The Boston Beer Company, brewer of Samuel Adams products, was directly involved in promoting the incredibly crass "Sex for Sam" publicity stunt hosted by radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony which ended in a couple being arrested for seeking to copulate in a vestibule of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. While the radio station pulled the show and suspended the hosts, to my knowledge the Boston Beer Company has never indicated any regrets over its direct promotion of the sacrilege. My own request to their customer service department for clarification went unanswered. [Update: But thankfully, I'm wrong. Jim Koch did indeed apologize for his participation.]
A reader of this blog sent me information on Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's support for The Womens' Health Specialists, a notorious abortion provider in northern California. Sierra Nevada stood by its support for this death mill, sidestepping the fact that WHS murders innocent human beings with the typical refrain that they do a lot of good things too (see here and here.)
On the other hand, another reader (Ray from MN) noted in the comboxes that:
If you accept nominations, I would like to nominate beers from the Summit Brewing Co. of Minneapolis.The Chairman of the Board is as Catholic, and as Pro-Life going back many years, as they come (well, he is a convert) and their beers are well rated in secular contests.
I am thrilled to hear that Summit is run by a solid Catholic. In fact, I think I will try to contact him for an interview for this blog. Ray is right that Summit products are absolutely top notch (their Winter Skäl and Winter Ale are particularly good) and as a nod toward drumming up more business for them I think I will begin the grueling process of purchasing and sampling a variety of their offerings to be reviewed here (it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.)
Okay, back to the bad guys. Miller products don't interest me anyway and they ended up doing the right thing, so if you must drink Miller beer then you can buy their products in good conscience (the only pang of conscience one might have is whether it's really fair to call Miller Lite "beer".) But Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada products are top flight and represent some of my favorite beers. This is harder. What is a Catholic to do? Well, in the face of Sierra Nevada's unrepentant support of a notorious abortion provider, I think they need to face a Catholic boycott. If you agree with me, let them know that you're not buying their stuff any more. The Boston Brewing Company's involvement in one scandal may or may not be sufficient for you to decide that you need to skip their products entirely. At the very least, it puts me on the look-out to see what else they might be involved in. [Update: But as mentioned above, they did the right thing on this one. So that leaves just Sierra Nevada.]
This raises the much larger question of a Catholic consumer's responsibility in the face of corporate behavior that runs directly counter to Catholic moral teaching. In general, I would say that we can't really be responsible for everything that transpires in every company with which we do business. Still, if Catholics en masse got serious about not supporting that which runs counter to our faith, it could make a significant difference in what companies do and don't support.
I'd really like to hear from you in the comment box. Please let us know how you make these decisions. What are your criteria for doing business or not doing business with a company that behaves in ways like these?