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Beer Blotter’s Guide to Drinking Beer and Watching the World Cup

The biggest dance there is.

Friday June 11th marks the first day of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.  The ultimate competition in the world’s game.  The pinnacle of all beautiful dances.  The most watched sporting event on Earth.  Yeah that’s right, we are talking about the month-long soccer tournament that happens only once every four years.  32 nations competing for a place in history.

On July 11th, after finishing in the top two of the group stage, then going unbeaten through the knockout stage, the best soccer team in the world will raise the World Cup Trophy, and along the way, we will raise our glasses and cheer along.

For the biggest soccer fans out there, like myself, nothing else will matter from June 11 to July 11.  All normal activities, sleep included, will cease.  To borrow from one of Seattle’s greatest soccer pubs, The George and Dragon, “Please do not plan weddings, births or vacations June 11 to July 11″.  The Olympics is really the only other sporting event that would rival it for supremacy, but in this writers opinion, it’s not even in the same ballpark, or should I say pitch.

For all of us lucky West Coasters, the first game of the day, at least during the group stages, begins at 4:30 am.  The second game is at 7:00 am, and the last, 11:30 am.  My plan is to watch the first, and a large majority of the second each weekday before leaving for work.  Of course, this will require either a large bit of rearranging of my evening schedule to accommodate an earlier bedtime, or, more likely, a pretty serious lack of sleep.  A small price to pay for the love of the game.

Yeah, the soccer is going to be great, but here at Beer Blotter, we need beer too.  Believe it or not, some local bars will be opening in time for the 4:30 and/or 7:00 games.  For those opening for the 4:30 matches, alcohol cannot be served legally until 6:00 am.

Having a drink before noon is sometimes considered bad form, something reserved for the problem drinkers.  How about 6 hours before noon?  At that point it’s almost as though you are still drinking from the previous day!  OK, maybe that’s a stretch.  Call me a hooligan, but it sounds like a blast to me!

I think you get the point.  We love the beer, we love the soccer, we love the combo.  We also love enriching the community, and if you have ever been in a bar packed with fans, of any sport really, where everyone has their eyes on the screen, waiting on the edge of their seat for the next great flash of athletic brilliance, you know just how powerful that sense of community feels.  With that in mind, we would like to offer our thoughts on where to enjoy the World Cup in Seattle, with pint in hand.

I must state, for the record, that one should expect that all of these bars will be extremely packed for any and all games.  For the biggest games, especially those involving U.S.A, England, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc, it is highly recommended that you attempt to arrive early and be prepared to wait in line. Also, do not expect to be accommodated as though you were in your own recliner next to the kegerator at home.

The big draw here is the atmosphere.  The people.  The elation that comes with every Christiano Ronaldo crossover, every Robinho spin move, every picture perfect pass from Cesc Fabregas, and every brilliant finish from Didier Drogba.  Don’t be afraid to offer high fives and joyous hugs to people you have never met before when the U.S. pummels England on June 12.  Then buy your Brit buddies a few pints of good American craft beer to rub it in.

As always, we strongly encourage dialogue.  If you know of a great place to watch that we missed, let us know about it.

It's going to be a madhouse.

The Soccer Bars:

The George and Dragon Pub in Fremont:  We might as well start at that great English pub that I have already mentioned, “The George” as it is often referred to as, is a Mecca for soccer fans.

Though I was not living in Seattle at the time of the previous WC, I was here to experience the Euro Championship.  I would imagine that the atmosphere in The George was very similar.  It will give you goose bumps.  I promise.  From their site…

2 PATIOS WITH TELLYS ON THEM…. FOR BIG GAMES THE PARKING LOT BECOMES A FENCED IN BEER GARDEN WITH PORTA POTTIES REFRIGERATED MOBILE BEER TRAILER & OF COURSE TELLYS …

A few extra tidbits that we shouldn’t glaze over when discussing The George: They are hosting a World Cup Eve celebration on Thursday after the Sounders game.  They have been listed in the top 10 places to watch soccer in the U.S. by the U.S. Soccer Federation and GQ Magazine.

The owners are opening up a second location in Ballard called The Market Arms at 24th and Market.  They are hoping to have it up and running in time for the start of the tournament.

What to drink:  If you want to go with a local craft, grab an Elysian Immortal.  If you want to drink like a Brit, grab a Fuller’s ESB.

Fado downtown:  Though this is a chain, the Seattle pub was named the “Best Soccer Bar in the Country” last year by the U.S. Soccer Federation.  It’s an Irish themed place, but since the Irish failed to qualify for the tourney, expect most to favor the only U.K. team in it, England.

What to drink:  You are in Ireland town, grab a Guinness.

All Nations Soccer Bar in Bitter Lake:  This place is kind of in no man’s land up north of Northgate, but it’s worth a visit.  All Nations is a South American themed soccer bar, so check this place out for the big Brazil or Argentina matches.

What to drink:  Grab a Xingu from the bottle.  It’s a delicious dark lager from Brazil.

Azzurri Vino Bar in Fremont:  This is a fairly new Italian themed soccer centric bar nearly directly across the street from The George.  The Center of the Universe is going to be hopping with soccer junkies.

What to drink:  When in Rome… a Peroni.

Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub downtown:  This is another Irish pub with a strong reputation for taking care of the soccer fans.  Eat, drink, cheer, get rowdy and take the party into the alleys of Pike Place Market.

What to drink:  Can’t go wrong with a good old Smithwick’s

The Attic in Madison Park: A quick click over to their homepage will surely give you a strong inclination of just how excited they are for the WC.  Here’s hoping that the folks over in Madison know how to get down.

What to drink:  Boundary Bay IPA is on the draft list online right now.  That’s a damn good IPA!

Fuel downtown:  This is a major Emerald City Supporters hang out, so we can assume they will be keeping the regulars happy with plenty of WC coverage.

What to drink:  Ask if they still have some Big Al Brougham Bitter.

Atlantic Crossing in Roosevelt:  Yet another Irish pub with soccer on the mind.  It looks like they are only opening in time for the 7:00 games when the U.S. is involved, but they will be showing the replays each night on taped delay.

What to drink:  Start up your session with a Harp.

Cafe Presse in Capitol Hill:  This is a small, French themed joint.  If you are looking to get out of the house to catch a game but want a more laid back atmosphere, this is your place.

What to drink:  How about something French.  Tilt back a Kronenbourg 1664.

It has it all.

The Beer Bars:

The Dray in Phinney:  If you read our site, you know we love the Dray with all of our hearts.  If you want a great beer selection, hot espresso, soccer, and a cozy atmosphere, this is your place.

What to drink:  One of the best parts about The Dray is that, though the draft selection is fairly small, it’s one of the most cleaver in the city.  Close your eyes and point at the board behind the bar, you won’t be disappointed.

Brouwer’s in Fremont:  The great Belgian Cafe of Fremont is pretty much beer heaven.  As it turns out, they like soccer too.  Their site states that they will be playing several of the games with the sound on during normal business hours.

What to drink:  Are you kidding me?  You don’t need help with this one.

Die BierStube in Roosevelt, Prost! in Phinney and West Seattle, Feierabend in South Lake Union:  These German pubs are all owned by the same folks and are pretty similar in a lot of ways.  Two of those ways come in the form of good German beer and a strong love of soccer.  Germany games should be a blast here.

What to drink:  Paulaner Salvator, by the liter.

Elysian Fields in Pioneer Square:  With its proximity to the stadiums, this place is a great pre-Sounders/Mariners/Seahawks game stop.  But you know what, it’s a decent place to watch a game as well.  It’s an even better place to get a beer.  Their site has a calendar of what games will be played when.  It looks like they will be opening at 6:30 am for select games.

What to drink:  Ask about what’s new and exciting.  There is always something new and exciting at Elysian.

The Sports Bars:

Kangaroo and Kiwi in Green Lake:  Quite obviously, this is an Australian bar.  Aussie football and rugby are normally the main attractions here, but the Soccerroos made the tourney, so you can expect a wild scene for any of their games.  New Zealand games have the potential to be interesting as well.  If things go sour, you can always walk up the street to either Duck Island, Uber, or the next destination on our list for a tasty bit of boozy relief.

What to drink:  Tilt back a Cooper’s and make like you are down under.

St. Andrew’s in Green Lake:  This is a Scottish haunt.  Though Scotland is not in the WC this year, there is a note on their calendar that says…

World Cup starts tomorrow.  You win a free shot for every goal Scotland scores or any goal scored against England.  Good luck.

This is quite humorous.  With English defender Rio Ferdinand out with an injury, I’m inclined to catch an England match here and sip up some free shots.

What to drink:  St. Andrew’s has one of Seattle’s biggest scotch selections.  Order one and drink slow.

Some other notable sports bars that could offer exuberant celebration include Spitfire, Fox Sports Grill, Sport, Paddy Coyne’s, and The Dubliner.

And finally, filed under “miscellaneous”, Nord Alley near Occidental Park has the potential to offer some interesting outdoor viewing experiences.  Check out this link for more details.

Enjoy the world’s greatest sporting event while it lasts, for it will come and go before you know it, and then it’s another grueling 4 years of waiting.

Events: Week of November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Bar Great Harry in Brooklyn, NY is hosting the Winter Blackout Stout Night Tomorrow!

The first week of December brings Christmas cheer and Christmas beer around the country. What better way to bring people together than through beer events? Check out the list of events for the week of November 20, 2009 through December 6, 2009.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jolly Pumpkin 2009 Noel de Calabaza Release Party: Ann Arbor, Michigan

4:00PM- 6:00 PM @ The Jolly Pumpkin Cafe and Brewery

Free to get in, this event offers a first taste of Jolly Pumpkin’s Christmas Ale to those in attendance. Get it while its hot and before its distributed!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Winter Blackout: Night of the Big Stouts: Brooklyn, New York

6:00 PM- 10:00 PM @ Bar Great Harry

This is an event not to be missed. Not only are there free meats and cheeses, but you have big players in attendance such as Brooklyn Brewery’s Mystery Stout, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout and Southern Tier’s Jah-Va Imperial Coffee Stout. Great line up!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon

2:00PM- 10:00 PM @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Come one, come all to this Holiday Ale Festival! Beginning on December 2, 2009, this event runs through the 6th of December and features beers such as Alaskan Brewing Company’s Barley Wine, Cascade Brewing Company’s Drie Zwarte Pieten “Sang Noir 2009″ and Dogfish Head’s Chicory Stout, among many many more. For a full list of beers, visit the 2009 Holiday Ale Festival’s website.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington

11AM- until @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Those friends and followers of Beer Blotter know that the countdown to this day, to this event has been going on for quite some time. We’ve gone around Seattle recruiting fellow beer lovers to join us at this event. The more the merrier and the more beer to be ordered. This event will feature wood altered beers and provides the public with a wide range of styles. For more information on Big Wood Festival and the process of barrel aging visit our website and check under events! Big Wood lasts through the weekend. For a full list, visit Brouwer’s Cafe’s blog.

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland Oregon

11:00 AM- 10:00 PM @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York

3:00 PM- until @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

This event presents cask beers from around the world featuring England’s very own Darkstar Brewing Company. Named the best brewery in England, Darkstar will showcase approximately a dozen beers. Other beers to get your hands on during this event include Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA, Moylans’ Dragoons Irish Stout and Oskar Blues’ Old Chubb. For a list of full beers, visit Rattle-n-Hum Bar’s blog page.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until close

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

3:00 PM- until ???

Winter Beer Festival: Seattle, Washington

5:00 PM- 10:00 PM @ Hale’s Ale Brewery

$23.00 in advance and $25.00 at the door, this two day long festival is worth saving your energy. The ticket price includes a tasting cup and 6 5.5oz pours with additional tokens available for $1.50/each.  Last year, Hoppy the Woodsman by Schooner Exact Brewing won the Gold and our friends at Gilligan’s Brewing Co. tied their Chamomile Ale for second place with Pike Brewing Co’s Pike Entire. This year features beers such as, Water Street Brewing Company’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and Black Raven Brewing Company’s Second Sight Scotch Ale. For a complete list visit the Washington Beer Commission’s website.

13th  Annual San Diego Strong Ale Festival: San Diego, California

4:00 PM- 11:00 PM @ Pizza Port

Over 75 beers over 8% alcohol on tap & some cask conditioned ales at the Bottle Shop area next to Pizza Port Carlsbad. $30.00 gets you admission plus six 4 oz tasters.  Know your limits! They didn’t call this one “strong” for nothin’.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM

Winter Beer Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Hales Ale’s Brewery

Continues on starting at 1:00 PM until 10:00 PM

13th  Annual San Diego Strong Ale Festival: San Diego, California @ Pizza Port

11:00 AM- 11:00 PM 

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

3:00 PM- until ???

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until close

Firestone Walker 13th Anniversary Release Party: Scottsdale, Arizona

1:00 PM-3:00  PM @ AJ’s Fine Foods

It is free to get up close and personal with this new release by Firestone Walker Brewing Co. An ale with sweet aromas and tastes, it is not to be missed!  Get to AJ’s Fine Foods for the two  hours that it will be poured!

Iron Horse Brewery’s 5th Anniversary Party: Ellensburg, Washington

6:00 PM- 10:00 PM @ Iron Horse Brewery

Come celebrate Iron Horse Brewery’s 5th Birthday! 5 is a landmark year and yes there will be a heated tent outside, live music and FREE appetizers. $12.0o gets you in the door, a beverage of choice and a glass to keep. Save $2.00 if you arrive sporting Iron Horse apparel.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until close

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

3:00 PM- until ???

And that is this week’s line up of events. So much to look forward too with the winter season in full swing. Beer Blotter can be there for all, so if you attend an event that we haven’t listed or want to share your opinions about your favorite beers at the various events, leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com.  Cheers!

Big Wood Update: New Beers Added

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Some very good adds on the new Big Wood list.

The Big Wood list has a few changes as of November 27. 2009. You can keep tabs on the beer lineup at Brouwer’s Cafe’s website and their Twitter feed.

New additions include Avery Beast from the Wood 2008, Double Mountain Terrible Two, Port Brewing Older Vicosity, Skagit  and Harmon Oak Aged Double Porter.

Of course, we are massive fans of the Beast! This is one of the most complex ales out there, rivaling Lost Abbey’s Angles Share.

There is also some clarification on the “…..from the wood” that HOTD was to be pouring at the festival. Hair of the Dog will now be pouring  Bourbon Fred from the Wood.

The mysterious Hales beer is Bucephalus. According to Rate Beer’s two ratings – this beer is 4/5. Should be something to try.

Why You Love Barrel Aging – and the Big Wood Festival

November 21, 2009 1 comment

Timperial's 2008 Big Wood list and notes. The 2009 list is more impressive. Click to see full size version.

Barrel Aging.
Barrel aging is most commonly used with wine and spirits such as whiskey and rum.  There are many different types of wood that can be used for these barrels, most commonly oak (often French or American), sometimes chestnut, redwood, cedar…

The wood used for these vessels imparts flavor upon the fluid within.  Vanillin (a primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean) and tannins (commonly found in red wine, “pucking flavors”) are natural flavors that come through.  In the case of beer being aged in wood barrels, well… it’s both ancient and modern.

Of course, back in the day, wood barrels were used to store liquids, end of story.  That’s what they had and that’s what they used.  In some cases, mostly in Europe, this hasn’t changed.  Many of your English, Scottish and Belgian breweries still use wood barrels just as they always have, for hundreds of years.

In the last several years, with the explosion of the American craft brewing culture, intrepid brewers have begun to return to these roots.  Naturally, because this is America and we’re damn crafty…and a little thifty, we have, in many cases, used recycled barrels for our aging.  Most often the barrels have been salvaged from wineries or distilleries, and thus have been infused with the flavors of the fluid that was previously aged in them.

Imbibing the beer aged in these wood barrels is a sublime experience to say the least. The smells and tastes that encase you are not only products of the brewmaster’s craft, but nature’s, the vintner’s and/or distiller’s of the past, and good old Father Time.  And while we are speaking of his holiness, let’s please not downplay the importance of time, after all, aging is right there in the title.

What does aging do to beer?  Mostly if dulls the bitterness, creating a much more balanced, often, sweeter and “rounder” flavor.  A lot of the young harshness melts away, and what’s left is a fine, mature luxury for the heart and soul.  The popularity of this process is increasing rapidly, and I must say, this brings me great enjoyment.  I love barrel aged beer!  I love the complexity, and the history.  It’s distinguished, and I like that.

Now that I have (hopefully) whet your whistle for some serious barrel aged beer experiences, I must inform you of one of my absolute favorite Seattle beer events of the year… Brouwer’s Cafe Big Wood Fest.

On Thursday, December 3rd, there is no other place in the world you should be.  Seriously people, this is something special!  There is not very many bars on Earth that host events like this.

Nearly all of Brouwer’s 64 taps will be pouring barrel aged beers, many of which are extremely rare.  This is the penultimate Brouwer’s fest.  Not only the last fiscally, but in my opinion, the best.  I know, standing up against a fest of all barlerywines, all IPAs and all sour beers is no meager task, but the proof is once again, right in the name.

It’s a fest of wood aged beer…of any genre.  There’s barleywines, IPAs and sours to be found here, plus much more.  It’s all the diversity that you would expect any day that you step into Brouwer’s, but kicked up a whole heap of notches.  Pretty much every beer on the list is going to be worth trying, but of the preliminary list that has been posted on the Brouwer’s website, this is my list of “can’t misses”.

First and foremost, Lost Abbey Angel’s Share.  Get this or be damned, that is, while it lasts.  The name alone is just fantastic.  Since wood barrels are made from a natural, organic material, and therefore imperfect, small amounts of water and alcohol are lost due to evaporation.

This portion is known as the “angel’s share”.  Sometimes labeled a barleywine, sometimes generically strong ale, this brew was my number one pick of last years fest.  To use the word “complex” would be to greatly discredit it’s brilliance.

My second highest recommendation would be for anything Russian River.  Does the name Vinnie Cilurzo mean anything to you?  Well for the love of god it should!

Vinnie is the legendary man behind Russian River Brewing Co. and has, no doubt, had an enormous hand in the growing popularity of barrel aged beers.  Pretty much anything on tap this night from RR will be sour and aged in wine barrels from the pleniful wineries in their back yard of Sonoma County, CA.

Drink it up and relish the fact that the Brouwer’s owners have a great relationship with Vinnie (RR on tap is rare in WA).  I very much doubt there is any Deviation (Bottleworks 9th Anniversary) left, but if by some strange twist of fate another barrel was uncovered in the depths of Brouwer’s cellar, get 2 and thank me in the morning.  Easily in my top 5 beers of all time!

Anything by Hair of the Dog will be sure to please you, and it’s always rare to see on tap.  Firestone Walker, yes please.  Cascade Brewing, I’ll have another.  Southern Tier, Avery… I’m salivating.  And you all know, timperial stout loves, loves, loves his imperial stouts.  Abyss, Entire, Ivan the Terrible, hopefully some Yeti… obviously.

Beer Blotter will see you there!

The 2008 Winners of Brouwer’s Cafe’s Big Wood Fest….Drum Roll Please

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Brouwer's Cafe's Big Wood Fest 2009 (Seattle, WA): An Event Not to be Missed!

 

Alas, a year has passed and it is time for the winners of Big Wood Fest 2008 to relinquish their thrones. However, in light of the fast approaching epic night of beer reviewing, drinking and more, I would like to refresh everyone’s memories of those beers that took home the gold, silver and bronze.

2008 Big Wood Fest Winners:

In third place, for the bronze metal: Port Townsend Brewing Co.’s Makers Mark Porter

Second place, for the silver: Lost Abbey’s Brouwer’s Blend

and…..

The winner and gold medalist (for the second year in a row): Flyers Brewery’s Bottleworks III

As mentioned in the previous blog, this year’s line-up features Port Townsend Brewing Co.’s Barrel Aged Imperial Porter. This thick, flavorful beer was tasted, reviewed and enjoyed by Beer Blotter. We are interested to see how it places compared to last year’s third place PT Porter.

2009 will bring new contestants from both Lost Abbey and Flyers. Lost Abbey will feature Angel Share. With flavors of vanilla and oak, this beer was aged for 1 year in freshly emptied bourbon and brandy barrels. We can only begin to imagine the complexity of flavors this beer is going to divulge.

Flyers Brewery out of Oak Harbor, WA is switching it up this year, featuring Laphroaig Chipped BW 8. After a relentless search for a description, a rate, a review of this beer, we present a beer unknown to beer bloggers and internet sources alike. The sheer weight of a gold metal should entice you to try this new beer and see for yourself.

Congratulations to Flyers Brewery, Lost Abbey and Port Townsend Brewing Co. for a job well done. And to all the beers listed for Big Wood Fest 2009, the day cannot come soon enough. Let the count down to December 3, 2009 begin!

Big Wood Lineup: Preliminary Thoughts on the Brouwers Masterpiece

November 19, 2009 1 comment

Abyss 08 and 09. we'll see you at the Big Wood fest.

***Note: I apologize for the brevity of this post, but i am fairly certain resident beer nerd Timperial Stout wants to chime in tomorrow about this lineup. I just cannot contain myself***

Brouwers Cafe’s Big Wood Festival is probably our second favorite Seattle beer festival of the year. It closely rivals, and perhaps in the eyes of many, passes Brouwer’s Hopfest. But, being as its November – its the only thing in our minds.

Big Wood is a celebration of wood-altered beers. Whether beer is barrel-aged or enhanced by wood chips, you will find it here. This year’s Big Wood is kicking off on December 3, 2009. If its like most of Brouwer’s events, it will likely start around 4 PM. I would suggest getting there around 3:30, snagging a table and ordering some fried chick peas (awesome). Hold down the fort for your buddies and enjoy the night.

In any event, this year’s beer list is incredible. We pulled a copy of last year’s list (which is being posted tomorrow on beerblotter.com) and firmly believe this year’s offerings far exceed last year’s bevy.

For starters,Picobrouwerij Alvinne, Cantillon and Oud Beersel are each being put on tap. I really enjoy the Belgian offerings mixed into these events, it just isn’t often an option.

Firestone Walker (The Black Xantus), Port Brewing (Brouwer’s Imagination) and Fremont Brewing (BN Barrel Dry Hopped Abominable) are all offering exceptionally curious ales for the event. I cannot wait to try them.

I was ecstatic to see Port Townsend’s Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter on the list. We sampled this ((downed a few) at the Naked City 1st Anniversary party last month. This is a very tasty brew.

We’d like to also say the same about Cascade’s Vlad the Imp Aler, a damn good sour produced outside of Portland at the Racoon Lodge (you should visit).

The big review is coming tomorrow – with Timperial’s full review of the goodies. Stay tuned, but make plans to see us on December 3rd!

Reminder: Brouwers has the best beer events. The next one coming up is Hard Liver Barleywine Festival. This is a great event with 4 oz pours – allowing you to actually try the whole list (or close to it)  without going to the hospital.

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