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Chocolate mead anyone?

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TacomaHomeBrew

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Want to try a 1 gallon batch of Chocolate mead, any easy recipes out there that yall had success with?
 

Gamrchick

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I make a Chocolate Cherry mead that I get raves on, but my recipe is for a 5 gallon batch. There are quite a few people who make chocolate meads around here, so I'll let someone else post a tried and true one gallon recipe.

I just wanted to warn you that chocolate meads take a long time to age. One year before you even want to think about bottling and another 6 months (closer to two years) before it hits its stride. The oils take a long time to break down and it is gawd awful bitter in the meantime. When I made my first batch it took the whole first year for me to convince my DB that it was going to be great. Fact is, I even started to doubt it. Now it is one of our favorites and I try to make at lease one batch every year so we stop running out.

Good Luck.

Rebecca
 

Kittyfeet

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I'm also interested in some good proven recipes. In the next few weeks I plan on making a 6 gallon batch of choco mead. Three gallons will be choco with a few vanilla beans (and maybe some dark toasted oak), and three gallons will be soaking in cherries (also with some oak and vanilla beans).

From the recipes around the interwebs, lots of folks use either dutch cocoa or Hersheys cocoa. Not sure how much to add per gallon, though. And the initial ferment is messy and explosive!

Once I found a recipe where a person just brewed plain ol' mead and then put in some Hershey's syrup. Made it clear ultra fast, too. I can't find the recipe anymore, so not sure if this is a better method than with the powder style choco.

Gamr, would you mind giving us a few details on your 5 gallon recipe? We can always scale it down or up to fit our needs.
 

biochemedic

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Gamrchick

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I've made this recipe, and it is excellent, but as gamrchick said, chocolate mead takes a minimum of 2 years before it's really ready, and (I think) benefits from some residual sweetness, so consider backsweetening a little if necessary
I have to agree on the sweetness. I prefer dry meads, in fact none of my meads have a FG over 1.008 except this one. I let this ferment until done (FG 1.000) then backsweeten to 1.012 - 1.014. Less is more when backsweetening. Add a little honey water at a time, take your gravity reading and taste. Granted, I am paranoid about oversweetening...

As far as what chocolate to use, that is a preference thing. I use Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder (1 pound in 5 gallons) but there are some guys here that swear by cacao nibs. I steer clear of actual chocolate bars because there are other ingredients so I don't know what I'm putting in my mead, but others may have had success with them.
 

kc_in_wv

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I've made this recipe, and it is excellent, but as gamrchick said, chocolate mead takes a minimum of 2 years before it's really ready, and (I think) benefits from some residual sweetness, so consider backsweetening a little if necessary
I am planning on a year in the carboy and at least another in the bottle. I had thought of backsweeting some of it with lactose. I initally used Lin/Basswood honey which has a minty taste. For my cocoa I found an organic cocoa at a health food store.

I tasted it after about a month and liked the way it was going. I am not planning on other sampling's until I bottle it. I probably need to shake it up a little again.
 

huesmann

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The Lord Rhys recipe mentions that the oils in the cocoa powder slightly inhibit the yeasties from doing their thing. I'm wondering if it might be a better idea to just make a traditional mead and throw in the cocoa powder in the secondary (or tertiary). Since cocoa powder is essentially non-fermentable, the alcohol the yeast have already produced in secondary should make it easier to draw out the oils and flavors from the cocoa.
 

gilliam

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I also read that the yeast might have a hard time, so when I tried this recipe I added some extra yeast nutrients.

Well, in my case that was totally unnecessary. I set the batch in the evening and I happened to wake during the night. I thought I'd check to see if the fermentation had kicked in. Lo and behold, I had a chocolate fountain!!
The rather firm foam that was created from the cocoa powder had pushed through the water lock and poured down the sides. Really messy, but it smelled nice! :)

Once I had the mess cleaned up and managed to have most of the solid foam dissolve by stirring, it was bubbling away like mad. I've never had a batch that fermented as violently.

I read in another forum that others had had the same experience, so maybe it depends on the kind of cocoa powder used. I don't know.
 

biochemedic

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The Lord Rhys recipe mentions that the oils in the cocoa powder slightly inhibit the yeasties from doing their thing. I'm wondering if it might be a better idea to just make a traditional mead and throw in the cocoa powder in the secondary (or tertiary). Since cocoa powder is essentially non-fermentable, the alcohol the yeast have already produced in secondary should make it easier to draw out the oils and flavors from the cocoa.
I agree with gilliam below, the whole 'cocoa inhibiting fermentation' doesn't seem to be the case if you otherwise manage the fermentation well. I'm not saying you couldn't add the cocoa powder or nibs to secondary, but the former would be very difficult. I think it would be damn near impossible to dissolve cocoa powder in room temp mead, and you'd end up with an aerated mess, and would certainly risk screwing up the mead by oxidation. The nibs would certainly be a better choice for late addition.

I also read that the yeast might have a hard time, so when I tried this recipe I added some extra yeast nutrients.

Well, in my case that was totally unnecessary. I set the batch in the evening and I happened to wake during the night. I thought I'd check to see if the fermentation had kicked in. Lo and behold, I had a chocolate fountain!!
The rather firm foam that was created from the cocoa powder had pushed through the water lock and poured down the sides. Really messy, but it smelled nice! :)

Once I had the mess cleaned up and managed to have most of the solid foam dissolve by stirring, it was bubbling away like mad. I've never had a batch that fermented as violently.

I read in another forum that others had had the same experience, so maybe it depends on the kind of cocoa powder used. I don't know.
Me too, with the cocoa bochet that I just started! In fact, I should have taken pictures...I've never had my blow off (a 1 gal glass jug) overflow before, but it did...foam and cocoa debris flowing out of that thing like lava!
 

huesmann

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you'd end up with an aerated mess, and would certainly risk screwing up the mead by oxidation. The nibs would certainly be a better choice for late addition.
I dunno...when you rack to secondary there's still a lot of outgassing potential, so is stirring it up all that big a deal? All you gotta do is shake it up a little and CO2 will come bubbling out, displacing the O2.
 

biochemedic

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huesmann said:
I dunno...when you rack to secondary there's still a lot of outgassing potential, so is stirring it up all that big a deal? All you gotta do is shake it up a little and CO2 will come bubbling out, displacing the O2.
Yeah I hear what you're saying, but I think you're still underestimating how difficult it is to get cocoa powder into solution.

I did think of one alternative if you were bent on adding powder, and doing it in secondary: you could dissolve the cocoa beforehand in heated water and then add the cooled slurry to the secondary as you rack onto it.
 

TheBrewingMedic

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There are a bunch of chocolate threads going on so forgive me if this has already been mentioned. assuming y"all are using a good quality pure cocoa powder and not swiss miss hot chocolate (im sure someone has, we all know it). I have read a bunch of posts about having issues with getting the powder to incorporate with room temp must and such. What would be the problem with adding it before the must is a must? figure out how much you want in it, take some of your water JUST THE WATER nothing else in it yet, bring it to a boil, add the cocoa powder, remove from the heat and wisk the bajebus out of it, effectively disolving the cocoa thoroughly and starting a little bit of aeration, let it cool down to a reasonable temp to add honey and continue on with your normally prefered process
 

huesmann

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There are a bunch of chocolate threads going on so forgive me if this has already been mentioned. assuming y"all are using a good quality pure cocoa powder and not swiss miss hot chocolate (im sure someone has, we all know it). I have read a bunch of posts about having issues with getting the powder to incorporate with room temp must and such. What would be the problem with adding it before the must is a must? figure out how much you want in it, take some of your water JUST THE WATER nothing else in it yet, bring it to a boil, add the cocoa powder, remove from the heat and wisk the bajebus out of it, effectively disolving the cocoa thoroughly and starting a little bit of aeration, let it cool down to a reasonable temp to add honey and continue on with your normally prefered process
That could work--you're essentially creating a cocoa slurry to use as the water in your must?

The other comment I have is this: cocoa is not really soluble. You can create a slurry and some of the oils/alkalloids can dissolve into water, but the powder itself will eventually settle out, no matter how hard you beat it.
 

TheBrewingMedic

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Never had much interest in a chocolate mead before, but now curious how this will work, I might have to add it to the list after the maple bourbon experiments
 

Goblet

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I like the idea of the cocoa slurry. Thanks! I've got a bochet near the end of primary, plus I've got some PB2 peanut butter powder... caramel peanut butter and chocolate? I think I can spare a gallon of the bochet to try making a bit of candy bar mead.
 

biochemedic

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That could work--you're essentially creating a cocoa slurry to use as the water in your must?

The other comment I have is this: cocoa is not really soluble. You can create a slurry and some of the oils/alkalloids can dissolve into water, but the powder itself will eventually settle out, no matter how hard you beat it.
#1: yes, though in my post I was referring to adding cocoa powder to secondary. The technique would surely work too if you were trying to do a cocoa mead using a no-heat 'mix and stir' technique.

#2: yes again...there is a very thick lees in a cocoa mead, and most of it its 'spent' cocoa powder.
 

Booyacht

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Mine took off! Started this last night. Here are my notes:

6-5-13 Chocolate Mead, AKA Liquid Panty Remover. Added 1 gal spring water to ferm bucket. Poured in 12 lb clover honey. Heated a pot of water on stove and poured in 16 ounce by weight of Hershey natural unsweetened cocoa powder, mixed very well. Added cocoa mixture to ferm bucket. Squeezed in the juice of 2 oranges. Added nutrient and energizer. Stirred with drill for 5 minutes. Filled to 3 gal with spring water. Pitched k1v1116 yeast after hydrating for 15 min in 105 degree spring water. OG is 1150. Tastes amazing, obviously.
6-6-13 bubbling like mad. Aerated. SG of 1145.
 
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I make a Chocolate Cherry mead that I get raves on, but my recipe is for a 5 gallon batch. There are quite a few people who make chocolate meads around here, so I'll let someone else post a tried and true one gallon recipe.

I just wanted to warn you that chocolate meads take a long time to age. One year before you even want to think about bottling and another 6 months (closer to two years) before it hits its stride. The oils take a long time to break down and it is gawd awful bitter in the meantime. When I made my first batch it took the whole first year for me to convince my DB that it was going to be great. Fact is, I even started to doubt it. Now it is one of our favorites and I try to make at lease one batch every year so we stop running out.

Good Luck.

Rebecca
What is the recipe?
 

foolsgold

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I know I'm kicking an old thread here but does anyone have any experience using cocoa nibs instead of the powder? I am trying to find information on using NIBS and I am having the hardest time finding anything :confused::confused:
 

bernardsmith

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I have used nibs in a number of recipes and the flavor is very -um - nuanced -... You certainly want to roast the nibs and not use them raw. But be that as it may , in my opinion, you don't get a great deal of chocolate flavor from the nibs (admittedly, I have never use pounds of nibs in a gallon of mead or wine (orange wine ) but even using , say 7 oz of nibs will not result in a rich chocolate flavor... Perhaps a better option - and this is not as easy as it sounds - is to use cocoa powder.
What I tend to do is make the cocoa (boil the water etc) and add the cooled cocoa to the fermenter. That cocoa will /must drop out of suspension but it takes time and there seems to be far more flavor from the cocoa than the nibs. Now, I assume that if I ground the nibs into flour it would have the same impact...
Alternatively, you may want to experiment (I have not yet) with either using vodka to extract the chocolate flavor from the nibs and adding the vodka-chocolate to your mead (I make a version of kahlua using nibs and coffee that my wife really likes but have not yet tried to add the alcohol extracted flavor to my meads) - or simply using chocolate extract which may be available from your LHBS...
 

ThatChefGuy

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I have started my first batch of chocolate mead this morning. Its a big commitment with the waiting time. I expected fermentation to start around 3 days in, quite surprised to see it kicking off 30 mins in. If only the yeasties could metabolise the oils faster. All goes well I shall do this on a larger scale next time around.
 

ThatChefGuy

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After 7 days the SG has gone to 0.998. That seems like Avery rapid dropto me,fermentation pretty much complete. I used lord Rhys recipe. Should I rack to secondary with more honey? I think I should, it just seems like a very fast fermentation.....
 

CharlesBStanley

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I'm new to mead making. Started a batch of Chocolate Mead 13 days ago. It started bubbling within the first 12 hours. Was bubbling fast for days. Now it is slower but still going well. Being new to this, I understand that many people do not bottle for a year and then age one or two years more. I'm not sure if I should leave the mead in the carboy with the air lock on it for the entire first year. Is that what some of you are doing, or are you transferring the mead to another carboy after the fermentation stops? By the way, the Chocolate I'm using is Nestle Toll house Cocoa (100% Pure Cocoa).
 

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I think you will want to rack (transfer) the mead off the gross lees after the active fermentation has slowed to a crawl (at a gravity of around 1.005) but here's the problem: if you add the cocoa in the primary then when you rack you will lose some of the cocoa. Moreover, it takes water (or low alcohol mead) much longer to extract the flavor and color etc from nuts and fruit - - - and cocoa than it does higher ABV alcohol so adding the cocoa to the secondary might be a better option. It's an option you can still do. But if you do you might want to consider adding Dutch cocoa. It is made differently from US cocoa. Dutch cocoa has a higher pH than US made cocoa (it is more alkaline)

The idea that it takes "years" to make a mead is I think a holdover from the time when folk failed to provide sufficient nutrition for the yeast and so had to wait months and months for the honey to fully ferment while at the same time fermenting high ABV meads at high temperatures which produced all kinds of fusels which would take many months to dissipate. My meads are ready to drink in six months , sometimes in half that time.

With chocolate what I have been doing is using vodka to make extracts and that takes about a week but I am still experimenting with the amount of extract (ounces of extract) per gallon. (I don't have my notes handy but I think I use about 1 pint of vodka with about 4 ounces of roasted nibs and after 7 days I strain the nibs from the extract. I add the extract to the secondary and there is nothing to "clear".
 

AkTom

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I've been thinking about a chocolate mead for a while. So I threw one together tonight.
1 gallon Chocolate Mead
3# honey
1.5 oz powdered cocoa
1/4 teaspoon each yeast energizer and nutrient
water to 1 gallon
Shake like crazy
Duh, didn't leave room for yeast, dump into 2 gallon bucket. Will primary in bucket and rack to carboy when fermentation is about done.
Add yeast ( I use 1 Tablespoon bread yeast plus 1 Tablespoon sugar in 1 cup of 100* water, let sit 15 minutes)
OG 1.115
Now for some serious patience.
Cheers
 

Kc0gvv

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New to the whole mead making in general and the chocolate mead is my second batch. I am taking The storm the castle basic recipe and added 3oz of cocoa powder to it before adding the yeast. And shook for 5 minutes. It started bubbling within 24 hrs and actually blew out the air lock within the second 24 hrs. I cleaned up that mess and and now 4 days in it has stopped bubbling and there is about 1 inch of sediment in the bottom. My question. Is this ok? The first batch bubbled for a little over 2 weeks before it stopped. Thanks for any info.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Kc0gvy - and welcome.
You want to check the specific gravity with your hydrometer. It's possible that your yeast has eaten all the sugar that was in your must - so fermentation is finished. It's possible that the fermentation has stalled, so you may want to restart it. It's possible that nothing has happened except that the CO2 is escaping through a route other than through your airlock. The only way to know what is going on is to check the gravity
 

Kc0gvv

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Bernardsmith, thanks for the quick reply. I just ordered one today but I might be able to borrow one before it comes in. What specific gravity should I be looking for?
 

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You want to look for the gravity the wine is at. If it is close to 1.000 then that means all the sugar has been converted to alcohol and CO2. If it is significantly above this then you want to see if the gravity is nevertheless dropping slowly or has stalled. If it is above 1.000 and it is stable then the yeast have stopped working. That may or may not be something you want to fix - If the gravity is at 1.010 or lower then this may be acceptably sweet. If the wine is too sweet then you will want to find a way to restart the fermentation. But you can cross that bridge if you come to it.
 

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I am currently making a gallon chocolate bouchet. I cooked 2 lbs of a local raw honey for about 3 hours in my slow cooker (did not want to burn the honey as that can result in bitter flavors) - long enough to turn the raw honey quite dark - and I added a bar of Lindt dark chocolate (65% cocoa) broken up into little pieces. The spring water I added to the honey in the slow cooker (about 3 pints ) became hot enough to melt the chocolate when I poured the water and honey mixture into my fermenting bucket. I then topped up the must with the remaining 5 pints of spring water. When the must was cool enough added 1 T of Fermaid O, rehydrated and pitched QA 23 yeast and placed the bucket in a warm water bath heated with an aquarium heater set at 78 F , then covered the bath with a thick towel to preserve the heat. It's been fermenting since 3/14. Hoping to bottle this in about a month or so with the addition of some vanilla extract I've made.
 

buckhorn

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bernardsmith - that sounds good. Have you made this recipe/process before or are you just in the experiment and try it stage? Just curious if you have results to reference, or if I need to watch for your progress.
I'd like to try this myself when I have a spare jug to use (too many ideas I want to try and not enough 1 gal. jugs.)
 

thm57

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I'm doing something similar right now, a black forest cake bochet. I caramelized the honey for 30 min. in a pot, added water and 1 oz of unsweetened baker's chocolate then boiled for 20 min. Once that cooled I added black cherry juice and 71B yeast. That fermented for 5 days before hitting 1.01 and slowing down. Also going to add 2 vanilla beans in secondary.
 

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I stumbled on this thread looking for ideas. I know it's old, but figured I'd share what I know about chocolate from the perspective of a chocolate maker.

First, powder is created by grinding the nibs to chocolate liquor (think, unsweetened baking chocolate) then thrown into a hydraulic press to press the cocoa butter out. This process is not perfect and even under the best industrial conditions, you'll be leaving approximately 10% behind. Cocoa powder strives to be solely the cocoa solids, which give chocolate its flavor.

Cocoa nibs are generally created by cracking and winnowing cocoa beans. The cocoa beans have a paper thin husk that is very bitter and not good to eat. So after roasting (or skipping the roasting step for raw) the beans are cracked. The winnowing process is separating the cocoa nibs from the now free husk pieces, leaving you with just the cocoa bean pieces. These are generally approximately 50% cocoa butter by weight, which is why using nibs in brewing tends to be difficult at best; unless used during a boil where the cb can be melted

If you're trying to use cocoa nibs so you can control the aromatics and flavor profile of the chocolate, you will be best to roast the nibs and grind them into a thick paste. This can be very hard on most equipment. Best things I've seen that do this well is the Champion Juicer, or a wet grinder. If you have a peanut butter grinder, that will work as well. What happens here is the cocoa butter liquefies due to the friction created by the grinding and will give you a very coarse cocoa liquor. If you have the ability to, you can grind this down to refine further. While in a liquid state, you can attempt to mix this into hot water. Hot, but not boiling; just needs to keep the cocoa butter from solidifying. Once thoroughly mixed, the cocoa butter oils will likely rise to the surface and solidify.

Something to note about commercial cocoa powders; these generally are ok for baking, but not the best beans to use for cocoa flavor as they're the rejected beans (generally speaking) from chocolate production. Cocoa butter is needed in most cases, and would then be extracted from these reject beans so as to waste little to nothing. A premium producer may seek out and make a premium grade cocoa powder from normal grade beans, but in most cases these tend to have much higher fat contents sometimes 20% or more.

Boiling or getting hot water to mix cocoa powder or an unsweetened baking chocolate would be ideal. Cocoa solids because they are dried out, are quite hygroscopic, which is why it's sometimes difficult to fully soak the cocoa powder making it a messy endeavor. The solids will grab onto water and hold onto it, making a lot of the surrouding particles clump together. Breaking these clumps up, or breaking through so that the powder does more than just sit on top takes some coaxing and mixing to get done right.

Chocolate bars should only be used if you know and really trust the maker of the bars. Some premium bars can be had with 100% cocoa content (refined chocolate liquor) or 2-ingredient bars with just sugar and cocoa beans. All other ingredients that you'll want to watch for that can taint the mead or lend flavors you're not trying for include milk, butter, vanilla beans, emulsifiers (lecithin, pbpr, etc) and in some cases various spices. I almost forgot to mention, alkalizers. Dutch process cocoa powder and a lot of milk chocolates, and even some dark chocolates tend to be processed with alkalizers to neutralize the acids in the cocoa. Most commonly this is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) Which may or may not be desired in your mead.

To figure out how much you would need, you need to keep in mind that ~50% of the nibs by weight are cocoa butter and ~10% of Hershey's natural cocoa powder is cocoa butter. So if a recipe such as the one posted earlier on this thread asks for 16oz of cocoa powder, you would need to count on needing 32oz of cocoa nibs or baking chocolate.

If you're using a chocolate bar, you should only be using a dark chocolate which will have a percentage rating. That percentage is the amount of cocoa product that's there. Because of the way labeling is, that does not mean that's the amount of cocoa solids, there can and usually is added cocoa butter to make the chocolate easier to work with. Some companies will tell you what that ratio is, some wont. Assuming it's a 2-ingredient bar, the remainder of the percentage is going to be sugar. So, using a finished chocolate bar is going to be more confusing and will be trial and error from manufacturer to manufacturer. But as a starting point, you'll again, need to at least double the cocoa solid content to what is called for in powder. So a 2oz bar that is 70% chocolate would require 22.85 bars or 48.7oz to approximate 16 oz of powder.

I'll likely be trying this using some fresh nibs, right out of the roaster and refined into a fine paste, then put into some hot water, where the chocolate liquor and water will make up the must. I'll keep you informed of how that goes if you're interested. :)

I hope this helps someone :)
 
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