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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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 96 | Ratings: 133
Photo of mintjellie
4.19/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep copper in colour with a reddish tinge. It's creamy, frothy, off-white head leaves behind a spotty lace. Rich toffee and fruit aroma also provides whiffs of dried apricot, ice cider, and alcohol. Rich flavours of sweet toffee, apricot, spice, raisin, and a little bit of nuttiness transition into an earthy bitterness that lingers on into the aftertaste. Hot and boozy last summer, it's noticecable alcohol presence has mellowed a little and become a bit more integrated with the whole. Put succintly, this Barleywine really tastes like fruitcake. Booze soaked fruitcake. Medium-heavy and lightly, finely carbonated. Smooth and sticky. Lovely ale. It might even improve further given a bit more time, though I'm really not sure. This is really the first beer I've sampled both fresh and with a bit of age on it. What a difference it can make!

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Photo of kwjd
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper colour with white head. Lots of lacing, leaves a ring of head along the surface of the beer. Smells of raisins and burnt toffee. Taste has a lot of sweetness, but I get some hop bitterness in there too. I tasted a lot more hops in this last year when it was fresh, but maybe that is just my imagination. Alcohol is really well hidden in this. Delicious.

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Photo of imperialstout27
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Stone IRS tulip.

A: Very hazy, ruddy caramel color. Thin head that dissipated quickly (the bottle poured very smoothly, so perhaps it wasn't agitated enough).

S: Aromas burst out as soon as the pour began. Sweet, and even suggesting of tartness. Pear, apple, grape, raisin, rum, and a nice spicey profile, kind of like gingerbread or nutmeg or something along those lines. Notes of sparkling apple cider. Whiff of alcohol. A LOT going on here.

T: Malty sweetness overlayed with huge complexity. Spicey profile with luscious fruits. Hard fruit candies. Maraschino cherries. It's almost like I can find hints of any fruit flavor I can think of in this beer. Vinous, with a flavor similar in ways to sherry. Boozy, which I expect and enjoy. Hop bitterness and flavor definitely comes to the fore with warmth. Lots going on here too.

M: Carbonation is light and the beer is thick and luscious.

D: This is absolutely a sipper, but quite nice. I found it much more enjoyable cooler as opposed to warmer.

Overall, a very nice beer and a great change of pace. Keep it cool (not cold). Too much warmth just made it out of balance for me - the hop profile didn't work right, the sweetness seemed overbearing, and the alcohol became livelier. I cooled it back down for a couple minutes and everything melded back into proper balance.

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

Note: taken from a 30 degree celcius room and refridgerated at about 4 degrees for half an hour. I'm hoping this puts the beer in the suggested 13-15 degree recommended temperature range. Upon tasting, it seems a tad too warm (although the hot Australian summer doesn't help).

Appearance - 4.0
Pours into a brandy snifter with two fingers of cream coloured head over a clear copper body with fine suspended sediment. Head reduces to a thin layer, leaving a little lace.

Smell - 4.0
My favourite aspect of this beer and nearing a 4.5. Rich, sweet maltiness is immediately apparent, alongside spicy English hops, piney American hops and a slightly fruity esters.

Taste - 4.0
Rich toffeeish malt upfront moves onto earthy, spicy and piney hops, finishing with rummy alcoholic warmth. Tastes of dried fruit, liquor soaked spongecake with a little fresh apricot and pine in the boozy finish. Bitterness becomes more apparent with continued drinking - for me this falls somewhere between the English and American styles.

Mouthfeel 4.0
Delightfully light in the mouth for an ale so rich, with very fine carbonation and plenty of warming alcohol.

Drinkability - 4.0
Not so good for me on this hot summer's day, but would be brilliant on a cold winter's night.

As it gets warmer, the hops start taking over this brew. Very good, but I preferred it cooler, when the resiny hop character was more in balance with the malt. All in all, a tasty, reasonably balanced, big, boozy barleywine - what's not to like!

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.5 oz, 9.8% abv. Pours a hazy copper color, with lots of sediment. Thin white head disappears very quickly, leaving a very thin collar.

Nose full of candied fruits up front. Berries, and pears come to mind. Some fig and toffee notes. A fair whiff of alcohol. Seems to also have a floral and citrusy edge, kind of hinting at American hops.

Lots of caramel and toffee malt up front. A suggestion of fruit, but not as much berry as the nose suggested. Warming alcohol. An odd peppery, spicy note at the middle. Finishes with more suggestions of fruit, and a bit drier than the beginning.

Medium body, carbonation is ok. Good warmth from the alcohol, suggesting some age could work wonders. Pretty good, although some of the flavor is not quite what I would expect.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber colour, slightly orange-tinged, with beige coloured head, modest but sinks fairly quickly, leaving a thin crown of dense-ish foam. Lacing is pretty delightful - nice, thick and sticky. Looks like it should.

Nose - yeah, quite malty. A lot of brown sugar and treacle, along with a healthy dose of methyl alcohol. Smells quite like brandy, but with a distinct sweetness, and a noticeable - if not prominent - hint of American-style hops for some fruitiness. Bit of peppery spice as well, pretty nice. But not sensational.

Taste has malt all over that. Lots of overcooked toffee, brown sugar, rum, even, but yeah, one of the most prominent things is a boozey warmth from the mid-palate onwards that becomes a sting towards the end. Good malty flavours overall - tastes like a barleywine, with sweet brandy, pecans, even some cola, and of course, toffee. The main problem I have is that it's so obviously meant to be a barleywine, and the flavour lacks nuance, giving way to a barley-malt-into-methanol profile with no subtlety. Not bad, but it just doesn't scream brilliantly crafted.

Mouthfeel is harsh from the get go. Obviously alcoholic, with the full stickiness merely a sidenote. Points off for the obvious alcohol, no points "for" for lack of anything else interesting.

Enjoyable enough, just lacks subtlety and nuance.

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

Cheers to my bro @laituegonflable for the sample.

Pours a burnished copper colour, almost turning pink at the edges, with a filmy but very fine head of creamy white. Lacing is very good, and there's some static carbonation in the glass, which is excellent. The colour is very bright and very appealing. Looks good.

Crisp and sharp, slightly tannic notes on the nose, with residual sweetness, like cranberries and cinnamon. Even a hint of vanilla and marzipan coming in. It's not huge, but the notes are unusual and quite pleasant. Spice is noticeable, and apart from the lack of strength, so is a slightly boozy note. Overall, a very pleasantly different nose.

Smooth on the palate, with some sharp phenols on the front, with a long, languous unravelling of vanilla sweetness as it continues. Very sweet finish, nothing dry or sharp. All the booze notes are saved for the fore. Comes across as rich, languous and engulfing, almost sensuous as it rolls across the tongue. Mouthfeel helps, with a rich creamy thickness accentuated by a slight alcohol tingle.

A very smooth and very drinkable brew, quite rich and with a lot of caressing complexity. It's perhaps a tad too heavy to drink easily, but to sip, relax, and enjoy, this is a winner.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.74/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 11/28/2009. 2009 bottle. Pours a clear orange with a small white head. Aroma of alcohol, prunes, caramel malt. Flavor of sweet malt, vanilla with a alcoholic finish and some bitterness. Meh, not very complex and a little too boozy. I didn't really care for this.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.61/5  rDev -7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 Vintage.
Pours deep amber, almost orange, with a large, persistent head.
Nose shows lashings of rich sweet malt mixing in with resinous hops, dried pineapple and sultanas. Malt profile includes golden syrup, caramel and bready notes. Some alcohol is noticeable but blends in exceptionally well with the malt.
Very rich flavours, with loads more malt showing more bready notes and caramel, before an assertive bitterness enters which, along with some very harsh alcohol, makes for a formidable finish.
Very syrupy body, but the carbonation is to lively. The alcohol provides a fair bit of heat on the palate and tongue.
I'm guessing the alcohol and carbonation issues would settle with some age.

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Photo of Gmann
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy honey brown color with a tight creamy egg-shell colored head. The smell is big and boozy. The aroma is big on honey, bready malt and a candied butterscotch. The taste is of toffee, buttery but not in a cloying/gross sort of way. It has like a candied-malt flavor, odd description but that is what it tastes like. There is some vanilla and a peppery spice. Some earthy and light citrus hops to keep the big sweetness in some balance. The feel is quite thick, almost syrupy but not cloying sweet. Sweet overall but balanced to a degree. Probably a bit too thick for the flavor profile. A big brew for sure. Quite thick and malty. Just not my cup of tea.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Nice packaging, suitable for the big 2-0.

This beer pours a hazy copper-orange colour, with a finger or so of creamy light beige head, which leaves solid lace around the glass as it recedes. It smells mildly of candy caramel, molasses, raisins, and alcohol. The taste is edgy alcohol, and then more of the candied dark fruits evident in the nose, and some mild noble hops. The carbonation is moderate, the body a bit lightweight for the style, and it finishes dry and fruity, the warmth and the malt coating the palate.

The booze in this anniversary ale is pretty prominent, but not off-putting or overwhelming, it just seems young, and makes it seem like I'm drinking it too soon, which is likely the case. However, there is still enough sweet malt and some balancing dry earthy hops, to make it enjoyable at this juncture, once I've grown accustomed to the heat.

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Photo of ericj551
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

St-Ambroise 20th pours a hazy dark orange with a thin, almost non existent head. The aroma is dark fruits, sweet malt, some boozy alcohol and earthy, herbal hops. The flavor is sharp upfront, followed by more dark fruits, with some sweetness, but less than the aroma indicated. Bitterness comes through next, and lingers along with plenty of slightly astringent alcohol flavor. There is plenty of carbonation despite the lack of head. This one tastes like it already has some age, but could use some more.

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Photo of BigDank
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium hazy red orange color with a large white head that decreases by half and stays for a while with decent lacing. Smell is of rich malt and slight alcohol. Taste is moderate and the ABV does not stand out greatly which is good. Not overpowering anyway. Being able to taste the alcohol is not always bad but this one is fairly mellow and easy going. Medium carbonation with a smooth flow make the mouth a nice follow through. Drinkability is up there in that the flavor is good but the higher alcohol make it one not to be taken too lightly. Enjoy in a mix of others would be my recommendation.

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Photo of jbowers56
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1-2 fingers of white head. Amber-red colouring. Slightly hazy.

Sweet candy smell is predominant. Get hints of caramel, dried fruits. Really beautiful nose.

Initial taste lives up to nose. Very much a candied kind of fruit taste. Fairly dry hoppy aftertaste attempts to lap up the big malty sweetness which develops. A little cloying, and some alcohol in the aftertaste.

Hard to say objectively, as I really like this kind of verging on syruppy, lowish carbonation mouthfeel.

Probably not the best balanced beer going around. However, it is definitely not a run of the mill anything. Very interesting, extremely well made and ultimately, I think, despite the very high abv, i could drink more than one of these. Though, one would want to drink them fairly slowly.

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Photo of champ103
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a slightly hazy copper/orange color. A two finger white head gently rises to two fingers. Plenty of sticky lace is left behind.
S: Lightly toasted malt. Sweet candy aromas. A great fruit medley of plums, melons, peaches, and even some apple skins. Lots of subtle aromas that are great.
T: A bit more reserved than the nose. Toasted malt and sweet candy flavors. Some fruity flavors as well. Though not nearly as subtle, and it becomes a little cloying as this warms up. Some alcohol as well. Still an enjoyable beer.
M/D: A full body that is sticky and syrupy. There is a little to much carbonation for me though. The alcohol shows, but this is a good beer to sip on.

I really enjoyed this. I can see this aging really well. After a few years the alcohol and carbonation should mellow. As is, this is still very good. Something I would recommend.

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Photo of Tim2000
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341 mL brown bottle.

Pours a crystal clear dark copper with a creamy off-white head.

Sweet aroma of rum and candied fruit.

Lots of caramel, some hazelnut and raisins. Alcohol is very present and slightly harsh. Finishes with mildly astringent, grassy hops. Full-bodied with moderate carbonation.

Very good, but some aging would probably smooth out the rough edges.

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Photo of GodOfBeer
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark red-amber with a nice white head, dies down to a thin layer, some decent lacing.

Smells of apple cider, pine needles, citrus hops, strawberries and other fresh fruit and some alcohol as it warms up.

This is a very tasty beer. Malty sweet upfront with slight fruity notes, molasses, caramel. A lot hoppier than I was expecting, very strong pine-like bitterness that brings the malt backbone into harmony. As it warms up the alcohol becomes more noticeable.

Thick, syrupy mouthfeel and pretty drinkable considering its 9.8%. I bet this would get a lot better and more rounded with a couple years under it's belt.

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Photo of WeedKing4
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sep 26, 2009
12oz bottle, 2009 edition. Pours a dark amber clear colour, wth the slightest of haze to it. Alc.% is well hidden, fairly easy to drink. More of a malty taste then the hops. Pretty solid beer overall, considering the 9.8%. Very solid indeed.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle poured into corsendonk chalice oct14 2009

A clear amber with lots of carbonation, rough pour gives me a massive head that hangs around for a little while before falling into a 1/4in film leaving some nice patches of lace along the way

S caramel, booze and fruit cherry maybe

T a little to much booze but nice burnt sugar flavors and some dark fruit

M good and thick, nice and creamy, best part of the beer for me

D needs some time under the stairs, a little rough still. this should be a great beer in a few years

love the little tube this beer comes in, worth a try for sure but better off in a cellar for a while
cheers to wittaker for this one

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Photo of cratez
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from the York & Ridout LCBO in London, ON. To my knowledge, the Vintage Ale was not available in London last year, so I had to try it out! Once again, McAuslan delivered.

Appearance: pours a deep, amber-orange body with a thin layer of white film. Cloudy, thick, and inviting. Spots of sugary lacing speckle the glass while drinking.

Smell: huge aromas burst onto the nose, ranging from sweet caramelized fruits (oranges, pears, and apricots) to candy apples to piney, herbal hops. Toasted biscuit and alcohol are also evident. Rich, intriguing, and fruity.

Taste: sticky caramel and wheat malts, hints of toffee, juicy plum, raisin, and orange rind flavours, various spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Crisp and piney hops round out the aftertaste with a bold, herbal character. Boozy and warming, yet refreshing as well. Good god, this is one hell of a barley wine!

Mouthfeel: a smooth and luscious body, somewhat syrupy. The fruit and spice flavours produce a briefly 'tangy' mouthfeel. Finishes clean with some alcoholic heat, and a lingering hop bitterness.

Overall: I have to say, I'm a bit confused by the underwhelming reviews of this beer. I've only tried a few solid barley wines - SN, Rogue, Half Pints, Great Divide - but this measures up to all of them. Big flavours and aromas plus high drinkability (especially for 9.8% ABV). A superbly tasty brew - I plan to stock up before it runs out!

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Photo of Shadman
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice packaging!

Rich bright colour, like a polished copper. Slightl hazy. I thought the head and lacing were a disappoinment, but then the ABV may have something to do with that.

Some floral, yet oily hop aroma with some pale malt as well. Nice, but again I was expecting more.

Fairly hoppy up front. Sweet candy and some smooth maltiness. Bitterness returns and I found the back of my tongue detected a slight citrus ( lemon) taste.

Quite thick and chewy.

Decent. Would agree with others that I needs some seasoning.

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Photo of brewtal
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a St-Ambroise Millésimée 2007 Snifter.

Looking good with a deep orange robe and a vivid reddish brilliance. Very decent and consistent beige head.

Smells mostly consists of huge barley candy and subtle ripe papaya. There is also a cake-like quality to the nose somewhat.

Malty and cloying at first. Early alcohol bite. Very warming. Seems a tad heavy at first, but a good dose of english hops makes this work and it's pretty dry in the end. Still, it does stay on the sweet side too. The exotic fruit aromas are very much in the overripe spectrum and they kind of reminds me of late harvest sauvignon or maybe Sauternes, wich is very nice, but doesn't seems to keep up with the bitter tea-like hops.

Carbonation contributes to a good texture, but i ultimately find myself unsure about the balance of it all.

Well, i like this, but i don't love it as much as previous vintages. Is it a bad night for such a brew? Is my traditional/english-style barleywine lore rusty? Those are all possibilities and i'll see the end of it when i sample it again in a year or so.

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Photo of brentk56
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a bountiful head that persists atop the liquid and streaks the glass

Smell: Caramel malt and a range of fruit liqueur essence - pear and fig, perhaps, maybe others, too

Taste: After a strong blast of caramel, a lot of complexity develops both of the fruity and bitter kinds - pear, apricot and figs, but bitter, herbal pith, too; after the swallow, the fruity flavors dominate along with some pithy pine and citrus, while the herbal elements take a back seat; boozy aspects develop in mid-palate and linger through the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate, but prickly carbonation; lots of warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Quite a bit unbalanced right now, but I suspect this will improve with some age

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Photo of MAB
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An awesome beer; one that purports to age well but I doubt that I could wait for it to do so.

Copper color with yellowish head, it is thicker than water and feels wonderful on the tongue. I thought the aroma was muted, slightly malty but my wife thought it was yeasty-- which I didn't get. It tastes sweet and smooth but has a bitter aftertaste that I just love.
It's near or at the top of my best five new beers bought in 2009 list (so far).

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Photo of THEMGG
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This beer looks great in its scotch whiskey style bottle jacket. Poured into a Triple Moine Goblet, pours up a single finger head, nice tight bubbles and good hangtime on the lace.

S - I'm getting toffee, floral/medicinal smells, and a hint of alcohol hanging out. The aroma may be a bit singlular for an English Barleywine.

T - Nice! Big toffee/butterscotch at the start, then fruits and medicinal notes come through, plums, berries, clove like flavours. Bitterness comes through at the end to round it all up nicely. A hint of alcohol persists at the end.

M - Mouthfeel is rich and clings to palate nicely.

D - I could certainly drink a few of these in front of an open fire with a pipe full of the finest tobacco. I think this beer could benefit from more ageing and I would love to try one in a year or twos time and re-review it.

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St-Ambroise 20th Anniversary Vintage Ale (2009) from McAuslan Brewing
3.88 out of 5 based on 133 ratings.
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