Category: Archive

Beer boycotters upset at AOH’s new alliance

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

“The Hibernians are a wonderful organization and they do great things, but I’m very, very surprised that they would take money from an anti-Catholic bigot like Jim Koch,” said Jerry Foley, owner of J.J. Foley’s in downtown Boston.
Koch, who is co-founder and chairman of Boston Beer Company, which brews Sam Adams beer, was in the WNEW-FM radio studio in New York City last Aug. 15 when shock jocks Opie and Anthony promoted his “Sex for Sam” contest, in which couples vied for a trip to a Boston concert by having sex in public places while a station employee described their activity on the air.
One couple was described by Koch as “awesome” as it had sex in the vestibule of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “The quality of the teams gets better every year,” he said during the broadcast.
The incident led to the firing of the raunchy hosts and other station employees, the arrest and prosecution of the couple, and an ongoing investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.
Since then, Koch has apologized to Catholics via ads in major newspapers and he has contacted scores of bar owners in Boston and New York in a largely successful bid to quell a boycott of his products.
The AOH, which also received an apology from Koch, accepted the donation from the beer company to help defray the costs of its first Hibernian Hunger Project, an initiative designed to replenish food banks and kitchens throughout the U.S. during the month of March.
Bar owners who are continuing to boycott Sam Adams beer question the authenticity of Koch’s apology. “Is he sorry he got involved in that or is he sorry he got caught?” said Jim McGettrick, owner of The Beachcomber in Quincy. “I know I wouldn’t have been promoting activity like that in a synagogue. Why was he doing it in a cathedral?”
McGettrick said that patrons of his pub who formerly drank Sam Adams are now drinking Harpoon, which is also brewed in Boston. An employee at Ned Kelly’s in Dorchester, where Sam Adams is no longer served, told the Echo Monday that her customers have switched to Harp. “We have no plans to bring Sam Adams back,” she said.
C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, said that his organization is still waiting for “an unequivocal undertaking from Mr. Koch that he will no longer subsidize Catholic-bashing on the radio. . . . Until he does that, the boycott will stand as far as we’re concerned.”
David Burke, a former national director of the AOH and current vice-president of Div. 8 in Lawrence, said that he strongly disagrees with the national leadership’s decision to accept a donation from the beer company. “It was a bad move,” he said. “We shouldn’t be compromising our principles.”
Burke, who is coordinating a month-long celebration of Irish Heritage in the city of Lawrence, said that there is a strong sentiment in Massachusetts about what took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral last August. He said that the state board of the AOH recently voted to send a letter to the Hibernian Digest, protesting the paper’s acceptance of an ad from Koch’s company.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the FCC told the Echo last week that its investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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