I'm considering making permanent labels for my bottles. I've had a friend create a label design with a blank banner in the center. My idea is to have the design printed on vinyl stickers and then use a Sharpie or some other marker to label the specific beer that's bottled. In theory I should be able to clean the ink off with denatured alcohol (or similar) when I go to bottle a new batch. Has anyone else tried something like this, or perhaps a different method? Any recommendations on permanent/reusable bottle labels?
If money were no object, you go have your design laser etched into your bottles with a blank spot where you could affix a temporary paper label that would hold the name of the specific beer. Or maybe a less expensive acid etching. You'd want to do the etching prior to filling the bottles.
For vendors, Google the term "laser etching services"
Buy an EPILOG for $15,000 and follow this guide: http://www.instructables.com/id/Last-Minute-Christmas-Gift-Laser-Etched-Water-Bot/
Or a cheaper method using acid-etching and a Cricut machine: http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-glass-engraving-with-the-Cricut/
I don't think you'd want to use stickers, as moisture would likely ruin the adhesive. Perhaps some vinyl cling material (think decorative window clings) would work well.
Another possibility is to use (if you can find them) an opaque, light-colored bottle that you could write directly on. Frosted glass can be written on with a pencil just like paper, though I don't think it'd show up well on a brown bottle.
A really good method for doing permanent labels is making "fired-ons". Enamel paint can be permanently attached to glass when baked.
I made a stencil and used white spray paint (because that't the only enamel paint I had on hand). Put them on a tray and put them in the oven. AFTER they're in the oven, set it to 325 and leave them in there for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn it off and leave the bottles in there. The important thing here is to not expose the glass to extreme temperature changes, so don't open the oven and leave the bottles in there for another hour (or two if your oven holds heat well).
I wrote on them with a sharipe. The sharpie left a shadow when removed with 70% isopropyl alcohol. I'm not sure why, but I think it would work better if you used enamel house paint, let the paint dry before kilning, and use higher strength alcohol to remove the sharpie.