2736 Robie St, Halifax, NS B3K 4P2

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Left: Uncle Jeff; Right: Jake

Who is Your Mother’s Brother?

Who is your mother’s brother? We want to know.

Ours, is our dear “Uncle Jeff.” Don’t know him? Let me fill you in on all things mother’s brother. He’s our Rock Paper Scissors event champion, Glee Club member, OG Good Robot regular, and now, he’s the newest member of the T-Dogs crew. Pretty outstanding guy, huh? We wanted to know a little bit more about his transition from good ol’ GR patron to dog-slinger extraordinaire, and we know that you do too. So here’s our exclusive  Q & A feature on the mystery that is Uncle Jeff.

Incase you didn't know what a "TDog" was. Voila!
Incase you didn’t know what a “TDog” was. Voila!

GR: How did it feel stepping behind the bar for the first time?

 

UJ: A little strange at first. But, since I knew everyone it was more comfortable than I anticipated.

 

GR: Are you saving money now that you’re behind the bar and not at a bar stool?

 

UJ: No. That never happens.

 

GR: What are some struggles you’ve had to overcome with the new position with TDogs?

UJ: A couple of people were concerned about the food quality. That leads into the struggles. Everyone was coming in wondering if their food was going to be awful.

GR: How does the new hat feel?

 

UJ: Uh, it’s good. Just trying to break it in. I only bought it the day of the first shift. Still trying to get use to it.

 

Guest question to lighten the mood: “Sweet Dave” would like to know, boxers or briefs?

 

*Laughter*

 

UJ: Boxers… for some breathing room.

 

GR: Tell us about your new perspective now that you’re in the kitchen.

 

UJ: Well, it’s kind of interesting. There didn’t seem to be much difference because I’m so familiar with the place. It was different to watch people getting drunk opposed to being the drunk person.  

 

GR: What is your favourite T-Dog?

 

UJ: I really like the Texas hot but the Tmac is something else.

 

GR: Whats your favourite thing so far about T-Dogs?

 

UJ: It was simple enough to catch on to because I was familiar with the food.

 

GR: How did you get the nickname Uncle Jeff?

 

UJ: Well that was thanks to a former employee of Good Robot. I was sitting here talking to her, helping her through some stuff (with the 15 years of experience I have on her.) She turned around and said “Oh, it’s like talking to my uncle.” And then, the next time I came in, the bartender that night asked the standard: “Jeff would you like a beer?” She came in and interrupted, saying “No, that’s Uncle Jeff.” And it’s been Uncle Jeff ever since.

 

GR: Why leave radio and get back into cooking?

 

UJ: Radio just wasn’t going anywhere for me and I just needed a new challenge. But I also wanted to get back into something I knew that I wanted to do: cooking. Food has always been a big part of my life and so I thought: why not try it all over again? But this time, with a better perspective on it.

 

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My beer: My Friend, My Confidant.

A column about booze, anxiety, and feeling like you’re a part of something.

Walking through the gates of Good Robot on a busy weekend can feel intimidating as all hell – even for an employee. The people are crowded together, the cups filled to the brim with a new beer that you don’t recognize, and you feel like not even the shadow that casts over the gastroturf can protect you.

But our beer, it doesn’t judge. Our beer doesn’t ask questions or cast expectations. Our beer will run right up to you and ask you to be its friend.

That’s at least what I found in my 3 months working with GRBC.

The Goseface is my sour friend when I’m in need for a little bitch-fest and a half, or when I’m really ticked off about my “grown-up job.” She gives me the salty edge I need to carry on.

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Now, the nuttiest of them all, is the smoky Camacho Lager. He can be a really big ass, but man, can I let loose with this guy. He is a goof, and he is a great listener. He’s my go-to when I need to just be myself.

When I’m feeling down, Tom is sweet in bringing me chocolate to ease my pain. He is also a part of my two-human pity party. We drink, we reminisce, we cry – it can get pretty damn depressing. He is pure release.

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Most days, I have everything that I could ever need. Is it still intimidating? Of course.

But like the beer, our staff is fan-fricken-tastic. Each member plays a special part in making this place feel like home.They never judge, they’re willing to lend a listening ear, and are always there if I am in need of a good time.This is just the first step in a long road to feeling like I belong. Follow my journey, and please, share yours.

Tell me why Good Robot is your safe space.

 

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It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere

  • By Dan Hendricken

5pm. 17:00 hours. Quitting Time. For years, this has been the time society has told us it’s ‘appropriate’ to have a beer. Well, personally I am sick of this. I’m tired of being told when i can have a drink. I’m a +19 adult, and just like doing my taxes, I’ll start drinking whenever I feel like it.

This freedom train is not done rolling though, because I’m talking about having a few beach beers on a long weekend. I’m talking about having a few adult beverages on a Tuesday in March. Break out the bus tickets, Daddy is having himself a weekday.

Do not go boldly into this brave new world of day drinking blind though, my friend. Day drinking is a tricky beast, look no further than every episode of Cops for proof. So here is a quick guide to day drinking, along with some classy recommendations to pair your beer perfectly with the time of day.

 

7a.m.-9a.m. Oatmeal Stout

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as is the first beer. This full bodied, sweet treat brew is smoother than a oil slicked penguin. It’s the perfect way to start your day. Plus, with all that oatmeal,l you are pretty much drinking some Quaker Oats.

Recommended Beer:

Cereal Killer Stout – Big Spruce

  • Rich, moderately dry, with deep chocolate and coffee flavours.
  • It has cereal in the name! It’s just begging to be breakfast.

 

9a.m.-11a.m. Coffee Brown

Maybe you are at work, on the bus, or just debating whether McDonald’s breakfast is special anymore because it’s too available.’ It doesn’t matter, it’s time for another beer.

It’s time to take some advice from your Aunt’s favourite Facebook meme: “Instant human, just add Coffee.” That’s right, it’s Coffee Beer time. Now this is not the beer equivalent of a Vodka Red Bull, so you can keep the Ed Hardy in the closet. This is a toasty, caramelly, creamy combo of the 2 greatest beverages of all. It’s comforting and crisp, and best of all is very unassuming looking in an office coffee mug. Just don’t use the “Hang in there” cat one, apparently Karen owns that one and she freaks if you use it.

Recommended Beer:

Dave & Morley Coffee Brown – Good Robot Brewing

  • This almost porter-like brown is nicely balanced, and still has a good kick at 6.3% ABV. Aka that performance meeting will likely be a little bit more pleasant than usual.

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11a.m. – 1p.m. Table Beer

Awesome, almost half way through the work day. Time to have a pint for lunch, no more mug beers! Whether you’re out with your co-workers, or hitting up a patio when the sun creates no shadows, for this time of day I’m suggesting a table beer. Clean, crisp and a guilt free ABV. This beer says ‘Hey, I’d love to have a beer mid-way through the work day. Hell, I might have 2 if not 3. If Jerry from accounting shoots me a dirty look, I’ll remind him we’ve all seen him leave the storage closet at the christmas party with a woman that definitely wasn’t Linda.

 

Recommended Beer:  

Liesse Table Beer- 2 Crows

  • Citrusy, Refreshing, Bright and Smooth
  • Imagine if Coors Light was fucking great…am I allowed to say fucking? Who cares? I’ve been drinking since 7a.m.

1pm -5pm American Pale Ale

Now with a belly full of food and half a buzz you can really conquer the rest of your day. I’m thinking maybe a tasty crisp APA out of a coloured water bottle. It’s sharp notes will keep you focused and fresh faced for the rest of the day. The balanced hops and malts will wash down lunch and keep that garlic and onion breath at bay. Take a back seat Excel, there is a new breath freshener in town. Plus it can totally could pass for Kombucha. I mean they are both fermented right? Your gut is going to be on point.

 

Recommended Beer:

DeWolfe of Wall Street APA – Good Robot Brewing

  • It’s clean, crisp and crushable.
  • Jordan Belfort was super successful and I think he drank beer? I’m not sure there was a lot of other stuff going on in that movie.

 

There you have it, a loose guide to day drinking. This is merely a list of suggestions, not hard and fast rules. Day drinking is an art form and has many different expressions. From Coors-fueled camping trips, to a few too many cesar’s at brunch, to even sipping a Guinness on the beach (I have seen it before, it was insane). The most important rule is to have fun and don’t text your ex.

 

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Beer Releases – June

We only have 5 fermenters, which means our rotating beer selection will constantly let you down. Here’s a list of everything we have coming up so you can pre-plan your disappointment.

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Doug got adventurous and ordered $25k worth of oceanian hops. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any recipes to use them in, so we’re happy to present a series of single malt and single hop, also known as SMaSH, beers that we call, SMaSH Hits! – a tribute to misfits who made it to primetime. Bob Saget. Roseanne Barr. Drew Carey. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Each tribute will feature a basic barley and yeast that will allow the hop character to shine through. First up: How Wude! Saget Ale featuring the father of tropical hops with a west coast flavour, Dr. Rudi. Later this month, watch out for the SMaSH Hit! featuring Pacifica, which packs an orange marmalade character.

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June also marks the return of an old favourite from last year, The Shocking Pink!, a variation on our gose with pink lemonade and hibiscus tea. The beer will be released in time for OUTEast Queer Film Festival, with whom we are again pumped to be partnering with.

Forget mimosas and caesars. Version 3.0 of our Dave & Morley – Coffee Brown (collaboration w/ Low Point Coffee) returns this month. Featuring our favourite coffee yet – Burundi Gacokwe – this version will be rich and chock-full of caramel and chocolate.

If you haven’t been here in a while, our Koji Kondo – Sake Beer is selling like rice cakes and the newest version of our Damn Fine Coffee & Cherry Pie (pale ale), featuring Low Point Coffee Kenya Mahiga, is also on tap. Also look for a variety of our other classic beers on tap in the next little while, including our Burban Legend (American pale ale) and Goseface Killah (gose). As always, our beer page is updated daily with the current tap list.

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Events – June

We’ve got some sexy events lined up to kick off the summer. And what could be sexier than a Burlap-sque show?

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Yes, from the demented mind of Nick Greeno (Backstage Printing) comes an event so good, you’ll burlap it up. Turns out Nick traded printing services for a whole pile of burlap sacks and this was his answer to it. Burlap Fashion Show. Burlap-sque Variety Show. Burlap Sack Races. Slated for June 20.

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Proud to announce we are one of the sponsors of OUTEast Queer Film Fest from June 15 to 18. Several films are slated to screen at the Halifax Central Library and Museum of Natural History. Plus, we’ll be here every night for the aftermath, including an ear-tingling Saturday showcase of silent disco: don your pair of headphones and tune in to the DJs in the quietest rager you’ve ever attended. Plus, Sunday will feature brunch here and a read-along screening of the “classic” film, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.

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In fact, as part of our Robie Scope Spring Movie Series, we’ll be screening films outdoors every Sunday through June. This month, we’ll be featuring The Muppet Movie (1979) (June 4), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (June 11), and The Blues Brothers (June 25).

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The summer will also see the return of a Robot classic, Just Vorlaufs! Live from the GastroTurf. Join comedian Dan Hendricken and a slew of rotating talent for this outdoor comedy show. A live, outdoor broadcasting of unfiltered comedians on microphones through a quiet neighbourhood. What could go wrong?

As always, stay up to date with more of our events by following our Events Page.

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Brews News – June

As we segue into our busy season, we’re panicking to make everything work. But it’s fine. Probably.

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Everyone wants to know how things are with the neighbours at the Centre for Islamic Development since our media blow-up in October. During our meeting in October, we made a list of propositions to improve relations – including better premises and block control, recalibrating speaker volumes and music selections, mounting signs, scheduling events around prayer times, increasing block patrols from our north alley through to St. Albans for litter, loitering and the like – to name a few. We’re happy to report that we met with some reps of the Centre in May and things are great. We’ve had amicable relations since the autumn.

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Giovanni. In his resume, he said he had experience with photography. When we inquired about this in his interview, he said, “I’m very photogenic.”

Man, look at that beauty! We hired a slew of new Robots in the past couple months. Give it up for Alley, Chris, Pat, Gio, Harry, Aaron, Kyle, Bridgette, Jennifer and Taylor! Kyle and Bridgette round out our DesignBot team. Jenn & Taylor, a mean mother-daughter combo, have been tackling our markets at Alderney Landing and Wolfville while the other Bots are hospitality. In addition to their day-to-day, Alley is spearheading our Brewsletter and marketing initiatives, Gio (pictured above) is moving into brewery work, Aaron is our Business Administrator, and I’m sure we’ll find ways to exploit the rest.

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Our resident yeast expert and BrewBot Erica recently returned from Montreal where we sent her to further her knowledge on yeast cultures and beer culture via the Brewing Microbiology course at Siebel Institute. We’re looking forward to the results. On a related note, Gio studied the same program as Erica and once extracted a wild yeast culture from birch trees in the Bahamas to create an apple cider. Curious what this duo can come up with.

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Our DesignBot team is now 6 people in size: Brent, Kyle, Bridgette, Sara, Brittany (from afar) and Sam. The work they produce is nothing short of incredible. Just check out Mobie, our new company vehicle. I feel like a proud father at a baseball tournament where all 6 of my children brought home medals. And not for participation.

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Beer Releases – May

It’s raining outside, which means summer is on it’s way. And with these scorching 13°C days come some crushable beers to sweat out as quick as you drink ’em.

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Our Koji Kondo – Sake Beer was a fun little experiment. See, we love sake. For a long time it was our go-to on nights where we just couldn’t fit any more beer in. Something about the crisp rice and fruity character just screamed, “$14 at the NSLC.” And typically, we’d play a lot of Super Smash Brothers while drinking it. So it’s only appropriate that we paid tribute to the composer of so many classic Nintendo themes with a beer brewed with flaked rice, pale and pilsner malts, Sorachi Ace hops and sake yeast. Available May 12 as part of Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week.

Speaking of Super Smash Bros., Doug bought a boatload of Oceanian hops and is doing a series of SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beers in order to empty out our freezer. First up: a beer brewed with pale malt, Dr. Rudi hops and Californa Ale yeast (name TBD). Look for it sometime in late May.

May also marks the return of the David Lynch classic Twin Peaks. Naturally, we had to capitalize on this and are releasing the Damn Fine Coffee & Cherry Pie – Pale Ale just in time for the show’s debut on May 21.

Also look for a variety of our other classic beers on tap in the next little while, including the Leave Me Blue – Corn. As always, our beer page is updated daily with the current tap list.

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On the success of craft beer in Halifax and Newcastle

I’ve been lucky enough to call home two amazing small cities with long working-class histories. In Newcastle, Australia, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, I have been lucky enough to witness a rebirth in craft beer and cocktail culture. These two places are hardly metropolitan epicentres like Sydney and Toronto (respectively) and yet the craft renaissance has gripped them like nothing I’ve seen before. After pondering on this for some time, and comparing and contrasting these two very similar towns, it seems to me that the success of the resurgent hospitality cities comes down to the people in the cities.

Newcastle, New South Wales
For the years from the ’60s through the late ’90s, Newcastle’s heart and soul was the steel mill. When BHP closed much of the heart of the city was torn out, and the formerly bustling main street fell into disrepair. Hunter Street became a ghost town. But while our industry may have died, Novocastrians (inhabitants of Newcastle [henceforth referred to as God’s Country]) maintained the humble, working-class modesty that made our city great. Always keen for a yarn over a beer and to discuss the footy. When the craft beer revolution took off, people embraced it in such a non-judgemental manner that small craft breweries could not help but feed off it.

XXXX Gold Australian Pale Ale
The people of God’s Country were seasoned on VB or Tooheys New (and never the twain shall meet) because they had been drinking it for thirty years, and their fathers before them. Those whose doctors told them they could no longer drink, drank XXXX Gold (a mid-strength beer). But presented with a multitude of delicious beers that only cost a buck or two more, the punters took them on with gusto.

Newcastle, New South Wales craft beer
There was no snobbery, no “ooh I want a beer with x flavour profile”, just “fuck that’s a good tasting beer, I’ll have ten.” And then the tap would rotate onto a new craft beer and the process would repeat. The people of God’s Country took to these craft beers in the way I had hoped they would. A sense of adventure based on a wholehearted love of beer.

Good Robot Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia
I see a lot of the same here in Halifax. For many people who come into our brewery, their visit may be their first experience of craft beer, and they approach it hoping to be given something they like. Not to find a beer that adheres to a certain judging criteria, but just that tastes great and will get them on the way to a good time.

Good Robot Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia
So as I see the craft beer revival thriving in these two places I love I have to give immense credit to the Novocastrians and Haligonians who are making it succeed. When it all comes down to it, without people to drink the beer, there’s no point brewing it.

Good Robot Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia
So give yourselves a pat on the back guys, you make the process worth it, and are an integral part of the renaissance of craft beers and cocktails.

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On hospitality and mental health

It’s a funny old game this business of slinging drinks. As I speedily approach my ten year “hospoversary” (hospitality anniversary), I spend more time reflecting on my time in the industry, what it has given to me, and what it has taken from me.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

At its core, I love it with all my heart. Through my interactions with the many amazing customers and co-workers I’ve met throughout the years, I’ve become close to people from all walks of life. From discussing Camus in the dishpit, to talking footy over the bar, between front and back of house we’ve solved all of the world’s problems. The people with whom I have engaged in discourse with have opened my eyes, shared some amazing things with me, and I do my absolute best to reiterate this, giving the best of myself to every interaction. Some of the best times I have had in my life have been enjoyed on both sides of the bar, with the people I have worked with, and the people who I have worked for: my eternal boss, the customers. I love it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

However there is a darker side to this industry, particularly for those suffering from mental health disorders. This dark side is one that I rarely share with people in my professional capacity, as no-one wants to hear about their bartender’s shitty day when they’re enjoying a beer. But at the same time, this industry can run you into the ground and spit you out. The long hours, late nights, hectic work environments, constant excuses to drink, and anti-social schedules can force a person into seclusion.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

When you’re working, your friends are drinking and socialising. When your friends are drinking and socialising, you’re working. So you drink when you’re not working. Whether it’s pounding beers till 7am after your shift, or sitting on 3 bottles of red wine on your day off because it’s a Tuesday and everyone else is at their “real jobs”.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

As someone living with Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, this “routine” has led to some very self-destructive periods in my life. It isolated me, it got in the way of friendships and relationships, and threw me into a hole that I was lucky enough to make it out of. Some are not so lucky. The immense lows that a bipolar sufferer endures were compounded by the drinking, the lack of sleep, and the separation from my loved ones.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

But as I’ve been told so many times, the key to everything is balance. The highs that this industry offers me more than make up for the crushing lows, and it’s a game that I’ll play for a long while yet. While the industry intrinsically has its problems, the people that I’ve met and shared my time behind the bar with and the moments we’ve shared have made it all worth it. It’s a simple as a customer enjoying a beer I’ve poured them, a thank you as they leave the bar, a wind-down beer with a co-worker after a shift. As I grow older, the balance is shifting more in my favour, and the good times are outweighing the bad.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

Keep your chin up, and let’s grab a beer sometime.

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Insane in the Spent Grain: Barley Shortage

Beer, as we know it, may be in danger.

We frequently hear of hops shortages, though rarely does one hear of an equally important problem: malted (roasted) barley shortage. While demand currently fits supply, within a decade, supply could be problematic.

How did this happen?

CLIMATE


In the past 135 years of global temperature data, 4 of the 5 hottest months on record all happened in 2015. Near-droughts, excessive rain and weather fluctuations yielded poorer quality crops in 2013 and 2014.

AMERICAN BREWERIES

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As poor as the Canadian crops were, the American crops suffered even worse. By virtue of NAFTA, tariffs on Canadian malt were eliminated and American breweries began purchasing Canadian crops without restraint.

BEEF

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

Most barley is produced to feed cattle. Canadian beef production is down. Mad cow disease continues to hurt Canadian beef export. In addition, an increasing number of citizens are eating healthier and sustainably by reducing or eliminating red meat from their diets.

GMOs

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

Barley for beef feed is competing with soybeans, canola and corn, all genetically modified crops with better resilience, production and pricing than barley. Monsanto Company invested $10M over 10 years for short-season corn in Alberta, destroying barley competition in Canada’s biggest barley province.

CRAFT BEER

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

Macrobreweries tend to use alternatives to malt, such as corn and rice, to cheapen production. Popular macro beers also tend to be lighter and lower in alcohol. Therefore, craft breweries use, on average, 4x the amount of malt per unit volume than macrobreweries, creating a higher demand on barley.

THE FUTURE OF BEER

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

In the next 10 years, we have 180k metric tonnes of malting capacity under build. Projections show we’ll need 1M metric tonnes (Canada Malting Group Annual Presentation, Halifax, 2015). Canada will begin importing European and Australian malt sooner than later, though the incoming El Niño cycle will likely yield a very harsh winter in Europe and hotter and drier conditions in Australia. Expect wheat beers to gain prominence since wheat is more resilient than barley and GMO wheat will likely enter the commercial market soon. Brewers may also begin experimenting more with sugary alternatives to barley, like sorghum, millet, rice, corn, quinoa, spelt, oats, and rye.

But, you know, the picture isn’t that bleak. We adapt. We’ll always find a way to get buzzed. Ever had prison hooch with rotted fruits fermented in a sock?

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