St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) | McAuslan Brewing

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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009)

Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing
Quebec, Canada

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Viggo on 03-20-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 97 | Ratings: 134
Photo of dcotom
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 11.2-ounce bottle into a snifter. Pours the color of caramel sauce. An aggressive pour yielded a thin head of off-white foam that disappeared rather quickly, leaving minimal lacing. Not much carbonation, giving it a rather flat appearance. There is a lot of complexity on the nose and palate. Aromas and flavors of light toffee, caramel, bread, prunes, and leather, with a little citrus and tannic astringence on the finish. There seemed to be a little bit of an off-flavor from oxidation as well. The alcohol is not well hidden, presenting itself prominently on the palate. Mouthfeel tends toward heavy and a little syrupy, with an intensely bitter, slightly sweet, and alcoholic aftertaste. About halfway through sampling this, I decided to pair it with some aged cheddar and pita chips to pair it with. The food mitigated the intensity of the tannins and alcohol. Overall, not bad, nothing spectacular.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From 09/01/15 notes. Shared by BeerLawyer85; thanks Ross. 2009 vintage.

Pours a reddish-brown color with one inch of off white head and low carbonation evident. Caramel malts, toffee, dark fruity malts, raisins, plums, figs, leather, oak, and toasted malts. Medium body and low carbonation, no heat.

Overall a decent barleywine; wasn't oxidized which is nice. Worth checking out but wouldn't trade too much for it.

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Photo of kevanb
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.5oz bottle, presented in a nicely branded cardboard tube, 2009 vintage, poured into a McAuslan chalice.

The beer pours a very murky and hazy leather brown color, burgundy and caramel hues with a soapy and thick finger of bone colored head, that recedes into a nice film around the rom of the glass leaving a few spots of lace behind. The aroma is heavily oxidized, malt, leather, tobacco, dried figs and prunes, stone fruits with brown sugar. There is definitely some semblance of the fresh beer, though there is a bit of that damp cardboard flavor that comes with oxidization. The flavors mirror of the nose, sherry wine, dried stone fruits, tobacco and leather, brown sugar, molasses and again, damp cardboard. The mouthfeel is still very good, coating, smooth, a little zippy from the carbonation and finishes quite easily.

Verdict: Well, it's obvious that this vintage is well past its prime, but there is plenty of evidence that when fresh, this beer has a lot to offer. For the price I found it, $6.99 for the bottle, it was easy to justify taking a chance on what could've been a nicely aged barleywine and this tells me that should I encounter this beer fresh, it's very much worth buying.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.54/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(purchased at Binny's on Marcey - carefully poured into a tulip)

A: a fucking twist-off?! seriously?... poured out, lil bubbles on the lip of the bottle... dark, rose-tinted amber liquid... pretty cloudy/hazy... short rise of foam that sinks back into a very thin collar

S: the smell shot out of the bottle as soon as the cap was removed... old yeast dregs, plum wine... a touch of caramel in the far back... the kind of oxidized, broken-down alcohol sweetened malt character I often get with Hitachino Nest bottles... hint of the smoky phenolics associated with Scottish ales

T: mellow flash of acetic acid, pushed along by a port wine-tinged, citrusy booze, all whooshed away with a long, lightly-luscious caramel, mildly chocolaty malty finish... kind of a pyramid or kiss-shaped flavor-stacking - the fat, dull, dumpy malt base tapering lemon-acidy inward up into a acid-bitter crest

M: thickish, medium-full body holds up front, but is immediately held back upon passing the middle of the palate, attenuated out by the back rush of a soft-burning booze

O: kind of reminds me of older, shelf-dusty bottles of strong English ales... this one was pretty oxidized - in an unfortunate transitional stage? soy sauce on the horizon?... not really bad, but would've been nice to have some Stilton or anything creamy and funky to pair (and temper) it with

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Photo of dgilks
4.39/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear mahogany colour with a smooth, light tan head.

Rich, dark malt. Smooth. Ester. Aged alcohol.

Sharp alcohol with bits of melanoidiny malt. Sweet. Complex.

Medium body with moderate carbonation.

Really solid. Great flavour and complexity.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Belgian tulip.

On the pour, a finger thick head is produced and sticky lacing hits the side of the glass. The beer is cloudy and unfiltered and there is some residue at the bottom. Color-wise, the beer is copper brown and mostly opaque.

My nose detects sweet malt, raisins, spicy hops, bread, and port or sherry. These same notes carry into the flavor, as the beer tastes raisiny, slightly spiced up and boozy, and port, vanilla and oak work around my tongue.

The booze is there and gives a slight burn, but it is not overbearing, as is the spiciness from the hops. The beer is moderately carbonated and thus feels somewhat light, although it is still creamy and has a good mouthfeel.

I'm glad I tried this beer and feel it's a good representation of an English barleywine. It's somewhat intense to drink, but there's plenty to enjoy, especially as the beer warms up.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours a cloudy mahogany brown color. Some minimal white froth.

(S)- A rich leathery caramel aroma. Slight hints at oxidation meets toffee and fig. Ever so slight fruity esters.

(T)- Plenty more oxidation than the smell led on. It is met with plenty of sweet caramel and leathery dryness at the same time.

(M)- A smooth yet mellow carbonation level meets a leathery rich sweetness overall. Might be a bit too oxidized at the stage, but still quite enjoyable.

(O)- Definitely a solid english style barleywine that might be a bit too old at this point, though an important note is why use twist off caps for a beer like this? It might also explain the bigger levels of oxidation in this. Either way it is still enjoyable but not getting any better age-wise at this point.

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Photo of stakem
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Kegatron for splitting this 12oz bottle with me. Poured into a snifter, the brew appears a clear copper color with a scant head. A thin off-white cap rests atop with spotty lace sticking to the glass.

The aroma contains notes of raisons; fruity to floral with alcohol. Some bready grain character rests underneath with a mild hint of oxidation.

The tastes includes some raison-like fruity booze that blends into something more floral. A bit bready with malt and light cardboard oxidation is noticed across the bak like the aroma simuggeated. The booze character is slightly solvent but integrated well.

This is a medium to fuller bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. It is a and boozy sipper that shows a little bit of it's age but it is still quite enjoyable. Thanks for sharing Heath.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A : Poured a amber with good carbonation leaving a mild white cap, some good lacing

S: The nose is some blend of dark and light fruits covered in toffee and butterscotch

T : Initial dark fruits with some toffee, caramel and slight Worthers original type taste(candy, not as a bad byproduct). A little bit of heat and some light fruits in the background.

M: Medium-full bodied, well carbonated, plenty of flavor on the palate. No bigtime flaws or off notes.

O: Pretty nice English bwine.

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Photo of OldPenguinHunter
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I didn't quite know what to expect upon purchasing this bottle, to say the least- I was surprised.

2009 Vintage:
Looks good in the glass, fizzy carbonation, minimal lacing. Brown opaque color, burnt looking.

Smells funky, you get some smoked malts in there, tobacco, scotch, wood, then there's the fruit: tart cherry, date, and plum. it's kinda all over the place there...

Taste is as equally interesting. It feels like my mouth is doing cartwheels and somersaults. The beer is really everywhere as far as flavor goes. I do get a very dry mouthfeel, the carbonation is really champagne-like. As the same with the nose there's an abundance of flavors from savory to tart. There's also a flavor of barrel, but it's not vanilla-rather burnt oak, I like it.

Mouthfeel wise, I get a very dry smokey-tart puckering that reminds me of a sour ale. I am inclined to think that this beer is innoculated with some brett (maybe from the barrels?)

Overall, this beer is a very weird, but intriguing beer. I do feel like the beer is somewhat tiring to drink (there's just alot going on). But I would be very happy with a 6oz serving though!

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Photo of barczar
4.01/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber brown with floaties and a tiny beige head that dissipates fairly quickly into a thin layer of foam.

Figs, dates, prunes, raisins, bruised cherry, booze, and caramelized brown sugar form the aroma. There's a now of oxidation, cardboard and a vinous note present.

Cherry, cardboard, dates, brown sugar, figs, raisins, and bready malt, lightly toasted, start the flavor, which finishes surprisingly dry and bitter. More cardboard oxidation surfaces as it warms, along with tea-like herbal hops.

Body is fairly thick, with somewhat low carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Might be on the edge of too old. Good esters, but the stale flavors are starting to take charge.

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Photo of Odysseyalien
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I had one of these originally when I first started liking barleywines. Didn't think much of it at the time. As my tastes have matured in the last year or two, I have to say this is one of the best English barleywines I've had.

I poured this into my snifter and there was not much of a head. There is some lacing as I slowly sip this into my belly. Oddly, of any beer I've ever had of any kind, this one seems to have no aroma. If I glue my nose to the glass rim and sniff hard, a very subtle sweetness but really, an obviously weak aroma to none at all.

The taste though is right on the money for an English barleywine. Prunes come to mine on my first sip. Moderately sweet as I've certainly had sweeter and less sweet barleywines. Little hop profile which is par for the course.

All in all, I hope to get another one of these and maybe put some additional years on it. Very tasty and one you will want to add to your collection if you like English barleywines.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

20th Anniversary bottle from Tipples. Had this in the late fall while sitting outside around a fire, and it went great in this atmosphere...warming and thick. Pours syrupy cloudy orange with no head. Aroma of toffee, caramel, booze and some fig and citrus mix. Very warming flavor. Toffee, fruit, candy, a bit on the syrupy side but the warming and sweetness went nicely with the cool night. Not boozy at all. Very nice beer.

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Photo of brystmar
3.07/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


Good looking barleywine -- orange and copper hues emit from the body, surprisingly good head and lace for the style. Aroma is strangely absent, though, showing a hint of booze and nothing else. Strange.

Malty base tastes a touch stale somehow, sweetness in support cannot cover this up. Booze shines through like a pro, minimal age-y qualities. Nice creamy body.

This is the example of an average barleywine. Entirely forgettable.

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Photo of BennyL1
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this one sitting for a couple of years now, figured why not tonight? Poured into a globe glass.

This Barleywine pours a dark and stormy amber with a slim off white head that quickly dissipates back into the brew. Streaky lacing is left along the glass which makes it a solid looking brew.

Many different aromas including caramel, brown sugar, and some dark fruits. The nose on this brew is simply great. It seems that every time I inhale I'm getting a new smell. Very nice.

The taste is on par with the nose. Complex and layered, you can get a few different tastes up front. Malty sweetness is the first thing you notice. Some of the same notes that were in the nose definitely come through in the taste. Also getting a hint of vanilla and a tad of bitterness which rounds it out very nicely.

Full bodied with carbonation on the lower side. This beer has a nice feel to it and still has a nice warming effect from the alcohol.

Glad I decided to try this one out tonight. A very solid beer that I'm glad I aged until now. No complaints here, wish I had another.

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Photo of claspada
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a translucent amber color with a smallish off-white bubbly head that recedes and leaves some minimal spotty lacing along the glass.

Aromas begin with a lot of fruity esters combined with a great deal of lighter sweet caramel candied maltiness. There is almost a fruit liqueur essence of macerated peaches and figs.

The tastes begin with a strong blast of caramel candied maltiness once again. Next I get that fruitiness again with some apricot, peach, ripe juicy pear and fresh figs. Little to no hop character after 2 or 3+ years but there is an underlying drying, earthy characteristic but I think that is the alcohol.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation. Finish isn't as super sweet as you would imagine after the aging of this beer but more fruity and sweet mixed.

Overall this was a nice beer, but probably one I should have save for late fall or early wintertime when I would have appreciated it more. I can imagine this must have been much more rough upon initial release as there is still some alcohol presence but age has done this well and given the nice cylindrical traveling vessel is came in, the oxygen and light affects are little to none. Def worth a go for fans of the style because of the lower than normal price point for an already "cellared" beer.

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

McAuslan Brewing rings in their twentieth year with their vintage ale that celebrates the milestone with dessert-like confection, brandyish gentlemanship and tawny port succulence. Although I'm three years behind the celebration, the beer makes celebration worthwhile in retrospect.

Russet and garnet in color, the viscous ale carries a hearty cloudiness that amounts to a terse white head that's somewhat short-lived. But her lack of withstanding foam yields the brandy legging with a glossy swirl of the glass.

Brown sugar, maple syrup- all from the malty tones that rise to the nose allow an intoxicating aroma to exude complementary notes of grape, cola, cherry, pecan, apple, and dates. Sweet port wines and advances sherries come to mind as much as beer as that twirling of the glass seduces the nose as much as it does the eye.

Flavors are even more succulent with the full intensity of malty sweetness hitting the tongue. Maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla come alive with flavor in much the way that french toast does but with the backing of port wine and brandy complexity. Rummy alcohol, burrowed wine-like acidity, and bitter cider complement the fold with a pruny and figgy wave that carries the beer throughout its nutty masculine finish.

Of course the full bodied beer does that full-bodied thing that Barleywines do, but there's a finesse to the beer that makes my impressions pull back. Restrained sweetness, oiliness, and viscocity makes the think of younger English olde ales more so than that of English Barleywines. Regardless, the strong alcohol warmth, semi-sweet, and supply bittered ale lingers indefinately with a calm and satisfaction that evokes retrospect and seduction.

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Photo of liamt07
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Steve, 341ml into a tulip.

Brown body with orange highlights. Beige head, with modest legs, good lacing and retention. Quite a bit of sediment here too. Nose has toffee, caramel apple, almond liqeur and bit of alcohol. Somewhat oxidized, twist-off caps certainly don't help this beers case. More sweet maltiness on the palate, clearly more oxidization evident, dark breads, brown sugar and caramel. Alcohol has yet to subside, still quite a bit of heat. Full and sticky feel, oxidation notes are most evident at the end of the mouthfeel. Good on the nose, a bit of a let down on the palate. Still OK though.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 1/8" tan head that collected around the edges of the glass over murky deep amber liquid.

S: Sweet barley malt and honey. A second smell gives a hint of figs.

T: Figs, cherries, honey, caramel tasting barley malt and yeast. Sweet initially with a somewhat bitter finish. Quite nice.

M: Medium to thick viscosity and a low level of carbonation. Somewhat puckering in the back corners of the mouth.

O: One of the more memorable barleywines I have tried due to the useage of Belgian trappist yeast. Quite drinkable and pleasant.

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Photo of Infamous7100
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a hazy light brown with hints of orange into my snifter. Thin head, no lacing.
S: very intriguing and very sweet. All kinds of fruits and malts melding together.
T: loads of malts, carmel notes and hints of the fruits,perhaps plums and figs. However, i get a ton of boozy notes throughout.
M: Thick and creamy with a low to medium carbonation level. A pleasant boozy, sweet hang at the back.
O: nice brew. Walks the line between and Belgian dark and a barleywine. The dark fruit notes and sweet malt on the nose are more prevalent than in the taste. The booze overshadows what i feel is the best quality of this type of beer, the flavor. Its aggressive in taste, yet a smooth sipper. Nice pick up.

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Photo of papat444
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to hoppypocket for this one.

Poured from a 341 ml. bottle into my St-Ambroise Millésimée 2006 snifter.

Appearance: The same bubbly thick foam with a look like swiss cheese on the sides of the glass. A dark red-amber body.

Smell: Raisins, dried cranberries and other assorted fruits.

Taste: Strong dark fruit with a hint of wood and some candied flavor. More candy than actual sugar.

Mouthfeel: Real low carbonation with a medium body and the feel is not greatly expansive.

Overall: ABV is upped from previous versions but it drinks just as well, if not better. Has more of a sweeter edge.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in an Ommegang flute. Pours a dark somewhat cloudy orange amber. One finger fine light tan head and lacing. Very interesting aroma of fruit esters; light fruit, caramel malt. Very nice, well integrated flavor of caramel malt, dark fruit, plum and cherry. A very pleasant fruit finish dominated by dark cherry. Very well integrated. Nice creamy medium to heavy body. Very well done and distinctive English barlywine. I hope I can find some more of these on the store shelves. I will certainly put some of these in the cellar.

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Photo of peensteen
3.24/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Murky orange-brown colour, light film of white head with no lace left behind. Smell is fruity, cherry and raisin, alcohol, sweet brown sugar, sherry with nutty almond like scents coming off of this. Taste is of cherry and quite fruity with sherry up front, oxidized flavours show up with some cardboard like flavours, nutty in the aftertaste, incredibly boozy throughout. Light carbonation, full body, moderately syrupy, full weight. I think this was past its prime but still incredibly boozy, the pleasant flavours here were not enough to combat the cardboard and alcohol that is present, will probably drink my 2010 soon to avoid a repeat of this.

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Photo of heygeebee
4.16/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep amber, with a short lived head that disspates to a film, and little lacing.

Aromas are wonderful, toffees, caramels, sherry.

Taste is sweet and complex. There are notes of raisin, toffee, sherry, brown sugar and alcohol warmth. Malts are there in the traditional sense, and whilst hops take a back step, it's not a non-hopped beer. Toffee and caramel get emphasised as it warms.

Mouthfeel is light for ABV, carbonation low..

Overall? A real find

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Photo of woosterbill
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.5oz bottle into an oversized tulip. Big thanks to Delaney's for giving me this bottle after the one I wanted (NEBCO Wet Willy 2008) was out of stock. A lovely gesture, and a happy coincidence that it happened on my birthday (which was last week, as I'm reviewing this from my notes).

A: Hazy deep orange body beneath a thin cap of fine tan foam that recedes fairly quickly but reasserts itself nicely upon a solid snifter swirl. Light, spotty lace. Nice.

S: Rich malty goodness: toffee, caramel, bread, dark fruit, and a hint of cherry. Just the slightest bit of pleasant oxidation is present, highlighting the age with a touch of sherry character. Complex + rich without being overwhelming; very nice indeed.

T: Follows the nose, with rich toffee sweetness leading to a solid core of caramelized fruit. A bit of sherry fruitiness and toasted malt combine for a long, rich sweetness. Booze is present but always in the background. It tastes old, complex, balanced, and delicious.

M: Thick, viscous, and full of creamy carbonation. A bit too bubbly, perhaps but I'm a fan.

O: Just a couple years have really treated this one nicely, and I would be ecstatic if I could find a few to throw in the cellar for longer still. Tasty stuff.


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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) from McAuslan Brewing
3.88 out of 5 based on 134 ratings.
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