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St. Augustine and Benjamin Franklin graduates find success with Cajun Fire Brewing Company, the nation’s only African American owned and operated brewery

Written by  IntheNOLA.com
According to Cajun Fire Brewing Company’s Founder and Brewmaster Jon Renthrope, it’s highly debatable which one of the “Krewe” members ultimately came up with the company name.
 
No matter if it was Jon himself or one of the other members - Adam Dawson, Jomarque Renthrope, Paul Taylor, or Courtney Wilson – who decided on the Cajun Fire moniker, we’re certainly glad somebody did or else we wouldn’t even be talking to this fine team of New Orleanians, who also happen to own and operate the only African American craft brewery in the US. Yes, the only one in the whole country and they’re right here in New Orleans!
The story starts out like this: In 2008, Jon wanted to put his gumbo pots and culinary skills to good use. Already a home brewer, Jon wanted to create something bigger…unique, culturally significant styles of beer for New Orleans. So in 2010, Jon reached out to his college roommate, Adam Dawson, presented him with the idea, and Cajun Fire Brewing Company became official in October 2011.
St. Augustine and Benjamin Franklin graduates find success with Cajun Fire Brewing Company, the nation’s only African American owned and operated brewery | IntheNOLA.com
So what makes Cajun Fire’s line-up of beers (including the Praline Ale, Acadiana Honey Ale, and Ol Yella American Pale Ale), so special? “The least obvious would be the water,” explained Jon. “I would argue that New Orleans boasts one of the best municipal water systems in the world. To put that into perspective of how it translates into our product, look no further than our world-renowned French bread and why it is so addictive. We have the blessing of having access to hard, rich water, which has a rich mineral chemistry that attributes to a phenomenal taste. Ninety to ninety-five percent of a beer’s mass is water. So by design, added with a rich desire to test a varied and absurd amount of domestic ingredients in the ales we concoct, you receive the formula for a pint from Cajun Fire, which cannot be emulated or experienced (yet) anywhere else in the world.” 
 
He continued, “In my opinion, the most unique ale we offer is our Praline Ale. There’s nothing like it in the nation or the world! My father, Jullin Renthrope’s, very own recipe is added to the boil and this has created a cult following of festival goers looking to experience this unmistakably Orleanian ale.” 
 
St. Augustine and Benjamin Franklin graduates find success with Cajun Fire Brewing Company, the nation’s only African American owned and operated brewery | IntheNOLA.comCajun Fire Brewery were the winners of the “The Big Idea 2014” hosted by New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, where they took home the top prize of $50,000! And they are the official beer sponsors of the upcoming International Fest this Saturday, October 18 at the Port of New Orleans.
 
“Festivals are hard to predict what to expect by their very nature,” Jon said. One thing is common, however; rain or shine, in this city it is a guaranteed good time filled with interesting personalities. At this year’s International Fest, I’m looking forward to the responses from people sampling out our product.  Constructive criticism is the time where as a Brewmaster, I am able to challenge my own recipes and go back to the lab for improvement like any artist would their respective craft. The only difference here is that my canvas is a person’s palette.” 
 
As previously mentioned, the Cajun Fire krewe are graduates of two of New Orleans’ most well-known and respected schools, St. Augustine High School and Benjamin Franklin High School. “Ultimately, these schools instilled in us a phenomenal moral compass that encourages positivity, adaptability, and social skills,” Jon noted, “all which come together to create a highly personable alumni base that truly emulates the culture of hospitality found in this great place we call home.” 
 
St. Augustine and Benjamin Franklin graduates find success with Cajun Fire Brewing Company, the nation’s only African American owned and operated brewery | IntheNOLA.com
For those NOLA entrepreneurs looking to achieve success, Jon shared some advice. “First and foremost,” he said, “shun not the struggle. Challenge everything, think for yourself, and stay humble. Understand that there will be obstacles and times of doubt, but ultimately, that climate in itself should let you know that you are on to something. For me, I factor the cons of any great idea first. There will be visible and subliminal barriers to entry based on your ethnicity and geographic location, particularly if you are attempting to remain independent. While these obstacles to entry may provide temporary roadblocks, the pains will sculpt you and your business model into a more sustainable whole and you the entrepreneur will be more conditioned to adapt to changes in plans (which will happen).  Surround yourself with positive mentors and peers. Thinking outside of the box and truly living and breathing your respected craft is about as fulfilling of an idea as any. Combined with discipline, it will take your idea as far as you are willing to push. Last, but definitely not least, never stop researching ways to improve your brand.”
 
St. Augustine and Benjamin Franklin graduates find success with Cajun Fire Brewing Company, the nation’s only African American owned and operated brewery | IntheNOLA.comJon added, “Ultimately the goal of Cajun Fire Brewing Company is to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit and positively exceed expectations of what the population has experienced from the most profound yet misunderstood beverage of civilization. With passion we are creating a sustainable flagship company that we are confident will be a testament of civic pride for New Orleanians for generations to come.”
 
He concluded, “My favorite type of customer is the one who says the infamous line, ‘I’m not much of a beer drinker.’ Cajun Fire has converted many.” 
 
For more information about Cajun Fire Brewing Company, please visit the website, Facebook, and Twitter and follow #EmbraceCultureDrinkLocal.
Last modified on Thursday, 16 October 2014
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