Belgian Customs Destroys Miller High Life for Masquerading as Champagne

When Miller High Life debuted on the market 120 years ago, it was one of the first beers that people could buy already bottled. Prior to that, beer drinkers had to buy their favorite brew directly from a bar. Since Miller High Life came in a much more elegant package, the company decided to make the containers look like miniature champagne bottles and used clear glass to show off its contents. At one point, the bottles even had ornate foil wrappers around the neck to make each bottle appear even more elegant. In 1906, the company began referring to High Life as “The Champagne of Bottle Beers,” dropping the “bottle” part of the slogan in 1969 to become “The Champagne of Beers.” Despite printing those four words on its labels for well over a century, it seemed to take Belgian Customs by surprise when a shipment of Miller High Life was received at the Port of Antwerp, where shipment of 2,352 cans of Miller High Life were completely destroyed. The shipment was sent through Belgium on its way to Germany, but customs workers looked at the packaging and decided that the “Champagne” on the label was in violation of France’s protected designation of origin for champagne. A longstanding piece of legislation determined that the term “champagne” can only be used for wines made using a particular process and that are produced within a specific geographic area. The German company that was expecting the delivery was informed of the beer’s fate, but did not try to contest Customs' decision.