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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale | AleSmith Brewing Company

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382 Reviews
AleSmith Grand Cru AleAleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bottle conditioned.
AleSmith Grand Cru really needs to be tasted to be truly appreciated. Toasty, caramelly flavors, as well as flavors imparted by the Belgian yeast strain, predominate over a tapestry of subtle nuances. Winner of the blue ribbon at the 1999 California State Fair, it is a thing of beauty. It is available in 750 ml. champagne bottles.

Added by Jason on 04-27-2002

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Reviews: 382 | Ratings: 897
Photo of JohnQVegas
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into chalice. This example is about a year old.

Pours a clear, incredibly effervescent, stunning red-brown, with a tight, fizzy off-white head that recedes quickly. This is a beautiful beer.

Nose is figs, white grapes, bit of yeast and sweet caramel malt then blend into a beautiful breadiness - clean and wonderfully crisp. Picks up some nutty cocoa notes as it warms.

Flavor is equally fantastic - starts with a big hit of yeast, but then a big toasty sweet malt quality is folded into the massive vinous fruity notes - raisins and dates, slightly over-ripe apples, pears - it's all there, along with a bit of spicy brown sugar sweetness. Finish is yeasty, rich with lingering fruit and doughy malt notes, and a vinous exhale.

Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, smooth and a bit syrupy, full. This one is a home run.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a great brew. I saw it on tap at hollingshead's in orange, ca. I tried a sample with my dad and he got it. He doesn't like a lot of beers that I like because they are too hoppy or whatever, but even he appreciated the delicate complexity of this brew. The alcohol presence is there and strong, but it is not overpowering. This is one hell of a brew. Nice chocolate maltiness and belgian funky undertones. I could drink this all day.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

75 cl

Pours clear cherry red, yellowish white head is a quarter inch thick and retains as a lacing.

Smells of citrus, coriander, fresh fruity notes like cherry and raspberry, and a grassy malt undertone.

Tastes of cherry, oatmeal, fresh grass, citrus, yeast and a dry woodiness.

Full body with tingly carbonation.

Awesome brew, lots of flavor and aroma. Very rich and full bodied. The taste isn't quite perfect with the different elements not fully blending together, but this is a small criticism. Overall, an excellent beer and worth seeking out.

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Photo of illidurit
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

06 vintage signed by Peter Zein! Deep ruddy brown color with a sticky creamy tan head. Aromas of bruised apple flesh, chocolate-covered caramel, and grapes. Extremely appealing. Flavor is sweet bready malts and chocolate accented by red fruits, citrus, and cidery notes. Just delicious. Mouthfeel and body are perfect. Another epic Alesmith beer.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged in my cellar for at least a year and a half. Pours a murky brown with a head that fades prettty quickly. The smell has aromas of spicy coriander, is slightly sour, and has quite a bit of brambly fruit. The taste really improves as it warms up and open to a spicy, brambly fruitiness, especially blackberry; candi sugar sweetness, and more coriander as well as some typical Belgian yeast notes. Very interesting flavors, and definitely a bit sweet. Very little noticeable alcohol. The mouthfell is very balanced, creamy, and sweet. Very well integrated and smooth, and despite the high abv is qquite drinkable- probably partly from the ageing.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

07/26/10- Had a 750 mL bottle of this an won't turn back.
A: Cherry and burnt orange, it has a nice cream head and lacing.
S: Cherry, cranberry, sweet yeasty bread, raisin, banana caramel, clove, slight cinnamon. Awesome.
T: Subtle raisin cinnamon bread, cherry, exactly what you'd expect from the smell. Slight lingering alcohol and a nice leafy/moldy hops.
M: Mildly sweet with a nice frothiness.
D: Awesome.
Overall, very close to Chimay Grand Reserve.

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Photo of garbercury
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a St Bernardus goblet...

A--Fine, no lacing, deep amber, nice color.

S--A bit medicinal, cherry, plum, raisin added into the nose.

T--Outstanding, great flavor profile. Cherry is really coming out in this brew.

M--Silky smooth.

D--This one has a bit of burn to it, the alcohol hits you good. This could get better with age I am sure.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

exceptional brew from alesmith. I love the fact that american breweries are stepping up and making beer that are hard to make, complex, full bodied, creative....man this is a gem.

Poured a dark plum color with a rich frothy head throughout.

smell of some plum, malt, and a kick ass in your face complexity of aroma's that I wont even venture to guess...JUST GOOD!!

Tasted like a good strong belgian on steroids. lots of different size carbonation, mostly fine with some mid size popping on the lips. taste lingers alot...you can move your tongue around and smack your lips and taste it over and over again...gobble. I used this beer as a nightcapper and would do so again...the drinkability is amazingly good....I was craving another one of these big 750ml bad boys as soon as i finished. Lets put it this way, when I was halfway through I was already planning a trip to the brewery....unfortunately late october or november is the earliest it can fit the schedule...Great BEER...THANK YOU ALESMITH.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.46/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown color. Mead head. Aroma is malt, brown sugar, hops, clove and banana and… I could spend a long time just smell this beer. A full-bodied Belgian Strong Ale. Malts are fruity (bananas, peaches and raisins) bready and sweet. Very well balanced. Extremely smooth, nearly creamy taste. Touches of must and wood, vanilla and caramel. Some sherry and wine like characters are here as well. The 10% alcohol is very well hidden. Flavors of figs and plums come out as it warms, and I swear it get even smoother tasting. Nice beer. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly sweet.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A long-standing bottle delivers a very clear first glass of ruby-mahogany topped by a short head of of ivory foam. (Subsequent glasses naturally pick up a bit of yeast). The head retention is limited by the alcohol, and it slowly drops to an average collar but leaves some nice splashes of lace about the glass. The nose is caramelish, peppered with a light splash of red and dark fruit, some mild candy (sugar, licorice, honey), and yeasty fruitiness. Very nice! It's smooth and slick across the palate with a very, very fine natural carbonation that's surprisingly moderate for the style; and a body that's medium-full. The flavor is more intense than the nose suggests, yet it remains restrained. Dark fruits, baked brown-sugar, yeasty spice, vanilla-suger glazed donuts, slightly burnt bread-crusts, and a masculine push of bitterness round it out. And the alcohol never appears in either the flavor or the aroma; even after more than one serving! It's very nice... not overly rich or syrupy, and exceptionally well-balanced. There are certainly more complex examples of a "Grand Cru" (which is not a style, but a designation), but this one delivers an exceptionally rounded and enjoyable, "drinkable" beer. It's well recommended, as are almost all of the other Alesmith beers!

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Photo of jhoban19
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml poured into my personalized chalice. Shared with a buddy while watching the IU-Kentucky basketball game.

A: Deep brown with copper and ruby hues when held to the light. Thin yet creamy foam retreats quickly into a thinner ring with cloud-like surface coverage. Lacing is minimal.

S: Aromas of port soaked raisins, sweet chocolate and caramel malt. A fantastic balance of fruits, chocolate, caramel and alcohol.

T: Flavors follow lock stock and barrel with the aromas- raisins, alcohol, chocolate and caramel mingle nicely while fighting for top billing with each sip.

M: Medium-to-full bodied. Smooth, silky, syrupy and creamy all at once, with just the right amount of carbonation. Long finish and lingering flavors throughout the entire glass and into the second pour.

D: Alesmith Grand Cru has drinkability of the highest order, particularly for a brew with double-digit ABV. It helped to share the bottle. Inviting as it pours, Grand Cru draws you in further with the aroma and locks you down with a wonderful mix of complex flavors and a silky smooth finish. I have another bottle I intend to cellar, but we'll see if I have the will power to wait a year. Maybe I'll just have to buy a couple more bottles!

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Photo of Stoneman78
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a translucent ruby red to brown hue, head is off-white and completely disappears within a minute, no lacing
S- Nose is surprisingly subtle, mostly dark fruits (raisins) and molasses, slight alcohol and caramel tones
T- Initial taste is a blast of rich, chewy raisins with some slight bitter hops, the sweetness is short-lived, leaving a finish of mostly alcohol warming, delicious
M- Full-bodied ale, thick chewy texture, mild carbonation
D- One of my favorites from the 'Grand Cru'/ strong ale style, the alcohol is there but not overwhelming, the sweetness is present but not cloying, nice balance and drinkable at 10%abv, this holds up very well to similar offerings from the likes of Lost Abbey

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lovely looking bottle for a lovely, lovely beer. Pours dark brown/ruby, with just a thin halo of a head. Aroma of dark fruit, with a bit of toffee-scented malt. The flavor is rich -- dark fruits with just a hint of sour, more roasty toffee and a somewhat spicy finish. Smooth mouthfeel with a bit of alcohol warming at the end. A very nice beer and one that will age magnificently.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick set russet brown color with a small, compact tannish cap. Bits of lace grab hold in light ink blot patches.

Nice aroma of tangy molasses and dark fruity syrup. Fairly plump and ripe with raisin, fig, and dates floating around on top keeping a big boosted sweet malt profile. Notes of slightly burnt or smoldering doughnut dough.

Taste is darkly sweet and ripe with ample dark fruity flavors masked within a molasses tang. Has a partial smokey finish with regards to some vanilla, brown sugar, and licorice. Nice doughy center and creamy mouthfeel with a sweetly dark brigade behind it all keeping a fairly bold and dense action of flavors and bread doughy heft. Dark cherry hints and very light tobacco spices sweep off and on throughout the finishing areas as it floats away with one finely appealing dryness.

Mellow but stark and darkly set with sweet fruits and sugared breads. Age has suited this well. The feel is quite big still. Creamy medium/full tilted body with just a slight edge of warmth and alcoholic texture underneath. Bold, clean, and rightly set with dark fruity tang and sweetness. Nicely balanced. Easily drinkable and easy to get use to. 10% shows up later. A nice complimentary beer to all the other fine Alesmith brews. Yum.

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Photo of BeerRun13
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finaly got around to cracking this one open.
Pours a mostly clear rusty-brown. A bubbly off white head falls to a ring and gives off some lace. I really like the color of this one.
Raisiny-datelie aroma. Niceley sweet with a caramel like quality. Alcohol is evident in the nose.
Flavor is much like the aroma. Caramel/toffee like quality is more evident. A nice bittering quality at the swallow.
Full bodied. Low to moderate carbonation. Syruppy but clean. Warms down the throat.
Glad I finally opened this one. Good beer. This would be a nice one to impress company new to craft beer, without going over the top.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served as a sample from the 750 mL bottle. The color was amber, with a ring of white head. The smell was a sweeter malt and alcohol. The taste was a nice sweet dark malt, with some hints of coriander and a good bit of hops for the style, and the alcohol was definitely noticable. Mouthfeel was very chewy. As for drinkability, could have several of these.

Another fine offering from the folks at Alesmith. A Belgian Dark with hops...well, certainly going to be up my alley. The only shame is that I can't run into Alesmith around here...distribute further, please!!

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle age unknown. Poured into a Cigar City snifter.

Appearance: Poured out kind of thin, but produced a massive, khaki-colored, foamy head. Once settled, the body is rich auburn in color, showing shades of red and caramel around the edges. Head quickly dissipates to a thin crown. No lacy. Body still looks kind of thin.

Smell: I initially thought cherries, but JustinA1 called out rose champagne and I instantly agreed. Prunes, molasses, and dark currants are all over. The alcohol is quite apparent, but it's not off-putting. Great balance and complexity. I'm very happy with this.

Taste: Prunes, dark berries, clove, flowery esters, and leather. I'm having trouble picking out all of the flavors, but there's a lot going on in here. Really well balanced. I dig.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, foamy, warm, and dry. Carbonation is very high, but soft; lots of activity. Aftertaste is pretty light and composed mainly of floral esters.

Drinkability: Fantastically balanced and very interesting. I have had better strong dark ales, but not many. I'll certainly purchase this again.

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Photo of RedDiamond
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Alesmith tends to be the brewery I love to hate. Most of their beers are obscenely overrated and all that aluminum foil is just pretentious as hell. Also, their IPA sucks.

But a good beer is a good beer and I won’t deny it when I find it. Speedway was awesome and so is this Grand Cru. It begins with a nice bready aroma with a bit of cognac and brown sugar. The taste is gracefully defined by dried fruits and runs smooth from start to finish. The body is carnelian with no lace, minimal head, and concise carbonation that strikes a perfect balance between mellowness and vigor. The 10% alcohol makes no unwarranted intrusions.

Unlike most Alesmith beers, this one resonates with genuine character. A true pleasure.

Note: green bottle with gold foil. As of mid- '05 this is not a retired beer.

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Photo of beersarang
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage sampled in July 2005.

Pours a ruby brown with a small head that is not hugely impressive. The lacing and syrupiness of this brew is apparant, and the color is beautiful.

Nice fruit alcohol aroma, simple and sweet.

Malt character is complex and hard to describe. A lot of flavor comes from the fruits in the brew. Raisins are big, as well as some plums perhaps. Hops show there face only in bitterness, but the alcohol is slick and warming.

Medium bodied with a slick oily feeling. Very velvety smooth. Light carbonation.

Buy this one and shelve it. It will mellow out with age. In 3 years I can tell this will be incredible.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Strawberry caramel with bright orange edges. The cap is pale orangish ecru in color and is airily expansive thanks to a near Belgianesque amount of carbonation. It's too bad that it doesn't share the firm, sticky texture of the best Belgian heads though. The foam is much too soft to last or to result in much glass coverage. The beer itself looks great though.

On a good note, the nose is classic BSDA. On a not so good note, it could be both more powerful and more complex. It's wonderfully mushy apple fruity with a warm spiciness that is more appealing the more I smell it. I detect cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, spices that remind me of autumn for some reason. Warming improves things to a considerable extent and makes a bump in score an easy call.

I needn't have worried. This brewery rarely disappoints and they definitely haven't done so here. One sweet, spicy, explosive sip is all it takes to tell me that Grand Cru is yet another fantastic AleSmith ale. For some reason, it looks as though the brewery decided to stop putting the vintage on the bottle. My best guess is that I'm drinking the 2005 edition.

This truly is a world-class BSDA that can easily hold its head high in the company of the best that Belgium has to offer. Grand Cru isn't all that dark in terms of roasted malt (see Stone Vertical Epic 05.05.05), but is more darkly fruit along the lines of heavily spiced dates and figs. Delicious, delicious, delicious.

I'm a little surprised at how sweet it is. That isn't a complaint though, I love sweet as long as it's in the context of an outstanding, multi-faceted flavor profile, as it is here. It looks like a perfect amount of dark candi sugar is Grand Cru's secret weapon. That and a wonderfully spicy Trappist yeast strain that provides authenticity and complexity galore.

I'm feeling the double-digit ABV much more than I'm tasting it. Well-integrated alcohol is a valued part of the flavor, as it is in almost all big beer. The fact that it whispers rathers than shouts is a very dangerous thing indeed. The body/mouthfeel is the best of both worlds. It's full, borderline syrupy and sticky, yet is as energetically carbonated as all but the most hyperactive Belgians.

Grand Cru is truly wonderful beer. It pays homage to its Continental counterparts while at the same time delivering a distinctly American, big beer twist. It isn't often that I spend $13 on one bottle, but it's hard to argue with the quality that this brewery puts into each and every one of their 750s. I love AleSmith beer!

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Photo of MisterClean
4.48/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared with concours. Way to get this one man!

A - Pours mahogany with 3 fingers of mocha head and dissipates slow. Leaves beautiful lacing, good head retention.

S - Rich, dark chocolate, light roast coffee, toffee, and bittering hops.

T - Light roast coffee, toffee, dark chocolate, grapefruity and bittering hops. There may have been a slight presence of rye tossed in for shits and giggles.

M - Full bodied and well balanced with a slight lean toward malt domination.

D - Great,too expensive though. I think I saw bottles at $15 or so. Really easy to drink beer, little to no odor of alcohol, and just a great american take on a strong dark belgian.

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Photo of jellikit
4.49/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Crystal clear. Deep copper. Thin foamy head.

S: Cream Soda. Vanilla. Prune.

T: Raisin, prune, fig, vanilla, slight chocolate. Well balanced with the flavors and the booze.

M: medium carbonation, medium body. Velvety goodness.

O: great beer. Well balanced. Easy drinking for a big beer. Will buy again.

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

A: ruby brown beer with big head of tniy bubbles that'll settle into a nice lid with some ropy lace

S: orange, coriander, spices, toffee, dark fruit

T: spices and fruit with booze infusion, raisins, figs, toffee, caramel, apples, clove, ginger

M: fuzzy and rich, medium body, fairly clean-finishing, wonderfully drinkable

O: AleSmith hasn't had a miss yet in my book - I'll venture to say that any big bottle of AleSmith beer is worth a buy, their Grand Cru being no exception - I'm gonna say these guys are in league with Founders, 'cept Founders produces some of the best 4-packs of 12 oz beers and Alesmith produces some of the best 22 oz bombers of beer

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

On tap @ TPH. Served in an oversized wine glass.

Wow, this is a very good beer. It smells fruity, of apples, oranges, and apricots. The taste is wonderful. I love the fruitiness of it, with a subdued yeastiness that doesn't interfere. Overall, this is a very good beer.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage

A: Chocolate brown with mahagoney tints...sort of looks like sludge. Very low head and lazy bubbles in the interior of the glass. Filthy and intriguing.

S: Molasses, brown sugar, raspberry, cherry, slight coffee and dried figs.

T: Begins with tangy toffee, perhaps marscipone on the back of the tongue and licorice in the front. Sultry cherry cordial blends in and takes control of the palate leaving in its wake rich and afluent mocha flavors. As it moves towards the finish line, the moment turns to bitter coffee then coasts with vanilla latte. These flavors linger long after the swallow.

M: Full and thick. Could use a touch more carbonation.

D: Age has done some amazing things to this beer. I think its probably about 8 months past its prime though. Very sweet and rich but not so much where its cloying...although its close.

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AleSmith Grand Cru Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.06 out of 5 based on 897 ratings.
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