Bon Voyage Blonde!

Tin Roof Brewing Company’s Blonde Ale is taking a trip around the world and if you want to go along grab your passport.

In the first leg of the journey they’ll be stops in five different countries with five different beers and you’ll get your passport stamped each time you taste a new one. Four out of five stamps gets you a T-shirt and a goblet from Tin Roof, and if you get all five beers plus three other stamps by trying some more than once, you’re eligible for a special prize yet to be revealed.

The beers are $6 a pint.

Head brewer Alex Daigrepont came up with the idea to showcase his brewing skills by starting with their Blonde Ale and then creating specialty beers that taste like traditional beers from these foreign places by adding a yeast from that country.

The first session will include Canada, Ireland, Germany, Norway and Sweden and they will be repeated three times. Later in the fall there will be a second session featuring four ales and two lagers from Scotland, France, Great Britain and Belgium (the ales), and the Czech Republic and Mexico (the lagers).

For the Passport Series, the specialty beers will be available only at the Tap Room. Added last year, this attractive space with a bar and tables with windows looking into the brewery allows guests to come in to taste the beers and see the action without having to spend time in the un-airconditioned brewery. Complimentary tours, however, are available on Friday evenings.

Shelby Byrd, 24 and Brooks Bryd, 26, really enjoyed the Canadian-influenced beer. “We really don’t usually like light beers, but this is very good,” said Brooks Bryd. “It’s very light and I really like it,” added Shelby Byrd.

Owner Charles Caldwell says they’re really enthusiastic about the Passport Series. “It’s really exciting to be able to do some experimental stuff in the tap room and educate consumers. There aren’t many people out there doing a series with different yeast styles and it’s a great learning opportunity,” says Caldwell.

“It’s easier to do different hop varieties but to showcase yeast is different and we’re excited to do that in the tap room and have people see the brewery and experience it.”

“Our Blonde Ale recipe is very good, it’s a home brew recipe my dad won a medal with. I changed the hops and made it for Tin Roof.” says Daigrepont.

Daigrepont, 31, and his dad, Tom Daigrepont, the brewmaster, started helping out at Tin Roof in December 2010 and the owners put them on staff.

Starting with the Blonde Ale as the base, Daigrepont changes the yeast to create the different beers. “It’s like making a gumbo,” says Daigrepont, adding that changing the ingredients changes the taste.

“It’s a lot of work because you’re making small batch after small batch,” Daigrepont says about the Passport Series.

“Alex is a great asset here and he does a lot of test brews on the pilot (test) system and tries different things only available in the tap room,” says Caldwell.

The Canadian Blonde was a hit, but the keg was empty by about 6:30 p.m. It will return two more times.

Started by Caldwell and friend William McGehee in 2010, Tin Roof Brewing Company is steadily growing.

“Business is good, we have different projects in the works, but we don’t want to expand too fast. We’re now covering all of Mississippi and half of Alabama and that’s new for us this year,” Caldwell said.

“The main thing for us is slow controlled growth. We’re introducing new products like our Gameday IPA, and we’re also constantly doing equipment upgrades and looking at other markets. We want to make sure our staff and our equipment are up to par, ” he added.

The brewery’s growth is not uncommon in the craft brewing industry. According to a press release from the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade association for small and independent American craft brewers, the craft brewing industry had a 16 percent production volume increase in the first half of 2015.

From January through the end of June, approximately 12.2 million barrels of beer were sold by craft brewers, up from 10.6 million barrels during the first half of 2014.

“The continued growth of small and independent brewers illustrates that additional market opportunities and demand are prevalent, although competition in the sector is certainly growing and the need for brewers to differentiate and produce world class high quality beer is more important than ever,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association.

First Passport Series Schedule

Aug. 12 - Canada

Aug. 14 - Ireland

Aug. 19 - Germany

Aug. 21 - Norway

Aug. 26 - Sweden

Aug. 28 - Canada

Sept. 2 - Ireland

Sept. 4 - Germany

Sept. 9 - Norway

Sept. 11 - Sweden

Sept. 16 - Canada

Sept. 18 - Ireland

Sept. 23 - Germany

Sept. 25 - Sweden