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HOPPED WHISKEYS

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Chapter 05: Hopped Whiskeys Hops have been cultivated for over a thousand years as a bittering agent and preservative. Before hops were the dominant preservative, other herbs like mugwort, heather, or dandelion were used, as were herb mixtures such as gruit, an herb blend. Hops overcame gruit and the rest of these herbs when it was realized that beers made with hops were The hops plant has an less likely to spoil. Hops based beers could be preserved incredible history within beer far longer than others. The bittering effect of the hops and aroma also positively contrasted flavorwise to the making, yet it is virtually sweet maltiness of barley. The type of hops used and the way in which they were brewed had a profound influence nonexistent as a flavor in on the final beer. Initially, hops were used for the utilitarwhiskey production. Why? ian purpose of preservation, yet along the way a curious thing happened: people fell in love with the taste of hops. The hops plant has an incredible history within beer making, yet it is virtually nonexistent in whiskey production as a flavor. Very few distilleries use hops as an antimicrobial agent in their mashes. Unlike beer production, this is purely functional and not about flavor. So why are hops not used in whiskey making? Beats me, because hopped whiskeys taste great! If you have never had a hopped whiskey like Charbay®, which is likely, then you are in for a real treat. They are just so different and fascinating. It’s like the difference between tasting a gin and a vodka. I love them both, but gin has so much more going on, and flavorwise vodka will taste flat compared to it. If whiskey is distilled beer, why has an element so critical to the history of beer never been used? There are good reasons for this and the main reason is that hops are not needed for preservation as the high alcohol content of whiskey keeps it from spoiling. A brewer is much more concerned with the threat of other yeasts getting into the wort. Open top fermenting is common in distilleries, yet most brewers are shocked to see this as it seems so haphazard to them. Hops are expensive, and it would add substantial cost per batch to make a hopped whiskey. As whiskey is a product that will never spoil due to the high proof of alcohol, there is no need for a preservative like hops. Distillers also skip the boil step of brewing, which is where hops are usually added. Distillers do a boil, just not before fermentation. Ours is called distillation. Of course another reason is probably tradition. Distillers tend to be very conservative and not quick to change or try new things. When you have a product that takes years to age, you really don’t want to mess it up by chancing something that may or may not work. Obviously the spirit of this book is the opposite of this: experiment, experiment, experiment! This chapter was meant to merely be a footnote to distilling microbrew style beers, but I decided to expand it as there is so much room for experimentation here. The microbrewery movement has radically increased the amount of education the typical consumer has about beer. The level of knowledge you come across at bars serving all craft beers can be quite impressive. It’s my belief that the craft distilling movement has a lot to learn from both the small winery movement and the craft brewing movement. We’ll talk about the winery influence later. Right now let’s talk about beer. 86


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The craft brewing movement is certainly in love with hops. “The more the better” seems to be the mantra. Heavily-hopped beers rise in popularity can be seen in the craft beer world. Beers with strikingly high IBU’s (International Bittering Units), a measurement of hops bitterness in the beer, are now common. Heavily hopped beers have a long history. Only recently within in the past 30 years have they made a revival in North America with the craft beer movement.

Making Hopped Whiskeys Let’s jump right into making some hopped whiskeys with a few recipes. I want to focus on one of the most popular craft brewing styles: the IPA or India Pale Ale. The IPA was created in Britain in the late 1700’s as a beer that could be shipped to India. As this was nearly a six month voyage with no refrigeration, the chance of the beer’s spoiling was high. By adding more hops, and using a higher alcohol content, the beer had a better chance of surviving the trip. Now, typically, they are brewed in the U.S. with hops like Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Warrior, and Nugget. There are some significant differences between making a beer and making a beer for whiskey. The biggest difference is that after mashing, distillers typically skip the boil. This is one of the main steps in brewing and the main place where hops come into play. There is another place where distillers boil: during distillation. The way to maximize hop flavor in a whiskey is simple: during the second distillation. If using a pot still and doing multiple passes, use the hops during the last pass or the dry hop technique in the barrel. Why? There are several reasons. Unfortunately for distillers, some of the best hops flavor comes over during heads and tails: the stuff we throw away. The key is to time your hops additions so it hits during the hearts. For a brewer, timing the addition is easy. Lift off the top of the brew kettle and throw in the hops. For a distiller, this is a little more complicated, as stills are typically sealed vessels. If it is opened, some distillate will be lost. There is a simple invention to make this easier and not lose any distillate: a double-valved hop insertion pipe. It’s a simple device. Add two valves to each end of a copper pipe and attach it to an opening on the still. This will allow the vessel to open the outer valve and add hops. Then close that valve and open the second to make the hops drop into the still. The distiller will be able to time hops additions with the different stages of distillation. This device will allow you to exert some control over timing in a manner similar to what brewers do during the boil to keep a lot of the aroma. Let’s say the distiller needs one type of hops to boil during the entire hearts duration and then another to add a different aroma towards the end of the hearts. Of course there is always a translation in distillation and predicting what flavors will come across and what will stay in the pot can be a challenge.

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Warrior IPA This whiskey is based on the IPA, or India Pale Ale beer. This beer is British in origin and is known for its high level of hops and alcohol. It was invented to survive the long boat ride to India without spoiling. As hops are a natural preservative, increasing them and alcohol was the only way to assure the long trip. This whiskey will focus on a single variety of hops: Warrior. This hops has an aggressive bitter flavor. Original Gravity: 1.059 Terminal Gravity: 1.015 Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 5.85% ABV Mash Ingredients 200.0 lb Standard 2-Row 5.0 lb Caramel Malt 120L 15.0 lb Caramel Pils

Yeast WYEAST 1056 American Ale Yeast

Distillation Ingredients 4.5 Oz Warrior Hops

Double Distill to at least 125 proof Bottle: 85 proof

Brewing Instructions

Barrel Notes

Grind the grain and add 169 F degree water in the mash tun. Single step infusion for one hour keeping the temperature between 130 F and 160 F, preferably 152 F. Lauter at 170 F degrees or higher.

The whiskey is aged in a 5 gallon, new white American oak barrel at char#4, for at least 6-8 months. We expected the barrel to diminish the hops character, it actually seems to amplify them.

Distillation Notes The hops are added during second distillation either directly into the distillers’ beer or preferably in a botanical basket, or ginhead. A botanical tea can also be made steeping the hops in water before bottling.

The above recipe for Warrior IPA focuses on the single hop type: Warrior. This is an American hops with high alpha acids at 16%. Two techniques will be used to push the hoppy character of the whiskey. Add hops at different times in the second pass of distillation and then dry hop in the barrel. Dry hopping adds a lot of aroma, but little bitterness, and is common in Pale Ales, IPA’s, California Common ales, and some stouts. Hops are added to the fermenter, or in the case of a whiskey, it can be added to the barrel. Although Warrior is not the best hops to use for dry hopping, it will still make a very interesting and heavily hopped whiskey. The second IPA recipe we will look at uses a single hop variety called Citra. There are many types of hops and there is a lot of room for personal experimentation. This recipe uses an enormous amount of hops, so there will be no question that this is an alternative whiskey. Citra is a newer dual purpose hops that can be used for aroma or bittering. What is unique about Citra is it’s aromatic properties. Citra has a citrus aroma and flavor, with a heavy aroma of tropical fruits like grapefruit, orange, mangos, etc. The different malts should add a little flavor complexity; not that you really need it on this whiskey. The Citra aroma will really hit you. Take note, this is a whiskey for hop lovers.

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CITRA DOUBLE IPA WHISKEY The double IPA beer is an evolution of the IPA, but typically adds more malt and more hops. This results in a higher alcohol and more intensely hopped beer. As a whiskey we want to push the hops content over the top for a whiskey that appeals to both ‘hopheads’ of the beer community and curious whiskey aficionados. We will focus this on a single hop variety: Citra. Citra has very intense citrus flavors like grapefruit and orange. It’s not for everyone but makes a truly great whiskey if you love heavily hopped beers. Original Gravity: 1.061 Terminal Gravity: 1.015 Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 5.98% ABV

Double Distilled to at least 140 proof Bottle: 85 proof

Barrel Notes Brewing Instructions

Mash Ingredients 300.0 lb Standard 2-Row 7.5 lb Caramel Malt 120L 22.5.0 lb Caramel Pils

Yeast WYEAST 1056 American Ale Yeast

Distillation Ingredients 6.0 Oz Citra Hops

beer or preferably in a botanical basket, or ginhead.

Grind the grain and add 169 F degree water in the mash tun. Single step infusion for one hour keeping the temperature between 130 F and 160 F, preferably 152 F. Lauter at 170 F or higher.

The whiskey is aged in a 5 gallon, new white American oak barrel at char#4, for at least 6 months.

Fermentation Ferment for at least 4 days at 68 F.

Distillation Notes The hops are added during second distillation either directly into the distillers’

Dry Hopping The next recipe uses dry hopping. It’s got a great hoppy character but can become intensely bitter. It makes an interesting whiskey. Many brewers will add hops not during the boil but afterwards during fermentation. This technique is called dry hopping. Distillers add another step brewers do not: barrel aging. Although a distiller could certainly dry hop during fermentation, they would get more out of it by waiting until after a distillation pass is done with cuts, as the cuts will keep a lot of the hops flavor. Heads and tails seem to collect a lot of the aroma. Distillers throw away a substantial amount whiskey in cuts and this would be a real waste of hops. By adding as close as possible to the final volume, it will be more efficient with the amount of hops used. The barrel strength will still get cut down when bottled with water, but this is still a good time to dry hop. The other advantages of the barrel is there is not much air space in the barrel, which would lower the effect of the hops. Care must be taken not to expose the hops to sunlight as this will create skunky off flavors. One downside is the barrel does take away some flavors and oils. The amount of time to leave it in is personal preference. If the distiller is going to age say a year, it would be best to add the hops a few weeks before bottling. There are several things you can do to maximize the dry hopping effect. One is to shake the barrel occasionally to force the hops back into suspension. Another trick is multiple hop additions. You can add multiple dry hops additions over a period of time and even mix up the type of hop. 92


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DRY HOPPED MALT WHISKEY Dry hopping is a way to maximise hops, but can add grassy off flavors if used for too long. In this whiskey we will use a simple all malted barley whiskey distilled with 2 hop varieties and then add more hops at the end in the barrel, or dry hopped. Original Gravity: 1.062 Terminal Gravity: 1.015 Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 6.21% ABV

Double Distilled to at least 125 proof Bottle: 85 proof Brewing Instructions

Mash Ingredients 159.84 lb American 2-row 17.36 lb Crystal Malt 40°L

Yeast WYEAST 1056 American Ale Yeast

Grind the grain and add 169 F degree water in the mash tun. Single step infusion for one hour keeping the temperature between 130 F and 160 F, preferably 152 F. Lauter at 170 F degrees or higher.

Barrel Ingredients 1.0 oz Crystal 1.0 oz Centennial

Barrel Notes The whiskey is aged in a 5 gallon, new white American oak barrel at char#4, for at least 6 months. Dry Hopped in Barrel: 1.0 oz Crystal (3.3%) 1.0 oz Centennial (10.0%)

Fermentation Ferment for at least 5 days at 68 degrees.

Distillation Ingredients Added during 2nd distillation 1.0 oz Nugget 1.0 oz Willamette

used at bottling.

Distillation Notes The hops are added during second distillation either directly into the distillers’ beer or preferably in a botanical basket, or ginhead. A botanical tea can also be

Hop Teas One other thing whiskey makers do that brewers don’t is after barrel aging we cut down the high proof ‘cask strength’ whiskey to bottle proof. Typically, distillers put whiskey in the barrel between 110 to 125 proof, then, after aging, cut it down to 80 proof to bottle, depending on the whiskey style. This creates another opportunity to add back some of the tricks brewers use that are difficult to replicate with distilling. If the distiller makes a hop tea by simply boiling water and adding hops at different times it will result in more accurately capturing the aromas and bitterness of the hops. The distiller will cut the cask strength whiskey with this tea, instead of just water, to more authentically replicate the recipe and flavor of certain beers. From a quality control standpoint, this also adds an important dimension: testing the tea for desired flavor before adding to the whiskey. If there was some kind of problem, the distiller can taste the tea and discard it if it does not have the correct flavor profile. If the distiller had distilled the hops with the whiskey the outcome would be locked in as the two would be married in the still and could never again be separated. This is more like the fine art of blending and retains more control. The next recipe is a cross between two popular styles: A big malty Belgian Trappist style tripel and an uber hoppy American IPA. Using a hop tea technique to mimic a complex boil series of hop additions (which would certainly be more difficult in the still, even with the in-still hops adding device I described earlier. This is a bit higher alcohol content beer and will require substantially more grain and you will have to be careful not to get a stuck mash from compacting your grain bed when you first start collecting. 94


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HOP MONSTER TRIPEL IPA This recipe is a cross between a belgian Trappist style Tripel beer and an American IPA beer. When distilled to a whiskey it has a big malty character as well as intense hops flavors. We will use a hop tea technique at bottling to mimic the complex hops additions not used in traditional whiskey making. Original Gravity: 1.073 Terminal Gravity: 1.018 Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 7.23% ABV

Double Distilled to at least 125 proof Bottle: 85 proof Brewing Instructions

Grind the grain and add 169 F water in the mash 224.0 lb Pale Ale Malt tun. Single step infusion for one hour keeping the Yeast 0.0 ea WYeast 1762 Belgian temperature between 130 F and 160 F, preferably Abbey II 152 F. Lauter at 170 F or higher.

Barrel Notes The whiskey is aged in a 5 gallon, new white American oak barrel at char#4, for at least 6 months.

Mash Ingredients

Fermentation Ferment for at least 1 week at 68 F.

Distillation Ingredients Added to hop tea 1.0 oz Magnum boil for 60 mins 1.0 oz Hersbrucker boil for 30 mins 2.0 oz Saaz boil for 5 mins 2.0 oz Cascade boil for 5 mins

Distillation Notes The hops are added in additions to water to make a hop teas, see description below.

Hop Back In this recipe, I wanted to make a hopped moonshine, or white whiskey, using a new type of hops called Revolution, grown by the Rogue Ales© Company. Revolution has a strong spicy aroma and I immediately thought it would make a very intense, unaged whiskey with strong hops flavors on the nose. This recipe is basically a summer ale or cream ale style of beer. It uses a cider yeast. It is traditionally a very light beer that’s light and refreshing when it is miserably hot outside, which basically describes Tennessee weather four to six months out of the year. As it is not barrel aged we cannot use dry hopping in the barrel. We can make a hop tea though, but we will be using another trick here: a hop back. A hop back is a simple piece of equipment that can dramatically increase the hops aroma on the nose of our whiskey. So what is it and why use it? When boiling hops either traditionally in a kettle( like a brewer) 97


or in the still( as a distiller), we are often losing at least some of the flavor. The boiling water reacts with the oils in the hops and volatile compounds will be driven off. This is especially true in a boil kettle as much aroma is lost to the atmosphere. A still will keep more as a closed system but there can still be losses. Over time, usually 20 to 30 minutes, the aroma will be driven off, leaving the bitterness, but not the aroma flavors. Conventional wisdom in brewing is hops that spend the entire length of the boil, usually 60-90 minutes, will be bittering hops. Hops added near the end of the boil will be aroma hops. If you were able to lose none of these flavors to evaporation, you could really add a lot of flavor and probably use less hops as well. The hop back is a simple vessel meant to do exactly that. The idea is to take the hot wort after it has boiled and run it through a sealed container filled with hops and a filter to keep the hops from clogging up anything. You can make one out of anything, probably just from other junk you have lying around or bits and pieces left over from building your stills. For this recipe, we will run the distillate through the hop back for more intense aroma. The hop back could be used in other interesting ways in a distillery. It could be used built into the actual still, similar to a Carter Head. Like a carter head you could have valves to turn it on or off at different times. For example you could engage the hop back after the last of the heads to really maximize your hop use. In a reflux type still like what we built in chapter two, it could be placed between the primary and secondary condensers as part of the ‘arm’ leading to the main condenser. This would cause very hot distillate to run over the hops and then get cooled in the main condenser before col-

Revolution Summer Moonshine This moonshine uses an interesting new American hops called Revolution. A hopback will be used to maximise the aroma flavors of the hops and make a moonshine with intense hops character. Original Gravity: 1.046 Terminal Gravity: 1.012 Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 4.54% ABV

Double Distilled to at least 125 proof Bottle: 85 proof Brewing Instructions

Mash Ingredients 160.0 lb American 2-row Pale 5.0 lb Munich Malt 10.0 lb Barley Flaked 20.0 lb Corn Grits

Yeast 8.0 fl oz WYeast© 3766 Cider

Distillation Ingredients 2.5 oz Revolution 98

Grind the grain and add 169 F degree water in the mash tun. Single step infusion for one hour keeping the temperature between 130 and 160 degrees, preferably 152 F. Lauter at 170 F degrees or higher.

Distillation Notes The hops are added to a hopback. They can also be added during second distil-

lation either directly into the distillers’ beer or preferably in a botanical basket, or ginhead. A botanical tea can also be used at bottling.

Barrel Notes this product is unaged.

Fermentation Ferment for at least 5 days at 68 F.


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Hopbursting Although dry hopping is great for getting more flavor and aroma, it changes the hop character in ways that may not be right for what you are trying to make. Dry hopping results in a more bitter, resinous, or grassy hop character which some people do not like. Boiling hops creates a more floral hoppy aroma. Hopbursting or simply late hops additions is another technique used to maximize hoppiness. It’s really simple. The conventional wisdom in brewing is that early hops in the boil provide bitterness while late hops provides aroma. This is true but late hops do also provide some bitterness as well. By adding an enormous amount of late hops you can get a huge hop aroma and there will still be bitterness. The bitterness can also be less harsh and smoother than in a traditional long boil. Mouthfeel will also increase from this technique of late hopping. For a distiller, this could be used in a tea or timed during distillation for best effect. It would assume you know your still to the level you can predict the heads and tails cuts very well to make the most of the aroma. The next recipe will use all late hopping and an incredible amount of hops. You can use this in a tea, or time additions during distillation, or use a hop back. It’s up to you. The recipe is made for a tea and shows the timing of the different hops. It really uses an enormous amount of hops and should really knock someone’s socks off. This should be a whiskey that appeals to diehard beer geeks who love hoppy craft beer. 100


lection. By using the hop back no aroma would be lost to the atmosphere. This could really push your alt whiskey to new and exciting places.

HOPMUNCULUS HOPBURSTED WHISKEY This whiskey recipe utilizes a technique called hopbursting to really push the hops aroma while still adding bitterness. It uses an incredible amount of hops for the final amount of whiskey. This can be done through a hop tea, or during distillation. Original Gravity: 1.092 Terminal Gravity: 1.023 Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 4.54% ABV Mash Ingredients 247.5 lb 2-Row Brewers’ Malt 15.0 lb 2-Row Caramel Malt 60L

Yeast 8.0 fl oz WYeast 1056 American Ale

Distillation Ingredients 2.0 2.0 3.0 1.0 2.0 3.0

oz oz oz oz oz oz

Cluster Cluster Warrior Mt. Hood Millenium Summit

3.0 oz Columbus

Double Distilled to at least 140 proof Bottle: 90 proof Brewing Instructions Grind the grain and add 169 F water in the mash tun. Single step infusion for one hour keeping the temperature between 130 F and 160 F, preferably 152 F. Lauter at 170 F or higher.

of the hearts distillation to mimic hopbursting.

Barrel Notes The whiskey is aged in a 5 gallon, new white American oak barrel at char#4, for at least 6 months.

Fermentation Ferment for at least 5 days at 68 F. Given the higher alcohol, a yeast starter and aeration is highly recommended.

Distillation Notes The hops are added during second distillation. A botanical tea can also be used at bottling. The key is adding it toward the end

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The Carter Head It’s worth noting that distillers have another powerful weapon up their sleeve that brewers do not have: the carter head. What is a Carter Head? It is a type of still used primarily for making gin. Sometimes called a gin head still, it uses a botanical basket that holds herbs in a way to force the distillate through them as a vapor. Traditionally, gin uses botanicals soaked in neutral grain spirit which are then distilled. By boiling the NGS and forcing the alcohol vapor through the botanicals, a very smooth gin is created with a very floral nose. Heavier oils are left behind creating less burn on the back of the tongue. By using this same technique in a whiskey, we can accentuate the hops’ floral character during distillation. Amarillo will be the star but a few other hops will be supporting actors. Being a bourbon, it will have 51% corn and the lightness of the corn should really allow the hops to stand out.

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The Carter Head is the stainless steel cylinder to the right.


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AMARILLO AROMATHERAPY BOURBON This bourbon is distilled with a single hops variety, Amarillo. This American hops is known for its strong flavor. It is an aroma hops with strong floral, piney and citrusy flavors. We will distill it with a ginhead to accentuate these characteristics. This whiskey should have some characteristics similar to a genever, or the traditional dutch spirit that modern gin evolved from, yet with the sweetness of a Kentucky Bourbon and the hoppiness of an American craft beer. This is truly an uncommon and novel whiskey set apart by the hops. Original Gravity: 1.054 Terminal Gravity: 1.012 Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 5.62% ABV Mash Ingredients 50.36 lb American 2-row 120.86 lb Yellow Corn (Pregelatinized Flakes) 25.18 lb Rye Malt

Yeast 16.12 fl oz Crosby and Baker 1056 Distillers’ Yeast

Distillation Ingredients 0.5 oz Horizon 0.5 oz Centennial 0.5 oz Simcoe 2.52 oz Amarillo

Double Distilled to at least 140 proof Bottle: 85 proof

Distillation Notes

Brewing Instructions

Barrel Notes

Grind the grain and add 150 F degree water in the mash tun. Add a small amount of the enzyme then bring the wash to boil and hold for two hours. Add cold water to crash cool to below 170 F to not denature your enzymes. Add the rest of the enzyme, hold for one hour. Crash cool down to pitchable temp and pitch your yeast.

The hops are added to a botanical basket, or ginhead.

The whiskey is aged in a 5 gallon, new white American oak barrel at char#4, for at least 12 months, typically a Bourbon needs to be aged for at least 2 years to be called a ‘straight’ bourbon.

Fermentation Ferment for at least 5 days at 68 F.

What’s next? I think there is great potential for hopped whiskeys to be an exciting new whiskey category. For whiskey lovers, there is the potential to learn from the microbrewery movement and expand the known whiskey universe. For beer lovers, this may be a way to seduce more of them to the dark side of the whiskey force. Hardcore beer drinkers uninterested in whiskey may take more notice and be curious to see how their beloved beer styles taste when distilled. I think brewers could learn something from distillers. It’s such a tragedy that so much of that aroma they love from hops is just boiled off. They are distilling and didn’t even know it! Why did they never think to add a simple reflux head and condenser above the boil kettle and convert that stuff back to a potent flavor enhancement to extend their hops? I think the real excitement for me now is that many larger craft breweries like Sierra Nevada and Rogue are making their own hop species. The Yakima hop ranch has introduced a new species as well called Ahtanum. Citra, Ahtanum, and Revolution are exciting new species and could really change the game moving forward as new types of hops are developed to push the envelope and the palette. I just hope craft whiskey makers keep an open mind to see what can be learned from the craft beer and small winery movement. I also hope they have the guts and creativity to push the envelope and boundary of what whiskey is and can be. 104


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Alt Whiskeys Sample Chapter  

Alt Whiskeys book, Sample Chapter

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