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Thomas Creek Up The Creek - Thomas Creek Brewery

Not Rated.
Thomas Creek Up The CreekThomas Creek Up The Creek

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180 Reviews
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Reviews: 180
Hads: 475
Avg: 3.7
pDev: 26.49%
Wants: 18
Gots: 49 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Thomas Creek Brewery visit their website
South Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: khiasmus on 06-03-2007

111 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 180 | Hads: 475
Photo of acidicbassist
4.85/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Dark, mahogany colour (blood red if held up to a light) with a thick, light head that leaves a nice lacing.

S - Malty, boozy. Reminiscent of a good barley wine.

T - Initial crisp hoppy flavour, but finishes following the smell with a malty taste of delicious dried fruit.

M - Thick. Coating the inside of the mouth with a syrupy drip.

O - Very full-bodied and complex beer. The high ABV definitely leaves it's mark in the boozy smell and malty flavour, but the as a DIPA, it presents a great amount of hops with lots of other flavours to compliment. Love it.

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Photo of DanielMB
4.75/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: A copper brown, with a small tan head. It has a sort of brick-like color, quite dark for an IPA. However, it looks like it tastes: delicious.

S: Not very strong, but a somewhat sweet smell with pine in the background.

T: Huge sweetness and caramel flavor up front, with lots of hops. There is some pine in the background. The heavy 12.5% ABV is pretty well masked, so be careful when drinking this brew!

M: Medium-bodied with decent carbonation. Pretty smooth overall. Again, be careful to remember that it is 12.5% ABV!

O: An incredibly tasty brew, and much sweeter than your standard IPA, which is surprising, considering the high alcohol content. Overall, I think this is a tremendous beer, and is highly underrated. Thomas Creek scored big with this one.

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Photo of ZorroZ
4.75/5  rDev +28.4%

There are big beers, and then there are BIG BEERS. This is one of the latter- 12.5% ABV, and not classified as a barleywine. Wow.

Smell: sweet, mildly piney
Taste: WOW- deceptively sweet, the almost chewy sweetness largely masking the powerful ABV. Hops, as suggested by the odor, are present, but not overwhelming.
Mouthfeel: another WOW. Nice fully body- almost creamy.

Not a beer you'd want to session... unless part of your session routine involves blackouts.

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Photo of MikeB1984
4.67/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Smell: Caramel and pine

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation and hoppy.

Overall: As others have noted, this beer is more in barleywine territory than the IPA territory and it is a good one when measured by that standard. Strong hence the 12.5% alcohol.

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Photo of zuperman
4.65/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

For a beer that is 12.5% this beer is great and not overbearing. The sweetness is not your typical alcohol cover up but rather a nice honey note that compliments the hops nicely

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Photo of Netdigger2
4.63/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I am reviewing this as an American Barleywine, as a DIPA to style it is awful. Tom Davis is pretty persistant with calling this an IPA, and it's a shame, really. It'd get great Barleywine marks, both here and in competition methinks.

It pours deep, cloudy brown with a full one inch head. Some of the most outrageous, sticky lacing I have ever seen, and it will glue itself to your glass.

The smell is sweet crystal malt and maybe some low aroma bittering hops, but more caramel than anything. Inviting.

The taste is sweet caramel malt, but not cloying. It has a good hop balance, but not hop forward. The Amarillo flavors play off the malt, giving this great depth and complexity. Very refreshing

The mouthfeel is medium to thick, carbonation is great, head lasts all the way through.

Easy drinker for 12.5%, very good BARLEYWINE (Tom, get the hint, please!)

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Photo of HoosBrews
4.62/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark. Looks like a strong ale.

Smell: Sweet and hoppy. The malt really dominates between the two.

Taste: BIG! But very well balanced. This is a sweet beer, but is well balanced by ample hops.

Mouthfeel: Big and sweet. Very little alcohol burn. Is this really a 12.5% abv? Finishes like a 7 or 8% abv.

Drinkability: Dangerously good. This is really a good beer and I'm happy to see a Carolina brewery finally bringing a huge IPA to the region!

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Photo of TylerKitchens
4.55/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think I may be a little biased as this is one of the first "Craft" beers I tried in college and started me on a journey to discover there was more than Forties and High Life out there.

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Photo of Wilson27
4.52/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into snifter

1.5 in head (snifter)

Smell - Could smell it as I was pouring - very nice. Taste - Chocolate, smokey, a bit of caramel sweetness, nutty. Flavor and body carry the alcohol well.
Very full mouthfull.

Overall - Great beer. I really like beers like this. Very earthy flavor, body and flavor carry the alcohol content well. I probably wouldn't have more than one due to the intense flavor and high alcohol content. I have not been "wowed" in awhile, this is a great beer.

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Photo of AlCzerik
4.51/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

One of the best beers I have tried in a very long time. Extremely smooth for an IPA and is definitely worth a try for any IPA fan. Its expensive at least for my budget especially for a 4-pack but proved to be deserving of every penny. Just an all around extremely enjoyable beer

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Photo of knoxtennessee
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had never heard of this beer, just saw the 12.5% written on the tap handle and had to try it.

A- Deep mahogany red with an impressive light tan head that stuck around.

S- Layers and layers my friend. Lots of rich, thick, caramel malt, some toast, spicy alcohol, strawberry esters, and of course a big dose of citrus from the hops.

T- This stuff tasted almost like unfermented wort. Sweet, dense, bitter, lots of caramel, toffy, ginger bread, very spicy hop character, strong and surprising strawberry character.

M- Dense, sticky, thick, viscous... etc.

O- Much more like an American barleywine than a double IPA. Overwhelmingly rich and decadent. Everything a big beer should be. Would age wonderfully I'm sure but I prefer beers like this fresh as can be. Also a shout out to Cape Fear Wine and Beer for serving this in full pints at a great price. Made my evening.

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Photo of mkitlbog
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Unusual color (to me) for an Imperial IPA - Amber color. Very Hoppy but balanced nicely with good malts. Sweet-ish if you can say that about an IPA. Labeled "extreme" i'm sure because of the 12.5% ABV, but I find the beer itself very drinkable. Maybe too drinkable for that ABV!

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Photo of CliffBrake
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bright dark copper color with a short lived head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Complex aroma with caramel, pine, sweet bread, spices. A great smelling beer. The flavor follows suit with many of the same flavors and plenty of complexity to maintain interest. Bitterness and the sweet malty base are well balanced. Not a dry beer, but the sweetness does not detract from many other flavors present.

Big full body with a smooth mouth-coating feel. A great sipping beer that is very easy to drink for it size.

Not sure I would call this a double IPA - more like an imperial red to me. Whatever it is, it is one of the most intriguing beers I found on my trip to SC and GA. I am going to have some of this shipped home so I can try it again.

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Photo of Nevbo
4.47/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured dark red with a tan head. Smelled slightly hoppy but mostly malt and dark fruits. Very sweet taste, not much hops: malty and sugary with a hint of plum. The high ABV is all but hidden.

This is my second time trying this and I really dig it. True IPA or not, I like it.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.45/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on draft at Nicks in Clemson, SC.

This beer is kind of a catch-all beer. It is listed at 12.5% abv, called an "Extreme IPA", yet has the characteristics of a Strong Ale.

The look, smell, and taste are close to a Double Bastard. However, one glaring, obvious, and awesome difference is drinkability: I have never had a touted 12.5% abv beer taste so smooth and non alcoholic. This beer will really knock you on your ass. The server at Nicks said this was extreme, but, being as this is the beer void of the south, I thought she meant "strong IPA". This beer was not that.

Pours a dark amber, almost brown chocolate with a creamy white head. Loads of lacing as well. Aroma was a heavy dose of hops followed by the sweetness of the malts. Some chocolate is present as well.

Awesome flavor. Perfect balance of sweet caramel malt, chocolate malt, citrus hops, and alcohol. Full bodied and dangerously drinkable. The most drinkable <10% beer I have ever had.

I have had several TC beers in the past and was generally unimpressed. However, this was a dangerous beer. TC is coming up in this world I believe.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.39/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Ruby pour with thin beige head. Sweet malt/sugar beet notes. Tastes like caramel candy,alcohol on the exhale. Smooth, medium plus mouthfeel with alcohol burn on the tongue tip. Overall, rich with a candy/alcohol finish. Nice.

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Photo of DIM
4.39/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a dark, ruby tinted chestnut brown. It poured small, short lived creamy head.

s: Not hop forward, this was very balanced. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of hops, there was just plenty of caramel, brown sugar, and hints of chocolate cake batter to provide balance. The hops were resiny and earthy.

t: Citrus, then sweet brown sugar/chocolate and caramel. The finish is bitter grapefruit rind and moderate warmth. 12.5% is hard to believe, it is so well incorporated.

m: Heavy and chewy.

o: I asked about local barleywines at GBX and they didn't have any. This was one they suggested as an alternative. Great suggestion, not only was this a great beer, but is definitely more b-wine than pale ale.

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Photo of tdm168
4.38/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a brandy snifter.

Appearance is a light amber with a 1/4" of head. Smell is amazing; hops, alcohol, and caramel. The nose and the palate agree. Perfect balance here. Hops are evident but do not dominate this DIPA giving the caramel malt a chance to come through. Alcohol brings a great warmth to the finish. The mouthfeel is warm and boozy, but pleasant. Overall a great DIPA. This will keep the Barleywine vs. DIPA debate alive. I look forward to coming back to this one in the winter.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.38/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Edit)This review was for a beer was called Celebration and the recipe for the current version is different.

Poured a pint from a keg of this beautifully red, brown golden colored beer in to a Sam Adams glass. With a heavy hops smell of citrus and flowery pine, this so called DIPA sits on that thin line nestled between a DIPA and an American Barley Wine. What a great place to be!

First sip is overpowered by heavy malts followed by the strong hops. The 12.5% ABV is the best hidden of any beer I have tried to date. You think it is about 9 or 10% - certainly not 12.5%. What gives it away is the punch you feel after just 2 glasses. Is this the strongest beer ever legally brewed in South Carolina? It also may be the best.

Sierra Nevada is forcing Thomas Creek to change the name. The new name will be, "Up The Creek".

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in Charleston at the Charleston Beer Exchange.

This is a thick looking beer. Not even to the lips yet and you can see how thick it pours. The head was creamy light tan and had great structure. Even got above the glass by a ¼ inch. This did settle to a creamy cap that remained. The beer itself is very dark ruby red/amber and a very very deep color. Looks lime some barleywines.

Aroma is of dark fruits, malty sweet and of slight alcohol. Some bright pine as well.

Wait, is this a barley wine.? It's really good, but doesn't exactly remind me of a DPA. Really deep and layered malt flavor. Big pine hop presence. Slight coconut. Really big and wonderfully balanced. Almost a black cherry or chocolate covered cherry note to it.

Almost syrup thick. Very bold yet smooth and inviting.

I really enjoy this beer. There is something about it that just warms the heart.

** I had to read some other reviews after I wrote this and see I am not alone in thinking this is like a barley wine. Strange, but this is a very good beer.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.33/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I think that this was another of local, in-person trader, tone77's haul from a recent trip to North Carolina. If so, well done, my friend! I was astounded when I noticed its 12.5% ABV, but I am the man for the job.

From the bottle: "Sink the Status Quo."; "Extreme IPA".

This was stunning from the pour onwards. I was a little heavy handed at first and I got a cascading action that resulted in two fingers of dense, deep-tan head with excellent retention. The color was somewhere between ruby and mahogany with NE-quality clarity and I wish that I had an SRM chart as I have never seen a DIPA of this shade. Nose was bringing the heat and I felt some nose hairs spontaneously combust. Recovering (in the form of a body wracking sneeze or two), I got caramel and mint and now I was slavering like a dog. In the interim, the head began to fall and the sticky lacing was going to require a jackhammer to remove. A monkey appeared out of my past, jumped on my back and began chattering loudly. Mouthfeel was soft, but hot and I mean vapors wafting from my tongue hot. Phew! Once I got my bearings and could properly function again, I realized that it reminded me of an American Barleywine - very hoppy and very malty at the same time. I know that aging of IPAs is frowned upon, but I wonder what this might be like given some time to mellow the heat. Finish was dry, between the alcohol heat and the peppermint hops. Schnapps also came to mind. This is a no playing around beer and should be treated as such.

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Photo of Jambarino
4.32/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A:Pours a deep dark amber,very little head retention and almost no lacing.Very little carbonation.

S:Caramel,faint citrus hops,faint apple juice.

T:All malt up front,faint hop kick at the end with a lingering bitterness.Alcohol is hidden pretty well.

M:Medium mouth feel with some carbonation.Sticky at the end with a slight alcohol burn.

O:I don't understand the negative reviews,I guess because its not quite what the label says,however it is a great beer regardless.If you take yourself too seriously,or if you are expecting a hop bomb look elsewhere because this is not it.However if you want a good barleywine/ipa style beer then this is it.I would compare this to Dogfish Head Squall,maybe just slightly sweeter and not as hoppy.A top 20 beer for me.I'm really enjoying this.

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Photo of vacax
4.32/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Mike for hooking me up with this bottle of Extreme IPA... or is it an American Barleywine? Hell, I could ask the same question about many East Coast IPAs though. Either way it is pretty tasty. Pours a brownish red with a jolly good length of tan head that was thick and made lovely lacing. Aromas of toffee, caramel, pineapple, pine, and honey. Tastes of brown sugar, toffee, cocoa, pineapple, has a nice full bitterness and spicy cookie finish. Full body and somewhat high carbonation seems more like a barleywine than an IPA. Overall this is really nice. Think of it is a Triple East Coast IPA.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fiery crimson (when backlit with the rising sun) beneath a creamy dollop of pale caramel colored mousse. This has to be the single darkest DIPA in the history of beer. The foam looks good as it melts, and leaves an acceptable amount of sea foam lace on the sloping sides of the glass. In a word... unique.

As expected, there's considerable caramel malt in the nose. Thankfully, abundant hop resins are present as well. Warrior and Nugget were used for bittering, Amarillo and Willamette for flavor and aroma, and Amarillo for dry-hopping. Good choices all.

Up The Creek is deliciously hoppy big beer that hides its alcohol very well. Comparisons to an American barleywine would not be out of line. Actually, when all is said and done, that style is probably more accurate than the chosen style. No matter, because damn good beer is damn good beer, no matter what it's called.

Specifics include English toffee pudding with caramel-date sauce and loads of grapefruit and orange zest. It's easy to believe the claimed 111 IBUs, though abundant malt sugars take the rough edges off in fine fashion. UTC is not overly sweet, which is to the brewer's credit.

Warming allows the already powerful flavors to bloom to an even greater extent. It also buries the alcohol deeper and deeper with each successive sip. The mouthfeel is a well-calibrated combination of silky smooth and alpha acid raspy, with near perfect bubbles.

This Thomas Creek 'Extreme IPA' is wonderful beer that deserves a wider audience. The fact that singles are available locally makes me a very happy BA. Forget the paddle, get Up The Creek as soon as possible. You can thank me later.

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Photo of bucklemyshoe
4.29/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from 11/02/2010:

12 oz. bottle at 42* into a Stone IRS tulip.

A: This pours a dark reddish-brown color with a half-finger of light tan head.

S: It has aromas of pine, chocolate, some nuttiness, and a strange sour bit at the end.

T: It tastes like sweet berries, a strong hoppy flavor, caramel, dark fruits, and a just a touch of booze.

M: It has a very thick body that is sticky and chewy.

D: This is potent and dangerously drinkable. I have a hard time classifying this as a DIPA though.

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Thomas Creek Up The Creek from Thomas Creek Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 180 ratings.