How do you mark, label, or otherwise identify the contents of your bottles? I'm currently using masking tape and a marker, but I'm curious what most other people use.
I started off just marking bottle caps with a sharpie. This worked well for my own purposes, but whenever I give it to someone they had no idea what it was. Last Christmas I gave beer as gifts, so I made a special label. I bought beer bottle label paper and was able to design any shape and print it out. Cutting out the labels was a pain, applying the labels was a pain, and after wards half of them came off.
Lately I have been using those mailing label sheets that are meant for your printer. They are adhesive so it is really easy to put them on. They are also really cheap. I usually just write the label by hand but you could print it. I think they give the bottles a "bootleg" feel, which I like.
I design my labels in Pixelmator. They are pretty small at 2.25" x 1.25" but this way I don't use too much paper. Speaking of paper I like to take grocery bags and cut them into 8.5" x 11" sheets, then feed them into my inkjet printer just like standard letter sized paper. Grocery bag paper has a nice texture, thickness and brown color that isn't as blindingly bright as normal printer paper.
Just like Timone mentioned, I use twine to attach around the neck of the bottle. Much nicer than scraping an adhesive label off. Although the twine loop can slide off when putting the bottle into a six-pack sleeve.
A quick coat of polyurethane will give the labels a nice shine and keep them from getting wet in a cooler of ice. You can get a spray bottle of it at the hardware store.
I like to use custom bottle caps. They are really cheap and you can design whatever you want and have it printed on them. They also make for good stocking stuffers for any home brewing friend/family members.
I don't label the bottle itself, because I hate removing the labels later.
Instead, I mark the cap with a sharpie. I have a number/naming convention I use, typically something like
10-04 HB is the fourth beer of 2010, and is my Hellcat Bitter.
I prepare my labels in inkscape/gimp and print them out onto card stock. I cut them a bit smaller than a business card, punch a hole in one side, and tie it around the bottle neck with a bit of twine. It gives a really classy effect without having to scrape stickers off the bottle.
I started writing on the bottle caps with a marker, but it could be hard to write on the cap. Lately I've been using circle shaped garage sale stickers on the caps. It's easy to use and I don't have to remove anything from the bottle itself. If you can find the multi-colored labels, it makes it much easier to identify the beer at a glance.
Head to your local home improvement store and pick up some "Chalk Board Paint" (spray paint). You can tape off a section of your bottle, paint, and label with chalk. You will want to paint a portion that doesn't get touched so much... perhaps the neck of the bottle.
On the low-end of things -- similar to "sharpie on the cap" but more environmental friendly -- I use grease pencil. You can write right on the bottle, and it comes off easily with a "brillo" type scrubber.
The peelings from the grease pencil can go in the woodstove or compost, and there's no hunk of plastic to discard.
Printer Paper and milk. that's right milk!
I print the labels on my ink jet (laser is better as the ink won't run) and then dip it in milk and attach to the bottle. Run the bottle under hot water for a few seconds and the label comes right off.
I print on Avery 5408 labels, which fit on bottle caps nicely.
I do label design in Photoshop Elements 2.0 (which is the "lite" Photoshop from like 2002, but later versions probably work also).
To make circular text that goes around the perimeter of the label in Photoshop Elements:
- make a square blank canvas, about 1000x1000;
- put a line of text -- I do my name, brew name, bottling date -- about 10% of the way from the top, adjusting the font size so that it goes almost all the way across, with a dash or dot separator at the end;
- run Filter->Distort->Polar Coordinates. That makes the text into a circle, and it will be about a quarter of the canvas size.
- add a logo in the middle (I just use my initial in a "cool" font and in a different color for each brew so I can more quickly tell them apart in the fridge).
Copy image to the clipboard. Download the Avery 5408 template. Paste in logo repeatedly. Print, and stick on bottle caps.
I have designed a label for myself in Inkscape and bought some Wheatpaste that I use to glue it on the bottle. Works quite nice, but is quite easy to remove again.
I discovered that sometimes the label comes partly off while drying, but if you just remove it then, resoak it in the past and apply it again, it normally sticks.
I've done some printing of labels and also some stickers from StickerMule.com, but for quick labels, I use one of those "DYMO" labelmaker machines where you type on it and it spits out a text label. It's pretty handy for labeling fermenters, kegs, etc. with contents and date. We bought it to label crap in the garage, but it turned out useful for bottles and the rest too.
I have no artistic skills. I use beerlabelizer.com to create a label. Print it on normal paper. Cut the labels out. Use regular glue sticks to apply glue to the back of the paper label and fix onto the bottle.
The disadvantage of this approach is that you can't put these in a cooler with ice as the label will come off. This is also an advantage because de-labeling is super easy. The labels seem to stay just fine in storage and in refrigerators.
I sharpie the cap for identification if I haven't applied labels yet.
Most of the time I get my labels from beerlabelcreator.com. They have some cool designs, and it takes just a couple of minutes to create a nice label and save it as a printable PDF with 2x3 or 3x4 labels per sheet, depending on bottle size. Use glue stick or milk to attach to bottles.
I use Avery mailing labels. I have a background in graphic design so I like to make a professional looking label. I do the design in photoshop and print them out 10 to a sheet. They come off easy after soaking in warm soapy water for 30 seconds.
I know lots of people use masking tape and such. To me nothing says "drink at your own risk" like a masking tape label. Much rather a new drinker goes into my beer with a good feeling.
Good thread, I'll give my two cents. +++++ 1 for BeerClings. Easy, affordable, and most important reusable. I got tired of trying to do them myself and found these to work the best of all the ones I tried online. They will definitely last the longest. I think they have the best design studio as well, tons of clip art and templates to work with.
Checkout Reusable Beer Labels for Home Brewers from Beer Clings. This is by far the easiest way to label, plus you can reuse the labels. They work great.
+1 for a sharpie on the caps.
I sometimes print labels out and wet the back of the paper with a sponge that has been soaked in milk - then slap the labels on. When the milk dries, the labels are stuck on pretty good...and are super easy to remove with a short soak.
I create a label in PaintShopPro (even Microsoft Paint would do).
The information that I usually put on the label: Beer name, type, bottling date and %alcohol, I also add a few lines/images to make it prettier.
Then I print on regular paper (6 labels per sheet). After cutting my label to size, I use a paper glue stick to attach my label to a bottle. They stick well, but they can be taken out very easily by soaking the bottle in water for a few seconds.
Here is my process in details : How to create a beer label
If you want an easy and inexpensive way to put the label on your bottle try milk. Make sure the bottles are dry, paint the back of the paper with milk, and press it on. It resists sweating, adheres well, and comes off completely after a few seconds soak in hot soapy water.
I'm going with two different alternatives, it really depends on how much time I want to spend on it.
1: design label and then print it on normal A4, cut out and then apply with glue stick. It takes a lot of time to attach, but the label and glue is really easy to remove.
2: Different coloured caps for different batches, and then I keep track on what color for what batch in a spreadsheet together with recipe, and brewing notes for that batch.
I use dissolvable labels for food service. they dissolvable in water and do not leave a residue, and can be used with a sharpie or pen.
When I'm going to be giving beer as a gift or will be cellaring my beer for a while I print my labels on mailing labels. Then I give them a light spray of lacquer to waterproof them (so the ink doesn't run from condensation).
If they're not for such a formal affair I mark the cap with a sharpie.
I design my labels in OOo Writer and print them on this label paper. I can't remember the brand name off the top of my head (I threw away the packaging), but it's great stuff. A lot cheaper than Minilabels and more versatile since you have the whole 8.5x11 to work with (I usually do 9 labels per sheet).
For wine bottles.. we use Wine Cellar Bottle Tags. It's nice to be able to read what you have shelved without pulling all your bottles out trying to find the one you are looking for. They sell cheap disposable paper ones & reusable dry-erase style ones.
I'm surprised no one mentioned GrogTag.
You can make your own design or pick a template to customize on their site - they print and ship to you. The reason I really like these labels is that they come off super easy and are reuseable - they will stick on to bottles over and over, and if you write on them with appropriate marker you can wipe it off. So I made a blank(ish) design with my homebrewery name and logo, spaces for the brew name, OG, IBU, ABV, brewed on date, notes, etc. so I can write in the details for each brew.
The labels come out really nice. I've ordered special ones for brews I'm taking to office parties etc. and they really look professional and are usually a hit.
As base material for the labels, I use gummed paper in A4 (or almost Letter) size. I do not want to mess with milk or glue sticks. Been there, done that, glue sticks take too much time, and the result even got mouldy in my garage.
Gummed paper comes of easily with a little soak, but not due to condensation of water on the bottle.
I design my label in LibreOffice/OpenOffice, and print only using black ink. That is very waterproof. To conserve ink, I mostly use outline fonts for large characters.
I use Crushtag or Grogtag custom bottle caps.