Courage Imperial Russian Stout | Wells & Young's Ltd

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291 Reviews
Courage Imperial Russian StoutCourage Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd
United Kingdom (England)

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rastaman on 02-11-2002

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Reviews: 291 | Ratings: 893
Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.13/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle poured into a Swiss wine snifter.

Pours with a huge 4 fingers of rocky dark tan head that slowly crumbles leaving lace everywhere. Body is black with faint/slight dark brown highlights.

Smells of well integrated roasted malts on top of English hops. There remains a fruity, almost grassy hop aroma, and it nearly takes center stage in the aroma. There are hints of cocoa powder and slightly burnt toast. Once the glass is half drained, I distinctly smell fuggle hops, but my nose may be deceiving me. I wonder if this is dry hopped? Maybe that is one of the factors that helped it age over long periods...

The flavor is big and dark, with black coffee and dark chocolate notes rising from the liberal use of dark malts. There is a moderately high dose of hop bitterness and even some hop flavor, both of which are common finds in American versions of this style, but less so in English varieties. There is a touch of fruitiness that is sweet and and fleeting in the beginning of the flavor- I suspect that this will broaden out and overpower the hop flavors/bitterness over time. There is also the faintest hit of port, and I imagine this quality will grow and if the bottle was kept all the way till the "best by" date (12 years from now) the port character would dominate.

The mouthfeel is well carbonated and slightly less smooth than I would expect, but then again this is still young. There isn't much alcohol burn which is nice.

Conclusion: I truly wonder if this is how the original Courage RIS tasted. If so, it was a groundbreaking beer in its day, and is still an excellent one now. I am very happy to see this brewed again, now all I need is for Thomas Hardy's Ale to be resurrected and will never ask for another beer-related miracle again! Sometime I will get a few more of these and let them age.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.07/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Huhzubendah .. Thanks Matt.

Pours a dark brown with a one finger cocoa head. Great lacing for a 10% abv brew. Excellent nose with molasses, hops, dark fruit, caramel and slight alcohol present. Very balanced and aromatic nose. Taste follows the nose profile, with the exception of the hops.... Which are way out front on this beer. Feel is full with a big hops bite on this beer. Relatively dry finish for the style. Overall, a good beer- glad I got to try this one. Cheers!

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/08/12 notes. Shared by Huhzubendah; thanks Matthew.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one inch of medium tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, dark fruits, and light coffee. Pretty nice and roasty.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, milk chocolate, sweet vanilla, and dark fruits. A tiny step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate to high carbonation. A tiny bit overcarbonated, but nice.

o - Overall a very nice RIS. Very roasty and the taste has some nice vanilla to it as well. Would like to have it again.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Huhzubendah for sharing this bottle with me. Owe you one for this.

At the time of this review, this is the #50 top Russian Imperial stout on the "Top Beers - Russian Imperial Stout" list on Served in a snifter.

Beer is dark, black, with a big dark brown head of small and medium bubbles, decent retention, some lacing, moderate to low carbonation, it seems a little overcarbed for the style.

Aroma is sweet, nice roast, overall a mild aroma.

Beer is quite drinkable, for a 10% beer you'd never guess it, not a hint of alcohol or heat in the entire thing, medium bodied with a thinner finish, mild sweetness and bitterness on the finish, mostly from the roast. This is the re-release of this beer, as is my understanding, a very solid RIS. I enjoyed it and would have it again.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.12/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A huge thank you to xpimptastikx for hooking me up with this. I am huge fan of the style, and am grateful for the opportunity to taste this stout for the first time.

The beer appears dark mahogany with a substantial beige head that leaves copious lacing on the tumbler. The aroma brings roast, dark fruit, malt, raisins, toffee. Nice flavor. The finish brings a healthy amount of hop bitterness. Prominent dark fruit with a strong hop presence in both the aroma and flavor. Unusual for the style and really delicious. Glad I was able to acquire some of this.

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Photo of beergoot
4.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A black abyss signalling black, dried fruits over rich, roasted malts in the nose. The light brown head lingers on and on while the taste of sweet, burnt bitterness infused with a welcoming alcohol warmth satisfies the palate. Yeah, baby! This is one mean, mutha of an imperial stout.

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Photo of slentz
4.28/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to snifter at about 50 degrees. Brewed May 2011

A: Beer pours out a dark cola color with light penetrating the pour. Easy pour leads to a fat finger worth of beautiful mocha colored head that is very slow to dissipate. This beer looks really great in the glass. 5.0

S: Smells immediately of dark fruits, raisins, dark malts, black licorice, chocolate. Beneath it all is a hint alcohol. 4.5

T: Bitter with lot of coffee notes that are not really pronounced in the nose. The finish is quite bitter with only a hint of sweetness.

M: Mouthfeel is light and smooth. Goes down quite easy. 4.0

O: Overall a very nice beer. Looks awesome in the glass. Falls a bit short of other imperial stouts but still a very solid offering. I'd try this again but the price is kind of high at $6.50 for 9.3 oz. Definitely glad I got to try this though. 4.5

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Duvel Tulip

A - Pours a deep deep Ebony colour with an off White tanned head that reatins well and laces.

S - Nice aromas of licorice, chocolate, roasted malt and toffee.

T - Bold flavours of chocolate, licorice, caramel,toffee with a nice warming finish. This is a big stout. The ABV is masterfully hidden

M - Fullish body and low carbonation. May be a littel on the thin side

O - One of the best RIS's I have tried to date, if you see it, buy two and cellar one, as it will get better with age. Awesome beer. So pleased that they decided to brew it again, It is a true classic.

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Photo of Mississipping
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours extremely dark brown with a one-finger caramel colored head that dissipates slowly leaving behind moderate lacing. 

S: Dark chocolate, roasted barley, and a touch of dark fruit.  A hint of coffee, hops, and booze in the background.

T: A lot of dark fruit (raisin and fig) with some dark chocolate up front.  Some roasted barley and a touch of booze toward the back end, but overall pretty well balanced. 

M: Thicker side of medium with a good bit of carbonation.  Smooth and creamy on the tongue.  Slightly drying at the finish as the hops shine through.

D: Very drinkable, but just a little underwhelming.  It's really neat to get to try this, but it wasn't quite as balanced as I was hoping it would be.  A bit of booze on the back end and a little sweeter than I would have liked.  Overall, though, it's a nice treat.  

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Photo of Domingo
4.09/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pretty cool to see this being brewed again.
A deep brown-black with a lively head that stays and laces for the life of the beer. Visually, it's pretty much perfect for the style.
The flavor profile takes on the characteristics of both the US versions I've had, and the stronger European export stouts, too.
Massive roasted malts that provide just the right amount of sweetness without being cloying or overdone. A hint of vinous character from the yeast. The hops are extremely herbal in this case. Medicinal and giving off a little bit of spearmint character. There's definitely come rummy alcohol heat, too. Everything comes together in a fine package that's both unique and extremely flavorful. Like a little bit of a chocolate dessert with some rum.
A welcome bottle in my fridge, I'll be buying more for sure. I do wish the bottle was a hair bigger (since I tend to split stronger items) but that's not really a gripe about the beer itself.
Good stuff, and a very cool tradition that has returned.

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Photo of dgugliuzza
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into a snifter

Black like coffee with nearly six ounces of light brown head. The head is like a cloud as it floats atop the body. Great sticky lacing along the sides.

Burst of roasted malts followed by chocolate and dark fruits. Has a toffee like sweetness that lingers in the back of the nose, but still manages to finish quite bitter.

Dark, bitter chocolate flavor followed by roasted malt. The sweetness is secondary, but is flawlessly integrated with bitter notes. Finish hot and bitter with hints of plum and fig.

Medium-thick mouthfeel with strong, prickly carbonation. A bit unusual for a stout of this magnitude. This one's a sipper as it has plenty of heat and strength.

Courage is a superb RIS. I'm grateful that it is being brewed again. It was great to try a classic that I thought I would never have the chance to. Definitely worth picking two up. One for now and one for later.

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Photo of xpimptastikx
4.18/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark brown with large milk chocolate head and excellent lacing.

S - raw cacao and roasted malts.

T - chocolate covered espresso beans with a light dark fruit tone.

M - medium body and carbonation, very creamy.

O - Exactly what a RIS should be.

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Photo of jegross2
3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Brewing Company. You probably best know this brewery for their flagship beer, Young's Double Chocolate Stout.
Score: 89

Unknown vintage bottle served in an oversized brandy snifter glass. Has what I presume is a "best before" date on the neck: 19/09/24.

Appearance: Pours an opaque black coffee color with brown highlights atop the glass. Pours two and a half fingers of soapy tan colored head that slowly recedes into a thin layer. Excellent lacing. 4.5/5

Smell: Huge aromas of roasted malts and dark fruits. Milk chocolate, prunes, some coffee, and alcohol. Some licorice, mocha and toffee aromas too. Smells a lot like Great Lakes Blackout Stout. 4/5

Taste: Taste follows the aroma. Dark fruits and roasted malts upfront -- figs and prunes are most prominent. Chocolate and alcohol on the mid-palate. Toffee and vanilla on the mid-palate too. Finish is chocolate, toffee and alcohol flavor. I think I detect hints of stainless steel flavor three-quarters of the way through the glass, though I may just be imagining things and confusing the boozy flavor. Honestly, this brew is a little boozy in the flavor (10.0% ABV), but pretty delicious nonetheless. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy mouthfeel. Near full bodied with moderate carbonation -- perhaps a touch too much carbonation. Finish is dry and bitter. If the beer was just a little less carbonated, it would have gotten a much higher mouthfeel rating. 3.5/5

Overall: A solid Russian Imperial Stout that could have been excellent if the booziness was throttled back. For what it is at $6.49, however, this one is a bit overpriced. This beer's best comparable is Blackout Stout, and Blackout Stout is better (and cheaper).

Recommendation: Not a good starter Russian Imperial Stout for casual beer drinkers. Beer geeks should probably enjoy this one, though the booziness is not very balanced.

Pairings: Warm chocolate cake.

Cost: $6.49 for a 9.3 oz bottle.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.78/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

9.3 ounce bottle - $6.29 at Hop City in Atlanta, Georgia. Brewed in May 2011. "Best before see neck of bottle." 19/09/24.

Appearance: Pours a black body with a quickly growing, durable, dark tan head. Meager lacing.

Smell: Tar-scented roasted malts, spritzed with booze, dusted liberally with powdered licorice and sprinkled with dark fruit skins soothed and smoothed with mellowing notes of chocolate and mocha.

Taste: Well-roasted malts lending bold coffee, dark chocolate, fire-pit smoked plums, with some alcoholic heat wrapped within the malty flavors. Slight creosote taste, some licorice whip. Slightly tart fruitiness, helping a bit to cut through the hard roast overtones. Herbal, spicy hops, moderately bitter. Picking up some mineral-laden aspects in-between the firmer tastes. More creosote and licorice on the rear, with the bitterness and peppered alcohol accents lasting into the dry, warming, roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Fairly smooth mouthfeel overall.

Overall: Courage, indeed.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.05/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle poured into a Hill Farmstead tulip.

Pours a pitch black color with a small dark brown head along with some light brown lacing. Nose is sweet, chocolate and vanilla.

Taste is rich and smooth, there is a light bitter coffee bite that's there and is crisp on the finish. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. Very delicious beer.

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Photo of beerandcycling88
4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 9oz bottle into a snifter

A Pours black with a thick frothy off white head.

S Light chocolate with a hint of cherry and coffee.

T Lots of chocolate and smoke with roasted coffee and cherry or some fruit like that.

M Lots of warming alcohol which suits this one perfectly. Medium body, and very smooth.

Overall this is a great beer and I can see why it is considered a classic. I'm glad I bought more then one as this is something I can see my self drinking on a regular basis.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown but looks black in the glass. A large very frothy tan head tops the beer, takes up 1/3 of the pour and just refuses to recede. Light smells all around. Coffee, roasted malts, and a chalky chocolate aroma comprise the nose. First sip is much more flavorful than the weak aroma indicated. Coffee leads the charge with chocolate that again is slightly chalky. There are some black licorice, vanilla, and dark fruits present too. Very well balanced. What really stands out is the mouthfeel. It is milkshake creamy and is truly amazing. I have not read Catherine the Great’s review but I hope she appreciated it in 1795 as much as I did in 2011.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.46/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle poured into a goblet

A: Pours very dark brown with over 3 fingers of light brown, dense foam. This beer appears highly carbonated. No light penetrates the beer. Retention is very good.

S: Toffee, milk chocolate, light smoke. Some raisin and other dark fruits. After a while, I get some roasted malts as well.

T: Quite nice - much better than the aroma IMO. Lots of roasted malts, quite bitter, with a small amount of toffee sweetness to back it up. I'm surprised how different this is than the aroma.

M: Very nice - thick with good carbonation.

O: I was not impressed at all by the aroma, but the taste is quite nice. The aroma did seem to open up after a while. Not excellent, but a decent imperial stout.

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Photo of Beertracker
4.38/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Courage RIS pours up with a light-moderate carbonation that creates a modest, but sustainable dark tannish-mocha colored head that regally crowns the deep mahogony-brownish black body. The heavily roasted aroma is surprisingly complex for such a young beer with notes of chocolate pudding, toffee bits, toasted walnuts, cocoa nibs & freshly perked espresso. A touch of cherry cordial, sweet tobacco & vanilla cream along with a hint of warmth adds to the overall complexity. This one gets even better as it warms in hand. The smooth, rich flavor starts off with a chocolate bar sweetness that gives way to a fully roasted barley character with burnt espresso notes marked by a cross bitterness. The beer continues to grow on the palate, but dries out towards the slightly acrid, bittersweet & cheek warming finish. It's magically delicious! This fine Russian Imperial Stout was once the favorite of Catherine the Great, so that's good enough credentials for me! I'm stocking my cellar full of as many bottles as I can lay my hands on for I know that age makes this one truly magnificant! Here's to Jim Robertson for bringing this one back from the brink and to Well's & Young for recreating a new English classic!

CHEERio! Beertracker

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Photo of DavidST
4.42/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 275 ml bottle into a tulip glass, 2011 version with a date of 9-19-24(?), I do know if this is a best before date or best after, but I doubt I hold onto a bottle for 12 years. This pours a little thinner than expected, but its a hazy yeast filled almost black color with a massive tan head (i had to wait several times for it to go down). The smells are of dark roasted malts, espresso, a little sweet dark fruit, and some alcohol. The feel is medium, a little thinner than some other irs, but still a tad creamy. The taste is pretty great, plenty of bitter hops and malts combined with a little sweetness and then a nice peppery finish, I'll probably get a couple more to save.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.8/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wonderful to see bottles of this in Atlanta. A beer I've been wanting to try for a long while. I wondered whether I'd be disappointed after the long wait, but no, this beer is superb. Pours an extremely dark brown, almost black, unless held up to the light. Short coffee crema colored head, but the head clings to the side of the glass in a sheet, not just rings. Smells of Christmas pudding cooked in a coal fired oven- slightly sooty and redolent of fruit and brandied cake. Dry and intense in flavor, tightly wound. Nice lingering, ashy bitterness with dry fruit notes, licorice, espresso, and bitter chocolate. Superb, and surprisingly bracing and dry with a bit of alcohol bite that is nevertheless integrated with the beer in the sense that it underscores the other flavors instead of dominating. A huge beer, and a great pleasure to drink.

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Photo of ADZA
4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a dark kola hue which leaves a two finger head and heaps of clingy lacing,beautiful looking almost spot on.

S-Burnt toffee and raisins,rich sticky date pudding,caramel and candied figs.

T-It starts off like a liquid Xmas pudding with tastes of caramel cake and candied fruits mixed with chocolate and chestnuts and finished with a dark fruity hoppy bitterness that counteracts every sweetness first encountered.

M-Full bodied and a touch boozy which finishes bittersweet.

O-This is definately a brew that would age well and im glad ive got more than the one and look forward to seeing how it ages and if you find definately buy more than the one cheers.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in my swanky new Sweetwater snifter.

Nice to hold some brewing history in my hands, even if it isn't from the original re-brewers (read: not Wells/Young). It pours a straight onyx topped by a tall finger of dusty tan foam. The nose comprises dark chocolate, roasted malts, light molasses, and a touch of darkly-roasted coffee. Pretty dern British, so to speak (as far as stouts go). The taste brings in more of the same, with a touch of clove lying near the bottom of things. The body is a light-feeling medium, with a light carbonation and a creamy, smooth feel. Overall, this is a great-tasting stout that drinks way the hell too easily for anyone's own good. If this is anything like the older stuff, I will work my ass off to get a vintage bottle...

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Photo of rmalinowski4
4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in May 2011 and poured into my Darkness snifter

Pours a deep black with a two finger fluffy tan head. The head sticks around forever and leaves tons of lacing on the glass. Looks spectacular. The lacing and head are still around as I reach the bottom of the glass nearly a half hour after the pour.

The smell is dark roast, chocolate, dark fruit like figs and dates. Smells absolutely decadent and enticing, but the fruit undertones seem a little different for the style.

The taste does not disappoint. Dark roast, dark fruit sweetness, chocolate, slight alcohol warmth, and some lingering hops on the finish. Very complex and simply delicious.

The mouthfeel is velvety smooth and creamy with near perfect carbonation. Courage coats the palate, it's thick and creamy like a milk shake, but not cloying. Extreemly well done.

Overall this is an absolutely fantastic beer, probably the best non BA stout that I have had to date. Extreemly well balanced and complexed. Soo glad that they brought this one back and that I got to try it.

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Photo of TenHornsProud
4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black with a big tan head that lingers.

Smells of bready, biscuit malt with some roast coming through along with hints of caramel.

Taste is up front caramel/molasses/fig that fades into a big roasty middle and ends with a floral note and coffee and chocolate...really interesting and complex flavor that is subtle.

Medium to heavier body and lower carbonation. The alcohol blends perfectly.

This stout is more subtle than many others with a bigger floral and fruity nose/finish than I'm used to. It is also quite bready and completely delicious.

**Tobacco notes open up as this beer warms. It just gets better and better.

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Courage Imperial Russian Stout from Wells & Young's Ltd
4.22 out of 5 based on 893 ratings.
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