Smoke | Surly Brewing Company

286 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Ebony-hued, Smoke wafts out of the bottle and into your senses, borne on the wings of European traditions, wrapped in American innovation. Lager-brewed, like any true Baltic Porter, with smoked malts from Bamberg, Germany, the home of Rauchbiers, then mellowed by oak-aging. Black malt flavors mesh with notes of raisins, plums, figs and licorice with the subtle smoke on the side, for a complex and luxurious, yet silky smooth drinking experience. It's a sipper at Alc. 8.2% by VOL., but everyone knows you can't have Smoke without fire!

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-05-2007

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Reviews: 286 | Ratings: 896
Photo of Spica66
2.46/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Got this one hand-delivered from Jason on his way to Kalamazoo.

A: Dark brown color. Good head formation and retention.

S: There is definitely smoke. I don't know if it is because this is so fresh (released yesterday), but the overwhelming aroma is only smoke. No hops, no nothing else really.

T: Tastes like bacon and not in a good way. Three out of four of us agreed that this is a bacon-tasting-drain-pour.

M: Medium light body, good carbonation.

D: As stated above, it went into the drain.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.1/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

A-Pours a very dark brown. Head bubbles up and fades. The head was also quite dark. Lighter lacing.

S-Obvious smokiness. Campfire. Rauchbier. Salty, cured meat. Struggling to acquire much else behind the smoke...I know there's a Porter there somewhere.

T-Flavor is exceedingly smoky, of course. More of the Porter elements come out here. A bit peaty as well. Pretty one dimensional.

M-Surprisingly light in body. Alcohol hidden well. The smoke coats the tongue a bit.

O/D-I wasn't enamored with this beer. Over the top smokiness. I was expecting a bit more diversity in the flavor profile.

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Photo of largadeer
3.11/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was an extra from kbutler1. Thanks! Black with a light tan head that recedes to a full collar.

Smoke, dark malt and rubber aroma backed by a bit of chocolate and oak. Sweetness and smoke are pretty restrained. The rubbery character becomes more pronounced as the beer warms, which detracts from an otherwise nice smell.

Toasty dark malt, smoke, light roast and astringent rubber. Smoke is well integrated, present at a subtle level. Medium-light body with a good level of carbonation. Finishes with smoke, rubber, roasted malt. The body is spot on but the rubbery flavor is very detracting.

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Photo of TCMike
3.16/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

My first smoked beer. I really wanted to like it since it's local, but as it turned out, I'll probably pass on it next time around.
Poured into a mug. The color was a dark brown, with a 2 finger head. The smoke smell was, in my opinion, a little too strong. The taste was OK, but again, I thought it was too smokey. It was smooth at the start, and a medium bitter on the tail end. Drinkability was somewhat low due to the over powering flavor, and slightly elevated ABV.

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Photo of Czequershuus
3.17/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours brownish black with a small but resilient head. The aromas of hickory smoke, figs, and prunes waft slowly off the beer. The flavor leads with a faint chocolate taste, followed by a fair amount of smoke - though not deep, rich smoke, more a faint, whispy, end of a campfire smoke - and hints of fig other dried fruit. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin. Maybe it is not my style, but I cannot shake the feeling that this beer lacks in richnes - the smoke feels thin, the texture is thin, the non-smoke flavors seem muted. It is a decent beer, but not my favorite.

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Photo of mgbickel
3.41/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been looking forward to this one...big fan of smoked beers...

Shared a 22oz bottle with dtx and our wives.

Poured into a Piraat tulip. A solid finger of dark cocoa head formed on top of the deep mahogany body. The edges approach ruby in color. The bubbles faded slowly...some nice lace being left behind.

Hmm...interesting nose...not the smoke bomb I was expecting. Think more along the lines of a BBQ sauce mixed with a porter.

The taste is where the nose indicated...saucy, coffee and wet cardboard chalky. Not living up to the hype.

The mouth feel is on the medium side with a stringent finish.

Sure it is drinkable, but I have had many better smoked offerings. Worth a try but not worth the hype.

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Photo of Treebs
3.46/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tasting cup.

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a bubbly wood chip colored head that subsides into some nice sticky lace down the glass.

S: I'm picking up some smokey meat rinds and oak. There is roasted malts and a slight coffee.

T: The taste is a lot like the nose, but a lot more smokey. Smells of the embers of a campfire, very woody. Just toasted malts and smoke.

M: Medium bodied with a decent carbonation. Went down pretty smooth and left a light campfire in my mouth.

O: This was a very interesting brew. I wish there were some other flavors that could popped up, but the smokiness really took over and dominated. I guess that's why they call it Smoke.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

765th Review on BA
Bottle to Goblet

@Woodshop Classix
Thanks Shail for sharing!!

App- This was a very dark pour, a lot more so than I was expecting with a porter. A nice ½ in of head that feel to only a ring of bubbles. No cling either or leg.

Smell- Wasn't a whole lot going on my glass expect for huge roasted malts. That was about it, I stuck my nose in there and just couldn't get anything else.

Taste- Taste follows the nose and really leaves it lacking to only have a one sided roasted malt flavor.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. A bit smoky on the finish.

Drink- Not my cup of tea. I can handle a Baltic Porter but this was a bit unbalanced and just too roasted and peat like.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at the Extreme Beer Fest on 2/15/08: As the name suggests, a lot of smoke in the aroma and taste. Also bitterness and slight roastiness. A good, typical example of a smoked beer.
Aroma: 7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Flavor: 7/10
Palate: 4/5
Overall: 15/20

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Photo of craytonic
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-draft at Churchkey DC

Apperance: very dark pour, not quite black, decent head and lacing

Smell: Roasted malts, very smokey in an aggressive/bad way, dark fruits

Taste: Roasted malts, smoke, bitter chocolate, dark fruits, dried meats, salt

Mouthfeel: medium body, perhaps slightly under-carbonated

Overall: Too much smoke, salt and meat.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Imbibed at Darkness Day 2010.

Appearance -- Pours a rich dark brown with a thin khaki head, quickly dissipating into a dusty halo.

Smell -- Woodsmoke in the forefront with burnt bread crust, chocolate malt, and some faint plum fruitiness.

Taste -- Again, woodsmoke is the dominant element. Along with the rich smoke comes the addition of a slightly meaty flavor. Beyond this is the traditional baltic porter flavor elements: dark chocolate, plum, toffee, and burnt breadcrust.

Mouthfeel -- Medium to full in body, medium-high prickly carbonation. I personally would've liked a bit less carbonation.

Drinkability -- While very rich and complex, It doesn't take long for the deep smoke flavor to become overwhelming. Couldn't see myself have more than a single 12oz pour.

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Photo of brdc
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Recent bottling, from notes, thanks to a kind BA.

Poured into a pint glass, it shows a very dark color, near pitch black, but small caramel colored head, little retention.
Faint smoky aroma, some lightly roasted malts, caramel, very faint grassy hops.
The mouthfeel was disappointing, medium at best, and at times feels a bit watery. Taste is pleasant, but lacks depth. All surprising for the high ABV, and the brewery.
Notes include caramel maltiness, some dark fruits, minor smokiness.
xomparing my notes, I am left with the distinct impression something was lost between one of those first batches I had on tap and this bottle. Good, but very far from the greatness I noticed the first time. Quite disappointing.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle with silver wax poured into a Bruery Tulip glass.

A - Pours a deep dark brown with a dark tan head composed of large bubbles.

S - Smokey meat, Smells like a BBQ.

T - Smokey bacon.

D - Mild carbonation, a touch oily in the mouth.

O - Weird, but I kinda like it.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I love surlys so I decided to give this one a try even. Though I don't care for smoked beer. Surlys is always making good things so here we go.
A= a deep blackout color with a tiny head that lasts through the entire drink. Not much lacing however which was a little dissapointing
S= it smells smokey for sure. Deep in it I notice some plum and fig notes.
T= smokey up front for sure. Unique like a smoked bacon or something. Not my favorite but they accomplished what they wanted. It wasn't as overpowering as some other smoked beers. The middle some of the regular porter comes through with the figs and plums followed quickly again by the deep smoked flavor.
M= light and smooth not expected. I thought I would find it to be very heavy. There is no carbonation though.
D= for me not to high. It was fun to try but it was just not my style. I graded it higher because it accomplished what they whated to accomplish... just not for me though

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Photo of mcgwire756
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured on Super Bowl Sunday into my KBS tulip.

Pours jet black with but not completely opaque with a tan head that disappears over time. Smells very similar to chocolate stouts with lots of chocolate and molasses as well as some subtle smoke. The taste is of more chocolate and molasses and then the smoke comes. Similar to Weyerbacher Fifteen but much creamier. However, after sipping on it for 10-15 minutes, the smoked bacon taste starts to take over a bit much for me. This beer is so creamy and delicious but starts to become a little too sweet and smokey for my liking. I really loved it at first, and by the end I had grown tired of it. Still a great and different beer that I would recommend trying.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Kevin for sharing this one!

A-pours a dark black liquid with a little tan colored head that is tight and creamy.

S-the nose brings a ton of smokiness up front, lots of roasted and smokey malty goodness. notes of chocolate and anise. sweetness and hops in the back, plums, grassy hops.

T-the taste is even smokier. lots of smoke dark malts, chocolate, anise behind. plums and raisins in the back with a light grassy hop presence.

M-the feel is so smooth and creamy on the palate. the carb is light but enough to hold the body throughout. hint of crispness at the finish with just a touch of dry in the back.

D-definitely a good bit of smoke with a good malty sweetness and nice hop presence in the finish. solid drink here with some nice maltiness going on.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Surly Smoke is a smoky dark beer. It's malty and smoky. There isn't much else happening here.

A: Black colour and a 5 mm head that fades. 4

S: Nice smoky smell. Duh. 4

T: Malty with some earthiness. There is also a lot of smoke in the aroma. 3.5.

M: Foamy 4

O: 3.5

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Photo of Jeffo
3.71/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this one at the Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam.

From a bomber into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: A dark pour makes a small, medium looking, overly noisy, tan head that quickly dissipates to a fain, splotchy wisp and ring. Black body with ebony hues around the edges, and zero carbonation evident. A slight ring remains but leaves no lacing down the glass. Head is unimpressive, and it looks a little flat by the end.

SMELL: Medium strength nose of dark malts, espresso notes and some pure chocolate. Some smoke in there but not in the forefront, meaning it complements instead of dominates. Touches of caramel and roasted malts as well, and some liquorice notes.

TASTE: A pretty tasty porter all around. Some dark and roasted malts with smoky notes throughout. Some sweet caramel in the middle with notes of liquorice and raisins in there, like advertised, and then touches of espresso and dark chocolate after the swallow. The dark malt, bitter espresso and smoke laden aftertaste is bold and lingering. Enjoyable.

PALATE: A little thinner than hoped, though it thickens somewhat as it stands. Lighter body with medium carbonation. Only semi-creamy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly dry.

OVERALL: A complex and flavourful porter for sure. The appearance was slightly lacking and the palate a little light, but overall this was an enjoyable beer to drink. Glad to have had the chance to try it, but won't be seeking it out again.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 22oz bomber to Boulevard tasting glass on 5/7/11 at the first NoVA BA Tasting Event
*From notes

-- I'm psyched to have unearthed my notes for this one, as I've had it twice and am thrilled to finally lay down a proper review --

A: Really solid grayish-brown-black. It looks like either a light stout or a massively heavy porter (which it is). A standard pour yields .75 finger head and little to no lacing.

S: Maltier then expected. I had this in line at the Sexy Chocolate release in January, and I distinctly remember the epic amount of natural smoke on the nose. It was like stepping into a Kansas City smoker. In the months since, this has fallen off dramatically, and to be honest, is more balanced now. It's got the smoke, sure, but it's now offering hints of hearty malt and that a touch of that lagered sweetness.

T: Like the nose, the smoke bomb effect has worn off a bit, but it's still got a heavy char to it. The rich layers of flavor have been slightly compressed here, and it now drinks more like a standard Baltic Porter with a moderately heavy dose of liquid smoke.

M: This one is dense. Creamy and slightly undercarbed, this one is thick for a porter, and it helps to cover for the fading smoke profile.

O: Surly's Smoke is a shell of it's former self, yet it's still a damn fine beer. I'm not typically one for smoke/rauchbiers, but this is balanced in ways that many within the same flavor realm are not.

Drink 'em if you got 'em, it's going fast.

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Photo of orangesol
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to largadeer for opening this at the post-post-RS party tasting. Reviewed from notes. Poured into a taster glass.

A - Pours black with a very tiny mocha colored head leaving no lacing at all down the glass.

S - Good amount of roasted malts up front but the smoke is not far behind. Some nice chocolate and vanilla sweetness comes thru as the smokey darkness begins to let up. Just o.k. really.

T - Plenty of dark roasted malts in this one. A nice mix of chocolate and coffee flavors starts to break thru once the smokey malt dies down a bit. The smoke is quite pronounced as you might expect and never really leaves the party. Not too bad but nothing mind blowing here.

M - Medium-Heavy body and flavors with moderately low carbonation. A bit light in the feel with tons of lingering smokey dark roast in the finish.

D - Decent stuff. I enjoy porters quite a bit but this one was just too smokey to really enjoy. I could drink one of these but that is about it.

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Photo of stortore
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750 ml 2015 bottle, half into a snifter, half into a pilsner glass.

Dark, thick looking pour with a medium head, not much residual lacing. Smells mostly of malt, then smoke, some chocolate. Hint of black pepper at pour. Taste follows the nose on the strong malt and the smoke. A little more chocolate in the taste, some oak and vanilla. Smooth, but thin for the style and ABV. Leaves a bit of a salty aftertaste that I've not noticed in other smoked- type beers.

This is ok, but it's not as good as I was expecting. Didn't make a strong case as a Baltic Porter or as a smoked beer. Price point is a little high for what you get, in my opinion.

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Photo of kajerm
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Map Room. Pours murky brown with a slight reddish cast and a thin tan head.

The aroma is dominated by malts, with scents of dark chocolate and some residual sugar. A faint suggestion of salty smokiness is present in the background.

The flavor opens up similarly, chocolate flavors predominant, with a smokiness that grows quickly and overtakes but does not completely wash out the malt flavors. Some black patent bitterness appears in the finish (along with the slightest hint of hops), but smoked sausage is at the forefront. Alcohol is detectable only as warmth.

The beer is medium to full-bodied with low carbonation and some stouty viscosity.

Drinkability is all right for such a big, smoky beer, but I really couldn't handle more than a full glass of this.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml brown glass bottle with silver wax over a standard pressure cap acquired in Minneapolis and served into a Guinness stem-goblet glass in me parents’ gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado during my annual Christmas tasting. Reviewed live. 2012 vintage. Expectations are very high given the brewery. 8.2% ABV confirmed. Reviewed as a baltic porter because the label identifies it as such.

Served cold – straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it’s poured.

Pours an one finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice thickness and creaminess. Smooth even consistency. Soft complexion. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is pretty good - about 5+ minutes.

Body colour is an opaque dark solid black. No floating yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it’s an appealing appearance for the style. I’m really looking forward to trying it.

Sm: Heavy smoke character. Dark malts. Smoked malts. Caramel. Light ash. None of the smoked meat or pork notes of a rauchbier are here. Smoke is dominant, true to its epithet.

No hop character, yeast character, or alcohol is detectable. No spice.

A pleasant if somewhat chaotic aroma of moderate to high strength.

T: Smoke is very well integrated into the dark malt base. The smoked malts really shine here. There's no harshness, but there is some ashen character. Good depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour. Caramel. Faint cocoa/chocolate. Nice complexity, but there's room for improvement. It's certainly well balanced; the smoke doesn't overwhelm the other notes, which is impressive and hard to accomplish. A nuanced build, but not an intricate one. It's quite cohesive, but not quite gestalt.

No hop character or yeast character comes through. Alcohol presence is quite timid.

It's one hell of a lager. Very approachable for a smokey beer.

Mf: Smooth and wet. A bit ashy/rough in brief patches. It has a light coarseness which helps coax out the smoke a bit more. Unrefreshing. Good presence on the palate. Quite approachable. Good body.

Not oily, astringent, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: A very drinkable brew for the high ABV. If you fancy you some smoke, this is a good brew to try. Surly continues to deliver quality beers. I could kill this bottle alone with ease. Very likable stuff. I'd definitely get it again. I'm not sure if the smoke faded with age, but there's plenty of smokey character here even after a year.

Low B+

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Photo of maximum12
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Really? I've never had Smoke? I'm not sure how that happened, except during the first bottle run last year, so many people wanted bottles I ended up trading them all away. Well, here we are again. During an excellent birthday dinner for my wife, consumed at Pracna on Main in Minneapolis.

Black. Smell rising from the fogginess of the glass is pretty pure bacon/smoke. Not much else. Gives my tummies little butterflies.

Smoke tastes much more complex than the smell. The smokiness is ascendant (or they would have called it "Mist" or "Drizzle" or "Crack" or something else), but not the whole shesnizzle. The smoked malts are strong, but cut beautifully by the oakiness, which lends a dry, wry irony to the brew, keeping the smoke in check & keeping this from moving too far into pork territory. The malts are nice, too, lending a sweet counterpoint, & I could swear there was chocolate present, too. Perhaps a sprinkle of dark fruits.

Very good beer. The oak is for me a critical component that kept this one sane & drinkable. Glad to finally meet you, Smoke.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.79/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared at my tasting on May 29, 2010. Thanks Paul! Review from notes.

A: This beer appears a very dark brown, almost black. There is virtually no head or lace at all.

S: Whoa - the aroma is extremely smoky. I guess this is what they were going for.

T: This tastes much more like a rauch bier than a Baltic Porter, incidentally. While there are some nice flavors here, the body is just too thin to support the complexities of this beer.

M: There is very little carbonation, and a generally flat feel.

D: I'm glad I tried it, but I can get an Aecht Schlenkerla rauch bier that tastes better for way less trouble.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
4.14 out of 5 based on 896 ratings.
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