Friday night was the culmination of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. This usually doesn't have much influence on the world of craft beer. However, the other night was quite the exception. At the closing ceremonies, cleverly named "The Big Idea" - a competition among thirteen organizations for a chance at $50,000 in real, U.S. currency (I'm imagining small, unmarked bills) to use however they wish - the winner was an aspiring local brewery, Cajun Fire Brewing.
Now, I don't know these guys well, but I have seen them at local entrepreneur events around town, and I have definitely tasted their beer. The fact is that they are talented home brewers that are looking to move into the real time, and this money will certainly help. But that is not even the biggest win here. The point I believe was made at The Big Idea is that craft beer is now seen as a legitimate business by ordinary people. No longer is the idea of "craft beer" some foreign concept reserved for beer geeks (like me) to debate as we huddle in our dark corners of the bar. This win is a sign that more good beer just sounds like a good idea - for everyone.
Of course, I don't know what really passed through tne minds of the judges in that final vote, but I do know that enough of the NOEW attendees selected Cajun Fire in the initial round that they made the final three. That is not only a testament to their energy, their drive, and their brews... but also to the growing acceptance of craft beer in the overall community. And I have to say that I'm happy it paid off for these guys.
I look forward to seeing what these enterprising brewers do with the winnings, and can't wait to taste more quality beer made right here in New Orleans. Congratulations Cajun Fire! Will raise a glass with you anytime.