Fuller's Vintage Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

670 Reviews
Fuller's Vintage AleFuller's Vintage Ale

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
First released in 1997, Fuller's Vintage Ale is brewed in limited batches with each bottle being numbered. It can be enjoyed immediately, or Fuller's recommends laying the beer down to enjoy when it peaks in 3 to 4 years and consume at cellar temperature. And though it's released each year as a separate vintage, BA has been informed that the recipe is only slightly tweaked from year to year, while the ABV remains at 8.5%.

Added by Murph on 02-20-2002

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Reviews: 670 | Ratings: 1,263
Photo of Foxman
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It pours a flinty, orangey golden amber. Two full fingers of egg-white head swell and dip gradually to a velvety froth pillow. Veils of lacing glaze the glass.

The aroma resonates with malted tones of brown sugar, sherry, toffee, and currants, all kept in check by a mellow backdraft of alcohol.

The first taste brings a deep but reasonable sweetness of toasted malt, rife with caramel, light cocoa, mild berries, and cherries. Things dry rapidly to a brut vinous character, itself sliding into a slick bath of warm alcohol. The hops finally make a play toward the close, bittering with a classy, delicate touch, and flowing to a dry, lightly spicy finish. This is a richly blended, grown up beer.

Between light and medium bodied, the malt sweetness clings to the palate, like a slick cream, before it dries to a soft radiant glow.

Mature- that's the word that, for me, best sums up this beer. Like soft, sumptuous leather, it wraps you up and grounds you, and gives an artfully blended dose of earthy goodness. The ABV is big but mixes in with the crowd and transmits a soothing warmth. The one's for the sipping and savoring, a la port and brandy, and each drop is in fine fettle. For those times when I feel like acting as the adult I'm supposed to be, this is one I want to drink.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 89515

Not entirely sure why this breweries beers are rated so highly, to me, they are good, but just that, good. Essentially, they are overrated. This beer comes across with he pedigree of being decent, I contest, damn it! They are merely average. Are we looking at these beers as so drastically different from our locals that we insist on putting them on a pedestal? Granted it is a different continent of brewing, but the beers that cross the Atlantic don't hold a candle to your local beers (with the exception of a few).

Now that my rant is over, beware at $7.00 for a 22oz. bottle.

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Photo of sabrills70
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage #49899. Label states best before 2008, but will age many more years. Pours a crystal clear medium brown with lots of ruby highlights. Good 2 finger head with good longevity and very good lace. Big aromas of sherry, dried dark fruit, hints of whiskey and brown sugar. Big malt flavors with sherry like qualities - fruity. Nice lingering hop bitterness but not overpowering. roasted malt flavors come through as well. Very complex as always. Slightly syrupy and warming. I wish I had another 2001 so I could re review it. I was a beginner BA when I reviewd it and it was my first "big" beer. I would not score it as high now as I remember it was not as good as this vintage. I am glad I have 1 more 2005 stashed away for future drinking. Still a bargain at $6.99.

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Photo of akorsak
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2004, No. 71992

I am drinking the above referenced 500 mL bottle. The ale is being served pub style, at room temperature in a Guinness pint glass.

Appearance: The ale is a nice auburn-orange color. It poured with a nice head and left a surprising amount of lace. The ale is translucent with no visible floaties.

Smell: The ale has a light, hoppy aroma. The overpowering aroma is that of malts, making me look at this ale as akin to a barleywine.

Taste: The malts that I smell in the aroma do not carry into the taste. There is a light malty taste, slightly balanced by an earthy hop flavor. The ale has an interesting taste, very balanced. It tastes nothing like the aroma would suggest. I have a bottle that I intend to age for a few years, maybe take on a new life.

Mouthfeel: The ale sits nicely, the malts linger a bit on the palate, but not so long that they overpower.

Drinkability: A little too high for an English session, this beer is still pretty enjoyable.

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2005, bottle number 58267
Pours an impressive amber color with a thick, frothy tan head that retains exceptionally for a brew this strong. The aroma is nice and malty; big caramel and fruit (plum, cherry, apple, pear) initially, along with some brandy and port wine, toasted bread, light floral and citrus hops, english yeast, minerals and some alcohol. The flavor also starts out malty with a nice fruit character (figs, plums, raisins, apples, pears, cherries) as well as some brown sugar, mild floral and citrusy hops, esters, minerals, british yeast, mild alcohol and some fine liquor (brandy, congac or scotch). The flavor is complex yet smooth, with light carbonation and medium mouthfeel. Drinkability is exceptional, as the alcohol is only noticeable by the warming sensation in your throat. A fine old ale from fullers, smooth and complex...very refined like a port wine or brandy.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.59/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Vintage 2004, I found this brew while visiting a friend in London. I brough home 2 each 2003 through 2005 for tasting and cellaring. The beer pours a nice ruby red / brown. The aroma has hints of honey and a very enticing malt nose. Taste has hints of oak, raisins, vanilla and chocolate malt.

The mouthfeel is full with a sense that this beer should be enjoyed as a slow experience. Low carbonation, but not syrupy like a Gale & Co vintage ale.

Since I have been introduced to this brew I have since found it in limited availability in MA. I have since expanded my 04's and am looking forward to each year. If you like strong beers and vintage beers like Hardy's I would highly recommend this brew.

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Photo of Solomon420
3.7/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2005: I may have been spoiled with drinking the 2001 aged bottle a few days earlier, cause this one wasnt as good (obviously). What I mean by that is in the style of an Old Ale, you expect more range in the flavour, and a bit more hoppy taste with the alcohol poking in at the end. But dont get me wrong, this one was very nice to drink for sure. The colour was nice, the taste was fine, and its overall a pleasureable ale to drink. Would go good with some cheese.

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Photo of oberon
4.13/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage bottle #49597,poured a deep rich copper with some burnt orange tint with a short lasting one finger white head.Aromas of brown sugar and orange marmalade with a hint of caramel,sweet but very pleasingly sweet dark sweet cherries dipped in brandy,brown suger and caramel dominate with just a hint of leafy herbal hop in the finish.The alcohol is a little raw but this bottle is pretty new would love to cellar one and likely will.The 2001 vintage is one of my alltime favorite beers, give this some time and it could reach its standards I believe.

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Photo of Cwrw
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005, coming in the attractive red Scotch-style box with the cream-coloured label showing the Fuller's symbol. The back of the box tells more about the 2005 edition. Such attractive packaging, and the bottle I carefully pulled out was No. 28149. The cap is covered with a thin strand of taped-label saying "Limited Edition." Definitely in for something special here--I have wanted to try this beer for a long while. Vintage Ale poured into my glass leaving a good solid tapioca-coloured head, creamy and settling at about 2cm. Islands of lacing clung nicely to the glass. The beer itself is a dark tawny brown-red, and quite clear. Dark honey, with hints or ruby or even light cherry colouration. The aroma is a lovely rum/dark fruit combination, not overpowering, but creamy and balanced. Nice sugar in the form of mollasses and brown sugar, maple syrup and sweet sherry. Figs, celery, black licorice, oak or fresh pine, milk chocolate and raisins. The sweetness is deliciously appetising. The hopping is detectable in the wood notes and lovely tickling sensation the beer gives to the nose. Other notes of cinnamon, black currants, prunes, and a little vanilla. Wonderfully sweet but not cloying aroma for this Old Ale. The taste up-front is powerfully resin-like and sugary. Brown sugar definitely at first, followed by sweet port alcohol warmth, and finishing with a sugary but dry feeling, akin to homemade honey. The body is felt heavily in the middle and even more in the finish: a great chewy and malty viscous tasting brew. More wood tastes in the middle, strong reminiscent of maple syrup and mollasses. Wonderful hop complexity, adding a spicy bittering to the palate. Cherries and nuts in the finish. Sweet all the way through, just as it should be. The gravity can be tasted throughout too, adding some astringent characteristics that warm the mouth and stomach quickly. The long aftertaste has a sweet-bread feel, like cinnamon buns or brown sugar and pecan bread. The more the beer warms, the more the phenols appear in the aroma and the taste. More caramel and honey-style malting as it warms too, like fresh baked bread, or scones with clotted cream and jam. Even sweet whiskey flavours are to be found in here, and definite sherry notes. A wonderful winter sipper. The mouthfeel is heavy, the body full. Low carbonation, syrupy feel. Yet drinkability remains high: there is no off-flavour or overdone meatiness to limit it. I had to try one bottle fresh, but I highly anticipate cracking the other 3 I cellared in a couple of years. Delectable beer. I hope it ages well, and I would love to try some older vintages of the stuff. It went well with double-creme brie, and also havarti cheese. The sharpness of blue cheese seemed to overdo the sweet maltiness though.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004. This one isn't nearly as good as the 1998 I had a few weeks ago. I guess that goes without saying, but I was curious so I had to try. This isn't a bad beer by any means, it's just very young and active whereas the 1998 is mellow in every way. This is a great beer to show people what aging really can do.
It's got the same ruby red hue to it as the older versions, but there's more noticable carbonation in little bubbles throughout the beer. Smells of fruity malts and alcohol, with some more fruity esters floating around. Taste is big cherries right up front, with the same fruityness as in the scent, with still a big kick of alcohol and and yeasty, toffeeish taste. Good, but since I see where this beer can go it needs a little time to settle. The biggest difference was that the mouthfeel was nowhere near as pillowy and smooth as the 98. I'm definately going to try to stockpile these and see what happens.

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Photo of sinistermadman
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 edition. Pours a frosty amber with slight carbonation and head. Smell is of caramel, sugar, and toffee.

Has a light mouthfeel and minimal carbonation. taste is of caramel malts and sugar. Taste is quite good, although the palate presence is a bit lacking. A solid brew, but not what I was expecting.

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Photo of Zorro
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage, bottle #69408.

Pours a clear very deeply bronze colored ale with even a decent head despite the alcohol level.

Smell is very spicy and very full of herbal hop scents. Chocolate and cinnamon aromas are nicely strong. Scents of vanilla, cherry, grapes, plums, brown sugar and raisin are carried on the alcohol fumes. Lesser scents are tobacco and leather aromas.

The taste is very malty and full with a good solid herbal bitterness on the back end for a start. Pleasantly warming to the stomach. As this gets warmer more and more complexity comes out. After the initial taste this becomes mildly sweet and caramel and brown sugar flavor become stronger. There is a good long lasting hops after taste to this that is very herbal almost medicine like. Good flavor but it isn't as good as the smell.

Mouthfeel is good and full almost syrup.

Nicely drinkable but at it's price I won't be doing that on a regular basis. Tasty and very aromatic this is an ale you should try.

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Photo of Brent
3.58/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage, still seems a bit young with room to develop. Poured a surprisingly bright cola amber for a bottle conditioned beer. Brown sugar, sweet malt and a rather cutting alcohol edge. Finished with the barest touch of vinious tannin. An old school old ale that I'd like to see a bit more age on and see what happens.

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Photo of Phatz
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had a 2004 vintage # 75579 The presentation is fantastic in this beautiful collectors box and inside is a unique 18.6 oz brown pint bottle. It looked very light while pouring, but it sits in the glass at a coppery transparent color. Huge head! I got like four fingers of head in my oversized Victory pint glass. Significant lacing. It has a great smell of gentle port. Hint of sweet fruit like a tangerine, then grapes. As it warmed the smell got to a darker fruit like raisins or figs. It makes me think of wine. (?) The taste is fantastic but pretty straight foreword. Extremely malty flavor with hints of dark fruit, and gentle on the taste buds. It is so soft on the taste bud I can't imagine anyone saying it tastes bad; even if it is not there preference. The mouthfeel is amazing (so much so I consider it a highlight of this beer). If I had not poured it myself I'd have thought it was on-cask. It is the creamiest feel. This is full bodied but light and frothy. One of the most gentle creamy mouthfeels I have ever experienced. Each sip you just want to last forever; it just feels right! It is fantastically drinkable. It’s so pleasant in the mouth that I would anticipate the next the next sip; yet it is a beer that can't be rushed. It is too pleasant to rush through. In other words it is worth the money. Someone complained it was $6 a bottle. I only wish I lived in that state. In PA its $9 a bottle and WELL worth the money.
In fact I went back and bought three more to age for another year.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of bruachan
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage has been sitting in my basement for awhile. #91902 (not sure why i'm compelled to post that. seems relevent). i stupidly tried to fit the whole bottle in my pint glass, which of course was always an impossibility, so the head didn't have much room to roam, but it did well. not exactly billowy, but tight and persistent

during the pour all i could think of was how much like wine this smelled, but i don't seem to get it from the beer in my glass. rich malt aroma, toffee. toffee flavors follow, with nutty and slight dried cherry notes

the color is very similar to that of the mad elf i just tried. clear red, but with a more coppery tinge. after the initial pour, not much visible carbonation but still a fairly spritzy feel

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Photo of Popsinc
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage Ale 2005, bottle #10606

It's 8pm, -8 degrees celcius & there's 10 cm of snow of the ground in Barrie....i'm very glad that i chose this beer tonight.

Pours deep amber with a nice foamy off-white head. A lighty spiced nose with hoppy notes and a pinch of fruit. The taste is gentley sweet with hop traces. A nice sponge toffee characteristic is here and lingers nicely. Mild spice, maybe some orange zest as well. Medium bodied. A nice chewiness to the beer brought on by the sweet caramel & molasses and alcohol kick. Warm, sweetn spicey finish with a mild hop trace. This is the perfect beer for a winter eveing. A nice sipper. Great alcohol warmth on the finish. Good complexity. I enjoyed it thuroughly.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No difference in score from my last review. Thiis bottle, # 47498 has been aged for about a year. Please see my last review....

This has mellowed considerably. Still a scotch ale feeling to it, but much smoother and no alcohol feeling. Good amber brown appearance with an ever so slight off-white head.

Tastes malty, with winey and whisky hints. Hops not easily detectable. The taste is mellow and smooth. Not your typical ale. An enjoyable brew, fit for sipping on a quiet winter's evening.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage, bottle # 84475. Served in an imperial pint glass.

Dark but clear copper with a tall head that is off white. Strong retention, globs of lace.

Wonderful aromas of dark ripe fruits such as cherries and plums, slightly toasty malts and a hint of earthy to bread like yeast. Rather simple, but it all comes together so well.

The taste is very malty upfront, but it gives way to some of the fruits that are now showing signs of being soaked in alcohol. Nice bitter finish that is a bit vinous with a pinch of sugar and a warming alcohol sensation. Very, very nice!

Full mouth that wants to be chewy oil but is swept clean by the hops and active carbonation. One of the most drinkable OAs out there.

The only odd characteristic of this beer is its appearance. I'm used to OAs looking rather flat without much head to speak of, let alone one that's still a few centimeters high halfway through the glass. However, I like beers with strong retention and lacing. Good stuff. Get some and stash it away...it can only get better.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2000 vintage. This brew pours a murky brown color with amber hues around the edges. The head is mammoth and white. Lacing is thorough. The aroma screams that this brew is big. Hoppy, piney, malty. The taste is a lot more balanced than the aroma led me to believe it would be. The sip has a pronounced malt backbone, while hops break through in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is full bodied with good carbonation. Overall, this is a very good brew.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage. The brew pours a nice amber color with a small head that falls to a very light coating over the beer. The nose is deep raisin and fig with a very thick brown sugar sweetness and a bit of alcohol as well. I like it. Flavor is very much more smooth than the nose would indicate. The brown sugar and raisin flavor meld really well together. Incredible balance. The feel is thick with a light carbonation. Very nice on the tongue. I really like the beer. The nose is a touch too strong on the alcohol, but it is nothing to set back my feelings of it. This is deceptively drinkable. Well crafted beer.

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Photo of clvand0
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage. This one pours a dark amber color with a small head that falls fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma has a lot of raisin and fruit and some alcohol. Smells pretty good. The flavor is awesome. So much smoother than expected. Lots of great fruit flavors with just a touch of alcohol. Very nice. The mouthfeel is on the heavy end of moderate and the drinkability is great.

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Photo of rocketmotor
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

2004 Vintage, bottle number 82121.

Pours a nice translucent, burnt orange color. Not much head, but my wife cleaned my glass, maybe not clean enough, no lacing present.

Has a great woody, spicy aroma, also smell yeast and rich, dark bread. Wonderful carmel, malt flavor with nice, spicy hop zing. The alcohol comes through a bit too strong on the finish. Can pick up a bit of raison too. Has a great mouthfeel. I usually prefer more carbonated beers, but this thick, chewy beer is great! Really coats your mouth well.

Drinkability, when I started off, I thought I could drink a few of these. Now that I'm half-way through the beer, one is enough. The alcohol flavor comes on a bit too strong here, and I'm used to drinking Imperial IPA beers frequently.

I have one other bottle that I will keep for some years. Should be interesting to compare notes with my future tasting.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had to break this out tonight as I've heard some rumblings that this is the prime time to drink this 2000 vintage. And what better time than a college football game that features two top five teams, Texas vs Ohio St.

Decent presentation in a oversized wine glass. beautiful frothy white head that recedes in uniform to a thin lazy fading froth ending in nothing. Copper color that is hard to see through. Bottle fermentation for 5 years may have jacked this baby up because I can smell the alcohol and it is welcomed. Prune, plumb, caramel smell comes through strongest. yeast. Tasted mellow dude. Just a layed back deep, rich easy drinking 8.5 abv (at bottling)....frickin sweeet....it did lack lacing and head retention but who cares the quality is in the taste. Even a little zing at the end to battle the caramel finish that is saucey.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2000

Bottle# 43816 with a best before date of end of 2003. Pours out a dark reddish brown with a decent sized frothy head. Some sticky rings of lace were left clinging to the glass. Sweet dark ripe fruit was strong in the aroma with plums and figs. Some caramel malt and a bit of musty earth. Figs, raisins and plenty more fruits kick of the taste before a bit of alcohol and molasses come in to play. There are some nice malt complexities going on as well. Light alcohol burn with a bit of earthiness and some fruit on the finish. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky sweet with a great thickness. A bit warming from the alcohol too. Really smooth and easy drinking stuff even if it is more of a sipper. For supposedly being 2 years past the best by date this is fantastic.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.86/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Big, big, big malt aroma. Crystal clear with an off white head. Very pretty beer. Again big malt flavor with a touch of bitterness. There are some flavor hops in the middle that I don’t care for. Very nice palate. Fuller bodied. Maybe a touch too much carbonation. This is by far the best Fuller’s beer I have ever drank.

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Fuller's Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.17 out of 5 based on 1,263 ratings.
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