Killer Penguin Barleywine | Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

331 Reviews
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Killer Penguin BarleywineKiller Penguin Barleywine

Brewed by:
Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
Colorado, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-12-2003

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Reviews: 331 | Ratings: 730
Photo of Sycodrummer
4.97/5  rDev +39.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours from the black wax incrusted bomber into a snifter, the beer was a medium ruby-brown color with a half finger of white head. The head quickly faded but left some good lacing throughout the sample. Streams of carbonation bubbles ran up the sides of the glass. Served at cellar temperature.

The smell was innitially malty with caramel, molasses, slight nut and chocolate and faint alcohol in the nose.

The taste was big and rubust malt up front with hints of chocolate, plum, fig, and grape. The alcohol is present but very well balanced and masked so as to not seem as even half of its 10%. Toffee and a carmel nut after taste deliver a slight tinge of bitterness to each sip, but the finish is a big, sweet, malty flavor.

Medium body with very little carbonation.

For a 10% barley wine the beer is incredibly drinkable. Very little hint of its strength in the nose or the taste. Well-rounded, smooth, and filling. Slightly warming, and very enjoyable. One of my favorite barley wines to date.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.79/5  rDev +34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to MuddyFeet for the hookup!
The beer is wax coated with a cork 2005 circle in the wax cool!
I am sampling a slightly chilled bottle in a tumbler. The beer pours a clear chestnut with dark garnet highlights and a small fizzy off white head that foams up and fades to nothing quickly. Aroma is red wine, brown sugar, raisins. A little on the sweet side.
First sip reveals a chewy syrupy body with nice viscosity, it goes down fairly easy but coats my mouth and palate after each swallow. Flavor is similar to nose, very fruity and malty with red grape, raisins, plums and brown sugar. I even think I find some maple syrup in the back. Very easy to drink with just a faint hit of booze on the finish. A nice malty barleywine that seems to be in the ENglish style more than American. I like it!

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Photo of Rumplemintz
4.74/5  rDev +32.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was my first Barleywine this year.
I was very pleased.

This beer had a rich velvet mouthfeel.
Lots of fruit, maybe some toffee, caramel.

Amber to copper in color with a haze

I don't recommend to many of these if you need to get behind the wheel. this beer packs a punch.

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Photo of phishsihq
4.55/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage Killer Penguin pours a brilliant ruby red, while a half-inch of eggshell colored foam dissipates quickly, leaving a solid rim of head that provides a glass coating lace. A BIG malt nose dominates while hints of dark fruit, grain, floral and citrus hops, chocolate, and slight tones of alcohol play in the background. Deep, rich and complex! Most of the aromas are noticeable on the pallet, including the sweet malt, graininess, chocolate, yeasty fruitiness, caramel, and some hop bitterness. This medium-light bodied, medium carbonated ale is surprisingly smooth and sweet for 10% ABV, a masterpiece!
Simply amazing, enjoy now, or cellar for a few years!

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Prologue: I hate waxed caps. It's just gimmicky. If your caps aren't working, wax isn't going to save you from oxidation. It just makes it harder for me to get to my beer - I want my beer now, bitch! Dammit! ...And I hate sometimes getting pieces of wax into the beer; but I do like the cute little year marker though (2008), it reminds me of something like "Hello Kitty". So cute!!!

OK, goofy rant completed, I was kind of surprised that this beer is filtered clean, but OK... It pours a clear, deep-copper body with a ruby accent that almost strays into stained cherry, or even light mahogany. The head is creamy and off-white, with good persistence and some very nice lacing.

The aroma is all malt backed by hops! It's loaded with grainy and caramelish malt, yeasty fruitiness (mainly berries and apple, but also a bit of pear), and mild notes of citrusy and leafy/herbal hops.

Not surprisingly, as most of what we taste is actually olfactory, the flavor remains the same. The malt is soft and smooth with a rich graininess. The caramel is balanced just to the threshold of where it might teeter over into being just a bit too much. The yeasty fruitiness comes through as well, and it's also gently hoppy with a bit of leafiness and some very subtle pine or mint. The bitterness is clearly present, but it underlies the malt, and creates a firm base to display it upon. Interestingly, the alcohol is not so apparent. It's kept in check, which gains points in my book. Sure, you know it's there, but it doesn't stand out; and, in fact, I think it helps to round it out and then balance what sweetness is left in the finish.

Boulder is kind of known for a robust display of malt in their beers, or at the very least, a solid malty base, and a barleywine is perhaps the greatest style to showcase that. They've done a wonderful job! It's grainy, caramelish, and slightly honeyish - but with a great fruitiness, and a refining bitterness topped by leafy and subtly piney/grassy/citrusy/spicy/floral hops! Such a combination, and with such balance!

Superbly done, I'd consider the Killer Penguin to be one of the best American examples of the English barleywine stye. It's approahable, supple, and satisfying. Certainly worth seeking out!

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Photo of BeerdedEric
4.5/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bottle

Copper color red with decent amount of bubbles. Beige creamy head that fades rather quickly forming a ring around the snifter. It leaves nice lacing on the glass.

Caramel, dark fruits, tropical fruits, grapefruits, brown sugar and a hint of alcohol.

Caramel, brown sugar, tropical fruits alongside some dark fruits, just a hint of alcohol in the taste, quite sweet yet slightly a bitter dryness at the end.

Creamy medium body with light to prickly carbonation, it leaves the lips feeling sticky, some alcohol warmth as it goes down. Kind of dry at the end.

This is a tasty barleywine! Some alcohol is present but it works well with the taste.

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Photo of ADR
4.45/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2005 version, a "Looking Glass" series beer in a bomber bottle with a very annoying wax seal over the cap and down the neck. Clear dark copper appearance, spidery yellowish head of no size or duration. Just dots for lace. Caramel nose, underlying hops give a citrus tone. Carbonation is low, mouthfeel is full and fairly lush. Good taste, starts with a brown sugar and fruit impression and transitions into a hoppiness that is apparent but not as excessive and prickly as many North American Barleywines. Overall, there's kind of a fresh fruit cobbler sense to this beer, slight green raisins as well. Still, clocking in at 10% ABV, its got some girth to it. A nice beer that doesn't brutalize the mouth or back up in your throat. At the top of the drinkability range for Barleywines, IMO...

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Photo of Bear1964
4.42/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up a while back and waited till now to crack it, I checked out this when I got it and I try never to do that so my rating is my own...most reviews we not positive....

Poured from a 22 oz Bomber into a stemmed glass showed off the deep Amber hues and a nice 3 fingered tan head which left great lace as I drank on, aroma was rich with dark fruit with some malty biscuit notes and only a slight hint of alcohol. The taste became deeper and released more layers of flavors as it warmed, hops started to peek through and mixed with the pit fruit and a smokey tart finish almost coats the tongue. The 10% ABV is well hidden even as YOU warm a little as you enjoy this and the mouthfeel is medium/Heavy which is fine for the style, it leaves you with wood hint in the bitter aftertaste or dry coated feeling in the problems and no worries as this was solid and drinkable for a good price.

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Photo of brewdude1982
4.39/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

This was a bomber poured into a snifter.

This pours amber with low retention. It smells sweet with figs in the nose. It has a big boozy taste and then it fades to a sweet after taste. It is decently carbonated and has a big body. This is an ok barleywine.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.38/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a bomber for 7.50 Damn good deal!

A - Light red hazy amber color with slight head that laces the glass.
S - Smells of slight fruit and molasses
T - Really enjoyable barley wine. The flavor of caramel and toffee tickle the palate.
M - For 10 percent I expected more burn but it was one of the smoothest barley's I ever had!
D - If I can find it again I will totally have this again.

Overall why the bad scores? It's a full bodied, flavorful barley wine. I can't say I ever had anything else by this company but will totally try other beers

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Photo of JuMa44
4.37/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm drinking a 2012 wax dipped bottle, kind of annoyed trying to open the wax seal. Not the best but not the worst barleywine in my opinion. It's easy drinking kind of on the sweeter side, where a barleywine should be but I prefer blithering idiot by Weyerbacher. Sort of tastes like Brooklyn monster but with more body. I am a big fan of barleywine sand would recommend this to another fan who hasn't tasted it but wouldn't recommend a second buy.

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Photo of Daktyls
4.35/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a 22oz "2011" bottle that (when held up to the light) is a nice ruby red color with a one fingered light tan head that dissipates slowly leaving a ring around the outside edge of the glass and a small patch of bubbles in the middle.

S: Caramel is predominant here, with some dark fruits in the background. Some sweet sugary notes are present, perhaps molasses and brown sugar, with a ever so slight bit of spice.l

T: Upfront is some nice malty goodness with a light bit of brown sugar from the nose. The finish, is fantastic. A combination of red velvet cake and candied cherries makes a nice close to this beer. A slight amount of light fruits is present as well, apples mostly.

M: Pretty smooth for a high ABV beer, moderate amount of carbonation with certainly a lot of flavor happening.

O: Overall, fantastic. I had actually been looking for this beer for quite some time, not having realized that it was a 'every two years' release. Very good.

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Photo of John_Beeryman
4.31/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This dark ruby red beer pours with a big tan head and tastes like candied plums. It smells good, it tastes good, you should really drink this beer. Interested to see how it ages.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.3/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Cambridge Common 11/14/06....
Poured in an unchilled glass (at my request) - 10oz. pour.
Arrived a vibrant mahagony color with a full finger of off-white head....spotty lacing at best as all but a fine layer of foam disappeared.
Fruity aroma...with some cherry, raisin and slight alcohol.
The taste is incredible...not overhopped like many American styles and not overly malted like some of the English BW's I've experienced...the best of both interpretations combine to make an extremely balanced, drinkable barleywine style ale. Mildly fruity in the flavor with just enough raisin flavor to stay true to it's name...not bitter at all.
Medium-bodied with enough carbonation to make this extremely drinkable...10% abv is ridiculously masked.
I have had last years version recently and I believe this one is amped just a bit more and I look forward to trying them side by side real soon.
I'd recommend seeking this one out now.

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Photo of JamnesCameron
4.3/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottling. Poured into a snifter.

Pours a slightly hazy, deep copper with a light tan head of about a finger that drops to a wisp after a few minutes. Some lacing.

Aromas of rum golden raisins, prunes, some light sherry notes, and hard candy.

First sip is of sweet malt, caramel, golden raisins, very light flavor. Although no specific hop flavor is evident, there is a nice balance between malt and bitterness. The malt sweetness isn't cloying. Finish is medium, with sweet caramel malt dominating.

Mouthfeel is medium. Good level of carbonation.

Overall drinkability is very good. No alcohol burn or bite, good carbonation level, no carbonic bite. Not sure why there is no love for this beer.

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Photo of russpowell
4.29/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 version, a huge bargain at $4.75 a bomber IMO. Poured into an Orval chalice. I will tell you getting through that wax seal was a huge pain! This was a nice suprise

Pours caramel with a thin head. Above average lacing & a healthy film

S: Sweet sticky malt & oakyness

T: Treacle & dryness up front. I catch hints of oak, caramel & vanilla next. Cherry notes & warming alcohol also come through. I catch a hint of herbal/piney hops. Finishes strong with piney hops, dryyness, praline notes& warming goodness

MF: Chewy & yet slick with low carbonation

Drinks pretty good with for the abv/style. I enjoyed this way more than last years! This strikes a great balance between english & american style IMO. This really warms you up! Will lay a bottle down for later.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.27/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Southern Tier tulip-style snifter. Wooden seal in the wax on the bottleneck says 2011. Apparently you have to whittle away at the wax with your bottle opener to pop the cap. Intense.

A- Pours a light brown color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before it becomes a thick ring around the edge of the glass and thin surface foam next to big bubbles on the side. Full sheets of intricate lacing.

S- Nice mixture of hops and sweet malt with a twinge of alcohol in the back. Notes of caramel and buttery toast.

T- Well-balanced as far as the bittersweet thing goes. Not too boozy either. Sure, you still need to space your sips but it's not too forward in any single direction.

M- Oily, full and with a bit of sting from the alcohol in the aftertaste. Somewhat dry with medium carbonation.

O- When I have little to say about a barleywine, the better. That means it's doing its job of staying drinkable, even if it's not very complex. I'm not a huge fan of Hazed & Infused, but this is a very decent barleywine.

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Photo of WesWes
4.27/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a wonderful malty scent that boasts of crystal, roasted, and bisquit malts. It has a nice burnt toffee scent with a sweet, yet warm breadlike aroma. The taste is good. It has a smooth, malty flavor that goes down easy and warms on the finish. It has a toasted flavor with breadlike hints. This is one tastey brew. It's loaded with malts and is quite complex. The mouthfeel is great. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very good barleywine. It's good great aroma and a wonderful taste; a fine seasonal.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.27/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought this at City Wide in South Bend. Wax is a bitch to get off, but i like the little "2007" embedded wooden charm. Pours clear and brown/red with a short yellish white head that falls off after a short while. Strong lacing.

S: Aroma of fruits, including dates, overripe cherries, damsons, grape drink. Restrained hop odor, caramel malts.

T: Sweet fruity malts are the main feature of this beer, making it more towards the English-style Barleywine, IMO. Candied caramel malt with a growing grape/cherry presence followed by a nice soft hop bitterness on the finish, and accompanied by a warm alcohol burning. Strong and smooth.

M: Thick but not viscous. full bodied and spot on for the style.

D: Its nice to find a pre-aged barleywine from an American brewer. Old Ruffian is another that comes to mind (at least OR *tastes* pre-aged). Very tasty and enjoyable and im glad i picked it up.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.27/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wax sealed 2005 edition in a 22oz bottle, paid $5.49 in Boulder, CO. 10% ABV. Part of the "Looking Glass" series of beers from Boulder Brewing Company, which IMO are much better than their stock brews.

Requires a hefty pour to achieve a modest head. Retention is less than average and quickly recedes to a fine ring of scum. Lacing is average. Pours to a clear very dark amber. The aroma is as expected for the style...lots of sticky resinous pine-riddled hops intermixed with copious dense amber malts with lots of dark fruits, raisins and prunes being at the front. As it's swirled, vanilla, nougat and port odors erupt. The mouthfeel is silken and soft with no perceptable alcohol. Dense body. The taste is a recap of the aroma, which is good. Chewy with a well-balanced mild bitterness. Not harsh and piney at all (like alot of lesser barleywines), although there is some not-so-subtle oxidized cardboard sheen in the finish which I don't like. It probably was cask aged.

An enjoyable brew that packs a nice warming buzz and fills the belly with a ton of calories, imbueing the drinker with a sense of peace and well-being. Try it!

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Photo of Pencible
4.27/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage. This poured a clear mahogany with a bit of off-white head. It smelled like rich caramel and toffee and nutty malt, with a little copper hops and alcohol. It tasted like rich caramel and toffee, with some dry chocolate and nutty malt, and a hint of copper and leather. It was slightly thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a rich bittersweet aftertaste. Overall this was an excellent barleywine with great malty flavor (definitely English style, not American). It had good body too and hid the alcohol nicely, so it was super easy to drink. Not sure if there would have been more hops fresh, but after a year and a half of age, this is a real gem. Could possibly continue to improve with age (try again after 7-10 years).

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.25/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

appearance: Quite clear copper/red. Nice off white/pinkish head on the pour. Good looking brew.
smell: Smells like a Dipa or maybe an Imperial Red :). Malt and citrus hops. Has that bit of a grapefruity hop sting balanced by malty sweetness. Very nice.
taste: Much like the nose. Guess we don't need a new category but this is Imperial Red nonetheless.
overall: Very pleasantly surprised. ratings have this guy as mediocre i guess (and 80 as i review). Maybe i'm a philistine but this beer deserves better imo.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.25/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1 Pint, 6 fl oz bottle purchased from Super Saver in Somerville...
Sealed, red-wax around the neck with a "2007" logo-edition...
According to the side logo, this brew "ages in the tank for an entire year...", and is Boulder Beer's "most rare bottled beer"...
A nice, ruby-red colored hue with a decent-sized fingered-head that left a fair amount of lacing arond the top of the glass...
Smell was on-point, combining elements of caramel, strong malts, honey, candied sugars, licorice, and toffee...
It would be difficult to describe this one in a much different way from the way the aroma was represented... big, bold, rich malt flavors combine with strong suggestions of caramel, toffee, and honey sugars to pack quite a punch of flavor into this one... Good stuff without being too cloying or overbearing, I would say that Boulder did really well with this one and was a very good rendition of the overall style...
Good, rich, creamy mouthfeel with a hefty 10% ABV which is well masked behind an intricate combination of bold flavors... Recommended...

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Photo of kegger22
4.25/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Boulder Beer Killer Penguin Barleywine was a copper color with a fluffy, one-inch beige head that showed good retention.

The aroma was heavily on the malty sweet side, but I could catch some hops lingering in the background.

The taste (and I will admit to allowing it to warm considerably before the first sip), was a delight. Very rich caramel malt sweetens the pot while some hops bitter didn't neglect to ante up. A fair balance, definitely leaning to malt, but I was happy with it.

The mouth feel was full bodied, almost syrupy, with sufficient carbonation, and oily.

The drinkability was just fine. I had a bomber and was very content.

I was well outside the curve on this one. I found Killer Penguin to be a killer American barleywine. I don't know how big a factor the pre-warming was since I did not sample directly from the fridge, but it couldn't have hurt.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
4.23/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 edition, 22oz bottle sealed with red wax, poured into a

This beer has one of the most impressive heads I've ever seen. A minute or two after pouring into the glass, bubbles are still streaming heavily from the bottom and contributing to a big chunky off-white head. It has finally settled down and reveals a reddish copper brew. Beautiful beer to look at.

Smell is mainly piney hops. But in the background there's a hint of something sweet, maybe caramel or apricot (or both!), hard to nail down. Taste is similar- lots of hops that leave a pine flavor in the finish that's very noticable when breathing in through the mouth. Also a faint note of caramel. Taste is very good, but not quite as impressive as this beer's other aspects.

Mouthfeel is pleasant. The rampant carbonation present when pouring dissipates significantly and an appropriate amount remains. The 10% ABV isn't apparent in the taste but it makes itself known in other ways, i.e. by making its way through my bloodstream to my head, haha. I should probably put my keys away for the night after drinking one of these (22oz bottle).

Overall it's just about exactly what I remember of the '05. Amazing head and overall appearance, good taste and smell, and the alcohol will sneak up on you if you're not ready for it. Damn good barleywine.

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Killer Penguin Barleywine from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
3.57 out of 5 based on 730 ratings.
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