Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

8,355 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

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Reviews: 2,749 | Ratings: 8,355
Photo of maximum12
3.06/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Stone is available just across the river now for us MN BAs. Woohoo!

This pours as black as the tar pits that swallowed the T-Rex whole. Boast a vaguely bitter smell, unlike that of any RIS I've had to date.

Taste is chocolate, coffee, blackberry on the sides of the tongue. Not a lot of each, pretty tame. The brew is creamy & smooth, but too heavy to be easy to drink. The heavyweights in this category, for me, bely their dark nature & drink light. This is heavy, & without a lot of the richness & complexity that I love in a fine RIS.

Especially after having some other Stones, I'm disappointed; I was really looking forward to this one. It's a decent enough RIS, but I was looking for more.

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Photo of northaustin
3.06/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

reviewed fresh

poured into a schnifter. pours a thick black with a half finger of fairly thin brown head which disappears rather quickly but leaves a nice ring of lacing.

smell has a lot of alchohol heat. any malt characteristics are incredibly hidden by the alcohol.

taste has a much more even balance of things. there is alot of flavor for a quick second but then goes into alchohol madness. pretty intense if i do say so myself.

goes down really smooth but leaves a stinging in your heart from the strong alchohol presence

drinkability: i wouldnt recommend this one to any beer newbies as it is very intense with alchohol. i also would recommend putting some age on it and not drinking it fresh.

good beer though

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Photo of JEdmund
3.1/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Black with just a brief, tan film of a head

Only the slightest aroma detectable; getting mostly cocoa notes

Taste & Mouthfeel
Surprisingly thin body and low carbonation--big letdown; fairly tame from beginning to end; good flavors of cocoa and roast in the mid-palate; pretty small overall for a RIS.

This was a big letdown for me. It's raved about and Stone makes other beers I've really enjoyed. My bottle had been in storage for approximately eight months, so maybe it's at an off time or just an off bottle. I hope that's the case and the next one I try will impress me.

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Photo of scooter231
3.11/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Opaque and dark, some tan head, no lacing. No bubbles. Nose is coffee-esque- almost a frappuccino. Maybe coffee liquor. Nothing special. Taste is interesting. Alcohol is very present, a bit much. Coffee. An almost vodka aftertaste. Bitter, roasted. I'm not sure if I dig this or not. Tastes too young, this needs to grow up. Mouthfeel is a bit dry, somewhat sudsy. Drinkable for such a high alcohol beer, but definitely too heavy, too alcoholic to drink more than one of. Don't know if I could drink the whole bomber on my own. Eh, I wanted more from this beer.

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Photo of stoutfiend27
3.16/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2009 22 oz bottle poured into my duvel tulip

a-oil black and light penetration...short lived espresso colored head

s-sweet, slight notes of coffee but the sweet smell really puts off all other smells and over powers this brew

t-toffee and caramel and very sweet..i cannot pin point what the sweet taste or smell is but it puts me off..

m-thick and has good mouthfeel for a ris

d-would not seek this out to have another...def a try once and move on to another brew

overall i was let down...i like all of stones year round offerings quite well with the exception of the smoked porter....maybe i had an off bottle but being as i took it out of the delivery box before it hit the shelves i doubt it...

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Photo of mcarroll10177
3.2/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into an imperial pint glass

A- black as night with a tan head, light carbination and some nice lacing of the glass

S- very nice coffee malt alcohol, wioth some chocolate undertones

T- far far out of whack, too young needs some years under the belt. Some malt then big overpowing alcohol. Burns a bit going down, warms you up. But a wiskey like burn from a stout, not a good thing

M- balanced feels like a stout, again to much alcohol

D- unfinishable, way to much alcohol in the mouth for this beer to be anyway near refreshing. Some complexity sure but the heavy alcohol taste takes over.

Notes- this is the second of stone's offerings I have tried (VE 6 06.06) in recent days. Both seem to have tons of potential with age, but are to overpowering young. If I buy stone again it will be years before i drink it.

Big and bold, but to much of a good thing

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Photo of kosmoraios
3.2/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Woah. Trying to review for the style here...

Pours black as night into my pint glass. Tan head lasts for a minute or so.

Aroma is of roasted malt, coffee, dark caramel, pumpernickel bread and alcohol.

Taste is of chocolate, coffee, alcohol. There is a dark, almost burnt malty taste to this ale. Alcohol is very prevalent as it warms. Pretty agressive and bitter. There is some sweetness that offsets this at first, but as the ale warms, it starts to become a challenge to drink.

Mouthfeel is chewy, oily. Not a very drinkable ale, unless it's 20 below outside with freezing snow blowing sideways.

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Photo of JDFish
3.23/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Big bottle poured into a S.A. modified pint:

A: Very dark and rich. You can tell by the head that this is quality.

S: Decent, but I knew I wouldn't rate this as high as others as it hinted at that gagging molasses smell

T: Sure enough, a good solid brew, but like some others it has that molassses sickening sweetness to it..along with other flavors of course. Not as sickening as some of the Bell's stouts or S.A. I.R.S., but its still there.

M: Huge, deluxe, definite quality brew here
D: Not very drinkable for me, I'm afraid

Overall, a high quality sipping brew. Just a tad too much of that molasses sweetness. I prefer the Old Rasputin, same thick quality, but more roasty than sweet

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Photo of Patrick999
3.23/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice, the IRS finally showed up down here! I hear this is best aged, but hey, you gotta try it fresh first if possible. 2009 vintage.

A - Poured into a wine glass. Very dark, as you'd expect, and a thin espresso-like crema for a head.

S - Oddly rnough, I find the aromatics a bit muted. It smells like a weaker version of any number of imperial stouts. Mostly roasted coffee - I think I could be fooled into thinking this was a coffee stout if I didn't know better.

T, F - Ahh, I can already tell this needs more time in the bottle. It's harsh...really roasty and harsh. Extremely bitter coffee and bitter alcohol, with some of the currant and anise at the back end. Sticky and viscous, but without being terribly sweet at all. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I could stand for this to come off a bit sweeter. Whether from the roasted malts, hops, alcohol, or a combination of all 3, this is too bitter in its current state. Aside from the hint of currant at the immediate finish, it's just straight bitterness...and unpleasant bitterness if you ask me. With these huge American Impy Stouts, warming up usually takes a lot of the edge off for me, but it doesn't seem to be happening with this.

D - I don't know if I can finish the bomber. I have to get down to the last pour, though, so I can swirl in the dregs from bottle conditioning and see if/how that affects this.

Now, I do see the potential here. This is highly regarded on BA for good reason. I am going to buy another bottle - but it's not going to be opened for a good long while. Right now, though, drinkability is really limited.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
3.23/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from a 22oz Bomber into my Maudite Snifter

I have had a beer sitting in my cellar for about 2-3 months now and decided to pick another one up at the liquor store since I did not want to wait a year to review this beer.

Appearance is opaque black with a three inch mocha colored head that fades about on average. As the head fades it leaves a small amount of the mocha colored foam on top of the beer and on the edges of the beer. Very slight lacing is left behind on the sides of my glass.

Smell consist of chocolate, roasted malts,coffee beans, dark brown sugar, slight metallic smell, minerals, and some slight alcohol heat to it.

Some dark roasted malts upfront, leaning towards slight charred, I'm thinking the use of black malts. Dark unsweetened chocolate with a roasted coffee dry bitterness in the finish. This stout is a little on the harsh side if you ask me.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with minimal carbonation. Strong dry bitter finish with a slight alcohol heat in the throat and aftertaste.

I can see why people recommend aging this a year and that is definitely what I will be doing with my other bottle in my cellar. Hopefully it takes down the heat and mellows out. Until then, I do not recommend drinking this fresh.

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Photo of rastaman
3.26/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Intense. Extremely thick, heavy, alcoholic mouthfeel. Not as roasty as i would have liked, some vanilla, and toasty/roasty/choc, quite citric and extremely hoppy, hop bitter. In fact the malts play a secondary role to the intensity of the hops, hops are quite citric/acidic/bitter. To be honest felt a little out of place for me, especially when mixed with the vanillin/choc malts, some vegetable stock and spice in there aswell. Very intense, and lots going on. Not quite my style, but cheers to Greg from Stone for giving me this opportunity to try it, Greg is an absolute legend.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.26/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

***bottled 3/5/2015
***Today is 3/21/2017

L: pours a see through black with a film of head that fades fast. Pitch black in the glass
S: dark malt, dark roast coffee and dried cherries.
T: much like the nose. Big flavors. The bitterness is huge, hard to drink honestly.
F: quite dry finish and big bitterness. Medium thickness.

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Photo of rosmhuire
3.26/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 22 oz bomber

A: Dark black with tan colored head. Head was not significant.

S: Burnt coffee beans, bread undertones, a little bit of chocolate on the nose.

T: Wow - very stong. Bitter burnt coffee beans. Heat present from the alcohol. This is almost too much for me. A RIS is supposed to be a Big Boy, but I think Stone took it a bit too far.

M: Very rich, creamy.

D: Definitely felt the alcohol after I polished off the bomber. Not very drinkable, yet Stone doesn't intend this to be a sessionable beer.

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Photo of pants678
3.27/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage: 2014

Black body with creamy brown head that recedes.

Roasted malts, that's all--uninspired aroma.

Has that inky flavor that's may lend itself more so to alcohol. Guessing, but may be heavier on roasted barley. Edge of dark fruit's a subtlety, no firm stamps of chocolate. Finish has a rich coffee with none of the bitterness. Maybe I'm used to nibs & beans or bourbon barrels but this brew needs a punch up somewhere.

The body's spot on as creamy and tongue coating.

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Photo of ccrida
3.27/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

"Limited Spring 2007 Release" - a new bottle.
Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a snifter, the Stone RIS is absolutely jet back, with a medium sized burnt tan head that quickly faded to a thick collar with mild skim, leaving only the slightest lace. Served at cellar temp.
The aroma is rich and deep, toasted malt and sweet, with caramel, cinnamon, anise, vanilla and coffee. And lots of alcohol!
The taste, whoa is it rich! Sadly, not nearly as deep as the aroma - I'm hoping that will drastically change for the better with time. Very roasted and boozy, not nearly as sweet as the aroma, lots of bittersweet chocolate that fades to a pure alcohol finish. Holy hobo breath!
The mouthfeel is heavy and a bit oily, with a slight creaminess
This is not to drinkable right now. For one, it tastes way to boozy. Two, it is boozy! 10.8% ABV, how many of these do you think you can drink in one sitting? Rather then try to find out, why don't you just stash some for a while, and then savor one or two on occasion. As they so altruistically suggest on their label, "We recommend getting a case (of our expensive most expensive beer!) and opening a bottle every 3 to 6 months to enjoy it's journey." I opted for four, and will probably have 1 a year or so. As I often feel about young RISs, this was nothing that will have me clamoring to break into my stash earlier then I should. With certain barelywines though, that's a whole other story!

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Photo of Crosling
3.28/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Opaque. Black. Gentle aroma of rich malts, providing chocolate, coffee and roasted notes accompanied by a thick resiny hop leaf and scents of dark fruits, vanilla and brandy. Intense raisin, black licorice, molasses and brandy character ending with a huge dose of anise and a hint of chocolate and coffee. All, somewhat put together by a well hopped profile and a cunning bitterness. It’s a nice beer, no doubt, but to me, it’s too hoppy and it’s a little to fruity, thin and sweet. After about 8 months in the bottle, after its allowed to mellow, its a 4+ for sure.

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Photo of chrisgalvin
3.3/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Like the Abyss, I wasn't feeling this one. I'm quite partial to all Stone Beers (IPA, CaliBelgi, etc.) and this one didn't do it for me. I'm still not sold on Imperial Stouts. Yes, I am an arse and I tend to like DIPAs, Belgis and Koslch. Then again, it's all subjective, right? :-)

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Photo of tjthresh
3.32/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aaak! This beer sure looks good, but it sure aint of me. Stone RIS pours an oily thick pitch black witha huge brown head. As the head disapates, it leave so great lacing. In the nose there is some dark chocolate and alcohol. The bottle mentions anise. That must be the scent that is turning me off. Same with the flavor. After a while of drinking, I’m starting to come around. I think its somewhat astringant. Hard to drink. I surley don’t think this is one of Stone’s best.

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Photo of amatuerbeerguy
3.33/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

With an opaque color on the pour. Which included a tan head that shot up to the glass top, then almost as fast went away. No lacing apparent.

Aroma has coffee, dark chocolate, only noticeable aroma.

Flavor of coffee, chocolate, roast, and alcohol warming.

Mouth feel was low/medium body, with little to no carbonation.

Overall it is an average/below average RIS. I have had it before, and it was better this may be a bad bottle.

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Photo of Aristeia_88
3.33/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

I've heard lots of good things about Stone over the years, though the one experience I had with them wasn't that impressive... Hopefully their version of one of my favorite styles will give me a new, more favorable opinion of them... This is for the 2014 release @ 11% ABV. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into my over-sized stein.

Look: Pours jet black with a thick, tan head of about 3 fingers... Bubbles started out very fine, but are growing as the head fades. Looks like it's leaving some pretty nice lacing.
Off to a good start...

Smell: Mostly burnt coffee, you can smell the bitterness to it. Something in here reminds me of a bready almost Champagne-like yeast character. Not much going on here as far as malt goes...

Taste: I understand that this is a fairly young beer, so maybe that's a factor here, but this is probably one of the most flavorless IRs I've had... A little bit of dry smokiness to it, and a bit of malt. The dominant flavor here is alcohol... Which is odd- I'm used to big beers around this percentage, but alcohol usually isn't this noticeable.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly viscous... Good carbonation- Thick, but not syrupy. I think that judging by the feel of this, it could be a great beer in 6 months or so, but right now the rest of the beer hasn't caught up with this part. I think the flavors just need more time to blend and mellow out.

Overall: Somewhat of a disappointment... I really wanted to like this beer, but it just can't compare to some of the other Russians out there. Maybe I'll find a bottle a few months down the road and we can revisit this review...

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Photo of n811
3.34/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Spring 2008 version.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, revealing a small head despite an aggressive pour which dissipated almost immediately.

This brew has a great smell - dark roasted grains, coffee, and hints of licorice.

Taste was less than stellar. The alcohol is not very well masked, with a slightly astringent flavor. A bit of a disappointment.

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Photo of dancinwillie
3.35/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Spring 2008 release.

A: Pours, um well, black. Crowned with a mocha head that slowly disappears. Frothy looking, and seemed viscous during the slighty aggressive pour.

S: Hit me while pouring. Coffee, Chocolate, a general fruitiness.

T: A bittersweet chocolate mixes with slight bitter coffee, dark fruit(iness). Perhaps more of a cocoa flavor than chocolate. A lot of roasted flavor. A noticeable hop bite. Pretty tasty, but honestly, a bit tame. I will say that it's impressive that absolutely none of the alcohol flavor can be detected. None.

M: Smooth and silky. Low carbo. Full bodied.

D: I COULD drink a few of these at a sitting. But I don't think I would. For my money, there's many better examples of the style. This isn't bad in any way, it just doesn't stand out from many others in an overpopulated style. Good, but no better.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a stem-goblet at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, California. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average; Stone is direly overrated but I heard good things about this brew in particular, and I like the style.

Paired with sweet potato fries.

A: Pours a half finger head of khaki colour, nice cream, okay thickness, and bad retention. Colour of the body is a nontransparent solid opaque black. I prefer the head colour of beers in this style to be more of a tan - the darker the better - but khaki does alright. I'm not anticipating a great beer, though. Due to the nontransparency, no yeast particles are visible (if they're there).

Sm: Vanilla, cream, chocolate, caramel, and hints of roast. A mild strength aroma. Roast should be more present given the style. I'm alerted.

T: Generic chocolate and tame cream over a dark malt (chocolate malt inclusive) foundation with underlying caramel. Some vanilla hints that don't amount to much. No real layering here. Not at all complex for the style. Stone played this beer surprisingly safe. Why is it they pick this style to do that on? They seem to force unwelcome flavours into most otherwise simple styles. Decently balanced but built without boldness, experimentation, or inspiration. As Imperial Stouts come, this is pretty generic.

Mf: Silky smooth and wet. Completely wrong for the style; a stout demands dryness and coarseness (from roast) overcome masterfully by cream. That isn't the case here. Too thin. Adequate carbonation.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. Russian Imperial stouts like this one are a dime a dozen nowadays. There are far better beers in the style, even at the same or lesser price. It's decent, and I might pick it up in bottled form at a good price, but don't expect masterful brewing. I wouldn't recommend it to friends. In fairness, it'd be a pretty good beginner's Russian Imperial Stout. My main problem with it surrounds its lack of inspiration or specialization; as a generic example of the style it'd be a good introduction for people new to the style.

A decent candidate for aging, but I wouldn't do it meself.

Would pair okay with chocolate. Not real suitable to barbecue.


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Photo of callmescraps
3.35/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Just barely went for this over the Souther Tier Cherry Saison, mostly because I wanted to try something new. Not always my favorite style, but most reviews are glowing.

Appearance - Poured thick, and black. It almost looked like molasses pouring in there. Topped by a half inch of hearty, coffee-colored head.

Smell - Definitely smell the roast, almost like coffee, but also something like toasted marshmellows and a little raisin.

Taste - Roasted malts with quite a bit of coffee-ish bitterness. A small hint of those raisins, and a boozy aftertaste. Yet, the biggest disappointment may be that it seemed a little weak. Just, a little something missing. It's more or less what I expected BEFORE I smelled it. After smelling, I had hopes of a more complex beer.

Mouthfeel - Pretty disappointing. I figured a creamy goodness, but there was a lot less here than expected. Smooth, but just sort of disappears.

Drinkability - The mouthfeel makes it easier to drink, but it's still heavy in taste. Not bad for the style, but I find it hard to throw down a couple stout's, no matter how good. Although for the abv, it's pretty smooth.

Weaker in taste than some stout's, and also lighter. No creamy goodness, but some malty coffee-ish vibe. This isn't always my favorite style, but occasionally I find ones that I really enjoy. This wasn't one of them.

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Photo of bunnyhustle
3.36/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2007 vintage, aged approx 1 year. I have to say I had very high expectations, not only due to the high rating of this beer but I am a huge fan of most all of Stone's offerings. This did not live up to those expectations and was a very mediocre beer. Pour was good, nice mocha colored head, dark as can be, decent head retention with some lacing. Smell was very disappointing. Stong smell of alcohol, particularly vodka which I found weird. Some smell of toffee and raisin, but mainly alcohol. Taste was of some coffee, chocolate, dark fruits but again a very sharp alcohol bite, especially as it goes down. Mouthfeel is medium, carbonation is great. Overall this was a good beer, but not great and not their best offering IMO. I was overwhelmed by the alochol presence and did not enjoy that.

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
4.34 out of 5 based on 8,355 ratings.
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