Fantôme De Noel | Brasserie Fantôme

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Fantôme De NoelFantôme De Noel

Brewed by:
Brasserie Fantôme

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This ever-evolving offering is said to be spiced with honey, caramel, black pepper, coriander and (per usual with Fantôme) a number of other special secret ingredients. A rich, dark-flavored beer with lots of deep-roasted chocolate malt, but still fairly dry, with a hint of sourness at the core. It is very spicy, with some winter spruce flavor in the bargain. The wild yeast sourness also adds to its welcoming character.

Added by taez555 on 12-03-2001

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Ratings: 634 |  Reviews: 359
Photo of Gavage
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: cloudy dark brown in color with a thick three finger head. Some spotty lacing developed.

Smell: hints of sourness and chocolate are easily detectable.

Taste: pitted fruit sweetness, chocolate, pepper, hint of barnyard funk and some alcohol. Some overall soft sourness coats the beer. Mild bitterness rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp throughout. Medium bodied beer. Short aftertaste with most flavors sticking around on the tongue.

Drinkability: this is a good slow sipping and warming winter brew. Definitely worth trying on a cold winter evening.

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Photo of rayjay
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for the trade, ClockworkOrange.

Uncorking the bottle, the first thing I noticed was the smell of the cork, which was funky and tart. The nose of the actual beer was a bit different; dust, Belgian yeast, Coca-Cola with a spritz of lemon, complete with that fizzy up-your-nose smell as long as the head was bubbling. Dark brown in appearance, almost like a dubbel; the head and carbonation, and lack of lace, give it away as a Belgian-bred brew. The once active head has by now faded into oblivion, leaving a completely flat looking beer. Most beers would look boring from doing so; perhaps only Fantome could pull it off this skillfully, because it's still beautiful to look at.

Taste: first off, VERY well hidden alcohol, almost confusing as it's labeled as 10% abv. Dusty chocolate malts upfront, and rich, carmel, old ale/barleywine notes dancing undernearth. Mouthfeel is...careful how I word it...the carbonation is just barely there, and the beer should seem very flat, but it's so full of life instead. Very similar to rich white wine, one that does not have tannins and doesn't finish dry. This beer finishes as soft and subtle as water. Just barely sour, like a gueuze was blended in at a very low proportion.

Reminiscant of finely aged Courage Russian Imperial Stout. Cellar temp is perfect; one degree colder would be a crime. Outstanding beer from a top notch brewery, one I couldn't recommend more. Cheers!

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Photo of numenor1
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2006 version.

Pour looks like pepsi. Tan, diminishing head without lacing and pepsi color. Much darker than anticipated. Nose isn't as vibrant as expected. Reticent spices, definite allspice and sour notes as well mixed with fruity esters. Flavors explode onto the palate. Upfront is lots of cinnamon and allspice immediately giving way to sour dark fruits(stewed black cherry and spiced plum) then again returning to spice through the finish with surprisingly gentle bitterness. High levels of chocolate malt throughout. Mouthfeel is medium with ample carbonation, keeping it light. My mouth tells me that this is not 10% alcohol, but my eyes and the label say differently. Unbelievably drinkable.

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Photo of BlindPig
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Big tan head on a cloudy dark colored body. When held to light you can see amber and brown hues.
S- Very interesting smell. You can smell the european hops and the yeast through a chocolate malt character. Maybe even a hint of coffee and roasted malts also. Pretty big in the chocolate malt. I am sure I am missing a few aromas too.
T- Once again a interesting flavor. It is almost like a stout or porter saison. There are roasted malts that come through pretty big with some light European hops also. The yeast comes through too. Very light spices but are there. Hint of alcohol on the tongue with a very light warming in the back of throat. Light hop and malt bitterness lingers on the tongue. Few other flavors I just can't seem to put my finger on. Very complex brew. Maybe even a light dark fruit. There might even be a hint of mint chocolate in it?
M- Medium to thin body with low carbonation.
D- This is a truly unique beer. Never tasted anything like this. Totally different than all their others (that I have tried so far). I just don't know if it's the kind of difference I like or if it's a bit to weird.

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Photo of scott
4.8/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is so complex, I'm afraid that I may not be completely accurate with my review.
Beautiful, austere pour of bliss. It consists of a dark, cola-esque body with a enormously large spritzy head.
Pungent, yet compelling. Floral, but somehow sour. I love it. I could breath this all day long.
Tastes like a morel mushroom, meets beef broth but burps like stilton. If you know food, and you like big beers, here's your match.
This breathes life into anomaly again for me. Fantome consistently rocks my world.

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Photo of doubleipa
1.64/5  rDev -58.2%
look: 5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

This had to be a baaaad bottle, but I'll rate anyway. I was so looking forward to having this on Christmas Day. What a dissapointment. The appearance was wonderful: creamy head that was mostly lasting. Nice dark color. The aroma was absolutley awful. Cider, soap. more cider, and cardboard. I knew it was bad at that point. I'm nut sure how the bottle went bad. There was plenty of pop when I took the cork out and plenty of carbonation. I hope I can get another bottle and update this review as I love most all Fantome beers.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.53/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy burgundy red color with an enormous head that literally drapes the glass in lace. Tightly packed torrents of carbonation bubbles race to the surface. The aroma is of pears, apples, berries, minerals, cinnamon, rye bread and musty hay.

The taste is immensely complex like all Fantome beers Ive tried. Lots of spices, cloves, cinnamon, all spice, pepper etc. mix with ripe apples, pears and pineapples. Some light sherryish alcohol is noticeable in the background. A light and refreshing sourness builds in the middle. The finish is awesome, very spicey, fruity, bitter and sour. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation and only a small bit of alcohol numbing.

This beer doesnt taste like a 10% brew. Its very light and fruity with an immense spice flavor and a lot of other flavors I can't put my finger on. I love the Fantome beers, the most enigmatic beers Ive tried.

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Photo of cabsandking
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Excellent light tan head, good retention and stick. Black color with some dim brown shades coming through the snifter. Nice range of aromas; sour cranberry, caramel malt, chocolate and fruity waves of sweet and tart. The first sip displays and interesting contrast with bitter, smokey, and sour fruits up front followed by earthy, yeasty, burnt grains and ending with something sweeter and chocolate notes. Medium body and excellent mouthfeel that is thin, delicately silky, and creamy around the edges with a slight crisp micro bubble feel at the end. Later in the bottle reveals chary, burnt caramel, cocoa powder, waves of bitter spruce, and grape tannins. Chocolate notes carry over into the finish but leave quickly. A complex and exciting beer but not something you can not drink a whole lot of, once a year a nice treat.

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Photo of janubio
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Almost black colour, with a very good head.
Aroma is mainly tart, reminds of wooden cask where wine has been madurating. I feel mainly the same in the mouth, very tart and acid, like some champagnes or generous wines. When you get used to the massive acidity, you note some molasses, citrus and spices in the nose. In mouth, chocolate, spices, and the acidity you usually find in kriek beer. A diffcult beer, but a very pleasant one.

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Photo of
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle.

Clear, mahogany color with a lot of ruby in it. Large tan head. Nice legs.

Belgian scent (earthy). Spices - corander and orange. Caramel and chocolate. A bit of alcohol.

Hoppy - citrus/orange/herbal which lingers into aftertaste. Raisins, bittersweet chocolate. A cracker/bread taste in the middle. Alcohol well hidden, but does pop through. A bit of a medicinal note. Finally, some pepper at the finish.

Medium + in body, with medium carbonation. Rather drying. Alcohol warming starts early.

Quite complex, I probably only "got" about half of what was going on (maybe giving myself too much credit). Enjoyed it, but not as much as the Hiver version.

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Photo of mynie
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled in 2005.

Pours pretty good. Very dark crimson with a respectable head and great lacing.

Smells like a Sweet Tart along with a very light, and pleasant, green bottle skunk

Tastes...whew! Overwhelmingly sour. Like, more sour than a Sour Patch Kid but not quite as sour as a Tearjerker. But it's a candy sour, that's for sure. Not the kind of organic-tasting, fruity sour you get from a Flemmish red. Only, there's not sweetness at the back. All you get is this rush of dull spice and then a finsih of light, nice skunk.

I didn't pick up any of the licorice or spice complexities that others have mentioned. This may be due to the beer being a year old, but what it left me with was--well, it was unique, for sure.

The sourness grew on me after a while, but it still was a little hard to take at times, even if it was oddly enjoyable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.28/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Glowing blood orange that looks almost phosphorescent when the rays of the setting sun are allowed to diffuse through the liquid. Fantome de Noel looks like no other Fantome beer that I've ever seen and is easily festive enough to live up to the promise of its name. A sponge-like crown of pale golden orange foam looks good as well. I love how sunlight often turns great looking beer into stunning looking beer.

Most all offerings from this brewery share a signature scent that makes their origins instantly identifiable. Describing that aroma accurately is another matter entirely. This one is brown malty, sour fruity and warmly spicy. I suppose it was too much to expect Brasserie Fantome to deliver anything resembling a conventional Christmas beer, with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and the like. I would have been happier with something along those lines however.

I have no idea how old this bottle is. I have to believe that it's fairly fresh though since the unnotched 'best by' date portion of the label starts at '07 and runs through '12. I only bring that up because the beer feels old in the mouth. By that I mean that it feels thin and broken down rather than young and supple. Light and airy would have been out of place, but at least it would have been enjoyable. For a 10% ABV winter warmer/saison, the mouthfeel that has been provided is completely unacceptable.

Given the mouthfeel, the flavor profile has a tough row to hoe. The beer simply doesn't stay in contact with the taste buds long enough for any sort of depth or complexity to become apparent. I guess that means that there isn't any. Sour, heavily spiced fruit (unripe apples especially) is the flavor focus, along with a heavy dose of that trademark Fantome funk and too much acetic acid for its own good.

Almost all Fantome beer is dizzyingly complex on first blush. Halfway through the bottle one begins to realize that it all makes a wacky sort of sense. What seemed to clash becomes complementary; what seemed odd and different becomes enjoyable and familiar. I'm sorry to say that none of those things are happening with this beer. It's my least favorite Fantome to date.

I had hoped that getting into the bottom of the bottle would result in at least a minor increase in flavor intensity and mouthfeel viscosity, but it hasn't. The thing that's absolutely amazing is that I can detect no hint of alcohol. This is, quite possibly, the best-masked 10.0% ABV ale in existence. Given all of the above, I wonder if the brewery didn't put a 5.0% saison into the wrong bottle.

Fantome de Noel is an oddball beer from an oddball brewery. I use that term affectionately when describing Brasserie Fantome since I love most of what they brew. I use it less than affectionately in describing this disappointing seasonal ale.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 2005. Deep ruby color, with thick bubbles that quickly dissolve to a tight ring of froth about the edge. Intense fruit in the aroma, with grape and cherries dominating. In the background there are hints of caramel and coffee. The flavor starts out with a tart bite, wine and cherry-like fruit with a light acidity. Finishes dry with a nutty roasted character and earthy dirtyness. I found it hard to believe the ABV could be 10% for this beer. The body was somewhat thin, with lightly tingly carbonation.

Fantome's interepretations for Saison are all over the map, and this is no exception. It seemed more like a Flanders Red to me, mostly fruity, maybe not quite as tart though. It was interesting, but overall this beer impressed me least of all their varieties I've tried in the past...

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Photo of EPICAC
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a bottle at Delerium Cafe in Brussels. This seemed to be another reimport. It had the US label and said Imported by Shelton Bros.

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark brown with an amber tint when held up to the light. It's topped by a thick, light brown head with excellent retention and nice lace.

Smell: Light roast, sweet raisins and cherries.

Taste: Cherry fruitiness with a lambic like sourness. The finish has a nice chocolate and coffee bitterness with spicy alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: An interesting mix of flavors.

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Photo of BassAssassin
4.09/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy, reddish brown. Almost looks muddy.

S: Spicy, earthy, and tart. Yeast is very pronounced. This is a very good preview of what this beer will taste like.

T: Tastes very similar to the way it smells (spicy, earthy, and tart). Peppery and fruity undertones also make themselves apparent. The alcohol taste is almost non-existent. Amazing for a beer of this size. Lots of complex flavors.

M: Light to medium bodied. Actually, surprisingly light in body for a beer with 10% ABV. Very crisp and sharp on the tongue.

D: Although the alcohol is not tasted, it is certainly felt. This is a beer to be sipped and respected. Perfect for the winter. This will surely become a regular seasonal purchase for me.

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Photo of Morris729
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby amber color with a thin bubbly head that soon faded into a collar of lace. Nose is a blend of several aromas—some horse blanket, a spicy fruitiness, and a yeasty earthiness. Taste has lots of dark fruit (fig, raisins, plums) and even a bit of candied apple blended with a good amount of Belgian spice. A bit of the horse blanket funk that was in the aroma is also present in the taste along with a bit of a leathery flavor. Is this a Saison or a Belgian Strong Dark Ale? Either way, it’s pretty darn good.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dark brown color ale with a super huge light brown foamy head with excellent retention. Aroma of sweet candy, spices which may includes some pepper and some sourness. Taste is quite eclectic with something that resemble like sweet candy at first and then I got it with a mix between pepper, sour malt and dry finish form some weird hops. Body is lighter then expected for such a beer and alcohol is well hidden. Not bad overall but not great either. It just seems like too many things are going on at once.

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Photo of dgallina
4.51/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml capped and corked dark green bottle. The label leaves a spot for best-before date, but nothing is notched or otherwise marked.

Pours hazy reddish-brown with small tan head that recedes to a creamy blanket and light lace. Smells fantastically spicy. Full of black pepper, earthy yeast, oranges, bananas,raisins, bread dough. Something like a liquid fruit cake. Flavor follows a somewhat different course. Starts slowly with light grains and carbonation. Center is a sweet and sour blend of farmhouse funk, yeast, lemon peel, and big spices (pepper, orange, coriander, licorice). Finishes medium-dry with powdery black pepper and yeast. Effervescent carbonation and light body for a beer this strong. Quite a treat!

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Photo of clickpush
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 vintage, drank on 7/28/06

Pour: 750 ml bottle to tulip. Fantome's classic cap over cork thing. Poured a big three finger light tan head over a dark brown, thick looking slightly cloudy beer with lots of bubble trails throughout glass. Head's duration is a couple minutes, going down to nice lacings.

Nose: Malts, very strong x-mas spices and licorice, slightly sour notes around the edge.

Mouth: Strong carbonation upon entrance and creamier towards the back. Tons of malt presence but no hops. Very Christmas-y. Allspice and licorice, spicy warmth and strong alcohol flavor. I'm wondering if this hasn't aged a big too long, as there is no hop balance at all and, while I don't have a newer vintage to compare it to, I feel the flavors may have been more distinct in a younger beer. It's good, perfect for a winter warmer, begs to be drank next to a fire.

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Photo of trep
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml Wine Bottle shared with my girlfriend.

Dark murky brown with a cappuchino head. Lots of visible yeasties in the bottle. Looks like tiny bits of cork...might be. Light penetrates when held to the light, but only at the edges. Head fades to a thin layer.

Very tart, acidic and fruity. Very winey but very tart like a lambic. Not much else to say.

Tart all the way through. Acidic at first then fades to a line of dark over-ripe fruit and chalk. Finishes very dry with 0 aftertaste. Well...maybe a little white grape.

Thin body with alot of carbonation. Pretty damn good though. Easy drinking and the 10% is absolutely not there.

Super-good beer. If this is any hint that Fantome is world-class I will soon be seeking out more of their stuff.

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Photo of fisherman34
4.29/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber in colour with medium carbonation. Notes of mint, chocolate, and red wine in the nose. Insane flavors of nutmeg, port, cinnamon, coriander, lemongrass, lemon, wet hay, spruce, and cork. As the beer warmed, the barnyard flavors became far more apparent. It had a nice and refreshing tart finish as well. A bit too wild for the folks who shared the bottle with me, but I love idiosyncratic beers like this. Another fantastic beer from Fantome.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Pours a rusty mahogany and a eggshell head with good retention Lots o' film.

Smell- Pretty herbal, tart, vinous mix. But this was more appealing than the flagship saison from Fantome.

Taste- Vinous, but not cloying or wine-like. Blends very well with the unknown spices that goofy ghost uses in this brew. The herbal and earthy flavors are unavoidable, but good in their blend with viney flavors. I also liked the flavor of this beer because you could taste some toasted Belgian malts mixed with all the aforementioned flavors.

Mouthfeel- Tart...yes. But a good tart. This beer went pretty well with slow cooked BBQ pork ribs.

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Photo of Zorro
1.76/5  rDev -55.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Darkest Saison that I have ever seen.

Pours a dark brown almost black beer with a tall light brown head.

Smell is tart grape juice and cork.

Taste is sour. Very lambic like and seriously sour. I couldn't drink more than two mouthfuls of this. I checked the other reviews and this is supposed to be a sour beer.

Mouthfeel is vinegar.

Pure crap in a bottle, a very expensive drain pour beer.

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Photo of neonbrown82
2.56/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer is a disappointment, especially considering how much I've liked other beers by Fantome. It's disgustingly dry, remniscient of a gin. The beer looks nice, but that's about all it has going for it.

It pours to a nutty brown color with amber hues. Fairly cloudy from all the residuals and sediment. Nice thick off-white foam. Very little lacing.

From the smell I could tell that I wouldn't like this beer. Has a very dry and tart sourness to the nose. Light hints of sweet malt and candi sugar, but it even smells incredibly dry and funky.

As I suspected, it's so dry that it barely seems to have a taste. Has a bit of a rasberry vinegar tartness to it as well, but that's as far as the flavor seems to come out. Too funky for my tastes.

The body is very dry and thus seems to be very light. No hint of the 10% alcohol. I don't think I'll ever try this beer again.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.29/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Capped and corked 750 that is notched for a best before date purchased at Main Street in Ann Arbor and poured into a tulip.

Mahogany under a light tan head of a couple inches that slowly falls under the weight of the abv turning into a lightly veiled ring. Not much lace effect to speak of.

Dark fruits and some spice dominate the nose. Musty Saison tartness with chalky yeast, wood, and sour aromas.

Good carbonation keeps the mouth lively. Slight puckering. Malty upfront and it has some of the dark fruits from the nose. Slightly acidic in the middle with some wood flavors. Spicy. There's a pinch of cinnamon and licorice and a dry finish with lingering spice and tart citrus. Very complex and evenly balanced.

The complexity of aromas and flavors add to this beers drinkability. The high price and abv, however, will limit my future enjoyment of this beer. Either way, good stuff and I will keep this one in mind when the time for X-mas beers comes around again.

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Fantôme De Noel from Brasserie Fantôme
3.92 out of 5 based on 634 ratings.
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