Miller High Life’s “Champagne of Beers” Slogan Is Giving It Problems in Europe

Belgian customs destroyed a recent shipment of the brew, accusing it of masquerading as actual Champagne

Miller High Life brewed by MillerCoors is offered for sale at a liquor store on November 29, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.
Miller High Life brewed by MillerCoors is offered for sale at a liquor store on November 29, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.
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Molson Coors has been using the “Champagne of Beers” slogan to promote Miller High Life since 1906. But despite the fact that they’ve had more than 100 years to wrap their minds around the tagline, Belgian customs officials still are apparently taking issue with it. In fact, a shipment of the brew was recently destroyed in Antwerp after customs workers decided the use of the word “Champagne” on the beer’s label was in violation of France’s protected designation of origin (PDO) for Champagne.

The term “Champagne” can only legally be used for wines that are produced within a specific geographic area in France that adhere to a particular set of vineyard practices. Of course, no one looking at a bottle of High Life that has been dubbed “the Champagne of Beers” would be likely to assume that it’s actually Champagne, but apparently it was enough to doom a shipment of the beer headed for Germany.

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According to a joint statement from Le Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC) and the General Administration of Belgian Customs, 2,352 cans of Miller High Life were destroyed earlier this week when the shipment passed through Belgium on its way to Germany. Belgian customs works decided that the “Champagne” on the beer’s label violated France’s PDO for Champagne, and so the beer was destroyed “with the utmost respect for environmental concerns by ensuring that the entire batch, both contents and container, was recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.” Food and Wine reports that the German company that was expecting the delivery was notified of its destruction and did not try to contest the decision.

“This destruction is the result of a successful collaboration between Belgian customs authorities and the Comité Champagne,” Charles Goemaere, the managing director of the Comité Champagne, said in a statement. “It confirms the importance that the European Union attaches to designations of origin and rewards the determination of the Champagne producers to protect their designation”. He also added that he would like to “congratulate the Belgian Customs for their vigilance with regard to the Champagne designation and for their responsiveness.”


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