Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

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Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby kindsun » Tue May 15, 2018 1:00 pm

As a homebrewer, I'm very much used to the idea that the yeast is responsible for a huge amount of the final flavor. The same ingredients/mash bill will produce two wildly different beers if you use a Belgian or Saison yeast versus a California Ale, for instance.

From fairly extensive thread reading, there seems to be almost no regard given to the type of yeast used for a recipe (other than "turbo is probably a bad idea"). Is there something about the distilling process that loses most of the yeast-imparted flavors from the fermented mash in favor of the flavor from the base grain(s)?
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby fizzix » Tue May 15, 2018 4:10 pm

It does make a negligible difference from my meager distilling experience, but not nearly as profound as in brewing.
Considering the cost difference of a little bakers yeast compared to a $10 vial that you have to make a starter for,
the flavor difference would have to be more dramatic (for the average mash) than the extra cost and work warrants.
Plus, you know what you're getting with bakers yeast. I'd hate to use a beer yeast and find it turns my beloved bourbon into a fruity, flowery drink
that calls for a little umbrella stuck in it.

Now, some recipes will call for Champagne yeasts, wine yeasts or others at times, so it's not a hard and fast "rule."
As a matter of fact, I'm using champagne yeast (because it's called for) in my latest batches of Deathwish Wheat Germ.

I think you've asked a great question, though, and would like to hear others' opinions.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby butterpants » Tue May 15, 2018 9:20 pm

From the last year messing with Bourbon and UJSSM recipies, I'd disagree and say yeast is uber important and more so how you treat them (stay within accepted nutrient and temperature ranges). What's not as important is being clean with them, unlike brewing.

My rum experience is only halfway done so I can't speak for it yet.

When it comes down to nuts n bolts, follow conventional wisdom and best practices. Use tried and true recipies and strains.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby greggn » Wed May 16, 2018 2:37 am

For new home-distillers, I believe that process control is initially more important than yeast selection. Consistent milling of grains and temperature control of your ferment will have as much, or more, influence over the quality and flavor of your final product.

... and, yes, I suggest you use baker's yeast while developing and refining your workflow.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby der wo » Wed May 16, 2018 2:44 am

Here is a very interesting interview. Two audio files also on yeast for distillers:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=68005&p=7511906#p7511906

I use bakers yeast for almost everything. At least at the beginning spending much money on yeast is wasting money.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby jonnys_spirit » Wed May 16, 2018 4:08 am

When i do batches I have been doing multiple runs of ferment / strip / spirit. I have started to use different yeast in each ferment for more complex profile. It was also cold in my cellar over the winter so I used some lager yeast. Has turned out well and I’ll do it again.

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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Saltbush Bill » Wed May 16, 2018 4:47 am

The same applies to some degree, different yeasts for different outcomes or products , EC1118 for Neutral and Fruit washes.
Bakers Yeast and things like 493 EDV and similar for Rums. People also have preferences for whiskies, both American and Scottish. If you read enough you will find one thing that is 100% sure.....some people will claim they can tell a huge difference in results , while others say they can tell almost no difference.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Birrofilo » Wed May 16, 2018 12:35 pm

I also come from homebrewing.
In the homebrewing world nobody would ever say "I use brewer's yeast".
Brewer's yeast "doesn't exist".
What exist is BE-256, US-05, S-04 (or many others by Fermentis), M15, M31, M41, M47 (or many others by Mangrove Jack's) and other many dozens of strains by different producers.

In the distilling world, people will tell you they use "baker's yeast".
It appears obvious to me that "baker's yeast" doesn't exist, so to speak, as an identifiable product. Certainly dozens of different strains exist, and they will give different results in bread. If you bake your bread at home, you know that each "brand" of baker's yeast has an influence in the taste of your bread. I wouldn't be surprised if "baker's yeast" sold in Italy is made of strains very different from strains which you find as "baker's yeast" in Germany or in the USA. And just like the result of each strain is different, so probably is even more different the result between "baker's yeast" in different countries. Bread is different in different countries, and bread is made by yeast not less than beer.

The strain of what you call "baker's yeast" will be different from the strain somebody else uses and equally call "baker's yeast".

The fact itself that such a very vague notion as "baker's yeast" exist in the distilling world is sufficient proof that the yeast strain is not of paramount importance.

Or maybe it's an explanation of why somebody say they like the result of baker's yeast and somebody say they have no good results with baker's yeast and they prefer another kind of yeast. The apparent incoherence might be due to the fact that they are not talking about the same strain, and it might well be that some strains of "baker's yeast" are not suitable, while others are, so that if you don't have good results with "baker's yeast", maybe you will have with a different strain of "baker's yeast".

Ultimately - even if less important than in brewing - it would be better if instead of "baker's yeast", which IMHO means nothing useful, people would say "I use baker's yeast produced by producer Smith and sold under the brand HappyLoaf". That would make a recipe more reproducible.

The notion of "baker's yeast" should probably be avoided for being too vague.

The species of "baker's yeast" is probably composed of a single strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae only, the "strain" will depend on the culture of each different producer, it's normally "producer-specific", so there is no other sure way to identify a "baker's yeast" than saying exactly which producer, which brand, (like in the beer world).
Actually some "baker's yeast" could contain some different species (the species which are commonly found in sourdough, that kind of yeast is sold as "natural yeast" or similar terms in Italy) and so they could be something VERY different from a product made only of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

And all those different products are described as "baker's yeast".
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby der wo » Wed May 16, 2018 1:10 pm

I disagree. If you want to know, which bakers yeast exactly someone uses, you are overthinking IMO. To say "I use bakers yeast" simply says, that the yeast selection plays tastewise a very small role in the overall process of making spirits. So I use the cheapest yeast I can get or simply the yeast from the nearest supermarket, that I have always fresh quality. And although you are right, bakers yeast is not overall in the world the same strain, they are similar: They like warm temperatures, they are reliable under many circumstances and they start to ferment very fast.

All in all the question is where you come from. If you were a brewer before you started distilling, you will always think, yeast selection is very important. Right or wrong. If you started directly with distilling, you will probably concentrate on other aspects.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Birrofilo » Fri May 18, 2018 8:27 am

I see your point but I am not convinced that "baker's yeast" is, as you imply, a family giving some predictable and standard result.

I am not convinced not because I tried baker's yeast in fermentation, but because I read, in this forum, contradicting statements regarding results with baker's yeast. For the same recipe, some people say they had good result with baker's yeast, some people say they haven't. I think this happens because they did not use the same yeast.

In brewing nobody will tell that they had a very estery result with US-05 at 18°C, or that they had a very "clean" result with S-04 at 25°C. Temperature and yeast are part of a recipe because they give reproducible results, which is why recipes circulate. Strains are known and their result, given OG and temperature, is very predictable.

So I suspect that people have different results with "baker's yeast" because, in fact, they use "different" baker's yeasts, and possibly even more because they use different fermentation temperatures.

Whisky is made of beer.
The alcohols in beer will be different if fermented by a different strain. A few degrees °C will give a radically different result when using S-04, and the same temperature will give a radically different result when using S-04 or US-05, for instance.
When one distills those beers, the different content in esters and various congeners will be IMHO inevitably reflected in the final result.
But the final result will also depend on various other factors (distillation technique, tastes, etc.).
What I am saying is that each "factor" factors in. Ultimately one distills what is in the fermenter, and what is in the fermenter is very highly dependent from fermentation management (yeast, temperature, oxygenation etc.).

Actually, fermentation temperature is another aspect which is crucial in a recipe.

I am aware that after distillation one ends up with a "subset" of what was in the fermenter, therefore there is no direct correlation between the two.

But I find that, maybe, stressing percentage in the grain list of a recipe, and then having different yeast strains working at different temperatures, might lead to different results, which somehow betrays the "recipe" concept.

If a recipe includes OG, yeast (strain), temperature, it is reproducible.
If a recipe doesn't include those factors, the final result remains unpredictable.

This is not a critique to you personally (you are the single most useful member of this forum to me) but as a general observation that yeast strain and temperature of fermentation ultimately play an important role in the "beer", and I am not convinced they don't play an important role in the distillate of that beer.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby der wo » Fri May 18, 2018 8:32 am

No problem. We have now a few opinions and the OP or other readers can make their own thoughts about this topic.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby badflash » Fri May 18, 2018 8:54 am

In brewing beer the stuff besides alcohol are really important. Each yeast produces a different flavor profile due to the yeast byproducts, and in some cases, the yeast itself. When you distil, most of that gets dumped. IMHO what is more important is how the yeast performs in what ever you are fermenting. Some yeasts like certain things and some yeast run out of gas at low alcohol levels, others keep on going, like Champaign yeast.

The stuff I am fermenting right now tends to be high gravity, so I am using Premiere Cuvee. If my gravity was lower, I would use an ale yeast.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Birrofilo » Sat May 19, 2018 6:21 am

badflash wrote:In brewing beer the stuff besides alcohol are really important. Each yeast produces a different flavor profile due to the yeast byproducts, and in some cases, the yeast itself. When you distil, most of that gets dumped.


It is my understanding that those yeast byproducts in breweing are actually what distillers calls heads and tails. A brewer would say a certain yeast imparts to the beer phenolic notes, pepper, coriander, cloves, or fruity notes, banana, ananas, pear, berries etc.
Those different aromatic profiles correspond to some different alcohol congeners or some different esters. We don't lose those in distilling.

What we lose when we distill beer is the water and the "body", i.e. the undigested sugars (which have not been touched by the yeast, because they did not know what to do with it) and we maintain all the alcohols, in the typical "mix" that that yeast, at that temperature, created.

Basically IMHO we lose what the yeast did not touch and had no influence upon, and we maintain in the distilled product the result of the yeast digestion, in all its different variations of aroma.

There are four "flavour dimensions" in beer: water, hop, grains and alcohol. Yeast is responsible for the "alcohol" dimension of flavour, which is what we distill.

In distillation we don't have the water dimension and we don't have - normally - the hop dimension. We have grains (or other raw material) and alcohols. The grain dimension has IMHO less influence in the final product in distillates than in beer.

Yeast is what mostly determines the "alcohol" dimension in beer and distillates. Different strains will give different profiles.
Recipes stress the grains (or ingredient) dimension without giving importance to the yeast, which is responsible for the "alcohol" dimension, which instead is IMHO the most important.

The radical difference between beer and distillation is that in beer the alcohol dimension (like all others) cannot be modified, it is set in stone, while in distillation we actually "manipulate" it, it's clay that we shape, hence the diminished degree of attention to the yeast, but it's the yeast which makes the clay in the first place.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sat May 19, 2018 7:00 am

And we often reserve some backset and further process that with infections and ageing then mix back into a mash and even low wines for further distillation and esterification. Seems to me a very intricate bunch of interdependencies and every element contributes towards the resulting product - perhaps not all equal.

After all, without the yeasties we would be drinking sweet mash water and that’d be the end of it.

Cheers,
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby badflash » Sat May 19, 2018 9:09 am

I think there is more to beer than what you think. The alcohol profile is fixed, but only by the yeast you use. Loads of varieties of yeasts give a huge difference in the mix of alcohols, cogens, esters, etc. but not all of them have boiling points lower than water, so they end up in the backset. Most distillers seem to care little about the heads or the tails, so the yeast they pick doesn't matter much as long as it doesn't quit on them before the sugar is used up.

Birrofilo wrote:It is my understanding that those yeast byproducts in breweing are actually what distillers calls heads and tails. A brewer would say a certain yeast imparts to the beer phenolic notes, pepper, coriander, cloves, or fruity notes, banana, ananas, pear, berries etc.
Those different aromatic profiles correspond to some different alcohol congeners or some different esters. We don't lose those in distilling.

What we lose when we distill beer is the water and the "body", i.e. the undigested sugars (which have not been touched by the yeast, because they did not know what to do with it) and we maintain all the alcohols, in the typical "mix" that that yeast, at that temperature, created.

Basically IMHO we lose what the yeast did not touch and had no influence upon, and we maintain in the distilled product the result of the yeast digestion, in all its different variations of aroma.

There are four "flavour dimensions" in beer: water, hop, grains and alcohol. Yeast is responsible for the "alcohol" dimension of flavour, which is what we distill.

In distillation we don't have the water dimension and we don't have - normally - the hop dimension. We have grains (or other raw material) and alcohols. The grain dimension has IMHO less influence in the final product in distillates than in beer.

Yeast is what mostly determines the "alcohol" dimension in beer and distillates. Different strains will give different profiles.
Recipes stress the grains (or ingredient) dimension without giving importance to the yeast, which is responsible for the "alcohol" dimension, which instead is IMHO the most important.

The radical difference between beer and distillation is that in beer the alcohol dimension (like all others) cannot be modified, it is set in stone, while in distillation we actually "manipulate" it, it's clay that we shape, hence the diminished degree of attention to the yeast, but it's the yeast which makes the clay in the first place.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Birrofilo » Sat May 19, 2018 1:57 pm

badflash wrote:I think there is more to beer than what you think. The alcohol profile is fixed, but only by the yeast you use. Loads of varieties of yeasts give a huge difference in the mix of alcohols, cogens, esters, etc. but not all of them have boiling points lower than water, so they end up in the backset. Most distillers seem to care little about the heads or the tails, so the yeast they pick doesn't matter much as long as it doesn't quit on them before the sugar is used up.


I think we think equally but use the words "heads" and "tails" differently. For "heads" and "tails" I don't mean only those parts that are discarded by the distiller, but all the alcohol constituents which are not pure ethanol, i.e. all the alcohol congeners, which are retained by the distiller in order to give the "organolectic profile" to the distillate.
All those congeners come from the "alcohol profile" of the beer and end up constituting the "profile" of the distillate.

Which means that, in my reasoning, the final aromatic distillate (brandy, whisky, rum, grappa etc.) contains, in this sense, heads and tails, although not all heads and all tails which are present in the original matter (wine, beer, sugarcane wash, etc.).

What I mean is that what you get in the distillate you have normally gotten it first in the fermentation.

[I abstract here from more complicated ways of creating congeners, such as using acid backset and acid fermentation in order to create esters which were not present in the basic fermentation, because my point is that "backer's yeast" is probably different strains which impart different alcohol profiles to the product during fermentation]
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby badflash » Sat May 19, 2018 2:18 pm

I think we are talking about the same thing Birrofilo, but different yeasts do give different stuff period, but in distilling a skilled person can make something good out of just about anything. What has always puzzled though, is why if you drink a couple of beers, no hang over, but if you distill the same amount of beer and drink it without dumping the first parts that come out, you do. It seems to me there is other stuff left in the backset that counter acts some of the bad effects.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sat May 19, 2018 6:49 pm

It’s the yeasties themselves and their dead brethren. When I was a young lad growing up abroad in Deutschland the best Bier for hangover prevention was the one with the stuff still all floaty. Mit Trüb. Vitamin “B as in Bier” mit Trüb. I tested that theory a lot. Der Wo can prolly vouch.

Tchüßi tschau tschau!
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby der wo » Mon May 21, 2018 1:57 am

I thought always, a beer without trub would be the best against hangover?
The only thing I know it helps is Vitamine I before going to bed.
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(I = Ibuprofen)


And of course the "Reparaturseidel". Means translated a repairing small beer. You have to drink it just after waking up...
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Birrofilo » Mon May 21, 2018 2:18 am

badflash wrote:I think we are talking about the same thing Birrofilo, but different yeasts do give different stuff period, but in distilling a skilled person can make something good out of just about anything. What has always puzzled though, is why if you drink a couple of beers, no hang over, but if you distill the same amount of beer and drink it without dumping the first parts that come out, you do. It seems to me there is other stuff left in the backset that counter acts some of the bad effects.


Yes I agree, it's the "recipe" aspect that IMHO should include the yeast strain to make things more reproducible, but ultimately the distiller "shapes" the final result much and somehow inevitably, so that in distilling a "recipe" is less reproducible than in homebrewing or in cuisine, because individual technique and procedure has a deeper influence in distilling than in cooking or homebrewing.

I suspect the thing the beer has which counteracts the bad effects is "isotonic" water, water plus the right mixture of potassium and magnesium. When we add the little shot of distillate to a dinner, we often don't "dilute" it with the appropriate amount of water to dilute it, in our bodily system, to beer strenght, and in any case, if we do, we use simple water.

It might be that the amount of potassium and magnesium, which every beer contain in large quantity and water does not, helps also under that respect of managing alcohol.

I was always surprised how I can drink more beer than water. Beer simply goes down the throat more easily. Your body tells you "enough water" much before than it tells you "enough beer". I could never drink 1 l water in half an hour. I know I can drink 1 l beer in summer in half an hour during dinner, no problem! (especially if I am back from an hike).

Beer is an isotonic brewage, water is not. An isotonic drink is absorbed by the intestine much faster than a no-isotonic drink. Alcohol is absorbed very fast as well.

Water is needed for the digestion of alcohols.
That probably means that, while drinking beer, we give our liver water which is immediately available.
If we drink spirit and then drink water, the spirit is absorbed much faster than the (non-isotonic) water. So that might have an effect on the digestion of alcohol, the digestion is slower, some alcohol is "parked" in the blood, and we begin saying funny things. :lol:

(Just an hypothesis of mine. The "morning after alcohol", instead, it's scientifical stuff against headache, because headache IIRC is caused, also, by the sudden decrease in alcohol content in the blood, so one must "taper" its descent).
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby badflash » Mon May 21, 2018 9:14 am

If I drink Everclear, which is supposedly pure ethanol, I never get a hangover.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby butterpants » Wed May 23, 2018 9:45 am

badflash wrote:If I drink Everclear, which is supposedly pure ethanol, I never get a hangover.
You're not drinking enough of it.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Alchemist75 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:26 am

butterpants wrote:
badflash wrote:If I drink Everclear, which is supposedly pure ethanol, I never get a hangover.
You're not drinking enough of it.

Ugh, "pure ethanol" is subjective. Everclear is the only booze that consistently makes me vomit no matter how much I dilute it. If I drank enough to get a buzz I will puke later. Ngs my ass. Yuck.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby bluedog » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:49 am

If you have the time I'd highly suggest running batches and keeping everything the same to see for yourself. I've been switching up the yeast in a rum recipe and the difference is huge. I've used two different stains of baker's yeast, a distiller's yeast, and about 4 or 5 Belgian ale strains. Even the difference between the Belgian strains is easily noticeable. I'm sure you do lose a lot of the esters and congeners in the heads and tails, but plenty are still left, especially if you use a flavorful yeast and ferment warm, or under pitch a bit. I have a theory that good tasting congeners may make more of your heads palatable, and allow you to keep more of your late heads in the final cut.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby TDick » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:22 pm

badflash wrote:If I drink Everclear, which is supposedly pure ethanol, I never get a hangover.

I once was told the same thing about Scotch.

butterpants wrote:You're not drinking enough of it.

I found that was true about scotch.

As to the OP, a noob's two cents worth.

What I've figured out from a LOT of reading.

I too am curious about difference in yeasts, but I figure that is WAAAY down the road for me. Red Star Baker's Yeast for me although Jimbo challenged me to use 05 in my next AG batch, so I will.

I ASSuME that Bushman in the Pacific Northwest, DerWo in Germany, Copperhead in Australia, and I down in Alabama could all start a batch of let's say UJSSM today with local products and we would come up with results that would taste quite different. Different properties of local corn, climate, season, types of fermenters/stills, and simply different levels of experience would be some of the reasons.

Even if you ran a blind taste test with the results, it would differ by who did the tasting.

The best thing about forums like this is that you can learn from from all types of other "Crafters", then experiment to find what tastes best to you.
That's what I like about threads like this.
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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Big Stogie » Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:22 am

In my experience so far I have made a few of the same wash with different yeast and when temp is properly controlled my results show me that yeast selection and process control have a big influence on final product. I spoke to these guys and they have some choices used by big producers at a reasonable price not much more that bakers they also have enzymes I just got but have not tried yet http://ferm-solutions.net/product-categ ... hol-yeast/
When the student is ready the teacher will emerge.

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Re: Yeast question from a homebrewer's perspective

Postby Stew8 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:51 am

It appears that if you’re using oak or wood to age the spirit; for flavour the wood used is the prime consideration based on experience, albeit limited, and scientific papers I’ve skimmed.
https://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=71873#p7536483

As mentioned above, my yeast selection is based temperature/tolerance performance and of course cost.
I’ve tried apple with bakers yeast and have a second batch with generic wine yeast. If there is a significant difference I’ll come back to this thread and let you know
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