Holly Jolly Christmas Ale | Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon

BA SCORE
85
very good
45 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score
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Holly Jolly Christmas AleHolly Jolly Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon
Ohio, United States
fatheadscleveland.com

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BB1313 on 12-07-2012

BEER STATS
Reviews:
45
Ratings:
363
Avg:
3.8
pDev:
11.84%
 
 
Wants:
14
Gots:
112
For Trade:
3
User Reviews
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Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 363
Photo of brentk56
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color, capped by a two finger ecru head; the retention is disappointing and there is minimal lacing

Smell: Herbal thyme aromatics dominate, with orange, juniper berry, honey and assorted Christmas spicing, primarily ginger and cinnamon

Taste: Spice cake malt and honey flavors, at the outset with the herbal and holiday spice mix building; through the middle, the orangey bitterness becomes prominent; the herbal and juniper tones return, in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A bit of a muddle, sort of like blending a pale ale with a winter warmer, and the herbal tones just don't work well on my palate with the hops

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 10/24/2013. Pours moderately cloudy deep ruby red color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, caramel, brown sugar, toast, brown bread, honey, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, clove, and herbal earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and spice notes; with great strength. Taste of raisin, caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, honey, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, clove, and herbal earthiness. Minimal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, honey, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance, robustness, and complexity of malt, honey, and spice flavors; with a great malt/spice balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth and lightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice spiced Christmas ale! All around good balance and complexity of malt and spice flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I just had occasion to revisit GLBC's Christmas Ale and I thought that since I am on a Christmas Ale kick, I would take in another Ahia brewery's offering. A trio of us made a recent foray to Malvern for beer & this was one of the bottles that came home with me. Merry Christmas (a few days late) & Season's Beatings to the Kleveland Klowns this coming Sunday, courtesy of Th' Stillers, 'n' 'at!

From the bottle: :Once upon a frozen evening way up north, a sweet local honey named Holly inspired our jolly fat man (as only Holly can) to create this festive spiced holiday ale. We think that you will enjoy this holiday creation with it's [sic] aromas and flavors of Christmas day. Sweet malt, ginger, honey and cinnamon spice. Sip this by the fire with your significant other. Who knows, maybe it will lead to a little inspiration of your own. From our Jolly Fat Man to yours, Happy Holidays."; "Chill Out Man, Have A Beer! (R) [undersigned] Matt - Chris - Glenn"; "A great beer to spice up your holidays".

I gently Pop!ped the cap since their Fat Man was emblazoned on it & then I conducted a gentle pour sine I was using a smaller glass than what the bottle held. I still got two fingers of dense, rocky, tawny head with good retention for my efforts. Color was a Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity & mahogany highlights. Nose was more gingery spicy than cinnamon, but both were evident. Mouthfeel was thin-to-medium, not watery, but very thin as compared to GLBC Christmas Ale. The taste was very spicy and the ginger was prevalent, overpowering the honey and leaving the cinnamon in the background. Finish was absolutely dry, thanks to the spices. It was decent, but I would prefer the GLBC version over this one, given a choice. That said, this might be better mulled in a double boiler & I can provide instruction, if you like.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Six packs released with a deep mahogany brown crimson hue with light khaki tan head forming nicely in intricate patterns down the sides of my chalice. Aroma has spices for Christmas, ginger, cinnamon, etc. with a definite honey tone fermented out a bit. Strong spice character throughout each sip it's super spicy limiting the enjoyment of each sip, to how high your tolerance is to the honey, cinnamon, ginger, dry spice additions are. Mouthfeel gets cloying at times be ready to share this beer with those folks who love Great Lakes Christmas ale hell rim the glass with a mix of cinnamon and sugar if you have to. Overall I love Fathead's this beer is off my palate's radar for beers I truly love, but I consider it to be a good solid Christmas ale.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The Holly Jolly is a solid Christmas Ale....there are just a few critiques on each category that I must give and reasons as to why this beer didn't score higher with me.....even though I think it might be my favorite Xmas Style Ale I've tried to date. The beer poured a very nice rich amber with thin white head....but no lace (deduct). The scent has spice and pine needles not overpowering (which I like)....but not as strong as others (deduct). The taste is evenly balanced...again the spice and pine not overpowering...again which I like and makes it sessionable. The mouthfeel is medium in body with good carbonation. Overall this is good and I like it....but if you're looking for a gingerbread man in a Xmas tree bold punch in the face....this is not it. Very subtle an nice.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.84/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with a white head that recedes to a fine layer. Aroma of molasses, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and spice.

In the taste, fairly spicy, with allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg balanced by sugary malts and a balancing hop bitterness. The mild citrusy hops give the impression of lemon candies. There is a smallish nutty malt flavor. Medium to full bodied ale that drinks easy

Overall this is a nice spiced ale and a good holiday brew. The spices were not overwhelming, like in some renditions of the style. This is pretty good stuff, as to be expected from this brewery.

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Photo of barczar
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I'm not a Christmas beer fan, and I'm not a fan of ginger, so this is not my fave.

Ginger and allspice dominate both aroma and flavor. Cola notes become evident in the aftertaste. There's a touch of toasted malt.

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown color with ivory colored head. Spices, toast, roasted malts on the nose; follows onto the palate. Medium bodied. Finishes with spice.

 155 characters

Photo of tigg924
3/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on tap. Pours clear, orange-brown in color with 1/2 inch head. Taste is holiday spices: cinnamon, clove, orange peel, and toasted malt. Medium bodied, sweet, with moderate carbonation. Fairly standard winter warmer type of beer. Not a bad beer by any stretch, but kinda what I would expect from a brewery's holiday ale. Solid, but I would not rush to get this.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.76/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Clear deep amber, not much carbonation, one finger head that doesn't long at all.

S-Very spice heavy; nutmeg, cinnamon, some caramel and slight honey.

T-Rather sweet with spices. Caramel and malt to begin with cinnamon and nutmeg in the finish. No bitterness though.

M-Light, very light and watery without any carbonation.

O-As it warms it becomes slightly bland, the spice is still there but nothing special. A good beer but not worth having again.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pours a mostly clear brownish-crimson color with a fluffy head of tan head. Fades pretty fast and does not leave much lace.

Aroma is ginger galore with the sweet cinnamon-honey coming a close second. Smells very much like a gingerbread cookie.

Taste mixes malt flavors with the spices better than the nose would indicate, still quite cookie-esque though. The honey comes forth in this beer more so than any other beer I have had, maybe even as much as DFH Midas Touch. The ginger seems to help that perception, as does the rich malt. Mouthfeel is great - full and silky. I like this one quite a bit but I could see it being too rich for more than one or two in a sitting.

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Photo of Brenden
3.62/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is a pretty dark, somewhat standard (for a style that has no particular standard) sort of reddish-brown. A tight cream-colored head forms, growing to almost a finger tall, retains itself pretty well, and leaves a modicum of spotty lacing as it recedes.
Initially smelling this and thinking it's a winter warmer, expecting a touch more sweetness and a bit more warmth, it makes sense that it's in an even broader category. The backbone is malty, mostly caramel with some bread, accompanied by some mostly floral hops notes. The spicing is such that it doesn't add sweetness, something of a mix of kitchen and holiday spices. There is a slight kick of cinnamon, and it's well integrated, but otherwise it's more like allspice with an obvious note of nutmeg. The coriander gives it a hint of something like one of those uncategorized Belgian browns. They went safe with it, balancing everything well, making sure it's not too sweet or too heavily spiced. Playing it safe, though, does mute it just a bit overall.
The body is moderate. The carbonation borders on high but is kept in check. Generally it's pretty smooth, definitely plenty crisp but not biting. Alcohol doesn't factor too much in the feel, which is good.

 1,225 characters

Photo of OWSLEY069
2.96/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a lightly hazy orange-ish to amber color with an off white head. In the aroma, a light spice and quite faint. In the taste, spices, especially all spice, but mellow in the end. A spice bite and a medium to lighter bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry spice in the aftertaste. Nice spice but mellow and faint.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 FL.OZ. bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - This beer is rust with orange highlights. It has a fleeting inch of tan head.

S - The smell is cinnamon and some clove.

T - The taste is loaded with cinnamon as well. I also notice some gingerbread.

M - Medium

O - This is a pretty good winter warmer. I know it is July, but it has held up quite well.

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Photo of prototypic
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Holly Jolly pours a deep copper color. Looks to be clear for the most part. Backlighting shows attractive crimson highlights. I like the color quite a bit! An off-white head covers the top. It stands just a little over a finger tall. Retention was on the shorter side. It fell back to a surface covering quickly. Lacing was moderate and spotty. Not bad.

The nose is good. The malt base smells nice. It features some caramel notes, but doesn’t smell overly sweet. Toasted malts and a bit of light chocolate are also noted. Holiday spices are rather strong in the mix. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are front and center. There’s a rather strong piney or spruce scent that follows. It’s not bad, but smells just a tad strong for this guy. Alcohol is blended pretty well. This bottle is listed as 7.4% abv. Smells good overall.

The flavor isn’t quite as good. The malt base is solid. It’s a mix of light caramel, chocolate, and toasted malts. The chocolate variety tastes like cocoa, and the caramel sweetness is held in check pretty well. The piney, spruce-like flavor follows and is a bit too strong for me. Not bad, just too strong. Holiday spices follow. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger are all present and add quite a bit of flavor. Alcohol isn’t all that strong. It’s blended well. Finishes spruce-y, spicy, and sweet.

Holly Jolly has a medium body. Carbonation is dialed back nicely and is light and soft. It’s smooth and easy drinking for the most part. The spruce flavor grows a tad tiresome, but I’ll still finish the bottle!

Holly Jolly is a pretty solid Winter Warmer from Fat Heads Brewery. Here in Ohio, it’s not a threat to dethrone Great Lakes Christmas Ale, but it’s a nice supplement to the Christmas season. If the strong sprucey, piney flavor could be toned down a little, it’d be even better. Easy recommendation nevertheless.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a shaker pint.

Appearance
Reddish-mahogany with a short tan head. Good clarity with yeast sediment dancing around. Lively carbonation.

Nose
Cherry, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and plum.

Taste
Honey, maraschino cherry juice, and black plum. Light bouquet of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Mouthfeel
Medium-plus bodied, crisp, and silky with a drying finish.

Overall
A nicely spiced holiday beer. Well balanced and hides the abv well.

 458 characters

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this in a beer exchange. Thanks Chris!

12oz bottle served in a glass beer mug.

L - cloudy amber color with a beige head that thinned out but still left a fair amount of lacing.

S - lots of holiday spices, nutmeg, ginger and raw honey.

T - the spices and honey come through in the taste with just a little bitterness on the finish.

F - medium bodied with a silky smooth feel.

O - a good example of the style.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - a pretty pour, clear amber/ruby brew with a finger of manila cream. Festive and elegant.

Aroma - cola/anise, powdery grain.

Taste - like the nose, a cola/anise flavor, malty sweetness. A middle of the road seasonal, but a good crossover into the winter ale styles that tend to be sweeter.

Mouthfeel - smooth, decent weight for the style, slightly muted carbonation.

Overall - decent session Christmas beer, though GLC still rules the roost. A toast of this beer to Steve who introduced himself at the King of the Hill IPA tasting at Incline Public House. He needed a sitdown and I was happy to share my table. Joined by his brother Frank and sister-in-law Leanne, I was about to leave but they bought me one, so thanks for that!! Meeting new friends over good beer is always a keeper in the holiday memories department. Great to meet you guys, cheers!

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Photo of thecheapies
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Fat Head's Holly Jolly Christmas Ale. Served in a pint glass.

Very much cloudy (noticed some sludge at the bottom of the bottle after pouring). Caramel brown color. Beige head peaked at almost two fingers. Didn't sustain long.

I get cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and thyme. Pretty phenomenal that it's easy to pick these all out. Rugged maltiness offers toast, but the aroma is not complete without the interpretations of minty hops.

Cinnamon and spice, and everything nice. Cinnamon, clove, allspice, malty toast, spicy alcohol, brown sugar, and some hops in the finish. Sweeter than it is bitter. Tastes classically like a winter warmer, but has a nice buttery sweetness in the middle.

Very lively carbonation. It has a warm alcohol note, which is nice. The body isn't memorable, but it works.

Great nose and pleasant flavor. An accomplished winter warmer, or apparently, a spiced beer.

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Photo of ckollias
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this 12oz stubby bottle out of a Belgian tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark amber-orangish with a thick, fizzy, off-white, head that slowly dissipates down the side of the glass ending in a solid lace.

S: Malty aroma with spicy backbone consisting of mostly of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

T: Similar to the smell this malty brew has flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg Lots of spices and complex flavors here.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Excellent winter spiced ale. Very flavorful and balanced.

 523 characters

Photo of wvsabbath
3.67/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Type - Bottle

Appearance - Brownish tan with a thin 1/4 inch head. Decent lacing.

Smell - Classic winter warmer smell. Malts, Cherry, apples,orange, honey, ginger, molasses and brown sugar. Dark fruits like plum and rasin.

Taste - Dry malty, toffee, caramel and buttery at first sip. Much like a english brown ale with winter warmer spices and flavors. Ginger is a large flavor that comes in at first sip and remains at the finish. Some minor cherry and added sugars are present. A sting of alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Malts coat tounge with dry buttery flavors. Palate gets alot of ginger, some fruits and added sugars. The finish is malty, spicey and dry.

Overall - Different style of xmas ale. Its a brown ale, with some winter warmer notes. The sugars and spices arent overpowering at all. Hops are minor, fruits are mixed in with added sugars. Ginger makes up the main flavor with the buttery malts. Good, not great, worth a drink.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The Lake Erie region has a lot of great breweries and great Xmas drinks coming out of those breweries. This is the best of those holiday drinks I've tried this year. Really, there is no reason to look any further, this is the one. I had a taste at their pub on Lorain and now a bottle too.

It is a pretty brown ale. Nice and clear with extremely fine head. The aroma is exquisite. As good as any in the style. It smells hoppy and spicy all nicely balanced.

The taste is an easy drinking strong holiday drink. Not too bitter but not too spiced and punchie. It lingers on the palate on the sweet side, appropriately. I hope to serve these to guests a few times this year but I don't want another right now - one is enough, give me something sour or sitter or ... over the top. Cheers.

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Photo of BB1313
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a hazy auburn, off-white head which eventually fades but leaves nice lacing and retention. The aromas are full of the usual suspects like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. There are some berries noticeable in the nose as well, especially blueberries. The flavors are pretty malty. The spices definitely shine as well. More cinnamon and ginger, which dominate. The honey isn't too noticeable in the flavors, in my opinion. Very grainy and has a mineral-like quality. There's a subtle bitterness. The flavors just seem to fall flat and don't come off as memorable. I'm also picking up some blueberries in the flavors, for what it's worth. The mouthfeel is nice. High carbonation, almost fizzy, but smooth. The alcohol is well hidden and not noticeable.

I love Fat Head's, but I was underwhelmed by this one. If you're into spiced Christmas ales, give it a shot, but it's not as tasty as Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Hoppin' Frog, and The Brew Kettle's interpretations, in my humble opinion. I hate to compare beers in reviews, but it's only fair since they are all too similar and Ohio brewed.

** I'm not sure if this is the same beer/recipe as their Christmas Ale of years past. Seems very similar.

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Photo of hosehead83
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a "stubby" bottle into a standard pint glass.
Chill-hazed copper in color, with a nice-looking head of off-white foam.
Aroma-Nutmeg and cinnamon notes.
Taste-Cinnamon, nutmeg, holiday spices. Well-balanced and flavorfull, 7.4ABV not evident.
A well-balanced, holiday spiced winter brew.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.84/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The coldest winter in a half-century deserves a Christmas beer anytime – cheers.

Bottled 11/14/2013, nearly three months before the date of this tasting.

A: Dark auburn body, with a pristine transparency that’s only visible when held up to the light – otherwise it just looks like darkness. Short, fizzy head of thin bubbles dissipates quickly, leaving little lace and nothing but a dusting of retention.

S: Notes of spice, booze, and sweets abound: each whiff provides a noseful of allspice, nutmeg, and ginger on a bed of bright, minty vanilla malt scents. Smells like a spice cake, one with an extra thick layer of icing.

T: White cake and rum raisin ice cream with cinnamon-sugar on top: delicious sugar and spice fill out the body with wonderful balance. Both extremes are drinkable and controlled, a filling blend of sweet cake, dark fig, and brown sugar topped with nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice. Finishes a little on the thin side of sugary, like a diet cola, but that’s the only downside I’m getting in this palate.

M: The carbonation is light, adding nothing but a bit of texture to the spice, while the body is just thick enough to be filling. The texture fits the palate perfectly.

O: This beer is a meal in a glass, showing off enough spicy complexity to endlessly entertain the palate. If you’re looking for a pleasantly-spiced, drinkable beer for the colder months, look no further.

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Holly Jolly Christmas Ale from Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon
3.8 out of 5 based on 363 ratings.
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