Tag Archives: coffee stout

Sante Adarius Rustic Ales and New Bohemia – San Jose California

The San Francisco Bay Area is a large place and visitors often travel as far north as Santa Rosa to visit Russian River or as far south as Santa Cruz to visit Sante Adarius Rustic Ales or SARA for short. I chose to fly into San Jose for this brewery visit so that I had a fairly short drive down to Santa Cruz, or the neighborhood of Capitola where SARA is located. I also visited a newer brewery known as New Bohemia Brewing a short distance away. Both breweries complement each other nicely.

Sante Adarius

SARA 01
SARA is a cult favorite for their sours and farmhouse ales, many of which are bottled and released exclusively from the taproom. I happened to visit when they were releasing bottles of Lady in Grey and they also had bottles available of their Farmhouse Noir, a dark sour. I tried a number of different beers over two separate visits including the Chavez porter, Lady in Grey, Anais saison, Vanilla Joe, and 831 IPA. The Chavez porter is a very smooth and delicious beer with hints of vanilla and chocolate with a mild roast at the finish. This is the base beer for many of their adjunct versions including Vanilla Joe, made with vanilla and coffee. The Vanilla Joe was a delicious mix of coffee and vanilla and so popular that it was no longer available when I returned for my second visit. This was also my husband’s favorite beer.

SARA 03

The Lady in Grey is a delicious complex oaked blonde with a dry finish and bright fruit notes. I enjoyed this one and picked up a few bottles for myself and a few friends back home. The Anais is a super fruity saison with mild funk and an earthy finish. The 831 IPA is quite fruity with darnk pine at the finish. I found the IPA to be overly bitter at the finish, not from hops but from something else. This is an issue they have identified and should be fixing for future batches. I also got to try the Farmhouse Noir thanks to a kind regular who bought a bottle for us to share. I had already purchased some to bring home but it was not available on tap. Famhouse Noir was a delicious dark sour with just the right amount of tart finish and lots of fruit and mild vinegar. I look forward to exploring the flavors of this beer more when I open the bottle I brought back with me.

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On the two different days I visited SARA had quite a few people even as early as 12PM. The first day I visited was a Saturday which also happened to be a bottle release day so people were lining up for bottles and hanging around for beers. When I stopped by the next day there were no lines and the crowd was a little smaller but still respectable. There is plenty of seating available for people to hang around for a while. Flights are not available but they serve everything in half pours or full pours and the servers do a great job of explaining the beer styles prior to ordering something.

Top 2:
Vanilla Joe
Anais

New Bohemia

New Bohemia 03
As SARA attempts to re-create the Farmhouse styles from Belgium, New Bohemia puts a lot of effort into creating German style pilsner, heffeweizen, and Vienna lager. I tried the pilsner, IPA, Mole Stout, Double Duchess coffee porter, and black IPA on nitro. The pilsner is super clean and delicious with a medium body and light German hop kick to balance out the bready pilsner malt. I passed on the heffeweizen because it is the Bavarian style which I don’t particularly like (tending to taste of banana and cloves).

New Bohemia 01

The IPA was super smooth and juicy with notes of tangerine and melon, with a nice amber color. This is in line with the modern style of IPAs with lower bitterness and more hop aromas and was very impressive. The mole stout was deliciously balanced with the coffee, chocolate, and chilies all blending together perfectly. The chocolate and chilies trade off at the finish and the beer is smooth all the way through. The Double Duchess coffee porter is thick and delicious with tons of coffee flavor and a mildly sweet finish. The black IPA is served on nitro and it does a great job of mellowing the hops further while offering a super smooth finish. The hops are given a chance to shine and like the IPA it isn’t overly bitter.

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Delicious pilsner.
Delicious pilsner.

For a new brewery I was quite impressed by the delicious beers offered at New Bohemia, though the brewer has a ton of experience at other places prior to opening up his own brewery. There is a little something for everyone here and the large number of stouts available was quite nice to see. We originally stopped by for a flight of four tasters but returned later for more because they ran out of the Vanilla Joe at SARA so we had to have more Double Duchess instead. That is how delicious it was.

New Bohemia 05

Top 2:
Double Duchess
IPA

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Arizona Breweries Part 2 – More Phoenix Area Breweries

In Part 1 of this two part post I wrote about Prison Hill Brewing in Yuma and three Phoenix area breweries, Papago, Fate, and Goldwater. In this post I include the remaining 3 breweries from my visit, Huss, Arizona Wilderness, and Beer Research Institute.

Huss Brewing Company

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In typical brewery style, Huss is tucked away in an industrial park and has a fairly small tasting room though with a decent amount of seating. They only serve their house beers but they have quite a lineup such that I didn’t taste everything, especially because this was my fourth stop for the day! I tried the Southern Hussy peach ale, Husstler milk stout, Peanut Butter Husstler, That’ll Do IPA and Grapefruit IPA. The Southern Hussy is a delicious barrel-aged peach ale lightly tart and very strong peach flavors that were balanced out nicely by the oak.

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Arizona Beer 20

The Husstler Milk Stout is a fairly light body milk stout, not too sweet and very smooth. I liked it but the Peanut Butter version was much better, with a good amount of nutty flavor and mild chocolate. I filled a growler of this one to take home and it was quite delicious 5 days later. The IPA was very nicely done with good balance and solid bitterness. The flavors were mostly on the citrus and fruit side. The grapefruit version was even better, with a nice blend from the added grapefruit.

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Top 2 from Huss:
Southern Hussy
PB Husstler

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company
AZ Wilderness is one of the more hyped breweries I visited. They brew a lot of different beers all the time so the lineup changes quite regularly aside from their IPA which is always available. They have a large restaurant with parking that fills up quickly and a lot of people hanging out in the tasting room area were just waiting for their table. Thankfully they cleared out quickly so I had plenty of room to hang out and do a few flights. They have delightful hardwood all around, including a huge piece for the bar and smaller logs for holding your flights.

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I did two separate flights for a total of 10 tasters while I was there. The first flight included a berliner weisse, saison, oak aged bitter, Dekopa Belgian pale ale and milk stout. The second flight included the coffee stout, peanut brittle ale, Big Eye Rye double IPA, Refuge IPA, and Biere de Wassail Belgian Christmas ale. The Berliner Weisse was quite well done just as you would expect with a nice light fruity flavor, very mild tartness, high carbonation, and a light hop flavor. I recommended it to quite a few people at the bar when they asked for something light when the bartender for some reason didn’t think that it was a good idea. Most liked it.

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Arizona Beer 25

The Saison was a delightful peach/orange color and had a good combination of fruity flavors primarily peach with a nice sticky finish. It had just the right amount of saison funk and not a ton of intense spice as you sometimes get. The Oak Aged Bitter is a traditional English style bitter aged in oak barrels. It was quite mild with flavors of coffee and light earthy hops. It was smoothed out nicely by the oak without getting too much intense wood character. The DeKopa Belgian Pale did not taste right to me at all. At least one person confirmed what I tasted while others thought it tasted much different and more typical floral hops with Belgian yeast. To me it had a scent of mildew with flavor of sweaty socks. I even asked the bartender if it was supposed to smell how it did and he confirmed it was. I also had a similar (though not as extreme) experience with Cantillon Grand Cru so if you find similar flavors in that then avoid this. My best suggestion is to ask for a splash before ordering much in case you experience this similarly.

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The Milk Stout was good and smooth on nitro with a nice mild smoky flavor and hints of caramel. Very drinkable and delicious. The Coffee Stout was similarly smooth and mild with a nice nutty coffee taste, also very nice. The peanut brittle ale was quite sweet with lots of lactose flavors and a smooth peanut butter flavor. It was quite tasty. The Refuge IPA is a really crisp IPA that to me tasted like fresh cut apples. It had a lot of flavor without a high malt bill and a good medium bitterness that didn’t overpower. The Big Eye Rye is a fantastic sticky dank double IPA bursting with fruity guava and tropical fruit. While a little more bitter than the Refuge it wasn’t overly bitter and I quite liked it.

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The Biere de Wassail is a Belgian style Christmas ale. As such I was not surprised that it had quite a lot of spice flavor, high alcohol, and was essentially a fruity version of a Belgian Dark Strong. It was quite sticky sweet and very strong reminiscent of apple pie. I was satisfied by a taster of this but many people were ordering full pours and loving it. Everything I tried at AZ Wilderness was delicious with the exception of the Belgian Pale listed above. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the way they brewed it but there are certain flavors that certain palates taste differently. Some people taste certain stouts as if they have soy sauce, and I apparently taste certain types of Belgian yeast as if they are mildew.

Top 3 from AZ Wilderness:
Big Eye Rye
Refuge IPA
Saison
Beer Research Institute
My last stop of the trip was Beer Research Institute. Though I did stop at Alpine for a bottle pickup and growler fill on the way back I did not do tasters there so I consider this my last stop. Beer Research Institute is surprisingly located in a strip mall. They look like any small strip mall restaurant from the outside and they serve food. We ended up only eating their bread pudding, which was absolutely delicious. I tasted 6 beers while I was there in one flight, Morning Sex coffee porter, Dark Side imperial stout, Intergalactic saison, Street Cred black IPA, Mjango Unchained mango imperial IPA, and Lolli Belgian Tripel.

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The Morning Sex coffee stout was slightly sweeter and more balanced than the AZ Wilderness version and had a nice caramel malt background. This is one of the favorites of the guys at AZ Wilderness and I can see why. The Dark Side imperial stout is fruity and slightly sweet with mild smoky and roasty flavors. The Intergalactic saison was a nicely balanced beer with fruity tastes of grapefruit and pineapple and a mild funk. I really enjoyed this one. The Street Cred black IPA was roasty and fairly bitter with fruity hops that are almost hidden under the silky caramel dark malts. I expect a lot more roast and bitterness from my black IPA and I found the hops didn’t really work with the underlying beer too well.

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Arizona Beer 31

The Mjango Unchained was a super delicious mango double IPA with a sweet mango flavor and very light bitterness. It hid its alcohol really well. My husband actually thought it was pretty good and he hates IPAs. I wish I could have filled a growler with this one. The Lolli was quite sweet and fruity and closer to a tripel than the Belgian Blonde they claim it is on the menu. It has some mild spice on the back from the Belgian yeast. It is solid for a tripel but I was more in the mood for a blonde at the time.

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I really like the setup at Beer Research Institute and they are brewing some solid beers for such a young brewery. I understand the limited growler fill options because they seem to be brewing on a very small system. I didn’t try any food other than the dessert but they seemed to be quite popular for what they had.

Top 2 Beer Research Beers:
Morning Sex coffee stout,
Mjango Unchained mango Double IPA

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Fall Brewing Company – Young San Diego Brewery that is Quite Impressive

There are a ton of breweries opening all the time and it can be hard for new ones to stick out among the crowd. That is unless they start out making beers as impressive as those from Fall. Fall is probably one of the most hyped up young breweries lately and I figured I would walk away disappointed but found myself really impressed by a lot of what I tasted. I tried two flights while I was there. My first full flight included the Interpretive Dance Session IPA, Jazz Hands Berliner Weisse, English Pale, Spirit of 77 IPA, and Green Hat IPA. I ended with three dark beers including the ever popular 2AM Bike Ride, Apocalypse Pony, and Fall & Oats.

Fall Brewing Company 01

The Interpretive Dance session IPA was surprisingly potent with tons of hop flavor and high bitterness despite a seriously low 3.5% alcohol. It was a solid mix of tropical fruit and citrus with a seriously bitter finish. The Jazz Hands berliner weisse was crisp and delicious with a mild fruity/tart flavor. It also was surprisingly flavorful for a low 3.5% alcohol. This was one of the more flavorful local versions of the style I have had. The English Pale primarily has a lot of apricot flavor with some mild earthy hops and a crisp sweet finish. It didn’t overwhelm with the malts and was overall a very nicely balanced drinkable beer.

Fall Brewing Company 02

First full flight.
First full flight.

Both the Spirit of 77 and Green Hat IPAs were fantastically balanced and delicious. They were both quite similar in many ways, both having a sticky icky sweetness and both not too overwhelmed by the malts. The 77 IPA was fruity with a piney finish and a little more malt balance. The Green Hat tended more towards the juicy guava and pineapple flavors and was overall deliciously fruity. Neither tasted much like any IPA I have had before while they both were excellent examples of the style. After all the hype for 2AM Bike Ride, I wasn’t too excited by it. It was a very smooth light-body stout with intense bitter coffee and a subtle vanilla in the back. It seemed to lack a complexity or roasted malt flavor that I love so much in the style.

Last set of beers, all stouts.
Last set of beers, all stouts.

The Apocalypse Pony has a strong vanilla flavor with a mellow coffee finish. Again I found the body lacking here and the vanilla was a little too overpowering for me. The Fall & Oats was quite fruity and the fruit was so sweet I almost thought it was vanilla at first. Like the other two I tried, it was lacking the thicker mouthfeel I love in my stouts and didn’t have the chewy oat character I normally love. Despite the stouts being mostly underwhelming for me, I recognize that they are quite popular among other groups. 2AM Bike Ride is a big hit with many of the local beer fans. Still, the two IPAs were so delicious and showed a real skill with blending hop flavors that I don’t see often with young breweries. If you haven’t gotten around to visiting Fall, you should do so soon.

The brewery has a nice wide open space.
The brewery has a nice wide open space.

Top 3:
Green Hat IPA
Spirit of 77 IPA
English Pale

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Pure Project – A Fantastic New Addition to a Crowded Miramar Brewery Scene

I visit a LOT of breweries in any given year and some of the new breweries come out of the gate a little less than ready but that is not the case for Pure Project. With a full 12 taps of beer to choose from on the grand opening day and a wide variety of styles to suit all palates they delivered one of the most impressive local launches of a brewery in quite some time. Out of the 10 beers I tasted and shared with a friend, five were very impressive and the other five were solid. We both left pleasantly surprised by the quality of beers available and excited to see what they have in store going forward. A few of the launch beers would make really good core beers that I hope don’t change very much going forward.

Massive tap list when I visited.
Massive tap list when I visited.

I tried the Gose with grapefruit, the cream ale with orange and vanilla, saison with hibiscus and honey, rye pale ale, dry stout with coffee, IPA, brett IPA, Double IPA, imperial porter, and Belgian Quad with coconut. The Gose had an interesting mix of funk and subtle grapefruit. It was quite effervescent and mildly citrus, a solid Gose though I hope future versions will have more pronounced fruit. The cream ale did a fantastic job of making a creamsicle, vanilla orange popsicle, with a great mix of orange and vanilla and a really smooth mouth feel. The beer wasn’t too sweet and I could see myself drinking much more of it on another visit.

First two tasters.
First two tasters.

The saison was a nice balance of hibiscus and honey without getting too sweet. It finishes lightly sweet and a bit dry. A solid saison. The Milagro dry stout with coffee and vanilla was quite smooth thanks to the nitro with plenty of prominent coffee and a light body. The vanilla was quite subtle but the overall beer was very satisfying. We preferred it over the imperial stout because it was a bit more flavorful. The Rye Pale was so good that we thought they had to have made a mistake and given us the IPA instead. They managed to squeeze a ton of hop flavor and aroma into a light 5.5% beer with tons of tropical fruit, pineapple, and citrus without much bitterness. When we actually got the IPA to compare we could see the difference. I came back a few days later with some friends and ordered the pale again. The alcohol percentage is more evident when you start with it but it is still quite delicious.

Second set of tasters.
Second set of tasters.

The IPA was a more bitter and dry finishing beer than the pale though it lacked the burst of hop flavor that made the pale so delicious. It is a solid IPA but compared to the pale and double IPA it just didn’t stand out. The Brett IPA was fantastically balanced between a good citrus hop kick and some fruity Brett yeast. The beer has a subtle grapefruit flavor as well.

Pure Project 05

The Double IPA comes on strong with a serious bitter grapefruit flavor and a surprising lack of sweetness and detectable alcohol for a 9.3% double IPA. It is a very impressive double IPA. The imperial porter was a super smooth nitro pour with some fruity malt character and not much roasted malt kick or body to it. It went down easy but lacked the flavor of the coffee porter. The Belgian quad has a fantastic coconut nose and it comes through very strong in the taste. At first all I tasted was coconut and a surprisingly smooth beer for 10.8%. Over time as it warmed up the coconut faded a little, letting me taste the base beer, which was still very tasty.

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I got to speak with the brewer while I was there and he mentioned that he has quite a few sours in the pipeline that he hopes to present in the coming months. I look forward to returning to try the sours but also to see what he does with hops because it is very rare that the pale at a brewery is more impressive than the IPA. Pure Project joins a crowded market both in San Diego and along Miramar Road but it will be one I will return to regularly.

Top 4:
Coconut Quad
Double IPA
Rye Pale
Dry Stout with Coffee

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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A Visit to Dallas: Deep Ellum, Brain Dead, and Community Brewing

I visited Dallas recently and went to a few breweries. Because I didn’t get to do flights at two of my three locations I decided to write about all three breweries in one long post. First stop was Deep Ellum brewing, in a neighborhood that many of the locals I met around there said is their favorite neighborhood. It was very nice when we were there because we parked the rental car once and walked from Deep Ellum Brewing to Brain Dead Brewing and then had BBQ at Pecan Lodge, all without having to move the car. Then my husband┬ádrove me on to Community Brewing.

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Tap list at Deep Ellum when I visited.
Tap list at Deep Ellum when I visited.

Deep Ellum Brewing has a fairly large indoor tasting room and around equal amount of space outside in the back. The tasting room has a very modern feel like any big tasting room in San Diego although they don’t allow visitors to order flights on Saturdays. I could see why, because they were quite busy and perhaps they didn’t want to have to deal with washing all the taster glasses when they have such a large crowd. Because I couldn’t order tasters, I went for their deal of 3 pints and keep the pint glass for $15. I tried the house IPA, sour blonde, and barrel aged coffee ale.

Deep Ellum IPA.
Deep Ellum IPA.
Sour Blonde.
Sour Blonde.

The Deep Ellum IPA is very balanced and the malts support the earthy hops nicely, making it very easy drinking despite being 7%. It isn’t particularly bitter and hides the alcohol very well. This is neither a crazy malt bomb, all bitter and no aroma, nor a beer that focuses primarily on hop aromas. One thing I expect is that the beer ages well and that is always helpful. The sour blonde was mildly tart and quite tasty. I mostly tasted notes of passion fruit and lemon. Everything balanced nicely and made for an easy drinking sour blonde. The barrel aged coffee ale was just over 7% and had a nice mix of vanilla from the barrel, mild spices, and nutty coffee. It had just the right amount of thickness so that it wasn’t watery but also wasn’t thick like an imperial stout. I would have liked to have tried some of their other hop-forward offerings but from what I tasted, I found Deep Ellum to be quite impressive. They also offer cans and bottles of a few of the beers.

Barrel aged coffee ale.
Barrel aged coffee ale.

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My next stop was Brain Dead Brewing. I did not have this on my list prior to my visit but the best way to find out where to go next is to ask the people who sit near you at one brewery because the locals often know of places that may not have gotten popular outside of the area. Brain Dead was offering flights so I was able to try a few more beers at this stop. Brain Dead is a brewpub and has their own food available. It seemed like many of the people around me were enjoying the food. In typical brewpub fashion, the flight available was already set. I tasted the blonde, red ale, English IPA, stout, and wild ale. The blonde was light and crisp with a mild hop bitterness and subtle hints of a Saison on the back from the yeast.

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Braindead Tap List Part 1.
Brain Dead Tap List Part 1.
Brain Dead tap list part 2.
Brain Dead tap list part 2.

The red ale had a caramel malt background with hop kick with flavors of citrus and pine and a bitter finish. I had a hard time finishing this one because I thought that the flavors didn’t blend together all too well. The English IPA had a nice apricot flavor from the hops at the front without much bitterness. It ended with a mild citrus hop kick. The flavors worked really nicely, making a nice mild yet flavorful IPA. The stout was medium bitter and smoky with a fairly light body. It was a fairly standard stout but well done. My favorite was the wild ale, bursting with flavors of mango and peach. The beer wasn’t very funky or tart, just light, crisp, and fruity. If I wasn’t going to one more stop and quite hungry by that time I would have ordered a full pour of this one.

Brain Dead flight.
Brain Dead flight.
Inside of Brain Dead.
Inside of Brain Dead.

My last stop was Community Brewing, where I hung out in possibly the biggest tasting room I have ever been in. Not only is the room fairly large in floor space, it has quite high ceilings. At this point I was not interested in doing more tasters and because I saw the highly rated Bourbon Barrel Aged Legion on tap I went straight for a full pour of that. I had to request a glass to avoid getting this served in a plastic cup. While I sipped this thick delicious beer I watched people playing corn hole and groups of people cheering at the various games shown on large projected screens on the wall. The beer itself was thick and sweet with vanilla from the barrels and a smoky after taste. The beer also had flavors of coffee and chocolate that blended nicely. Though it was not as impressive as Firestone Walker’s similar offerings, it is a great example of a tasty bourbon barrel aged beer and well worth seeking out.

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Barrel aged Legion
Barrel aged Legion
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The massive tasting room at Community Brewing.

Though not a brewery, I also visited Bishop Cider Company in the Bishop Arts District while I was in Dallas. I wasn’t expecting to visit them but they were right next to my second BBQ spot of the visit, Lockhart Smoke House. They had a fairly broad range of ciders on tap. I almost left without tasting much but then the bartender suggested I try the dry-hopped cider, hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe hops. The taste I had was delicious so I ordered a larger pour. The cider worked nicely as a base to the familiar hop flavors, adding some mild tart backing to typically citrus-flavored hops. It was the perfect drink for that time of my trip. If you are a big cider fan, it is worth checking out Bishop Cider Company in Dallas.

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Dallas Breweries 19

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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