J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) | J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Dantes on 05-07-2004

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Reviews: 246 | Ratings: 475
Photo of DrDemento456
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I usually don't review beers like this but when I found a bottle of this for 5 bucks at the House of 1,000 beers I had to pick it up. Comes to around 50 cents an ounce so hopefully it's worth it.

A - Flaky sediment from the whole bottle pour into my pint glass. Head was around a 1/4 inch but quickly fizzed to a mild lace ring. Lacing is rather sticky though which is a surprise and the beer itself is a hazy with sediment, deep brown.

S - Wow I never had a beer smell like straight up apple brandy before. I am getting a sweet bit of caramel under the mix but damn does that ABV smell strong.

T - A lot better than the smell their is a ton going on here. Starts with faded apple brandy notes but quickly is that moved to apple sauce sweetness, some bread and a slightly oxidized finish. Has the burn but really smooth and at times the sweetness is like a fresh sugar daddy or toffee popcorn.

M - As heavy as it gets this beer is a true sipper almost choking with a bit of alcoholic sting. I am quite amazed though given the ABV it's almost a liquor.

Overall it's quite an experience and totally worth the price of admission. Even though it's not like most barleywine it's still quite tasty. Worth picking up for 12 bucks though (retail)? Hell no

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4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

$12.00 for the 274mL bottle, served in a mini snifter
2009 Vintage, Sampled 30SEP12

[A] A swift pour grows a small off-white head that barely covers the surface of the beer. Some sediment snuck in at the end of the pour, so the semi still body - opaque and orange burgundy in appearance - might be a little hazier than normal. Chunks of yeast floaties collects along the curve of the glass. No lacing.

[S] The Calvados cask is at the forefront of the nose. A gentle but clean alcoholic sting permeates the nostrils. Brandy macerated apples and apricots. Buttery caramel, strong toffee, light butterscotch. Overly toasted popcorn.

[T] Home made applesauce, bordering on cider. Dried apricots reconstituted with aged brandy. Just a hint of toasted walnut on the finish, slathered in butter and rendered caramel.

[M] Supple and unbelievably smooth. Thick and viscous but doesn't linger on the tongue. Carbonation is very low and is absolutely perfect for the style and flavor profile.

[O] A fantastic barleywine that goes from 'very good' at cellar temp to 'unbelievable' at room temperature.

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Photo of fdig23
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tiny bottle.

Appearance: Cloudy copper with a small white head.

Nose: Very apple-y. A combination of mushy rotten apple, apple juice, and candied caramel apple aromas. There's a bready note underneath all the fruit.

Taste: Apple juice, toasted bread, caramel and a bit of caramelized sugar sweetness. The apple flavors make for a funky pairing with the traditional bready malts and caramel of the barleywine. Finishes with a lingering apple flavor and lots of caramel.

Mouthfeel: medium-bodied and decent carbonation.

Overall: A really interesting beer. The Calvados flavor almost makes it feel like some Brett is present thanks to the rotten apple notes it imparts. Glad I tried it but definitely won't pay that much for a tiny bottle again.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006, Aged 6 years
275ml bottled poured into a snifter.

Murky copper with absolutely no head to speak of. Tons of sediment floating around.

Rum raisin, apple cinnamon, dates, fig, molasses, toffee and caramel. A subtle whiff of vanilla and oak.

Rum raisin, apple cinnamon and tons of dark fruits ranging from dates, figs and the aforementioned raisin. Loads of molasses. Maple syrup, toffee, caramel candy cubes and tobacco. Slight kiss of oak and vanilla on the finish as well as a touch of old book or musty cellar.

Medium-full bodied, syrupy, smooth and warming.

Incredibly sweet and incredibly smooth. Extremely complex and unique. Absolutely no hint of the 11.5% abv. I will certainly be trying some other barrels.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2006. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Half Acre snifter.

A- pours a dirty, dark caramel with almost no head. Small bubbles form on the edge of the glass.

S- toffee, dark fruits, tobacco, brown sugar, some alcohol.

T- earthy malts, sweet toffee, dark fruits, Worcestershire sauce, and some weird alcohol flavor (don't know what Calvados tastes like).

M- full body, low carbonation. Very thick and syrupy, but not a lot of noticeable alcohol.

O- like their regular version better, but this is still a very good Barleywine. The Worcestershire sauce taste throws this whole beer off for me.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Trappeze. Poured into a Southern Tier tulip. White head, oily slick lacing. Bright , golden/coppery body. Aroma is over ripe mango, vanilla and alcohol. Taste is suprisingly not hot, nice malt sweetness, mango, Swedish fish, and vanilla in the background. Very smooth to drink for the abv, no doubt the calvados has completely muted the alcohol from the taste completely. Awesome.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.39/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. 2008 vintage. Pours a dark, murky caramel amber with a half finger off-white head with decent retention and light lacing. A somewhat too aggressive pour left dark yeast chunks at the bottom of the glass. Inviting aroma of sweet caramel malt, toffee and alcohol. Flavor is caramel, intense apple juice, dark dried fruit, hint of vanilla. Quite sweet, but the intensity of flavor makes this very drinkable. Medium to heavy bodied, just short of syrupy. Delicious apple flavors in this classic English barleywine. Too drinkable for its 11% ABV. I will have to age a few of these.

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Photo of zeff80
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, burgundy color with a small, tan head of bubbly foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of whiskey notes with some sweet caramel notes.

T - Good oak and vanilla flavors with a kiss of whiskey. Good sweet maltiness with a touch of caramel.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry clean finish.

O - This was really good. I preferred this one to an '08 bottle that was not aged in any barrels.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a Kuhnhenn snifter. 2006 vintage.

Appearance - Pours a dark amber. Clear with no head and just the slightest hint of some bubbles on the surface. I stopped it before the chunks started to flow, at least.

Smell - Sweet apples and raisins. Like regular Harvest with apples. Sweet smelling. Maybe a little less complex.

Taste - I thought the calvados would intensify the sweetness, but it seems to cut it nicely. Huge dark fruit and caramel presence. Raisins and calvados. A touch of vanilla and oxidation to it. Apples and an earthy bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Syrupy and nearly flat. It doesn't matter a whole lot, though. It's still pleasant to drink.

Overall - An improvement over the base. Anything that distracts from the sugar is a welcome. Maybe it's the age that makes it seem less sweet. I'm not sure.

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Photo of metter98
4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very hazy amber orange in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high dense beige head that quickly died down, leaving a thin film of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: The nose has aromas of caramel and toffee in the nose along with some hints of alcohol from the apple brandy.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but is a bit more complex, having notes of calvados and hints of brown sugar flavors. There is some malty sweetness, although this isn’t cloying.
M: It feels a bit shy of full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation with some warming from the alcohol.
O: This is a nice dessert beer to sip, and it seems a bit easier to drink compared to the sherry version because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste.

Note: 2011 vintage

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Photo of Dope
3.79/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle.

A: A super murky rusty reddish-brown. Just the smallest tan head that fades almost instantly. Almost no lacing at all.

S: Very strong, fruity and sweet. Loaded with apple, cherries, figs and raisin. Molasses and caramel break through as well. A little grape in there and finally a bit of toffee. Boozy and sharp.

T: Syrupy thick molasses. Overpoweringly sweet. Like drinking pure molasses syrup. A bit of toffee and brown sugar throughout. Stinging brandy on the back end barely manages to cut through it at all. Huge lingering molasses and toffee in the aftertaste.

M: Pure syrup. Super heavy. Low carbonation.

O: A pretty insane English style barleywine. The brandy helps cut the syrup but at the same time I feel like it lost a lot of complexity of the normal non-barrel aged version.

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Photo of Etan
3.2/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nip bottle into a snifter. 2006 vintage.

A: Pours a cloudy prunish brown with a pathetic, quick-dying head of coarse white bubbles.

S: Smells heavily of brown sugar and hot figs. Syrupy to say the least.

T: Thick raisin and grape notes dominate the taste, followed by a brief note of earthy stale grain.

M: Thick and almost still, with a tiny gasp of carbonation at the beginning.

O: Not very pleasant to drink. Horrible appearance and mouthfeel and tastes mostly like brandy. Might as well buy a bottle of Calvados.

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Photo of AaronHomoya
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle of the 2004 vintage, cellared and opened in 2012.

Appearance was a very dark ruby, brown color. Not black at all, but dark brown with a bright red tint that would show through light. Very little head, as expected with this style and age. Very little carbonation left.

Smell was full of big raisin and dark fruit aroma. Sweet and rich. The flavor was similar, but much more complex. Toffee, lightly roasted malt and a bit of chocolate follow the raisiny opening. Finish is actually rather bright and clean. Yummy.

The mouthfeel is a bit syrupy of course, and it would have been nice to have more carbonation, but that's again to be expected especially with the age.

Really nice beer.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a cloudy orange-brown color with a touch of bubbly white head atop. The head fades down very quickly leaving behind barely any lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet toffee and caramel malts with lots of brown sugar, vanilla, oak, apple, bit of dark fruit, caramelized sugars, and booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of rich sweet toffee and caramel malts with some brown sugar, vanilla, and apple. Through the middle, some more oak and sweet apple and brown sugar comes through with some raisin and dark fruits. The finish is a mix of sweet toffee and apple, with some vanilla, oak, brown sugar, and caramelized malts, and booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with mild carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. The Calvados adds some nice fruity sweetness on top of the base beer and the overall beer is nice and bold but stays fairly balanced.

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Photo of John_M
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yes boys and girls... on tap at Max's today (not cask).

The beer pours a reddish amber color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is attractive, as I pick up considerable brown sugar, orange slices, cherry cough drop and apple brandy. The nose replicates the nose in this sweet beer, and I have to say the sweetness wears on me a bit after a while. Still, the flavor combination is excellent as always, and the calvados adds an interesting flavor dimension. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a long, sweet finish. Alcohol is pretty well integrated into the flavort profile, though you can tell it's up there a bit.

An excellent BW from JW Lee's, which is to be expected. Not sure it's such a great idea to feature it during the summer in Baltimore (they had three different versions in fact, and they did not seem to be moving), but regardless, this is another very good BW from this excellent brewery.

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Photo of sleuthdog
3.82/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009 9.3 oz bottle poured into tulip

A: Poured a light brown to off orange in color with about one finger size off white head. The color reminds me of copper. I have now poured this about 5 minutes ago and continue to see tiny bubbles rise along the side of the glass. There are a ton of white floating particles in this beer. Think snow globe with a murky colored liquid.

S: Big time smell of caramel and brown sugar. This one is a very sweet smelling beer. I also pick up toffee and some oak characteristics along with some fig and apples. It also has a pretty distinct aroma of alcohol in between all the other notes described.

T: Very sweet is my first impression. I get molasses, brown sugar, toffee and really sweet apples. This is a one dimensional tasting beer as it is very sweet, IMO. Candied apples is what is coming to mind for me. Holy sweet!

M: Syrupy and sweet notes linger forever in the mouth. No alcohol burn to speak of. Rather thick but I wonder if that is just because of how sticky this beer feels. This is a pleasant beer in the mouth.

O: I don't know what I was expecting with this beer but the sweetness most definitately took me by surprise. This was rather easy for me to get through the entire bottle even though it is so sweet like candy.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.28/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

vintage 2009 poured into Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: murky brownish orange bodied beer with lots of white floaties. Whispy and thin cap of white head that drops to not head at all.

Smell: malty, boozey, oak, and smokey/salty bacon.

Taste: Brown sugar and grainy malts. Brandy and apples, but this beer is really sweet. Midpalate is salty and bacony smoke, just like the nose. Finish is really sweet and also has a bitter kick that seems to me as an out of place flavor because this beer is so sweet. Doesnt compliment the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Its a full bodied beer with low carbonation levels. This beer is more like a beer syrup than a beer.

Overall: The beer is just too sweet to me even for an English barleywine.

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Photo of danedelman
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage

A-orangish with tons of sediment and a little head.

S-sweet candi sugar, dates and figs. hint of apples and some oakiness.

T-very similiar to the smell. Add some sweet saltiness to the mixture and some pure fukin heavon and thats it!!

M-medium to full body.

o-my new favorite with any vintage. I have 2000 to 2009 now and all are stellar!!

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Photo of Immortale25
4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Southern Tier tulip-style snifter. Label says brewed in 2008.

A- Pours a brown color with a 1/4 inch off-white head that doesn't retain much before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and spotty surface foam. Spackled lacing and obvious bits of sediment suspended in the body.

S- Very sharp aroma of oak, sweet malt and whiskey. Raisin-like with caramel notes.

T- Initial jolt of sweetness and alcohol soon subsides to a smooth aftertaste where more notes of oak and raisin preside. Hops play a strong role, providing a decent amount of bitterness to back up the grainy sweetness. Rich and sherry-esque.

M- Assertive with a lingering alcohol bite. Also syrupy and a bit dry on the finish. Low carbonation.

O- Celebrating my 300th review with a doozy. A top-notch barleywine.

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Photo of Jamesthebrit
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

A: Looks like super rich apple cider. Dark brown and murky with floatys.
S: Smells like apples and brandy. In a hilarious turn of fate I looked up calvados to find out that it was an apple brandy... My darling fiancee got the apples and I got the brandy! We make a perfect pair!
T: Very complex. The apple flavor really comes through as well as the brandy elements.
M: I rated this so low 100% based on my preference. The lingering warmth of the brandy stays there and I hate that.

Overall a very great execution but not a beer for me.

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Photo of jrenihan
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage

Beer is an orange, toffee coloured hue. A moderately sized white head dissipates fairly quickly.

The calvados is immediately noticeable in the nose, apple and booze. Rich caramel malt and toffee underneath. Raisins and prune. Quite complex, very nice.

Wow, there is a LOT going on in the taste. Lots of caramel and toffee, very rich and smooth. Apple, oak and booze from the barrel. Generally very sweet, but balanced a bit by the booze. Honey and raisin are noticeable. Sweetness gets to be too much as the beer goes on.

Beer has a syrupy-sweet feel, almost sticky. Low to moderate carbonation, full bodied.

Overall, a very good beer, but one can certainly argue that it is more barrel than beer. The calvados aging has a dramatic impact and threatens to overpower the base beer. Personally, I think the result is very nice, but could understand somebody being dissatisfied with the result. I found that it got less enjoyable as I went on - the sweetness is a bit much, even the smaller bottle was a bit hard to finish.

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Photo of brystmar
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage bottle.

Looks like most of the others; aroma is strongly of malts and caramel-y aged booze. Oaky, brandy-ish too.

Sweet with a strong malt backbone. Brandy really comes through in the taste and blends perfectly with the Harvest base. Mild tingle from the alcohol; really doesn't taste boozy at all. Creamy and oily at the same time.

One of the better variants of this brew, and age does this one well.

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Photo of trh70
4.85/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow! Truly one of the best beers I have ever had. Saw this at Total Wine. Pulled out my phone, came here to check it out. Bought 6 bottles of the 2008 based on what others had said.
Am I glad I did. This beer is unlike no other.

A: Golden brown in color with a small white head that quickly faded.

S: Caramel, toffee, apples.

T: Caramel, toffee, apples and a hint of lemon zest. Mildly sweet.

M: Coats the tongue like honey.

O: Amazing beer. Tomorrow I will be going back to buy the other 6 bottles. This is not a everyday drinking beer, or one to have with a meal. This is a beer where you put some rhythmic mood music on, turn down the lights, sip and savor. Enjoy every nounce of the beer.

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Photo of Doppelbockulus
4.89/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I wish I could review the 2008 and 2006 vintages separately since the scores are different.

This particular one is the 2008 Vintage.

Color is a coppery amber with sediment and no head. Slight haze that is a 1 or 2 on a 10 scale.

Smell includes honey, raisins, port, and candied fruit. amazing smell.

Tastes of fruits and vegetables, specifically apples, grapes, pomegranate, carrots, and celery. The after taste is similar to sweet vegetables and fine cheese. 3 years and a few months is great for this beer, this on one of the greatest flavors I have found in a beer.

Creamy feel in the mouth. Very smooth and a little like port.

And here is the 2006 Vintage.

Wonderful ruby amber color. It is clear with light bubbling. (5)

The smell is an amazing combination of roses, caramel, dark fruit jam, and apple pie. This is my favorite in terms of smell. (5)

Taste isn't as good as the 2008 vintage, but it is still great. Flavor i fruity and vegetabley. It isn't sweet like fruit, the fruit is dry, it is sweet like caramelized vegetables or caramelized fruits, a darker sweetness. There seems to be some pear, celery, raisins, and sweet bread crust from the malt that still comes through. (4)

Feels like a very smooth brandy, watery. Only faintly tingly, and there is an illusion of fruit skins. (4)

4.5 overall for the 2006 vintage, which is more appropriately a rating for a 5 to 6 year aged one.

This is very good but 2008 was better, seems like 3 to 4 years is perfect....but that is judging from only two data points so far. I still have more setting and waiting.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

9.3oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2007 Vintage.

(A)- Pours a caramel color. Produced a nice cap of tan to transparent froth. Surprising considering the 11.5% this totes.

(S)- A nice rich malty wealth of caramel, fig, toffee, and a subtle briney oak character.

(T)- Same as the smell. Great malty bits of caramel, fig, toffee, and honey. Again, that subtle briney oak barrel nuance.

(M)- A very mellow carbonation level, but fitting for the style. A very balanced and smooth beer despite its large ABV level and sweetness.

(D)- Thus far, I have far preferred the port cask version over the rest, but this might be better, if not a very close second for me in the JW Lees barrel variations.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.08 out of 5 based on 475 ratings.
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