Northwind Imperial Stout | Two Brothers Brewing Company

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411 Reviews
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Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Two Brothers Brewing Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Dark delights like this were once shipped to the imperial court of Russia. With a firm, roasty maltiness balanced against a generous helping of hops, Northwind can stand up to the worst its namesake can dish out! Enjoy it by a roaring fire.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-14-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
411
Ratings:
927
Avg:
3.77
pDev:
18.04%
 
 
Wants:
30
Gots:
84
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 411 | Ratings: 927
Photo of Lawl3ss
4.21/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Lightly chilled 12 oz. bottle into a 33 cl snifter. Bottle states "Lot 0033", no printed bottling or best-by date, although the label isn't older than 2010.

Look- Pours a deep brown-black with two fingers of dense mocha head that falls quickly to a fingernail ring that persists until the glass is empty. Excellent webbed lacing. From what I can tell, the beer is crystal clear, but it's still opaque in the glass.

Smell- Plain but pleasant, mild nutty-coffee-mocha aroma. Light roast, warm feel. Not particularly complex, but welcoming.

Taste- Similar to the aroma; mild, inoffensive, nicely developed cocoa-nutty-soft roast flavors. Astringency is mild, makes me think of Carafa-III or similar rather than roasted barley or black patent, comes across as cold-press mocha coffee. Light toasted caramel, vanilla-laced maple butter. Finishes with a bit of oatmeal. Not aggressive, but that in itself is refreshing. Soft, full flavored without thrashing my palette, excellent balance.

Mouthfeel- Soft carbonation, medium-full body with a bit of stick. Silky. Very easy drinking for the style.

Overall- Not flashy, but very, very solid. This would easily make my go-to everyday list if it were available in my area. Recommended.

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Photo of hawks10
4.21/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark and oily as expected, tremendous fluffy dark tan head, looks like dark panacake batter.

Coffee and a slight chocolate smell, found the smell to be the "weakest" part of the beer.

Malty and slightly chocolate taste, really not much hop presence but a slightly bitter, coffee aftertaste.

Overall I really enjoy this beer, I think it is underrated and a great value for a RIS.

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Photo of dnjmed
4.21/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured out into a pint glass. maybe should've broken out a tulip for this. served at about 55 F and rising

Looks awesome. Pitch black even held up to the light. 3/4 inch head that is the color of caramel or maybe even cafe au lait

Smells sweet with note of vanilla possibly. Some good roasted character coming through as well.

Taste is a strong malt profile. I pick out chocolate, vanilla, coffee, sweet cherry but not necessarily in that order. First sip I was pleasantly struck by some good piney hops at the end, but I've settled into the stout now and they're less noticeable but there.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and very enjoyable.

A good beer and a good stout but in this style it's got some tough competition. That being said it's a lot easier to get my hands on than other R.I.S.s. It's definitely keeping me warm on this cold December night

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Photo of WildTurkey
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to snifter. Cool temp; at least 50'F.

A: Pitch black. No amber light passing through. Tan, mocha color head, about one finger thick. Slightly creamy but with mixed size bubbles. Looks good.

S: Coffee and roasted malts. Little bit of chocolate. I'm also getting a little bit of hops.

T: Lots of roasted malts. Some coffee and dark fruit. Some mild hops and alcohol are coming through at the end. Flavors are well harmonized and smooth but not as strong or complex as some other RIS I've had. Still very good - in my opinion.

M: Great mouthfeel, one of the first things I noticed after drinking. Medium-to-Fuller bodied. Very rich and creamy. It really coats the mouth.

D: A very drinkable stout. Flavor profile is balanced. Stong flavor but nothing too overwhelming. I'm really slugging this back. Very good

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Photo of Chiefy770
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 fl. oz Bottle
Bottled on January 15th, 2015
Reviewed on March 6th, 2015
Served in a Snifter

Eyes
Poured a rich dark brown, nearly black body. Not much of a head... just a thin lining of light brown foamy bubbles. Sparse amount of sticky light brown lacing throughout.

Nose
Dense notes of toasted grains. Thick and sweet notes of molasses and caramel. Faint smokey bitterness.

Mouth
Toasted grains up front. Light, sweet malts gained steam. Good notes of caramel and toffee. Sweeter flavors lived in a pretty strong backbone of toasted malts. Finished semi-sweet with a noticeable hit of alcohol. Full-bodied. Moderate carbonation.

Overall
Certainly not as thick as other Imperial Stouts. Toasty and tasty. Dangerously drinkable for my taste. Another delicious offering from Two Brothers!

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Photo of NeutroMan
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours an opaque, nearly black with a thin film of reddish brown head that quickly dissipates. The nose is dominated by roasted malts - mostly coffee and chocolate. Some fruitiness (mostly plum) begins to become more noticeable as the beer warms. Taste is a complex blend of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, fruity esters, and some minimal hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is full-bodied and chewy with some alcohol warmth (particularly as the beer warms up). One of the more drinkable RIS.

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Photo of HeightsEats
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is a nice mix of dark caramel and subtle hops. While the typical sweetness and roasty flavors of a stout are clearly present, a hop backbone comes through as well. Full bodied but not overly sweet, the hop presence and balance of flavors makes this beer quite drinkable (and the alcohol is well-hidden).

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Photo of Schmittymack
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into the trusty shaker glass; served nearly room temperature. Poured a nice dark black color with a creamy brownish head. Aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malt. Taste was wonderful malt, coffee, dark chocolate and no hop bitterness in the end. I'm glad I still have a few bottles of this left; will be nice to have after a day on the slopes next ski season. Best brew I had in the evening Friday, the 27th.

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pitch black with a couple fingers of mocha colored head when poured aggresuclery. Microbubbles resonnate throughout the head. Good lacing

S- Roasted malt and faint coffee scents are picked up, followed by booze.

T- Similar to scent. Toasted maltiness mixed with a bitter coffee taste. Pretty tasty roastiness going on. The booze taste is subtle at the end.

M- Pretty thick and syrupy and covers the palate well

D- Sits heavy but could put down a few over DA BEARS whoppin' that ass. A great stout @ $8.99 per six pack

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mred137 for the opportunity.

A: Very black with tons of head. Some lacing.

S: Nice roasted coffee nose.A little bit of hops in the back which I always enjoy. Reminds me of darkness every time.

T: Very nice roasted espresso taste. Almost a hint of a milk stout from all the sweetness. Balanced well.

M: Nice creaminess. Very dry finish with a light body for the style.

D: Very drinkable. What I like about two brothers is that they play with the traditional takes on a style and cross pollinate them with others. To me this was a RIS with a milk stout. Their tripel was really a Belgian IPA. I have enjoyed their stuff when I can find it. Thanks to Mr. Ed.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was cellared for one year before being opened and what ever happened in that year certainly made this beer absolutely delicious.

Pour - super dark and viscous. Its the dredges from a super dark pot of coffee. This is black (period). No light shines through. The head is thin and coffee colored. This looks potent.

Aroma - lots of raisins and prunes along with licorice and anise. This is a very strong smelling RIS without a lot of malt or hop aromas just a ton of dark stewed and fermented fruits.

Taste - wow, all those smells come to life on my tongue. This has a very strong flavor of those dark fruits and a nice lashing of warm alcohol. This is not a heavily malt centered imperial stout nor is it hoppy, its all about the rich dark fruit flavors and how they've developed over the past year.

Overall - I'm really digging this beer, so much flavor and its certainly making me feel nice as well. You have to love 12 oz. bottles of strong beer. They are such perfect serving sizes.

Would I buy more of it? - I might be swayed, not sure. I really like this after a year in the cellar, it could be nice to buy some more bottles and put them away for years to come.

Vintage - Winter 2008/9

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Photo of letsgopens
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Another selection from Two Brothers. This Imperial Stout pours black with amber red highlights. Visible small bubbles and a tan/brown head that recedes leaving a bit of light lace.

The aroma incorporates coffee and some chocolate. A touch of mild smoke and lots roasted malt.

A lot of initial roastiness with plenty of malt flavor. The expected chocolate and pleasant mellow coffee. Done well, but mellow nearly all around. Very nice stout-like qualities but lacking that traditional bite and warmth associated with many Imperials. Caramel, some hops, half & half, and molasses in the finish.

Smooth and creamy on the palate. Heavy but not too syrupy. Pleasant and good all around.

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Photo of harrymel
4.19/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to dhren1979 for this extra!
Poured from crown capped bottle to NB Globe.

Says Lot 3190 on back of bottle, not sure what this means.

A: Black, soily ale drizzles to the glass and excites a nice single finger of mocha head. This head dissipates in a couple minutes, but is easily reintroduced with a quick swish of the stout. Scattered sticky lacing.

S: Inky, industrial, smokey. Sweetened cocoa with a nice blending of licorice, roasted figs, dates, cinnamon. Intriguing and brings me back in repeatedly.

T: Very malt forward. Coffee, cocoa nibs, cinnamon. The beer has a nice creamy taste. The finish is long, and gradually keeps me coming back for more.

M: Low to no carbonation in mouth. The beer is thick, creamy and viscous. This beer makes me think of Wilcox farms Chocolate milk in body.

D: This was such a wonderful surprise of a beer! If you can get your hands on this, give it a go.

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Photo of KFBR392
4.18/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: A very traditional look to a stout. Pitch dark, thin head, low carbonation.

Smell: There is light hop sweetness here. Malt, dark chocolate, and some very dark fruits play a role here.

Taste: Awesome here. A smooth hop presence hits at first. A creamy malt body carries this beer. Such a complex body really represents the the american stout well. I'm not really sold on this beer being a Russian Imperial Stout, but is an awesome American stout.

Mouthfeel: More of a clean smoothness here. Again not really the feel of a Russian Imperial Stout, but more of a traditional Stout.

Overall: I think Two Brothers is one of the better breweries in my home state of Illinois. Their beers tend to be very solid. This beer is one of my favorites and can go toe to toe with many other American Stouts.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.18/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased because it seemed such a good value. Now maybe it's not worth it, or maybe it will be. I've generally liked this brewery so my anticipation runs favorable.
Certainly pours like and heavy enough. Very dark small head. Only hints of color on the bottom of the ridel wine glass.
I'd anitcipate a full and heavy aroma, but that's not what I got. It was much tighter than most, however, it is a nice dark roast, coffee, and a little chocolate.
Nice full flavor, in contrast to the aroma. Slightly sweet, roast, coffee. Moderately bitter that appears largely at the end. Longer finish with mild dryness and good flavors. Nice dark fruit flavors.
seems a little thin for style, but I like the lower carbonation. Feel ultimately is nice.
I like this. it drinks well. It certianly isn't the biggest, thickest or richest out there, but the flavors are good, the feel is nice and it drinks well (I could easily have another).
In the end I would say "yes" it's a good value.

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Photo of mgbickel
4.18/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duck Rabbit snifter. Formed a thick layer of khaki colored bubbles that quickly receded, leaving no lace behind. The body is dark, dense and pretty much black. You can force ruby slivers around the edges if backlit.

The nose is rather weak for a RIS...burnt chocolate, coffee, toasted malts, heavy cream, molasses...all very subtle.

Thank goodness the flavors do not follow the nose (in strength at least). Starts off with a black coffee bitterness that smoothly transitions into a sweet malt middle that turns roasty at the finish. No booziness make this really smooth drinking.

The mouth feel teeters on the heavy side of medium...creamy with moderate carbonation.

This is a pretty solid stout. I had no problems putting a 12oz bottle away and found myself wanting more. Well worth a try!

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Photo of BigPlay1824
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed in a snifter

A: pours a very deep brown that is impenetrable and has a ton of suspended sediment, pours with a finger of frothy mocha brown colored head that lingers nicely and has large bubbles, leaves spotty lacing
S: very nice mocha scent, very reminiscent of a strong coffee, very deep and enjoyable
T: begins with a nice coffee note which just intensifies and deepens throughout the sip, really deep and tastey, not entirely complex but yummy nonetheless
M: medium carbonation tingle, very thick on the palate and has a wonderful velvety texture which sticks to the palate
O: a delicious brew, lacking a bit in complexity but incredibly deep, really delicious

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Photo of Sycodrummer
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the black bomber into a snifter the beer was a very dark black color with slight ruby hues in the light. A thin layer of head skimmed the top of the beer and carbonation clung to the sides of the glass. Some spotty lacing throughout the sample.

The smell is a heavy roasted malt, black coffee, dark chocolate, and dark fruit: plum and fig.

The taste is heavy in orasted character with a robust malty backbone. Roasted flavor is dominant throughout each sip and is complimented by strong (Starbuck's-ish) black coffee. Some dark chocolate and chicory bitterness to the finish. Figs and plums in the end of each sip and the alcohol is near undetectable.

Medium firm body with about average carbonation levels.

A good all around RIS. Nice roasted character dominates the beer. Would have liked to have seen a little bit more presence from the alcohol, but it was well balanced and very drinkable.

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Photo of codsmith
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet-black with a very slight amount of creamy tan head. Doesn't really lace the glass

S: Has a nice sweet coffee, chocolate & roasted malt aroma. Very smooth and well balanced.

T: The taste is a lot like the aroma. Very smooth and creamy on the palette. There is a slight amount of roasted bitterness hitting at the end. Very well balanced

M: Moderate mouthfeel, carbonation is in the correct level.

O: My favorite Two Brothers beer and I've had it all ways (cask, draft & bottle), but always a very good and well balanced imperial stout.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

A real nice pour out of the bottle, dark walnut brown, hitting the glass with a creamy character and a dark walnut black body. Head is creamy tan chocolate and foams up quite nicely with a solid two fingers. Very slowly settles to a simple thin puck and collar. Very nice.

Good solid Russian nose for the bouquet. Mild sense of dark bitter chocolate, light warm roast tones, good ripping grain sense and maybe a little bit of berried fruit also. Real nice, I am liking where this is going.

Palate is light but with a good creamy coating play. Wonderful sweet malts and dark roast character. Bitter dark chocolate abounds, with a real nice moderate controlled sweetness on the finish. The body is ideal and probably the best part of the beer, light but with lots of coating the flavors all around, and a tiny little bit of fizz on the tip of the tongue for playful character.

Overall a real solid Russian Imperial worth having and seeking out again, really did enjoy this one.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 16oz pint glass at Firkin 4/20/08. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Served a dark, coal black with a creamy dark tan head. Poor retention, however, that leaves sheets and spots of lace.

S: Aromas of roasted malt, sweet dark fruit, toffee, chocolate, and caramel.

T: Charred black malt, overripe dark fruit, chocolate, bitter espresso, and cherry.

M: Very creamy with a nice peppery hop bite.

D: Big RIS flavors and aromas + medium sized RIS abv% = excellent drinkability.

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Photo of Damian
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Drank on-tap at Redbones Barbecue, Somerville, MA

Poured a deep, thick brown/black with no head (just a bubbly film of off-white froth) and no lacing.

Aroma was very subtle initially. Notes of roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate and a general oakiness were mildly detectable. By mid-glass, a distinct (and unexpected) yeastiness was noticeable and by the end of the drink, notes of vanilla, caramel/toffee and a strong bourbon-like quality had emerged.

The taste was similar to the nose yet sweeter and much more intense. All the flavors seemed to hit hard up front. A mix of molasses, dark chocolate, freshly brewed coffee, sweet and lightly roasted malts, bourbon and hops assaulted the palate. While the flavors were quite potent, they all somehow managed to carry equal weight. A sweet, lactic quality was also very noticeable. As the beer moved along the palate, the flavors seemed to gradually fade, until the hops resurfaced again in the finish.

Rich, thick and full-bodied with a creamy, soupy and full mouthfeel.

Overall, this beer is a mild version of a typical Russian imperial stout. The malts were not quite as roasted, the hop profile was weaker, the ABV was significantly lower and the beer generally seemed to be sweeter (at times it tasted like a hybrid of a Russian imperial stout and a sweet stout). While this made for a rather tasty and easy-drinking example of the style, it is understandable why many purists may find this beer disappointing.

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Photo of Dmoore07
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Very viscous coming out of the bottle. Deep black color. Tan head, dissipated quickly but left lacing.

S- Sweet and malty with prominent chocolate notes.

T- Smooth, rich body. Full of chocolate, toffe, and mocha malt characters. Just enough bitterness lingers in the rear to balance the malty body.

M- Rich and creamy. The alcohol is fairly well hidden.

D- Pretty drinkable. The high ABV would keep me at just one of these, but that doesn't mean it wasn't wast going down.

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Photo of trbergman
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A - Opaque, very dark brown body with one finger of tan head.

S - Chocolate, licorice, coffee, vanilla.

T - Heavy chocolate flavor with flavors of coffee and cream, vanilla, and licorice. Some nuttiness, either from malt or yeast, and dark fruits are present. Little hop flavor - perhaps some slight earthiness - and moderate bitterness for the style.

M - Dense, chewy, full body. Silky and smooth in the mouth.

D - Lacks the complexity of other beers of the style, but very easy-drinking. Pardon the abuse of the term, but this is almost a sessionable big stout.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my New Belgium tulip.

a - Pours a jet black color with two inches of tan head and light carbonation evident. An inch of head stays throughout the drink, and light lacing left on the glass.

s - Smells of bitter chocolate, roasted malts, sweet chocolate, dark fruits, and very light coffee. The bitter chocolate stands out the most.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate, sweet dark fruits, light sweet chocolate, roasted malts, and coffee again. Sweeter than I was expecting.

m - Full body and low to moderate carbonation, thick and chewy. Very nice.

d - A pretty nice RIS. Bitter chocolate stands out in the smell, while sweet fruit stands out in the taste. Great mouthfeel and body, would certainly have again.
4/3.5/3.5/4.5/4 = 3.73%
___
EDIT: On 11/27/11 I had a 3 year (09, 10, & 11) mini-vertical thanks to the Chicago Group. All three version were good, and very different. I liked the 10 the best as it smelled fresher and had a lot more coffee, but my I'm bumping my ratings up to 4/4/4/4.5/4.5 as I loved this one.

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Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 411 ratings.
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