Fall 2014
NOELA Magazine - Celebrating the East!
Volume II, No. 3
Original Link to this Story Here
FALL 2014
No Politics, Just Beer
New Orleans East Residents brew culturally inspired craft beers
One of the latest businesses to be birthed out of New Orleans is Cajun Fire Brewing Company, a micro-brewery founded by young Louisiana born Brewmaster Jon Renthrope. Renthrope got the idea for brewing beer while attending school at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He developed a taste for speciality beers and wines, but such preferences can be difficult to indulge on a college budget. His resourcefulness guided him to YouTube, where he found directions for making beer. His first batch came out so well, he later shared the results of his newfound skill with friends and family. They felt, as Renthrope did, that he was on to something special.

Initially, Renthrope, who has a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science, planned to work within his field of study, but after moving back to New Orleans, Renthrope joined forces with fellow St. Augustine High School graduates Adam Dawson and Jomarque Renthrope (who is also his brother) to grow the brewing concept. The team, whose members were all raised in New Orleans East, was later rounded out by Paul Taylor, another St. Augustine graduate, and Courtney Wilson, who is now Jon Renthrope's fiancee.

The company's official slogan is "No Politics, Just Beer", a phrase that plays well into their company culture and what they are attempting to accomplish. Though not his primary occupation, his field of study has proved to be useful in the brewing business. As Renthrope plans his operations, his goals are to ensure that products come from grains and materials that are sustainable, and that operations are environmentally friendly, by lowering the carbon footprint, and utilizing landscaping that favors the environment
The partners are currently seeking a place to house their operations, and though they are considering locations all over the city, they will most likely settle downtown or in Mid-City. A spot near the Superdome would be their dream location.

Renthrope admits that there is still a lot to learn about the brewing business. There are also challenges that are unique to the industry. Hops, which are one of the main ingredients in beer, can be difficult to obtain. Large companies have priority in obtaining available supplies. There can also be a wide variance in the available supply from year to year, depending on growing conditions.

Cajun Fire Brewing Company is currently the only African-American owned and operated brewery in the United States. The company currently offers brews such as Acadiana Honey Ale, Praline Ale, and Ol' Yella Pale Ale, but the combinations of future flavors are endless. Feedback on the company's sample offerings have been positive in annual festivals such as NOLA on Tap and WYES Beer Festival, the longest running annual beer fest in Louisiana.

Renthrope and company have made valuable use of resources available for startup businesses. In Marhc, the cocmpany won the $50,000 grand prize in Idea Village's New Orleans Entrepreneur Week Big Idea PIth contest to help with startup capital.

Also in March, the company won the Chaffe McCall and Idea Village Entrepreneur Challenge!, receiving free legal guidance from the Chaffe McCall attorneys covering several areas of law.

Still ahead, the partners plan to manage the myriad challenges of entrepreneurs, including obtaining the required operating permits, and landing a distribution contract. To help them navigate the uncertain terrain, Renthrope has turned to groups like the New Orleans Chamber of Commere and the American Brewer's Association for valuable connections and networking.

Recognizing the importance of community involvement, Renthrope is a NOLA for Life mentor, and a participant in InNOLAvation, a site for chronicling the evolution of startups, events, and entrepreneurs in New Orleans. Renthrope is also active in the St. Augustine alumni association.

While preparing for future growth of the company, Renthrope is also preparing for another big event -- marriage, which he admits is also a lot of work. The future is very bright for Renthrope and crew and we should see a lot more from his talented group in the future.
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