Samuel Adams Recalls Beer Bottles

Faulty bottles were pulled from the shelves after glass was found in some beers

The pride of Boston’s beer industry is walking on shards of glass, days after it issued a recall order on as much as a quarter of its bottled beer production.

The Boston Beer Company, Inc. issued a recall earlier this week of faulty glass bottles containing their signature brand Samuel Adams beer.

“It is roughly 25 percent of our total inventory,” said Seana Phillips of the company’s Investor Relations Office. “Our medical experts think that less than one percent of those bottles actually contain glass.”

The defect was discovered in several bottles during a routine quality-control inspection at a brewery in Cincinnati. Affected bottles have been removed from stores and warehouses, according to Phillips.

“If it is in the household, we’re saying throw it away,” Phillips said. “Don’t recycle it, because a lot of glass plants will clean the bottle and reuse it.”

Michelle Sullivan, a Boston Beer spokeswoman, said that the company has not received any reports of injury, though one man did call in to complain that he had taken a sip from a bottle and found some glass in his mouth.

In a press release issued Monday, Boston Beer founder and brewer C. James Koch ’71 apologized for the uncharacteristic flaw.

“We are disappointed and disturbed by this development, and we are doing everything we can to address the situation,” he said. “Since our founding, we have never issued a product recall for any reason.”

The recall has affected restaurants, including the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub. Queen’s Head Student Manager Philip R. “Beamer” Eisele ’08 said that six cases of the beer had already been returned by the Pub.

The Pub recently added Samuel Adams to its draft selection, a move that largely diffused the importance of the recall.

“After we put it back on draft, we didn’t sell it in bottles,” said bartender Christopher J. Benway ’08.

Some have expressed discomfort with the nonchalance of the manufacturer, which is offering customers product refunds through the Samuel Adams Web site.

“If they want to be forgiven, they should be a little more generous than just exchanging bottles,” said fourth-year graduate student and self-proclaimed beer aficionado Andrew C. Thomas.

Others, though, expressed little concern about the quality of the time-proven brew.

“I’m not worried. I’ll still buy Sam in bottles,” said Harvard Law School student Nichele M. McClendon ’06 with a Samuel Adams Summer Ale in hand. “I actually bought some last weekend, and it was fantastic, as always.”

—Staff writer Laura C. McKiernan can be reached lmckiern@fas.harvard.edu.