My infected wheated Bourbon

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My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:53 am

I currently make wheated Bourbon. Three mashes and strips, one spirit run. Sounds a bit boring, so I play with infections and a backset-pit.

Milled corn and water + a crumb yoghurt starter, stored closed with airlock at room temp.
After 36h it smelled a bit sour. After 3 days it was smelling sour and creamy. After 6 days I mashed it. After mashing, most of the creamy smell was gone. After fermentation and stripping I didn't see a difference to normal bourbon low wines.

But now I have backset for the pit:
I added much calcium carbonate and a crumb yoghurt starter. Stored at low temp (12-15°C) covered with a towel nothing happened. Because the backset lost the vomit smell, it smelled more like beer. But nothing new was growing. Also adding a bit of the sourdough from the next mash didn't change something. But after placing it at room temp, after 24h it had the typical white lacto-carpet and smelled a bit like Swiss cheese fondue (spicy, cheese and wine). When stirring the carpet down it smells a bit sweet-meaty.

The second mash (including 25% uninfected backset from the first mash) is bubbling since two days now. As expected the uninfected backset does not much affect the smell.

I plan to add some of the infected backset to the mash one day before stripping.

Generally I have a detailed plan, what to try out, but don't want to reveal too much, because I am more interested, what you would do.
So what do you think?
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby bilgriss » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:18 am

I haven't done this for a bourbon mash, but for a sour beer, it's common to:
Mash as per normal protocol.
When done, mix in another pound of crushed barley malt. Hold overnight around 105-110 degrees F (41-43C). In the morning, it will be sour and a little stinky from lacto bacteria.
Sparge.
Boil. That takes care of the aroma and leaves the sour.

Obviously a very different protocol, but tried and true as well.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:25 am

Because cheesy and meatey smell is related to sulphur compounds from the fermentation of proteins, I experimented with copper additives. I am not sure if it changed something, because the cheese smell got spicier every day. It is really stinky now.
It's intersting, but I don't want to have a Bourbon smelling like this. I know, in theory the smelling acids will form esters with the alcohol, and this will change the smell into something total different. But I am a bit nervous, if it works in practice too.

Yesterday I poured some of the backset to the finished Bourbon mash. I then had around 8% infected backset in the mash.
And, whooo!, the magic works! After a few hours when I sniffed the CO² from the airlock, all the cheesy and meaty smell was gone, but I got mild malty fruity flavors I never had before with my homemade spirits. But I know this aroma, I often taste it in Malt Whiskies. For example Macallan and Auchentoshan have this aroma. And some haven't it at all, Bunnahabhain for example. When tasting Whiskies, I often say, this one is malty and that one is grainy. It's not a quality statement. When I say "malty" I mean a mouthfeel/texture like sirup, when I say "grainy", it has a more coarse mouth feel. Now I realize, my "malty" means lacto-infected.
But this is a Bourbon. I can't remember, that I ever had this aroma in a Bourbon or Rye. So I tasted the three Bourbons I have at home and tried to find it: Makers Mark doesn't have this taste at all, Woodford reserve probably not too, but Eagle rare 10 does have this taste. Not as much as some Malt Whiskies, but it's there. I also tasted it a little in 1776 Rye and much in Mount Gay XO rum.

8h after I poured the infected backset into the finished mash, I stripped it.
The pleasant "malty" aroma was very noticeable at the beginning. But all in all I am not sure, if I taste it anymore now in the low wines. They are different from the uninfected low wines from the first mash, they have a fruity smell like pears, but not much of this "malty" aroma.

My conclusion: It was perhaps not enough infected. I will infect the third and last mash much more. If it turns out too special in the end, I always could blend it with a normal Bourbon I have here in stock.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby MDH » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:38 am

What you are doing is not related to lactobacillus strains, but is actually the result of non-saccharomyces, pellicle forming yeast strains which are feeding from the oxygen once the ferment is no longer producing CO2.

While not "Visible", lactobacillus is active as the fermentation is winding down. There is a blog called "Whiskyscience" which summarizes it much more nicely than I want to here.
The still is always a translator, but never a liar. Mash and ferment quality is 99% of your performance.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sat Jan 14, 2017 4:00 am

Yes I know this blog and the article about lacto there. Great stuff all the articles.

I had this typical bright white carpet with the circles/bowls and the lines between on the backset. I wrote it in the first post. I thought this is a typical lacto? And I added a yoghurt starter (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis B12, Streptococcus thermophilus) to promote this. If not, what do you think, it is? And why? Because of the smell I describe?
I now google picture search and yes, it could be pediococcus too. But pedio is a species of lactobacillus I read on wikipedia just right now.

Two hours ago I mixed the cooled down backset of the run yestarday to the infected backset and mixed it. So there is nothing to see just right now. But when th carpet grows again, I will take a picture.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:12 am

DSC07387.JPG
infected backset
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:41 am

The third and last mash:

This time I used 25% infected backset for the mash (last time the backset was not infected). At the beginning of mashing (cooking corn, backset and water) the smell was unpleasant, it had a bit like chlorine perhaps (I never before had a mash with this problem). But it dissapeared after a while. The flavor before fermentation was good, but there is nothing new or lacto.
But after the first half of fermentation, the flavor related to lactic esters started.
When the fermentation was almost finished, I added infected backset (almost twice as much as last time). The lacto flavor didn't become much more, I think there is some kind of limit. After 24h I got sulfuric smell (I cured it with copper carbonate), after 48h I distilled it.
Yes, the low wines have more lacto flavor, than the low wines before. But not much, although I used much more infected backset and gave it more time.

I have mixed around 10-15% filtered infected backset to all low wines. They have a little less than 25% abv now. I will do the spirit run in a few days with my LM. I am courios, how this flavor will develop during the run. Perhaps it turns out like a fruit brandy... :problem: And I am curious about the heads cut. Probably I have to cut out more than usual.

In a week or so the infected backset of the three mashes will be developed again many funky smells. I will cook it and add sugar for a sugarhead. Two pure backset washes and strips, one spirit run.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby waffletalk » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:58 am

Your infected backset picture looks like a "brett" yeast film. As a wild yeast brett can manage a complete primary fermentation, but you need to pitch at least twice as much to four times as much yeast by volume as you would a sacro yeast pitch.

When pitched as a primary you can expect all sorts of tropical and pineapple fruit esters in the fermentation especially when you know where the brett came from... ie... propped from a lab, or the store. As a secondary fermenter you may need to wait significantly longer for the "brett" to do its job. It will convert all the remaining sugars in your mash and lower your final gravity to 0 but may take as long as 6 months. You will notice developing flavor changes while this fermentation occurs and your wash may go through periods where it does not taste, or smell good.. and then it will revert to being awesome again.

I use "brett" at work on a regular basis but that is in making aged and wild beers. We age our brett beers in wooden casks to keep the "wild" yeast separate from our house strains.

That bio-film is forming on the top of your backset as a way for the brett to gain access to oxygen.

On another note .... If you are planning on doing a lacto fermentation, and you can cover the top of your mash with CO2, you can avoid the unpleasant flavors developed by clostridium. Oxygen and clostridium create sulphur poopy notes. Once you hit your target pH, and generate the lactic acid you were looking for... as stated before you can pasteurize your mash, and then pitch a proper sacro yeast to finish the job.

Good luck.. I'm interested to hear about your tasting notes.

~J~
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:21 am

MDH wrote:What you are doing is not related to lactobacillus strains, but is actually the result of non-saccharomyces, pellicle forming yeast strains...

waffletalk wrote:Your infected backset picture looks like a "brett" yeast film...

I really want to belive you and MDH, that it is not a lacto. But all pictures here related to lacto look exactly like my backset. For example the pictures of MichiganCornhusker here:
http://ww.homedistiller.org/forum/viewt ... =4&t=63689
"One of my first lactos, a classic:"
http://ww.homedistiller.org/forum/downl ... &mode=view

So WHY it is a brett, not a lacto? Do you see it on the picture? Or because the smells I describe? The cheese smell?
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby waffletalk » Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:55 pm

The first picture is a little hard to tell. THe link you posted. It looks like some type of white mold, with yeast , perhaps brett.. I hope it tasted good, cause it looks awful.
The second picture looks like lacto but could also be a brett pellicle.

This is a great site to check out looking at weird things.
http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Pellicle

I could be totally wrong. I don't brew often with yogurt, and you could be playing with some lacto strains I'm unaware of it seems they do also form pellicles though I avoid that in my stir plate lacto grows. I will tell you that the vomit smell can be avoided, if you blanket the top of your wash with a bed of CO2 after you pitch before the organisms take hold. You are smelling clostridium botulinum and the bi products it makes when in the presence of oxygen. It can also harm you if you do not wait until you have a pH drop below 4, or an ABV above 2%, before you go tasting your wash. Alcohol products are food safe, but not at the beginning of fermentation.

Lacto will generate acid in a relatively short period of time. You can see a pH drop from 5.5 to 3.9 in 24 - 36 hours. Brett will create acetic acid in the presence of oxygen but it can take months. Acetobacter .. the bacteria responsible for vinegar can also work very quickly but the primary acid is acetic acid instead of lactic acid and it works relatively quickly, and also requires the presence of oxygen. Relatively quick might be a few weeks , to a few months.. not a few days. Fruit flies are known to carry acetobacter.

I might suggest that you get out a pH meter, and run a few small trials in some small buckets. If you keep the container oxygen free, that will retard the growth of clostridium , and you see a fast and remarkable pH drop in a day or two, at temps I prefer to hold around 120 degrees F.. then you are talking lacto.... It will smell like... gym socks.. or wet feet... depending on the strain.. pickles... You can develop that acidity in a few months after primary fermentation with lacto, but it should not form a pellicle. Once again.. I could be wrong.

If you are picking up buttered popcorn, you have a wild non brewing yeast infection, or a bacterial infection.. not brett... the chemical is diacetyl. Can be caused by dozens of things, but is exceptionally prominent in infected wort. Pediococcus bacteria while making acid, also produce diacetyl, and "brett" given months of time, will clean that up and make the wash palatable again.

If you are getting notes of pears, cherries, dry fruit, and hints of acid.. you probably have a wild brett strain that is functional and potentially tasty... feed it, make tasty things with it.
Brett is also known to create cheese, horse blanket, phenolic, medicinal, earthy notes depending on the strain. As a wild strain all the balls are in the air.

One last note. After re reading your posts you mention other distilleries that give you the taste notes you describe. "Brett" lives in wood, wooden vessels, and is particularly hard to kill. It can survive so well, because it breaks down cellulose and can convert that to sugar unlike other saccharomyces strains. Many of the places you described probably use wooden washbacks as fermentation vessels. The would naturally carry some hint of brett fermentation and may even be present as part of their house yeast culture.


Good luck.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:57 am

waffletalk wrote:The first picture is a little hard to tell. THe link you posted. It looks like some type of white mold, with yeast
Yes. But he posted three pictures indicated as lacto. White pellicle with bubbles.
Here a picture from today 24h after I added fresh backset and stirred everything:
DSC07397.JPG
So you see it's really fast.
Here the picture of MCH he describes "One of my first lactos, a classic" (I hope it's ok for MCH):
MCH.jpg
Where is the difference? Of course my infection is very young (24h), so the pellicle is not very thick.

I made a sour starter like for sourdough bread, I added yoghurt, I added yoghurt starter, now it looks like lacto, develops fast (not like you told me brett or aceo) and smells like cheese.

Thanks for the link. Yes, I know, the bubbles are formed by CO². So any infection causing a pellicle will also have bubbles, if there is something producing CO². I know I also have CO²-producing yeast in my backset. And a bit alcohol. But I don't smell vinegar up to now. perhaps the pellicle prevents it.

I pitched much calcium carbonate and a also hydroxide. I don't think a pH measurement would tell us something. Obviously it's very sour.

Yes pears, but no cherry or dry fruit.

Thanks for the long post. It's interesting. Because of your post and the link, I think, perhaps not everything, we describe as lacto here, is really a lacto.
But I am not sure, if your brewers knowledge helps much here, because it is infected backset, not infected beer. Of course I don't want to drink the backset (even not infected backset doesn't taste well). I want it to form esters (and it works excellent), which come over with distillation. I think, many infections deadly for beer are beneficial here. For what I have read, as long it doesen't smell mold, like feces or a cadaver, it's ok.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:25 am

After mixing 10-15% filtered infected backset to the low wines, the fruity flavor is less like pears and more like pineapple. Pineapple is a flavour I often have read here in connection with infections.

I distilled the spirit run with a short copper reflux column, 2" diameter, only 50cm packing (copper scrubbers and stainless SPP).
The result is, that again the pears flavor ist very dominating. Surprisingly I didn't have to cut more fores and heads than usual, but more tails. The chemical smell was very concentrated in the first jar as always and the next jars were fruity as always. But a yeast smell was coming out very early and forced me to cut.
It is oviously more complex than my Bourbons before and it's a good quality. So I am happy to have a good product and I learned a lot. I am only irritated, why the malty-fruity flavor of the mash was replaced by the pears aroma. I am very curious, how the sweetness of the first months on oak will change especially this detail perhaps.

Just right now I cook (sterilize) the infected backset and will make a sugarhead.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:39 pm

The backset got 2 weeks to develop. It had besides the heavy cheese aroma a strong glue smell now.
I heated the backset short for sterilizing and filled two fermenters with it. The kitchen smelled definetely not pleasant. I added sugar and pH risers and buffers. And after cooling down bakers yeast. In one of the two buckets I added a little amount of infected backset (uncooked of course) just after the fermentation had begun. Perhaps this bucket would turn out different.

The glue smell disappeared fast (blown out with the CO² probably) and a strong and complex fruity beery aroma came out of the airlock. Very promising! Smelled better than the original Bourbon.
A half day before stripping I added the feints of the Bourbon to the finished wash. So they had a bit over 15% abv. And although I stripped per 10l wash almost 4l low wines, they had almost 40%.

The low wines of the infected wash are very cloudy. The aroma is more fruity, but less spicy. I cannot decide, what's better.

Because of the high abv is much room for diluting with backset. So I decided to start a new backset pit. Actually it is a backset-backset-pit now... :crazy:
This time not with yoghurt but with a little amount of rye malt leftovers, perhaps it turns out different. When it's done, I will filter some of the infected backset and add it to the low wines before the spirit run.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby bilgriss » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:59 am

Great thread, thanks.

There is a lot of collected information related to sour fermentation and microflora on the site of Michael Tonsmeire, 'The Mad Fermentationalist'. It's all beer related, but some of it is very relevant to other endeavors.

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/p/ ... icles.html
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:21 pm

The backset-backset-pit and the spirit run of the infected backset whiskey:

After two days a weak fermentation had begun. The malty flavor of the rye malt dissapeared, it got sour and vegetable-like, then more and more creamy and fruity (but still sour). After two weeks it smelled like a probiotic yogurt-drink and sauerkraut.
This time no pellicle grew, probably because this time the pit was closed with lid and airlock. I have read somewhere, it needs oxygen that a pellicle grows. I filtered it, added it to the low wines, 75% low wines, 25% inf. backset and ran it with my LM-still with a short column (only 50cm packing).
Of course I had to cut more fores than normally. But the tails were later than normally. Backset sugarheads are always cleaner than the original whiskey. Nothing malty and no specific grain flavor, it's more an abstract dry clean and mature spirit. Like clean water from a deep black waterhole in the mountains (in opposite to a sun-drenched mountain lake). The infection adds fruity flavors, which not really belong here. I don't care of course. It's again much this pears flavor. Unfortunately, I wish I had get something new. When I google pear esters it looks like it is acetic or butryc acid + alcohols belonging to tails. But those esters have relative high boiling points. I smell them in the heads. So I am a bit confused. And yesterday my wife said it smells not like pears but like mirabelles... Whatever. It's on oak now. In a few months I know more.
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:39 am

The next episode is here:
"My infected peated Malt Whisky"
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby casper the Irish » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:48 am

I have a question, DW

Why?
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby casper the Irish » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:09 am

You guys are too far out for a swill maker like me who is just learning to make clean fermented beer for pure sweet whiskey like half decent shop bought.

Jameson make one of the best Irish whiskeys. They ferment barley 3 days at 24°C, I am not sure if they seek eserification or are just in a hurry.
(If they fermented 7 days below 20° the beer would be cleaner, and make a tenth of the esters. Just like good German beer.)
When I leave my mash to ferment at 24° it is not finished bubbling in 72 hrs. But it does start to smell pungent. First the esters. Then butyrate puke, sharper aromatics, white scum, all sorts of infection type smells.

Is this what you want, and why? Is this why Jameson's stop their ferment at 72hours?

Am I losing ethanol to oxidative or reductive reactions, producing esters and acids instead. If I don't strip soon, the ethanol yield seems to fall.

I read that rum Dunder is ideally infected by bacteria blown off the nearby sugar cane fields. I have been trying to replicate this myself. Also, I experience a great improvement in flavour when I re-run rum backset at all steps- wash, strip, reflux, aging.

But why infected wheated Bourbon?
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:20 am

casper the Irish wrote:I have a question, DW

Why? Why not. I have already made all sorts of grain spirits. All are uninfected. So I want to try out something different.

casper the Irish wrote:When I leave my mash to ferment at 24° it is not finished bubbling in 72 hrs. But it does start to smell pungent. First the esters. Then butyrate puke, sharper aromatics, white scum, all sorts of infection type smells. And the distillate of the beer? Ugly or fruity?

Is this what you want, and why? Is this why Jameson's stop their ferment at 72hours? I don't care what Jameson does. And I don't claim, what I do here is something traditional or original.

Am I losing ethanol to oxidative or reductive reactions, producing esters and acids instead. If I don't strip soon, the ethanol yield seems to fall. I never recognized this. It's true in theory, yes. In practice it's minimal I think.

I read that rum Dunder is ideally infected by bacteria blown off the nearby sugar cane fields. I have been trying to replicate this myself. Also, I experience a great improvement in flavour when I re-run rum backset at all steps- wash, strip, reflux, aging. We don't have exactly the same bacteria here. But generally the acids they produce are similar.

But why infected wheated Bourbon? Why infected rum?
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby casper the Irish » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:07 pm

I understood that infected rum Dunder acted on the unfermentable sugars of molasses. Arayo in his patent says the Clostridium strain works that magic at 30-33°C up to an ABV well below 6%. On this basis, Yeast and sugar is added later in the fermentation.
So the infection increases yield dramatically, not to reduce it.
For that reason I am inclined to raise pH of my low wines (Na2CO3), reduce esters and increase alcohol.

Could I improve taste of product by doing the opposite, by increasing volatiles? That's why I spoke of Jameson whiskey fermentation at a high temperature which increases ester and aldehyde formation. Is this what you are also doing by infecting backset.... increasing esters, volatiles, heavy alcohols, perhaps less ethanol but so much more "unknowns" that maybe taste or smell good? (Fingers double-crossed)
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:54 pm

casper the Irish wrote:I understood that infected rum Dunder acted on the unfermentable sugars of molasses. Arayo in his patent says the Clostridium strain works that magic at 30-33°C up to an ABV well below 6%. On this basis, Yeast and sugar is added later in the fermentation. But what produces clostrodium? Alcohol? No. Butryric acid. And this produces pineapple flavor esters.
So the infection increases yield dramatically, not to reduce it.
For that reason I am inclined to raise pH of my low wines (Na2CO3), reduce esters and increase alcohol. I would rather add more acids to increase the esterification. Except when producing neutral alcohol.
Could I improve taste of product by doing the opposite, by increasing volatiles? That's why I spoke of Jameson whiskey fermentation at a high temperature which increases ester and aldehyde formation. Is this what you are also doing by infecting backset.... increasing esters, volatiles, heavy alcohols, perhaps less ethanol but so much more "unknowns" that maybe taste or smell good? (Fingers double-crossed) Yes. But playing with the fermentation length or temp or yeast strains has much less effects than an infection. And the effects are not totally uncontrollable. You can choose the bacterias.
I have a job for you:
Please, we need at least one member voting against esters here:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=65853
:lol:
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Mon May 15, 2017 1:54 am

The third episode is here:
My infected Rum
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby zapata » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:52 am

How is this tasting after 3 months of age?
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Re: My infected wheated Bourbon

Postby der wo » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:44 am

The Bourbon after 6 months is not very different from a normal Bourbon. The infection was not strong enough for more I think. It has a bit more something between lemon and pear than a normal Bourbon.
The pears flavor of the sugarhead after 5 months is darker now, perhaps like peaches. Very fruity but not too much. Like always a backset sugarhead is very mature and clean, but lacks of grain and malt flavor. So it is not really a Whiskey, but of course also not a brandy despite of the fruitiness.
Both spirits have not enough oak by far at the moment.
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