Is It Beer… Or Champagne?

Belgian authorities destroy Miller High Life cans because they are considered counterfeit “champagne.”

April 26, 2023

ANTWERP, Belgium—The European Union takes its protected designations of origin of food and beverages seriously. Belgian authorities confiscated and crushed Miller High Life beer cans that have the phrase “The Champagne of Beers” because they are not, in fact, Champagne.

The New York Times reports that thousands of cans of Miller High Life were intercepted at the port of Antwerp and crushed because they were deemed counterfeit Champagne and considered “illicit goods.”

The European Union has long-standing protections on food and beverages that are connected with certain regions and expertise unique to that area, including Kalamata olive oil from Greece, Buffalo mozzarella from Italy and Champagne from France. Any goods that appear to violate these protections are destroyed.

Belgian authorities acted at the request of France’s Comité Champagne, which claimed the use of the word “Champagne” on the label violates the protected status of the sparkling beverage from the Champagne region of France.

In a statement, Molson Coors said that it respected the protected status of Champagne, “but we remain proud of Miller High Life, its nickname and its Milwaukee, Wisconsin, provenance.”

Matt Simpson, who owns the beer consultancy the Beer Sommelier, told the Times, “I think at the very least (Miller High Life drinkers) understand the difference between beer and wine.”