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Poor mans sparkling apple cider


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#1 FLASHINGROOSTER

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 10:26 PM

Hi

 

Fermentor? or Fermenter?

 

So at the start of the pandemic last year I made an effort to save money on alcohol by trying to brew my own cheap stuff.  So my two main goals are in this order, cost efficiency and taste.

 

This brewing method is damn near idiot proof it's so easy.

 

For starters let's compare the high price of store bought booze where I live so you can see why I might try to do this. If I were to buy a four pack of "Tallboy" ciders, lets say strong bow in for example, that would run me around 16.99. So basically 2 liters for 17 bucks at 4.5 percent alcohol. Moving forward my goal was that If I am coming in anywhere close to that price I really don't see the point of doing it. Might as well buy the high priced store bought stuff? I mean I still want to be able enjoy what I am drinking, otherwise I would just buy the cheap ass jug wine passionately labeled as "Red" to get lit.

 

It is certainly not the same level of excellence that major manufacturers produce, but with the methods used that is to be expected, at the significantly cheaper price it is more than good enough for this fool

 

So I started experimenting with different store bought juice's and adding in basic yeast to see what I could get. Your going to have different results based on the sugar content of your juice and it's purity as well. Some juice additives will inhibit alcohol conversion so best to stick with the least ingredients on the side

 

Here is the leftover primary fermenter on a running experiment I have , she is transferred into a growler trying to produce carbonation. Likely crap wine ish juice? You can see the left over frothy dried bubbles from fermenting, I have to say it smelled pretty sweet and fragrant for a a few days while fermenting

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  From what I have read and please correct me if I am wrong about this (Myc I am looking at you since I recently discovered your FOAF works in a brewery haha) The one nice lazy man side effect of using the baking yeast is that it wont be able to convert that amount of sugar in the apple juice brew much higher than 5% or 6%.  Percentage is going to effect the taste and the higher you go it will start to get into wine like tasting territory, so with the bread yeast a guy does not need to worry as much about measuring alcohol content to signal when to stop primary fermetation?

 

I didn't bother taking the IBV of my brew but It has been tested many times internally and I got drunk so no worries there.

 

I know many people recommend using champagne yeast but I am not not quite sold on that one for the price I was going to have to pay for it.  It was around two or three bucks a package at the local store. Where as five dollars worth of yeast from the grocery store (that I also happen to already own) and enough of it that it will likely last me a couple years at this rate. I only tried the champagne or wine yeast once so who knows, I will revisit this issue and try another taste test off. Me skills are slowly refining and there is less of a chance of getting an off taste of contamination from poor procedure. So with more control it may be worth trying to find a reasonably priced source. But for now I am sticking with regular old yeast

 

So far my favorite concoction has to be the Sun Rype 100% pure apple juice brew. I can't get frozen apple juice concentrate where I live as that seemed to be the cheapest source. I noticed that when you buy a cider "kit" they use concentrate.

 

Anyway I have to stick with the containers on the shelf. Brand is going to be different everywhere but for me Sun Rype 100% pure apple juice is the cheapest clean source. They seem to taste better than the one's that say from concentrate. When these go on sale for a dollar a liter (REG 1.40 ish) I can then convert 12 dollars into roughly 12 liters of alcohol at the 4.5 percent range. So substantially cheaper than 2 liters for 17 dollars. The price of the yeast is marginal, I am too lazy to price it out, even at an inflated 10 cents a batch it is still dirt cheap.

 

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So the next step is your containers, you are going to need a a couple primary fermenters and a plastic siphon, and of course something to bottle it in. For a fermenter you can get the nice glass carboys but honestly for this particular exercise I like using a small garbage can better. I find cleaning those carboys are a pain in the butt compared to a wide mouth plastic bucket with a lid. 

 

 

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Like mushrooms sterile technique is important but in this case not nearly as precise. So clean and let dry your fermenter, they sell sterile cleaning supplies but so far hot clean water with soap has been doing just fine for this cowboy. Turn upside down and dry bottles on a towel and then store upside down. Or even better with the flip tops you can close them up and store upright

 

 

 

So now we have a clean vessel we are going to add in your apple juice, your going to want to fill the primary fermenter container closer to the top than the bottom to reduce the amount of air space that can potentially sour things up. Not sure how important this step is but something to consider. Then add in your yeast. I believe I was going with somewhere around 1 tsp for that amount of liquid. Place that dirty old lid on top and leave it unsecured so gas can release. Now it's the same as with mushrooms, leave that sucker alone. Let the yeast start to work its magic

 

Find a nice room temperature spot and leave it there out of sunlight for around a five days to a week. Be patient and don't peek at it five times a day for the first bit. She will be bubbling away, you will be able to see many bubbles rising while it ferments away, enjoy the rotting apple ish smell, your friends may even accuse you of farting when they come over.

 

 Clear containers can provide and easy viewing window (Yes you can just pour out the top inch or so out of a purchased container and add the yeast for small brews). Anyway when you start to see only a couple bubbles rising up to the top every second or so you know it's pretty much done.

 

Take said container and place it on your kitchen counter overnight, by this time most of the yeast should be settled as a semi solid substance on the bottom of your container. Then the next day you can easily siphon off the contents without disturbing the yeast blob at the bottom. Sometimes with the smaller containers you can easily pour transfer and skip the siphon, the yeast seems to stay on the bottom. Transfered to second container so we can remove most of the yeast from the brew. Then your are going to want to add your sugar for bottling to add carbonation

 

They have online calculators that can achieve different levels of fizz, I went with something around 70 grams of dextrose for this 12 liter batch (It dissolves so easy) on my last one and it is super carbonated. like champagne level, might be to much for some but I really like the bubbles in my cider. I have blasted off a few of the swing caps when opening so I would say I won't try any higher than that or risk bursting bottles. Another thing I like for my taste is a bit of citric acid.

 

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Since the fermentation removes that acidic taste that apples tend to have,  I like to artificially place it back into the cider. Just a tsp or so. There has been some minor experimenting with flavor additives. This can really screw up the cost efficiency depending on what you buy, so bang for my buck I found that these extracts work the best. Two dollars for it and I only place in a few drops into that 12 liter batch, going for just a whisper of the additive. You don't want a strong artificial taste in there. So far only tried it with pineapple but I did like it, will use it again. Go for the alcohol based one's not the oil based. The oil one won't mix well

 

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The fermentation process removes much of the apple juice taste and sweetness. I  won't get too deep into back sweetening with this process we are going for a more dry style, but I think if you shorten the bottling fermentation time it should result in a less carbonated but slightly sweeter brew

 

Then we can start the bottling process

 

There are many ways to approach this. You can save old beer bottles and buy a capper for around 25 bucks. A box of 150 bottle cap goes for ten bucks. This makes nice convenient beers if your just looking for one or two a night style.  My favorite so far has been re using the those flippable beer bottles. You have to be careful when buying these though, you can get cheap ass one's designed for olive oil and the glass will not hold up to the pressure created during bottling. So if you like beer then an easy method is to just slowly start collecting them from the liquor stores. They do sell the empties at brew stores closer to 60-70 percent of the one filled with tasty beer. Rooster math tells him that he doesn't mind paying that extra thirty or forty percent if it comes filled with tasty beer. Solid investment I say, as you can replace the flip tops cheaply when they seals start to break down

 

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More recently I played with the growlers and they take the cake for make bottling a snap. I was not sure if they would hold up to the pressure but they have been performing well so far. Instead of filling say 10 standard size beer bottles and worrying about spilling in between pinching off the siphon and transferring between bottles, you can easily fill a couple of those bad boys and speed the process up. The only down side being what if you just want one drink. The growlers come with a bit of a drinking commitment.

 

Never mind that clear jug one on the left, I don't think it can handle the pressure, its a mini primary fermenter at this point

 

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Anyway once that shit is bottled just let it sit around at the same room temp for around a week or two. It will produce the tasty bubbles that I like to drink. Then transfer to somewhere cooler so the yeast will settle. The fridge will speed this process up quickly but can overrun your fridge space, if you have a cold room that works well to settle the yeast out at a slower pace

 

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And voila your brew should be ready to drink. You must remember that age and pouring are going to make a difference in how clear your drink is going to be. There is that blob of yeast at the bottom so don't be greedy and pour that last little bit in. It will substantially cloud up your drink. I found that when pouring out of the growler it is best to do it all at once. Since you likely have a couple mason jars kicking around I recommend filling them. Otherwise every time you set the jug back down it creates a big dirty swish that starts to mix the yeast back into the brew. So I have been trying to do one single pour into multiple containers and then cap and fridge until you can catch up to the jarred brew

 

 

Realizing one downside to maximum carbonation seems to be a more cloudy brew as you can see below. Could also be due to less ageing too these are fairly new. There is too much of a bubbly reaction going on inside the bottle when pouring it, i think made even worse by being forced to go extra slow pour in this case, the initial foam is huge and it will easily foaming over. Not even the horizontal pour can stop it

 

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Cheers


Edited by FLASHINGROOSTER, 19 March 2021 - 10:46 PM.

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#2 Myc

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 11:19 AM

Looks like you have the gist of it right there. I'm not sure what to add or where to wade in on this one.

 

I use:

Concentrated apple juice and champagne yeast. The wine yeast has a greater alcohol tolerance than the baking yeast and will convert sugars more reliably.

Once the fermentation is finished you get to decide where to go from there.......barrel aging, bottle conditioning, back-sweetening, etc.

The "base" - or fermented apple juice - is usually around 14% ABV. I like to drink the base as opposed to the finished cider - but I'm weird like that. If you see a plastic Solo cup full of base sitting around........that's mine.

Once the base is finished fermenting we crash the yeast (allow it to settle out of solution by reducing the temperature), filter the base to remove residual micro-organisms, back sweeten with additives, and then force carbonation (for the bubbles). Once carbonated - it's out for packaging and distribution.

 

My personal thing is ginger-ale. Currently working to scale-up a delicious recipe I've developed.


Edited by Myc, 20 March 2021 - 11:30 AM.

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#3 Mycol

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 11:24 AM

I had a buddy try so ting like this a few years back, ocean spray, yeast, sugar then covered it with a condom that he poked holes in . I don’t remember what came of it but I didn’t see him try it twice so i can’t imagine it was much of a success .

Myc that ginger ale sounds good . Let us know where we can get some when it’s ready .
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#4 Moonless

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 12:40 PM

I awesome to see a great comprehensive write up. I love easy home brewing and love to see the knowledge spread.

I use champagne yeast and found that the amazon price was pretty good but a home brew store is goo too. Each packet of my yeast is good for five galoons so half a pack for a five liter bottle of apple is good.

My recipie is, 5 liter apple juice, 2 cups of sugar and half a pack of yeast.
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#5 jrh

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 12:44 PM

When the world ends I'm going to regret not having printed this thread and stored it someplace safe.


Edited by jrh, 20 March 2021 - 12:44 PM.

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#6 ElPirana

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 05:11 PM

When the world ends I'm going to regret not having printed this thread and stored it someplace safe.

I think there’s still time lol


Good write up Rooster! This makes me want to drink some cider, haven’t had any in years.

Edited by ElPirana, 20 March 2021 - 05:13 PM.

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#7 Myc

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 06:50 PM

If you drop by...........I have around 7000 gallons on any given day.

Cider anyone??


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#8 FLASHINGROOSTER

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Posted 21 March 2021 - 01:03 PM

I wish I had a giant vessel full of cider like that

 

[Direct Link]

 

Can't say I have had alcoholic ginger type drinks before, sounds tasty though... except maybe a moscow mule

 

 

Solid chance that ocean spray is going to be pirate swill but it wont stop me from drinking it haha

 

I am like Mikey I will drink just about anything


Edited by FLASHINGROOSTER, 21 March 2021 - 01:05 PM.

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#9 rockyfungus

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Posted 21 March 2021 - 02:11 PM

 

My personal thing is ginger-ale. Currently working to scale-up a delicious recipe I've developed.

 

How "spicy" does your gingerale get. A good gingerale has the same effect on me as a good pepper. I should have to remove some layers of clothes in the winter.


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#10 Myc

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Posted 21 March 2021 - 03:35 PM

If you've sampled much ginger-ale, mine is very close in spice pallet to Reed's regular recipe.

Maine Root manufactures some strong ginger-ale as you describe liking. Me too. I just haven't figured out how they get it so hot unless they're adding some sort of ginger extract post-fermentation.

 

My brew has no back-sweetening - it's perfectly drinkable post-fermentation but you gotta drink it pretty fast. The ginger bug I grew is pretty aggressive and will produce a very dry beverage if you don't keep a close eye on it. Also the carbonation gets out of hand. It took me 5 batches to get the desired drink.

The recipe was all done stove-top style in my home kitchen and fermented in 1liter swing top bottles.

We'll be scaling-up the recipe and using some proprietary tricks that I've learned from cider production. However, it's always going to be small-batch and only available at local taprooms.


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#11 FLASHINGROOSTER

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Posted 24 March 2021 - 04:22 PM

Either I am getting used to mediocre tasting booze or that hard cran pinapple experiment turned out okay.  The carbonation is way better than the last batch of cider thats for sure.

 

I tried an ocean spray container with the champagne yeast before and I think it converts the alcohol a little to high for my personal flavor sake. Then again that was not carbonated so clearly I have more playing around to do

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Edited by FLASHINGROOSTER, 24 March 2021 - 04:27 PM.


#12 TVCasualty

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Posted 24 March 2021 - 07:31 PM

One of the tastiest and most refreshing adult beverages I've ever had was apple cider fermented with what I think was champagne yeast (this was in Germany), though it might've been another type since a friend who was into brewing mead made one with cider and Narbonne champagne yeast (which was also incredible; very dry, minimal sweetness).

 

I might be getting the mead and cider yeasts confused since it's been a few years since I was last in touch with him. Anyway, the folks in Germany let the cider sit for a year in the basement, then they break it out in hot weather. It was so dry that it was undrinkable by itself but when mixed 50/50 with sparkling water it was incredible (and dangerously refreshing; it was so good that it was very easy to drink way too much way too fast).


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#13 Myc

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Posted 25 March 2021 - 10:20 AM

That's basically how cider works TVC.

Wine yeasts are more efficient for converting sugar into alcohol. They have a higher alcohol tolerance and can work longer in solution as alcohol levels increase during fermentation. Less alcohol tolerant yeast (like baker's yeast) drops out of solution faster leaving more sugars behind.

That's why a beverage is "dry" - lacking apparent sweetness. The yeast have gobbled-up all of the available sugars before dropping out of solution. They all produce different esters throughout their life cycle depending upon available sugar and temperature. Wine makers will work with a particular yeast for quite a few cycles and do a lot of sensory analysis to find the best procedure.

 

The process described in the write-up is (no offense to the OP) basically prison hooch.

A group of prison friends will decide who has the cleanest toilet. And then scrub it as best they can to get it as clean as possible.

The toilet is then plugged with a sock or other garment.

Fruit is smuggled from the food serving line and someone will smuggle some bread slices for yeast.

The fruit and bread are "mashed" and placed in the clean toilet for fermentation.

The top of the toilet is covered with a trash bag to trap CO2.

When the bag fills with CO2 it is purged and allowed to re-fill with gas.

Once the bag has filled with CO2 for a second time - the beverage is deemed drinkable.

Gather around, bail out a drink, squint and hold your nose...... It'll get you drunk.

 

The reason it takes friends to do this is because you have to use your buddys' toilets while yours is being used as a fermenter.

I have no personal experience with this method. The procedure was detailed to me by A. Friend. I would recommend using a stock-pot or something similar at home. ;)

 

With beer you can crop the yeast and use it for other batches of beer.

Wine yeast cannot be cropped. Using cropped wine yeast will result in a stalled fermentation. Always start with fresh yeast for every batch.


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#14 rockyfungus

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Posted 25 March 2021 - 11:00 AM

This makes me curious to get back into "brewing".  I used to brew mead myself, while my roommate was into distilling mash...We made a few bottles of wine which I may get into for my wife, Italian and misses the family stuff. 

I have a sourdough culture going on for years now that will produce "hooch" when I'm not feeding it enough. Guess some people mess with this hooch and can get a lacto/yeast brew, a sour beer of sorts. Wild cultures of yeast are fun to play with, just enslaving the yeast for different outcomes. 


Edited by rockyfungus, 25 March 2021 - 11:01 AM.

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#15 FLASHINGROOSTER

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Posted 25 March 2021 - 05:07 PM

I am paying for drinking that glorified prison hooch last night.....Worth it. Taco's cure everything

 

Those lacto fermented beers are strange I have tried one or two before and am not really sure what to say about them

 

I am curious Myc are all the ciders you guys finish in the higher percentage range or is there a sort of watering down process that goes on if a guy was trying to get to the 5% range?

 

These days I seem to be drinking it faster than I can make it so the ageing process has become quite short


Edited by FLASHINGROOSTER, 25 March 2021 - 05:08 PM.

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#16 Myc

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Posted 26 March 2021 - 10:05 AM

You got it Rooster.

Dilution calculations are your friend. ;)

 

We transfer the fermented base and filter it through a plate-and-frame or a lenticular filter. Then dilute with water. Then we add back proprietary items (referred to as back-sweetening). Very much like the process you detailed above. We use complicated equipment to test the sugar content, ABV, and color consistency of the solution and dial it in to suit specifications.

The base is 14% ABV. The finished product is 5.5% ABV.

 

I really can't talk specifics since it's a proprietary process.


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#17 FLASHINGROOSTER

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Posted 26 March 2021 - 04:23 PM

Interesting, and I totally understand not wanting to get to detailed. I was going to ask you about your ginger brew recipe but hesitated considering your interest in protecting trade secrets

 

You got me thinking about trying to refine my process in an attempt at a better product. Picked up some more bungs and bubbers so I can go small batch and do more experimenting with the same base apple juice. Got every different packages of Lalvin wine yeast that were available from the local store today and will try a taste test process using the growlers as fermentors. Heck I was even looking at the price of an ageing barrel.

 

Man it's hard to find concentrate around here. It seems to provide a nice easy method of injecting taste and or sugar into a brew. I seriously think it's easier to find the professional stuff online in Canada. Noticed there are online growers that will sell you a 5 gallon bucket of concentrate at the smallest quantity, but after shipping and wondering if I would use it in a timely fashion it felt like I was getting in over my head, so going to have to stick with the store bought brand of pressed juice for now.

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Edited by FLASHINGROOSTER, 26 March 2021 - 04:25 PM.

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#18 Myc

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 01:12 PM

You can usually find the flavor additives in smaller amounts at a small-brewer's supply.

Or you can get creative and reach out to the additive manufacturer. I request flavor samples periodically and they'll send over several 500 ml samples of various concentrates for testing and evaluation.

 

Nice yeast lineup. Variety makes for fun and lots of experiments.

 

As for the ginger brew:

You'll first need to create a ginger bug. Simple process just like maintaining a sourdough starter. Don't peel the ginger as it says in all of the recipes. All of the good stuff is in the skin. Scrub it with a vegetable brush and call it good.

Then I just located a simple ginger brew recipe online and modified from there.

Every batch was drinkable - and no higher in alcohol content than kombucha. I was shooting for the tastiest recipe I could manage so the beverage could be adulterated with gin or vodka - or other ideas.......


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#19 rockyfungus

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 11:00 AM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terroir
https://coloradosun....-colorado-hops/

 

Thought these article was interesting, which lead me to thinking about cannabis terpenes.


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#20 FLASHINGROOSTER

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 12:35 PM

I went ahead and bottled those five different yeast strains and then decide to start a keto diet... So looks like they are going to have plenty of time to age in the basement if things go well. Would be nice to be able to watch that beer belly go in the opposite direction for once

 

Man I like beer that article almost started to make my mouth water thinking about it


Edited by FLASHINGROOSTER, 24 April 2021 - 12:36 PM.





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