Miller High Life: Belgium destroys shipment of US beer after row over ‘Champagne of Beer’ slogan

(CNN) Belgium has destroyed a shipment of US beer after excluding its maker’s “Champagne Beers” logo.

Belgian customs crushed 2,352 cans of Miller High Life beer earlier this week, arguing that they were incorrectly labeled as champagne.

The move came after a Champagne industry trade association complained that the term should only be used on bottles of sparkling wine, made using a traditional method in Champagne, France.

By convention, real Champagne—as in French sparkling wines—can only be made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.

The Comité Champagne, a joint trade association for the champagne industry, has requested that American beers be destroyed, arguing that the designation “Champagne of Beers” violates the protected designation “Champagne”.

Miller High Life was launched in 1903 by a Milwaukee-based company. According to its website, it began using the “Champagne Bottle Beer” slogan three years later, shortening it to “Champagne Beer” in 1969.

The beer was destined for Germany before it was intercepted in the port of Antwerp in February.

On April 17, the cans were destroyed “with great respect for environmental concerns by ensuring that the entire batch, content and container are recycled in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Comité Champagne.

“Every year we carry out thousands of checks on controlled designations of origin,” said Christian Vanderweren, director general of the Belgian Customs and Excise Department.

“If a counterfeiter is proven to exist, as is the case here, we also consult each other on the decision to destroy these goods and the manner in which they should be destroyed.”

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The move is the result of the successful collaboration between the Belgian customs authorities and the services of the Champagne Commission, said Charles Guimmer, Managing Director of the Champagne Commission.

“It underscores the importance the European Union places on appellations of origin and rewards the determination of the people of Champagne to protect their designation,” he said.

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