Beer Profile: Left Hand Brewing’s Twin Sisters Double IPA

Reviewed by Ken Carman

Image courtesy of Ratebeer.com
Image courtesy of Ratebeer.com

Rateme.com had it at 9.6%, Beer Advocate at 9.00% ABV. I never found an IBU rating on this, but I’m guessing it’s not as high as one would expect: high alpha hops that impart such a bitterness rather than hop flavor and complexity were probably used. Since anything I’ve had over 100 the hops take command and it is less “sweet,” malt-wise… maybe 70-80 at best? Just a guess.

“Double IPA” may be the moniker, but there comes a time when there’s so much going on here malt-wise vs. hopping it’s really a barleywine. Yes, it’s highly hopped; but I’ve had barleywines that are highly hopped. This one is so one-dimensionally high that it just mostly bitter; and not as much nose as one would expect… and both are a problem. I would love for the hops to have more complexity, but if you’re going to drive the abv this high there’s a lot you need to do to make it so complex hop-wise that it’s an actual double IPA.

Pours mostly clear and yellow. Malt high, yet a bit too sweet. That, and bitter-only hops, wiped most distinctive flavors the malt might have had.

I love DIPAs, but they have become somewhat of a bogus sub-category in my opinion in most cases amongst many commercial examples; since by the time they get the body so high that it supports the sometimes insanely high IBUs, they often get into barleywine territory when the hops become more just “put in more to bitter,” rather than adding hop complexity. To me a DIPA; no matter what the abv., should have enough hop complexity to make it distinctive from a barleywine, and I don’t just mean “bitter” like Twin Sisters

Despite these criticisms, let it not be claimed I didn’t enjoy it. I just wonder what sets this aside from other insanely high-hopped barleywines. Maybe Left Hand just needs to work on the complexity of the hopping some more?

Whatever you do, don’t guzzle. This is a beverage that demands respect.