Brooklyn Black OPS | Brooklyn Brewery

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Brooklyn Black OPSBrooklyn Black OPS

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brooklyn Black Ops (2008 commercially available version) was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented in the bottle with Champagne yeast. 940 cases produced.


Added by RixBeer on 12-20-2007

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Reviews: 849 | Ratings: 2,396
Photo of Xenoreactive
1.42/5  rDev -65.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Bad. Just bad. Thin. Muted flavors. Odd combination of champagne that merges with a bourbon nuanced... stout? Drainpour beer. Do not pay 18+$ for this garbage.

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Photo of missginsu
1.72/5  rDev -57.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I really wanted to like this beer. I like bourbon and I love stout. Plus, I paid a dear price for the bottle.

I opened it with two beer-loving friends and we couldn't drink it. With much regret, I poured it down the drain.

A - Rich black color with a tan head that dissipates quickly.

S - Wow. Smells like bourbon. I was expecting more of a blend with the stout.

T - The bourbon flavor overpowers everything. There might be something more going on underneath, but I can't really taste it.

M - Mouthburn, as you'd get with liquor, and a thin texture, but a lot of carbonation. Not rich and smooth, as I'd expect in a stout.

O - I know they went to great lengths to do this project, but unfortunately, it's just not my thing.

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Photo of WCBCFrank
1.8/5  rDev -56%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Tasted at Philly Real Ale Invitational - 2009 at Yards Brewery.

Brooklyn Black Ops is opaque black...lots of alcohol and bourbon notes rush the nose and palate, just like its name describes, it's a covert, black ops taste - stealthy and deadly.

Personally: My tastebuds and I can not get into bourbon infused, super powerful 10W-30 strength imperial stouts.

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Photo of julian
2.02/5  rDev -50.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Shared with some friends at a tasting I hosted last weekend 5/1/11.

A: Midnight black in color with a dark brown chocolate colored head. This is about as good as this beer is going to get. Read on.

S: The smell was weak. Faint chocolate aroma, mild burnt nutty aroma, bourbon and kind of a gassy alcoholic aroma.

T&M: Miserable. I'm sorry, but this is waaaay too light bodied for a RIS. It's super DRY (possibly over attenuated from the champagne yeast, or mashed REALLY low). The flavors I'd expect from a RIS are completely missing here, or so lackluster that they're insignificant. It tasted like fizzy, dry, highly diluted chocolate water that had alcohol in it. I couldn't finish my glass.

O: Total disappointment. I wouldn't try again. I'm not sure how others have rated this so high, but taste is subjective so who knows. This was horrible though...

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Photo of mrcarterxxl
2.12/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

Honestly I've had better imperial stouts, black ops is definitely not worth the $25. You really have to let it sit on your pallet for a while to form a opinion of flavor. It's more vanilla (Madagascar) dominant, not the traditional coffee, espresso, chocolate, flavors you'd expect.


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Photo of biglite351
2.15/5  rDev -47.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - very dark with a tight large head that laces very well.

S - smells very apcohol-like to me. However that is probably because of the bourbon and champagne portions of the brewing. Not very stout like.

T - tastes like a car-bomb or whatever it is called when you toss a shot glass into a beer. There is not much stout flavor to grab onto or rate. I do not like hard alcohol so this flavor combination is not for me.

M - typical hard alcohol tingles and burn, just a milder than usual shots.

D - if you like bourbon then you will like this. I do not so I do not. I do not like dissing this brew, but it is not my bag.

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Photo of AWSBeerDude
2.21/5  rDev -46%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2012 - Paid ridiculous price, cellared for over 2 years, EXTREMELY DISSAPOINTED.

Thin and watery. Bourbon overwhelms the weak base beer. Bourbon gets stronger as it warms.

Also,...Holly Hunter is a whore.

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Photo of harrymel
2.24/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

vintage 2010

A: Pours black and I can't see a damn thing thru it. A three finger dark mocha head of fine foam falls slowly to a quilt of the same. Little to no lacing. The champagne yeast is obvious in the head formation.

S: Lees. Some licorice, plastic, molasses, banana. Sweet mixed with hearty smells are poorly mingled here.

T: More creamy lees. Astringent alcohol. The bourbon is cheap feeling. Just not good. Reminds me of KGB '11 (Widmer).

M: Empty and hollow body. Overly carbonated (even after recapping for a night in the fridge. Extra dry.

O: Yep, I tried this beer, wanted to be sure about my palate so I threw in the fridge with a champagne cork only to have the near-same experience the next night. Poor beer.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.26/5  rDev -44.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2008 vintage. Shared by mfielden. Thanks Mark!

A: Pours a dark brown body, nearly black, with good carbonation.

S: Brown sugar, molasses, caramelly bourbon, oak, some anise, and booze (?). Surprising to get the last one in there, given that a) it's Garrett Oliver, and b) the beer is aged.

T: Definitely sweet flavors found here, but it's quite dry for an imperial stout. Brown sugar, molasses, caramel / bourbon. Easy to pick up. Just the same, it's very roasty, even borderline burnt, and the tannins blend that into a pronounced bitterness. Not my favorite combination. I get some booze again. Still, it's a balanced flavor; you can taste everything in proportion. It's just not a profile I enjoy.

M: It's a little hot for my tastes, but again, it's dry for the style. Med-full viscosity.

D: I didn't care for this beer. I prefer something with a little more body, a little less heat, and much less roast. Not something I'd get again. Abyss is half the cost and I enjoy it a bit more.

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Photo of bullwinkle88
2.27/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Bought one of these for a little bachelor party fun. Almost 30 dollars a bottle (yikes).

A: Black as death. Wispy head that dissipates quickly, pretty lacing.

S: the highlight of the beer. Smells of bourbon, chocolate, coffee, hickory. Smelled absolutely incredible, until....

T: Yuck. Tasted of bourbon too much. I'm not a bourbon fan but the flavor drowned out any semblance of the smells of chocolate, coffee, etc. Horrendous.

M: Slick, felt like motor oil. No carbonation at all.

O: A waste of the money, for my liking. Certain people will like this I'm sure, considering Brooklyn's excellent track record. For bourbon fans only, though. It'll get you cocked too. At 10.70 percent, Black Ops doesnt mess around.

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Photo of danh53
2.36/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

This was a real disappointment given the huge price tag. Its thin and watery and the bourbon overwhelms the base beer. Will not be trying this one again.

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Photo of Jwaks
2.39/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

It takes an extremely talented brewer to make an barrel aged imperial stout that is completely and utterly lacking in body. honesty it is near impossible to achieve. Congrats, you done it!! how the fuck you did it is beyond me. Perhaps the sugar and carbohydrate hungry champagne yeast ate up everything during fermentation that would give this brew any substance or you forgot to put in any flaked barley, oats or any unmalted grains that would add some mouthfeel to this beer. What an amazing failure this is.

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Photo of Gables
2.47/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Smelled like wine. Thin and watery and way too boozy. Where is the beer? I was looking forward to this one and I struggled through one glass and then sadly a drain pour

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Photo of neophilus
2.47/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Black, of course. Average head and lacing.

There is a light, sweet and malty aroma with a strong hint of coffee beans. Somewhat complex. The roasted bean smell balances the sweetness.

The taste is where this beer starts to fall apart. Very sweet up front with a lot of alcohol coming through. There is a glimpse of chocolate and richer flavors but the alcohol heat quickly covers it up. A strong vanilla or caramel sweetness continues to take center stage, overpowering the flavor.

The aftertaste has a strong dose of roast to it which is good as it helps alleviate the caramel sweetness of this brew. More roast would have been very much welcome to help cut the taste though.

It drinks like flat, coffee flavored Champagne with a shot of bourbon.

This beer is incredibly thin. Unless the bottle said RIS on it I would have never guessed that was the style from the body. Closer to an sweet Belgian dark ale with coffee. I actually wouldn't mind coffee flavored Champagne all that much if the vanilla/caramel sweetness didn't sink the whole thing. The sweetness on your tongue simply overpowers and diminishes any contributions from roasted grain.

This beer may be a victim of its own hype, or a victim of the style category it is in, but this is not an RIS I would buy again. If the brewery wants to make a beer this thin, don't call it an RIS and I think they could save the trouble of bourbon barrel aging because there is way too much sweetness up in here.

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Photo of Roguer
2.49/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2

Pours a surprisingly thick, dark brown head, with decent retention for the style, never completely fading. Brew is black as midnight, as I'd expect.

Big bourbon nose that really starts to come through as it warms, surrounded by vanilla, chocolate, and roasted barley. Reminds me of BCBS, in that the bourbon is really the dominant aroma. Just a hint of wood.

Sweet vanilla, bourbon, slightly sour oak barrel all up front; big boozy bourbon notes in the finish. Unlike BCBS, the chocolate and roasted barley are completely overwhelmed by the bourbon. That's a shame.

A little thin for a stout, but not overly surprising for the style. Slight tangy sting and extremely hot, slightly sour finish. This beer is infected, as much as I might wish otherwise.

I have no choice but to assume this bottle is infected. I tried really, really hard to justify it along other avenues, but the conclusion was unavoidable.

If I ever get my hands on another bottle, I'd be willing to give it a second chance (and a new review), but I'm not going to pay for it, that's for sure.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.56/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a snifter. Big thanks to alpinebryant for this one.

4.5 A: Black color. Two fingers of thick, creamy medium brown head. Great retention and lots of lacing.

3.5 S: Wow, there's a ton of bourbon in here. Indeed, I'd say there is too much as it cancels out a lot of the beer aromas. Still, there's a reasonable roasted barley component with some dark chocolate.

2.0 T: I like bourbon barrel beers a lot, but this tastes more like whiskey than like beer and the flavors reflect that. Leather, oak, and vanilla. Moderate hop bitterness with some roasted barley again and dark chocolate.

2.5 M: Lighter medium body. I like imperials thick and viscous, so the mouthfeel was a letdown. Watery as opposed to creamy. Good moderate carbonation.

2.0 D: I like bourbon barrel beers when the bourbon complements the beer. Unfortunately, the bourbon in this dominates the nose and taste instead of adding complexity to a tasty base stout. I'm sure people who like whiskey a lot will find this very appealling, but I'm not one of them.

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Photo of ajm5108
2.56/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours an inky black with a decent mauve head which it maintains longer than you'd expect forva barrel-aged beer. Aroma is heavy on the bourbon notes (vanilla, oak) but also features a pretty strong yeast undercurrent which tones the booze smell but also makes it a tad funky. It's fairly thin for what you'd expect, and it isn't particularly balanced. There is a big bourbon wave upfront that features the stronger booze heavy notes (and less of the subtle vanilla or oak flavors) but that fades almost instantly, and the main body is just a pretty mediocre imperial stout (roasted malt, maybe a faint bitter cacao nib). The only consistent note is a stab of astringent alchohol throughout, is too reminiscent of some cheap $5 jug bourbon. Not every beer can tossed into a barrel & magically be great, and this is a great testament to that.

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Photo of errantnight
2.57/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A huge disappointment for me.

Tasted in a Spiegelau tulip during a RIS tasting (with plain crackers and water for palate cleansing between tastings).

Pours a deep, rich, inky black (maybe just a hint of mahogany) with a deep, deep brown head. Moderate retention and lacing, but its color is just gorgeous.

Tons of bourbon, vanilla, dark fruit, prunes/raisins. This is fruity and medium, almost light bodied, and as it warms the high alcohol notes become further and further exposed, highlighting the bourbon over the base beer again and again.

This may have been judged slightly harshly in comparison to some other beers tasted at the same time, but this really wasn't terribly drinkable or enjoyable thanks to the excess of bourbon and barrel.

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Photo of tectactoe
2.6/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Mike for opening this on an impromptu tasting night. It pours a deep, deep brown and black color with a mocha-colored head that cloudy up pretty big but fizzles out quickly, much like the layer of fuzz you'd get from a Coca-Cola. No lacing to speak of, but some alcoholic legs will trudge down the sides of the glass upon swirling.

The aroma isn't as robust or omnipotent as you'd like a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout to be, but it does have quite an array of things going on; vanilla, cocoa nibs, dark fudge, deeper dark plum sweetness, plenty of oak, and a faint onset of bourbon. Some roasty malts bring up the rear. The aromas are all there, but for some reason, they don't "mesh" like they should, and rather than a wonderful bouquet of smells, it seems more like a slightly jumbled mess.

From the first sip, I'm surprised by how thin, spritzy, and light this beer feels on the palate. Is that perhaps an induction of the champagne yeast? Not so sure why you'd want a huge, barrel-aged stout to be so carbonation and effervescent, but it transcends into a slightly watery and thin mouth feel, something that typically doesn't bode well for beers of this stature and style. It's like a Russian imperial stout with the mouth feel of a soda... What the hell?

The taste is also extremely mild, like the aroma; faint bourbon, mild cola flavors, a hint of wood, lasting cocoa beans, and a little roasted malt. Once again, everything here seems to be it's own separate entity, rather than a masterful blend of the whole, resulting in more of a random concoction of flavors mixed into a glass than a real, barrel-aged stout. Also, I've never had a barrel-aged, 10%+ ABV stout that was so easy to drink before. Seriously, it was gone in seconds. The flavors were so light that such a feat was possible... Usually drinkability like this is good, but for a helles lager or pale ale... NOT a Russian imperial stout.

I think my rating may be little harsh... The beer was not awful, disgusting, or hard to drink by any means, but it is incredibly overrated (and probably over-priced), and it's one of the weakest attempts at the style that I've come across, especially for having some decent acclaim. I appreciate Mike's generosity of sharing, but we both agreed that this is not how a stout was meant to be. I still don't understand all the positive reviews.

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Photo of ChadQuest
2.62/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Looks decent at the start, thick dense cap, body doesn't show any legs,tan over black, rock n roll.
I like this aroma, it shows very noticeable heat complimented mostly by roasty coffee like malts. The heat is very warm, most people would rather let this sit i would assume.
The flavors are very one dimensional, while the aroma was fine, on the palate the alcohol flavors are coarse and grating, and same goes for the roast notes with some chocolate hints along the path. I really enjoyed the first 6oz, but as i work through this 750ml alone they get a bit much, but really who does that alone? Anyway, the mouthfeel is thin for a RIS if you ask me, and most other people too.

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Photo of prg1976
2.66/5  rDev -35%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2010 bottle, shared at the family Xmas party.

pours black with a thin tan head.

Smells mostly like chocolate. Not much else going on.

Taste is pretty bland. Still pretty chocolate-y. Hardly any bourbon flavor, a little oak and a little vanilla.

Mouthfeel is ok. the alcohol is barely present, so it doesn't get in the way.

This is dissapointing. Maybe it's faded away after a year in the cellar? Not worth the price at all. I won't be seeking this one out again.

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Photo of mikey711
2.69/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Dark black, with no light able to get through, with a decent about of head even with a slow pour. The head is mocha colored and leaves some lace.

S: Heavy bourbon smell to start mixed with fusol alcohol, there is maybe a touch of smokiness, but there is almost no roasted character. Also a heavy yeast note is prevelant, almost like the esters from a wheat beer which was off putting to me.

T: The first thing that I get is that yeast note followed by bourbon. Too me this one is a bit too messy. I enjoy bourbon aside from beer and the but this one really does not do it for me, it lacks roasted character and taste too much a fusol alcohol. I also enjoy woodiness in beers but this was like chewing on a damp tree branch

M: I do enjoy how the bourbon feels in this one but there is still heat.

D: I have had this one on a couple of occasions, the first time i enjoyed it, but since then I have been disappointed

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Photo of champ103
2.71/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A: Pours an opaque black color. A two finger beige head forms with good retention. Light lace is left behind.
S: Strong alcohol aroma up front. A dark fruity aroma of raisin and plum. Powdered chocolate and that signature Brooklyn yeast.
T: Follows the nose. There is a huge raisin flavor that overpowers everything else. Along with a huge fusel alcohol. Burning the tongue all the way down.
M/D: A not quit full body that has way to much prickly carbonation. Way to much alcohol. Burning, fusel, ethanol like.

Oh man, way to much alcohol for this to be enjoyable. This will be a chore to finish. Brooklyn Chocolate Stout is superior in every way.

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Photo of Damian
2.73/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Drank from a 1 pint, 9.4 fluid oz bottle
Served in a snifter

Purchased at Liquor World, Cambridge, MA

The beer poured a super thick and oily, absolute pitch black with no head but merely a flimsy film of cocoa-colored lace. Over time, the head faded to a thin, creamy ring.

The aroma was boozy (bourbony) and roasty. Coffee-like with a smooth caramel character. Overall, a bit more mellow than I was expecting.

The taste was sharp and unrefined. Lots of hot alcohol phenols right away. Biting and rather unpleasant. The intense roasty/burnt quality of the malts was simply overwhelming. Espresso notes also came through strong. The alcohol presence crescendoed in the dry, roasty, bitter finish. A burnt, acrid taste lingered in my mouth for far too long after the beer was finished.

The mouthfeel was super light and airy. Slightly creamy. Fizzy with a rather big bubbled carbonation. (Was this type of carbonation perhaps a result of the Champagne yeast?) From the texture alone, it was difficult to believe that this indeed was a 10.7% ABV double stout.

I cannot remember the last time I had a beer that was so difficult to put down. Between the roasty, acrid quality of the malts, the out-of-control alcohol presence and the ultra light (for the style) mouthfeel, this was a near drain pour.

I love Garrett and I enjoy most of his brews, but this one turned out to be a real mess. This beer has an edge so raw and so sharp that it is practically undrinkable as is. My advice to those that already have a bottle in their possession: Leave it in the cellar for at least a year or two and cross your fingers you when you do decide to open it.

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Photo of seeswo
2.75/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours black with too much cocoa head, but that was my fault as I have become accustomed to aggressive pours with BA beers. As the head settles, slowly, it invites me in. Smells of cocoa powder, chocolate, vanilla and the faintest hint of bourbon. Taste is of bitter chocolate and/or over-roasted malts, that finishes with a booze on the tail. It's one of the smoother BA RIS's out there until the very finish. There isn't a whole ton of the barrel in there, as I get much less vanilla than in the nose, and in general the flavor is dominated by the dance between being a bitter, not too sweet, but smooth RIS, and being too bitter and not sweet enough. Almost like buying one of those fancy 78% cacao chocolate bars that may just be a bit much, but yet is still enjoyable. The bourbon is balancing that back end which I vacillate between sips as being too much or just right. The mouthfeel is medium with heavy carbonation. I retract my previous statement attributing fault and blame it on the Champagne yeast. This is one of those beers that makes you burp, like Infinium (microreview: 4/3/2.5/3.5/3.5). 11.5% is hidden completely. Anything limiting drinkabiliy is solely the Champagne yeast (which is ultimately fine) and that finishing bitterness. I am going to give this a higher grade because I suspect I will have no problem finishing this 750 and appreciate that I probably won't get diabetes from it, unlike some other BA RIS's that are sugar bombs. Definitely an enjoyable BA RIS that is a different kind of experience than some. Worth trying and sits comfortably on that 2nd tier behind the best.

[Update after having this beer several more times, including blind - the last 2 batches taste of onions]

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Brooklyn Black OPS from Brooklyn Brewery
4.09 out of 5 based on 2,396 ratings.
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