Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian StoutBelgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EgadBananas on 05-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 447 | Ratings: 940
Photo of avalon07
4.36/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, opaque consistency. There was a big, creamy, tan-colored, long-lasting head. Excellent lacing. An great-looking beer.

S: Not surprisingly, the anise was front and center in the smell, along with some chocolate, malt, and coffee.

T: Like the smell, the anise was a dominant force, though this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Also had traces of chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, and a little hops in the finish. Not your typical stout flavor, but very tasty.

M: A lot of carbonation and a typically slick finish. Full-bodied.

O: Because this beer doesn't conform to typical stout norms, some people won't like it. I think the anise is an interesting and creative addition to the style.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.17/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I avoided this one for a while but tried it at a beer festival and liked it. When I saw it for $6.99 at a local Giant Eagle I grabbed a bottle.

A - Pitch black of course with tons of carbonation bubbles and an inch of dark mocha head. Lacing is somewhat sticky.

S - Smells of the traditional of the style with a bit of fruity hints from the yeast. Nice roast and chocolate with a mild hop presence.

T - Taste starts off kind of bitter with the hops then quickly the roast hits with a nice coffee taste. Second sip delivers more of the Belgium yeast with a bit of fruity sweetness. Overall the finish is creamy with hints of hops and roast but only mild and balanced.

M - This is drinking pretty great, almost as good as the original. A medium to heavy body but not cloying.

Overall I like this version but will always prefer the regular version for the style since they are the same price.
As a hater of black licorice and Ouzo (anise liquor) I found that those flavors in this stout are now very balanced.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, poured into a snifter

Pours an ink black with a small brown layer of foam. Head dissipates quickly and leaves a star shaped patch of foam on top of the liquid.

The aroma is of anise/black licorice, roasted (almost burnt) malt, plums, and some dark chocolate. A unique aroma, but a little off from what the regular IRS brings to the table (if my memory serves correct). The layer of grassy hops is barely noticeable.

Flavor follows the nose here. A hearty layer of star anise/licorice with a burnt and bitter flavor from the roasted malt and dark chocolate, respectively. Some plums and dark cherries to round everything out.

Full bodied with some warming in the finish. Carbonation is on point as the feel is soft, smooth and luxurious.

Overall, I was not as turned off by the anise as others have mentioned on the forums and in their reviews. I thought it was a unique take on an already solid IRS and something I would try again.

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Photo of DrJay
3.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Black with a deep brown cap that started out about an inch and a half high and settled to a lasting half inch. There was some clumpy lacing on the glass. The anise is front and center in the aroma, with bready and roasted notes around the edges. Hints of chocolate and raisins, malted milk. Sturdy bitterness, but this was overshadowed by the medicinal quality of the anise -- a fairly intense licorice flavour that seemed to drown out a lot of the malt presence as well. Malty sweetness, roast and chocolate were still present, but muted. Full bodied with fine, creamy carbonation and mild alcohol warmth, slight astringency, nice texture overall. I can't say that I'm a fan of anise, so this worked out better than expected for me. However, I vastly prefer the regular version and found that any Belgian character that might be present couldn't really stand out against the anise.

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Photo of Brad007
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours the universal hue for stouts (dark, dark black) with a one-finger brown head into my glass. If it looks like a stout, it must be a stout, right?

Creamy and spicy with only a mild amount of roasted malt in the nose. A bit of cocoa here and there. Very balanced for the style. I don't feel overwhelmed at all.

The anise is present upfront and it is actually kind of unpleasant. I don't know why but it detracts from the creaminess and the roasted malt. I'm just not feeling it.

Mouthfeel is a bit weird as well but somewhat more tolerable. Again, not my thing.

Pass, big time. I would rather have the original.

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Photo of cbutova
3.16/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Pitch black body with a mocha-tan head that builds to about a finger and retains decently. Falls to a nice ring and pillow leaving spotty lace, that somehow reminds me of Belgian beers.

S- The star anise brings a huge licorice presence to this beer, it comes off in fumes over a huge roast malt, cocoa and Belgian yeast influenced aroma. The resulting product is... eh, kind of jumbled.

T- Once again the licorice anise notes are huge as well as cocoa, coffee and dark roast burnt malt. Belgian yeast brings other spices and dark fruit to the table.

MF- Very warm on the palate and a some bitterness from the heavily roast malts. Thick overall creamy body with high carbonation.

Cold this beer really isn't very good, with some warming and a few more sips it gets better and the flavors somewhat meld. Even with the warmth I would still consider it a bit jumbled and out of balance. After many sips it really starts to drop off.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.89/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a Bruery Tulip.

A - Pours a deep dark brown with a dark tan-brown head. Fades to the edges leaving some lacing on the glass.

S - Strong Licorice and some chocolate.

T - Similar to the scent, but more muted and balanced.

D - Good carbonation, heavier body.

O - If you like Good and Plentys, this one is for you. Better than expected.

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Photo of maximum12
3.69/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Glad to have found this, the first year the Stone IRS have been available in the Twin Cities, & they vanished fast in most places. Luckily, the holes in the walls hang on to them a mite longer. Split with my wife, who is watching Heidi Klum, which always seems like a smart thing to do.

Pours is black, about tells that story. Smell is rich as trump, decadent chocolate, more chocolate, a weird/pleasing edge that must be star anise, cocoa chocolate, samuel jackson chocolate. Damn man, that's one good smell.

Stone Belgo Anise IRS smells great, is very filling, & doesn't taste as good as the nose promises. The Belgian yeast is overdone & distracting, being the first thing that leaps out of the morass of soulless black. The great chocolate nose goes MIA with only patterings of powdered cocoa showing. Malts are tangled up in the sweetness of the anus, I mean anise, & taste like sweet black licorice. Nice & creamy, but this would be tough slogging through more than 11 oz.

It's finally come to me: this tastes like Jaegermeister's lightweight little brother. Does that bring back a few bad memories or what? Glad I got to try it, but this is one & done for me, a good beer that stretches the boundaries. Always glad to see that.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.33/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

First review in awhile, although still tasting many beers, just no time to review. Pours black with a chocolaty brown head. Aroma is straight up anise, reminds me of the cigar black licorice candy I used to buy as a kid. Tastes are anise on the forefront with some roasted maltiness, dark chocolate, and a hint of espresso - similar to the regular Stone IRS. No sense of Belgian yeasts in the flavor, but I was hoping this would somehow balance out the anise, but it's non-existent and the anise overpowers any sort of balance that could have been. As it warms, the anise does seem to wither a bit, but it's still present. Mouth-feel is full and creamy with a sort of oiliness that gets left on the palate. Overall, I was disappointed in this one. Luckily I do like the flavors of anise, otherwise this could have been a complete bomb as it appears to be for some other reviewers.

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Photo of champ103
2.02/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A: Pours pretty much opaque black. A two finger tan head rises with good retention. Light lace is left as the foam gently recedes after a few minutes.
S: Of coarse black liquorish/anise in the nose, and it is a little overwhelming at first. Big roasted a burnt coffee aromas come next. Charred and burnt wood with bitter dark chocolate. Some bitter and oily hops with plenty of alcohol in the nose.
T: Everything that is in the nose, and it all works at odds with each other. Black liquorish, burnt coffee, bitter chocolate. Burnt and charred wood with lots of burning alcohol. Oily hops that gives this another bitter bite on top of the chocolate. I am not a fan.
M/D: A full, syrupy, and oily body. Very thick, viscous, and like adhesive sticking to the roof of my mouth. Very hot alcohol and just all around unpleasant to drink. A chore to finish the bottle.

Another harsh, unbalanced, and crass beer from Stone. Nothing works right here. I will avoid from now on, and would not recommend this.

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Photo of dgilks
2.81/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch inky black with a large tan head. Good head retention and nice lacing.

Big anise aroma with a touch of chocolate and smoke. For me the over the top anise kills the aroma.

This is quite sweet with a lot of liquorice. For me I don't get the awesome chocolate and coffee of the normal RIS. The anise just kills it.

Medium body with moderately-high carbonation.

For me this is hit and miss. I love liquorice but I find that the anise kills the awesomeness of Stone IRS. I think that Stone IRS with Belgian yeast would be fine but the additional liquorice is over the top and almost unpleasant.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.17/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a tulip glass this beer was black in color with a small orange/tan head that dissipated quickly.

Coffee/roasted malt aroma. Definitely anise. Some dark fruit. And alcohol, don't forget that.

Lots going on in the taste. Coffee and a bit of chocolate. Raisins. Anise, which really lingered. Boozy.

A heavy hitter. Boozy, but in a good way. The alcohol added to, rather than subtracted from,the taste.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.77/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a BrewDog cervoise glass. Vintage 2011. From notes. Reviewed 9 July 2011.

A: Super-dark with vague head and little lacing. I like it.

S: Loads of licorice! Pungent and powerful anise. I like it a lot.

T/M: The beer is creamy with lots of chocolate...and obscene amounts of anise. It's mostly pleasant, but soon gets old and the licorice reminds me strongly of mouthwash.

O: Interesting. I would recommend trying it, but wouldn't consume any more of them.

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Photo of mynie
4.03/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok, whatever...

It's Stone's RIS. It's smooth, it's got a nice body, and it's easy to drink. Not as rough or variegated as your superfancy top tier RIS', but pretty dang good.

Only in the very back you get a weird/neat bit of rockiness that tastes like smoke and beer jerky. After a few sips I realized it was the anise, but I don't think i would have known it was anise had the bottle not specifically prompted me to look for it.

So, overall pretty good. The anise probably detracts more than it adds, but it was neat to try and I enjoyed the whole bottle.

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Photo of n2185
2.04/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A: Pours black with two fingers of brown head that recedes into a thin layer with a little lacing.

S: Lots of black licorice on the nose. The roasted malts make a weak showing with some sweet chocolate aromas and some smoky aromas on the finish. The aromas just don't mesh well.

T: Holy Licorice Sticks, Batman! Black licorice dominates the flavor. There are some roasted malt flavors at first with a decent smoky kick towards the finish. A somewhat strong alcohol burn is present as well. The aromas didn't really mesh and the flavors don't either. This just tastes like a smoke-infused imperial stout with a shot of Jager in it.

M: Thick body with medium carbonation, the anise gives it a very floral, perfumey quality that makes the body seem a bit lighter.

O: I love Stone, but this beer is awful. I also love black licorice and can enjoy herbal liquors like Jager by themselves . . . but this just does not work. It tastes like licorice, smoke, and booze. I would have liked to tried just their regular IRS brewed with a Belgian yeast, but I can't detect any difference that the yeast makes thanks to the overwhelming anise.

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Photo of jera1350
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black with a brown head of foam. Fair lacing on the glass.

Roasty, malty, light star anise and wood nose. Licorice stands out the most out of all scents.

The flavor is a deep roasted malt base with black licorice that is not overpowering as other reviewers have noted. Picking up some of the oak chips near the end. Impossible to tell there is belgian yeast used here, but whatever. Nice overall taste.

Full and smooth. Gets pretty dry on the finish.

This was a nice version of an imperial stout. The star anise works well with the base and the overall beer was enjoyable.

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Photo of xnicknj
2.48/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

22oz bottle poured into snifter

Pours a viscous blackness with a thin layering of tanned head. Retains for a minute, leaving some spotty lacing on the glass.

A stiff kick of anise in the nose with some Belgian funk. Slightly sweet with chocolate and coffee. Malty and robust with alcohol warmth.

Syrupy and sweet up front with an initial kick of unmistakable anise. Dark chocolate with dark roasted malts, supported by and underlying Belgian yeast funk. Definitely an odd combination of flavors, followed by some sweetness. Finishes a little sweet with an alcohol heat.

Fuller body, decent carbonation, sticky and chewy on the tongue. I enjoy the base beer, but this is not what I'm looking for in an imperial stout. WAY too much anise and the funky yeast doesnt help.

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Photo of shigg85
4.42/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap in a wide-mouth snifter at Popeye in Ryogoku, Tokyo. Pitch black with a thin murky head. Immediate smell of licorice anise is suprising in its accuracy. Roasted hops flavor present as well accompanied by raspberry perhaps. Very drinkable as the anise flavor is not as strong as the smell. Very little head even when I spin it. Overall, an amazingly interesting, delicious beer.

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Photo of Pencible
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This poured a nearly opaque black, with moderate dark tan head.
S: It smelled like black licorice and bitter dark chocolate, with roasted coffee and a bit of copper hops.
T: It tasted like black licorice and roasted coffee, with bitter dark chocolate and a bit of molasses. It had a bitter but clean aftertaste, with a bit of alcohol warming.
M: It was somewhat thick with moderate carbonation. Nice and fully body.
D: This was a very nice and unique stout. The anise was nicely incorporated and balanced with the typical stout flavors, I thought. Almost like a shot of Jaeger in a standard Stone IRS. The body was great, and it wasn't too hot, so it was easy enough to drink. I'm curious how age may change/improve this brew. But it's nice fresh, and worth trying at least once.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.91/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a luscious and very tempting opaque sable with a thick, frothy tan head that leaves a fair amount of lacing. Strong, smoky aroma has tones of unsweet chocolate, fine coffee, licorice and fresh-cut wood, with a firm overtone of anise. Flavor has chocolate, roast coffee, licorice and nutty tones, but anise dominates everything a little too much. It's almost like drinking absinthe. This would be a near-perfect - or possibly perfect - if the anise aroma and flavor were a mite or three less fierce. Full-bodied texture is fairly fizzy and sharp - you can sure feel it going down the pipes. Recommended to those who are adventurous when it comes to beer!

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Photo of tectactoe
2.95/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.25

Pours a jet black color with a very small amount of sediment that can be seen floating near the edges of the glass. Thick, deep, tan-leather head that retains extremely well. The nose is full of roasted malts and a bit of anise. The taste is full of anise. Black licorice, along with a bit of figs and raisins, but mostly licorice (anise) and it finishes VERY sweet. It's almost hard to believe it's a RIS, because the sweetness covers up most of the bitterness at all. It's actually a bit too sweet and the anise really overpowers the other flavors. The body is nice, very thick and creamy with a bit of carbonation.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to call this a bad beer, but it's certainly not for me, and not really what I'm looking for in a RIS. The anise is a little too overpowering and licorice-heavy for me, leaving a sweetness that is acceptable at first, but starts to get to you halfway through.

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Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at The Attic for the Stone event and just found my notes.

This one comes from tap to snifter a very dark brown color with a light brown cap of head. Retention is good and lacing drops some spidery legs in plenty.
The licorice I expect from the anise is there along with the additional almost coriander seed-like note. The Belgian yeast is evident but doesn't take away from the stout character. This is, of course, well-hopped, offering some citrus, herbal and flowery notes under a big malt. This is a good aroma, but something's missing that6 would push it beyond that. I had Weyerbacher's tiny a few weeks before this, and it just had more depth to it.
I can say tyhe same for the taste. The big malts base is there, roasty, chocolatey and coffee notes laying a backbone complemented by herbal, floral and citrus hops gently in the back. The anise doesn't mingle perfectly with the contrasting flavors, but refrains from being off-putting. Belgian yeast huddles underneath and whispers here and there. Flavors are big and may cover it up a bit.
The mouthfeel is a big and full as an RIS should be. Smoothness comes out from middle to finish and this beer goes down nicely despite the high ABV.
This seems like a good standard for an interesting beer. Having had Tiny, I'd say that beer would be the exceptional one in what will -probably be a series of attempts from many brewers, and this one will remain a solid, good example of the style. 4s across the board.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.46/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours black with a thick dark brown head that faded into a thin wispy film that left behind a great network of sticky lacing down the glass.
S: Black licorice, anise, rich fudge brownies and a bit of roast fill my nose. The anise really stands out and dominates just about all other scents.
T: Rich and chocolaty flavor with the anise coming through near the finish. I get a hint of vanilla mixed with sweet roasted malts as well. The anise wasn’t as strong as the nose, but there is still a pretty good amount of it.
M: Medium-thick body with a clean and chewy mouthfeel. Carbonation is even and smooth.
O: Definitely a love it or hate it beer. This was too much anise for me to ever want to drink it again, but I didn’t think it was so awful that it could not be consumed. I’ll stick to the regular version from now on.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.07/5  rDev +16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice take on their RIS, full notes of anise woven around the soft Belgium yeast and touches of oak.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Iconic screen-printed label with the demon gargoyle inside a Russian star emblem, and holding a glass of beer. Long and descriptive narrative on the back, going over intent, background, and main characteristics. Notes bottling date as 2011 Odd Year Release, cellaring, and 10.5% Alc. by Vol. Served in a snifter.

A - Black pour with very deep brown edges. Thick light brown foamy head, moderate retention and surface memory with little lacing.

S - Nose is rich with a roasted malt sense, coffee, touch of chocolate, hint of yeast in the undercurrent and sure enough, anise coating it all.

T - It is not that assertive, it really isn't but the anise accentuates the brew throughout, over nice lingering touches of licorice there is a great roasted malt identity, with plenty of rich coffee bitterness, that touch of chocolate… and anise and a yeasty fruity touch laden with soft oak vanilla hints.

M - Full to full/medium body, with small but adequate carbonation, smooth with a lingering complex aftertaste.

O - Quite a nice sipper… Sure, I am a convinced anise liquor drinker, like anise and licorice as such so this is right up my alley.

Notes: Nice take on the classic Stone RIS. It's a small blasphemy on my part… But today I'd take this one over the much liked regular version.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.38/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a snifter glass. 2011 bottle.

Appearance: Oily pitch black with no signs of color. Has a small two finger deep tan head that quickly fades into a small patch. Lacing is fairly light.

Smell: Aroma is strong up front with black licorice anise and mint. Also some dark roasted malts, dark chocolate and coffee. Some light hints of dark fruit, yeast, and alcohol. Anise smell really stands out.

Taste: Anise is strong but blends in pretty well with the dark chocolate, coffee, and dark malts. Mint flavor is pretty strong. Belgian yeast is also stronger than the smell leads on. Light hints of dark fruit, vanilla, and oak. Overall a pretty spicy stout but fairly well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and chewy. Moderate level of carbonation. Alcohol is pretty well hidden.

Overall: Far from a typical RIS but pretty good. The anise and mint are strong but not completely overwhelming. I happen to like black licorice so that probably is a factor.

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing
3.51 out of 5 based on 940 ratings.
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