Old Ruffian Barley Wine | Great Divide Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,094 Reviews
Old Ruffian Barley WineOld Ruffian Barley Wine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Old Ruffian is a hefty, hop-forward Barley Wine. Seemingly mellow at the start with subtle fruit aromas and complex caramel sweetness, it quickly becomes aggressive with its bold hop flavors and huge hop bitterness. Ultimately, the big body, succulent sweetness and massive hop character come together to work wonders on your palate.

Added by gbontrag on 11-28-2004

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,094
Ratings:
2,412
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
14.45%
 
 
Wants:
291
Gots:
437
For Trade:
20
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,094 | Ratings: 2,412
Photo of womencantsail
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Jeff for this vintage bottle (2008 or 2009, can't remember).

A: The beer pours a very hazy amber color with about a finger's worth of off-white/khaki colored head.

S: Quite heavy on the caramel, as you might anticipate, with a surprisingly strong citrus aroma. I get a lot of oranges out of the beer along with some brown sugar, toffee, and molasses. A decent amount of bread, and no real booze to speak of.

T: Really sweet and pleasant overall. Toffee, caramel, and brown sugar provide a really nice sweetness. Some candied orange peel flavor adds a bit of citrus and bitterness. A touch of bread on the back end and a little bit of bitterness lingers on the finish.

M: The body is medium to full with a low-medium level of carbonation.

D: Damn, that was good. I'm glad I can now go down to any decent beer store and buy this.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.68/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured 3/4 of this bomber for myelf in two separate doses into my Samuel Smith half pint. octopus87 tasted the rest.

A - A deep copper w/ a dark amber hue at the base of the glass. The cap is smooth and is a shade of khaki. There are rocky crags in the head from a slightly more than easy pour ino the center of the glass. The bead is very fine and even as hazed as it is the carbonation is still visible rising to the head.

S - Sweet and malty scents w/ fruit soaked in brandy as the esters are strong, but smooth. The depth of pine aromas is vivid and like pinesap mixed w/ sweet grapefruit. The aroma is bountiful
w/hops and malt that carries a heavenly brown sugar and citrus aroma with each inhalation

M - A kaleidescope is presented as if my tongue had eyes. First toasted grain, then alcohol following with intense citrus and spice hop textures and woody dry notes w/ a perfrct level of carbonation to enhance the maltiness while the bitterness is blanced w/ an alcoholic heat that lingers

T - An amalgamation of hop citrus and dark fruit w/ woody resinous flavors and subtle sugary malt w/ hints of berry and a mellow burn of alcohol as a sidecar to the fresh green pine hop taste. The resinous and grapefruity bitter flavors have the cushion of big sturdy caramel, pale and sweet crystal malts w/ the alcohol letting you know it deserves the name 'Ruffian' and it finishes as fiery and vibrant as it starts. The flavor is as balanced as a 10.2% Barleywine from west of the Mississippi can be.

D - An example of how to brew an American Barleywine-and how to make a drinkable American Barleywine in the sense that it is a big boozy barleywine, but doesn't lack for the fresh hops and the malt is substantial enough to keeep the pace. This Barleywine doesn't come across as an alcohol bomb or have overly sweet residual malt flavors either-it finishes with the hops resonating as the style should.

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Photo of russpowell
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours dark caramel with a huge 2" plus tan frothy head. Crazy lacing & head retnetion

Smell; Sweet malt, piney hops, alcohol & fruticake

Taste: Huge fruitty malts, piney hops & oaky wooden taste. dryness and alcohol on the finish

MF Chewy & well balanced. More like a port or maderia (sp)

Not too too drinkable, this is just too much!

If you want big beer, can't beat this. Great when you are ready to take a snooze or get a straight jacket on...yummy

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Photo of Jason
4.49/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz brown bomber with no freshness date, blurb about the beer on the label.

A- Sea foam lace sticks to the glass well, good head retention as well. Completely hazed reddish amber color.

S- Portuguese sweet bread, caramel and a rough citric and herbal hop in the back.

T&M- Big lush mouth feel with a long drawn-out smoothness. Juicy palate of malt and hops. Suggestions of caramel drizzled shortbread and toasted whole wheat potato bread from the malt. Fruity middle with a one two punch of hop bitterness and hop flavor which are very expressive yet not overwhelming. The bitterness comes at the same time the warming alcohol leaves a numbing sting on the tongue. Finishes with a sweet maltiness and a long lingering hop character.

D- Wow! Perhaps one of the most balanced American Barley Wines I have ever had ... very easy to sip and the taste buds do not get bored of this one.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a GameWorks shaker pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle!

Let the Hallowe'en mini-tasting begin! This offering pours a seemingly cloudy amber-brown topped by a finger of light tan froth. The nose comprises biscuits, orange peel, rye bread, milk chocolate, toffee, and a light bunch o' flowers. The taste pummels the tongue with a strong citrus-hop-based bitterness, with leather, figs, rubber, light cocoa, tobacco, spinach stems, and a vodka-like character all aiding and abetting in this assault. It's all a bit much, frankly. The body is pretty hefty, with a light carbonation and a fairly chewy feel. Overall, this is a beast that must be sipped carefully, lest the fury truly be unleashed. Again, I feel everything is a bit overdone, making the experience a bit less than really enjoyable.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.8/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review from notes 1/22/11. Thanks to THECPJ for sharing. 2010 vintage.

A: Hazy reddish/dark amber in color in color. Half finger of head forms with good retention. Decent foamy lace down the sides.

S: Quite hoppy! Some citrus aroma along with a good bit of malt - caramel and bread. Also get a good bit of alcohol on the nose as well.

T: Taste is similar to aroma. Get a ton of caramel and some toffee. The bread flavor is sweet and there is also a grass/citrus hop flavor.

M/D: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Overall, I liked the flavor profile, it is very complex, especially for a barleywine. My problem was how present the alcohol was. It was a struggle to drink this one, I look forward to having one with some age on it.

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Photo of smcolw
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slight haze to the light ruby, dark amber color. Moderate and rocky chalk white head. Ring lace throughout.

Lots of caramel, sugary aroma. Some floral, but subtle, hop in the background.

Surprisingly strong hop flavor that really dominates the swallow and aftertaste. The malt is fleeting in the initial taste, but it shows very little of the sweetness that is present in the smell. The body is as expected--extremely full but without being syrupy. The aftertaste is all bitter hop. There is no evidence of the alcohol content...so beware.

This is a BIG beer--full of flavor, aroma and body. If the ABV is accurate, this is a very deceptive brew because there is no "feel" of alcohol content. With the level of hoppiness, this could also be categorized as a double (triple?) IPA.

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Photo of billab914
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Dogfish head snifter. Pours a dark amber, slightly brown color with a thin bubbly white covering on top. It has a very nice head on it compared to other similar strength Barley wines, and it left excellent lacing as well.

Aroma big on both malt and hops. There is a good amount of caramel and toffee coming from the malts, which is very appealing. The taste is malty as well with a lot of caramel malt. It has a pretty strong bitterness from the hops that helps balance it out.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side and slightly creamy, the carbonation is relatively low giving it a very nice mouthfeel for the style. Drinkability is good considering the abv %, and I really enjoyed this on a cold winter night. This is a very nicely made and delicious straight forward Barley wine. It was very tasty but it also scored major points with me in the look and mouthfeel categories especially.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.37/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 11/28/10 notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter, bottled on date is 12/02/09.

a - Pours a murky reddish mahogany color with two inches of light tan head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, dark fruit, sweet fruty malts, toffee, and hints of pine hops.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, caramel malts, dark fruit, toffee malts, and a little bit of alcohol.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation, very smooth and easy going down.

d - A great barleywine. Lots of great caramel malts and dark fruits in the smell and taste and a nice feel for over 10% ABV. Would love to have again.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.87/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance looks deep cloudy amber maroon murkiness cream colored thick head leaves ample evenly dispersed lacing. Aroma is full of overly ripened deep fruit tones hardcore layers of pince scented hop overtones tart citrus notes as well complex aromatics with a hint of vanilla and slightly burnt caramelized residual sugars. Taste comes on at first a dark hop syrup pine cone and citrus hop mix big malt backbone carrying malty caramel tones withy a touch of vanilla and oakiness even though I know this wasn't aged in a barrel I'm still picking up some of those characteristics along with the classic over ripened vinous alcohol bursts. Mouthfeel is very thick full bodied b-wine carbonation is ample has trouble flowing through the big body of this brew sticky oily resinous layers. Drinkability is still easy to enjoy despite the massiveness and complexities this ale has to offer enjoy with friends damn good.

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

First off, this one pours beautifully I think. A robust and slightly cloudy red with a strong hint of brown. Two finger head. Smell is powerfully sweet. My first taste was so thick with alcohol that I thought I was heading for a major disappointment. But after that initial draw, the alcohol seemed less in your face...err...mouth, though it was still strong through the remainder.

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Photo of stakem
4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy brownish red color with a yellow stained head. Slight spotty lace upon the glass. Nose is full of citrus hops similar to grapefruit. Nice amount of malt sweetness filling out the rest of the aroma. Taste is better hoppy citrus like grapefruit upfront with ample malt sweetness to back it. Finishes bitter and quite boozy both in warmth and in taste. Medium to heavy feel with this beast and low amount of carbonation. Pretty good overall. Nice fresh hop and alcohol kick. Some time spent in the cellar would have worked some magic for this beer im sure.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Almost ruby bodied, but a bit more brown. Very clear with a decent head. Not a lot of lacing once it recedes.

Smell - Wonderful smell, once it warms. Caramel malts and dark fruits. Maybe a hint of banana. Not much sweetness to the smell, just the flavors. A bit of earthiness from the hops.

Taste - Not as good as the smell. The dark fruits are hard to pick out, but the caramel is there. Still not as sweet as I'd expect, and I like it. The pine hop presence in the back lends to the earthy flavor detected in the smell. Nice, but doesn't live up to the smell.

Mouthfeel - Barleywines often turn into syrup by the end of the glass. This one steers away from the sweetness nicely and doesn't become too thick. The carbonation keeps it drinkable as it's high enough to combat the body of the beer.

Overall - A very nice barleywine. Lacks a bit of complexity, but it's delicious and well made.

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Photo of jwc215
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazed caramel-colored with a towering off-white head that grows then slowly descends to a lasting cover, leaving lacing on the glass. Awesome head-retention for abv and style.

The smell is of citric fruitiness and caramel. Cherry-like fruitiness enters as it warms. Wonderfully aromatic.

The taste is hoppy for the style - certainly American there. Aggressively citric, though caramelish sweetness does come through to balance it out. There is a slight metallic tinge. The alcohol is warming in the finish.

Full-bodied, leaning towards syrupy. It is smooth for the alcohol presence, though it is a sipper for sure. It's a good one - strong hop presence, but balanced enough - though not quite as stellar as I expected. This one has been aging for a year. I'll try it again this winter to see if it is even better fresh.

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

Bottle shared by Mike at the Barleywine tasting.
Deep copper color off white head. Rich caramel and toffee with light pitted fruits and hints of floral earthy hop. Pretty tasty and I'm surprised I haven't rated this before.

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Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber with a mountain of thick, foamy, cascading, brownish head that has amazing retention. The nose has a heavy citrusy hop aroma as well as a faint caramelly, malty aroma with hints of pineapple and birthday cake. The flavor is malty, bready, and caramelly up front with some faint dark fruit notes followed by an intense hop character. The hops offer citrus, grapefruit, and pineapple as well as some piny, earthy notes. The hops leave the bitterness of an IPA behind on the palate well after the swallow. The alcohol is present but it mostly adds warmth and a slight bite to the finish. The mouthfeel is warm, medium to full bodied, and very smooth.

This is a well built barleywine. This will also keep the DIPA vs. Barleywine conversation going. The flavor is fantastic and I bet some time will calm the hops and marry the flavors a little. The alcohol is buried and only really shows up in the finish and in the warmth of the mouthfeel. It's drinkabe. Maybe dangerously so. I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.65/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours out a deep crimson, though clear, coloration, and has an enormous head, huge, cocoa-colored, long-standing, lovely...and, would you believe, the bottleneck bubbled over, with bubbles after the pour! Tres amusant! Leaves considerable, and attractive, lacing, as it diminishes, as well...very much appreciated!
Aroma: huge, rich, full of flavor, a jar full of toffee with butterscotch dipped in for fun, with chocolate cherries on the side, and a snit of brandy waiting in the rafters...
Taste: big, bad, and booze-tastic! Huge, rich, and full, utterly dripping in dark fruits, caramel, toffee, and so much character that pretenders tremble in it's wake ...seriously, this is a true contender amongst the ranks of fine American barleywines...not too huge in Abv, an overwhelming fruity/hoppy characteristic. Damnably tasty...I must take another sip...dastardly delicious...yet nearly thick with flavor, ...yum, the intensity of flavor does not detract from the overall deliciousness...big, rich, and mighty...a damned good barleywine!
I've got to stick some away for a rainy day, that's for sure!

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Photo of smakawhat
4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Bottling date or freshness, not mentioned. Perhaps... like good cheese or wine.. it shall give forth it's gift later. But for now, the goods gotta be coming pronto so give it up, let's see what you got!

Out of the bottle Ruffian pours an easy four fingers of faint tan bubbles. Bubbles on head fall at a small pace but are all very uniform in size. Body is a great dark orange getting into a very nice red color. The body is opaque in character. Once excellent looking beer with real good lace.

Bouquet is, a faint stemmed fruit into sour cherry territory without the sourness but not even the sweetness. Malt chew sensation on the nose interestingly, borders between malt backbone and kreik territory, very fascinating. Dry spices of brown and a great earthy dirt quality.

Taste... DENSE!! big dense malt and a giant hop faint fruitness not of citrus but a some sort of combination red fruit, I am thinking borderline pomegranate. Hop lime bitterness really kicks in and with some rough wood tree bark notes. Gets into doughy territory but not quite. Very fascinating. Abv masked somewhat but not totally. A real kriek borderline Belgian lambic territory. Good stuff.

THis brewery never stops to leave me impressed. Like many others it just surprises me with every concoction they come up with.

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Photo of Billolick
4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle, w/o vintage or any other info. Pours dark honey/amber, dark tan, fine head, leaving scattered and fine/wispy lacing. Malty nose, with a hint of earthy funk as it warms. Smooth. mellow and quite tasty Bwine. Plenty of smokey malts, hints of scotch and leather. Thoroughly pleasing sipper, fine night capper, went well with some aged chedder

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Photo of drabmuh
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great minds drink alike.

Poured from a bottle dated Dec. 4, 2009, into a Stone Arrogant Bastard glass. Beer is brownish and hazy, forms a yellowish / brown head of small to medium bubbles. Head has some staying power but not really. Ends up broken and diffuse but leaves lacing on the glass.

The aroma is less than I expected but its fine. Caramel, a hint of hops, lots of malt.

Beer is well balanced. I can't drink a beer like this very quickly though. Full bodied, almost like I'm chewing it, a nice strong bitterness and a lot of malt character in the front. Caramel and a nice sweetness up front. Slightly bready overall great. I enjoyed it a lot.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.58/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottled Nov 2010, opened Dec 2013

A - Gorgeous mahogany, burnt siena body. Creamy, off-white head has great retention and nice lace.

S - Caramel, cognac, raw wood, figs, tobacco, tart cherry, raisin.

T - White wood, booze, raisin, touch of cold coffee, bitter dandelion.

M - Surprisingly light, thin body. Way under par for a barley wine imho.

O - A little disappointing. The flavor could use a little more depth and complexity, and the body was surprisingly thin. It's possible the bottle didn't age well, so I will definitely be trying a fresh bottle of this beer as soon as I can.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The color is a dark ruby with a large, light brown head. Aroma is packed with hop smells, citrusy and piney hops duke it out for domination. An underlying rich malt is noted underneath the thick hop smell. Taste is equally hoppy, with a long hoppy finish. A rich underlying malt body is also a treat to taste. Dark fruit flavor is also in the mix, with just a hint of alcohol (I'm really surprised this is 10.4%). Anyway, this beer is a hop head's dream and another one of those beers that can get you in trouble with it's deceptive lack of alcohol flavor.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.17/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Mid September 2005. Received via trade with Lostbearbrew.

Presentation- 22oz bomber with no visibile dating. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Murky Chestnut color. 3/4 inch head. Almost milkshake like in head appearance. Decent lacing.

Smell- Sweeter caramel scents. Hints of butterscotch and powdered sugar..

Taste- Not as in your face as Old Gaurdian. The hops are definitely present though. Nice sweet thickness too it. Plenty of dark fruits to go around. Mostly raisins and maybe some dates. Huge caramel background as well as some alcohol soaked cherry flavor. Brown sugar comes through as well.

Mouthfeel- Warming, a bit sryupy and super smooth. Very low carbonation. Thick as viscous.

Drinkability- One of the better BW's I have had. Not my favorite, but one I would have down the line again for sure. Good after dinner warmer.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured brown with ruby highlights that had a nice finger of head and did left some bubblt lacing sticking to the glass. The aroma was quite hoppy with malts and caramel notes popping up alongside apple, slight citrus, and pine notes as well. Well this barelywine is really hoppy but rich in flavor from the caramel but it did have slight apple, citrus, pine, grassy, boozy, and sweet malts accents. The brew was medium to full in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, hoppy, slight boozy, and rich finish. It drank pretty good considering the ABV and hop punch but this type of character in a barelywine doesn't really tickle my pickle.

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Photo of tempest
3.73/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this barley wine doesn't stand up to Bigfoot in my mind. I just don't find the taste or aroma here as complex and engaging. There's some very nice, long-lasting bitterness, but the citrus hops flavors weren't that crisp and the malt seemed a somewhat bland fruity biscuit taste. I do give this one credit for going own easily, but I expect more flavor from a big, bad barley wine.

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,412 ratings.
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