News "Craft or crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth"

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Dec 13, 2012.

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  1. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    In certain cities, it is pushing 30-35%.

    Im not saying that everywhere will eventually get that high, but Im not willing to put the ceiling at 12% either. Im also not sure that everywhere wont get that high eventually. There are 3 areas of the country where the supermarket dollar share of craft is already greater than 12%: Northeast, West and California. In the rest of the country, it varies from 6 to 9 percent (this was 2011 data and definition of craft may not exactly match Brewers Association definition).

    Now, dollar share is a bit higher than unit share, but I still see no reason to expect the ceiling to be 10-12%. The west region (mountain states and west coast except CA) is the highest at 18%. The rest of the country has some catching up to do.
  2. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Update: just saw some 2012 numbers for supermarket.

    Nationally, craft volume share is 8% and dollar share is 11.9%. 7th consecutive year for double digit dollar share growth in supermarkets. Even with an eventual slowdown, I dont see any reason to expect craft volume to have a ceiling in the 10-12% range.
  3. Gregfalone

    Gregfalone Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Personally, I believe if it is well crafted, balanced, and tasty it should qualify as a craft beer. I don't want to see InBev or miller coors squash the competition, but if they make one or two good beers, who are we to discriminate? A good beer is a GOOD beer, right? It's called beer advocate, not microbrew advocate, right?

    Craft, and microbrew, to me, care not interchangeable terms. A macro brewery can not produce microbrews, but the can produce fine CRAFT BEERS with the resources they have.

    If we feel the need to support the little guy ( and I am one of the folks that do) we always have the beer advocate. Otherwise we would not
    Know that GOOSE ISLAND and BLUE MOON come from the big three
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  4. stuart3368

    stuart3368 Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2011 Colorado

    You are absolutely right. I live around the corner from a place called Hops and Pie in Denver that has some of the best curated taps in Denver so the attract a lot of brewers/GAFB folks and the story that I have heard is that the big boys wanted in and the brewers association decided if they charged membership based on production they could get the macros to fund craft brewing. Anyway, the story I have heard over lots of beers...take if with a grain of salt
  5. bostonlogga

    bostonlogga Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2013 Washington

    21st amendment contract brewed yah
  6. tx_beer_man

    tx_beer_man Initiate (176) Jan 22, 2013 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I'd like to say I'm informed and keep to craft beer, but I did not know about Widmer. Only have had one of theirs, SXNW and liked it...a lot. Green chiles are the best.
  7. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (200) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    One thing that I wonder about is how the switch from regular beer to light beer by the bulk of the beer drinking population relates to the continous lightening in taste which has been referenced in some articles and discussed in various threads on this forum.

    If the IBU level of a regular American beer 30 years ago would have been around 20 or more, did the light beers that were being introduced at that time have the same level of bitterness or was there a difference inbetween the regular beers and the light beers? I.e did the drinkers of regular AALs go from drinking a regular beer which still had a hop bite to one without, or was there no difference and thus a more seamless transition over to light beers? There are perhaps no readily available sources that could bring clarity to this, but I thought I would at least pose the question.

    One could imagine that the brewers would help emphasize the lightness of the beer by reducing the bitterness below that of their regular offering, to increase its "drinkability". Or they kept the bitterness levels the same inbetween the two types of beer to give the light beer alternative a flavor that more ressembled their regular offering, whilst working over time to continually lower the bitterness of both in tandem with each other.

    If there was a difference however, then perhaps this could help explain, in part, the massive success of light beers and its succession as the major US beer style. The continous lightening of the hop taste and bitterness in beer has obviously been a successful strategy over the last 50 years, or even 100 years (since I seem to recall reading that this process was going on already pre-prohibition, with less hops being used per barrel etc.). If there was in fact a difference, then I think the success of light beers could very well be seen as further proof that people want as little bitterness in beer as possible, since they went from relatively more to relatively less taste. To claim that people don't desire a high level of bitterness in their beer is hardly controversial, but I think it's an interesting question given the discussion about people's tastes and why they drink a certain type of beer instead of a different type of beer.

    Bitterness in beer can be appealing to some people due it providing a refreshing taste experience, just as a black cup of coffee can be refreshing to people. But it is obviously not a flavor component that all people enjoy, or want to dominate the flavor of the beverage they are drinking (people drinking their coffee with sugar and milk to mellow the bitterness of coffee etc.) In a way the reduction in bitterness in American pale lager beer makes sense since the lighter and drier body from the adjuncts used, and the bohemian style of beer, already provided for a more refreshing taste experience. If people wanted a refreshing beverage, then they didn't really need the bitterness since there wasn't as much sweetness to balance out. And with the introduction of light beer they had even less of a reason to demand or want a noticable bitterness, its dry taste provides people with the refreshing aspects that they want, with a very very mild bitterness complementing its refreshing qualities.

    So in a way, light beer might just be seen as responding to people's taste preferences, of wanting a beverage with a moderate alcohol content that is intended to be served cold and has a refreshing taste (as other posters have summed it up).

    This would be the counter-argument to that of advertising dictating people's preferences and purchasing/consumer behaviour, that's the idea that I'm responding to and contrasting against, in case anyone thinks I'm being captain obvious in my post above. The obvious parts are there to clarify my line of thought, and I don't consider them to be groundbreaking or novel ideas.
  8. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    I think the move from "regular" beer to light beers in the US is part of that continuum - ales > lager beers > "Bohemian/Pilsenser" beers > adjunct light lagers > adjunct even-lighter lagers > light beer.

    And a similar move to "light/less bitter" occurred after Repeal in the US in the slowly-dying ale market. "Lighter" ales were created and/or became the ale brewers' best sellers, while the older stock ales and IPA's became minor brands or disappeared all together.

    Ballantine created the "light" XXX Ale, Genesee came out with a Light Ale (later called "Light Cream Ale") along side it's stock ale 12 Horse Ale, etc. Croft, out of Boston and briefly the best selling ale in the US after Repeal, came out with it's Cream Ale "Light in color/light in body" even noting in ads for the new ale - "for a darker, sturdy ale from a different formula...Try Croft Red Label".

    20 sounds high in 1980 for the US market. The average for "American beers" in 1980 was 14.2 bitterness units and for what were then called "Low Carbohydrate beers" was 13. The three largest percentiles for each style were:

    American beers​
    31.0% --- 10.0 - 13.0 bu's​
    47.9% --- 13.1 - 16.0 bu's​
    16.2% --- 16.1 - 19.0 bu's​

    Low Carb. beers​
    27.3% --- 10.0 - 12.0 bu's​
    31.8 % --- 12.1 - 14.0 bu's​
    13.6% --- 14.1 - 16.0 bu's​
    (Siebel Son's Co. Labs "summaries of analyses")​

    Crusader likes this.
  9. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (200) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Ah yes, I had read in an article that the figures went from 15-20 in the 1980s to the low tens today (using the same source I believe, the Siebel institute). But 19 seems to have been the high at that point and far from average. Thanks for providing those stats, it gives somewhat of an idea as to the relationship between the two styles at that time. I guess my theory would be hard to prove given those statistics, unless more detailed statistics on the brewery and brand level could be accessed, and I'd imagine that that type of information would be a well guarded secret.

    The most likely relationship between the two categories would seem to be for the regular beer and the light beer from the same brewery to follow each other in the level of bitterness, those breweries which had a comparatively lower IBU for their regular beer went even lower for their light beer. But if the span between high and low can be measured in low single digits then my theory of there being a noticable drop in IBUs seems unlikely.

    Unless the major national light beer brands, the ones that came to dominate the beer sales, belonged to those breweries which had a comparatively lower IBU in the industry as a whole, which meant that people went from drinking regular beer of a comparatively higher IBU, from a smaller regional brewery, to drinking the new and comparatively low IBU light beer sold by a national brewery. Then again as you've shown in other threads, the success of the big light beers was in large part to the detriment of the major regular beer brands, with drinkers moving from one brand to another within the same brand portfolio (at least in the post 80s era with Bud light). I guess Lite by Miller could be said to have attracted a large part of their consumers from outside the Miller portfolio who were drinkers of regular beers at the time, but I'm not sure if Miller would have been considered a "low IBU" brewer, since it is often claimed that Miller has maintained a comparatively higher bitterness than Anheuser Busch (albeit that this difference amounts to a low single digit number of IBUs).

    Some more speculation on my part :stuck_out_tongue:, but I find these types of historical beer industry matters to be fascinating.
  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yes, Miller's success with "Lite Beer from Miller" in the early 1970's was pretty amazing - they had growth rates of over 40% for the entire brewing company's barrelage (not just "Lite") for both 1975 and 1976. Those are very impressive numbers for a company in 10-20 million bbl/yr segment - it's one thing for a 100k bbl. craft brewery to do it, but once a brewery hits 1m bbl., the total percentage increases tend to slow down some simply because of capacity issues, if nothing else.

    At the time, Miller claimed the increase of 43.1% in '76 was the largest ever in the history of the US industry. Under Philip Morris' ownership Miller went from #7 in the US in 1970 with under 5% market share to #2 by 1977 with over 15%.

    Clearly the brand and the brewery was stealing share from other brewers to grow that fast (Schlitz in particular- and they quickly released their Schlitz Light at the end of the same year Miller Lite went national, in 1975).

    While the growth was clearly driven by Lite Beer, it did seem to drag Miller High Life along with it - although that was also the period, under PM ownership, when the company revamped High Life's image from an effete beer ("The Champagne of Bottle Beer") to a working class "reward" beer with that "Miller Time" campaign (that often dropped "High Life" terminology and just called it "Miller Beer"). Not sure, but I'd guess that High Life's bitterness was under Budweiser's in that era, since the latter was often considered a "woman's beer". I think the higher bitterness of Miller reputation stems from a comparison of Miller Lite to Bud Light.
    Crusader likes this.
  11. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    No, sorry - I simply copied the 3 largest percentiles of bitterness units for "American" beer and "Low Carb." beer above.

    The most bitter "American Beer" tested in '80 was one at 24.0 bu's, and the highest US "Super Premium" was 26.0.
    Crusader likes this.
  12. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Oops... edit after the 15 minute limit:
    Crusader likes this.
  13. Norica

    Norica Aspirant (233) Feb 2, 2006 Massachusetts

    I have no problem with calling Blue Moon or Shock Top faux craft, but shouldn't that make Allagash White faux Hoegaarden?
  14. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    Hoegaarden is faux Hoegaarden. Allagash White is an excellent example of the style, and I don't think there is any support for the idea that a beer has to be the first of its style to be genuine.
  15. tx_beer_man

    tx_beer_man Initiate (176) Jan 22, 2013 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I'm heading to a birthday party tonight at a "state-of-the-art" night clubish-bowling alley here in Houston. We have 3 hours of open bar. Just decided to call up and see if they had any craft beer or if I was going to be sipping Sauza Gold Tequila tonight. Was told, "Yes, we have Blue Moon and Sam Adams." Yep, and I was the guy who said, "not trying to be a dick or beer snob bro, but word of advice, Blue Moon's not a craft beer." And he knew its owned by MillerCoors but to laypeople, Blue Moon = craft beer. Crafty...
  16. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (200) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Was High Life percieved to be a woman's beer due to its lighter taste?

    One thing which I find interesting with Miller is their inability to maintain a popular offering in the "regular premium" segment. As you said High Life was lifted by or in tandem with Lite, but since the 80s has become a value brand. From what I've read, it would seem as though MGD replaced High Life during that time as the premium offering from Miller (I guess in order to give MGD a raison d'etre beyond being "draft beer in a bottle", having the two brands compete at the same price point would have made little marketing sense I guess).

    But MGD never really caught on, and Anheuser Busch didn't follow Miller into the "bottled draft beer" segment, apart from Michelob Golden Draft I suppose, which they kept as a regional brand. So basically Miller was stuck with an intended premium offering which didn't catch on to become a serious contender to Budweiser, and had sacrificed the brand which used to be their regular premium offering in the process by positioning High Life as a value brand (which differed from the Anheuser Busch strategy of using separate brand families for their premium and value offerings).

    I wonder if this is part of the reason why Miller Lite has struggled so much in recent years, due to their lack of a credible premium flagship brand. Then again Coors Banquet hasn't fared any better (though it might have more cultural cache than Miller's regular brands), whilst Coors light has went on to become the number two brand in the US.
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Crusader, I am sure that jesskidden will respond with all kinds of interesting history about Miller beers. On part I think is interesting is that MGD is basically the same as Miller High Life except it is cold filtered (and not pasteurized):

    “Miller Genuine Draft: Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) was introduced in 1985 as the original cold filtered packaged draft beer, which means that the beer is not pasteurized. MGD received the gold medal in the American-style Premium Lager category at the 1999 World Beer Cup. It also received the silver medal at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival. The concept for cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft was developed by product consultant Calle & Company. Martin Calle evolved the concept from Miller's New Ventures effort to launch a new dry beer at a time Miller Brewing was in danger of becoming a much-cloned light beer manufacturer. Originally introduced as "Miller High Life Genuine Draft", the "High Life" part of the name was soon dropped. MGD is actually made from the same recipe as Miller High Life but with a different treatment. It was developed to give High Life drinkers the same taste in a can or bottle as they found in non-pasteurized kegs. It has 4.7% abv.”

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  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Probably, and just general image/marketing. The tall slim clear glass bottle, the labeling, the whole "champagne = light, bubbly" thing. I thought you mentioned '80's ads when I first read your post a few hours ago, but the PM/Miller changed the image in the '70's (obviously, turning into the beer the Marlboro Man would drink rather than the Virginia Slim smoker's beer).

    I think MGD and MHL were priced similarly in the beginning (late '80's)- in fact, originally it was Miller High Life Genuine Draft [​IMG] not sure when MHL went down market as far as pricing, but my impression is that it was originally a regional thing. MGD did OK through the 90's - in 1991, it was the the #7 brand in the US and the #2 "premium" priced beer behind only #1 Bud. Everything in between was "light" or "popular" - Busch, Milw. Best and Old Milwaukee - the latter a Stroh product at the time. And High Life was #9 - so considering they were the same beer, same recipe just one pasteurized, one "cold filtered" - Miller was doing OK with 4 Top 10 beers vs. AB's 4 and 1 each for Stroh and Coors. (Barrelage for each brand- well, that's another story. ..)

    EDIT- Oops, had to make and install some brackets for the new "window treatments" and took a little break while the Dewalt battery re-charged, so looks like "JackH" covered the topic in the meantime...
    Crusader likes this.
  19. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (200) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Yes, I realized you had already answered my question so I rephrased my question to be more specific :stuck_out_tongue:. From what I saw from the pre-80s High Life ads, mostly 60s ads to be precise, it was more about dinner party-type occasions with the beer enjoyed by both the man and the wife. But I guess back then such a theme might appear unisex or even womanly compared to other brands.

    I see, so the problem wasn't as much its regular-premium image as much as the fact that light beers and popular priced beers had gobbled up large portions of the market by that time. It was up against the general trends at the time, where Budweiser was more or less the anomaly as far as sales went, although it would experience sustained sales losses for 25 years straight.
  20. Tomlin091744

    Tomlin091744 Initiate (163) Jun 16, 2008 Texas

    As I know it, this being second hand info, everyone lost their job when AB took over GI.
  21. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Lose their job or leave their job? Bottom line - jobs stayed. The people holding them changed.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    All the stories at the time said nothing of the sort. In the official press release, the owner of Goose Island, John Hall, specifically wrote: "We had several options, but we decided to go with Anheuser Busch because it was the best. The transaction is good for our stakeholders, employees and customers." Given that Hall stayed on for over a year under AB ownership, it seems unlikely that he would specify his employees in that PR only to go in the next day and fire all of them.

    The only notable employee who left GI at the time of AB's buyout was Hall's son/brewer, Greg Hall, and he left to start a cider company.
    steveh likes this.
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    John Laffler who was in charge of the barrel aging program (which is a BIG deal at Goose Island) also left the company. I was able to meet and converse with John at a Goose Island event during Philly beer week. He is an extremely experienced and knowledgeable beer guy. He is also a ‘class act’ and a true gentlemen to speak to. IMHO, John’s leaving Goose Island is a disappointment for Goose Island. I wish John good luck in his next venture.


  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yes, he left the company, over a year after it was bought by AB (and, one supposes, after he had cashed a number of payroll checks from AB in that time). And according to that very article he had been planning to start his own brewery since 2009 - 2 years before AB's purchase of GI.

    I don't think that qualifies as falling under the concept of "everyone lost their job when AB took over GI". :wink:

    I'm not in Chicago, so I don't know what sort of changes happened down on the production floor at the brewery but I think if AB had gone into that brewery and fired everyone, it might have made some news. :grimacing:
    cavedave likes this.
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    As, always. You da man!

  26. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,972) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Don't tell that to Brett Porter.
  27. beastmammoth

    beastmammoth Initiate (0) Oct 16, 2010 New York

    I think BMCs succeed because they've taken a watered down, extremely easily accessible product and managed to make it hyper-masculine. When you take your first sip of most any beer (with some exceptions) the one that tastes least-bad is going to bud light. Many of the pleasing flavors of beer are acquired, especially hops.

    This jives with my theory that these companies can't come out with a porter or stout because it would be impossible to market. If it has more flavor, is dark, alluring, etc.. then what is it that they've been selling? I think, if this masculinity complex were turned on them, and I think it probably will be as profit driven big craft companies, and their marketing, come in to play, it could prove extremely troublesome for the big boys.
    Roguer likes this.
  28. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,229) Mar 18, 2010 California

    The big guys have made these beers, but you're right about not marketing them from what I can tell.


  29. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    And from Miller in the mid-1990's:

    Roguer likes this.
  30. BattleRoadBrewer

    BattleRoadBrewer Crusader (705) Oct 8, 2005 Massachusetts

    There are actually fake small breweries which all along were part of a megabrewer, but what's causing the hate against genuine craft breweries which happen to be partially bought by megabrewers?

    I'd be interested in the logic of how Widmer and Kona beers instantly ceased being craft beers and morphed into "faux-craft beers" simply by virtue of partial ownership. Would they have retained their "craft beers" status if they'd been bought by Kraft or General Electric instead of by the evildoers at Inbev?

    What's the point of using the phrase "craft beer" if it's so utterly meaningless? A legitimate size-based definition of a craft beer would be batch size for each product, not the number of barrels of all products together sold by the parent company.
    Roguer likes this.
  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Brewbound has an article - Craft Versus Crafty Rages on in Chicago - about a talk by BBC's Jim Koch along with executives of Crown (Corona), Heineken USA and MC's Tenth & Blake division on the topic at a Beer Marketers Insights conference.

  32. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (2,777) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Widmer's still pretty good, for the record.

    Look, from the standpoint of sales figures, sure, you deserve to know who meets the definition of "craft." That doesn't mean that a big brewer cannot make a good beer, or try out a "crafty" scene (if we really must distinguish between the two terms).

    I do find Bud's Black Crown to be pretty funny, since they're advertising "Taste." That's it. Not, "New Taste," or "Different Taste." Just "Taste," as though they acknowledge that Bud inherently doesn't have much.

    But I have no problem with BMC trying out craftier brews. If they're good, I'll drink them. As I just posted in another thread, I haven't tried Third Shift or Batch 19 yet, but it's not because of some moral high ground; it's because of the availability of beers that I already know I like. Just because they're made by BMC doesn't mean they can't be crafty (carefully made with close attention to detail). Certainly just because brewers like Widmer's (and others) are bought out by BMC doesn't suddenly make their beer terrible.
  33. kingofhop

    kingofhop Initiate (0) May 9, 2010 Oklahoma

    At this point anymore, I really don't give a fuck. What the hell is "craft" anyway? Look, my neighbors shuffle Toyotas, Budweiser and Big Macs up and down the street. They mow their lawns, go to the movies and take their kids to the park. I couldn't care less whether MillerCoors, or InBev or Dog fukkin Fish Head makes my beer. Do people treat me right? Do they invade my home? Do they piss on my Post Toasties? If they don't, I don't give a fuck.
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  34. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    I saw this in my local World Market. If this isn't crafty, I don't know what is.
    JohnnyMc likes this.
  35. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    What's next? Corked & Caged Budweiser from Anheuser-Busch? :wink:
    (from 1904)
    JG-90 and BrettHead like this.
  36. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (1,724) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Very cheeky, Jess! I recall the Budweiser Michelob 'Special Edition' beer --wasn't it called "Celebrate"?-- back around 2002 and 2003, and the beer-lovin' males (and a few shy, sensitive wine gals who dabbled in beer) back then simply would not bite on it, so we ended up selling a couple of sets and being credited on several additional case allotments. There were also the Chocolate and Cherry and Vanilla-flavored bocks (?) around then, but we passed on the chance to carry those -- those bottles were just too much... not sure who they hoped to appeal to, but perhaps the Cognac crowd, owing to the frosted glass. Alizé had just hit the market. :slight_smile:
  37. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Weren't those the ones that looked more like ammunition than beer? Probably too many being confiscated by Homeland Security over the Holidays after the luggage was X-Rayed.:wink:


    "Sorry we're late, Pops - First, we had to catch a later flight cause we was locked in a room, and plus the darned gummit man poured out your present!"
  38. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (1,724) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Well, I suppose one man's artillery shell is another man's "adult novelty toy"?

    At least the "Celebrate" bottle could've passed for a Scaldis Prestige (in a dimly-lit room), but it's worth noting that I have yet to see any of these in the collector's market or a bottle collection. :wink:
  39. kingofhop

    kingofhop Initiate (0) May 9, 2010 Oklahoma

    Chaz likes this.
  40. CJLuzzo

    CJLuzzo Initiate (0) Feb 22, 2012 Indiana

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