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:
2,411
Avg:
4.22
pDev:
14.45%
 
 
Wants:
290
Gots:
437
For Trade:
20
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,094 | Ratings: 2,411
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very vibrant off reddish/amber pour from a bomber bottle. 2 finger head that seemed to ooze aroma.
Aroma: I smell hops, some roasted malt, berries and alcohol, among other things.
This is a hop loaded barley wine. some herbs up front along with a touch of malt. the piney/citrus hops dominate this brew. some soft fruits like berries and plums are available, but not too widespread.
Crisp taste nips the alcohol in the bud, warming but not burning.
I could drink this one all night, and be completely smashed. Great beer.

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Photo of WesWes
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy cream colored head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a warm, rich malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a nice floral hop aroma. The taste is great also. It has a very smooth, rich malty flavor that goes down slow and easy and finishes with a warm, bitter hop taste. It is one of the smoothest barley wines I've tried. The mouthfeel is awesome. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a great beer. It has tremendous flavor and aroma; a fine drinker.

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Photo of Tone
3.96/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy, dark copper color. 1/2 inch head of a pale tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of alcohol, hint of yeast, slight hops, strong sweet malt, dark citrus, and strong caramel malt. Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol (strong), slight roasted malt, slight hop, yeast, and strong sweet malt. Overall, a strong alcohol, good blend, body, and aroma.

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Photo of Gavage
4.31/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a clear deep burgandy color with a two finger head that lasted quite a while, which usually doesn't happen with a barleywine.Some moderate lacing developed during the session.

Smell: caramel candy,alcohol, and strong bitterness are easily detectable.

Taste: tons of caramel and fruit sweetness nicely balanced with a strong pine bitterness, and wrapped in a soft layer of alcohol. This is surprising hoppy but it works well. Alcohol becomes more noticeable as it warms.

Mouthfeel: mostly smooth with a bit of light crispness at the start. The flavors last long into the aftertaste. Heavy bodied.

Drinkabililty: for a barleywine, quite good but it will sneek up on you. Slow sipper, but when the bottle was gone I could have had another glass. Simply a must buy.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hudsonphotog for sharing this bottle. I have tried it many times but this is the first time I have reviewed it.

Bottled 1/8/09 and drank 2/27/10.

Pours a hazy amber color with a large off-white head. The aroma is complex, with brown sugar, caramel and dark fruit. The flavor is brown sugar, hop bitterness, caramel, dark fruit and molasses. Medium, very smooth mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.62/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I'm feeling cold tonight, so you know what that means...bring out the barleywine! The 22 ounce bottle, bottled on December 29, 2009, shall provide plenty of joy for the rest of the night. On to the beer:

A finger and a half worth of head lay on top this crimson colored beer. The head goes down slowly, giving a little lacing to stick.
Despite being only days shy of its first birthday, I can still smell some magic in the hops. Their tea-like aromas mixed with drippings of caramel are a great change of pace from the usual over resiny American barleywine.

For an American barleywine, it's rather sweet, but it still has some American character to it. The malt wastes no time greeting your palate with heavy carmelized malts and burnt sugar. Then suddenly some resin and tea leaf notes crop up. Gentle breezes of pine and pineapple add further complexity to this magnicifent beer. Speaking of magnificent, that mouthfeel is meaty and smooth; full bodied/grab your palate by the horns, all while the 10.2% ABV is buried like treasure.

I expected Old Ruffian to be good. I didn't expect it to be this good, considering that I am not as keen of American-style barleywines. Simply a magnificent beer to sip on throughout the night, and a slice of caramel cheesecake that the label recommends as a food pairing sounds dank.

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Photo of Duff27
4.2/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark ruby red/brown. Light mocha head. Thick lacing.

S- Candied cherry. Caramel malts.

T- Deep caramel malt. Alcohol kick is incredible!

M- Little carbonation, medium to heavy mouthfeel. Chewy.

D/O- Whoa, what a big beer! Loved every minute of it...and believe me I savored it for a long time. Thank you GD.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage in a Ommegang flute. Pours a deep red-orange amber. Thin persistent very light tan head fine and medium bubble head and light lacing. Aroma of spicy caramel malt, dark fruit, herbal hops and a hint of oxidation. Piney hops and sweet malt dominate the flavor with dark dried fruit and a light fruit or fruit esters component and light citrus. Nice medium mouth feel with some creaminess. The alcohol is still hot, but the pleasant combination of flavors keeps this tasty. A prototypical well made American barley wine. Tasted side by side with a 2009 in a Nostradamus flute. The 2009 has mellowed very nicely. A thicker, finer head with massive lacing. Aroma is more subdued, but still has the sweet malt, dark fruit and a hint of hops. Flavor is caramel malt, dark fruit and a hint of citrus, nicely integrated. Flavors have mellowed over time, but have combined very nicely. Body is incredibly heavy bodied and creamy. This has aged beautifully and is delicious.

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

A - Pours a dark brown in color, some carbonation, nice head which sticks around for a while, very nice sticky lacing afterwards.

S - Scents of sweet malts, hops, and caramel.

T - The taste is pretty sweet and hoppy, there's a little bitterness in the finish. Also a hint of alcohol.

M - Medium body. A very nice well rounded brew.

D - Very drinkable. This is a nice offering from GD, would buy again, and recommend to others.

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Photo of aasher
2.46/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This bottle was 2010 vintage. This beer poured a burnt amber in color with a one finger soapy looking off white head. The aromas were off. There were some dark fruits and a whole lot of malt. I think that this was possibly consumed a little too fresh and needed time to figure itself out. The flavors too were a mess. It was far too sweet and had a lot of molasses and candied sugars going on. The hops were still present but there was an onslaught of malt. This didn't really relate to any American Barleywines I've enjoyed in the past. It wasn't very good at all and left behind a bitter aftertaste. Like all of Great Divides beers it had the dry and sudsy mouthfeel, feeling like you had coated the inside of your mouth with soap. This has got to be one of the least enjoyable barleywines I've tired. I'd be willing to give an older bottle a try, but this '10 was just not my kind of barleywine.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz dusty bottle with old label from New Jersey into two Duvel snifters, split with oglmcdgl

Into the glass, Ruffian comes out a pretty dark shade of brown with some lighter shades towards the sides. A nice thick head of tan foam with retention, slight stick.

This is a str8 up American Barleywine with the hop scent OR gives off. Even with over a year of age the piney hops still are bright. Under that, brilliant caramel malt, toffee, plum, dark fruit and more hops. Smells like a older winner.

Old Ruffian is much more complex in taste than smell, it's very misleading. The hops reign supreme, Piney and even citrusy, I cant imagine what this was fresh. Caramel, Toffee, plum, dark fruit, chocolate, alcohol slightly, these all integrate with grace.

Feel is above medium, sticky, coating, and pretty well carbed. Alcohol seeps on the tounge a bit, thats the only downfall but thats something a few years can handle.

I drank half the bottle and wanted more. Very drinkable now with age, but young could pose luppilin threshold. Im going to pick up some more dusty bottles for aging.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a dense, three finger thick, tightly beaded amber-tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear deep reddish amber color (it is dark enough that you have to hold it up to the light to see through it), that viscously slows an ample carbonation that rises up slowly up fron the bottom. The aroma is sweet, almost sticky with a solid mix between malt and hops. Most of the aromatic notes are that of malt, expecially of the caramel variety: I get rich notes of toffee, caramel, hints of rich fruit like cherry, raisins and prunes. There is also a fair amount hop character, it is definitely in the background, but I get some lightly astringent herbal note as well as some citrus aromatics. The aroma is quite rich and satisfying, definitely appropriate for a cold evenings sampling.

The beer is quite thick and viscous with a creamy start to this beer. It then morphs to a sweet crystal malt driven beer that finishes with a strong, astringent, grippingly bitter finish. This beer is definitely a sipper, it is so thick and rich that you need to savor each sip. The astringent finish seems to also be derived from a hint of dark malt character that manifests itself as a bit of roast coffee. Other than the ample bitterness there seems to be a ton of flavor hops in this beer as well, it is just that the ample, thick, sweet malt character seems to drown out most of the hop character. The hop flavors that are in here remind me most of pine, but there are some herbal notes and some menthol like character here as well.

I don't know how I am going to finish a 22oz bottle of this, very slowly I guesss. It is just so rich and thick, but it is still enjoyable.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 received from Redwood21 in the LNBA BIF... Thanks David... This bottle has been refrigerated ever since so I could drink it as fresh as possible. Poured into my New Belgium snifter.

3 finger head towered probably 1/2" out of the glass and left behind tons of lace... the brew is a very pretty reddish amber.

Very "American" in the nose... huge C-hops... citrus and resiny piney hops... enough caramel to be noticed but it's blown out of the water by the tidal wave of hoppiness.

Flavor is also very assertive big American... quite a bit of bitterness even for the style.. great maltiness and quite a bit of caramel.. lower fruity esters melt into a bunch of piney hops and back into long estery and fruity/bitter finish.

The body is on the full side... lush though with smooth carbonation.. very rich from front to back.

Really an epitome of what any brewery should really shoot for.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.93/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Great Divide : Old Ruffian

22oz bomber. 2012 Vintage
Pours a hazed dirty reddish shade. A few inches of dense creamy froth form, and it isn't going anywhere. Leaves behind a fair amount of lace.
Aroma of bread, caramel and over ripe cherry. Mild toasted aroma as well.
In the flavor, cherry like fruitiness , a bit of toast and strong clean alcohol. The hop presence is noteworthy; earth, citrus, roots and solidly bitter. Anise, caramel and toffee flavors work with the hop bitterness to counter the alcohol presence. Sweet flavors are big but then the hops dry the beer out in earthy fashion. The 10% abv is noticeable in the taste, but not a major distraction, actually it's quite nice.

Carbonation is low, hop bitterness does outlast the sticky sweetness, actually sticky in an earthy, resinous sense. Drying feel and has a elegant creamyness and very large indeed. This is a BBB big beautiful beer. A nice brew to sip upon, knowing full well I couldn't do it for long in public; bad things would happen. Definitely a classic American Barleywine.

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Photo of tone77
3.72/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a dark ruby color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of fruits, malts. Taste is hops, caramel, light fruits, bitter at the finish. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a good quality beer.

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Photo of VeganUndead
4.19/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

First time trying it having a 2012, 6 months old, next to a 2010. A sipper with only a few months on it, still has a significant hop profile, but once the IBU's diminish over time this stuff goes down real easy. Grab a few bottles and hide them for a few years. Great brew, cheers!

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

Potters clay colour with sepia toned topping. The mousse texture gives out much quicker than is desired, leaving but trace outlining to bound trims of metallic copper. Indirect to light, it is blended with equal parts cumin and nutmeg. With some brightness behind it, it warms with the light glisten of polished redwood.

The smell is a sticky, sweet, syrupy, concoction of both malt and hops. The late Mitch Hedberg said that "two in one is a bullshit term because two can't fit into one" - I now have to disagree. What I have in front of me has hops - which impart way over-ripened fruits and buckets of tree resin - and I also have sugar coated malts - roasted just enough to invoke ghost scents of smoke and ever-present dark caramel.

Each sip both scares and relaxes me equally the same, in that order. The taste is huge, and practically overwhelming for all intents and purposes. Decadently rich dark caramel is enhanced by the underlying spiciness of resin coated hops. The alcohol seems to wind up a big punch. The bitterness begins to weigh a ton...

...but then you swallow. You smack your tongue and lick your lips. Your chest unwinds. Your eyebrows might raise a little as you think 'wow, this is nice'. It is equally sweet and bitter. The alcohol turns out to be shy. Dark caramel succumbs to candy apples, rum soaked raisins, and chocolate covered nuts. You feel gratified with each sip. You feel a stronger man. And certainly more relaxed.

This is definitely not suitable for those recovering from surgery. Actually, yes, it is incredibly suitable for those recovering from surgery. Its over 10% is disguised by waves of fruity, decadently sweet scents and accompanied alongside by candied citrus and chocolate covered nuts. If you enjoy barleywines you'll have a tough time finding a better example than this. Trust me.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber, bought at the Lone Hill Liquors, in Glendora, CA, poured into a Duvel tulip,

A: Pours a dark brown, quite clear when held up to the light, with a thick, 2-finger, white-tan head, which leaves great rings on concentric lacing, as the barleywine is drunk.

S: Smells of heavy malt, molasses and dark fruits, like figs and prunes.

T: The malt hits heavy at first, followed by some mellow, smooth alcohol notes that are not overdone, the hops are there, they are quite bitter and piney, but they are understated, even at 90 IBus, they work to perfectly balance the malt, probably the most balanced American barleywine that I have ever had.

M: Smooth, very smooth, mildly solventy, quite resiny, piney and chewy from the hops. It is also thick and full-bodied, as expected from a barleywine.

D: A great barleywine, drinkable even in the heart of summer, well balanced and smooth.

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

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

The pour gives me a thick syrupy cloudy brown brew that at first appears that it isn't going to form a head. At the last minute a thick yellow foam appears that blooms into a respectable tan head before it disappears and fades to a sticky ring in the glass. The beer itself is a cloudy reddish brown.

Smell is sweet and spicy with a strong hop and black pepper aroma. The spices are cinnamon and ginger with a sharp lemon aroma to it.

Taste is sweet and surprisingly mild flavor at the start, tea and some toffee. Fairly quickly the hops assert themselves here and this beer becomes both spicy and hoppy. Mellow toffee and citrus flavors dominate this beer. The sensation of cinnamon and ginger with a bit of lemon continues till the end. After you acclimate to the hop bitterness this become a quite mellow beer.

Mouthfeel is good and decidedly on the syrup side.

Pretty good drinkability but this is decidedly a big and hoppy beer. A good sipping beer but this is decidedly a connoisseur beer that would turn off your average non-enthusiast beer chugger.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer. Pours with a serious viscosity, but with very little head. The color is a light brown and a little murky. Thje smell is winey and complex with some serious alcohol and malt and a background of hops. The flavor is magnificently hoppy- serious bitterhops with a finish of warming alcohol and malt. Very thick and syrupy, but not at all sweet. Very drinkable for this alcohol level, especially due to its bitter rather than sweet profile. Really well done.

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Photo of John_M
3.85/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2005 version of this beer at the Hard Liver Festival at Browers.

Considering that this beer supposedly had two years of aging under its belt, you'd never guess it. The color had not lightened at all, and the beer was still very fresh and hoppy (the hoppiest barleywine I tried at this festival). The beer was still quite sweet, but the hoppiness definitely kept if from getting too cloying or tiring to drink. Gorgeous lacing and great head retention, the beer only got better as it sat in the glass.

This was a very good beer that I think would only benefit from a few more years of aging. Hops need to become better integrated, but this is still a very good barleywine.

Third place finish I believe at the Hard Liver festival.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.75/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip. Bottled 12/2/11, so it is basically un-aged, but I'm going to give it a try.

Appearance: rich amber hue with the tiniest touch of haze. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam with a hint of orange infused. Nice!

Smell: big sweet malt with a light fruitiness and a bit of that strong-ale prickliness. Good!

Taste: big malt and big alcohol. Sweet with some caramel notes with a bite of both bitterness and alcohol. The hops themselves don't come through very strongly other than in bitterness. Frankly, it's a bit over-alcoholic; the flavor doesn't stand up to the octane.

Mouthfeel: big body with a great carbonation and a great silkiness. Pretty awesome.

Overall: there's just too much strength here for the flavor profile. The flavor is good, but even for a barleywine it's got too much alcohol.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.22/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours hazy deep orange with a medium large off-white head with a fast dissipation, little lacings.

S: Oaky notes together with rich sweet syrupy malt. Lots of dark dried fruits - rasins and figs. Floral, fruity hops.

T: Molasses, syrupy sweet rich caramell malt. Piney and citric notes from the floral hops balanced with a healty dose of bitter hops. Dark dried fruits - mostly raisins.

M: Long rich aftertaste with sweet bitterness. Body is full and carbonation is moderate.

D: A very nice American Barleywine that possibly could benefit from a couple of years in my beer-cellar - otherwise - a nice product.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/17/2011

On tap at Churchill's.

A: Dark orange with a finger of beige foam. Lots of scattered lacing.

S: A big caramel malt presence with lighter notes of bread and a slight candied quality. This is pretty hoppy, with pronounced pine and grapefruit. I don't get any alcohol in the aroma.

T: Pine and grapefruit with an upper moderate bitterness. The hops are aggressive but fitting. Malt imparts strong caramel notes and a light sweetness. Alcohol is perceivable in the finish but not offensive.

M: Upper medium in body with medium carbonation.

Overall: A good American Barleywine.

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Photo of Derek
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Ruby brown, with plenty of head! Leaves a little lace.

S: Piney hops, caramel malts.

T: Piney hop flavour and bitterness is pleasant, and a little assertive, but it's not an assault on your taste buds like some of the hop bombs (Nothing like BigFoot or Old Crustacean, a nicer balance like Old Foghorn). Well rounded caramel malt flavour.

M: Not as heavy as one might expect. Nicely carbonated.

D: I think it's quite drinkable, and at this alcohol level, quite dangerous!

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine from Great Divide Brewing Company
4.22 out of 5 based on 2,411 ratings.
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