The New Orleans craft beer scene continues to progress. Not only has 40 Arpent just opened in Arabi, but two local breweries in progress have seen their hard work pay off and are moving closer to opening.
Cajun Fire Brewing, founded by Jon Renthrope and partners in 2011, last week won the Big Idea Pitch Competition, which was the culmination of the annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, sponsored by The Idea Village. The victory netted the brewery a $50,000 grant and the crowdsourced format of the competition meant Cajun Fire was exposed to event attendees.
Referencing the torrential rain on the day of the event, Renthrope said of his team and of all the competitors, "We made it happen in the perfect storm."
After serving samples of their Acadiana Honey Ale (my favorite) and Ol' Yella Pale Ale, Cajun Fire was one of the three top vote-getters of the 13 presenting that day. Renthrope made an impassioned pitch to the judges about New Orleans' brewing history and Cajun Fire's pride in being the first African American-run brewery in the city, and he and his team were awarded the grand prize.
Renthrope says the money will be used to purchase brewing equipment and move forward on securing a location. He and his partners are hoping to open in a space in the Lower Garden District. If successful, they will be neighbors of Courtyard Brewing, whose plans were approved by the City Planning Commission March 11 and will be moving on to potential approval by the entire New Orleans City Council at the council's April 10 meeting.
- NORA MCGUNNIGLE