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Get to Know Mass Bay Brewing’s Sean Hamel

Sean Hamel is not just your local Mass Bay Brewing sales rep (home of Harpoon and UFO Beer), he’s also part owner of the company! Well, technically since 2014, all full-time Mass Bay Brewing employees own a portion of the brewery, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. In fact, as Hamel tells us, it makes him even more proud and invested in the success of Harpoon and UFO Beer.  

Read on to learn more about how Hamel developed his passion for beer, his new role as part of the Marketing Initiative Team and what new and exciting things you can expect from Mass Bay Brewing in the second half of 2021. 

Heady Times (HT): How’d you get your start in craft beer?

Sean Hamel (SH): I’ve always been into craft beer – my father gave me a homebrew kit for Christmas when I was 18 (it’s legal to brew at that age). After graduating from UMass, I moved to Galway for a year and worked in the pubs (Guinness for strength). Then it was back to Boston, San Diego and finally Philly in 2004. I was in ad sales and Boston Beer was one of my clients – it took that long for me to realize that people actually worked for breweries. Then, the Harpoon job for Philly/South Jersey became available. When I was actually offered the job, I felt like I’d just been drafted by the Red Sox.

HT: What do you like most about working for Mass Bay Brewing?

SH: I just had my 14th anniversary earlier this month and no year has ever been the same, which definitely helps keep things interesting. As of July 2014, we’re officially employee-owned, which has been an amazing thing to be part of. We all have days that drive us crazy, but being able to catch your breath, take a second and think about the fact that you are an owner really helps.

HT: What’s a typical work day for you look like?

SH: Has anybody had a “typical” day in the past 15 months? I cover a wide territory – Philly to State College, South Jersey, Delaware and wild, wonderful West Virginia. In addition to seeing 30-40 accounts per week, I started with some national account responsibilities – Giant, Weis, Acme, GoPuff and Sheetz.

I’m also on our newly-formed Marketing Initiative Team, which is a group of 12 or so employee-owners from all departments. We have a different focus for every meeting. Last week was an hour of brainstorming the UFO brand, so get excited for some new things on that side.

And I’m so glad that travel is back! I just got back last night from two days up on Long Island helping with a crew drive and depletions – shoutout Kismet Inn!

HT: What’s in the pipeline that retailers can look forward? 

SH: The thing I’m most excited for is the continued success of Rec. League in the Philly area. It’s quickly become my go-to beer.  Fall will be here before we know it, and so will the return of Flannel FridayOctoberfest, UFO Pumpkin and the fall mix packs: Harpoon Tailgater and UFO Harvester. We’ll also see the return of Dunkin’ Pumpkin and a new lineup for the Dunkin’ Dozen mix that will include: Blueberry Matcha IPA, Maple Crème and Dunkin’ Midnight.  

HT: Finally, can you tell us a bit about Harpoon’s new Diversity Inclusion and Unity Committee? 

SH: I can’t put it any better than our founder and CEO Dan Kenary, so I’ll use a quote from him – “It’s incumbent upon us as a leader in the craft beer industry to recruit a more diverse workforce and to educate everybody on how to foster a culture of inclusivity.”  With that, we’ve created educational programs that help promote and teach inclusion. We also partnered with the Mass Brewers Guild to launch, which is an online hub of resources developed to help breweries in Massachusetts transform or further their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

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