My favorite type of beer is anything stout. The darker, the better. (Although I haven’t sipped on one in seven months due to the impending arrival of our second child.)

My husband—he’s an IPA guy. The hoppier, the better.

My Lynchburg Business art director— you’ll often find him ordering a red ale. The roastier, the better.

Odds are you are voicing your craft beer opinion in your head right now. “Shelley—stouts? Really?” or “Her art director sounds like a guy I’d get along with.”

Craft beer has that way about it, doesn’t it? In recent years, it’s become a conversation starter—the question you ask someone at a social event or gathering right after your introduction: “So… what kind of craft beers do you like?”

Taking it a step further, craft beer has become an economic driver in communities all across the U.S.—including ours. Lynchburg natives are keeping their favorite brews or breweries afloat. Likewise, out-of-town visitors are putting some of those brands and destinations on the map. We are taking an in-depth look at the craft beer business in our tourism feature on page 34. Find out what local restaurants and breweries are doing to find a place, and keep it, in a very crowded market.

Don’t read this magazine thirsty or hungry because you’ll find food all throughout the issue. Frito-Lay is celebrating 20 years in Lynchburg—learn what types of products are made exclusively in the Hill City. Our Business Under 10 Years, MayLynn’s Creamery, has expanded from a Boonsboro food truck to a downtown brick and mortar location. Hear how the owners got their start several years ago—right after a life changing accident. Plus, our Made in Central Virginia spotlight is Gunnoe Sausage Company, based in Bedford County.

And starting on page 24, we are thrilled to highlight 12 local businesses with our annual “Best Places to Work” awards. All were nominated by current employees then selected by our Lynchburg Business team for their exceptional work culture and community involvement opportunities. They are doing great things to not only attract employees, but keep them.

Hopefully it’s almost quitting time for you and a cold one is in your not-so-distant future. Try to make it a locally-brewed craft beer, if you can. Helping a small business and our region’s economy with a tasty beverage? I think we can all toast to that (me just in spirit… of course).

Shelley Basinger, Managing Editor