Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing Company

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Coffee BenderCoffee Bender

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bender steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala.

Added by feloniousmonk on 05-28-2006

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Reviews: 837 | Ratings: 2,546
Photo of Zorro
3.47/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear brown colored beer with a short yellowish brown colored head.

Smells of chocolate and coffee with coffee being the stronger scent. Pretty much the scent of Central or Southern American coffee medium roasted. Some lighter scents mostly vanilla.

Starts out semi dry and medium roast coffee. Pretty much doesn't develop much beyond the initial flavor. Stays mostly coffee soda in flavor.

Mouthfeel is average.

An OK beer but not a complicated one. An OK sample but not a mainstay beer.

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Photo of kscaldef
3.47/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

A: Reddish-brown with moderate light transmission. Pours into an imperial pint from the can with a 1/4" head with limited retention and splotchy lacing.

S: Smells like strong, freshly brewed black coffee, with hints of chocolate

T: Very coffee forward. This is straight-up standard black coffee, no fancy-pants artisan-roasted espresso here. And yet, you would expect that sort of coffee to be undrinkably bitter and acrid when cold, but this stays pretty smooth, so they're definitely doing something clever with their extraction process. There's a bit of bready malts hiding in there too, but boy the coffee really takes this over.

M: Medium carbonation, light body, medium-long linger. Fairly low bitterness

O: This works out to be one of those beers that I'm technically impressed with, but don't particularly enjoy. They've packed an intense amount of coffee flavor into this beer, but it seems to have lost any subtlety or balance it might have had. Ultimately I'm not sure how different this is from taking a cup of cold brew and adding a shot of vodka to it.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.48/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Andrew for the hookup on this one...

Poured frome a 16oz can into a Hanger 24 pint glass...

A - Pours a deep brown with a one finger khaki head. Head dissipates at a hasty rate, but there is plenty of sticky lacing that clings to the glass...

S - Coffee and dark roasted malts are prominate. Also pick up a mild brown sugar sweetness...

T - Dark roasted malts, brown sugar, some nuttiness, and a good dose of coffee. Finishes with roasted malts, and a lingering sweetness...

M - Pretty thin, but on line with the style. Sits on the line between light and medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation...

O - Definitely something I would recommend to coffee fan. Not my favorite style, or taste profile, but i'm glad I got a chance to try this one. Looking foward to trying some more Surly brews in the future...


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Photo of ms11781
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 05/30/2011. Canned on 04/11/2011. Thanks to tedwarhc. 16oz can poured into a pint glass.

Pours an extremely dark brown with reddish hues at the sides and bottom of the glass. Small tan head develops and sticks around as a thin foam cap.

The nose is dominated by coffee. I've had beers that smell like a cup of coffee but this aroma is like whole coffee beans or ground coffee before it's brewed. I'm not getting much else but that doesn't seem to be the point here.

Huge coffee flavor in the taste as well. There is some nuttiness that comes as the coffee mellows, mostly towards the end of each sip, but it doesn't stick around long. This literally tastes like a cup of black coffee that was carbonated.

Medium body with low to medium carbonation give it a lighter, sometimes thin, mouthfeel. The light mouthfeel is an odd mix with the flavors because most beers with this much coffee flavor tend to be considerably heavier.

Overall a pretty good beer. Obviously the coffee dominates, as it's supposed to. Excellent beer for coffee lovers but not overpowering for those who like it less. Light body seems to be at odds with the flavors sometimes. I'd enjoy it more if the coffee was dialed back just a bit to let the brown ale characteristics compliment it better.

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Photo of bret27
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

courtesy of photomike.

Appearance: Dark brown, minimal head. Little sediment throughout glass.

Smell: you guessed

Taste: Maltiness. Overpowering coffee to me. If you were a lover of iced coffee this would be your beer for sure. Other than coffee, a little brown sugar sweetness, and astringency at the end.

Oveall: For me the coffee is just too much. I can't taste much else past it. My prefence would be more subtle coffee aromas/flavors that better blend w/the brown ale. But just MHO.

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Photo of GoldenVIKE
3.53/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Kudos to Surly for creativity on this one...

A - pours a very dark brown with a mahogany tinge. very good 2-finger head which quickly dissipates into a ring and leaves a nice, sticky lace.

S - about all that's going on here is the smell of cold coffee. as it warms it smells like coffee that's had milk & sugar added.

T - cold coffee, with a little sweetness and nuttiness.

M - very light body... it's hard to get used to drinking a coffee-flavored beer that isn't a stout or a porter.

O - Overall Surly gets an A for effort. I'd drink this again and I'd recommend it to others, but I'm thinking there's a reason that you don't see too many coffee-flavored brown ales. It's good, but won't win any awards.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.53/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review made possible by trade with Mid -
Cheers bro!

A: Pours that deep dark mahogany brown just like the original with those garnet hues around the edges. Frothy 1 finger burnt khaki tan head with some nice lacing.

S: Toasted nutty grains expected of the brown style are handed over to a nice subtle roasted coffee bean aroma.

T: Like a straight iced black coffee! Nice nutty caramel toffeeness. Chocolatey toasted grains with a dry roast java finish. Bitters and black coffee give a bit of acridity to it with a sort of tart sourness.

M: Medium light bodied brew that is ver creamy in texture. But has an acrid bitter quality that sort of tarts the palate on the finish.

D: Quite refreshing out of a nice cold can - you totally get that iced coffe feel out of drinking this brew if that is something you would enjoy.

Another solid Surly brew. I think while the original Bender does lend itself to some coffee flavors with the coffee additions here you lose a lot of that great mouthfeel from the oats and a sort of tart bitterness takes over. Would definitely have another but would prefer to stick to the original really.

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Photo of Pabs311
3.54/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- beer pours a very rich, deep dark bown color with a nice mocha colored head. the head settles slowly, but not completely for a long while, and leaves some good lacing

S- The nose on this is mainly of dark roasted malt, some coffe can be picked up as well but not very overwhelming at all.

T- more coffee her than in the nose but still a little weak for my taste. chocolate and dark roasted malts make up the majority of the flavor for this beer.

M/D- Light-medium bodied with lower carbonation. easy drinking. would have liked a little more in just about every department from this beer.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.55/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

16oz can picked up from some guy trading surly out of the back of his car at DLD. drank from my samuel adams perfect pint glass.

A- this one pours out a rich and deep dark brown colored body with some reddish highlights around the edges. the head is a khaki color with decent retention. small spots of lacing get left behind.

S- as the name would indicate, this is a very coffee forward beer. strong coffee notes seem to overpower alll but a little bit of roasted malts and a slight nutty smell.

T- the taste is also dominated by coffee. it starts out with some roasted malts with a light nuttiness. it briefly moves into light chocolate notes before a very strong coffee finish. i have to say it

M- the body is a little on the thin side for such an intense beer. the carbonation is about perfect though. there is little to no warming from the alcohol.

D- the coffee comes through with such strength that it almost seems like a novelty beer. i dont think i could have more than a partial can without getting sick of it. its exactly what the brewer had in mind, its just not really my thing. check it out if you cant seem to get enough coffee.

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Photo of landhoney
3.55/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was an odd beer for me that reminded me of a homebrew brown ale I added coffee to just to see which process for adding the coffee worked best. This beer was very drinkable, but the coffee and beer did not seem to meld together. You tasted the coffee and then the brown ale, as opposed to some of the better coffee stouts where the flavors blend in together and you get a more cohesive flavor profile. Carbonation and mouthfeel were good, nice and dry and drinkable as well with good body for the style. The nose was coffee, slight roastiness/toasty grains, and no hop aroma. Overall I would like to try this one again, maybe then I'll 'get it'.

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Photo of errantnight
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An extra from RoyMunson, thank you sir.

Pours a deep slightly amber brown with a fluffy finger or two of head, decent lacing and moderate/light retention.

Aroma is milk chocolate/mocha and a hint of coffee, just mild roast notes in the background. A bit faint, and the coffee is slightly acrid.

On the palate this has a really pleasant mouthfeel, round and full but dropping off clean and light. Unfortunately it's accompanied by a resonant, harsh, metallic bitterness that clings to the back of the palate long after the swallow. Other than that, nicely nuanced coffee and mocha notes against a roasty malt background, hops sneak through just at the very edges for a light bit of citrus character that's barely there, but melds well with the coffee acidity.

For all its merits the acrid finish really turns me off. What is otherwise an eminently drinkable beer becomes a bit of a chore to finish. And while I give it largely positive scores for the rest of its character, I can't help wishing I just had a glass of regular ole Bender here instead.

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Photo of Bennettrox
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to GoldenJet for the Surly!

A - Pours like a coffee with a bit of cream added, nice lacing for a brown ale.

S - Feint coffee smell, not overpowering like most coffee beers. This is a brown ale though, not a stout, so that's taken into consideration. I swear the more this warms that I"m getting a green tea smell as well. Weird, but it works.

T - Iced coffee, maple, brown sugar, more green tea. Interesting.

M - This is thin and goes down easy. If I was wanting a coffee beer in the summer, this would be it.

O - I enjoyed this one, but not as much as I thought I would. The coffee is not the star in this beer but rather a player of many in this brown ale. Great brown ale, but I feel like they missed the mark with the coffee a little bit.

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Photo of BigDaddyWarbuxx
3.59/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tastes like lightly carbonated coffee. The end. If you're wanting some subtle touches outside of that, like you normally get with coffee stouts, then you'll be disappointed.

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Photo of MrKennedy
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml can poured into a Mikkeller tulip. Thanks to stevef03 for the trade!

Pours a deep brown colour and the same beige head of foam colour as standard Bender. However, head retention is nowhere near as good, falling away quickly to a ring around the outside of the glass. Some lacing on the way down.

Smell is more one-dimensional than Bender and this should be expected given the name. Strong aromas of coffee grindings are there and seem to repel the chances of smelling any of the caramel or nut aroma in the base beer.

Taste has a bit of nutty malt with a finish of the coffee grindings. Though it is mostly the coffee grindings.

Mouthfeel is where the coffee really earns its keep. Seems to impart a bigger body and the coffee bitterness adds a nice kick and touch to it, particularly late.

I like what the coffee does with this, but i don't like how it erases the caramel and nut influence of standard Bender. Decent, well worth seeking out and drinking regularly, but not as good as the base beer.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a deep brown color with hints of red on the edges, very hazy with particles floating around. light tan head that is quite thick and creamy in appearance, decent retention with very little lace.

S-lots of caramel right up front, notes of carmelized brown sugar and a hint of molasses. sweet with hints of coffee and a touch of dark fruits.

T-molasses and burth brown sugar up front with a good bit of caramel malt as a base. roasted, slightly burnt coffee with a strong hop presence in the finish with floral esters.

M-extremely smooth but medium to thin body that falls off in the back and feels a little watery. almost no carbonation at all.

D-smooth and thin, more like a strong ale, some balance and a light coffee notes.

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Photo of caskstrength
3.61/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on tap, some cans too.

Big Surly fan here, found this one interesting. One of my first coffee beers.

Yeah, there's a coffee smell. But it's in my beer. Thought that might be fun and unique. it was, but it took a while, didn't like it initially. Flavors hard to get used to. but once you do, it's good, if you like coffee.

not my favorite coffee beer, but still pretty good.

the more I have it, the more I like it, so maybe it's better than I think. Read some other reviews, I'm flailing here.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.61/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Since I got really into craft beer, this is probably the beer I've had the most that I haven't yet reviewed. So it's fitting for review #500.

Pours deep rusty brown, clear in the pour, opaque in the glass. One and a half fingers of medium-tan head, dense, pillowy, and creamy. Relaxes slowly to a thin cap, leaving lacy lacing arching up the sides of the glass.

Smells like espresso dosed with oats. Very dark roast, almost charred, and darker than I'd like it to be. The slick oat sweetness rescues it, but it's dominated by coffee, and it's coffee aromas that aren't really wowing me.

Taste is coffee-heavy, but again the coffee comes through overly dark and roasty. It's only half the flavors I want, and half the flavors I don't want. Woody, and not as full underneath the coffee as I want it to be. The awesomeness of Bender is hard to pull out through that, which is disappointing to me. Overly bitter, overly roasted.

Mouthfeel is nice. Smooth and fluffy, with buzzy carbonation that prickles like mini pop rocks. This part I dig.

I like regular Bender way better than this. The coffee just doesn't work for me - it overpowers the rest of the beer, and the coffee could be smoother and richer. I know lots of people really like this beer, but for me, it's decent, but a bit of a disappointment. Bender plus Coffee could be amazing, but this just isn't. Perhaps my least favorite Surly beer.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fluffy head of light brown (indeed, much like the foam on top of a freshly pressed French press--but much more of it, of course). Color is also coffee-like, somewhere between the darkest shade of brown and good old solid black. Sheets (at first) and then splotches of lace are splattered against the glass.

Aroma will be intoxicating for the coffee-lover, with a super-fresh waft of medium-roast coffee sitting on top of light cream, nut husk and buoyant, well-incorporated hops.

Coffee is definitely the featured flavor, but there isn't much else around it. A mineral element works its way in, as does a touch of hops and a rough nuttiness, but without any sweetness acting as an offset, the flavor stays stiff and bitter. Even though this is based on a great brown ale, Bender, the best elements of that beer get muted a bit by the coffee.

The too-thin body and prickly carbonation don't convince me totally; I think a creamier, rounder, thicker feel would've helped lift the flavor higher.

I feel like coffee beers work better when a big creamy stout is used as the base (Southern Tier's Jahva remains my personal standard-bearer). Even though this isn't my favorite Surly beer, it's still a quality quaff and a fairly unusual one. Long may they brew (and can). Thanks to mnwags for the opportunity!

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Photo of willbobaggins
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1000lb grizzly gave the most spot on review i've read about coffee bender. not complex, but fun to try.

i drank from the can and from a tulip side by side. can lends a more creamy mouthfeel. big dissipation on the pour--too watery. i find no difference on IPAs from can vs. glass but i preferred the can here. give it a try, be interested to hear what other ppl think

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Photo of mulder1010
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From Notes. One pint can poured into a globe glass

A-- Poured a dark brown color with some red. Two finger light mocha colored head, very fluffy. Good lacing, medium carbonation.

S-- Light coffee smell, some roasted malts and a bit of sweetness to it.

T-- Coffee, roasted malts, some lemon acidity and a light sweet mocha taste.

M-- Some coffee bitterness, not much though and not overwhelming. A little light with some sugar sweetness.

D-- Very drinkable, easy to have two or three. it is on the thin side but it is quite good. Not as much coffee as had hoped but very workable.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Clear dark brown. Big, quickly-collapsing, long-lasting, tan head. Little lacing.

S - Bitter chocolate. Earthy, almost spicy hops. Caramel and coffee.

F/M - Light coffee, slight caramel. Medium bitterness, accentuated slightly by roasty malts. Earthy hops. Lite alcohol flavor in the finish. Medium-lite bodied with moderate carbonation. Dry finish with a clean aftertaste. Slight lingering coffee.

D - Good for a coffee-infused brown ale. Dryness and clean finish make it a smooth beer, suitable for multi-can sessions.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.64/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From: France 44 dot com
Date: Canned 2013-04-14
Glass: Standard US pint glass

Rich, coffee-heavy, with modest accents of caramel, burnt toast, and roasted barley, this is a good breakfast beer or after-dinner drink. The coffee is, however, overly strong and creates a somewhat limited range of flavors and aromas, rendering the beer somewhat one-dimensional. I would probably not seek this out again given the difficulty in obtaining it - it's easier to just make a dark cup of coffee and add some sweetener and ice.

Pours a 2.5cm tall head of beige foam, small to medium sized bubbles, with above average retention, lasting over two minutes as it fades to a thick ring around the glass with a thin residual head resting atop the body. Good lacing, in many patterns. Body is a transparent, deep amber color, light bringing out strong red hues. Carbonation is visible rising from the bottom of the glass in moderate number and velocity.

Aroma of coffee grounds, slight chocolate-caramel malt influences, and an iron-like scent rounding things out. There's truth in the name here: there is definitely coffee in this beer, but the exclusion of much else. To me, it comes across as a bit one-dimensional.

Tasting opens with sweetish coffee, black with a substantial sweetness and touch of cream to it, somewhat stale. Mild roasted barley, burnt toast, and vanilla round out the edges. Mid-palate is like black coffee and grounds, acrid bitterness, light cumin, roasted barley, and burnt toast. Back of palate finds more black coffee, coffee grounds, acridness from coffee, light chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. Aftertaste of black coffee with marginal chocolate and caramel malt.

Beer is medium to medium-light in body, with carbonation of medium intensity, leading to a mouthfeel of light foam and general smoothness. Closes with medium dryness and astringency from coffee, with little residual stickiness.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks again to pvequalsnrt for this one. Somewhat translucent a kind of murkier brown in color. Nice light brown heading that does dissapate quickly. It does some ringlets throughout the tasting.

The nose wasn't overwhelming of coffee but it did let you know there was more than enough to make you satisfied. The dark malts are more of the star of the show here.

Taste was about the same as the nose. Good java bean taste starts off very strong but does fade fast and is replaced by a nice bitter hop middle and finish.

Slightly watery mouthfeel and kind of weak all around( carbonation,balance ).

This was enjoyable but in my opinion did miss in some areas to make this a tremendous beer. (Needs more of a kick)

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Photo of Derek
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Brown-black with a light tan head, some retention, good lacing.

S: Big coffee aroma with hints of nuts.

T: Coffee, nuts & roasted grain. Good bitterness.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body.

D: It's alright, but not a knock-out like some of the Surly brews.

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Photo of Phelps
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Canned in November 2010. Should still be good, right? This was poured into a wine glass. Desperate times.

Deep grape in color, so dark it seems opaque, with light orange highlights at the edges. A fuzzy one-finger head of light tan collapses quickly, leaving a super sticky ring, a thick, silky top layer and some jagged horizontal lace.

Mild light roast iced coffee in the nose, along with nutty peanuts, caramel and light spicy hops. Less coffee than I expected.

In the flavor: bitter and unsweetened iced coffee again, pronounced spicy hops and subtle dark chocolate. Not as much depth as I expected, but it is in nice balance.

Peppery medium carbonation amidst a medium-light body with moderate fizz as it moves. It's a little thinner than I'd like.

Somehow the addition of coffee seems to have taken away a bit of Bender's complexity. It's neither the best coffee beer or the best brown, but the can is still disappearing down my maw pretty quickly.

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Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 837 ratings.
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