Beers in Review: Mixtape is mixed up

I begin this BiR post with a beer that had loads of potential, only for it to be unrealized. Among the many unique series of beers offered by Escondido, California's Stone Brewing is their Mixtape series, one-off batches created by blending of various Stone beers, an otherwise rare practice at Stone. I recently had Volume 14: The Gatekeeper, which seems to have been a release for the World of Beer chain, though there is some availability elsewhere. Gatekeeper is a blend of the 2015 and 2016 versions of the Imperial Russian Stout along with the Stone IPA. The result is a brown-to-copper colored beer that has almost no harmony. The Stouts and the IPA are seemingly at odds with each other throughout the drinking experience, as the separate entities and their hop/malt mix make no attempt to blend together or work as one beer. I found the hop bite to be on the harsh side. There were nice flavor notes hidden in the chaos, including some dark semi-sweet chocolate notes, as well as a little bit of fruit (in addition to the three beers, this blend also included figs, plums, and Hallertau Blanc hops, which should yield tropical fruit notes). There was also perhaps a slight cola note floating around there, as well, though it may have just been my interpreting the sweeter notes of the beer. The beer isn't really boozy at all, despite an ABV of 7.9%. This beer was not bad, and got sweeter, fruitier, smoother, and generally more enjoyable when it warmed up a bit. But this feels like two good-to-great beers that just didn't get along, and missed out on every ounce of potential the glass held. Not drinkable, but this beer was a disappointment.

Up next is J. Wakefield Brewing and their 24th Street Brown Ale, named for the street on which the brewery resides in Miami, Florida. There isn't much information to be found out there about this beer (get on that, J. Wakefield!), but it drinks as a straight-forward, on-the-mark Brown Ale. Coming in at 6.8% ABV, the beer pours a hazy chocolate brown, which is kind of pretty, if you've seen enough hazy dark beers (otherwise, it just looks like mud). The fairly standard but very tasty flavor profile includes lots of chocolate, as well as a fair amount of caramel maltiness, some coffee notes and nuttiness. I also enjoyed the creamy, smooth mouthfeel. J. Wakefield hit the nail on the head with this brown.