Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

310 Reviews
Berkshire Russian Imperial StoutBerkshire Russian Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-30-2001

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Reviews: 310 | Ratings: 539
Photo of DirtybeerguyRI
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

APPEARANCE: Dark as pitch at midnight with a thin but persistent lace. Even with an aggressive pour, the head is minimal and disappears quickly.

SMELL: The primary nose here is dark chocolate and roasted coffee. Under that, you'll pick up hints of licorice and fruit. This may sound like an odd pairing, but it's really quite nice.

TASTE: Fantastic! This stout baths your palate with a luxurious fusion of dark chocolate and coffee with fruity, semi-sweet undertones. There's a mild alcohol taste combined with minimally-bitter roasted malts. This beer would pair wonderfully wonderfully with a dark chocolate cake (such as Black Forest German Cake) or chocolate pot de crème. It would also be interesting to try this beer with red meat dishes featuring caramelized onions or some other semi-sweet flavoring. I recently had baby-back ribs with a bourbon-molasses sauce and I think that this beer would have been a wonderful pairing.

MOUTHFEEL: This stout almost caresses the mouth. It's very smooth and velvety. On the finish, there's a slight bitterness that pricks at the tastebuds.

DRINKABILITY: I can drink dark, complex stouts for an entire night, but others with easily-overwhelmed palates may want to limit this brew to a nightcap or 12-ounce glass with desert. To get all the layers of taste, let mouthfuls of this beer warm in your mouth. It's worth it.

VERDICT: Berkshire Brewing has turned out a brilliant Russian stout that really stands out from the pack. This is a true beer geek's brew. I wouldn't call this a night-long session beer for the average beer enthusiast, but with certain types of food (or just as a treat for the mouth), this beer rates as a must-try.

John Harvey

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Photo of datalager
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I won't go into the detail I usually do, or that others have already done. instead I'll say this: I picked up a 22 oz bomber at the local Whole Foods...on a whim. The blind purchase was made under the guise of both my love of stouts and Berkshire Brewing. Boom and boom on both counts!

I'll skip the details, because this is an imperial stout, so the profile isn't far from what you would expect. In brief, it is black, malty, roasted, boozy, and just downright delicious. It is not the individual details of this ale, but rather the sum of its characteristics that make this a real stout lover's dream. The one unique flavor here is the slight "fresh" coffee flavor, that nobody does better than Berkshire, IMO.

This is easily the best imperial stout I have ever had, and one of the tastiest stouts overalll. Don't hesitate to grab one. And enjoy it slowly...22 oz at 8.5% will make you

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Photo of gkatsoris
4.92/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Black as night, with a fizzled tan head. No lacing at all. Poured more like a porter than an RIS.

S: CHOCOLATE MILK. Smells like Hershey's Chocolate Milk. Slight vanilla, and very slight black cherries. Boiled peanuts.

T: Chocolate, cocoa, slight coffe, slight expresso. No bitterness at all. Extremely balanced!!! Slight peanuts. And chocolate milk.

M: Very thin, but not at all in a bad way. The maouthfeel is super balanced as well. goes in chewy, but is thin on the palate, and finishes thin also. Leaves a nice coat on the tongue.

O: Not rated as a top 100 brew, but should be rated as a top 100 brew. Thank God it's not rated as a top 100 brew; more for me!!!

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.83/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Best by date of 3/29/16 and consumed on 1/29/16.
Very dark brown, black, look and there is very little in the way of a head. Aroma of roasted barley, malt, chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits. Very dark fruits, like chocolate covered cherries, dominate the flavor with the roast and coffee following behind. Poured very thin and feels very thin but the smell, look, and the enticing flavor more than makes up for the feel. This truly is a fantastic RIS but, I'm not sure it's; "The Russian Imperial Stout," as the label implies.

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Photo of mcarroll10177
4.73/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into my BBC pint glass

A- black as night with a coffee color off white head, tons of lacing left on the glass

S- some roasted malts with hints of licorish and bittersweet coffee

T- the roasted malts come through first, followed by some licorish and a nice warming alcohol. The alcohol is balanced bny the other favors and is not overpowering as in other RIS. Brilliant taste

M- smooth as velvet, just the right combination of carbination as well. Wonderful.

D- for a big stout this beer is dangerously drinkable. After a bomber of this you are all done. The alcohol is present but well masked by the other flavors.

The best stout I have had from my favorite american brewery. Makes me glad to live in Western MA.

Note- The beer was aged a bit to let the flavors develop. It was a winter release enjoyed 8/25. Let the flavors age for a few months and enjpy.

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Photo of Kranders
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer. Poured pitch black with a small amount of head. Really rich aroma, full of coffee/chocolate and dark malts. One of the smoothest and most inviting RIS I've ever had. It's thick and full with chocolate, coffee, burnt sugar and all sorts of complex dark flavors. Still, it doesn't overwhelm the palate and it's easy to appreciate every little aspect of the brew. It's nice and thick, and leaves you tasting it for a bit after it's gone.

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.67/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm celebrating National Stout Day with a slightly chilled bottle of a new (to me) Russian Imperial Stout. It is poured into my Smuttynose Big Beer Series snifter.

The beer is an opaque black liquid with a thick tan foam head. Fairly good lacing is left behind.

The nose has some big roasted malt smells coming off of it, but it doesn't come across as overly sweet or alcoholic, a fault some other beers in this style have. I also smell some hints of oak and black licorice.

The beer has a very nice flavor. Like the aroma, the flavor isn't too sweet or alcoholic, but it does have subtle amounts of both. I taste brown sugar, raisins, plums and a touch of smoke. It provides a delayed warming sensation that is quite nice.

The beer is full bodied with average carbonation. It is a little sticky on much so on my lips. Within my mouth there is a long-lasting coat, but it doesn't feel to thick. It contains some of the dark fruit flavors I mentioned above.

This is a really good RIS. It also is fairly inexpensive (I paid 5.99 + tax & deposit for this 22oz bottle). I'm glad Berkshire is now distributed to Maine. I'll have to get more of this!

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Photo of bjohnson
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a jet black oil like sludge color with a cloud like one and a half finger caramel colored head. Excellent retention and frost like lacing starting to form already. Thick film on top with bunches of bubbles here and there. Yup, just as I though, tons of lacing.
S: Nice deep roasted and burnt coffee notes with background hints of dark fruit, sweet caramel, and toasted grain.
T/M: Extra smooth and silky across the pallate with a good sweet milkyness to it. The sweetness of the milkyness possibly comes from caramel as there are bits that peak in and out. Or could that caramel really be chocolate? Tough to tell as both flavors seem to be aruging back and forth---ok, ok, upon further review, both are present. Chocolate is more noticeable in the aftertaste. Roasted coffee isn't as exciting to the taste buds as it was to the nostrils, but still it's noticeable. Bitterness from the hops gets a bit lost and mixed together with the bitterness from the coffee malt flavors, but not matter. The balance of this beer is excellent. Frothy head gets slightly sticky on the lips. Big, thick, and full body.
D: If I were you, I'd grab a ton of these--at that price ($4.99) you get more than your moneys worth. Fantastic tasting RIS with a smooth, but rich and full body. Abv is almost masked by the exceptional flavors and only caught out by the warming of the chest. Drinkable warm or at the appropriate 45-50 degree temp.

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Photo of JackWeizen
4.64/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After staring at the beer selection for 20 minutes, unable to commit to anything, I picked up a 22 of this stuff. I have really enjoyed the BBC's beers in the past.

My pour yields a very dark almost mahogany color, a thick head, and some very light lacing.

Smell and taste are fantastic with chocolaty malts, very little burnt character. There is a candy-like sweetness that lingers. Hops are present, but are mostly in the background. A slight yeastiness gives this beer a roundness that I feel is lacking from most filtered beer.

I could drink this stuff all day. Sure its an imperial stout, but it goes down like a dry stout. Well, almost anyway. I'd like to cellar one of these for a year, but i'm not sure what to think of the "Keep Refrigerated" advice on the label.

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Photo of BierBliss
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured into a tulip

aroma: coffee notes

appearance: pours black, a large inch head that fades slowly, light lacing

flavor: malty, not very hoppy, no strong coffee or chocolate that would be expected

mouthfeel: smooth, not as boozy as many RIS, no real heat

overall impression: a fine drinking RIS, a personal favorite that I revisit often

certainly a beer that I will purchase again and again

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Photo of ervc
4.59/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A drinkable Russian Imperial? That's a dangerous notion BBC decided to run with. In comparison to other Baltic style imperials this one is far beyond the competition. The only problem with this beer is you can only have a couple...because too many will find you on the floor.

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Photo of carln26
4.57/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep brown to black in color with ruby highlights and a reasonable tan colored head. Little lace was left on the side of the glass. Roasted malt in the front of the nose with chocolate overtones and a hint of cherry. The taste is a nice balance of roast malt, the chocolate I detected in the nose and more of a black cherry flavor (rather than bing cherry . The hops just brighten the flavor some, and blend in well. Mild warming and a silky mouth feel lend to a great drinakbility. Very nice beer.

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Photo of albern
4.55/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the best imperial stouts I've had. I typically avoid the style because it is either too loaded up with coffee and mocha tastes, or there is too much of an ABV throatiness in the finish, or there is just too much burnt and charred notes that make it too much the sipping experience. The Berkshire Imperial Stout suffers from absolutely none of the above.

The beer pours a fairly thick dull dark brown color impenetrable to light. There is a nice creamy tan head on the beer. Not tons of retention, no lacing to speak of. The nose on the beer is sweet malts, chocolate malts, cocoa powder, and some cherry or raspberry tones in there as well.

The taste is wonderful. This is a creamy, but not overly thick, low carbonation stout that is very chocolatey, almost fudge like, with a nice cherry and raspberry finish to it. The beer has some roasted notes, lots of fruit in the palate, and a full bodied character to match its creaminess. There are some hop notes to keep things in check, maybe a touch of some spice in the finish, but mostly just lots of creamy cherry or raspberry chocolate fudge brownie tastes. The ABV is very well hidden and the mouthfeel is just a touch oily. This is a very good beer for the style, well worth seeking out. L'Chaim.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.54/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the Berkshire bomber into a pint glass.

Pours very dark black with just a smidge of foam on top. Strong dark chocolate smell, roasted too. Smooth creamy taste, some sweetness. Loads of chocolate in the flavor, and only mildly bitter. Remarkably clean with a flavorful finish. More chocolate than stout. Really tasty.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Recived this beer on a trade several months ago from Sudsdog. 22oz brown bottle poured into and imperial nonic glass.Opaque,black with a rich creamy generous tan head turning pillowy as it falls.Good retention leaving a couple of lace curtians down the glass

Very clean roasty chocolaty aroma with heavy sweet carmell.Very pleasing not real strong.

Has a very clean roasty start with a great chocolate taste that's dusty and dry. Excellent balance with a very nice clean sharp hop bite with woody/earthy notes. Extra smooth i'd have to guess that some oats were added to this one with the exceptional smoothness and creamyness. Can't really notice any alcohol presence for a beer with an 8.50 abv. The creamy smoothness of Berkshire beer alway amazes me. Love thier beer this is another excellent beer. Wish this beer were avalible in my area. Would always keep some on hand. Not over the top or extreme,just simply pleasing!

Has a warming effect that overcomes you the more you drink. Beware this beer is amazing. Must try beer in my book.

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Photo of ericj551
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Berkshire Imperial Stout pours a thick inky black with a frothy brown head. The aroma is chocolatey with some roastiness and a damp, earthy hop quality. The flavor is rich with a nice creamy sweetness. The roasted chocolate flavor comes through nicely to balance the sweetness, followed by a rounded bitterness from the hops. There is plenty of hop flavor, hiding behind the malt. The carbonation is low but lively, coupling with the hops to give the beer a nice crisp flavor. The alcohol is hidden, making the beer very easy to drink.

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Photo of rousee
4.52/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is cold outside and imperial stouts really hit the spot when it is cold out. This baby is black and molasses-like in color--slight purple hue also. There is nothing special about the appearance or the way it pours. No head, no lace, no real carbonation action. It does leave a good wisp on the top part of the glass so you know its not completely void of carbonation.

These imperial stouts are really starting to grow on me although cold weather is having the opposite effect. The smell is mild for the style and fairly non-descript--good dark roasted malt maybe some fruity elements too--like dark cherry or currants.

Taste is fabulous dark roasted malts with an extremely mild vinous character. Fruit elements are hiding in the background but are present too. I am extremely impressed with this and while the other BBC beers I have had are good, they are not nearly as exceptional in the taste department as this one. This is as good as any of the imperial stouts I have tried. I had the Boston Beer Works imp stout yeterday and this one absolutely blows it away. I would imagine this might be better still on-tap. Nothing noteable on mouthfeel. Real nice warming effect and some syruppy aspects but nothing extreme and still very nice.

When a beer is 8.5% ABV, how drinkable can it be?? the answer is very drinkable and almost dangerously so. This is a beer to be respected and cautious about, but it is so damn good, if you have 1 or 2 more than you should, as long as you are not driving, I suppose its not the end of the world.

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Photo of Todd
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Whoa! Now here's a beer. This is dessert (life?) in a bottle. Seemingly pitch black in colour with a coffee head. Aromas of wood, sherri and chocolate. Syrupy, sweet, thick, rich and robust on the palate. Tingly and tight carbonation. Fruity, dark. Huge chocolate, caramel, sherri, wood and liquor notes. I even pick-up some vanilla and smoke lingering in the background. Bitterness is there, kind of twangy, and wrapped within the roasted quality of this beer. Mmm ...

Alcohol is spicy, and has a warming quality that builds-up in the brain, massaging and eventually numbing it into utter beerdom.

Boys and girls ... this is some bad-ass juice in which to warm your cockles during the winter. Seek it out.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! CO2 fumes began to eminate from the bottle as I tilted it towards the glass to begin pouring. It poured with a big, deep brown head above a very deep brown, almost black, liquid. The nose smelled very pleasantly of chocolate and raspberries. It had a very thick, creamy mouthfeel. There was an abundant taste of chocolate in both the mouth and on the finish. I really enjoyed this beer and only wish that I had access to some more of it. This went really well with the roast lamb for Easter dinner. Happy New Beer Easter Sunday MK6!

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Photo of paterlodie
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consume before nov. Great appearance with litle brown head that stays very well and a black beercollor. Nose is lots of chocolate, roast, hay maltyness and yeastfruit appearing as strawberry and cherry. Taste is full sweet, roasty chocolate, nutty, alcoholic burning and heavy bitter. great and that with fresh nose of fruit. Yes this is a great brew, low carbonisation but wonderfull oily mouthfeel, fruity, fresh and roasted taste in good balance with sweetness and alcohol and bitterness. Too bad I had to share this with my girlfriend cause drinkability was so good i wouldn't mind drinking a whole big bottle myself; thanks Goodbyeohio for this great brew!

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Photo of aahynick
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

50F in a handled pint 22oz bottle

A- opaque black with thick long lasting head

S- spicy hops and BIG malt

T- spicy chocolate flavor

M - smooth, rich thick full body

D- absolutely delightful! I'd love to buy it again. Too bad it probably never gets out of New England. But then again it freshness probably accounts for much of its quality.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've got one of these in my beer cellar waiting for a cold winter night sometime next winter but I piked up a fresh one today to get an idea of what awaits me.

Pours an inky, motor oil black with a decent sized head that fades to a quarter inch that sits nicely atop this viscous, silky dark treasure.

Smells very strong of dark roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, super rich malt, chocolate milk and just a hint of alcohol. Wow, this is inviting even on a summer evening.

First sip is an intense blast of bitter, dark roast coffee, dark chocolate and even some rum. This is beer has some serious complexity! Each sip brings about some very strong flavors. The high alcohol content leaves my tongue dry after each sip but the initial flavor profile goes from espresso to dark sweet fruit like prunes and raisins to a hard alcohol like bourbon or rum. Very, very delicious.

The alcohol content does not detract from the flavor of this beer. The silky smoothness of it is just amazing. Wow, I really am digging this beer and really look forward to one with a year or so of age to mellow it out even more!

Phenomenal beer!

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Photo of Hibernator
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this out of a 22 oz brown bottle and served in a tulip glass. Freshness date cleary notched on the side of the label for November. I'm assuming this is for 2004, but at 8.5% ABV this beer should be just fine a few months after this date...if anything maybe a little better.

Pours a jet black color with an attractive light brown head on top. Light brown sticky lacings cling on the side of the glass.

Aroma of roasted dark malts, coffee and chocolate.

Fully roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate flavors blend. Doughy chocolate chip cookie with fudge chunks and sweet cream melt on the palate. This is one smooth imperial stout. Very, very drinkable at 8.5 % ABV.

Awesome beer...check this out if you see it. I will certainly buy a few more of these bombers in the near future.

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Photo of Jason
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22 oz brown bomber style bottle with “purchase before month notched” marked properly. The two brewers are on the label as renascence king and jest with frothy mugs in hand.

Appearance: Opaque black with a thin yet unwavering light brown lace, very tiny bubbled even with a sturdy pouring.

Smell: Dark chocolate and light dark roasted coffee overtones and an underlying mixed berry fruitiness are the forefront with a trace estery alcohol in the end.

Taste: Smooth and a little slick, light carbonation with a creamy mouth feel. Big broad malty body, Black Forest German Cake comes to mind, deep berry fruitiness is found by the tongue. Heavy malt flavour takes the show over for a while with sweet dark chocolate, brownie like to a point. Alcohol is mellow though still makes a point of warming the mouth and body right away to show that it still holds its strength. Bitterness from the hops is muted a bit from age but that does not take away from the balance it give along with the bitterness from the roasted malts. In the finish the mouth is full and flush with warming spicy alcohol, roasted remnants of a big stout and a lingering flavour of a fudge brownie that was devoured.

Notes: American brewers take a style and mold it into their own whether that beer style has been dead for decades / centuries or not. Berkshire Brewing has taken in the Imperial Stout Style into its home to befriend it and make it a charmer for beer geeks and stout lovers to gawk over. A brew that I will make a point of visiting again.

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Photo of tastybeer
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black-brown opaque with decent cocoa colored head. Some sticky lacing here. Smells of sweet plums, raisons, molassis, burnt roasted chocolate and some coffee. Very pleasant. Tastes similar to the aroma with slight alcohol warming and bitterness in the finish. Nicely blended berries and tons of malts. Chewy mouthfeel makes you want more....thus easy to drink.

Yummy imperial stout, definitely a good choice.

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Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
4.02 out of 5 based on 539 ratings.
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