Big Swede | Valkyrie Brewing

very good
113 Ratings
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Big SwedeBig Swede

Brewed by:
Valkyrie Brewing
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 05-13-2002

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Ratings: 113 |  Reviews: 89
Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown that becomes an opaque black in the snifter. Last bit is swirled and added, resulting in a couple fingers of chocolaty foam.

First whiff is of banana, a hint of smoke, and roasted malt. This later subsides, producing a boozy note. Started out big and appealing though.

Taste is really exceptional. Chocolaty, rich smoky malt, and that banana note hangs out in the background. Second time drinking this (1/2008), there's a juicy fresh plum note that is upfront. Dry finish, with mild bittersweet chocolate, char, and dry tobacco leaf. Smooth on the palate, silky mouthfeel. It has a fullness about it, but isn't heavy or cloying. My guess on the ABV is 7-8%.

Well done!

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The Big Swede delivers the traditional opaque black body and very dark tan cap that's expected of an Imperial Stout; and the head retention is good, and it leaving some very nice lace about the glass. The nose offers a delicate combination of roastiness, dark fruitiness, and some higher alcohols. It's medium-full bodied and smooth across the palate, but not particularly creamy. In the flavor, the dark fruitiness is probably the most intersting part. It takes on the "burnt currant" flavor normally associated with the style, but it's a bit richer with some more berry-like flavors. The roastiness is also nicely balanced, lending splashes of black coffee here and there, but remaining overall fairly restrained. There's a delicate milk chocolate side that's also interesting, and it melds really well with the fruitiness. Still, some higher alcohols interfere and take away from its overall enjoyment. It finishes dry with some alcohol and a lingering, vinous and tannic fruitiness.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -22.1%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impenetrable mahogany with a glimmer of reddish gold along the bottom edge of the glass. In spite of an increasingly elevated pour, the mocha colored cap only reached a height of a slim one finger. It's hanging in there reasonably well, but doesn't look the type to leave any lace. At only 8%, the beer shouldn't be this head and lace deficient. It's still a good looking stout.

The nose is great because it's powerful and because it's multi-faceted. The primary aromas are roasted barley, bittersweet chocolate and coffee. The thing that makes it different is a bourbon-like, charred oak, vanilla esteriness. I'm pretty sure Big Swede isn't aged in bourbon barrels, but it might as well be.

I'm not sure that Russian Imperial Stout is the correct style. And I have no idea what Swedish Style Imperial Stout even means. When compared to the heavy hitters, this one comes up a bit short on brute strength and mouthfeel. Not to worry because it more than makes up for it by being stupendously delicious.

I've had a lot of big stouts, but I don't know that I've ever had one that tastes quite like Big Swede. There's more than usual happening on the taste buds, all of it good. For starters, sweet, sour and bitter are exceptionally well-balanced. All are present and all contribute something of value at differents points along the flavor arc. As is often the case, sweet dominates early, sour occupies the middle and bitter cleans up at the end.

I would have bet that Viking ages this sucker in bourbon barrels. Every one of the usual suspects are present: brown sugar, vanilla (especially), a light oaky char, even a little smoke. I'm alternating between trying to break it down during one mouthful and simply enjoying it the next. I know one thing, I wish I had the big bottle rather than this woefully inadequate twelve ouncer.

I've changed my mind about the mouthfeel. Even though it isn't as massive and as thickly chewy as I might like, it's as silky smooth as any beer in recent memory. I have no problem with the carbonation being on the low end if it results in a mouthfeel this luxurious.

Nothing that I've had from Viking prepared me for the incredible beer... that is now gone from my glass. It's easily the finest thing these guys have ever created. I'm compiling a list of what to look for the next time I venture up to Madison. Big Swede has just been added, given a few exclamation points and circled. Outstanding!

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served at 50 degrees and poured into a pint glass

A - Poured a very nice and very thick dark chocolate brown, almost black, however there was just enough light getting through to give it a rich chocolate note. A rather large tan head about two inches high then rose up over this dark liquid and crowned the top of the glass for a good few minutes. Eventually it decided to settle down and left behind a nice pillow of brown foam, which stayed until the very end of the session. Very thick lace surrounded the glass throughout this entire time and really obscured the insides for a good long while. Really quite nice actually and a very good-looking stout.

S - The aroma was very pleasing and welcomed on this rainy night. Very nice blend of rich coffee and chocolate notes that were swirled around in a good amount of sugar. Lots of interesting notes in here as well. This was one of those that needed to sit down and warm up a while for the really interesting things to start happening. Some nice notes of a bourbon like alcohol and perhaps a hint of some vanilla starting to come out now. Still real strong with the chocolate notes and nice sweetness, perhaps a touch of oak or maybe it is just a deep roasted earthy malt, but either way very nice and definitely was smelling the part so to speak.

T - The flavor followed suit almost perfectly with the rest of the presentation. The first notes to come across to me were a deep roasted coffee taste, not the kind as if you normally find in a coffee stout, but rather, more of a hint of it, laced within an imbedded biter dark chocolate flavor. Lots of earthy tastes in here too, vanilla, caramel sugar, all playing a role. Some dark and fruit, perhaps even a raisin was cloying around trying to break through. The finish definitely had a bit of a hoppy note as well, really coming through the longer you let it linger. Some nice fresh grass flavors mixed in with the sweetness really giving it some nice depth in the profile. Overall, it was defiantly very full flavored and the evolution over the course of the session was not only nice, but also very well balanced.

M - Not as full bodied as I would have liked, it came off as a very full porter, or a lighter stout, whichever you prefer, but in these days of the Imperial Stout, this did not really come through in that class. There was however still very nice qualities to this one that cannot be ignored. Rich smooth and creamy it was very full on the tongue and the carbonation was definitely not a letdown here as you could tell it was still alive all the way until the end. Nice and strong all the way through the finishes, this was definitely a very nice beer.

D - Outstanding for something called an Imperial Stout. I am not really sure what the alcohol content on this one was, but I really could not pick up any of it throughout the session. It really had a very shippable, but as the same time sessionable quality to it. Being very sweet and not soo much as filling as others, it was definitely a winner. I would have loved to have had some more of this one any day.

Overall I did not know what to expect when I was getting myself into a Swedish Imperial Stout, but I was more then pleasantly surprised to say the least. The flavors were extraordinary and the rich creamy feel was just what I needed at the time. I of course have has much bigger in the way of stouts, but this was still excellent and a real treat. I would be glad to try this one again anytime.

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Photo of 22Blue
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Duff27
2.8/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Nothing about this beer was appealing.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Hmmm, a Swedish-style Imperial Stout, eh? Never heard of that before!
Dark as a starless night, ebon as the blackest sin, with an excellent, thick, creamy brown head, bubbles popping and foam softly, slowly subsiding. Leaves a mild lacing behind.
Aroma is a puzzle, nutty and creamy, but not issuing forth any typical IS characteristics, but, ah, this is that Swedish sub-style we must consider! Good cocoa, a hint of molasses, overall, mild, but pleasant enough.
Taste: Mmmmm! Yes! there we go! Big, cocoa and coffee, right at the first meeting of lips and liquid, thick, sweet, and slightly bitter, bracing, substantial, with a full texture, and a long, serious, sticky finish. Body is full, but could be fuller, the flavor however never flags, that we can freely admit. This is very tasty,wtih further flavors of dark fruits, carob, dark rum, figs, a whiff of whiskey, all speaking up as the drink goes down.
I like one. Doesn't stack up to so many other favorite ISs of mine ( and I've got a long list), but it's a nice little rendition nonetheless. I highly enjoyed this bomber-size serving, thanks to tavernjef for bringing it over the border for me, and would enjoy it more in the future.

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Photo of tempest
2.69/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I seemed to have a pleasant memory of the last time I tried the Big Swede. My current bottle doesn't match those expectations, however. The aroma is a mix of vegetables and Jell-o chocolate pudding. The flavor follows with a hint of roasted grains and smooth milk chocolate, but mostly ugly veggies flavors. I don't think this bottle has an excuse or anything. I picked it up as a single from a fridge at the Blue Max - same place I got the last bottle. I can at least say the alcohol is well-hidden, bravo. I can't drink the whole bottle of this, though.

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Photo of tommy5
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of weeare138
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to hopdog for this...
Appears a dense black with a frothy, 2 finger tan head that slowly fades into a film and collar. Plenty of beautiful lacing is left all around the glass.
Smell is of black currants, fudgey chocolate, toasted nuts, and a touch of citrusy orange infused with blackstrap molasses.
Taste is of the lovely aromas with a well blended taste and perhaps a hint of anise in the background. Well done.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, sweet of raisins and molasses, and a roastyness that seems to be the right amount to make this enjoyable.
I'm not sure if I was just in a good mood, or what but I really enjoyed drinking this one. I liked the flavors and everything came together nicely for me. I wish I had more.
Thanks again, Steve! I've been wanting to try this one for a few years.

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Photo of harpus
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

(Served in a dimple mug)

A- This beer has a jet black body with a transparent thin film of yellowish-beige head that moves to a thicker ring around the edges. There are tiny bubbles stuck to the side of the glass but that is the only sign of carbonation.

S- The smell of roasted black malt has a slight fruity raspberry hint and a soft vinous note to it.

T- The big black roasted malt flavor has an inky quality about it with a tad bit of tartness to it a vinous note as it warms. The finish is a soft chalky taste with a inky bitterness and a faint mint quality about it.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a slippery texture and no alcohol heat noticed. There is a slight astringency from black roasted grain that lingers a bit after the finish.

D- This is my first Swedish style Imperial Stout and it was nice. The big inky black beer was smooth but didn't have much depth of flavor.

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Photo of egrace84
2.83/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was looking forward to this, but was hugely let down. A strange plastic note on the taste.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a dark, dark ruby. A nice creamy chocolate brown head tops it off and is well retained. Nice roasted malt, burnt tones, expresso and coffee tones on the nose. A full bodied syrupy mouthfeel. There is a heavy blend of sweet toffee and bittersweet chocolate on the tongue. Actually, it's pretty nice. Not enough burnt tones for my liking and a little too sweet also. There's some lactic sourness present. But all in all, this is pretty damn tasty.

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Photo of ZAP
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coal black...light reddish tint when held to the light..a nice little tan head...on the nose its java and sweet chocolate with the chocolate dominate...nice...sweet milk chocolate flavor dominates...very slight spciy alcoholic finish...big roasty maltiness...creamy, velvet like mouthfeel...Low carbonation works wonders in the mouth...thick but not heavily muscled like some...

i'm not a big fan of this brewery but this is a solid Imperial that is a notch below special...perhaps the best of the inconsistent Viking lot..

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was a very dark black pour into a pint glass since I didn;t feel like using a snifter. The head is short and white but hangs around a little. Not a bad RIS but then again, nothing special here. I probably would not buy this beer if it were available. I am not quite sure what made it Swedish style?

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Photo of Gusler
4.36/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is as dark as they can get, and that’s the way I like my beers, “cus you know dark beers are stronger”!

Head is modest in its stature, frothy in its texture and the color a pleasant light chocolate. The aftermath of the head disintegration is a fine veil of lace to seal off the glass. The aroma of toasted grains dominates the somewhat sweet and coffee like nose, quite a treat these Imperial stout aromas. Front is thickly malt and sweet with the top chocolate fudge rich and full in its feel to the palate. The chocolate and toasted or roasted grain sweetness carries to the very last with just moderate hop spiciness and the aftertaste bittersweet chocolate dry, a quite pleasant beer this one, you just got to love the Imperials robustness and hearty alcohol content, a real “Hoot”!

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Photo of dirtylou
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

7/27/06 Update: this was 2nd in line during the Imperial/Double Stout night with expatsteve and Golden2wenty1. My overall analysis remains pretty similar and would have resulted in approximately a 4 overall.

12oz single, Riley's, $1.99

appearance: poured into a snifter...motor oil, very dark mahogany...absolutely no head or lacing which was sort of odd...very dark and full body

smell: very rich, dark roasted malt, super creamy, big chocolate aromas, coffee grounds. appears very well balanced from the nose

taste: This is pretty darn tasty...super silky smooth, sweet dark chocolate, very creamy, roasted malt, dark roast coffee, slight bitterness in the aftertaste, alcohol presence felt, licorice, light hopping noticeable...Its not a thick RIS but its very good

mouthfeel: a little on the thin side but delightfully creamy and smooth, bitterness and booze found in the aftertaste

drinkability: high

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.06/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This brew pours an opaque black color. The head is a quarter inch in height and tan in color. The aroma is creamy and butter with some very faint chocolate, and is rather boring for an Imperial Stout. It isn't bad but there is so much more that could be going on that it is disappointing. The taste is a whole lot better than the aroma. It fills your mouth with chocolate and cream, and leaves a nice warming alcohol feel in your throat. The mouthfeel is perfect. It is full bodied with low carbonation, and oh so smooth. I do believe that this is one of the smoothest beers I have had out of a bottle. Overall, this brew would have achieved greatness is not for its average aroma. Still, I do recommend it, and will certainly drink it again.

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Photo of morimech
3.76/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very short lived small head forms on the dark black body. No lacing is left on the glass. Most unimpressive looking RIS I have seen.

I smell chocolate, licorice, and a lot of perfumey alcohol. The flavor is big on solvent alcohol character that wipes the malt flavors quickly away. The chocolate malt is delicious while it lasts. Finishes clean and warm. The body is a bit thin for the style but still relatively full bodied. Carbonation is low and lends a creamy texture. A good sipper but there are far better RIS out there. It should cellar nicely and would improve with some age.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with a small light tan head. In the aroma, smokey and sweet coffee, In the taste, a sweet oatmeal maltiness. A smooth big bodied mouthfeel and a dry malty and coffee aftertaste. Smooth and nice coffee presence. ABV is not known but was not really tasted, has to be lighter for a imperial stout.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The Big Swede pours out like the color of dark syrup and settles in the glass solid blackish with a bit of a brown tone, but no light gets past this thick brute. Very nice brown head that grows slowly to about a 1/2 inch high with lots of bigger bubbles on the opposite side of this frothy heavy spongy top; crumbles and pops slowly back down and leaves lots of spotty lace.

Smell is lots of dark fruits and roasty malts of plum, raisin, and fig, good sense of molasses with a touch of chocolate or cocoa, very sweet and fruity, deep and rich nose, especially as the you get towards the the bottom of the bomber, the nose stands big on this Swedish Stout.

Tastes like it smells, "yah, vwhat a joy, eh!" Starts quite full with lots of malty action thats very big and rich with dark fruits, mostly raisins, lots of molasses take control and big tangyness and chewy roasty malts all over the place. It thins a little from just past the midway point, mellowing alot with a small hop bitterness returning into some more molasses and slight cocoa and one super cotteny coating mouth of dull, prickly pear and a unique drying thats super interesting with a nudge of warming alcohol in the finish.

Feel is full at the start, mellows out and stays lightly creamy throughout; quite thick, rich, and big boldness, finish is great.
One excellent Imperial Stout, enjoyable and drinkable.
Viking has a top notch brew with Big Swede indeed!

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Photo of Bierman9
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark brown color...nearly black. Even when held up to a light there was nothing coming through. Head was very short, almost to the point of not being there. Simply a bit of tan bubbles doing a rim job. Minimal lacing as well. Nose was roasty chocolate, with heavy notes of dark fruit, especially raisins. Big Swede had a soft feel on the tongue. Body was just about medium, though if it had been fuller and chewier I'd have rated it higher here. Flavor abounds with dark fruit...a lovely melange of raisins and currants melding in with some cappucino-like notes. A smidge of floral hops arises near the finish, which is somewhat dryish and has some bitter chocolate touches in the aftertaste. Pretty decent brew, though not as complex as some Imperials. Thnx to Tavernjef and BIF3 for sending this my way. Zum Wohl!!

overall: 3.9
appearance: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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

Presentation: Just like the picture in the BA database, a thick golden foil completely wraps the crown cap and the entire neck of this 22ounce brown glass bottle. The top of the foil has a red round sticker with the words ‘Something Special from Wisconsin’. The main (and only) label has a nice shiny metallic gold background with black text. A Viking Longboat rides the froth atop a large Mug. Listed as ‘Big Swede’ and described as a ‘Swedish Style Imperial Stout’. No strength or freshness date listed. I noted that this is somewhat confusingly labeled as Cask-Conditioned, I assume this means prior to bottling?!? However, as the sediment (which it recommends you leave IN the bottle) this really leads me to believe that Viking mean the Big Swede is unfiltered and merely allowed to age in a wooden cask, prior to bottling. I assume that this is therefore ‘Cask Aged’ and bottled “sur lees”, hence really ‘Bottle-Conditioned’.

Appearance: Thick black pour, oooh just how I like it. Upon closure examination, and with a strong light, the body is a very dark brown color, like a deeply polished dark teak-mahogany sideboard. It oozes danger as the nicotine stained brown head easily forms from the partial pour into my half pint glass. The head is a solid ½” offering at first but it fades at a reasonable pace to leave a nice ring like caged lacing and a thin collar like neck that stays throughout, but which occasionally breaks to expose a tar like black surface. A quick swirl reinstates the head. Superb carbonation, which has a nitro look to it at times.

Nose: Broodingly Baltic. Dark malts with a slight vinous twist that warns of alcohol. Roasted malts, dark cooking chocolate, you know the really bitter stuff. Some plums, figs dates and a light caramel toffee odor as it warms. Delicate hints of Port soaked Plums that I sometimes got the chance to try at the homes of posh people at Xmas. Nice nose.

Taste: Thick roasted malts carpet the introduction and allow the dark chocolate sponge cake middle to smoothly enter. Some plums and figs with a date like sweetness in the back third linger with warming but soothing alcohols. This has a very nice Imperial Stout feel and taste profile, albeit with a vinous thread that runs through it start to finish but which never becomes over bearing.

Mouthfeel: Starts with an incredibly smooth creamy mouthfeel, which has some coffee and bitter chocolate traits. The feel is soon altered as the vinous alcohols take over in the back end leaving a somewhat warming feel in the mouth on the swallow. Lingering warmth in the gullet.

Drinkability: Rather easily imbibed, and even though I do not know the strength of this, I believe that its Drinkability belies it strength – maybe I should limit myself to the one Bomber of this tonight and leave the bottle of Berserk Barleywine for later in the week.

Overall: I am not that up on styles, but this certainly has a Baltic influence to it, the creamy bitterness, roasted malts and vinous traits are nicely placed and add power to an already Big beer. Very nice indeed!! Certainly worth seeking out.

A massive Bjorn Borg “Aye am Kumming vrom Sveedan, Thhhaaank-ahhew” to Minnesota’s finest ABBA lover, Sir Big of the Blond Hair and Blue Eyed Huge, for this Swedish-Wisconsin Imperial Stout. As the Swedes would say, “Tack Joe”.

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Big Swede from Valkyrie Brewing
3.85 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
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