_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

The craft beer industry has been a game-changer for the Piedmont Triad in the last couple years, with almost a dozen new ventures either up and running or in the pipeline.

Everybody’s getting in on it: Bottle and growler shops are opening; restaurateurs are pairing and preparing dishes with local brews; bars devote more and more tap space to our area breweries; artists and T-shirt companies are throwing their designs into the mix.

But the local-beer craze has yet to permeate the Greensboro Coliseum, one of the largest beer purveyors in the Triad.

They’ve been selling Natty Greene’s brews for years at the coliseum, but still the lion’s share of their commerce leans towards mainstream yellow suds sold at roughly 10 times the going rate at a gas station. But as craft beer further penetrates the beer-drinking market, supply at the coliseum has not kept up with demand.

The microbrewery environment is completely different than when Chris Lester and Kayne Fisher took a gamble on a property in Hamburger Square in the city’s downtown. Now there are four breweries and a fifth planned in Greensboro alone, three rolling in Winston-Salem with another on the way and, within a year or so, three in High Point.

That’s enough range to stock a dedicated beer concession inside Greensboro’s city-owned facility with all local beer, giving the folks from around here — and the ones who aren’t — a homegrown choice.

It would strengthen the local economy by keeping dollars in our own communities, but there’s more to it than that. Beer has become a signature commodity for the Piedmont Triad, with one of the fastest-growing scenes in the state. It’s one of the things we do very well.

And the coliseum — which with the possible exception of the furniture market draws more people to the area than anything else in our cities — is perfectly poised to champion it.

I picture something at one of the corners of the concession ring, a wall of taps restricted to local beers that would quickly draw one of the longest lines on concert nights, and maybe even during the monster trucks.

And with our city property, we’d be giving a leg up to a local industry instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator.

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