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Brutal Bitter Ale | Rogue Ales

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Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale
Very Good
2,157 Ratings
Brutal Bitter AleBrutal Bitter Ale

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
**NOTE: This beer is now called "Brutal IPA" **
It has also been bottled as "Portland State IPA" (2010).

An Imperial bitter with exotic traditional floor malts, citrusy, hoppy flavor and stupendous hop aroma. Rogue brewmaster John Maier describes his Brutal IPA as a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an Indian Pale Ale. Hedonistic!

8 INGREDIENTS: 2-Row, Carawheat, C15 & Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Rogue Farms Alluvial™ Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.

22oz Bottle & Draft / 15° Plato / 46 IBU / 81 AA / 13° Lovibond

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-28-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,157 |  Reviews: 1,110
Photo of mempath
4.89/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle poured into my 'mini' hybrid pilsen/ale half-pint glass

pours a cloudy, orange marmalade hue with slighty off-white head...beautiful on top (pancake batter), but sides reveal big, active carbonation...creamy lacing lingers nicely. very pretty

smell is wow, oranges again...citrus sweetness, mandarin...then it shifts to the bitter/sour grapefruit sense, though retaining that sugariness...did i say wow?

like Stone's Ruination, there is nothing really ruining OR brutal here...that is, those are key words for hop heads and warnings to those who don't like the in your face qualities of hoppy brews. the taste is tremendous, unique...perhaps the best Rogue bottling i've had yet. definitely not over hoppy, but this is art, a true craftbrew and the balance is key, making this (along with near perfect mouthfeel of creaminess and crispness) a very drinkable, session brew. i can see this with food, but i wouldn't want to share the palate with anything else. a new favorite for me! should've gotten the bomber...

edit: one more swallow reveals a torrential downpour, a heady constellation of hops all over the mouth, like some sort of supercollider experiment. savor this. or take huge gulps. you can't escape the unique character of this bottling. gotta compare this to Torpedo AND FF Hopfish as potential everyday beer.

another sniff...this is the Earl Grey of brews...;)

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Photo of Seanstoppable
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out into an opaque orange color, similar to orange pop, with a nice fluffy head that produced moderate lacing. Smells slightly of oranges, to go with color. My first taste resulted in a 'wow, that is bitter' exclamation, but further tastes did not. Overall taste is somewhat bitter, somewhat citrus-like, as is there was a touch of lemon, graperfuit, or other similarly bitter citrus fruit.

Overall, I wouldn't say it is an ESB - at least, not in comparison to some other ESB I have sampled. However, it remains a very drinkable beer.

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Photo of FarmHouseJam
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy Orange/ gold color
Bitter but with the the rogue grain selection....nothing is too bitter, everything is very malty, almost to the point of an ice tea taste.

The beer is still balanced which is key in my mind for worth wile drinking....

this is a malt liqour? "Don't let me down" is how I feel about this brew.

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Photo of schuim
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the amber coloured beer has a slight haze. The foam has big bubbles.
the aroma is citrus and hoppy. Inthe taste there is a lot of bitterness to. A light caramel taste in the following taste, afterwards the caramel goes to a little carton flavour, maybe not a very fresh bottle? Best before date is still four months to go.
In total a pleasant beer, but next time I will try to find a fresher bottle.

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Photo of ArodGetsSick
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into 4 oz snifter from 650 ml bottle.

appearance: poured a straw-amber color, with an orange glow. Nice two finger head.

smell: smell is very sweet,smooth, and pleasing.
Smells pops with mellow hops, kind of malty. Also a slight linger of melon.

taste: An initial bitter taste, though very easy on the palate. The bitter seems to go on a spectrum to another bitter tastse that rest nicely on your tounge. Tatse plentiful in the hop department, although an extrmele balanced beer. Taste some slight malt. I detected some pine, and even some grapefruit.

mouthfeel: taste very full and smooth. Seems very carbonated, a great lean sip.

drinkability: very easy to drink, I could have easily drank the bottle myself.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a medium amber with a big, frothy head. Excellent cling and a nice 1/4" head retention all the way down.

S: Smell was mostly esters, like pine cones with a bit of hoppiness and maybe a slight lime zest.

T: The initial bitterness gives way to a secondary bitterness followed by the bitterness of the third kind. Lucky for Rogue I like bitter and really dig this beer. There actually was a hint of sweet malt to this beer, but it's overpowered by the bitterness of the hops.

M: Tingly and chewy.

D: I think I have a one bomber at a time limit on this.

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Photo of bum732
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy orange, nice fluffy head leaving great lacing behind. Smells of citrus fruits, mostly grapefruit and orange, faint bready malt. Tastes of sweet fruity malt followed by pretty intense bitterness. Lots of citrus hop-like flavors throughout. Very smooth throughout, great balance.

A very good beer, although i would say it's a stretch to call in an ESB. The hops run wild in this bad boy, however, their is a decent balance. I found the beer not too heavy which definitely puts it in the sessionable class.

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Photo of Dalem
3.31/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Cloudy gold in color with a fair amount of sediment floating around. Head was there and gone but still left a fair amount of lacing around the glass. The description on the side of the bottle talks about a "stupendous hop aroma" but really all that I'm detecting is a lot of malt up front and a slight citrus like hop scent in the distance. The hops seem to jump out much more in the taste though but not until after sweet malt introduction. The odd thing is that this is a bitter (and supposedly a "brutal" one at that) but there's almost a mix orange and mint gumdrop flavorings going on. Not as obnoxiously sweet and gooey as a gumdrop or anything but for some reason there's something about the way of the sweetness of this has me thinking that. As it goes down the throat the hop taste shows up a little more along with some peppery undertones but not really all that bitter and far from brutal.

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Photo of Ralphus
4.71/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lets just preface this whole thing by saying that when this beer is good, it's amazing. However, it does vary quite a bit from bottle to bottle. I've had some that were downright delicious and others that bordered on peculiar. Temperature plays a big factor as well.. this beer seems to best about 5-10C below room temperature. This review assumes a great Brutal Bitter. If your experience differs - try a different bottle.

Off the pour, when it's good, this is one of the best looking beers around. It has a BIG creamy white head that stays around for a long time and leaves chunks of lacing all the way down the glass. Combine that with a very respectable amber body and you have a winner in the looks dept.

In the smell there's a mixture of piney hops and fruitiness. It's also very good and really just a sample of what's to come. For this beer really shines in the taste dept.. big fruit and caramel taste up front followed by respectable amount of piney hops towards the end. Excellent balance and mouthfeel allow this beer to go down in gulps.

As a result - drinkability is very high. Dangerously high even.

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Photo of Seumas
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I never realized what the Brutal in Brutal Bitter meant until I tasted it back-to-back with the equally hoppy but considerably more refined Southern Tier IPA.

Brutal Bitter, which I supped second, came up much more earthy and lingeringly bitter than the IPA. Not more bitter, it's just that the bitterness in the Brutal just stuck to the tongue much longer than that of the IPA. If I had to guess, I'd put it down to late and aroma hopping in the latter, and continuous hopping in the former.

I can't imagine how much Crystal you'd have to put into a brew to arrive at the advertized 59 IBU from a relatively low-alpha, aroma hop like that. I should imagine you'd have to put in one heck of a lot and put it in steadily throughout the boil.

Come to think of it, Brutal Bitter bears more than a passing resemblance to Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA, which supposedly does use continuous hopping.

In all, Brutal Bitter is a good solid ESA/APA for hop heads who aren't looking for much finesse.

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Photo of rjimlad
4.72/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a thick and persistent head. Opaque caramel colour with moderate carbonation. The initial esters were a potpourri of floral and fruity notes. I kept sniffing it to see how many things were hidden away in the aroma. Very rich.
Flavour is astonishingly rich and fruity. Grapefruit abounds but also a hint of toffee maybe or caramel that prevents too much puckering. This is a massively flavoured bitter. The label says it's Hedonistic and it is. It's almost too much flavour which makes the drinkability score lower but everything is balanced perfectly. Awesome.

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Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Murky, honey apricot hue, off-white head rose and fell leaving scattered bubbles and wispy clouds. Ribbons of lace abound. Big citrus nose carries over in the taste, hops big time. Citrus taste and mouthfeel, lively, sharp, lemon, bitterness is torqued right up. More than that, there is a malt bill that punctuates and leaves a long, dry lasting impression. I've had this on a couple of occasions and have found the first half of the bottle always tastes better, the last half seems to bring out more acidic notes and a bit of astringency. Except for that impression by bottle-end that doesn't seem to sit that well with me, I'm quite fond of this brew and consider it a must-try.

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

Consumed 03/08/09.

Pours into a standard pint glass a very clear coppery/honey hue. Thin, off-white head quickly subsides to sticky ring of lacing.

The aroma is floral hops and sweet malt... caramel, I think.

On the palate, the flavor is a fairly thick caramel malt which is cut by a sharp citric tang (primarily orange). Tasty beer! A lingering, agreeable bitterness finishes off each sip.

There is a good amount of carbonation - keeps things moving along nicely. Beer may have been too sweet without proper carbonation.

This is an easy drinking beer that, while not as sessionable as a standard ESB, is a really nice change of pace.

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Photo of terryeckmeier
4.55/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

picked up a bottle of this as soon as I saw it on the shelf. We don't get to many American craft beer up in Toronto, especially from the west coast. Looks great, smells great, taste great. Great head retention, great carbonation and a beautiful medium dark amber colour. Nice mouth feel smooth and leaves a nice dryness after you has a drink. Nice an bitter as it says but not over the top well maybe if you are use to drinking Canadian or Coors but great lingering bitter taste almost like whole wheat toast or something along those lines. Nice maltiness and very well balanced between the hop flavour, malt and bitterness. Would buy it again

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Photo of biegaman
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ripened apricot that gleams as though it's been harboring an entire summer's worth of sunshine. All this bright, glowing luminosity thrives despite a heavily hazed complexion. Although initially both thick and responsive, I'm beginning to question this head's staying power; unyielding splashes of lace imply it should prove tenacious after all.

The aroma is far, far more hoppy than a typical draft of bitter, not only in proportion but in character as well. The acidic, fruity scent of citrus has me expecting to find piths floating around. This reeks of grapefruit in particular, there's no chance of overlooking that feature. The sharp, citric flavour of grapefruit is unmistakable even to an untrained nose.

As it is in flavour, albeit slightly more faded. Now, however, there's a great deal of lemon-water as well. The forward, assertive hopping denotes this as a true American West Coast offering but the taste of chewy, caramel-laden malts also typifies this as the intended style of an English bitter. Beyond the citrus, indeed, lay flavours of nougat and sticky toffee.

Although it bears 'bitter' in its name, the beer also offers up a fair bit of sweetness. The combination of the two makes for a very balanced beer that is well suited to its 22 ounce serving size. If only local bars were to get it on tap this would surely become the 'regular' of every beer lover in Toronto. Make no mistake, there's nothing 'brutal' about this.

Generally, I feel hops can do no wrong. In this case, they've made a typically plain style that much more exciting with the addition of zestful citrus. A pint of English Bitter is suppose to be a sociable, sessionable beverage - this is most certainly still that, the aggressive hopping and extra couple notches of alcohol notwithstanding.

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Photo of Mit
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice pour with a very long lasting head. Nice amber cloudiness in the glass.

Smell was hop heavy with the expected citrus notes present in the front with a slight sweet finish.

Taste was not nearly as hoppy as the smell would suggest. Again hoppy in the front with a nice malt finish. Very balanced. A nice lingering bitterness finishes it off in keeping with the name.

Mouthfeel was somewhat light when you realize that this is a somewhat strong brew. I found it thick enough that it didn't seem to get watery as it sat, but it wasn't syrupy either. I think it was perfect.

Drinkability....I could drink these all night.

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Photo of irishtjb11
4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love Rogue, and this beer is no different. The apperance is great, beautiful white, fluffy head that leaves a nice lacing on the glass. Beautiful dark amber/reddish brown appearance, unfiltered which I always love in a beer.

Smells of hops, real nice aroma. Yet, there is a nice malty backbone to this brew. The hops do take the stage in this way, but in a tasteful way(no pun). I really, really enjoy this beer. What a balance and wonderful use of hops. I have been a bit sick of the hop explosive beers these days, just throw as much hops in and you're sure to have a great beer. This beer goes against that philosphy. It's well crafted, well thought out, unique.

The taste lives up to the name of a bitter. This is a stand out ESB, IMO. Taste has a lot of hop bitterness at first followed by a hint of matly sweetness, ending on the palate with a lot of hoppy flavors.

The mouthfeel is above average as well. Smooth, but with a lot of consistency to it, not overly thick or chewy. Just enough to provide the mouth with some volume.

Overall, great beer imo. I'm not sure if it's because I love Rogue, I love well done IPAs, I like Bitters and this tastes like a great hybrid of bitter and ipa; none the less its great. Hop heads might not go crazy, neither will maltiacs. Yet, the flavors, hint of balance, mouthfeel, all create a wondeful beer. I've written this review for quite some time now, and my beer still has a better head retaining than most do after a minute. Nice job, Rogue.

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

Thank God the LCBO has acquired this for their spring line-up! A kick ass bitter with all of the top quality traits that I've come to expect from Rogue Ales. Poured out of a 650ml bottle into a Murphy's pint glass.

Appearance is hazy honey orange with a rocky white head and plenty of webbed lacing on the glass. Smell is citric hops, some yeast, oranges, and grainy malt. Bold and juicy C hops produce an intense, fruity bitterness on the palate, balanced by traces of toffee and biscuit. Piney hop bitterness clings to the very end, but it's kept in check by a malty sweetness. Mouthfeel is pure silk upfront with a medium body and bitter, wet finish. Despite the 'rugged' packaging, this beer is nothing short of luxurious. The silky-smooth mouthfeel, beautiful citrus character, and nicely balanced flavour make this a very quaffable ale. Great stuff.

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Photo of Beernoisseur
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hardly what I would call brutally bitter, this is actually an excellent beer. The bitterness is there, but clocking in at only 59 IBUs, there is a lot of bitterness left on that spectrum. Pretty lacing, sudsy head. Yellowy amber, with a TINY bit of haze. This reminds me of a really beefy session lager. there's obviously a lot more bitterness, but some of the same light citrusy elements, with a touch of sweetness, and good 'ole bready, toasty maltiness. The smell was pretty simple. There was nothing that I didn't expect. A touch of citrusy scent, but mostly just toasted malt. There was a tiny bit of mint? I don't know.

All in all, a great beer. I'm glad I had it, and I would never turn it down in the future.

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Photo of foles
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another AUD$18 outlay to try a highly rated Rogue beer (sigh).

Pours a pure rich cloudy orange with a fluffy white head that reduces to a clean lacing. Little carbonation. Herbaly citric explosion on the nose. A little more american like in hop profile. Lots of rough hoppy goodness also. Clean bitterness for a 59 IBU monster. Not just straight bitterness, but more of a bitterness profile that transforms in your mouth. Although this beer contains a single hop (crystal), the hop profile is quite complex - love it!

Focus is squarely on hops instead of the malt, but there is a decent backbone there - maybe not rounded enough but bloody good

Another splendid ale from Rogue.

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Photo of kels
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got together with some friends (BAs and non-BAs willing to take a chance) for a blind tasting during a trip out of town. Thanks to bamadog for this selection. He's a big Rogue fan, and I usually shy away since I won't finish a whole bomber by myself. I'm glad I got to try this one.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy apricot shade with a skim of a white, foamy head. Light, watery lacing slides down the glass throughout the drink.

Smell: The smell of this beer is my favorite part. Strong sweet and bitter citrus notes, like juicy mandarin oranges and apricots and bitter grapefruit pair with syrupy malts and honey.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Bitter citrus rind, grass and pine sap show up from the strong hoppiness. Alcohol fumes rise up in the aftertaste, and only the slightest maltiness balances out the rest. Sweet apricot and crispy green apple present in the finish.

Drinkability: Pretty high as it's bitter without being too dry or sticky and sweet without being too sweet or artificial.

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Photo of EatsTacos
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper colour with a one finger white head that laces nicely.

Aroma is very hoppy, I would have thought that cascade was being used but Rogue has actually used Crystal hops, which are very aromatic. Spicey and floral at once without the citrus character that cascade would give.

For an ESB this is very classic american and differs from an english bitter in a few ways. The taste is very piney and floral and showcases the hops much more than the malt, which is bready and grainy. Not a lot of sweetness at all, the aftertaste is quite bitter.

Medium bodied, with a crisp and clean carbonation.

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Photo of bamadog
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love Rogue beers, and this one did not fail me either. Actually part of a blind taste test that was attempted by several peeps, with very good results. This was the only non-stout, so it kind of stuck out.

Appearance: Light coppery in color, with a touch of amber when held up to the light. Not much of a head to speak of, but there was a thin lacing at the top. The interior was a little cloudy and not a lot of carbonation seemed present to the eye.

Smell: Hoppy bitter - very exciting! Citrusy as well, I would say grapefruit, although somebody else was saying apple... There is a sweetness to the smell as well, honey-esque.

Taste: Strong bitter from the hoppiness, what I was hoping for, and a nice bitter aftertaste that lingered as well. The nice touch was the sweetness that also lingered behind. Kind of reminded me a much milder version of Hopslap (I know this is probably blasphemous to say, but I'm trying to think of effective comparisons - I'm not saying it was "like" Hopslam, so take that for what it's worth).

Mouthfeel: Sticky at first, but then it really left the palate dry. Coated nicely and evenly.

Drinkability: I give it a fairly high drinkability because I love the style and I love the bitter. The ABV isn't ridiculous either, so I can easily see myself taking on a bomber by my lonesome.

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Photo of rwdkosak
3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap, presented in pint glass at below cellar temp with a light ecru color head that was present for the first third of the session. A cloudy gold color with a pleasing hoppy nose that honestly was the best part of the beer.

Taste was good, nothing to wow about, certainly not brutally bitter as the title would suggest but not to disrespect the taste, it was simply a good full taste without the 'pop' of other ESB's out there. A drinkable brew, good feel, enough on the palate to be a pleasurable drink but certainly one that I personally would place first on a list.

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Photo of WalterSobchak
3.87/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice clear amber with a two finger head, dissipates to a thin cap with serious lacing.
Solid piney hops smell and a hint of citus.
The hops builds slowly throughout the drink, nice but not overpowering. I like this but I was expecting more punch and this is really quite drinkable not at all bruta.

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Brutal Bitter Ale from Rogue Ales
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 2,157 ratings
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