3 French Hens | The Bruery

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3 French Hens3 French Hens

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Three French Hens is the third in the 12 Days/Years of Christmas Series. We again drew some inspiration from the name and decided that at least a portion of this beer had to be aged in French oak barrels. What we came out with is a bold and spicy Belgian Dark Strong Ale, 25% aged in oak. This beer is designed to take the journey through time until 12 Drummers Drumming, but is a delightful holiday treat right off the shelf.

Added by claspada on 10-08-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 401
Photo of philbe311
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Three fingers worth of tightly packed richly textured light khaki colored head with a slightly rocky top... Solid retention... The color is a mix of brown, candied apple red, and amber... Some carbonation bubbles can be seen rising along the sides of the glass...

S - The nose is loaded with sweet dark fruits... Sweet red grapes... Dates... Perhaps even some raspberries and strawberries.... Some candied sugars... Slightly Belgian yeast notes... Some light vanilla and oak notes...

T - Dark fruits as expected... Raisins... Blueberries... Dates... Faint Belgian yeast notes... The oak and vanilla notes rise on the finish and actually provide very good balance to the overall slightly cloying sweetness...

M - On the lighter side of full bodied... Dense... Sleek and slightly sticky... Moderation is light but a bit on the harsh side... Saliva inducing...

D - A bit too intense even with a year's worth of age on it... Some solid bones, but definitely a bit rough around the edges... Not a bad beer by any means, but nothing special either...

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Photo of hippityhops85
2.8/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a beautiful 750 ml bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Pours a brown/amber with slight ruby/orange highlights and a spotty off white/light tan head that dissipates and forms spotty lacing on the glass. Alcohol legs visible.

The nose definitely has fruits on it but they smell more like strawberries and other red berries rather than the dark fruits I'm used to from Belgian Strong Darks. I don't really get any of the oak. There's definitely an almost "fake" sweetness going on here. It still holds a lot of the Belgian Yeast character though. Interesting.

The taste has a lot of that fake sweetness but the beer definitely finishes mostly dry. Lots of alcohol still on the taste a year later on this beer. It's seriously distracts from the brew especially at mid palate. This beer just starts a mess and totally falls apart. There's also a weird metallic "twang" right at the end of the sip. Bummed.

The mouth feel is medium bodied but again the alcohol just tears it a part.

Really not a fan of this beer at all which bums me out because I generally am a big fan of The Bruery. Can't win 'em all I guess. I don't see this getting any better in the cellar either.

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Photo of litheum94
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aged a year.

Very dark brown, with copper highlites. Tan head settles to a small cover with a good amount of lacing on the glass.

The nose presents a ton of oak, to the point where that's almost all I smell. Some dark wine grapes, with a salty sweetness, akin to ketchup. Not a lot going on here.

Again, a ton of oak in the flavor. Some spicing and a vinous quality. A little bit of vanilla. A slightly cheesy and earthy flavor starts to come out, but again, it's a little one dimensional.

This is a somewhat bland beer, with the oak really dominating everything. I'm a little disappointed, especially since I've aged this a year. My first let down for the Bruery.

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Photo of RickS95
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rich, dark brown fudge color. On top is an off-tan head, about a finger and a half thick. When the head dissipates, it leaves a creamy ring of bubbles around the edge.

Smells Belgian, with a funky yeast and ripe dark fruits (and some apple). There's a note of alcohol, almost a port-like scent. As the beer warms, a hint of anise develops.

Taste matches the smell. Dark fruits--grapes, apple, raisin, figs--dominate with the slightest mention of oak. Alcohol is only slightly present.

Very creamy mouthfeel. A bit like wine, particularly the adity, but a bit sweeter and more 'beer like' thanks to malt backbone and a bit of hoppy bitterness to balance.

Overall, this is a really good beer. It's a tad sweet and wine like, or I'd have given it a 4.5. I'm glad I tried this.

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

The bottle has been sitting in my cellar for a year. The beer was chilled and served in a wide mouthed goblet.

A- The body of the beer is a clear chestnut coloration. The head is a frothy nugget coloration. The head resolves to a ring of foam.

S- The aroma of the beer is lightly vanilla oaked, burnt caramel, bready, figs, raisins, maybe some cherries, a bit leathery and earthy.

T- Really digging the burnt carmel flavors leading into figs, and raisins, oddly enough this seems to strike me as a bread pudding. Nice earthen spiced finish.

M- Full bodied nice carbonation levels. The beer seems to be pretty slick. No heat from the alcohol is present.

O- This beer is a very enjoyable. This was a very nice beer to wash down thanksgiving dinner.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown beer with reddish highlights. Fairly clear. Smallish head has good retention, spotty lacing.

Appealing aroma of spices, dark fruits, and malt. Bready, earthy, raisins, very much a Belgian Dubbel aroma.

Taste is quite similar to the nose and is very much in the Belgian vein. Sweet, fruity, with fruitcake spices and a bit of drying oakiness. Booze is fairly undetectable. Toasted malt breadiness, yeasty tang, and a sort of Cabernet-vibe as well.

Smooth mouthfeel with medium full body and carbonation on the low side. Noticeable drying in the finish.

This is a nice enough beer but I had much higher hopes for this, particularly given the price. I feel like there are a lot of choices with a similar taste profile and a much lower pricetag. I’ll definitely pick up this year’s offering in the series but I’d like to be a bit more impressed with the results.

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Photo of waltonc
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One-year-old bottle. Pours a garnet/brown color with ample tan head. Smells of vinous candied sugar, leather, cherries, plums, figs, and other dark candied fruit. Taste is again fairly sweet with qualities of candied fruit and red wine. Appropriate for the holiday season. The flavor is nicely integrated and I find this to be a highly drinkable beer. Not overly rich or cloying. Body is medium with medium carbonation. Overall, I'm a big fan of this and look forward to opening additional bottles in future years.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a dark brown color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some nice lacing. Aroma of light oak with caramelized sugar and light fruity notes. Taste is a very good mix between some brown sugar and caramelized malt with notes of fruity ester and some oak to round up the flavour. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well brewed and better then I had anticipated considering some of the previous offering from this brewer. Good balance between complexity and drinkability.

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Photo of MexicanSkittel
4.27/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a .750 into my crystal tulips.

A pretty dark brown, blackish red pour. Held up to light let's a strong strong dark amber hue through. A larger bubbled head sits just shy of 1/4 thick but fades shortly into a film.

I enjoy the aroma quite a bit...
Where to start...caramel, toffee, espresso, marshmallow, vanilla, oak, cocoa powder. Yup

The taste was Belgium styled sweetness, with a slight bite. There was some vanilla extract, maple syrup, roasted malt, dried stewed fruit, underlining all of this is a slight spicy tone.

Mouthfeel was gental, soft, light carbonation. I found the finish leaning more towards the wood and spice notes. A little brown sugar, but all of which weren't over powering or too lengthy. Maybe do to the lightness of the beers body. I personally don't get 10% abv from this beer.

Overall I'm very pleased, almost wish I saved this for a later date, but it was cold tonight, we made a good dinner and had a "Thursday" night beer.

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Photo of confer
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- It pours chestnut brown with a tan head that fades to a spotty froth layer.
S- There is deep raisin or prune smell. I get the smell of the alcohol coming out also. The aroma is strong I can smell from a foot away.
T- The taste is pretty much the same as the smell. Prune like taste is dominant and the alcohol is also very apparent.
MO-Very low carbonation. Not a bad beer, but I prefer my bigger Belgian styles to hide the booze a little better.

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Photo of thedoubler55
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A dark amber, almost red in color, with a nice finger of brown head at the top, that leaves almost no lacing around the glass.

S-Smells of raisin and plums and sweetness, a yeast note as well, and some metallic on the tail end.

T-Roasst taste, a strong presence of dark malts, hints of raisins, plums, and sweetness.

M-Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D-A very odd brew, but not bad at all, I liked it because of the uniqueness and the weirdness.

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Photo of 1Adam12
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Decided to open this because there is no way I will ever go after the first 2 of the series. Dark ruby red appearance when I hold it to the light. Smells of oak, vanilla, figs, alcohol, burnt sugar, and maybe a bit of cherry. Taste is oaky, with some vanilla and sweetness. Tastes messy though, it all kind of runs together. Also get a numbness to my tongue. Almost peppery, but there is a numbness. No finish really. Flavor hits the tip of the tongue and just stops dead in its tracks. Nothing towards the back of the throat. Overall, disappointing. This is my first time trying this and even though it is "supposed" to be aged for some years to come, I'm wondering if this is already going downhill. I'd like to try another one eventually to see if I just caught this during a rough patch of the aging process.

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Photo of Phelps
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed in a wine glass because I felt fancy.

Murky burnt umber. A half-finger head of light fizzy tan pops away with speed, leaving behind a thin ring with no lace.

The nose is enticingly meaty. I get sweet dates, brown sugar, vinous oak and savory teriyaki.

The amount of toasty dark bread is increased in the flavor, lending mild burnt notes. The sweet stuff: dates, brown sugar, maple. New oak melds nicely with toffee, green apple and plum sauce, adding a nice vanilla accent to the rich dark fruits. At the swallow, a hint of soy at the swallow is noticeable before the dry, oaky finish.

Carbonation is light and tongue-tingling as I move the soft almost-medium body about. Creamy fizz is apparent, but alcohol isn’t, which for 10 percent ABV is absolutely incredible.

What a crazy-smooth and unique blend of flavors. Sweet and mildly spicy, with the perfect balance of oak inside, Three French Hens is highly enjoyable. Can't wait to try the barrel-aged version.

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Photo of thetastywort
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Bruery tulip glass. I drank this about 2 months ago and am just catching up on uploading all of my reviews.

A - Pours a murky brown with a slight tint of red with a light brown head and moderate lacing. About 1 finger head with good retention.

S - A beautifully complex blend of aromas. Nice brown sugar, malty, and faint tart, fruity hint. It ends nicely with a holiday-like spice such as clove and nutmeg. .

T - Taste starts out like a dark Belgian ale with a bit of leather. I think I taste a hint of toffee before the dark fruit flavors come in. There is definitely that Belgian yeast flavor that The Bruery prides itself on. Extremely complex and yet, familiar to their Anniversary recipe.

M - Body is light to moderate. A small amount of carbonation upfront that mellows after 10-15 minutes. Surprisingly dry finish.

D - This is a very complex beer and should mellow with age. Alcohol is well hidden. I definitely want to hold onto some of these bottles for a vertical in about 8 years. I slightly remember the barrel-aged version as being even more robust and desirable than the regular version.

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Photo of GrumpyJunglist
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was at my girlfriends house so the only thing I had to use was a good ol cognac sniffer.

A: When first poured it had a chestnut/mahogany color with a good 1.5/2 finger head that was a beige in color.

S: Initial scents of a mild sourness followed by chocolate, yeast, and some spices.

T: At first sip the first taste was of sweet almost sour flavors followed by a heavy dose of yeast with a hint of oak. As the beer warmed up, there was a slight coffee taste present with a warming feeling from the alcohol.

M: At first taste there was a definite onslaught of carbonation, the texture was kinda silky with a yeast after aftertaste, leaving behind a mild film that was a tad smokey.

O: I would give this beer a 8 out of 10, it wasn't bad but definitely needs some aging. Can't wait to see where this beer goes in a few years with some age.

*Also this is my first review, FINALLY!*

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Photo of ehammond1
3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle (2010)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Somewhat lifeless murky brown with amber and orange edges. Thin khaki head that doesn't last long and doesn't leave much lacing down the glass either. This beer looks thin, lifeless, and oily.

Sweet aroma primarily of toffee and caramel, some sourdough bread, and a mild inclusion of dark fruits.

Very sweet flavor, namely of caramel and sticky toffee, a touch of nuttiness and some mild dark fruit flavors. Very little hop presence in the way of either bitterness or flavor. A sweet, malty, yeasty BSDA.

The mouthfeel is too thin, though heavy and oily, and somewhat under-carbonated.

I'm glad I got to try this BSDA, but it doesn't rank as one of my favorites. I won't seek it out again. Perhaps it was significantly better when fresh?

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Photo of prototypic
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

3 French Hens pours a darker, nut brown color. It’s very hazy, and has some really nice crimson highlights with light behind it. Carbonation looks to be very active, yielding a tan head that stands about two and a half fingers tall. It’s relatively slow to recede. Lacing was moderate.

The nose is very good. It’s very malty up front. Sweet caramel and cocoa-esque chocolate malts are the base. It smells sweet, but not overly so. Yeast is definitely prominent. It’s Belgian in character, but could be a little stronger. Smells spicy more than anything. Dark fruit is noted at the secondary level. Smells like raisin and fig. Oak is also secondary and adds character. Alcohol is there, but doesn’t smell overly strong. Smells good.

The flavor is a notch above the nose and is impressive. Light caramel and chocolate malts are noted early. It’s not quite as sweet as it smells. I like that. The chocolate variety definitely tastes like cocoa. Its spicy side emerges early and features really nice clove and pepper flavors. Belgian yeast is definitely responsible for their presence. Speaking of which, the yeast really does have a nice flavor that’s much more Belgian in flavor than in taste. Secondary flavors include raisin, fig, light vanilla, oak, light cherry, and leather. It is deep and complex. Alcohol is blended well. It’s there, but isn’t warm or hot. Finishes a little sweet and spicy.

3 French Hens has a medium to full body. Carbonation is active, but the bubbles feel soft. It’s definitely nice and smooth. Not quite creamy, but smooth.

The Bruery did a really nice job with 3 French Hens. This really is one of their best beers. Definitely superior to 2 Turtle Doves. It’s a nice representation of the style that features all the bells and whistles. I really like its deep and complex flavor profile. All of the elements come together much better than anticipated. I regret not picking up two or three more bottles. This is impressive stuff. Find a bottle.

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Photo of robbrandes
4.47/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

reviewed from notes
poured from the 750ml into a highball glass (shoot me now...)

pours a dark, slightly brown. i swear i see some purple hints wafting through the mix too. initial big head, but quickly fades to not much. dark fruit, belgian yeast, some malt and a bit o' spice on the nose and palate. this beer continued to open up a ton for a good half hour after opening. nice full mouthfeel, perfectly carbed and begging for repeated drinks.

i went into this bottle not knowing what to expect and was blown away. very nicely done belgian dark. glad i've got a couple more kicking in the cellar.

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Photo of Krakistophales
3.16/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours burgundy with a bit of off white head that disappears quickly

S: Lots of tart fruit. Cherries, grapes, and some spice like clove and other strong spices. Also some berries, like currants, but overall has a briny sort of smell, too.

T: Again, lots of tart fruit at first, followed by a slight shift into some malty sweetness, though very little and pretty hard to describe what kind, which then finishes with a puckering, sour sort of finish and a touch of sherry booziness.

O: I don't like tart belgian strong darks. I'm looking for creamy sweetness with berry, dark fruit and other elements in there, not a sour puckers ale. Still, it's not bad, it's just not good either.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky dark brown with a 2 inch khaki head that settles to a thin film. Random streaks of lace stick around the glass on the drink down. There is also some sediment floating around in this beer. Smell is of dark fruits, some wood aromas, and spicy yeast. Taste is of dark fruits, slight wood, and a slight sour fruit/vinegary taste. There is an astringency on the palate after each sip. This beer has a bubbly carbonation with a crisp but slightly sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good BSDA from The Bruery. I was going to save this and do a broken vertical since I missed the first 2 releases but I am glad I just opened this now.

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Photo of DaveHS
3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

opened about 8 months after its initial release.

A-Pours deep mahogany with ruby highlights and a huge foamy khaki/yellow head that reduces quickly. Leaves no lacing.

S-Raisiny, almost like a dubbel. A suggestion of oak, but nothing too extreme. Reminds me of Pannepot. A tart fruit flavor that suggests possible oxidation.

T/M-The first thing I pick up on is sharp flavors of oxidation. This is already going south. The French oak is oppressive in the flavor profile, dominating all other flavors. An all around generic Belgian dark strong ale. Papery booziness and oxidized acidic flavors kill the finish.

O-Wow. This isn't very good at all. Expected more from this series. This is already past its prime, which is going to be a huge disappointment for anyone thinks this is going to make it for the vertical.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to bu11zeye for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark amber color with a white head. The aroma is full of dark fruit and toffee.

The flavor is more complex. I get a lot of dark fruit, grapes and cherry notes as well as some toffee and some Belgian candy sugar. The beer also has a dry red wine component and some tannic notes that are very tasty. The alcohol is present but is not overpowering and the beer is very easy to drink for a beer of its strength and complexity. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

My first one of The Bruery's 12 Days of Christmas beers and it didn't disappoint.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

French Hen's pours out as a murky looking brownish red color. The head was a light tan shade, the lacing was decent for a little while on this one before the head faded. The smell of the beer had a lot of oak aromas coming off of it. There was a lingering scent of spices also. The taste was spicy upfront that switched into a subtle tart oak flavor that essentially became a fresh wooden softness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel wasn't too bad, I was hoping it would have been thicker. Overall I'm glad I had gotten to try this one. I would like to try the others in the series. Looking forward to next years for sure.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark burgandy body. Clear and glowing. Thin beige head with a little retentiveness. Lacing is quite full. Very nice aroma of anise oil, black licorice, leather, black cherries and light rum. Overall flavor impression is sweet. Dark fruit juice and sweet tobacco juice. Squeezed raisin and dates to boot. Leather impressions and rummy alcohol presence. Light bodied and pretty clean and drinkable, yet still a sipper, as it should be. Overall, a high quality beer though not as balanced as the best of the best in this style.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for half of this bottle

Review adapted from notes taken 12/20/10

Appearance: Dark brown with above-average lacing

Smell: Sweet, with some dark fruits, some Belgian yeast and spice (clove, probably from the yeast)

Taste: Well balanced but very "average" - biscuity malts, some clove, some spice, some Belgian yeast funk - fruit characteristics are interesting with some dark fruit flavors and some other sweet flavors - some wood, too

Mouthfeel: Medium body, smooth with appropriate carbonation

Overall: Good, but nothing special

Perhaps I expected more from this beer than I should have. While it is a good Belgian Strong Dark Ale, there are many others like it that aren't so limited. It is a bit on the fruity side, which may or may not be a good thing. Perhaps this will get better over time.

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3 French Hens from The Bruery
3.83 out of 5 based on 401 ratings.
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