Devil's Backbone | Real Ale Brewing Company

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Devil's BackboneDevil's Backbone

Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States

Style: Tripel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Pegasus on 05-18-2005

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Reviews: 178 | Ratings: 787
Photo of Reagan1984
2.18/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Had this while traveling in Texas. Was excited to try a local tripel to see how they interpreted this style. I was a bit disappointed.

Interesting that it was served in a pint glass, but I can't blame the beer or brewer for that. Thin finger of foamy head that faded quickly. Slightly hazy golden/straw in color. Not much lacing to speak of.

Aroma was sweet and of banana & yeast.

Flavor was definitely too sweet. This was more like a cross between Hefe and Tripel leaning much more towards a Hefe. The banana, clove & yeast notes were different than most triples. The hop bitterness was too low and again did not fit the style. Not quite cloying sweet, but just wrong here.

Not really crisp with a bitter finish and the mouth feel had me focus on the sweetness.

Flat out didn't enjoy this.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.56/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clearly identifies as a tripel on the label, so I'm reviewing as such. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with fun label art and a branded silver pry-off pressure cap acquired as part of a mixed six-pack at Whole Foods HQ here in Austin and served into an Independence Brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average; I've yet to be impressed by the brewery, but this seems to be one of their less mainstream offerings so I'm optimistic.

Brewed with Czech Saaz hops, candi sugar, and Belgian yeast. Best before: 01/26/14.

Served cold - straight from me fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a one finger wide head of grey-white colour. Somewhat thin. Not much creaminess or frothiness. No real lacing as the head recedes. Head retention is above average - about 3 minutes.

Body colour is a clear yellow-copper of average vibrance. Good clarity. Translucent. No yeast particles are visible.

Sm: Honey, nectary hop character, Belgian pale malts, Belgian candi sugar, grains & cereals, floral hop character, crystal malts, Saaz, banana fruit esters, and an apple cider touch. The herbal Saaz bitterness clashes with the malty sweetness. I'm not getting much in terms of yeast. There does seem to be an alcohol presence here, albeit a slight one. Not a great aroma for a tripel, but I'm optimistic. An inoffensive aroma of average to mild strength.

T: Malty sweetness in the first act and beginning of the first half; it clashes with the herbal Saaz and crystal malts in the late second half. Bursts of banana fruit esters up front alongside some clove. Candi sugar throughout doesn't fully conceal the hop bitterness - which shouldn't even be present to begin with; this is definitely overhopped. I do get some spiciness from the yeast; it's very cleanly fermented, and the yeast is probably the best aspect of the beer. Pilsner malts and a good deal of Belgian pale/blonde malts fill out the body. Honey. I do find some alcohol presence, unfortunately. A bit cidery, with touches of pear and apple.

Overall, the build is mediocre for a tripel, and the balance is problematic. Not gestalt. Qutie boring for a tripel. A bit bland as well. Depth of flavour is rather shallow for the style. Average flavour duration and intensity.

There are no off-flavours, unless you count the presence of alcohol - which isn't egregious.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Unrefreshing. Lacks a full firm body. Too thick at some points and too thin at others. Weak, with "empty" points throughout the flavour profile. Overcarbonated. Inappropriate for the style. It doesn't suit the flavour profile all that well. Subpar execution.

Dr: Real Ale disappoints again, this time with a tripel. I wouldn't buy it again, and Real Ale's other beers are racing to the bottom of my "to-try" list. I definitely wouldn't want another one, and it's not the most drinkable beer either, what with its obvious alcohol presence. If you want a good tripel, look elsewhere. This one doesn't deliver.

Low C-

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Photo of JAXSON
2.76/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks Marc. Poured a bright clear gold with a huge, pillowy white head. Sweet, Belgian yeast, some tropical fruits, but dominated by a kind of charred character that clashes badly with the yeasty elements. Quite hot, almost vodka-like on the finish. Maybe a spoiled bottle, couldn't really finish this.

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Photo of harrissce
2.89/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Honestly guys, I really didn't like this one bit. I am generally more of a lager and stout kind of girl and I wanted to try this local brew because of the good reviews but this was just way too much for me. I hated it

Look: Beautiful and golden in color with a white head

Smell: Super floral and fruity

Taste: VERY heavy and sweet, overwhelming

Feel: Lighter than expected and not heavily carbonated.

Overall: I really hated it, but I was also reaching outside my comfort zone. It is SUPER sweet and very malty. I almost felt like I was drinking it in a concentrated form. I definitely will not be buying it again but won't keep me away from tripels in the future. Honestly, the only positive thing I found from this beer was the alcohol content

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Photo of northaustin
2.95/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

got it at uncle billys on tap

pours a clear goldish yellow with a thin amount of head (by the time i received it) with heavy lacing

smell is very malty and sweet but not as powerful as more commercial belgian tripels

taste is mild and not as sweet as i expected (a good thing) doesnt linger in your mouth. my problem with most belgian tripels is them being too sweet, this one falls somewhere in between not enough sweetness and ideal sweetness. overall a good belgian tripel but i would not recommend it for the hardcore sweet fans.

it goes down fairly smooth and as mentioned it doesnt linger in your mouth for too long.

at 4.75 a pint it was a tad expensive for me, but in the end it was definately worth shelling out the extra cash for the beer. gave me that droopy eyed feeling after a very short amount of time

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Photo of ronzorelli
3.06/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had high hopes for this one. I'm slightly underwhelmed based on the other reviews. I wonder if I got a bad bottle of it.

Zero head. No lacing. Nothing but slick surface in the chalice. Even when I stirred it a little with my finger to release some of the carbonation, what very little rose to the surface, dissipated very quickly. No retention at all.

In the nose, I get a little caramel and a little citrus, but not much of either.

On the palate, it's slightly weak and a little bland. Not completely void of flavor, but just not a whole heck of a lot of anything. I do pick up faint hints of caramel. Some fruit, in the sharp apple range, and a little orange zest.

Is it a decent beer? Compared to big brew, yeah. Compared to other lines from Real Ale, it's average.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.08/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to AgentZero for the share. This was best before July 8th, 2010. Served in a Surly tulip.

A - Pours with a half-finger of foam that settles to a thin ring, leaving a few clusters of bubbles on top and some decent lace. The body is a hazed peach flesh color with some obvious suspended sediment.

S - The first whiff gave me a light acetone note that was vaguely reminiscent of guava - not sure if these are some odd spicy esters or prelude to infection. However, as it warms there is more stone fruit and candi sugar sweetness.

T - Taste is yeasty, with some honey and stone fruits to sweeten things up. Perhaps there's a bit of pear in there as well. Not bad, but not great - thankfully the weird acetone note is gone and the alcohol is well-hidden.

M - Some gritty and slightly harsh carbonation. The body is a grainy, medium-full, with a sticky finish.

D - It took me much longer to work through my 6oz than it did for Mike - I think I ended up pouring out a bit. I wouldn't bother with this one again.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Murky apricot color, bright white foam and lots of carbonation. Spicy nose. Very clovey with a spicy middle; there is a malt foundation, but the clove is cloying. Medium lite mouthfeel. Just ok.

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Photo of ed_loves_ipa
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Great buzz, soft hop profile, more like an ale, but too pungent and sweet. Not my cup of tea. I'm more of a bitter IPA, RIPS fan. Took about 3 to 4 bottles to get used to it. No great, but not horrible. Eh....

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Photo of fourstringer
3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into an old-fashioned glass with a moderate hand. Label states: Best if consumed by 04.08.14.

A: Cloudy, golden yellow with a suggestion of head that immediately fizzles away to nothing. Zero retention. No lacing. Assumes the appearance of unfiltered apple juice.

S: Sweet with slight Belgian yeast. Rather fruity with notes of banana, apple, lemon, tropical varieties. Coriander. Reminds me of Hoegaarden. Smells good, I'd say.

T: Minimally sweet with a rather yeasty start. A harsh, dominating bitterness quickly arises and persists throughout. There are hints of spice and some tropical fruit/apple flavors that increase as it warms. Moderate alcohol presence for 8% ABV. Fairly dry finish.

M: Low-moderate carbonation with a paradoxical prickliness on the tongue. Moderate body. Coats well, but there is definitely something lacking...

O: Not terribly impressive. Maybe I have a bad bottle on my hands? I'd like to think so. I get some tripel-type flavors, but the bitterness really usurps the whole experience. Frankly, I'm surprised by some of the scores on this one...

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Photo of AlexFields
3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Exiled for sending this one as an extra.

Pours golden yellow with a fairly thin head.

Smells of banana, spice, yeast.

Spicy pepper flavor is dominant, then fades into yeast and some bananas. The longer the beer sits the more banana and sugar there is in the flavor and the less pepper, but initially the pepper is too much and a little bitter.

Very nice mouthfeel, very smooth and creamy but also lots of carbonation.

Just a slight change in the flavor profile and this beer would be a lot better.


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Photo of Fladder
3.17/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Gold and very clear appearance. Did not pour with much head. Mildly carbonated.

Very spicy citrus smell, more bitter than sweet orange. Flowery undertones. Moderate strength to the smell. It's an okay smell, but it doesn't draw me into the beer.

The first thing that struck me from the taste was the strong bitter and tart orange flavors. These weren't overpoweringly strong though. A tingling bit of sweet (and maybe flowery) spice hit the front of the tongue. The aftertaste is dominated by the bitter orange flavors which was followed by some strangely musky coriander.

The beer wasn't quenching, which isn't at all surprising, but it didn't come on as heavy, sticky or dry. The beer seemed to create a fog in my mouth. As I made my way through the glass, the tartness built up and became a little unpleasant.
Overall, this beer is just okay. It doesn't have any standout qualities and it's flavor didn't impress me.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.17/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - A yellowish golden color with not a ton of head on it. Not much lace either, there wasn't really a whole lot going on with this beer, pretty average, as my scoring would indicate.

S - Lots of fruit, bananas mostly, a healthy dose of belgian yeast was there as well. Little bit of phenol and something that is just slightly off, not quite skunked, off.

T - This is a solidy average tripel. Bready, lost of sugar and sweetness bordering on artificial. Yeast makes sure you know this is a belgian style beer, although it kind of beats you over the head. Fruity, mostly banana like on the nose.

M - Lighter side of medium, carbonation was a little lacking but it was an older beer so I just ignored that.

D - Average drinkability and average beer for the style. Interesting name and location, but just good for a one time drink.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.21/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a nice light golden amber with a small head of white on top. A decent amount of side glass lace and a touch of carbonation floating up toward the top.

The smell was a nice smattering of earthy fields of yeast and a touch of light floral hops. Nice cereal grains in the back as well. The flavor was decent, a little soft for a triple though. A ton of hops for the style with a light earthy feel to it. The overall feel of it was nice thlugh with more then adequate carbonation and a tight little profile. For 9% it was extremely drinkable and really the alcohol was completly undetectable.

Overall it was not bad, alothough I have had much better.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to htomsirveaux for the Real Ale.

A - Gold with a nice white head, moderate retention, no lace.

S - Big banana and lemon aromas immediately greet me, followed by a pils-grain dryness.

T - The brew has some nice flavors, but I must agree with the reviewer(s) who posit that this brew is somewhere between Tripel and Hefe; there is a prominent banana aroma and flavor that recalls a Hefe, definitely, and it is really too dominant. A quick overview of the flavor: pale-pils astringent grain is nicely balanced and bittered by some leafy hop, with a measure of requisite yeast-imparted esters. There is too much alcohol on the aftertaste. I enjoy this brew, not quite a Tripel nor convincingly Belgian in style, it is nonetheless refreshing and tasty.

M - Light-bodied and sharply carbonated.

D - This is a nice attempt at a Belgian-style brew; not entirely successful, but fairly enjoyable regardless.

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Photo of JDV
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours golden with a light white head. Smell is spiced yeast and malt. Very fruity and spicy. Taste is dryish but sweet and flavorful. Spiced estery, yeasty character, medium bodied with average carbonation and somewhat sweet for the style. Well made beer.

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Photo of jordanmills
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light amber with a thick head that reduces to fingers then a rim. Smells more of hops than it tastes, with a hint of sweetness. Tastes rich and sharp with lots of amber malt in there. Some complex tastes are hiding in the back, and it has a great aftertaste, combined with sharpness from the alcohol up front. Feels thinner than I'd expect from a tripel, with some cut from the alcohol. Overall fairly better than average.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.29/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Grendle for this one.

Quite the tang on this one. Somehow it works well enough, but it's not really bringing balance or a level of complexity that keeps it interesting. I think I can sum if up by saying that it's pretty one dimensional. And frankly, this is what Belgian styles of yesteryear tasted like when coming out of the U.S.

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Photo of tjkinate
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was hoping for a little more.

A: Mostly clear, deep golden color accompanied by a two finger head that dissipates quickly.

S: Prominently sweet, with floral undertones.

T: Pleasant sweet start, unfortunately followed by a bitter aftertaste that keeps me from wanting more.

M: Surprisingly nicely carbonated

O: Not on the same level as Allagash's Tripel, but a good beer none the less and at a fraction of the price!

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
3.32/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed twice - notes from June 2010 as well. Both bottles with best by date: 9/2/10.

A. Pours a clear pale yellow with a two finger creamy white head that dissipates leaving loads of residual lacing down the side of the glass.

S. Belgian yeast aromas - spicy with some fruit esters.

T. Spicy upfront. Sweet malt and bubblegum flavors come in later. On the tail there's an alcohol presence - it's like taking a sip of vodka; it's odd and unpleasant. I struggled with the rating because I think the other flavors are appropriate and pleasant - there's even a floral fruitiness as an aftertaste that I really enjoy, but the unpleasant alcohol taste on swallow bothered me both times I drank this (I thought a few more months might mellow the flavor, but it doesn't seem to have changed at all.)

M. Medium creamy body with a moderate carbonation that doesn't quite clear residual flavors from your tongue.

D. A friend brought this back from a trip to Texas. While he really enjoyed it, I can't get over the alcohol taste on swallow.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a golden color with a nice white head and a bit of lacing as it goes down. The nose brings some slight spice and Belgian yeast as well as a bit of citrus and some light fruits. Taste is a bit of pale spice and light fruit. A good dose of alcohol in there as well. Feel is slightly spicy and boozy with a good body. Drinks fairly well and is better than the blonde I had from them, but perhaps needs a bit of time to mellow.

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Photo of ElegantRose
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

With the apparent color of this beer like that of liquid apricots made effervescent alcohol, and the bubbles resembling what one might find in a cider, and they would be quite right in their assumption that this is an interesting take on a Belgian Tripel.

As alluded to previously, the bubbles are sparse, and the head non-existent after less than one minute. The mouthfeel, while originally temptingly Belgian, now (after five minutes) has become far more thin. I like a robust mouthfeel, and while the flavors are there (delicious coriander and orange), there is no lasting aftertaste, though I will state that there is a whisper of elegance that carries the beer through.

A bit of background: this beer has been aged approx. 7 months. There is a listed warning to drink by 3/29/14. It is currently July 2014. Usually there is not a 'sell-by' date on beer, and one can usually age Belgian beer many years if desired. Therefore, not a true Belgian beer, but an attempt on the style.

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Photo of NefariousR
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. glass bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours an extremely hazy goldenrod, leaving a thin, foamy white head that dissipated after a few minutes.

S - Fruity and sweet with a noticeable banana aroma.

T - A mix of fruit and malt, mostly tropical fruit such as banana, maybe a touch of mango and a few more nebulous ones. A bit of alcohol at the rear.

M - Medium bodied and slightly sticky. Only a bit of carbonation is particularly present.

D - I've heard this described as a hybrid between an Tripel and a Hefeweizen, and I'm inclined to agree; the fruity, banana flavors that I typically associate with Hefes are present here. It's a solid beer, but Hefes are one of my least favorite beers, so that knocks it down a bit.

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Photo of JayAre46
3.36/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

on tap review from notes, pours a hazy yellow. very frothy, great lacing down the glass. little chill haze but it happens.

A - yeasty, bubble gum, peppery spice, banana great aroma on this one.things are starting off better than expected.

T - again the belgian yeast, clove spice, strong banana, bubble gum is bit strong for what should be, or it needs more of the peppered spices to calm it down, hops are actually present but very light.

M - great mouthfeel, medium to full, moderately carbonated. flows over the palate coating all that in comes in contacts with, best part of the beer IMO.

D - decent brew and good representation, the bar for me is set at la fin du monde and i don't care if it is canadian i think of it whenever someone says "Tripel" and thats what it will consciously or sub-consciously be compared to...the hops and the spices try to balance things out but the bubblegum is a bit strong. the bmc'ers at the bar were really digging this one. just sayin. drink it

EDIT: this beer is not good, it actually sucks sorry if i sent someone an extra of this, my mind was clouded. 9/21/11

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Photo of jokelahoma
3.39/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter at home.

Pours a bright, clear orange-yellow. Hardly any head, and what there was tended to be soda-like, with loose bubbles that almost immediately disappeared.

Odd aroma. Wet straw, and a fuel-like smell that I can't quite place. Something like watermelon as well. It ends up with a sourdough bread crust smell. Kind of a mishmash. Not bad, just rather hard to pin down.

Flavor is decent up front. Good Belgian abbey character, albeit a bit thin. Hints of banana, tangerine, and perhaps even grape skins. Then an odd thing happens... it simply disappears. Gone, like there's no flavor, as though you just took a sip of water. Finally the taste of the beer reappears, but toward the back of my throat, more an alcohol burn than a real taste, to be honest. I've had beers where the sip faded quickly, but I can't say as I've ever had one just up and disappear the second I swallowed the brew. I had to throw back several sips in rapid succession to see if I imagined it, but no, it's really so dry that it's just up and gone the very second you swallow. It's not astringent or mouth puckering, not that kind of dry. The beer just vanishes. It's a decent if rather mild rendition of a tripel to that point, but the disappearing act is kind of disconcerting.

Mouthfeel is extraordinarily light. You don't want much more than this in a tripel, but a little more would have been beneficial, and no doubt could have played a part in getting the flavor to hang around for a bit.

This had potential. Even with the wild, all over the place aroma, it still could have locked in to be a good brew. The flavor starts that way, than... poof. Gone. It's just too watery in both mouthfeel and especially the end of the drink to rate it too highly. Close, but no cigar. Or beer, for that matter.

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Devil's Backbone from Real Ale Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 787 ratings.
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