Published on January 30th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
UFO Beer’s Victoria Kidder Talks Seasonals, Boston & The Harpoon Brewery
An American brewery with plants in both Boston and Vermont, Harpoon Brewery has come a long way in its 32 years. The first company to obtain a permit to manufacture and sell alcohol in the Massachusetts Commonwealth in 25 years, it was the 19th largest brewery in the United States as of a few years back. The brewery itself is known for its recurring on-site events, both making it a top Boston party destination and a source of community-minded actions; for example, its annual five-mile run benefits The Angel Fund and Harpoon Point To Point to benefit the Vermont Food Bank.
Beyond its top-selling Harpoon India Pale Ale, the brewery is known for its UFO Beers. The UFO Hefeweizen, UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen, and UFO White also all popular offerings found at your local craft beer store. But especially impressive is that Harpoon puts out seasonal and limited-edition beers on a regular basis. To learn more about that, I had the pleasure of speaking UFO Brand Manager Victoria Kidder for Hype. More on UFO and Harpoon can be found online at www.ufobeer.com.
What can you tell me about UFO’s seasonal offerings?
Victoria Kidder: UFO Wheat Beers are all about flavor adventures. From our year-round UFO White Ale to popular seasonals like the vanilla and cold brew coffee-infused UFO Winter Blonde, it’s really all about the flavor. We believe that our consumers like to discover the new and exciting, both in beers, and their lifestyle. We look at our seasonal offerings as a way for consumers to be able to discover flavors that are seasonally appropriate, however they may not be super-familiar with — or think about when it comes to beer!
I’m excited about our 2018 lineup of new UFO Beers, which is packed to the brim with fruity flavor. We’ll be launching two new seasonals, a special release and also introducing a great new year-round beer from UFO. The first of the new seasonals is UFO Apricadabra, an apricot-infused hefeweizen that’s perfect for spring. The beer’s subtly sweet flavor is nothing but… magic. Sorry, had to. (laughs)
Where do the seasonal beers usually come from? Have any come from someone who hasn’t an employee of the company?
Victoria Kidder: We generally start by thinking about the actual season and what flavors are relevant during that timeframe. We also take into account flavor trends and what is hot in adjacent categories like coffee, seltzers, etc. And of course, we get a lot of suggestions from consumers on social media. The past few seasonals have come from employees, but you never know when the next great seasonal release will come from a fan — looking at you guys! (laughs)
Do you have a favorite of the UFO seasonals?
Victoria Kidder: My favorite seasonal is actually our upcoming summer release that isn’t out yet — keep your eyes peeled in early April! I can’t say what it is, but it’s perfect for summer and I think everyone’s going to really enjoy it! Was that cryptic enough for you? (laughs)
Seasonals aside, what is coming up for UFO?
Victoria Kidder: We’re launching a new year-round beer in February, UFO Pineapple, and in conjunction with this launch we’ll be running a sweepstakes campaign to send two lucky people to Hawaii for a nice little tropical getaway. You’ll be able to learn more about both launches on our website.
Any beer trends you foresee for 2018?
Victoria Kidder: 2018 is all about flavor, the unexpected and the bold. In beer, and for UFO Beers, this means lots of new and unique flavors. In general, as the public gets more well-versed in beer, we’re seeing less of a focus solely on hoppiness and more of an acceptance of all beer styles and flavors. Brewers may be focusing more on things like sour beer, darker styles, new fruit flavors — dotting back to that desire for differentiation.
What first got you interested in craft beer?
Victoria Kidder: UFO was actually one of the first craft beers I had when I graduated from college. At the time, I didn’t love the taste of beer — or was just drinking the wrong ones — and UFO was easy to drink and delicious. As the years have progressed, my palate has become — a bit — more refined, and I’ve enjoyed branching out and trying a ton of craft beers. I generally am drawn to fruit forward and sour beers. It’s a real pleasure to work with the brewers here to see what unique beers they come up with and the longer I’ve worked here, the more amazed I am at their talent for making such flavorful, quality, and diverse beers.
What is a typical day for you like as UFO Brand Manager?
Victoria Kidder: There isn’t really a typical day, which is probably why I enjoy my job so much. Some days I’m digging into our sales numbers; other days I’m working on campaigns and digital content. But my favorite days are when I get to head on over to the lab and taste test new flavors for beers that we want to bring to market. I love that my job combines analytics and creativity. Each day brings a new challenge, that’s for sure!
When not busy with UFO, how do you like to spend your free time?
Victoria Kidder: Doing as much “market research” as possible with my friends at restaurants and bars around Boston! I kid. Sorta! I love being on the golf course, and during the summer you’ll often find me on Cape Cod or catching some rays with my pup.
Do you have a favorite restaurant near your office? One that has UFO on-tap?
Victoria Kidder: I’m a pretty basic cheeseburger and fries type of gal, so I enjoy heading over to Lucky’s Lounge just down the street for a bite to eat and of course, a few pints of UFO White. And if you head there on weekend nights, you’ll get some pretty great live music — added bonus!
Finally, Victoria, any last words for the kids?
Victoria Kidder: Well, not the kids, per se — 21+, right? But for any fans of flavor anything — not just beer — UFO is going to be your brand this year! We have a lot of great new beers coming out, and recipes for all you aspiring chefs out there, in the next few months. We hope that you follow all of our adventures on Instagram, @UFOBeers and on our website at www.ufobeer.com.