It’s easy to take for granted having bottled beer at our disposal. But believe it or not, bottled beer used to be kind of a rarity.
In the early 1900’s, most people consumed beer in a saloon or brought it home from a bar in a bucket. Bright, bubbly beer in a bottle was considered a luxury, like champagne. So when Miller High Life was introduced in 1903, Miller Brewing Company (now part of MillerCoors) made sure that everyone understood the connection – beginning with the bottle.
High Life stands apart from other bottled beer with its champagne-shaped bottle and sloped shoulders. That bottle – which is the same bottle used today – is primarily what led to the nickname “The Champagne of Beers”.
To show off the beer’s purity and help establish it as a high-end brand, the glass has always been clear. (High Life was more expensive than many brands back in its time)
“Also, at various times throughout its history and especially early on, High Life had ornate foil that covered the cap and top of the neck — similar to the way champagne is sold,” says Charlie Hosale, archivist at the MillerCoors brewery in Milwaukee.
High Life even had a festive launch date — just before New Year’s Eve, on Dec. 30, 1903.
Advertisements for High Life at the time emphasized the champagne lifestyle as well. Before the High Life Girl was perched on a crescent moon, she was shooting out of beer bottles like a champagne cork.
“The Champagne of Bottle Beers” nickname followed one year after that 1905 ad. In 1969, the word “bottle” was dropped to become “The Champagne of Beers”.