Photo of FleeVT
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Ruby center with amber edges and a white cap.
S: As advertised on the bottle, violet and cherry with hints of caramel. Nice hint of citrus hops.
T: Fantastic malt to hop balance. Malts come through in a nice buttery roasted profile followed by a crisp slightly bitter finish. Almost have a California hops feel to it.

Great for the style and a session beer if you can afford it...

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Photo of salvo
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours richly red with an inch of head that holds a long time and etches the pint glass all the way down. Smell is of herbal and floral hops--assertive for a Scottish ale.

Rich maltiness displaces all the talk of hops: carmel and toffee dominate with just hints of dark fruit and chocolate. How all those flavors come through with just 4% alcohol continues to baffle.

This is an excellent Scottish red ale. It tastes a little sweet to my palate after two years away from Scotland, but I remember these red beers being refreshing and crisp when available. I wonder if there is any additional malt or sugar used in export bottling as this seems a touch sweeter than when I had it on tap ... but the memory is a fleeting and distrustful thing.

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Photo of wesbrownyeah
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Red MacGregor Scottish Ale 4.0% alcohol. Poured 16.9 ounce bottle into a dogfish goblet.

A- Pours a deep red amber colored fluid with an active tight bubbled quarter inch off white head that falls to a thin froth leaving mild lacing on glass.

S- Floral hops with a mix of musky malts dominate the nose. Very inviting.

T-M- Buttery upfront flavor with notes of slightly bitter citrus hops followed by rich semi sweet malts and toasted barley. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with nothing to offensive on the tongue.

Overall a good beer to session.

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Photo of metter98
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear dark red in color and has a slight amount of carbonation along with a bit of particles visible floating in suspension. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that quickly died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of malty sweetness, caramel and floral hops in the nose.
T: The initial taste has a bit of malty sweetness and flavors of caramel--this transitions to a light amount of bitterness towards the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied, slightly smooth and a bit watery on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of dryness in the finish.
O: This beer goes down very easily and is also very sessionable given its low alcohol content.

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Photo of jar2574
3.09/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The bottle design has changed. It now says "5000 years in the making" and has a picture of cliffs and an ocean rather than a dude with a sword.

Pours with a decent head. Brown, pretty dense but light does get through. The best thing about this beer is the lacing on the way down.

Hardly any smell. Maybe a tiny touch of sweet malts.

This is beer is more malty than hoppy. There is some sweetness, like plums and dark cherries. Dark fruits. A slight syrupyness to the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is much fuller than a BMC beer but carbonation is pretty average and things aren't that exciting.

I have to say - this is my second Scottish Ale of the night and it isn't a terrible beer - but if I'm ever in Scotland I'm drinking the Scotch before the beers.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This certainly makes up for the near flavorless Williams Bros 80/- I had recently though, this is an Orkney ale.

Much like the former, this is a very crisp, clean, pure-tasting brew. Excellent quality white tight head from the get-go, dissipating slow and trailing ample crystalline lace. Clear garnet color has the liquid.

Carbonation is sprite enough to lend a refreshing zip to the delicate yet rich, uniquely Scottish, lightly caramel, biscuit malt flavor. Yes, this has flavor - flavor which shows wonderful balance between the moderately rich, toasty biscuit malt that comes on strongest up front and the surprising (though not so much after finding out Cascade was used) hop presence - fresh, fragrant and floral on the nose and vibrant and zesty on the tongue. Its grassy and flowery bitterness and pungency lingers long after.

I would imagine this is lovely on cask. I did in fact have it on cask in Edinburgh a couple years ago, but the details are sketchy. Regardless, I find this to have been splendid from the bottle. Delightfully (relatively) effervescent while retaining both palpable flavors and a balanced blend with them. Took my time sipping this one.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a half-pint glass. Reviewed December 2010.

A: Clearish nut-brown with clumps of lace.

S: Neutral, but with nice hops.

T: A hop bite. Smooth, sweet malts. A nice malted-grapefruit twist! The aftertaste is light and dry.

M: Sprightly and fun.

D: A good cask beer -- hoppier than usual and good going down. Recommended.

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The Red MacGregor from Orkney Brewery
3.79 out of 5 based on 233 ratings.
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