Historical Beer: Kentucky Common "Kiss Yer Cousin" Rye Kentucky Common Ale

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Revvy

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Recipe Type
All Grain
Yeast
US 05 (or any Amercian Ale yeast)
Batch Size (Gallons)
5
Original Gravity
1.046
Final Gravity
1.010
Boiling Time (Minutes)
60
IBU
25
Color
11
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
30
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
no
Additional Fermentation
no
Tasting Notes
Extremely Smooth.
This is my take on the lost Kentucky Common Style of ales. It is heavily inspired by O'Daniel's research into the style and his original recipe- O'Daniel's Kentucky Common 1902, conversations with him via pm, and my own research. Both our recipes were influenced highly by American handy-book of the brewing, malting and auxiliary trades By Robert Wahl, Max Henius.

The Basics...

In the area around Louisville, Kentucky, in the years before Prohibition, a distinctive style of dark ale was popular. Referred to at the time as Common Beer, a term which was also used in other areas to refer to Cream Ale and other beers, or sometimes as Dark Cream Common, it is now generally called Kentucky Common, the term used in the Wahl-Henius Handy Book.

Kentucky Common was made with was usually made with about 75% malt and 25% corn grits or sugar. The grist included 1 to 2% black malt and sometimes also 1 to 2% crystal malt per barrel. Also, a small amount of brewers caramel was sometimes used.

Like cream ale, it was consumed fresh, usually as draft beer. In 1913 it was estimated that 80% of the beer consumed in Louisville was of this type.

Although now largely a defunct and forgotten beer style, it is occassionally brewed by American microbreweries, including the New Albanian Brewing Company in New Albany, Indiana.
My version is greatly influenced by the discussion about the style here. The idea that perhaps Kentucky Commons owed a lot to the grainbills of moonshiners intrigued me. My vision of this ale is that it is the beer that the 'shiners might have made and drank to slake their thirsts while working down in the hidden hollers making their illicit spirits.

And rather than using a complicated grainbill, they just used the same stuff they would for moonshine, namely barley, corn and rye.

My version of the KC is NOT SOURED, some readings mention that KCs were soured, but even discussing it with O'daniel, I believe that the majority of the versions were not soured, and those that were soured, was so more because of poor brewing sanitzation practices than intent. Or perhaps they brewed sour because they were used to brewing sour mashes. Though in my pretend fantasy about this beer, it wouldn't be too far fetched to think perhaps some moonshiners ran off 6 gallons of their sour mash, boiled and hopped it like beer and pitched yeast.

There is a good discussion of KC's and sourness in this thread.

One could sour this if they wanted or add in some aromatic or acid malt but I think the Rye alone lends a slight tart crispness to it.

But I personally like it this way, and don't see me ever souring it.

This is an amazingly smooth sipper, at only 4.7% ABV. It goes down extremely smooth, I think due to the corn which thins out the body a bit. It's a beer that is very quaffable- I start drinking it, and before I realize it, I've downed a second or third one.

The beer has a dark reddish color to it, with a fairly thick head that lingers for a bit, and leaves lovely lacing on the glass.

To me the rye gives it a pleasing aroma and a sort of "peppery" crispness to the flavor.

This has rapidly become my favorite recipe. It's the first one that I think I've truly, hit it out of the park on the first try. I really can see no way that I would want to tweak or change any aspect of this recipe, it is exactly what I envisioned it to be.

"Kiss Yer Cousin" Rye Kentucky Common Ale



5 gallons.

Grain

4.5# Pale Malt 2-row
2.25# Flaked Maize
1# Flaked Rye
2 oz Black Patent Malt
2 oz Crystal/Caramel 120L

Hops

.85 oz Cluster (7.% aau) @60

Yeast

1 Packet US-05 (any American Ale yeast can be substituted)
You can also do this as a true common/steam beer and pitch a lager yeast (I've used saflager) at room temps, much how California Commons like Anchor Steam are brewed. Dec 2014 update I'm going to suggest that everyone at some point try this as a steam beer...Lager yeast at room temp without lagering. I just kegged it, and even uncarbed it has an amazing flavor... steam beers, have an "off" flavor that is not as clean as a properly brewed lager...taste anchor steam and you'll get it, especially if you compare it to Anchor Lager. There's definitely a funkiness about it... something unique... Try it with this beer. It my be the permanent way I brew this beer from now on... I'll keep you posted...and if it works out, I may change the official yeast to saflager for this beer. If you try it this way, as a steam beer...especially if you've brewed it with ale yeast before and can compare it, I would love you opinion.

Single Infusion, LIGHT body, batch sparge.

Mash Temp 148 degrees
Sparge Temp 168 degrees

(I primed this beer with table sugar rather than corn sugar.)

 

cuttsjp

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This sounds awesome! I love historical brews and good session ales, and I've been really intrigued about trying to make a good "American mild" of sorts. I'll have to give this a shot early in 2012!
 

nate_ive

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Brewing this today, but the LHBS only had .75lb of flaked rye so I subbed in some flaked rice. I'm going to try this as a steam beer, s-23 at ale fermentation temps.
 

NJstout

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One could sour this if they wanted or add in some melanoidin or acid malt but I think the Rye alone lends a slight tart crispness to it.

But I personally like it this way, and don't see me ever souring it.
Melanoidin doesnt sour, its like a concentrated munich
 
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Revvy

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Melanoidin doesnt sour, its like a concentrated munich
OOPS, good catch, I meant aromatic. It doesn't sour , but I find it lends a back of the throat tartness to many beers. It seems to come out it "redder" beers such as Malticulous's Mojave Red Ale. I once got the owner of my lhbs drunk sampling my beers BEFORE he filled my grain bill and he doubled up on it, and it had a bit of a pucker-ness to it.

I corrected my original post.
 

jonmohno

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This sounds like a fun beer to make, i didnt read through it all but why the black malt?Oh, ok i just skimmed through,its a Kentucky dark cream ale. And what are a few hops would you might think would make a good sub for Cluster? What temps did you ferment this at?
 

cuttsjp

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Kay Revvy, I'm fixin' to brew this one up sometime this week, most likely on Friday or Saturday. Can't wait! I'm using this batch to build up a yeast cake of the new WLP250 Rebel Brewer strain for an American barleywine/bitter partigyle brew day.
 
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Kay Revvy, I'm fixin' to brew this one up sometime this week, most likely on Friday or Saturday. Can't wait! I'm using this batch to build up a yeast cake of the new WLP250 Rebel Brewer strain for an American barleywine/bitter partigyle brew day.
Awesome. Can't wait to hear how it goes. I've got to brew this one again, soon. I think I might have a half dozen left.

Will this make your blog???
 

DanaDana

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My mouth is watering already!
What would you classify this beer as if you had to though? A cali-common or do you think it would fall under the rye beer category with a small portion of rye?
 

cascades

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Hey there, new guy here.

This one looked great to me too so I gave it a shot. I'm mashing as I type. Quick question; do you think I could trim the fermentation down to 2 weeks? I noticed you let it go for 30 days. How much do you think that would change the final outcome?

Thanks for the great recipe!
 

FarmBoy530

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Your going to want to let it go till its done. After primary is finished put it in the 2nd and let it go a week. It should be starting to clean up so taste it if you want. If your happy with it then there ya go. However it will not be clearing up yet and more time in the 2ndary will make the beer much better. Even beers that you want to drink fresh and young you still want to age past that "Green" tasting phase. I like 5 or 6 weeks after 2ndary even on fresh young beers. I can't wait to try this one, maybe in a couple weeks!
 

KYB

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Your going to want to let it go till its done. After primary is finished put it in the 2nd and let it go a week. It should be starting to clean up so taste it if you want. If your happy with it then there ya go. However it will not be clearing up yet and more time in the 2ndary will make the beer much better. Even beers that you want to drink fresh and young you still want to age past that "Green" tasting phase. I like 5 or 6 weeks after 2ndary even on fresh young beers. I can't wait to try this one, maybe in a couple weeks!
Completely false. If brewed correctly, once it's done fermenting, it's good to go - unless you are concerned with clarity, which I am not, and being cloudy will not hurt the flavor. Sure it can improve with more time, but it shouldn't be by much. Any "green" flavors are off flavors from something with your process. I've had my Kentucky Common grains to glass in 11 days, tasting great. That being said, I usually keg mine up after 2 weeks, maybe 3 if fermented real cool (around 60, so it's slower).

The rye sounds interesting. I appreciate the credit/mention/link at the beginning.
 
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The link to the book is interesting. I've done a little research, and found a few places that mentioned souring the mash, and quite a few that didn't mention anything about souring. Most of what I read was that these beers were made with wild yeasts, so I'm wondering if the beer was sour, but not because of a sour mash.

I should post my recipe of my Sour Mash Kentucky Common.
 

KYB

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The link to the book is interesting. I've done a little research, and found a few places that mentioned souring the mash, and quite a few that didn't mention anything about souring. Most of what I read was that these beers were made with wild yeasts, so I'm wondering if the beer was sour, but not because of a sour mash.

I should post my recipe of my Sour Mash Kentucky Common.
The soured versions were apparently "2% lactobacillus in the yeast". I started off by experimenting with sour mashes instead because it was something different, and honestly I don't know what the 2% is referring to - cell count, ml, or what. I prefer clean versions of the beer though. The sour batches were fine, but impossible to be consistent due to variances of bugs on the grain. The sources that mention souring say "some versions were soured", so I believe that was not typical of the style, especially since it does not mention souring in the 1902 brewing book.
 
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One book that I read said that until after the Civil War, all beers in the US were fermented with wild yeasts. It went on to say that it was hard for a new brewery to brew a drinkable beer for quite some time. They had to brew batch after batch to get the right yeast, and then they would inoculate the new batches. Of course, they didn't know about yeast back then, but they new enough to use the good beer to make more good beer. It does stand to reason that the yeast could have contained some lacto, since it's what sours the mash. If they were brewing the beer in the same place that they distilled their whiskey, it could have very easily gotten into the unfermented wort.

We can't speak to someone who actually drank the beer from that time, so we'll never know if it was sour. But it's still interesting to try. I may have to make my KC again using lacto, and not souring the mash.

BTW, my SMKC won third place in our informal club competition. I'm happy with that.
 

FarmBoy530

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I'm sorry but there is nothing false about my statement. Every beer has a time when its ready. I have never brewed this beer but all I'm saying is after 2 weeks, it may be aged properly. In most beers at 2 or 3 weeks and forced carbed I can tast the water, and the beer flavor (green tasting). After a few weeks in the bottle of keg these 2 flavors mend and start to taste like beer. One smooth flavor. If this beer blossoms in 2 weeks (or 11 days) That's really great and I cant wait to try it. Point being its done when its done and no you cant rush it. The reason we use a 2ndary is to let the yeast consume off flavors THEY produce while fermenting, not to clear up mistakes in the brewing process. So please, if I have really stated any false information lets talk about it. Don't just mention its false and move on with out correcting it. And with cloudy beer you do get a yeast flavor. Mostly because you have yeast, protein, and tannins still floating around. IMO cleaning up in a 2ndary will give you the best beer you can brew. I'm not after good or grate. I'm going for as good or great as I can possibly make it. For me that means a 2ndary. I understand if you disagree. Cheers :mug:
 
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This thread isn't meant to be another discussion of conditioning times/secondaries/ no secondaries/long primaries, that's covered so much through this forum that it doesn't need to be brought up here. I suggest that if you want to know what many of us do and why, that you read THIS thread, it's become the "uber discussion" on this topic thread, and discuss it there, not here.

To Secondary or Not? John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff Weigh In .

Specific questions about the grainbill, or the history of the style, what this should be categorized as, or whether it's soured or not are great, but we do not need to fill this thread with ANOTHER debate about how long folks want to go from grain to glass, with their beers.

As most folks on here must know by now, I leave 99% of my beers in primary for a month. If I do chose to secondary a beer, I usually move it to a secondary around two weeks depending on the gravity, if it's done or not, and secondary could be anywhere from two weeks to 4 years depending on the beer.

People who ask "how long do you ferment x beer for?" Have to realize that we ferment a beer for as long as it needs to ferment, i.e how long it takes for the yeast to eat the all the fermentable sugars in a recipe and excrete alcohol, and for most beers that is a week to 10 days or so. After that time when the beer has reached terminal gravity, fermentation is complete, anything else that is done to the beer before bottling, meaning whether you rack to secondary or month + primary (like I do) is CONDITIONING. And you the brewer have to decide how you want to proceed. It's going to be your choice, if you want to rush it after 2 weeks, that's your beer, if you want to secondary, that's your choice as well, but if you want to re-create the beer as mine tastes, then follow what I did, leave the beer a month then bottle it.

But can we move any discussions about the process of conditioning off this thread? My answer to cascades question, is that I leave my beer alone for a month and bottle. I pitch yeast and come back 4 weeks later. As shown in the thread I posted in here, and about 5,000 other places on here, I personally think it makes for clearer, better tasting beer, then when I used to secondary. But you have to make up your own mind, and there's plenty of threads on this forum already discussion that.

I'd rather we not do it here.

I'm really enjoying the discussion with you and O'daniel, homebeerbrewer, most of those discussions with him, when I was formulating my recipe came through PM.

I think you really need to post your recipe as well, HBB, I think the more of us who have recipes for this style online, I think the more we can get more people turned onto this style and maybe more folks doing more research and contributing to the scant body of knowledge about this beer and other lost styles in general.

I'm contemplating brewing a batch of this as a lager this winter, I'm setting up my a ghetto lager chest on my GF's unheated sunporch- I usually try to brew lagers this time of year, since I don't have a dedicate freezer/fridge to lager in, and I take advantage of the winter conditions. I think I've drank the entire batch of this beer and am still jonesing for some, but I wonder how it would taste as a clean lager.

Any ideas on a good lager yeast to use?
 
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My mouth is watering already!
What would you classify this beer as if you had to though? A cali-common or do you think it would fall under the rye beer category with a small portion of rye?
Sorry I missed this.

It's actually an interesting question. I have a brew buddy who is a master BJCP judge and he actually had to judge one in a comp recently (He also really really loves this beer) it was entered into category 23 which states,

Historical, traditional or indigenous beers (e.g., Louvain Peetermann, Sahti, vatted Porter with Brettanomyces, Colonial Spruce or Juniper beers, Kvass, Grätzer)
The cool thing he said way, was that the brewer who entered requested that it be judged solely as a Kentucky Common, on it's own merits following what info was out there (Probably a lot of O'daniel's info ;)) The head judge provided the info to the judges doing that category.

As you can see from where I placed this recipe, I followed O'daniel's lead and placed it in the American Ale category. Though if I were to enter a contest with this, (which my judge friend says I should) I'd follow the lead of the guy that entered his, and enter it into category 23 with the caveat that it be judges against the info for that style.

It's really NOT a Cali common, that is an entirely separate beer style. It's similar, but the biggest difference is that the Cali survived and the KC faded away. I bet though that had KC been ressurrected like the cali common commercially, that there would a style of beer called the "Common" and regional varieties would just all be lumped into it.
 

DanaDana

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Thanks for the follow up on the Revvy. Making this beer right now, about 10 minutes left before boil and then we hope for the best! I couldn't find flaked rye at my LHBS so I picked up standard rye and did my own little cereal mash (not sure if it even called for one). But I boiled it like a porridge for an hour, then plopped it into my mash.
 
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Thanks for the follow up on the Revvy. Making this beer right now, about 10 minutes left before boil and then we hope for the best! I couldn't find flaked rye at my LHBS so I picked up standard rye and did my own little cereal mash (not sure if it even called for one). But I boiled it like a porridge for an hour, then plopped it into my mash.
Well you probably did it more authentically than I did. They probably didn't have flaked rye in 1910 either, I don't think.

Let me know how it turns out.
 

KYB

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Sorry I missed this.

It's actually an interesting question. I have a brew buddy who is a master BJCP judge and he actually had to judge one in a comp recently (He also really really loves this beer) it was entered into category 23 which states,



The cool thing he said way, was that the brewer who entered requested that it be judged solely as a Kentucky Common, on it's own merits following what info was out there (Probably a lot of O'daniel's info ;)) The head judge provided the info to the judges doing that category.

As you can see from where I placed this recipe, I followed O'daniel's lead and placed it in the American Ale category. Though if I were to enter a contest with this, (which my judge friend says I should) I'd follow the lead of the guy that entered his, and enter it into category 23 with the caveat that it be judges against the info for that style.

It's really NOT a Cali common, that is an entirely separate beer style. It's similar, but the biggest difference is that the Cali survived and the KC faded away. I bet though that had KC been ressurrected like the cali common commercially, that there would a style of beer called the "Common" and regional varieties would just all be lumped into it.
Yea I would, and plan on, entering it as a Specialty Beer. I was going to do my last batch, but we drank it up in no time. I believe I read (I'll have to see if I have a backup of my info/research) that this beer was an alternative to lagers, because refrigeration was very expensive, and lager yeast was not used. That is partially why I chose American Ale. As for you using a lager yeast, I'm sure it would turn out great. Like I've said many times, I like to ferment mine near 60 if possible. Takes longer but is very clean and crisp, approaching lager characteristics. The book actually says to pitch the yeast at 60*F, so I assume they tried to ferment it cool.
 

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I am trying to put together a beer that my rye whiskey loving uncle will enjoy. Is this in anyway comparable to that sort of taste? Revvy, your notion of a rye maker taking a 5 gallon sample to boil and hop is kind of what intrigues me most.
 

FarmBoy530

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Reevy, I am sorry for going off on a tangent about primary 2ndary ect.... That really wasn't my point nor was it the right place to do so. However it doesn't sit well with me that in this forum people say something like "completely false" and move on. That is not how people learn and my real point was let your beer age until its done, never rush it. Nothing more. The secondary issue was truly irrelevant.
 
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No problem! I just know it could have spiraled into taking over the thread.

By the way. My beer judge buddy Bill told me on Sunday that he took a couple bottles of this to share with some other judges at a planning meeting for an upcoming contest, and folks raved about this beer. I got to brew it again soon. I'm brewing next week and I'm torn between brewing this or an English Mild....
 

FarmBoy530

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If you made an american mild you could get both grain bills and repitch rinsed yeast!
 

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Im about to use the white labs San Diago ale yeas for a golden rye ale, maybe I'll repitch and make this in a week! if the golden rye turns out good, I'll shoot you the recipe!
 

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Might just be the picture, but that looks considerably darker than 11SRM .. looks almost like a porter.
 

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After 1 month in the primary, I just switched this to a keg for a festival o Saturday. OMG! This is fantastic. Can taste the corn (as you can imagine), but the Rye smooths it out. Thanks for posting this recipe. I will def make this again.
 

xxdurhamxx

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Revvy you wouldn't happen to have a partial mash or extract with specialty grains recipe version of this would you? Would love to try this out but just don't have the equipment for all grain at the moment. I have done quite a few partial mashes however so if it could be scaled down to something along those lines I think I could certainly handle it.
 

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Wow, my first post and it seemed to have ruffled some feathers. That certainly wasn't my intention. Just for the sake of clarity regarding my original question, I have read a lot about secondary vs primary and have drawn my own conclusions. It's a deep subject with lots of information and many experts with numerous conclusions. My question was not meant to delve into that issue in general but rather how a change in procedure from this original recipe would effect this recipe in particular. The reason I chose to post in this thread as opposed to posting in the primary vs secondary thread was because the information I was seeking was only relevant as it pertains to this recipe. It seems reasonable to me. Very sorry if I was unclear initially. Thank you for your input everyone. Extremely interesting thread. Peace, happy brewing to all.
 

FarmBoy530

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I would again say, your beer is done when its done. People try to fit beer making into their schedule when really you have to work around it. Giving it a little time will almost never hurt it, pulling it to early will, IMO. You just need to taste it and if you like it in 2 weeks then bottle it (or drink it). It probably wont taste like the original that sits for an extra 15 days after that. That extra time will really make a clean beer.
 

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I brewed O'Daniel's Kentucky common and it was excellent. I hadn't seen this thread, but it will surely go into rotation. Thanks Revvy for the recipe.
 

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Revvy said:
Awesome Dana, let me know how it's received on Saturday!!!

:mug:
Went to the fest yesterday. Although I didn't get a prize since they only awarded 1st place, or a legit score (was a bit of a informal competition) it was well received by attendees. Everyone said good flavor, nice finish and no aftertaste. Quite sessionable!
Just what I was going for. This recipe will be one I keep on hand to make at least once a year.
 

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"The curse of the Kentucky Common"
Oh no, this beer went from being delicious and exciting to being the bane of my mid-week. I went to bottle up some bottle from the keg for a competition in a few weeks and I found that my father had thrown away a box with all of my pour spouts and tubing! (it was at his house) At least it is under the keg and on pressure.
ell I made 10 gallons so I figured I would bottle up the other carboy I had. I bottled it all before I tasted it, and I have some Belgian yeast mixed in to that half batch. Its not an infection, because it is smooth and not unpleasant, but it was not the character the keg had. More of a corn/rye saison? (does that even exist??).
I can't wait to puy some more tubing to get the easy drinking version back!
 

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Has anyone tried to this beer on a nitro faucet? I need to fill that gap in my pipeline and have been looking for something other than your standard milk, dry, or chocolate stout. Plus a nice crisp session beer is always nice to have once it starts warming up.
 

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