Skip to main content

Labeling Your Homebrew

When I first started homebrewing, I didn't really worry about labels.  I only tended to do one batch of beer at a time, and only got about 8 one-liter bottles per 2.5-gallon batch.  That meant labeling the bottles was kind of pointless.  That changed in the past year.

Last year, I brewed a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, a German Apfelwein, a Belgian Quadrupel, a Belgian Tripel, and at least one other.  Earlier this year, I brewed a couple of other beers, and I have things purchased to do at least two more.  With all of these batches floating around, I needed some kind of labeling method to identify them all.

At first, I went with a Sharpie permanent marker.  I'd just write something on the bottle cap to tell me what was inside and called it "good enough".  Then, when friends and co-workers started wanting me to bring them bottles of my beer, some wanted labels on them so they could recognize them in the refrigerator.

I hit the online forums and found lots of good suggestions on labeling the beer you make.  Those included:

  • GrogTag's custom bottle caps, which can be imprinted with any image or text, and sell for about $20 per 100 caps.  (They also do labels.)
  • Beer Clings reusable labels.
  • GarageMonk's writable, reusable, dishwasher-safe labels.
  • Evermine's beer labels
  • Post-it notes or something similar, taped to the bottle.
  • Use small round Avery labels and stick them to the bottle cap
  • Print labels on your inkjet or laser printer and apply them with a thin layer of milk
None of these quite suited me.  What I wanted was something that met the following criteria:
  • Stays on the bottle while it's in a refrigerator or cooler
  • Won't run if it gets a little damp, or fall off
  • Is removable so I can re-use the bottle
  • Is inexpensive so I don't spend a lot labeling my beer
  • Looks pretty good and can be made to look semi-professional
  • Can be applied easily to the bottle
What I wound up doing was this:
  1. Download and install the open source Inkscape software.
  2. Create a "box" the size I want my label to be.
  3. Create a label that fits in the box I created.
  4. Copy and paste the label to fill a page of printer paper.
  5. Have Inkscape export the image to a PDF file in full color.
  6. Take the PDF file to Kinko's or another shop with a color laser printer.
  7. Print the labels and cut them out with scissors or a paper cutter.
  8. Use a common children's glue stick to apply glue to the back of the label.
  9. Stick the label to the bottle.
Using a laser printer gave me labels that would not run if they got wet. Depending on the size of my labels, I might get 12 of them to a page.  Copy shops charge only a few cents per color laser printed page, so my labels were relatively inexpensive on a per-bottle basis.  The glue sticks cost me $0.33 each at a local office supply store.  When finished, they look pretty good.  The photo above is the label I created for my Golden Dragon Ale (a Gulden Draak clone).

Update 03/05/2017: During the Christmas holiday, I found a really good deal on a Dell color laser printer from Staples. For about $100, I picked up a full-color laser printer and can now do the labels at home on my computer.

When you're ready to re-use the bottle, fill a sink or bucket with hot water.  Put the bottle in the water, making sure the label is getting soaked.  A few minutes later, you lift the bottle out of the water and you can pretty much wipe the label off and re-use the bottle. For some designs you might have to scrape bits of the label off with a fingernail or other object, but it's much, much easier than Avery style labels or pro brewery labels.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Things I've Learned Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 2

In the last post, I shared an overview of The Grainfather, recommended equipment to use with it, and an overview of the brewing process.  In this installment, I'm going to talk specifically about mashing and sparging. Having brewed over a dozen batches with it, I'm finally becoming very comfortable with the device, the mash process, and how to get what I want out of it. I don't consider myself a "master" of it yet, though. For those who have never done all-grain brewing, I want to provide a quick overview of the mash process itself. Mashing - With or Without The Grainfather The goal of mashing is to turn the starches in the grain into sugars. More specifically, you want to turn the starches into a mix of fermentable and unfermentable sugars that provide the flavor profile associated with the beer you are brewing. A sweeter beer might warrant more unfermentable sugars. A more dry beer will demand few unfermentable sugars. To a great extent, controlling the

Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 3 - Cleaning and Overall Thoughts

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced The Grainfather and discussed how to use it for mashing and sparging.  In Part 2, we talked about boiling and chilling the wort with The Grainfather and its included counterflow chiller.  In this final segment, we'll discuss cleanup and overall thoughts about the device and its usage. Cleanup Once you've pumped the wort from The Grainfather into your fermenter and pitched your yeast, you're well on your way to a delicious batch of homebrew.  Unfortunately, you've still got some cleanup work to do. The cleanup process in my experience will take 20-30 minutes.  It involves the following tasks: Removing and discarding the grain from The Grainfather's grain basket Cleaning the grain basket, kettle, recirculation tube, and wort chiller Cleaning all the other implements used in brewing (scale, scoops, mash paddle, etc.) At the end of the brewing process, there will be hops bags (if you used them), grain and other residu

Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 1 - Mashing and Sparging

( Important note:   This article series is based on the US version of the product.  Prices are expressed in US dollars, measurements of temperature and volume are in US units unless otherwise noted.) iMake's The Grainfather is an all-in-one RIMS brewing system designed to be used indoors with household electric current.  It includes the kettle, grain basket, recirculation tube, pump, electronic temperature controller, instruction book, and counterflow chiller.  It does not include a mash paddle, fermenter, cleaning supplies, or pretty much anything else.  The price is around $800-900 depending on where you shop and the discounts offered. The Grainfather handles mashing, boiling, recirculating, sparging (to a degree), and chilling of the wort.  You'll still need a fermentation vessel of some sort and some other supplies we'll discuss later. Grainfather Assembly and Initial Cleaning Assembly of The Grainfather in my experience was pretty easy overall.  There were a