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New Orleans craft beer scene grows with Cajun Fire Brewing 

click to enlarge Cajun Fire Brewing's Paul Taylor (left) and Jon Renthrope won the Big Idea Pitch competition at last week's New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

Cajun Fire Brewing's Paul Taylor (left) and Jon Renthrope won the Big Idea Pitch competition at last week's New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

  The New Orleans craft beer scene continues to progress. Not only has 40 Arpent Brewing Company (www.40arpentbrewery.com) 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 (www.drinkcajunfire.com), founded by Jon Renthrope and partners in 2011, recently 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 exposed Cajun Fire to many 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 its Acadiana Honey Ale (my favorite) and Ol Yella American 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 black-owned 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 secure a location. He and his partners hope 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 New Orleans City Planning Commission March 11. The New Orleans City Council is scheduled to vote on the plans at its April 10 meeting.

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