Northwind Imperial Stout | Two Brothers Brewing Company

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very good
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 Kegatron
3.04/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap @ the Two Brothers Tap House on 8/9/09. Served in a snifter.

Pours an abosolute black, with a thin smattering of light mocha colored head on top. Retains with a fizzy look around the edges, leaving some minimal lace back. The aroma is generally dark and roasty smelling, with some thicker malt notes of chocolate and caramel. Green citrus and dark fruits emerge as well, as this warms.

The taste is more dark roast, with thickish notes of chocolate and toffee sweetness. Touch of fruits and coffee as well. Roast and fruit linger into the finish, which is probably the best part. Much like the aroma (and even to a lesser extent), I'm waiting for this profile to cut loose, and it never does. All of the flavors start up but then just never delivers anything memorable. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fuller bulky creaminess in some spots, but then seems really light in others. Inconsistent feel to say the least.

An average Imperial Stout at best. Just nothing here overly impressed me, save the aroma, which finally got going a bit once it hit room temp. This was my second time experiencing this beer (the first was in the bottle) and my opinion remains unchanged.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A rough pour brings up a full tan head over an opaque black body. When held to the light, reddish-mahogany highlights are visible at the base of the glass and just below the surface. The head drops fairly quickly; but it does maintain a thin surface covering and leaves some tight, spotty lace. Roasty notes dominate the aroma. It's quite black-coffee-ish with a decent amount of prune-like fruitiness thrown in, and even some sweetish dark chocolate. The moderate carbonation is very fine; and helps to boost the creamy character of its surprisingly only medium body. Rich flavor, however, is where this beer shines. It's loaded with notes of bittersweet chocolate, burnt caramel, dark fruit skins, black cherry, burnt "late-night diner" coffee, blackstrap molasses, and leafy hops. It finishes dry and bitter, but not overly long, with a residual coffee/chocolate roastiness. Well-balanced and nicely done. Worth trying.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.33/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed this one as an extra twice in the last month, go figure. I saw that as a sign I should probably try one. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 05/19/2009.
 
The pour was fantastic. Rich dark brown, and completely opaque. Huge head of tan rises up and over the top, only gradually settling down as the session gets going. Rich looking is an understatement here as this one presented exactly as it should have. Lots of chocolate in the aroma right away, hints of vanilla and molasses start to pop up as it comes up near room temperature along with a notable cookie dough like presence, very sweet. Smooth, creamy body here really let the flavor sit in well, and the sweet, dessert like profile just continued right along as it progressed. Light coffee notes, lots of cocoa and a hint of molasses. Definite night cap here. Not much in the way of ABV issues for the style made it somewhat session able if dare I mention it.
 
Overall not bad at all. Nothing going to blow your mind here, but I have to say this was a more then solid effort on their part. I would have no issue at all with having this one again, in fact I might look for it as it really seemed to go over quite well.

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Photo of chinchill
3.06/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

On tap at Tall Paul's (FL).

Pours essentially black with a lght tan head that has good retentino and leaves some lacing on the glass.

The smell is a bit sweet, there's roasted malt, chocolate, and a hint of caramel and toffee.

Taste: Dark roasted grains. A touch of sour and only a faint bit of dark fruit. Coffee, smoke and dark chocolate in the finish.

Feel: reasonablt smooth; medium-full body.

Overall: a poor example of the style although the high ABV is well hidden.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, lot 51, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing clings to the glass, with slight alcohol legs. Aromas of big milk chocolate, roasted malt, smoke, cream, toffee, caramel, and light herbal. Very nice and unique aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of milk chocolate, smoke, roasted malt, toffee, cream, coffee, caramel, toast, and earth. No bitterness after the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, roasted malt, cream, toffee, and earth on the finish for a bit. Very nice flavor balance and robustness; minimal cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and body; with a nice creamy and slick mouthfeel; a touch thin for 9% though. Alcohol is extremely well hidden with zero warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice imperial stout. Nice balance of robust and unique stout flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on. Very enjoyable stuff.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short beige head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains dark fruit, roasted malts, chocolate, some coffee and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with sweet flavors of dark fruit and chocolate. Then a roasted malt character that is a bit on the thin side for the style comes in. The hops presence is mild but complementary and creates some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp but a bit watery, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style, there are several other stouts I would choose before this one.

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Photo of mothman
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Bud American Ale glass.

Pours about 1/2 finger of light tan head. Fades to a ring and leaves slight splattered lace. Pours a brown bronze, but the color in the class is black.

Aroma: Roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, dark fruits, molasses. Nothing huge, but not bad.

Taste: Big roasted malt profile, some grassy hops balance it out. Lots of chocolate and some coffee. Molasses with dark dried fruits again.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, smooth, and a slight amount of bitterness. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends very roasted and slightly dry.

Overall, for the price this beer is pretty decent. I have had a ton of better RISs, but they are normally a lot more expensive, so I give two brothers props on this. It is fairly drinkable, as it is nothing to big. I dig it for what it is.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I picked this up at brass rail deli, enjoyed chilled from a tulip out of a longneck 12 oz brown.

The color is dark almost black with 2 + fingers of medium beige with fluffy almost rocky looking head. The bead is fine and lace sticks well. The smell is very nice, lots of cocoa type aroma with moderately sweet malt and slight vanilla-like floral aspect with low alcohol odors and mild woody hop ester. The feel is decent with moderately full body with medium bitterness and slight alcohol warmth with a gentle toasted texture and medium sweet feel with slight spice in the relatively dry finish.

The taste is has a dark and milk chocolate flavor with light caramel and mild woody hops with toasted grain and subtle creamy yeast which adds to the sweet malt body w/ a mild molasses type richness. Overall this may not be the most complex stout but still not really flawed and pretty darn drinkable because you barely taste any alcohol + the malt is sweet without being cloying. I could drink a couple of these easily.

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Photo of russpowell
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an effervescent ebony with a sliver of caramel colored head. Slightly better than average head retention & lacing

S: Roasty, faint dark fruit

T: Roasty, dark fruit & a little carob up front, some smokeyness as well, plus dryness. Figgyness, smokeyness & dryness dominate as this warms. Finishes dry, roasty, with a little jammyness, a little leafy hoppyness

MF: Medium bodied, slight carbonation

Drinks alright, a solid but not spectacular example of the style

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at The Firkin.

I've been waiting for this to come around again so's I could finally get a crack at it. It pours a slick obsidian topped by a finger of sienna foam. The nose comprises coffee, roasted malts, cocoa, and some light molasses. The taste loads up on the roasted malts, with some light cocoa, hop flowers, and light greens slapdashily tossed in, as though an afterthought. The body is fairly hefty, with a light carbonation and a semi-chewy feel. Overall, a one-dimensional stout, yes, but that one dimension is tackled very well.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.91/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours midnight black with a two finger tall foamy tan head. Lots of visible sediment that is also tan in color. Head reduces slightly but very good head retention overall. Significant lacing is observed.

S: Not as intense a smell present as I would have liked for this style. Hints of chocolate, oak, roasted dark malts, coffee, and vanilla.

T: Primarily dark bittersweet chocolate with hints of dark druit (plum + fig), oak, and some coffee bitterness. Not overly bitter and there is an underlying sweetness from the dark roasted malts.

M: Medium bodied with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Alcohol is very well hidden in this beer - both in the taste and the smell. Very enjoyable and a very well balanced beer. Some complexity in the flavors. Good beer for a cold winter day.

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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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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black dark body full of malt and hops, dark tan head forming thick and dwindling slow, forms fine even lacing with eadh sip. Aroma dark chocolate malts, hints of coffee, and a touch of soy sauce. Flavor creamy dark chocolate, ripened fruit notes. A touch of saoy sauce. Mouthfeel is full bodied carbonation is moderate. Nothing heavy or cloying on the palate, drinkability is solid version of a great Impy Stout.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a thin tan head. Nose is coffee and roasted tones. Flavor is thick in malts. Nice enough level of molasses and chocolate. Smooth and slightly sweet. Feel is quite smooth on liquid. Carbonation is lower but a it should be. This is a nice RIS that is easier drinking than it's more flamboyant counterparts. Not a wad of complexity, but nice enough to be able to enjoy.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by matt9875. Thanks Matt!

A: Black in color (or lack thereof) with a half inch of thick beige head. The head displays good retention and leaves some healthy lacing upon the glass.

S: The aroma is predominantly roasted malt, with some subtle chocolate scents far in the distance.

T: The flavor, like the aroma, is extremely roasty. The beer lacks complexity, but overall tastes fine, just simple.

M: Medium bodied and quite smooth on the palate.

D: Very drinkable. I enjoyed this and would have it again.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.31/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

I had purchased this, along with several other Two Brothers bottles, at The Fridge, meaning to try them as a vertical, but this one kept getting shunted to the side until now.

From the bottle: "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!; "Two Brothers is a craft brewery on the outskirts of Chicago that specializes in rare and seldom-brewed beer styles. The two of us - Jason and Jim Ebel - strive to produce the very best beers available anywhere."; "We hope that you enjoy them as much as we do!"

I always enjoy a heavy-handed pour from a bottle. I have gotten quite good at knowing when to stop and the resulting pseudo-cascade is a sight to behold. I netted a sturdy two fingers of dense, deep-tan head as the result of my pour and it sat there stubbornly, like Pussy Riot after being released by Putin. Color was an inky, deep, dark-brown allowing less than ZERO light penetration (SRM = 44). Nose smelled of fire smoke and dark chocolate. Wow. Mouthfeel was thick and viscous and tasted and felt like a dollop of dark chocolate ice cream had been scooped onto my tongue. The 9.1% ABV was well-masked, making for an alarmingly smooth, easy-drinking beer. Warming, the chocolate flavors became even more prevalent and the smokiness began to wane. The finish was semi-dry, not really sweet at all, but not totally dry, either. I really liked this, despite not being a huge fan of the style.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.32/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown color, with conspicuous floaties, and a head that is small and swiftly diminshing. Aroma is brisk and brimming with espresso character, rich with cocoa.
Texture is thick and warming, but a little difficult to swallow. I have to wonder if I have an old bottle, and if that could be the cause. (This came in a Two Brothers 12pack sampler)
Lacks the complexity that I come to enjoy in better Imperial Stouts. This clearly is not one of those. Later on, others flavors come to mind, and I'm tasting brandy, molasses, dates. Why so slow to show? It's too late, I'm bored already.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.78/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Andrew brought a few of these over for New Beer Sunday - my wife and I are cleanin' out the fridge tonight. Not sure how my palate is going to stand up after the rest of the Sanctification so I'll do this one first.

A - Dark brown, not totally impenetrable, with a little bit of light sneaking through at the edges. One-fingered mocha foam with decent retention and nice lacing.

S - Not the most potent smell, really got to stick my nose in the glass. The first thing that jumps out at me is a woody flavor, along with some bitter coffee, dark chocolate, and burnt malt. I think the alcohol is causing the wood flavor.

T - Strong bittersweet chocolate and burnt malt flavor, with a bit of tannin that might be giving me the wood notes. There's also some coffee and even a bit of residual hoppiness indicating the freshness of this beer.

M - Good medium body, but a little more carbonation than I like. Creamy, but with a bit of grittiness at the top of the palate. Leaves a sticky residual coating.

D - The ABV isn't all that well hidden - it's not that it tastes boozy, but it doesn't hide the alcohol like better brews do. The carbonation is also a turnoff - it's slow going, even when sharing a 12oz with the wife.

I don't think this is quite in RIS territory - more of an American Double/Imperial. It's a solid brew, but I don't think I'll be drinking a ton with the excessive carbonation and so many better stouts out there.

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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 drabmuh
3.33/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle shared by the other Matt.

Beer is black with a thin tan head of small and medium bubbles that leaves some lacing on the glass, carbonation is moderate. Looks good.

Aroma is strong but only with this almost coffee like bitterness from roast. Interesting. Aroma would not be described as "complex".

Beer is medium in body and holy hell is it bitter in the back. If there is anything else happening in this beer...any other flavors may only be captured in the orbit of this massive amounts of roast in the back of the palate. It's like a flavor avalanche that destroys a village of peaceful snow dwelling people at the base of a mountain...OK, that's hyperbole. It's not terrible but it's a one note wonder. Not great at all.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.51/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batting fourth...North....Wind....Imperial Stooouuuttt! Was wanting a decent clean-up hitter for my four beer evening...and got it....cold cocked!!! The 2Bros Imp Stout....has some alcohol in it....let me tell you. Poured into a brandy sniffer and the color was a wonderful dark creamy pour, with tan foam head. Unfortunately the Alcohol over powers the sweet malty undertones of the nose. The taste is decent once the buds get used to the 9.1% ABV!!! Again the alcohol over powers the taste, which has roast, chocolate, coffee, and maybe molasses where perhaps the sweetness comes. Once Again....the alcohol affects the mouthfeel and drinkability. Session....no way...two would be tough to handle! This beer needs to be partaked on the wintry nights. Stay classy!

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Photo of vfgccp
3.07/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Beautiful bowling ball black with a creamy tan head builds out of no where and hangs around with fantastic retention and ok lace.

S - Nice crisp roast with deep cocoa and coffee highlights. Slight sour/musty edges.

T - Relatively light. Hammy smoke, char, and dark roast coffee.

M - Thin body for the style. Hides the 9% well though.

O - I'm ambivalent about the smoke, but overall it's the light body that really hurts the profile.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Black in colour with half a finger of medium brown head.

S - Chocolate, nuttiness, licorice.

T - Milk chocolate, toasted nuts, licorice, some noticeable alcohol. Sweet overall and the sweetness lingers in the finish.

M - Thick, creamy, silky. Moderate carbonation.

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Photo of WesWes
4.23/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy brown head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich, malty scent that boasts of black and chocolate malts. It seems sweet; not overly bitter. The taste is good. It has a sweet, chocolatey flavor that goes down smooth and finishes with just a bit of black malt and hop bitterness. This tastes like more like a chocolate stout than a RIS. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is damn fine beer. I'm not sure why it wasn't reviewed better, but I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of Tone
4.06/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of a brown color. Slight retention and slight lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight dark citrus, slight roasted malt, slight alcohol, slight hops, and a hint of alcohol. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol, roasted malt, sweet malt, and slight dark citrus. Overall, good aroma, blend, and body.

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