Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout | Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's

very good
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Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel StoutJefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

Brewed by:
Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's
Kentucky, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mcallister on 04-07-2006

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Reviews: 326 | Ratings: 438
Photo of nlmartin
1.91/5  rDev -49.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

I was at a beer tasting lately. One of the guys I was talking with talked up this beer. I remember not being particularly blown away with it. Many of the other guys there seemed shocked by this. I figured I would give this beer another try.

I served the beer in my pub glass. The beer was served cold and I let it warm to room temperature.

Appearance: The beer pours a ruby opaque black coloration. The head was a thin off white coloration. The head had no retention. For me the appearance was the high point of the beer.

Smell: To me the beer had a overwhelming boozey smell. This boozeyness was not of the pleasing bourbon variety. The beer smelled of cheap alcohol. The beer smelled a bit better at room temperature but still was dominated by cheap alcohol smell. The beer at room temperature had undertones of lightly roasted coffee, vanilla and chocolate. Frankly the smells are just far too dominated by alcohol .Some bourbon smell would have been nice. Hell some bolder smells would have been good also.

Taste: Generally I dont mind a boozey beer. I am a big man and boozey smells generally mean I will have a satisfying beer drink. This was not the case with this beer. The beers lead in flavor was alcohol and not of the bourbonesque sort. The beer has very muted lightly roasted coffee, chocolate and vanilla in the flavor. The flavors came out a bit more as the beer warmed up. Sadly, I never really experienced any boldness of flavor here.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer seemed thin to me. The beer was mildly carbonated. I am totally underwhelmed by this beer. The beer isnt particularly bourbon or stout like. I think BBC wanted to do a balls to the walls sort of beer and frankly failed. It was a chore to finish this beer. I have read some of the reviews of this beer and I can hardly believe we drank the same beer.

Note: I had a second bottle of this at room temperature and it didnt seem any better.

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Photo of asabreed
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. glass into a Thomas Hardy snifter, which I'm hoping serves this brew well.

Appearance: Black as expected, with no light getting through this sucker. A nice mocha-colored head dissipates fairly quickly but still lets some lines of lacing hang around.

Smell: A smooth and sweet toasted marshmallow, light but vanilla and oak-y bourbon, slight mocha and coffee, and berries,

Taste: Slightly, and somehow rich, burnt coffee, creamy mocha, chocolate powder, and toasted marshmallow, backed by some vanilla and bourbon flavors, oak and woodiness, and dark berries. Pretty wonderful stuff. Finishes slightly bittersweet with the coffee, marshmallow and bourbon dominating in such good ways.

Mouthfeel: How can this seem lighter-bodied for its seeming richness and alcohol? Well, it does unless I'm crazy. Rich enough but also light and extremely easy to drink--is it the bourbon doing this, making it lighter in the body? I can't really answer that.

Drinkability: Devastatingly delicious stuff, which I've consumed way too fast. Expensive as hell in bottles (around $4 for each), but I wouldn't mind buying a 4-pack for a treat every now and then, especially since winter's coming. I love barrel aging and have been a fan of the experiment for a while now, and this one certainly doesn't disappoint.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased a growler from Party Town in Florence, KY. Drank from my Delirium Tremens tulip.
Poored a dark brown, almost black, with a good head that receded to leave a "mocha like" ring in the top center of the glass.
Smells of bourbon and burnt coffee. Taste is not too much different. The bourbon is apparent, but I was getting a real strong burnt coffee taste out of this one. I've had a couple of pints of this on draft before and there was a much stronger bourbon flavor and less burnt coffee. That was much more to my liking. There's no way that this beer is 11%. I'm going to do my research to confirm.
All in all, a style of beer that I love, but this is pricey in bottles, and there are better options available.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served slightly chilled, in a pint glass. Poured a deep whiskey brown, almost black, with about one finger of tan bubbly head. Dissapeared quickly into a ring around the glass. Very little lacing. Somewhat of a strong smell of Bourbon (of course), wood, and maybe a touch of chocolate. Tasted again, of Bourbon, wood with a sweet start and alcohol finish with little carbonation. Was a nice balanced, full bodied complex brew. Comparable to an Oaked Yeti. This ones a sipper for me.

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Photo of UnionMade
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark brown, very black when the glass is filled. Diminishing tan head. Big creamy, coffee-ish aroma. Kinda like one of those flavored french vanilla coffees. Vanilla bourbon notes, with prune fruitiness lurking in the background. This is 11%? Where's the booze? The flavor opens with moderate roastiness, more coffee than charry, with vanilla whiskey tones showing up immediately. Nice and creamy, soft and smooth. Lighter body than I'd expect. Dark, fruity notes, some nuttiness as well. Cashew and pecan. Mellow hopping in the finish, easily overtaken by bittersweet roastiness and smooth oak barrel. Not a trace of alcohol. You sure this is 11%? Real mellow, even if this were english styled. I could buy 6-8%, but not 11. I'm not even getting the familiar "big beer buzz", the one where I'm not really near any form of drunkeness, but I want a cigarette every five minutes. I could go with a nice cigar with this, maybe a Cohiba.
I'd guess this was of a much lower ABV. The flavor doesn't blast your tastebuds with the kind of oomph I've come to expect of an imperial, double, whatever you want to call a big-ass stout. Maybe an export style, somewhat above average strength, but certainly not 11%. For that kind of punch, I would have expected more all around.

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Photo of TrickKnee
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very interesting beer to say the least with many different flavors that come out of it. Sweetness from the bourbon, but then some bitterness from the coffee malt. At 11% the abv is definetly hidden quite well, didnt even taste it at all. The only slight problem would be the price, somewhere around 12-13 dollars for a 4 pack would keep me to buying it only on occassion.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to JeffKrenner for another beer on my wants list!

A: Pours like cola. Extremely dark brown but not necessarily black. Head frothed for a moment then settled down to a faint rim and complacent islands of foam.

S: Huge bourbon nose but more base than acidic. Vanilla, butterscotch and carrot of all things make this very round and sort of vegetable like.

T: Probably one of the strongest bourbon tasting beers I've had. Bourbon up front and pungent with some mineraly aspects to the accompanying flavors. Some white grape juice, blueberry bagel and a lingering oatmeal taste. Vanilla finishes it all up but not overly refined.

M: Medium body but a bit fuzzy.

D: Good beer but not nearly as good as other bourbon barrel options out there. Without the bourbon barrel aging, I really don't think this beer would be very good. Alcohol is well hidden for the size though.

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Photo of weeare138
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to dickinsonbeer for opening this(I also received one in a trade from kmpitz2)...
Appears a black color with dark brown edges when held to the light. A one inch tan head slowly fades out. Scattered streaks & spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of roasted malt, cream, light oak...where's the bourbon? If it's there, I'm struggling to get any. If you blink, you'll miss it.
Taste is of American oak, watered down molasses, cream, cocoa, roasted malt...major dissapointment, as I've been craving bourbon aged brews lately. I would've thought that our friends in Louisville, KY would've gotten this right with the abundance of bourbon aged oak barrels in the area.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with roastiness that clings and a tiny amount of oak tannins in the brew.
Give it another try, boys. I know Kentucky can do this!

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Photo of cbl2
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

8/25/2006 $4.00 12 oz. 11.00% Bottled April 2006.


Pours a pitch black that lets absolutely no light through. Topped by a quarter or so inch of dark tan that settles rapidly. No legs to speak of, but since this isn't an RIS, that's ok.


Wisps of smoked peat, coffee and a touch of chocolate dominate. I can't detect the notes of vanilla and oak one would expect from something aged in bourbon barrels.


Excellent smooth mouthfeel, consistent with a milk stout. Nice notes of roasted coffee complete with cream. A touch of smoke in the finish along with mild hop bitterness. Some alcohol is barely detectable in the finish, perhaps imparted by the bourbon barrels? Otherwise I get no impression of bourbon out of this one, which is fine by me, since I don't really care for bourbon.

While this was enjoyable, and quite tasty, I can't get past the price. I paid $4.00 for a single, while the 4 pack was discounted to $15.00. Not worth the price IMHO.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.62/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep, dark black beer with mahogany highlights. Thin head of taupe that dissipates easily. Aromas of chocolate, coffee, lots of vanilla, treacle -- very sweet, and exactly what you'd expect from a bourbon barrel. Thick on the tongue, initially a bit sour. That quickly turns into vanilla and coffee sweetness. The finish is a bit metallic, especially at warmer temperatures. Throughout, this is downright viscous on the tongue, albeit with medium carbonation for the style. Overall, a very good stout and an especially good bourbon barrel-aged stout; many of this type of beer are way to sickly sweet to drink a lot of. This one has enough bourbon edges to give the beer character, while not sacrificing drinkability.

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Photo of merlin48
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark and inky, but not thick or syrupy. Two finger cocoa shaded head has modest retention and leaves some sheets and spotty patches of lace.

Aroma is very subdued, especially before it warms to room temperature. Oak notes dominate, with hints of chocolate and charcoal.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a bit chalky from the oak barrel, with a strong moderate carbonation.

Taste has some mild roasty notes with a burnt charcoal influence. Maybe a hint of bourbon, but the bourbon is largely missing in action here. No hint of the big alcohol. Becomes thinner as it warms, becoming more like a brown ale than a stout. Some earthy hops here and there.

This one doesn't come across as an imperial or double stout. Barely stoutlike at all. Decent enough, but very understated.

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Photo of peabody
4.63/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer makes me think of a good morning breakfast with eggs bacon and hot coffee.
Pours out with a quarter inch of brownish foam. They dissapate quickly leaving little to no lacing.
Color is superb, very dark and clean looking.
I smell burnt coffee and fruits. No alcohol is present to the nose.
The first taste says Coffee and caramel. Slight hops are present but the sweetness of the burnt aftertaste subdues any bitter flavors present.
I really like this beer and could drink a few at one sitting.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a muddy pitch-dark brown with a small tan head that doesn't last very long.

Huge dusty cocoa smell permeates the aroma, with just a hint of boozy bourbon-ness. Oak woodiness comes out further upon warming. If there are hops here, you wouldn't know it from the smell.

Taste: Now the hops come through, rather strongly, but balanced with a mild whisky essence, a pinch of anise, overripe dark fruit, woody earthiness and plenty of roasted coffee. Quite delicious...been a while since I had a stout, and this was a fine one to return to.

The mouthfeel is as it should be, thick and creamy but not overly so, and not sticky either.

A good sippin' stout. Superbly well-hidden alcohol. Everything in its right place, also exhibiting small bits of its own unique character. Just such a high ABV that you might want to watch yo'self.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.26/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of Daalamar: Poured a deep black color stout with a small off-white foamy head with average retention. Aroma of coffee and chocolate with some roasted malt is pretty inviting. Taste is a nice mix between roasted malt that provide some bitterness with some nice coffee and chocolate touch. Bourbon is present though I find it quite subtle. Body is definitely too thin though for the style and the beer would have gained from a bigger and fuller body.

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Photo of phisig137
3.13/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a deep black that lets no light through, with very little head. Only a ring around the glass forms, and leaves behind no lacing. Looks like a stout to me....

Aroma is dominated by wood. Huge notes of vanilla, wood, and a bit of sweetness. No alcohol aroma here.

Flavor is surprizingly light. Thin body, that is dominated again by the wood. I get very little roasted grain on the finish, and no hoppiness. I taste the bourbon barrel, but not the stout. Mouthfeel is light, but creamy and smooth. Drinkability is dangerously high for an 11% beer. This hides it's alcohol extremely well.

A decent beer all around, but I've had better stouts, and better oak aged beers. This could be a good "beginner" beer for those just getting into things that are aged in barrels.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle courtesy of daughter of ColoradoBobs, part-time resident of Louisville, KY.

Opaque black pour under a large tan head that diminishes to a solid cap and leaves decent lacing.

Huge boozy smell of bourbon, dark chocolate and rum-saoked raisins with a bit of espresso. This beer has one of the most intensely delightful noses of the 182 I've reviewed so far. You can smell it from across the room.

Taste does not live up to the smell. It's good, to be sure, but if it didn't smell so great, you might expect so much. Roasted malt, toasted malt, it tastes sort of like a thinner version of Guinness.

Mouthfeel is a bit thinnish for such a big beer.

Drinkability is really good for an 11% beer. NO WAY. This CAN'T be 11%. Tastes and feels more like 6%. Seriously, the alcohol is completely absent.

Anyway, certainly one of the better BBC brews. Comes in 4-packs rather than sixers. Get some.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

this either came from kmpitz2 or orbitalr0x. i was too wasted on dark lord to remember.

black as night in a snifter- creamy tan head stands up to time and warmth. surface edges draw out a deep brown color, hazy lakes of tiny bubbles rest on the ocean of beer. huge hot cocoa aroma, like the fresh swiss miss powder mix. even some cherry hints come wafting out of the glass.. certainly not scary and certainly far from the strong aroma i expect from 11%.

tastes like big roasted malts and coffee beans, almost excessively so to a metallic, grassy end. bourbon hasn't really taken hold of this brew, with very few caramelly vanilla elements evening out that charred sharpness. goes down very easy and finishes with a noticeable hint of sweet malt brandy-like booze.. hovers too lightly above the savory world of bourbony sippers. rarely do i want a beer to actually be thicker, but here is one example of such.

warmth treats this nicely, and i almost want to let it reach room temperature to let the edges round. april 06 bottling date, maybe cellar time will help (although nothing moreso than a little more barrel time would have).

regardless, a decent brew. thanks.

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Photo of BigDaddyWil
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired through Dark Lord release party trade with kmpitz2.
12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Black in color, with brown highlights. Half inch mocha colored head, fades quickly, leaving a tan ring around the glass. Some spotty lacing is left. Lots of white suspended particles throughout the beer, most likely, yeast. Quite sour smelling at first, followed by vanilla, some dark chocolate, roasted malt and finishes with hints of bourbon. Taste pretty much mimics the smell, with some hop bitterness in the finish, not bad. A little thin for this style of beer. I cannot believe this has an abv of 11%. No alcohol presense is dedected in the taste or smell. Not a bad offering from Bluegrass, but could use a little extra umph. Recommended.

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Photo of kdmorse
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

1-2 fingers of brown head topping the pitch black body of this beer. Coffee, smoke, wood, and hints of bourbon in the nose. More bourbon in the taste than the smell as it warms. Sweet coffee malt flavor. Very complex, delicious and smoky. Enough hops in the end to keep it clean but not to take over the flavor. Not much going on in my mouth. Alcohol content is well hidden beneath the bounty of taste.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pitch black in color, with a very attractive tan head. Good head retention. Slight roasty and chocolate aroma, followed by some vanilla and oaky notes. Flavor is very similar to the aroma. Lighter roasty flavors come across with a hint of vanilla and oak at the end. I would have liked more bourbon character in this, as it seemed very slight. Medium to full body, with low carbonation. I had no idea this beer is 11% ABV. You would never notice it. Overall, a good beer, but a bit too subtle for something that should be exciting and outstanding.

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Photo of kmpitz2
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Pours a very dark brown to black color, with a light tan head that recedes to a patchy coat over top of the beer. There is no apparent carbonation in there. Nose is light chocolate and roast, with a vanilla sweetness hanging out as an undertone. The bourbon notes are there, and come out more strongly as it warms, lending moderate oakyness to it. Coffee aromas are there in the nose as it warms more as well. Things seem a little subdued, and I'd like a little more boldness. Flavor is much the same as the nose. Chocolate and roast dominate, with vanilla and bourbon being afterthoughts. The flavor also seems to be a bit light. Everything melds well, but just is not strong enough for my taste. Light coffee is apparent as it warms. A light hoppy bitter hits just on the finish, along with a touch of hop flavor. Feel is moderate with an absent to light carbonation. It could use a bit more body to bring it to a thick moutfeel. This beer is highly drinkable, especially if it is 11%. There is no hint of that at all. Taste and aroma are nice, but just not forceful enough. Otherwise, a solid offering.

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Photo of Brent
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Most Bourbon barrel aged stouts deliver a pretty distinctive Bourbon flavor component, and I was surprised that this beer really didn't seem to have much of a Bourbon presence. I'm not a fan of Bourbon alone (heresy from a native Kentuckian), so the absence of the big Bourbon punch was not a problem for me, but might be for others with that expectation. The beer was rather sweet, but not so much as to classify as a sweet stout. Hershey cocoa powder with intermingled vanilla (which may be the Bourbon influence). Rather creamy mouthfeel - struck me as an after-dinner beer. Not all that big, but, overall, quite enjoyable.

11% abv? Wow, never would have guessed.

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Photo of cproioi
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Beautiful black color with a one finger head that faded quickly but left good lacing.

S: The roasted malt was very prominent but there was also hints of bourbon.

T: First thing that you notice is the roasted malt of the stout the creeping up from behind is the bourbon flavor which adds a lot of sugary sweetness to it.

M: Very thick almost syrup like in texture.

D: One would have an easy time to drink one of these after a meal for dessert easily but more then that? I don't know if I could handle it.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aaww, come on BA'ers, it's not that bad. In fact, I thought it was quite good. Sure, it's light on sweetness and body, but the dry, powdery texture is nice for the drinkability. And, the roastedness shines a bit better under the light sweetness. The aroma, though light and roasted, shows little in the way of bourbon character. Very low vanilla, caramel, coconut, and woodiness. Flaovrs display a nice, subtle bourbon flair. Light in body, almost Porter-ish. Finsihes more akin to a Dry Stout rather than a Double, but I do like the less-harsh, low hopped, easy drinking attributes of this beer. The alcohols are hardly detected--I question the true alcoholic strength of this beer; 11%?

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Photo of clvand0
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a dark color with a nice head that falls fast and completely disappears and leaves no lacing on the glass. The aroma has a nice roasted character with a hint of whiskey and some wood. I like it. The flavor has a smoothed out roasted character with only a hint of the bourbon and a little bit of wood character. It's extremely smooth, but I think the body could be a lot lot thicker - the smoothness comes from the thin character of the body. The flavor isn't over the top like some, but it could use a little more body and a little more flavor wouldn't hurt either. Tasty and enjoyable, however. The alcohol doesn't come through at all, great drinkability.

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Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's
3.79 out of 5 based on 438 ratings.
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