In the hallowed annals of advertising, few slogans have proven as enduring as Miller High Life’s self-proclaimed title, “The Champagne of Beers,” which has charmed beer enthusiasts for over a century.
Recently, however, European regulators rebuked the tagline in a move that can only be described as equal parts petty and puritanical. Belgian authorities, along with the French committee for the protection of Champagne, confiscated and crushed 2,352 cans of Miller High Life deemed “illicit goods,” apparently for the crime of posing as counterfeit Champagne, as reported by the Associated Press. The shipment was seized at the port of Antwerp en route to Germany, where it presumably would have met a more welcoming reception.
European officials justified their crackdown by citing the EU’s rigorous guidelines concerning the protected designation of origin for certain food and alcohol products.
The German importer who purchased the contentious cargo “was informed and did not contest the decision,” according to a trade organization statement. Frederick Miller, the German immigrant who founded the Miller Brewing Company in the 1850s, would have been most bemused.
Molson Coors Beverage Company, which now owns the Miller High Life brand, does not export the beer to the European Union and insists on its adherence to local rules regarding the use of the word “Champagne.”
“But we remain proud of Miller High Life, its nickname and its Milwaukee, Wisconsin, provenance,” Molson Coors representatives said. “We invite our friends in Europe to the U.S. any time to toast the High Life together.”