Belgian trade authorities destroyed more than 2,300 cans of Miller High Life meant for Germany earlier this week because the brews were labeled the “Champagne of Beers,” a violation of European Union international customs policies.
The General Administration of Belgian Customs and the Champagne Committee, which monitors and regulates the shipment of alcohols for the wine region of Champagne, France, confirmed in a statement that the two entities destroyed the American beverages after they were intercepted in Antwerp, Belgium. The “Champagne of Beers” label was considered an infringement on the “protected designation” of the term “Champagne.”
German authorities “did not contest” the decision to nix the Miller High Life shipment, which was destroyed in Ypres, Belgium, with the “utmost respect for environmental concerns by ensuring that the entire batch, both contents and container, was recycled in an environmentally responsible manner,” according to the statement.
Champagne Committee Managing Director Charles Goemaere lauded Belgian authorities for their “vigilance with regard to the Champagne designation” and their responsiveness to the organization. “This destruction is the result of a successful collaboration between Belgian customs authorities and the Comité Champagne,” he remarked. “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.”
Miller High Life, the flagship product of Miller Brewing Company, is an American lager created with a blend of malted barley, hops from the Pacific Northwest, and Miller yeast. The brand is owned by Molson Coors, a multinational Canadian and American publicly traded firm.
“Every year we do thousands of controls on protected designations of origin. It is very important for us to be able to work closely with organizations such as the Comité Champagne,” Belgian Customs Service Administrator Kristian Venderwaeren added in the statement. “The Comité Champagne helps train our teams and provides information that allows us to identify whether products are genuine or counterfeit. When a counterfeit is detected, as is the case here, we also agree on the decision to destroy these goods and how to get them destroyed.”
The zealous customs authorities in Europe have not been the only entities to turn their noses at a popular brand of American beer in recent weeks. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian company which owns Bud Light, witnessed backlash in the United States after executives partnered with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who gained notoriety for chronicling his supposed “gender transition” on TikTok for more than a year.
Consumer demand for Bud Light appears to have plummeted in the weeks since the partnership was unveiled through a social media campaign. A number of public figures have denounced the product, which is traditionally popular among males; country music star Brantley Gilbert, for example, smashed a can of the brew to the ground at a concert last weekend.
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Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth issued a statement at the end of last week in response to the controversy but did not make mention of Mulvaney or transgenderism and neglected to offer an apology to offended customers. Bud Light Marketing Vice President Alissa Heinerscheid is reported to be taking a leave of absence from the company as of Friday.