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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale | Stone Brewing

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536 Reviews
Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic AleStone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.60%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This is quite a complex and layered beer. Bold and smooth chocolate malt flavors combine with a Belgian yeast lending tropical fruit/banana flavors and hints of spiciness, all complemented by citrus notes from an addition of tangerine peel. Rich vanilla beans add a nice counter to the chocolate malt - actually enhancing the chocolatiness. The finish is smooth, with additional traces of vanilla and toasted characters from French Oak. The goal for this edition of the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series is to be reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange.

Added by superdedooperboy on 09-08-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 536 | Ratings: 865
Photo of ColForbinBC
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Chouffe tulip

A deep, dark brown, borderline black on the pour with a huge khaki head that fills the tulip perfectly. Some pretty fantastic retention and lacing, this guy holds shape really well.

Bittersweet dark chocolate notes right off the bat. The Belgian yeast strain adds a bit of tang and a noticeable presence of orange peel. Deep roast, tiptoeing char, and a herbal, earthy hop presence. A lot to offer here.

The flavors do not disappoint. Deep roasted malt with dark Belgian chocolate up front and orange peel throughout. The yeast adds a level of tartness that melds well with the sweetness of the chocolate. Dark fruits make an appearance briefly before a dry, coffee flavor grabs hold for the finish.

Smooth and lush. The carbonation is near perfect giving this a well balanced mouthfeel. Hearty and full, but light and playful in the right spots.

Some warming in the finish, but not a lot. The flavors really complement each other nicely and make this a fine drinking stout, er, belgian porter.

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Photo of Brad007
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black color with a brown two-finger head into my fluted glass. The head fades down, leaving some lacing.

Aroma is full of roastiness with a bit of cream and and chocolate showing through. Seems enough like a stout, though it's not categorized as one.

Taste is what sets this apart from a stout. It's strong with candi sugar, chocolate, cream and dark fruits as the primary tastes. Just a bit of alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering flavors as mentioned above but the roastiness lingers along with a bit of cream. Only minimal alcohol heat and carbonation seems right.

Very good and probably better fresh. I've had 08.08.08 and 07.07.07 and I'd say that this year's version is better than both.

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Photo of Viggo
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Coles.

Pours a very dark and opaque brown, almost black, thick tan head forms, settles down to a thick layer that lasts the whole glass, lots of lace, is this a stout or strong dark? Smell is neat, dark fruit and chocolate, raisins, banana bread, roast and charred wood, biscuit, vanilla, a bit of alcohol, very dry and toasty. Taste is similar, dry and toast, chocolate, roast, wood, light fruit, finish is bitter, like those thin chocolate wafers, grainy feel. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation, almost a sandy mouthfeel, sweet banana finish, but very dry. Pretty nice, but isn't really a strong dark. More like a stout.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark beer. Black body. Creamy brown head with great staying power. Lacing is quite full as well. Nice blend of chocolate, malt and yeast on the nose. Main flavor in this beer is bitter chocolate. I think the vanilla bean must accentuate the chocolate, because I really don't get much vanilla. Also some char and black licorice. There is a little stray tangerine flavor if I look for it. And the french oak adds a dryness. All in all, this is really quite a complex and layered beer. It's one you have to sip and ponder to pick up all the subtleties, because they weren't there for me initially. The light body and carbonation make is quite drinkable even though it's best enjoyed slowly.

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Photo of Bung
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Real sturdy almost black pour, dark cream head, which laced nice as it was drank. Roasty aromas, heavy malt and dark chocolate. Just hints of some sort of dark fruit. Taste is a bit bitter at first, burnt malt, but mellows nicely to chocolate, malt, caramel and a light red fruit, tangerine or something. Some belgian yeast qualities, but not overly so, good since not a huge fan. Solid medium body/mouthfeel. Finish is real clean with some grassy hops and light coffee and fruit. Alcohol is non-existent. Real interesting and much better than the previous couple Epics. This should age really interstingly. Pleased, as I have been with all Stone darker brews.

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Photo of drpimento
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is difficult- the beer is very good, but key claims appear to have mostly vanished - with time? For instance the tangerine/orange is just barely noticeable and if it wasn't suggested, maybe I wouldn't have noticed it at all. That said lovely beer to look at. Rich beer to drink. Probably not one to lay by.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I drank this from a 22oz bomber into my Rochefort chalice.

The aroma is light mostly coffee not much else.

The taste is light a little coffee and bitter. There is a light smokiness to it.

The feel is ok, not very drinkable.

This beer is ok, nothing special.

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Photo of claspada
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Aromas of sweet cocoa with some lesser coffee and dark fruit characteristics. Slight hints of vanilla and herbal smells.

Rich malt, dark fruit, sweet cocoa nibs, and vanilla, all highlight the palate, but also some nice earthy hop presence, similar to the aroma. Subtle Belgian yeast qualities that only add to the complexity.

The mouthfeel is really smooth and slightly creamy, but too thin for such a big beer. The Belgian yeast should add some more to the mouthfeel but somehow does not.

Overall, this beer is a really solid offering especially for the higher ABV and extreme roastiness. Wish there was some Belgian influence, also wish I tried this fresh as well to have a comparison. Regardless it's delicious.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bomber served in my Bruery tulip. Poured one shade shy of black with a two-inch, frothy, khaki-colored head embedded with tiny ringlets that eventually settles into a fairly consistent skim - a thick band of lacing coated the side opposite the tilt. Nose reveals cocoa, a roasty character, perhaps a little lactose and a hint of smoke. Taste follows nose, but a little less rich than anticipated, and also a little bittering hops that comes out at the end. Mouthfeel is just shy of medium, with a light, consistent background carbonation, with something of a creamy quality in the mix. Pretty tasty, but not what I would consider a Belgian Strong Dark; closer to an American Stout. Nonetheless, a pretty tasty brew.

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Photo of cbutova
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black into the snifter with a two finger tan head that retains pretty well and leaves medium lacing. Smells and tastes of nice belgian yeast, roasted malts, dark fruits and good chocolate. I really like how the roast chocolate and malts come in a bit late. Smell was not very strong, but the elements there were good. Mouthfeel is a bit light for the flavor but has a very nice warmth and smooth carbonation. Drinkability is good, nice taste, price is alright, alcohol may take this over. Will definitely be aging this one.

UPDATE 02/02/2013.

T- Deep and roasty with a Belgian yeast influence. Cocoa and coffee roast malt notes, oxidation a bit, toasted nuts and some raisiny dark fruits. Good vanilla and oak feel as well.

Scored: 4.25, 3.75, 4.25, 4.0, 4.25

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought in October, opened on a Friday night in January, 3 months later. This looks and smells stouty, maybe quite a bit like a Belgian stout. The beer is dark brown with a light brown froth, 2 fingers of finely packed bubbles. In the nose I get chocolate malts and some phenol products (a little banana, maybe clove), maybe just a trace of citrus rind. This isn't far from my memory of Black Albert, at least based on aroma. The taste is very much a stout, less similar to Black Albert than the smell, kind of unique with the astringent hit from the orange rinds. A lot of roasted malts and some chocolate too. Very good, maybe a little too much bitterness in the aftertaste but still good overall. The body is north of water but not to the point of chewiness, just a good stout consistency. Among my favorites from the VE line.

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Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of roasted malts with hints of dark chocolate. As it warms very light hints of dark fruits waft out but roasted malts are in control throughout.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Huge roasted malt flavors up front with hints of unsweetened chocolate. A good amount of bitterness comes in midway through the sip and intensifies through the finish. As with the smell small amounts of dark fruit flavors make an appearance as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is good. It has a solid thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I finished my glass rather quickly and could have another.

Overall I'm not sure I agree with the fact that this is a BSDA - I thought it was definitely more of a stout and even the dark fruit characteristics are eclipsed by other big stouts. Still, it's a good one and is worth a shot.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a snifter the beer was dark brown/black with a thick mocha head that disappeared quickly. A lot of aromas: chocolate, roasted malt, fruit. A lot of tastes also. Chocolate and tangerine to start with, some other fruit, and a n espresso finish. Nice rich beer. Liked it a lot.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

090909 - Steve's - Mineral Point

no idea why it took this beer over 2 months to get to Madison

saturday afternoon brew - watching football

appearance: served in an unmarked chalice...love the look of this one. very dark body, creamy tan head, garnet hue, terrific lacing

smell: lots of belgian yeast, sweet citrusy hops, espresso

taste: complex offering - dark belgian yeasts, fig, dark fruits, orange zest, hops, vanilla bean and espresso, creamy caramel. have a few to drink in 2012 but think one drinks pretty well fresh

mouthfeel: creamy, waves of belgian yeast and complex spice, mild alcohol

drinkability: good

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip. 8.6% ABV, Age at cellar temp 55°F or below, Limited Release, no date.

Though 10-10-10 would be a good day to review this one. :P

A - Deep black in color with no light shining through at all, it pours with a dense tan head. Moderate retention with some patchy, thin lace on the glass.

S - Deep, rich roasted malts and a metallic hint on the finish. Hints of Belgian yeast but not as much as should be there. No real hop aroma. Cocoa and bittersweet chocolate malts with a hint of molasses in there.

T - Lots of roasted malts. Cocoa and chocolate with a hint of coffee as well. Very roasted. No real Belgian yeast or attributes through. It's more reminiscent of a rich porter. A little bit of hops poke through on the back end of the flavor.

M - Full-bodied and smooth with a round feel and roasted, dry, and bitter finish from both the malts and the hops that poke through.

D - Solid drinkability for the % it's a as well as how roasted the flavor is. No real Belgian qualities though which I find odd.

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Photo of ccrida
3.34/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into my large Gulden Draak tulip, 09.09.09 VE is a very dark brown with a very large, dark tan head, with frustratingly long last, rocky settling, leaving foamy lace.

Smell is sweet and spicy, big esters, loads of clove and way overripe banana, a mustiness to it that's not too appetizing.

Taste is okay, from the first sip, I was put off by the intensity of flavor, and the lack of integration between the many components. There's a fine line between complex and kitchen sink. However, as my palate adjusts, it starts to work better for me. Definitely a big bitter chocolate component, a hint of the vanilla, not really sure about the orange. Stone was going for the taste of orange chocolates, and I'm not sure they really hit that mark. Will be interested to see how this ages.

Mouthfeel is dry, medium-heavy bodied, but not particularly viscous.

Drinkability is not to high, this is a really robustly flavored beer that just doesn't lend itself to rapid drinking. Nor is it the type of beer that I want to have again.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.21/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Super dark black with a good two inches of brown head, it looks like a stout. It smells a lot like malty chocolate and the taste is quite similar with the addition of a belgian yeastiness that saves this from being a stout in my mind. Still, maybe its a Belgian-style stout. I got not hint of orange-chocolate candy. This was very average to me, it was neither offensive nor impressive despite the uniqueness of the beer.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into tulip - thanks alex

Pours a deep browned out, almost black color. Tanned head rests on top, leaving some patchy lacing and retaining with some film layers.

Nice roasty malt character in the nose with some nuttiness and dark chocolate. Bready with caramel and slight boozy warmth. Very faint belgian yeast presence.

Decent roasted character up front with nuts and dark chocolate. Light belgian yeast with a hint of spice. Thicker malt backbone with bread crust, caramel, and mocha. Finishes a little warm and sweet.

Fuller medium body, decent carbonation, a little chewy and sticky on the tongue. This was my favorite of the past 3 Vertical Epics, and it appears to be doing nicely right now.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.66/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark opaque chocolaty brown with a thick, fine-bubbled tan head. Aroma is not strong but tempting, coffee-ish with a tone of unsweetened chocolate. Flavor is richer than the aroma, mainly of roast coffee with an undertone of unsweet chocolate. Each sip seems different - one has a nutty hint, one toffee and one molasses. Tingly, sassy texture leaves a finish of fine roast coffee. Pity this is a once-only offering!

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Photo of Pencible
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured an opaque dark mahogany (nearly black) with some dark tan head. It smelled like roasted coffee with dark chocolate and creamy yeast and nutty malt. It tasted like bitter coffee and dry dark chocolate, with copper hops and some creamy yeast and alcohol. It was somewhat thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this seemed much more like a stout than a dark Belgian ale. It was also definitely too hot fresh, with only decent flavors and without much complexity. The bottle indicates that it needs to be cellared for some years, and I agree. It's pretty messy fresh, but it will probably be much better in 2012 as intended.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber pours a black color without much highlighting visible. Fluffy brown foam has decent retention and lacing. Neither great looking, nor has any negatives either.

Belgian trappist-like yeast greets the nose with maybe some cloves, cinnamon and cardamom spices. Chocolate maltiness is there and the hops are rather restrained for a Stone brew.

Can definitely taste some spices in here, kind of clovey and sweet cinnamon-sugar. Yeast does not seem overly estery and had some breadiness. Malts lean towards baking cocoa and a little roasty. Drinking really smooth right now, couldnt imagine it improving too much with some age as it is delicious right now. Bittering hops are in there and give it kind of an earthy, dusty grab on the finish. Just the right amount of sweetness. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer - more than I thought I would actually, and would love to snag a bottle or two more. Solid 'A' in my book...well done Stone.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.81/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served from tap into a tulip. Poured a massively dark brown (almost black) with a one finger light tan head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, vanilla, dark chocolate, dark fruit, and wood. The flavor was of sweet malt, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark fruit, sweet alcohol, wood, earth, and vanilla. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. There was definitely quite a bit going in this brew which made the complexity aspect of it really quite nice. However, there were some of the flavors that did not play well with the others especially the earthy note that I picked up on. This honestly felt quite out of place and really distracted you from some of the other pleasant notes that were going on in this one. However, this is still a really nicely done brew that has seemed to have aged quite well in its keg. I would suggest this one to others without any hesitation.

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Photo of scottfrie
2.99/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a very dark brown with two fingers of foamy light brown-orange head that reduced down into a thick film leaving some streaky lacing.
S: Dark fruits and Belgium spices. Slight sweetness and faint yeast. Not potent smelling.
T: Woody, toasted grains, some fruit, hints of Belgium spices, with some alcohol notes. Leaves a dark coffee aftertaste in your mouth. Also has chocolate notes, especially in the aftertaste. None of these flavors are huge however. Aftertaste is slightly off-putting.
M: Surprisingly thin. Not much flavor either. Has a predominantly toasted flavor.
D: This might be an okay porter, but this was a very unimpressive Belgium strong dark ale. Not much flavor was present and it has a disappointingly thin body. Flavor was surprisingly toasted without a lot of sweet fruits, spices or yeast. This beer didn't have much of a smell either. What flavors were present were decent though. I was pretty let down by this Stone offering.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A very nice dark brown looking beer with a pretty big tan head. Nice retention with a decent amount of thin lacing.

S - A lot of chocolate and molasses. Dark fruit, bitter roasted malts.

T - I was nicely surprised by this drink. The cocoa is very prominent, and the fruit tasted ended up being a nice cherry flavor. Almost a chocolate covered cherry taste that was quite enjoyable. A little bit of roasted/bitter malts on the finish, that complimented quite nicely.

M - Heavier end of medium bodied with moderate carbonation that worked well.

D - Highly enjoyed and drank it quite easily, though it did seem to be a higher alcohol beer than it was, knocking this score down just a little bit.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A complex and stimulating dark ale. Worth enjoying now, and exciting to wait for its growth after a few years of aging.

Presentation: 22 Oz bottle. Vertical label design and narrative highlighting the year batch of the brew 2009 and as in these series reminds that each bottle is released one year, one moth, and one day from the preceding edition so 09.09.09. Quick and playful-pretentious narrative on the side, noting greatness, main ingredients, and style. Show beer freshness date (Jun 24, 2012) but lacks any other info other than Alc. by Vol (9.5%). Poured into a snifter.

A - Black color with a deep brown edge. Generous brown fine bubbled head that goes down slowly to a persistent cap leaving very rich lacing.

S - Sweetness around a middle malt roast, with some chocolate, maybe even a touch of coffee, A subtle and strange spices comes up with a resiny touch, maybe hoppy but tied to the spice profile.

T - Nice malt complexity. The roasted malt profile is in command with a sweet range that emerges slowly. Chocolate maltiness with a vanilla hint and nice profile of spices around some fruitiness. In particular there is a nice long lasting and lingering tingle of spices in the tongue. I can´t pinpoint it but there is a memory of pine, festive winter flavor that feels so familiar and at the same time remote. It is leaving me quite intrigued but it is a very nice memory to leave floating.

M - It´s fairly creamy and very smooth with generous carbonation that works very well in a subdued manner with the rhythm of the drink. In particular with the way that the spice profile lingers in the mouth.

D - Feeling great now. Starts a bit straightforward but does not take long to gain a rich range of tones. Looking forward to find out how it ages.

Notes: I had had others in the vertical series, but I recall little other than I was not too impressed. But I may have not been paying enough attention and certainly did not take notes back then. Things have changed and for one reason or another this one is clearly a great brew. Better enjoyed as a sipper, complexities and subtleties emerge slowly in what might seem otherwise a straight forward dark ale. The tingling spiciness is there at the end not leaving the tongue and quite a few flavors and in sync pushing to emerge. Without hesitation I´m getting at least one or two more of this and see if I can put them aside for a while and see how they behave.

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Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale from Stone Brewing
4.06 out of 5 based on 865 ratings.
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