Cajun Fire Brewing Co.
Under historic leadership, this local brewery is establishing equity in an often exclusive industry
Jon Renthrope, CEO and brewmaster at Cajun Fire Brewing Co., has always had the goal of brewing beer for socio-economic change.
As a member of the United Nation of Houma Indians, Renthrope created the company out of a lack of ownership by Black manufacturers in the craft beer industry. As Cajun Fire Brewing Co. approaches its 10-year anniversary, Renthrope acknowledges he has reached an economic milestone, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. “What makes our beer unique is the rich memories that our community experiences while enjoying our beers,” he says. “The support of our company beer releases has been special.”
As the first Black-owned/Native American brewing company in Louisiana and the U.S. South (and the fifth in the nation’s history since Prohibition), Renthrope says his success depends on understanding the history of the beer industry and his place within it.
“I am in a small percentile of CEOs who have to navigate compounded systemic policies in the craft beer industry,” he says. “It is truly a privilege to serve in the capacity as an operating officer of such a company, and I often reflect on what my ancestors would do in certain scenarios. When in this position, it means for me understanding the systemic policies past and present, which have created this disparity.”
As an Eastern New Orleans native, Renthrope found it to be the perfect place to open the brewery. Cajun Fire Brewing Co. is uniquely positioned to provide an outlet to engage commerce, spur tourist interest in the area, create high wage jobs, reduce blight and aid in creating a commercial identity for Eastern New Orleans.
“There is a net of 120,000 traffic index daily for the Interstate 10 corridor,” he says. “Site control of the area allows for expansion efforts for scale and future development.” Once in operation, the $2 million commercial development will be one of the most accessible and highly visible brewing facilities in the state of Louisiana.
Cajun Fire Brewing Co. currently has four beers on the market: Big Chief Creme Stout; Cajun Fire Honey Ale; Blacktoberfest; and a limited seasonal beer called P-Train Funk IPA. The beer is distributed in Southeast Louisiana, statewide in Michigan and in 83 counties within the United States.
Currently, the beverages are produced to exacting standards in Sterling, Virginia, until the brick and mortar commercial development project is complete (estimated to be open in 2022). The footprint of Cajun Fire Brewing Co.’s development serves as the anchor business for a community-wide project dubbed The Eastern New Orleans Cultural Hub, which Renthrope hopes will spur prosperity in the Eastern New Orleans Bullard Corridor. As such, it will include a cultural museum, a culinary institute, a community garden and a tasting room.
Cajun Fire’s commercial development also will contribute to protecting the integrity of the commercial corridor’s ecosystem and viability. Through its leadership and collaborative endeavors, Cajun Fire Brewing Co. has already raised more than $700,000 for local philanthropies and non-profit organizations in the Orleans Parish community.
“Our success broadens our ability to pay it forward and aid in creating an equitable manufacturing identity for the Eastern New Orleans community,” Renthrope says.
10555 Lake Forest Blvd., Ste. 3C, 355-6653, drinkcajunfire.com