Without a Paddle: Thomas Creek Brewing Up the Creek Extreme IPA

thomas creek-south carolina-beer-beer review-up the creek-ipa

When it comes to “extreme beer,” Dogfish Head takes the cake. Their experimental tendencies provide a slew of wild, off-centered ales. Among them, 120 Minute IPA.

Well, meet 120 Minute’s new competition: Thomas Creek’s Up the Creek Extreme IPA.

At 12.5 percent ABV, this imperial India Pale Ale is nothing to sneeze at. Although, I might prefer this brew over its Dogfish Head brethren. It’s got an 84 on Beer Advocate.

The South Carolina brewery used a ton of high alpha acid American hops in this beer, which gives it nose-stinging hop aroma – literally. I was not put off by the sheer voracity of Amarillo and Willamette hops, but the smell of this beer is harsh and pungent, carrying aromas of lemon, mint and blood orange.

Whereas 120 Minute nearly smells and tastes like a pseudo-baryleywine thanks to its intense malt profile, Up the Creek Extreme IPA relies heavily on its hops, which occasionally blend with two kinds of Caramel malts to give a whiff of caramel/toffee. But don’t get confused, this beer is all about the citrusy characteristics of its hops.

I fell in love with the taste. This is a hop monster through and through. I didn’t pick up a ton of individual hop tastes aside from grapefruit and orange, most likely from the Amarillo. I swear I thought of Cortland apples, too. This beer is sweet, but not necessarily from the malt. Ever had a HopSlam? It’s that kind of sweet, where the hop lupulin just tastes so fresh it’s like popping a ripe piece of fruit in your mouth.

This beer is definitely sweet like 120 Minute, but in this case, it’s the hops attacking your senses and not tons of malt. That’s a pleasant feeling as the booze fills your throat, but it never burns.

Up the Creek Extreme IPA stats

  • Malt: 2-RowPale, Caramel 20, Special B, Caramel 120
  • Hops: Warrior and Nugget (bittering), Amarillo, Willamette (flavor/aroma) and dry hopped with Amarillo
  • Adjuncts/Additives: N/A
  • ABV: 12.5 percent
  • Brewery: Thomas Creek Brewery of Greenville, South Carolina


+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

10 thoughts on “Without a Paddle: Thomas Creek Brewing Up the Creek Extreme IPA

  1. Coming soon….Dogfish Head “Takes the Cake” Ale, brewed with one cake per bbl!

  2. Limpd wrote this up about a year ago. He really liked it. Since it’s been showing up on the shelves around here quite a bit, I’ll have to pick up a bottle for myself. Sounds delicious!

    1. When I think “extreme IPA,” something like this doesn’t necessarily come to mind, mostly because my opinion must be biased by what Dogfish does. Both this and Leinenkugel’s imperial IPA are much more restrained – and perhaps more viable for an “average” beer drinker – than 120 Minute.

  3. Cortland apples! Your Central NY pedigree is coming through.

    I’ve been mildly intrigues by the few varieties of Thomas Creek I’ve seen but not enough to pick one up. If I’d seen an Extreme IPA I probably would have grabbed an oar but thanks to this post I’ll paddle elsewhere. Despite the raves and insanity that surrounds a HopSlam tapping (at least in Philly), I’m not a fan. Just not a fan of that syrupy sweetness. Bold, badass, hoppy IPAs, doubles and triples need to finish with an abrasive, snappy dryness, not a lingering (cloying) sweetness. At least the ones in my craft beer research facility do.


  4. They’ve recently started bottling a Chocolate Orange IPA that’s stellar.

    1. I’ve only had that IPA once at a beer festival, but I’m excited to find it whenever it appears on shelves here in the Triangle.

      You have that recipe kicking around anywhere? I’d love to hear more about how you made it.

  5. Reblogged this on Stuff Tim Writes and commented:
    One of my favorites…geez it’s been a long time since I wrote anything.

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