The beer: Play Date
The brewery: Deep Ellum Brewing Co. in Dallas.
The style: American sour ale; sour ale is an old style that's experiencing a renaissance in American craft brewing. The American style shows high acidity and a pronounced tart, citrusy character, stemming from the introduction of lactic-acid-producing bacteria.
The pitch: Deep Ellum Blonde is the base for this delicious, sour ale, brewed with Medjool dates, which lend an earthy complexity. It has the fruity, citrusy flavors and acidity that sour-ale fans expect, with a hint of raisin. The sourness isn't mouth-puckering, thanks to a modest dose of malts; that makes it a good introductory beer for those new to this style. The fruit shows as juicy, but not sweet, and the finish is dry. This is a refreshing, palate-cleansing beer, with a light body and effervescence, and just 5.4 percent alcohol. It's nice to have a seasonal, easy-drinking alternative to the heavy winter brews. And about that seasonal link: You could argue that dates are a winter fruit.
Fun facts: This seasonal release is the first beer created by Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s new brewer, Barrett Tillman. He has an expertise in sour ales and a slew of competition awards to prove it. The beer was piloted in the taproom in recognition of the brewery's fourth anniversary, where its success spurred this release. Tillman says inspiration for the name comes from several sources. The use of Medjool dates as an ingredient is the most obvious. Then there's the surprising flavor impact of dates on the beer, which Tillman says is "as unexpected as your first kiss" -- presumably on a date; the sugar in the dates ferments out, leaving an unexpectedly dry, earthy flavor. Finally, the name refers to children's play dates, which are often excuses for parents to share a drink.
Serve it, pair it: It's a great session beer, but would also pair well with shellfish, fish, green salads and apple salad.
Get some: In limited release; sold in 22-ounce bottles for about $6.99 at stores with a good selection of craft beers. Although the first batch may sell out quickly, a second batch should be available next week.
Tina Danze is a freelance writer. Follow here on Twitter @Tina Danze.