Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout
Liked This Beer
4.35 w/ 8,381 Ratings
Stone Imperial Russian StoutStone Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-21-2001

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,381 |  Reviews: 2,760
Photo of ratedz
4.38/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

5 ounce sample poured at a recent tasting party. Pours pitch black with a thin tan head.

Smell was of roasted malts, chocolate, and mild hints of coffee.

Taste backed up the nose with the chocolate and roasted malts dominating. Maybe a little bit of smokiness and some heat from the alcohol.

Mouth feel was smooth and creamy. Thick body allows the flavors to linger in your mouth. An excellent RIS that can best be enjoyed slowly on a cool fall or winter night.

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Photo of msmezher
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've posted a few reviews of Stone beers so far with a disclaimer that I used to dislike Stone Brewery. At this point my mind is completely changed, and i'm enormously impressed with this beer, as well as the last two i reviewed, Ruination IPA and Juxtaposition Black Pilsner.
Russian Imperial is very fluid and light bodied with little carbonation and a strongly structured long lasting head. I poured this out into a pint glass and watched the head die down slowly over the black, chocolaty body. The taste was by far the beast part of the beer, rich chocolate, faint coffee, raisins and molasses. Overall one of the better stouts I've had this year (only surpassed by a few barrel aged ones such as The Abyss which dent your pocket quite a bit more).
Highly recommended.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.4/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Revisiting an old classic. With all the hubbub and hassle surrounding imperial / barrel aged / special release stouts these days (don't get me wrong, also delicious), it's nice to know that one of the best is always there waiting on the shelf for you.

Pours nearly black, very slight brownish ruby hints when held up to a light, supple beige foam, nice life. Deep aromas of charred wood, leather, fig, and a boatload of roasted malt flavors. Not overly on the chocolate or coffee, which I tend to think let's the more exotic flavors shine. First gulp is full and intense, very warming. Loads of ripeness, rich, earthy, soaked currant raisin fig fruity, nice mellow roastyness and the slightest bitter edge cutting through. Images of smoke, leather, tobacco. Milky and voluptuous the palate with a slight chewyness and surrounded by a definite heft and warmth. Perfect for ushering in the colder weather on a rainy fall night, while I wait for my landlord to turn on the damn heat. Only gets better with age for at least 2 years that I can vouch for. Don't overlook this beast due to it's lack of non-availability.

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Photo of wahhmaster
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 1 pt. 6 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams Boston Lager glass. 2008 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a very dark black color. Has a tight, brown head that dissipates quickly down to a frothy ring on top of the beer. Leaves behind some creamy, oily lacing.

Smell: Smells VERY strongly of coffee, chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts, and a hint of alcohol. Chocolate and coffee seem to dominate.

Taste: Not as aggressively bitter as I was expecting. I suppose the two years that have been put on it have mellowed it out. Still, it is aggressively malty with chocolate, coffee, caramel, dark fruits, and a bit of nuttiness. The alcohol is also very present here and gives this baby a bit of a kick going down as well as a nice warmth.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, chewy, perfect.

Drinkability: An excellent stout. I'd have to try a more recent vintage to really see the effect of aging on this beer but I am glad to have tried this aged one. This is certainly something I'd recommend for aging but the temptation to drink it would certainly be great!

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Photo of Keffa
4.23/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into my Unibroue tulip.

A: Pitch black, rushing 1 1/2" head of tan bubbles, with the carbonation coming after I finished the pour. Settles to a small cap/ring that is made up of tiny bubbles. Leaves a little oily lace on the glass. Nice.

S: Burnt/heavily roasted coffee beans, dark brown sugar, raisins, some solid chocolate notes. I get a very, very faint hop, like a slightly herbal/piney hop, but it is extremely faint. Not too shabby.

T: Very nice dark fruit and slight coffee on the start, plum/raisin and a nice cup of joe. Chocolate comes in, and an almost smokey note takes over towards the finish. Nice.

M: Nice body, decent carbonation for the style, and almost creamy finish. Nice.

D: Not bad. This is more a sipping beer, but it's still easy to drink.

Overall, this is quite good. The only thing I would say I don't like is the smokey quality, as it gets in the way a little. Otherwise, this is a good RIS, and one I'd buy again.

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Photo of rhett7660
4.56/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured Motor oil black, very black, with a small head that retreated very fast. The head was brown in color.

S: A delicious strong smell of roasted malts with a sweet chocolate hint as the smell lingers. No real hint of alcohol given the alcohol content.

T: Almost the same as the smell. Hint of chocolate with roasted malts. It ends with some bitterness and a very small taste of alcohol mixed in. This beer got better as I moved my way through the bottle.

M: Very light bodied with little carbonation.

D: Very very drinkable, it is very tasty and given that it is 10.50% ABV you really do not taste the alcohol which I like a lot. This is one of my favorite beers. Very easy to drink. I have no problems recommending this beer. Love the taste!

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of NYManc
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. '08 vintage courtesy of BA infi and shared with his brother BA brun.

A: Poured Motor oi black with a small head that retreated very fast. Very little lacing on the snifter. Looked watery upon the pour.

S: A delicious strong smell of roasted malts with a sweet chocolate back hint. Made my stomach grumble from being hungry. No smell of alcohol here as well.

T: Almost the same as the smell. Chocolate with bready roasted malts on the back taste. It ends with some bitterness and a small taste of alcohol mixed in.

M: Very light bodied with little carbonation. A little bit too light bodied for my own liking in a RIS but that should detract nothing much from it.

D: Very drinkable, its tastiness was hid the 10.50% ABV well and I could drink this very fast. Would recommend it to others.

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Photo of infi
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 22 oz. bomber, shared with BAs brun and NYManc.

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Completely dark black and opaque with a sizable half-inch tan head of thin bubbles, which left copious amounts of lacing on the glass. Smell was thoroughly full of roasted malt and grain, with some glimmers of chocolate. Most of the coffee seemed to have gone along with the time, as there were no traces of it at all. Considering a two-year old bottle, there were still some scents of alcohol towards the end.

Taste is incredibly smooth and delectable. Serious roasted malt sweetness throughout on the palate with an ending of bittersweet dark chocolate and a minute flavor of musky fruitiness. As the stout warms, the sweet characteristics open up particularly well, as well as the high ABV warmth.

A bit light on the liquid body compared to other RIS I've had, but still a beauty. Very low the carbonation feel with a relatively moderate viscosity feel on the tongue. A definite plus is how fast I was drinking this beerĀ - nothing was holding me back. Quite delicious. I've held onto this beer for a long time and very glad to have opened it to finally experience one of my most anticipated beers.

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Photo of Pellinore1
4.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep, dark brown, with a tan head, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Smells of bitter chocolate and alcohol.

Tastes like a stout should: roasty malts, bitter coffee notes, just a hint of sweetness, and it hides the alcohol well.

Smooth, somewhat creamy mouthfeel, and excellent drinkability for a RIS round out this fine beer.

This is one of my favorite stouts that can be found with any regularity. I recommend it to any fan of the style.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.91/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. 2009 release. Pours a really dark brown almost black color with a nice 2 finger tan head. Laces on the glass as the head settles. Nice and strong roasted coffee notes along with malt and some dark fruit. Medium mouthfeel. Big and chewy but still not as heavy as I would like for a 10.5% abv RIS. Big roasted coffee notes in the taste. Lingering bitterness similiar to a dark coffee. Some dark fruit type tastes as well. No real evidence of the alcohol. Overall, I am pretty happy with this beer. Not overly roasty or boozy but a nice balance and a RIS that I'm sure a lot of people cold enjoy.

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Photo of megahurts4
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stone Imperial Russian Stout (2010 10.5% ABV)

Appearance: Very dark brown, good lacing, and a small head.

Smell: Smoke, peat, coffee, and malts.

Taste: Smokey, slight peat, slight coffee, malts, subtle hops, and a slight cocoa.

Mouthfeel: Heavy.

A STOUT stout. Wow. This is very strong and drinkable. This is also the first Stone Brewing beer I've tried that did not have strong hops. It is fairly smooth and very strong.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
4.05/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am trying to get into the RIS style. Poured into a small tasting chalice. Black, opaque, thick. Without a super heavy pour a head is not really produced. Really thing milk infused coffee color head. Aroma of coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla, roasted barley, and finishes with grassy earthy hop notes. Maybe a little weak. Your palate is met with rich heavy cappuccino flavors, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and hops manage to cut through leaving a lingering bitterness on the tongue. This big beer manages to be dry, with just a mild bitter aftertaste. Really good body without being syrupy as I find many RIS beers to be. I sought this out and I will again. Good beer.

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Photo of cigarchitect
4.97/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz into a snifter.
Opaque black with a generous beach mud colored head that retreats rather quickly leaving little lace.
The nose is roasted malts, coffee, and a bit of booziness. Some caramel comes through with the booze. Quite lovely to sniff.
The first sip is a bit dry with a wonderful malty-coffee flavour. Dark chocolate and caramel on the finish
Mouthfeel is almost perfect for the style. Could be stickier, but it coats the palate generously and the flavors thank the viscosity for allowing them to do their thing.
This monster is dangerously drinkable for the ABV. It might be a bottle best enjoyed with company, but I am happy to say that this one is all mine!

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Photo of stimulus
4.12/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing from my notes from midsummer.

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a snifter.

A: Pours a jet black with a beige head that retains throughout.
S: Powerful roasted coffee beans and bittersweet Belgian dark chocolate are strongly present.
T: Roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a hint of coffee are present until the finish, where only the bitterness of the chocolate lingers.
M: Well carbonated yet quite heavy on the body.
D: A pretty good Imperial Stout, and I'm surprised the bitterness doesn't come from the hops knowing Stone beers, but I know this beer is heavily hopped and the bitterness from the dark chocolate still overshadows the hops here.

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Photo of aval89
4.28/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Stone IRS snifter.

A: pours a jet black, absolutely pitch black! Has a chips ahoy colored head. Both tiny & big bubbles are present in the head.

S: dark fruits upfront, black licorice, soy sauce!??, mild coffee beans, dark chocolate & alcoholic fumes smother the nose.

T: again dark fruits upfront, heavy roasty malts, dark coffee notes come in. Dark chocolate. Finishes with alcoholic fumes in the mouth & dark chocolate/coffee roast bitterness. Finishing tastes linger... Pretty dry finish.. Slight burning down the chest from alcohol.

MF: thick, rich, yet creamy & smooth. Carbonation is spot on for this brew.

D: for the abv it drinks pretty nice. Definitely a slow sipper though.

Overall pretty good brew.. Just found the boozieness to be a bit high..

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Photo of AleWatcher
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 bomber into snifter.

Pours a thick, intimidating, dark, and handsome black looking color. Some hints of dark mohogany and deep rosewood in the edges and legs. Nice dark tan head... Retention and lacing don't blow my mind.

Smell is odd in a sense... There appears to be a hint of soy sauce... Cocoa... Dark fruits? Hmmm. Out of those, only bitter cocoa appears in the flavor profile. There is also very little sweetness-- more of a dry, roasted barley and malt bite. Not bad, but not mind-blowing to me. The finish is sweeter than the profile... Very little booziness... No real flaws aside from the slight soy sauce hint.

Body is respectfully full, but a great creamy feel is present from the carbonation level. The beer drinks pretty easily, with a good enough balance and flavor to hide the alcohol.

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Photo of Bonis
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - As black a beer as I've seen, no light peaks through anywhere. Huge light tan pillowy head with large air pockets. This hangs around for several minutes and leaves behind a beautiful lacing.

S - Huge dark roast malts, cacao beans, dark chocolate. Hints of espresso and licorice come through. A somewhat intense sweetness lingers, and no alcohol can be traced.

T - Pretty much along the lines of the smell, this malt bomb offers a robust combination of dark chocolate, espresso, cacao beans, and a touch of licorice. The sweetness comes in a fruit-like form, cherries and raisins come to mind. The finish is of sweet milk chocolate and chocolate fudge. I don't get any of the bitterness that comes with some imperial stouts... And again, little to no alcohol presence. This one definitely lived up to my expectations.

M - Smooth and creamy, big bodied but not as big and chewy as I anticipated (perfectly fine by me). I didn't notice much carbonation (again, fine by me).

D - Well, for being a strong RIS, it doesn't get too much better here. Definitely not one to drink all night, but I think I could easily handle a bomber to myself. Split this one tonight, and had a decent buzz going after finishing my portion (which didn't take too long...). To those who haven't tried this one: Buy It! It's definitely worth the somewhat small price tag.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 10/04/10 notes. Had on tap at Churchkey for their Stone Total Tap Takeover event. 2004 vintage.

a - Pours a dark black color with one to two inches of off white head and light carbonation evident. Looks great.

s - Smells of chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, and coffee. Light dark fruits as well. No alcohol in the smell, very balanced and smells great.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, and hint of alcohol.

m - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Very easy to drink for 10.5% ABV.

d - This is a great RIS. I've had it several times and a few different vintages and have always enjoyed it. This one being a 2004 vintage, I didn't think the extra time did too much to improve the beer, but regardless, it is one of the best easily available RIS's out there. Interested to open my 08 bottle soon to compare to, will definitely have again.

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Photo of HURTemHIZZY
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage on tap at the churchkey. I want a brewery tour to come to town every week!

Pours a near black color, that only shows some reddish tints around the edge of the glass when held up to the light. Nice two finger deep tan head that doesn't fully dissipate at all. Leaves ok lacing on the glass. Smell is amazing. The chocolate is faded in comparison to the fresh version, with some deeper layers of dark fruit taking its place. Still some bittersweet and milk chocolate, though, along with some coffee. Such a complex aroma.

Taste is along the same lines as the aroma. Starts with a bit of coffee, then you get punched in the face with dark fruits, and it finishes with a bit of bittersweet chocolate. Hops are not noticeable whatsoever, as they shouldn't be in a 2004 vintage. Seems to have thinned out a bit in comparison to the fresh version. Great brew.

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Photo of gopens44
4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours thicker than most RIS' I've had. Slow pour lead to a moderate mocha colored head - about 1" worth of head. Dark as you'd imagine. Opaque and black with dark brown hues refracting the light that was lucky enough to slide by the side of the glass.

S - Coffee, toffee and a touch of alcohol in the smell. Nice to draw a nose full of this right before taking a sip. There may have been more chocolate in the smell than what I recognized, but it was well buried in the other smells

T - Great! There's the coffee again, but this is where I could detect a chocolaty presence as well. Alcohol was hid a bit better in teh taste than in the nose, but it was still there.

M - Silky smooth with very little carbonation. A touch of bitterness left on an otherwise dry tongue.

D - Very much yes. Need to work this into my already crowded RIS lineup.

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Photo of neorunner
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 spring release into a tulip glass.

A- Velvety dark black with a single finger of brown head. Held up to the light it is completely opaque.

S- Strong alcohol and bitter chocolate, some underlying notes of toffee and treacle.

T- A true imperial stout, this beer has a punch and the flavor to go with it. Chocolate, espresso, rich dark fruits and malts. Slightly hot but that blends well with the sweetness.

M- Full bodied and creamy with a smooth finish, not as dry as one would expect for a 10.5% beer.

D- This is a great RIS and should cellar very well. Definitely a good beer for a cold winters evening.

Blind Bomber #7 thanks to Nate (nlmartin) in Round #2 of the Blind Beer BIF.

2005 Vintage

22 oz bottle poured into a Ommegang glass. Dark black in color and head is an 1/8th inch of dark brown that disappears into a small oil slick. Aroma is bitter chocolate, cocoa, and a touch of fusel alcohol. Flavor is very much a stout but I'm struggling to pull out too many unique flavors. Chocolate and black bittering malt abound and not much hop flavor from what I can tell. Mouthfeel is dry and chewy, I'm left with cottonmouth after almost each sip. The beer is mellow and very tasty, something I could and am sipping on all night. Fits very nicely on this rainy evening.

Going over my previous review, this beer has dried out nicely and still holds a good heat. Most of the dark fruit is gone, as are any trace of hops. It cellars great and I need to start putting more away.

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Photo of chrisgn
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a BN Army pint glass. Limited Spring 2010 Release.

A- BLACK Opaque! Tan dissipating head with some decent lacing.

S- coffee then chocolate then alcohol.

T- Not too sweet, but coffee and chocolate notes are present. Alcohol is hidden in the taste, taste improves as it warms.

M- medium bodied stout, not too syrupy. Mouth in coated with flavor on each sip.

D- This is a sipper. 10.5% is no joke. Problem is this beer goes down easy. I do not enjoy really sweet boozy stouts so this beer is awesome! Classic RIS!

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Photo of Kinsman
3.88/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Spring 2010 release from bottle

Pours an absolute pitch black with a thin dark tan head.

Aroma is deep and dark with roasted barley and burnt coffee. Also notable are notes of dark chocolate.

Flavor is strong with the burnt/roasted flavors and balanced by a light sweetness. Hops are lingering a bit but hardly noticeable.

Mouthfeel is heavy and hot. At about 6 months, the alcohol hasn't really toned down too much.

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Photo of Brez07
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottled poured into a snifter. 2010 version

A: Dark brown pour, but sits pitch black in the glass. Leaves a 1/2 finger mocha head, which quickly recedes to a thin layer. However, this lasts for most of the glass

S: Big roasted malts in the nose. Some cocoa and a touch of smoke. Sweet bread or graham cracker. Slight alcohol tinge once it warms

T: Lots of roasted malt and dark fruit with a hint of spice, cocoa nibs and bittersweet chocolate. Delicious

M: Full bodied. Low carbonation, good for the style. Smooth, roasted finish

D: Deserving of the praise as one of the best Russian imperial stouts of there. Plus, it's hard to beat the price. Storing a few to see how it ages

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Photo of Torps
4.23/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 release..

Pours a super dark black with brown edges.. about a two finger fluffy tan head which dissipated quickly. Very minimal lacing, if at all. Smells of roasted malts, toffee, dark chocolate and coffee. Taste is very full, very complex.. I'm getting dark chocolate, cherry, toasted malts with a touch of bitterness. The sweetness of the malts shine overall. Very heavy, yet very drinkable. ABV is well hidden. Thoroughly enjoyable in all aspects!

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 95.2% out of 100 with 8,381 ratings
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