Thomas Creek Up The Creek | Thomas Creek Brewery

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Thomas Creek Up The CreekThomas Creek Up The Creek

Brewed by:
Thomas Creek Brewery
South Carolina, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
111 IBU

Added by khiasmus on 06-03-2007

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Reviews: 183 | Ratings: 494
Photo of AgentZero
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brownish-red beer with a small, late-rising head that faded to a tight ring that lasted a really long time.

S - Lots of sweet caramel and dark fruits. Hops are present, but this is quite malt and sugar forward. Hops are mosty citrus and grapefruit, with a little bit of pineapple.

T - Dark fruits, caramel, brown sugar, some hops. It is a little hot, but at 12.5% the alcohol is very well hidden. Not particularly bitter or hoppy, but this is pretty flavorful.

M - Almost full bodied with soft carbonation. Creamy and smooth.

O - Not what I was expecting from a 'big' IPA, but this one hides the alcohol very well. Not a great beer, but not a bad one.

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Photo of deletedmemory
4.2/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this treat tonight, still swimming in the delightful feeling it gave me. Was told this is an IPA of sorts, but I more like an Imperial of some kind. It is what I imagined the Bigfoot by Sierra Nevada to taste like (it didn't, Bigfoot at least the 2011 version is a hop bomb and this is not).

Up the Creek is not very hoppy, but goes down great, and I found it to be quite malty, with a somewhat fruity finish.

At $3 a glass at my local I managed to get 5 of them down and was left wondering how much I had just consumed.


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Photo of babaracas
3.02/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark ruby, half inch of khaki colored head fades quickly leaving a thin ring and then poof it's gone. Smell: a whole bunch of caramelized sugar, whiffs of black cherry, cola, date, and booze, a little candied citrus peel. Taste: dark brown sugar, caramelized, date, plum, earthy, candied citrus peel. Medium bodied, syrupy-ish but with enough carbonation to keep it interesting. This is NOT a double IPA, at least not as I'm experiencing it. A really nice barleywine though, but if I score it as a DIPA it's a bummer. As a barleywine or ASA: 3.5 / 4 / 4 / 4 / 4.

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Photo of salvo
3.64/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark mahogany; head is a half inch if that (other report a huge head). Microbubbles float up in streamers from the bottom keeping the foamy head afloat. Laced glass more than etching.

Nose is caramel and honey with some darker burned sugar and blackstrap molasses; earthy. The hop pine is in the background and more like walking on fallen dry pine needles than fresh evergreen: resin.

Taste is sweeter and bigger that I expected, even at 12.5%. More barley wine character than DIPA, there's a deep fruit presence: raisins? dried fig? Boozy overtones with bread underneath; big, chewy, thick mouthfeel and a warming finish. The astringent warmth at the end is a nice ending to such a big, sweet beer. Hops assert themselves late as bitterness.

Not a really quaffable beer: it's extreme, and yet a really tasty occasional treat. A change of pace.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Zoicks! Twelve point five percent. From Thomas Creek? The quiet little brewery across the border where they just popped the cap? Craziness... A lot of reviewers have disparaged the color and yeah, it's a bit darker and redder than the style but it's more the two solid fingers of tight bubbled head that I'm interested in. Nose is a threeway between piney hops, bready deep malts, and boozy alcohol.

Yeah, this isn't really an DIPA. Hops are present but the caramel malt and alcohol are the big players in this town. Plenty of dark fruit under the hood. Figs or prunes or something. Finish is oily and sticky and satisfying.

This is interesting and well made but nowhere near DIPA. As an American strong ale it's probably an A- or better. Could use a bit more hopping at any rate.

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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 BieresDesMoines
3.16/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Oh my if that's not the brownest double IPA I've ever seen! It's pretty enough I suppose, the head is huge and tight and leaves about as nice a lace as I could ever ask for. The aroma is sweet with banana and all sorts of assorted fruit with a bit of booze and certainly some caramel. The flavor is sweet, even too sweet and too caramel focused as well but somehow I figured it would be worse from the aroma. The beer is bitter and features some fruity hop varietals giving it a nice melon rind and grapefruit flavor that sort of gets a little bit lost in the mix of everything else going on here. At 12.5 abv the beer is obviously boozy but not even close to showing that kind of strength, if I were to guess I would have clocked it in at 8-9% abv but it does get boozier as the beer warms. They really could have called this a barley wine as easily as anything, and it's not bad altogether just a bit messy. Perhaps I'll pick up another bottle and cellar it for the heck of it.

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Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint glass

A: At first glance, this beer appears to be a very dark brown but with a little light exposure it reveals a very sensual deep red. Head is composed loosely and pours 1-1 1/2" tall.

S: Hops. Pure hops. Like a fresh cut pine tree over deep coffee/chocolate malt.

T: Not the hop bomb I was expecting. A ton of syrupy caramel maltiness. Alcohol is big and presents itself noticeably. Hops are very well balanced but their bitterness endures the high ABV. Raisins, dates, and figs. Might be a 5 for taste if I thought it fit the style better.

M: Extremely chewy, oily and viscous. Alcohol has astringent effect causing dryness on the palate.

D: Good enough on most points but the ABV takes this one down a few points on drinkability.

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Photo of n2185
3.43/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a surprisingly dark mahogany with red light coming through when held up to light. There's about a finger of off-white head which recedes into a small ring but leaves decent lacing.

S: A strong malt presence on the nose at first followed by some pine and resin aromas from the hops.

T: There is some sweetness up front but then the hops kick in for a huge blast of pine and resin, leaving the tongue tingling. There's some bitterness in the aftertaste along with a light alcohol burn.

M: Medium-heavy body with a good amount of carbonation which goes well with the piny hops.

D: For such a big beer, this does go down pretty easily. You won't want to drink many, but it avoids being cloyingly sweet like many beers of its caliber.

Overall, I would have rated this beer higher if it had been classified as an American Barleywine or Strong Ale. There's definitely a strong hop presence, but it's too dark and malty to be a DIPA. As a barleywine or strong ale, I'd say it's in the B+/A- region.

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Photo of gford217
3.93/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

Pours deep, clear copper with a big, thick beige head that shows excellent retention and sits as a small cap throughout with some solid lacing. Looks like a barleywine.

Aroma is packed with resinous floral hope, tons of pine with some pithy grapefruit as well. Lots of caramel malts and bread as well. Smells like a hopped-to-hell barleywine...I like it.

The taste is a more complex version of the nose. It certainly starts out with the same biting, abrasive pine hops with a more pronounced sweet caramel malt and toffee backbone. Bitter, crazy hoppy finish.

The mouthfeel is sticky with hops and astringent as hell. Not in a bad way.

I haven't had many Thomas Creek brews but this is a great DIPA which certainly strays into hoppy barleywine territory. Whatever you call it, it's tasty.

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Photo of taylocd
2.44/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured from 12-ounce bottle into pint tumbler; freshness code of TCUP-235BA, which should be ~ July 20, 2010 bottle date; brew courtesy of fellow local BA.

A - deep amber body with bubbly tan head that left decent lacing; the color was an odd surprise as I expected a brighter color

S - caramel aroma dominates here, but there is a whiff of scotch

T - another disappointing surprise here with what seemed to be a mix of caramel and butterscotch; as beer warms there is a slightly bitter finish, but nothing near expected for DIPA, and it is still outweighed by the sweet malty flavor.

M - the beer had a nice texture and carbonation and the sticky feel expected for IPA/DIPA

D - the nice sticky finish worked against the beer as it caused the overly sweet flavor to linger far too long

As much as I can relate to the name of the brew and empathize with the soon-to-be-swimming kayaker, I can't appreciate what Thomas Creek tried to do with this one. Perhaps this was just an out-of-date sample.

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Photo of stakem
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes taken 1/13/10. Bottle I believe care of goryshkewych, thanks! No indication of freshness but with this high of an abv, it doesn't really matter. This is strong ale/barleywine territory.

Poured into a snifter, this brew appears a surprising ruby red color with quite a bit of clarity. A tan head appears atop the brew and fades hanging closely to the edges of the glassware. Holding this brew up to the light displays some orange hues and an overall burnt look to it for a DIPA.

The aroma of this brew is sweet and fruity with a bounty of caramelized sugars. Toasty malt fills the profile with a light alcohol indication that is significantly subdued. The finish is a bit herbal with a backend to the nose that regains the toasted quality of the malt and fruity sweetness. As it warms some more Fidel alcohol becomes evident along with a smell that just seems burnt.

The taste of this brew includes a vast amount of toasted caramel malt with evident alcohol and clingy, lasting herbal bitterness. The caramel malt fills most of the profile with a flavor that is toasty leaning towards burnt. Each of the flavors in this brew seem singular and identifiable without blending or meshing together that well. Each sip is either, sweet, burnt or bitter. The alcohol is hidden quite well.

This is a medium to full bodied brew with a light amount of carbonation. It smells fruity like a finely aged barleywine, tastes excessively burnt and bitter, rindy and herbal like a strange contorting of a DIPA. The highlight is how well the alcohol is hidden. I shared this brew with a friend and I'm glad I did. It is an interesting interpretation and worth giving a try.

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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 Cyberkedi
3.91/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is fairly hoppy with firm tones of grapefruit and, interestingly enough, yeast and honey sweetness. It pours a dark, slightly hazy mahogany with an average light tan head, not what I expect in an IPA. Flavor is - WOO! It hits the tongue like an 18-wheeler on a patch of black ice with a strong hoppy and woody overtone, as well as good hop bitterness and undertone of honey with a bit of molasses mixed in. Texture is quite tingly and leaves a woody, slightly sweet finish with a good fizz.

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Photo of 908carson
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Extreme IPA... 12.5%... I'm not sure what I was expecting... I just know that this WASN'T IT.
When i think of high abv IPAs, i think of really bitter, hoppy monsters with a dark amber color and a pine resin and honey scent.
this poured from the bottle like the cherry nyquil.
and strangely smelled a little like it too...
well, that's not fair... but it did smell like bitter cherry and dark brown sugar. i really didn't get a lot of hop in the nose.
the color was like stained cherry or mahogany furniture.
the color of head was vaguely reminiscent of cream of mushroom soup... initially half an inch, but dissipated to a fine layer.
this beer is slick and boozy. dang. the strangely high carbonation helps spritz up the drinkability but the cloying sweetness really puts a damper on it.
every sip feels different to me. sometimes i feel like the alcohol is well masked, and then other tastes make me feel like i'm swiggin' moonshine.
i don't get any of the hoppy goodness that i expect from an imperial IPA. i don't even know what to call this... i imagine that this would fit in well in a totally different category, but in the IIPA realm, it falls seriously short. High ABV does not equal extreme IPA. Not sure what they were thinking here.
I could not drink another one of these if I tried.

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Photo of sholland119
3.48/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Pours a very dark ruby with a frothy tan head. Some good lacing. to me, unexpected for the style.

S-Chocolaty and sweet with nary a hint of hops that I can detect.

T-Taste is way better than I expected based on the look and smell. Sweet caramel malt dominates the front, then gives way to a strong bitter hoppy finish. Nice, if somewhat boozy.

M-Medium bodied with a fine prickly carbonation that I am not a big fan of.

D-Tasty in its way but boozy, high in ABV and unpleasantly carbonated. One is nice but that's good for me.


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Photo of gopens44
3.58/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Beautiful dark ruby and nearly opaque, except for the edges. Head not really a factor as it receded down pretty quick.

S - Sweet, raisiny and laden with maltiness.

T - Cherries, hops, malty. Finishes very bitterly. I like that.

M - Starts out a touch thin, but that sensation gives way to a slight creaminess. Lots of aftertaste, manifesting itself as a hoppy reminder.

Not bad, and the high ABV is masked rather well.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.23/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of bmanning. Served in a Hill Farmstead wine glass.

Pours quite dark with some nice ruby highlights in the body. Single-finger head falls down a bit quickly and brings some larger carbonation bubbles. There is some pretty good lacing as it starts to fall down.The initial whiff has some light notes of cherry cough syrup. It's quite faint. Some mildly-sweet caramelized malt.

The taste has a really nice malt character as well as some sweetness and caramel. This reminds me more of an English barleywine. It could be an old bottle, but it's fairly enjoyable how it is. However, I will say that the mouthfeel is a bit of a drawback as there is a slight astringency that comes out a lot more in the finish as a sort of metallic dryness.

I like where the taste was going, but the finish was a bit too much and really affected the drinkability of this one. A nice offering, though. Thanks again, Ben.

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Photo of Gavage
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a dark amber color with a big 3" head that creates a thick lacing on the glass during the session.

Smell: grapefruit, caramel sweetness, and a strong bitterness are up front. Some alcohol aroma is softer.

Taste: big caramel profile with golden apples, big grapefruit, some pine, and a strong biting bitterness. Alcohol is very noticable and quite warming.

Mouthfeel: heavy in body. Lightly crisp throughout with a dry finish. Very long aftertaste as the bitterness lingers on the tongue forever.

Drinkability: this beer was a bit extreme for the style and was quite a slow drinking beer. One glass was more than enough in a session.

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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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Photo of Docer
3.93/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. extra in a trade from PDXDhops who really outdid himself w/ the fantastic extras...

- Pours a very dark brown, copper, rather clear brew.... big light mocha head... down to lacing all over and light scattered foam...

- Molasses.. huge caramel malt... bitter pine and earthy hops.... brown sugar.... really a malt forward brew...

- Wow.. candy sweet malts, molasses, fig, candy... toffee notes... thick caramel.... bitter pine, herbal, grassy hops... but not really a big hop bomb by any means.

- Syrupy sweet sticky... medium bodied... slightly chewy and drying...

- Overall it is a treat... a sweet barleywine of a treat.... smooth, and actually does a rather good job of masking its strength....

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
3.76/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared by Urbancaver as part of my 50 states mission. Thanks Cam!

Reviewed from notes.

A. Pours amber with a tan creamy head that seems to last forever. This is one hell of a pretty beer.

S. Malty with caramel and citrus/grapefruit hops.

T. Bit of alcohol on the tongue with lots of caramelized malt. Good, but still quite hot, which is understandable for a 12.5%.

M. Thick and creamy.

D. Good mouthfeel but the alcohol inhibits the drinkability somewhat.

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Photo of daledeee
3.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a very dark brown with a copious head. The lacing was good at first.

The nose changed significantly from the beginning. Hints of floral and hops with nutty malt.

Taste reminds me of a barleywine. Not really very hoppy. It is sweet and malty with a slightly astringent finish. It is very high alcohol and not overly "hot" tasting. An interesting beer but I would call it a barley wine.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

General notes...
A beautiful beer... This one is definitely one of the prettiest beers I've had. Small bit of head with great lacing sticking around
Smells strongly of hops and a great malt profile. Hints of booze on the smell as well which is not surprising at 12.5%
the taste is actually more strongly of malt then hops but fairly well balanced. Strong with alcohol but really quite tasty! Too strong to be easily drinkable but overall a pretty solid beer

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark amber color, very dark for the style. About an average sized, foamy, slightly sticky, toasted marshmallow color head. Settles pretty fast leaving a thin, foamy lace.

S - Smells much more like a Barleywine or an American Strong Ale than a DIPA. Strong caramel malt mixes with a grapefruit and citrus hop aroma. Pretty sweet aroma. Alcohol is not really showing up for a 12.5% beer.

T - Similar to the nose, definitely taste like a strong ale. Sweet caramel and toffee malt along with grapefruit and other citrus hops. Big sweet and bitter flavors. Alcohol is present, but just with a slight warming on the finish. Sweetness lingers after the sip.

M - Full body with a bit above average carbonation. Pretty full feeling with a creamy and smooth feel.

D - Gets a little too sweet and cloying to be all that drinkable. Alcohol is pretty well hidden with only a little warming aftertaste. Plenty of sweetness and bitterness, but it just seems a little too much. Probably wouldn't drink more than one.

Notes: Definitely didn't taste like a DIPA, more like a strong ale or maybe a barleywine. Strong flavors with big bitter and sweet flavors coming out. Nice big, thick body is good though. Pretty good beer, but it is definitely a sipper and would just get every now and then if the price was right.

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Thomas Creek Up The Creek from Thomas Creek Brewery
3.7 out of 5 based on 494 ratings.
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