Tag Archive: Northern Monk


Mash Gang: Northern Monk: Spiritual Journey (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale, cloudy lemon juice body that leaves lace. Massive white, loose bubbled head.

Nose: Bitter hops. Cheese puff crisps yeast funk. Lemon on pancakes. Wheaty.

Body: Dry. Very bitter. Black pepper. Charred. Oats. Slightly funky, fluffy mouthfeel. Mild vanilla. Fluffy pastry.

Finish: Milky oats. Mildly oily noble hops. Very bitter. Pepper. Charring. Dried passion-fruit.

Conclusion: Ok, I love the west coast style, stripped down malt backbone, dry and bitter as heck IPAs. My recent notes on USA beers has well established that. So, you would think I would like the very dry, very bitter low alcohol IPAs and pales that exist. That would make sense.

Yet somehow I rarely do, they fit in the same space as most session IPAs where often the lack of malt just makes the high bitterness feel rough.

There are so many hop types in here, some of which I adore in general, but the lack of malt used to make the body and dry character seems to mean that you really have to dig past that dry, charred, peppery bitterness to even try and find their fruitier influence.

It’s most interesting character is a fluffy, oat filled and slightly funky mouthfeel. It is a weird element there as it feels like the beer has little grip for subtle flavours, but the body itself is gripping and sticky, just using that mainly for peppery and slightly harsh bitterness.

If you really dig down, there is stuff under that – kind of crumbly pastry notes, some passion fruit, all still very dry. However it feels like too much effort for too little flavour.

I’m starting to think that less is more with low alcohol beers as every time I see a beer with a huge hop list it ends up just feeling rough, while ones with select choice of hops seem to show a lot more.

This just feels one note. It does the bitterness super bitter, but with none of the more rounded hop character around it and with that I cannot recommend it.

Background: This had quite a pretty can design, caught my eye, is brewed at Northern Monk, who do great beers, and is low abv, which is what I was looking for at the time. So an easy buy then. This was found at Beercraft who continue to be both generally expensive but also well stocked in their low alcohol range. It has quite a varied hop bill, listing Kviek, Magnum, Citra Cryo, Amarillo, Mosaic and Idaho 7 as the included hop types for the double dry hopped pale. Went with Garbage: Not Your Kind Of People as backing music, been on a Garbage kick since their new album dropped.

Northern Monk: Don’t Mess With Yorkshire (England: American Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon coloured body with a massive white bubbled head that leaves some, but not many suds.

Nose: Rhubarb and custard sweets. Custard slices. Sugar dusting. Light orange. Slight apple.

Body: Wheaty. Moderate bitterness. Gentle custard. Hard sweets. Slight rhubarb. Slight orange skin. Slight milk and lactose.

Finish: Flour. Good bitterness. Dry. Peppery. Slightly earthy. Gentle custard. Slight tart rhubarb.

Conclusion: This is a much more straightforward beer than you would expect from the description, and from the first impressions you get from the aroma.

So, since I just brought it up, let’s start with the aroma. It is full on, full of rhubarb and custard sweet notes. Yes, I know generally hard sweets don’t have that much smell to them, imagine them all crushed up and sweet dust is in the air or something, this smells like that. It is very sweet, not super artificial smelling, but definitely calls to the hard sweet style.

The rest of the beer has none of that.

The body, by comparison, is fairly dry and slightly peppery with a moderate amount of hop bitterness. It is not overly attenuated like some APAs, but it still feels within the dry APA range, with all that entails.

The custard notes come across along with a gentle, milky to lactose thickness, and only a hint of the actual custard flavour, and very little of the sweetness. Similarity there is a light tartness from the rhubarb, but it is generally coming across as the unsweetened, earthier rhubarb rather than rhubarb and custard sweets. So, I have no idea where that aroma came from as that is not the beer you get!

It is a solid APA, with a gently used twist to it. Far more subtle in expression that I expected, and probably a better beer for that, if not as showy and silly fun as I hoped. The base APA is not special and without the extra twist would be very middle of the road, as is it is not a must have, but decent enough and a bit different with its subtle enhancements from the extra ingredients.

Background: I spent most of my teenage years in Yorkshire, I have a soft spot in my heart for the place. So, yep, this beer caught my eye. I am also a fan of Rhubarb, Custard and also Rhubarb and Custard, so another thing in its favour as this is a Rhubarb Custard Pale. What does that mean? Well looking at the can it is made with vanilla, rhubarb extract and custard extract, so I’m guessing that. Anyway another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – I put on a band I have only just discovered to listen to while drinking – Bloodywood – an Indian street metal band that rocks!

Northern Monk: Stigbergets: Garage: Insa: Patron’s Project 17.02 Ethel Tropical IPA (England: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark apricot. Very large yellow-white tight bubbled head.

Nose: Mango. Apricot skin. Light hop prickle. Light bitterness.

Body: Tropical fruit juice. Mango chunks. Slight sour cream twist. Creamy texture. Thick. Hop oils. Oily fruit. Passion fruit. Vanilla. Slight apple.

Finish: Sour cream. Mango. Moderate bitter hops. Slightly oily. Passion fruit. Slightly resinous. Slight flour. Peach syrup. Tangerine hops.

Conclusion: Fucking hell this is fruity – slightly dried fruit meets oily fruit in a strange but delicious clash. Now, I can find overly fruity IPAs a bit disappointing sometimes when they lose the beer side – especially in beers like this where a lot of actual fruit is used in the making. However, here they do not disappoint!

It is slightly oily, very slightly resinous in the finish with moderate hop character and solid bitterness – a decent beer character that is admittedly still a backing to the natural feeling fruit. The fact that fruit flavours are, in part at least, drier helps keep things feeling IPA like – even though the mouthfeel contrasts with syrupy and creamy style. It’s an odd effect – the taste isn’t super sweet, but that creamy, syrupy mouthfeel makes it feel like it is actually sweeter than it really is, creating an odd sensation as you drink. Nicely done.

Early on it is the fruit created fruit flavours that push themselves out to the front (ohh that is just a clumsy sentence, but stick with me here please), hiding the hop created fruit flavours behind them. Later on though the distinctly hoppy fruit character becomes more evident, especially in the finish. Up to that point I had been viewing the beer as a tad over fruit juice like, even with the hop bitterness, but this swooped in and nullified that flaw and giving another note to the end of the beer, a bit of interest as the intrigue of the earlier notes are starting to wane.

So, downsides? Well the sightly full on fruity and thick character may not be for everyone – definitely not a sessionable beer by any measure, even a second one may be a bit much. It is definitely a one at a time kind of beer.

Still, a lovely tropical fruit IPA that doesn’t forget the IPA side of the equation.

Background: So many things made this a beer I knew I was going to try. Northern Monk, especially their Patrons Projects have been on point so many times. Garage have been great in the few beers I’ve tried from them, and Stigbergets reasonable as well. So, yeah a hop forwards beer from them was definitely one I was interested in. This is made with El Dorado, Cashmere, Mosaic, Simcoe and Columbus hops. More than that they added papaya, passion fruit and mango. I’m not too much of a fan of over fruit juice IPAs but with the talent behind this I was hopeful they would do well. Also such a long name when you include all the collaborators and artists, which makes this a pain to type but doesn’t hurt the beer. This is another one from Independent Spirit. Went with the indie fun of Throwing Muses self titled album for backing music.

White Frontier: Northern Monk: Garage: Whiplash: Slow Runnings (Switzerland: Brown Ale: 4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Large creamy brown bubbled head.

Nose: Roasted, nutty character. Coffee cake. Light lactose. Subtle toffee.

Body: Good, lightly creamy, mouthfeel. Cashew nuts and green flecks from the shell. Slight chalk. Bitter cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal touch meets bitterness. Cashew nuts. Nutty bitterness. Roasted character. Coffee cake. Slight malt chocolate.

Conclusion: This is pretty roasted, leaning heavily on that for the character rather than going either towards a sweeter or lightly sour brown ale style. It seems to be walking the middle ground shall we say. So, does it work well?

The mouthfeel is slightly creamy, along with a touch of lactose to creamy flavour, which gives a decent weight and feel for the 4% abv without getting too heavy. So the basics are down pat.

Flavour-wise, apart from the roasted, nutty flavours, it keeps to the more savoury or bitter rounding notes – subtle cocoa and coffee cake for example. There’s a few unwelcome rough elements amidst that, including a kind of charred, charcoal note at times in the finish, but generally it is solid.

So solid, but not really standout – I think the problem is that for everything apart from the roasted character it feels slightly indistinct. There is flavour, but not well defined. It is relying in the nice feel and general gist of the flavours to get along, but it doesn’t give anything for you to really get into.

Decent enough but pretty middle of the road. I’m still glad I had it as you don’t see as many new brown ales these days, at least in my experience, but it isn’t one to draw new people to the style.

Background: Ok, new brewery on me – White Frontier (and one of their collaborators – Whiplash) – so that caught my eye. I don’t see many coming out from Switzerland. Got a lot of trust for Garage and Northern Monk though, so that made me confident I was in safe hands. In fact, that is a lot of collaborators on one beer! You don’t see many craft brown ales, so that caught my eyes as well. So a lot of interest going in. Was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with some lighter indie to pop tunes for this – Honeyblood – Babes Never Die.

Northern Monk: Honour (England: IIPA: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale yellow. Clear. Some small bubbled carbonation. Massive frothy white head.

Nose: Pine needles. Vanilla. Bitter hop character. Custard. Hop oils and resin. Lightly floral. Light grapefruit. Slight smoke.

Body: Good bitterness and hop prickle. Peach syrup. Grapefruit. Hop oils. Vanilla toffee. Slightly dry. Golden syrup touch. Thick mouthfeel. Yeast funk. White wine.

Finish: Peach syrup. Pineapple. Hop oils. Moderate hop character. Some bitterness. Palma violets. Soft raspberry. Champagne. Yeastie feel. Heavier hop bitterness over time.

Conclusion: What impresses me most with this beer is this – that despite it racking in at over 10% abv, it still manages to keep elements of that dry drinkable character that defines the west coast IPA. Usually the weight of the malt load would overwhelm that with sweetness, but this still comes across dry and crisp.

Ok, it is not entirely hidden – the malt comes across in a thicker texture, but as the beer froths up in the mouth it covers that leaving a dry feel and manages the malt very well. What seems more evident is a very unexpected character – a dry white wine like undertone and a slight champagne meets Belgium yeast funk character becomes evident. It keeps the dry character still, but still adds grip and makes a kind of chewy popcorn like mouthfeel later on.

So, the big thing here is the hop character – gentle hop bitterness, oily, with a good general hop character that rises into heavier bitterness as time goes on. A lot of it is about the feel – prickly hops with dry frothy mouthfeel behind that into yeast funk and slight dry champagne style. Lots to physically interact with inside your mouth,

What about the actual flavours? Well they are less evident. Soft vanilla toffee shows the gentle malt influence, tart grapefruit comes out but mildly done. It is mostly about that hop feel and dry drinkable character. However, you know what, that is bloody enjoyable – it just leaps head first into that west coast hop character and splashes the oils and hops around.

On the downside, well like many high abv beers it can get a tad wearing over time. The single-mindedness that makes it so appealing early on, hurts it later. Still, what I would say is get a can, share it between two people and boom, this is spot on.

A triple IPA that doesn’t lose the IPA to the malt – nice.

Background: This is the second Triple IPA I have tried from Northern Monks. Man, most places don’t even have one triple IPA to their name, let alone multiple. I only found the first – Glory – to be pretty good. Then, when I saw this one was a west coast take on the IPA style I thought I must give it a go. Let’s face it, Northern Monk have earned my trust by now. I’d just picked up Crossfaith – The Dream, The Space – which has their awesome cover of Omen on it, so I put that on to listen to while drinking. This is another beer picked up at Independent Spirit.

Northern Monk: Nomad Clan: Patrons Project: 2.07 Bare Bones (England: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice – nigh opaque. Large loose white bubbled head.

Nose: Apricot chunks. Lightly resinous and oily. Good hope prickle. Grapefruit.

Body: Oily. Gherkin tartness and savoury mix. Soft malt choc toffee and malt choc orange. High hop prickle. Pineapple and grapefruit. Dried banana.

Finish: Oily. Dry hop character. Slight gunpowder tea. Pineapple and grapefruit. Oily apricot. Dried banana.

Conclusion: Yes! Someone has decided to put some hop bitterness into the NEIPA style again. Cool! Let’s take a good look then.

Ok, I started off by saying that it has the hop bitterness, but to be more honest it is more about the hop oils and resinous notes that they use here. It’s not that they are an overwhelming part of the beer, nor are they …*sigh* dank, but they make up the solid core of the hop experience here.

Beyond that it has an odd flavour mix – it opens with the more standard tart pineapple and grapefruit but against that is a kind of sour and savoury note that I always end up describing as gherkin like. I’m sure I have put people off by using that description for a note, but it is actually a quite decent note, its just I have yet to come up with a better description for that odd sour twist.

The malt usage in this is enjoyable, but again it feels odd. It feels like the malt should be mainly out of the way, but every now and then an east coast style malt toffee, or odder still, malt choc orange note pokes through. Odder still it works. Mostly.

Anyway, as you may have guessed by this point it is an odd mix of an IPA. It’s a NE West-East coast IPA. Or something. You know what though – I’m enjoying it. It is rough edged, prickly, even with gunpowder tea harsh edges, but those tart notes over oily character and New England thick texture makes for a weighty IPA bit of fun.

So it is odd, mixed up, rough edged, but I’ll take that over dull any day – especially when it is done this well.

An odd mix worth trying.

Background: The can says that this is the “Gold Edition”. I have no idea why, I did a quick Google and still have no clue. If you know please let me know. Anyway, another of Northern Monk’s Patron Projects – this time with Nomad Clan – a street artist group who were responsible for the very pretty and eye catching can. This is a double dry hopped New England style IPA made with oats to back the London Fog yeast. I’m not a huge fan of the New England take on the IPA, but trust Northern Monks enough to give it a go. Prodigy was still in my mind after Keith Flint’s death, so put on The Day Is My Enemy to listen to – probably my favourite of the more recent Prodigy albums. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Northern Monk: Evil Twin: Even More Death (England: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Massive brown creamy head.

Nose: Coconut macaroons. Milky chocolate. Chocolate toffee. Smooth. Creamy.

Body: Creamy. Coconut. Chocolate ice cream. Brown bread. Cocoa dust. Chocolate cake. Slight sour dough.

Finish: Chocolate ice cream. Coconut. Bitter cocoa and chocolate cake. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: Flavour wise this is fairly straightforward, smooth and very dessert and especially chocolate influenced. There you go – the short version.

Basically, 90% of this is chocolate bing expressed in various different ways. 5% of it is coconut, wonderful, lovely coconut. I love coconut in beer in case you hadn’t noticed. The other 5% is a nice set of general rounding notes.

The solid core of that is chocolate cake, quite basically done – dusted with cocoa but without any icing or cream, mainly just the sponge. Oddly, despite this dryness there are creamy notes to the beer, though mainly in the aroma and the early part of a sip. Those creamy notes soon move out of the way for heavier, drier chocolate sponge notes though. Around the edges there are sweeter chocolate ice cream notes – though I may be slightly influenced in how I view it as it is bloody nippy at the moment, so ice and the like may be on my brain.

The coconut matches that drier character -sweeter coconut macaroons up front, but then into drier coconut flakes in the middle. For such a high abv beer it does seem very restrained in how it uses its sweetness; The bitter cocoa has much more free rein, using the softer, sweeter notes mainly to keep it from becoming too harsh.

It is good, but there isn’t a huge amount of variety to it – what is interesting and fun in the first sip seems slightly staid by the time you get the same notes at the end. A solid tasty beer, but Even More Jesus does it better. Though frankly, Even More Jesus is amazing so that is comparatively mild criticism.

Background: Even more Jesus is one of my favourite Imperial Stouts of all time. Northern Monk have been skyrocketing up my respected brewery list , and their collaborations have been awesome. This, a collaboration, involving Northern Monk to make a mix of their Death imperial stout, and Even More Jesus. Well, there is no way I could not try it, is there? So, it is a 12% abv Imperial Stout made with coca nibs, toasted coconut and vanilla pods. Drank this during an utter flurry of snow outside, so was happy to be sitting in with something heavy, dark and boozy. Music wise and went simple and back to my youth with a mix of Madness tunes again for some simple upbeat fun with a few heavier themed tunes in-between.

Northern Monk: Finback: Patron’s Project 3.05: Once, Twice, Three Times a Whale (Mosaic Edition) (England: IIPA: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Custard to apricot coloured body. Very large, loose mounded white head that leaves suds

Nose: Mandarin orange. Very fresh. Crisp hop character. Lightly wheaty bitterness. Tangerine orange. Soft vanilla custard. Light, tart pineapple. Slight flour.

Body: Orange to tangerine. Vanilla custard. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slight resin. Slight flour. Light pineapple. Peach. Slight greenery.

Finish: Fresh tangerine. Slight resin. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slightly milky and creamy. Grapefruit. Growing hop character and bitterness.

Conclusion:I’m torn. No, wait that is a terrible way to start talking about this. Let’s try a different tack. This is creamy and fruity in a way that reminds me of the NEIPA interpretation, but, despite the low levels of bitterness they use in it, it still features enough oily hop feel and resinous notes to make it feel like an actual damn IPA. I approve.

Ok, so after that, now to get to – I’m torn, but not in a Natalie Imbruglia way. Let me explain. This is tasty, tasty, very ,very tasty, but with that it is a bit simple. There is lots of bright fresh mandarin orange and tangerine notes that make you sit up and smile. Then there is tart pineapple to grapefruit notes under backing a soft, creamy to vanilla custard base. Delicious, so delicious, but for the most part that is your experience for the entire beer.

Ok, it doesn’t 100% stick at that – the hop character gains a touch more resin and bitterness over time, while never quite betraying its NEIPA creamy and fruity style. There is some progression, just not very much.

You know what? I’ve talked myself into it. I am no longer torn. This is ruddy good. Maybe it could do with a tad more complexity but this is a double IPA that calls to NEIPA but doesn’t forget the IPA at its heart, and shows the mosiac fruit flavours in full fresh burst.

So, yeah, not torn any more. This is very good. Get it.

Background: This is a Patron’s Project beer. Yet when you lift up the label there is no additional information hidden underneath. It is like someone just told me Santa does not exist. I am let down. Anyway, the final name in this collaboration is James Butler, a tattoo artist who I presume did the artwork for the label. I’ve loved Northern Monk Patron’s Projects so far, so when this three times hopped with Mosaic IIPA turned up in Independent Spirit it caught my eye. Put on Some Marie Davidson to listen to while drinking – only just discovered her music – haunting electronic gothic feelings stuff. Very moody. She sings a lot in French, which I don’t understand, so if you listen and it turns out it is super obscene please don’t blame me. Unless you enjoy that, in which case you are welcome.

Northern Monk: Slim Pickens: Patrons Project: 8.05: Raspberry and Honeydew Melon Kolsch Style Ale (England: Kolsch: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy yellow. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Medium white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fluffy hops. Vanilla. Melon. Slightly oily.

Body: Vanilla. Honey. Crisp and dry underneath. Hop oils. Mild tart raspberry. Fluffy hop feel.

Finish: Vanilla custard. Honey. Slight dry fluffy hop feel. Melon and watermelon. Hop oils. Fresh raspberry. Sour dough.

Conclusion: This definitely is more about the extra fruit flavours and less about the kolsch flavour characteristics, more using the kolsch style as a base for easy drinking style. It shows little of the moderate hop style or bitterness kick that I would expect from a kolsch. Which is fair enough, this is a bit experimental – I just needed to make sure I checked my expectations going in.

So, yeah it is honey sweet – and a I know honeydew melon was used in making this, but I don’t think it came from that, but more obvious is a gentle vanilla backbone. Though there is an extra thickness to the dry and very drinkable base that calls actual honey to mind – a nice extra character, mildly syrupy but smoothed by the beer. It is only a slight extra thickness but occasionally does work against the easy drinking nature of the beer. A trade off I guess, it isn’t bad at all, just slightly off being perfectly balanced.

Flavour-wise it rocks a tart raspberry character which helps offset that thicker sweetness – It is tasty and refreshing. The melon is less obvious but there are some clean flavours at the edges which seem to be it working its way in. So, a tasty beer and despite the few oily notes coming through still fairly drinkable.

The base kolsch shows itself mainly as a fluffy hop mouthfeel and light hop oils. The bitterness is low, the rest of the mouthfeel is dry – when it shows itself from below the other ingredients anyway. The hop feels adds a bit of an edge so it is not too syrupy, similarly the dryness helps put the brakes on the sweetness,keeping everything in proportion.

Overall a fairly simple, enjoyable easy drinking beer that doesn’t push its roots much but does use the extra ingredient very well. Not super polished, but it does the job for a beer in the sun. That I drank after summer ended.

Background: I have been seriously enjoying Northern Monk’s varied patrons projects – collaborations with a fairly unusual set of people compared to the standard brewers, so I tend to keep my eyes on the new ones. This one grabbed my eye due to being a Kolsch – an unusual style that doesn’t seem to get much craft beer experimentations. Kolsch is a beer made with ale yeast, but cold conditional like a lager usually creating a nicely hoppy and bitter but easy to drink beer. Slim Pickens make cider and mead and I’m guessing the idea of adding raspberry and honeydew melon to the beer was theirs. Vague also got involved – a magazine maker who I’m guessing were involved in the skateboard image for the label? I guess. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters. Something about modern politics is making me go heavy back into punk listening again. Can’t imagine what….

Northern Monks: Amundsen: Monocromicon: Patrons Project 14.02 (England: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Creamy inch of coffee froth coloured brown head.

Nose: Light tart cherry. Milky coffee. Cocoa dust. Smooth. Cake sponge. Tofu.

Body: Tart cherry sour sweets. Tart black cherry. Condensed cream. Milky chocolate fondue. Tart apple sweets. Sweet grapes, both red and green. Chewy. Vanilla toffee. Plums and figs.

Finish: Tart apple sweets. Twigs. Milky chocolate. Cocoa dust. Tart cherry sour sweets. Slight bitter coffee. Milky.

Conclusion: This is interesting, I spoke in a previous set of notes about tart fruit notes in a beer making them feel slightly light, This has tart cherry sweets notes and tart apple sours notes a plenty, but the base beer is still hugely thick, creamy and sponge style chewy against that. It is a fight of flavours and feel that in the end comes out as a victory for the drinker.

What would be lightness in another beer comes across here as smoothness instead – while chewy and creamy the beer doesn’t feel super weighty because of that smoothing influence. At the base of the flavour is a bitter cocoa take on the imperial stout, a nice robust element so that the jelly sour sweet fruit notes aren’t sickly and artificial feeling due to a bit of bitterness behind them.

It is a wonderful worker of a beer, solid imperial stout bitter cocoa and slight coffee base, giving creamy and sweet thickness that then allows the unusual sour fruit sweet notes have a chance to work, and it is that little twist that makes the beer stand out.

The use of the sour fruit sweets character is great, it doesn’t overwhelm the imperial stout character, it just adds. The base imperial stout shows some dark fruit character already and it takes that and enhances it into a fresher, brighter style.

So, down side ? Well it may not be as heavy beer as some would like, as mentioned it is smoother rather than heavier, but it still packs some weight. That is about all I can call as possible criticism.

It is a great imperial stout, a different imperial stout and a superbly crafted imperial stout. It stands out even in the packed range of high quality imperial stouts as it is so different and yet still awesome. Grab it.

Background: Ok, I love the name, artwork, Death metal style logo and Necronomicon reference in this beer. It is also an imperial stout made with Cherry, Muscovado, cocoa and tonka beans. There was no way I was not buying this beer. It even comes with codes to listen to Nomasta metal tunes. Not heard of Nomasta before, but went to their band-camp page and had a listen while drinking. This was another one grabbed at Independent Spirit. It is also my second time drinking this beer, did it first time without notes and liked it so much I grabbed another can to do notes on.

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