Best Way to Remove Beer Labels

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by NRajtarski, Oct 14, 2018.

  1. NRajtarski

    NRajtarski Initiate (82) Jan 17, 2017 Minnesota

    I'm looking for a way to remove the paper beer labels that are on beer bottles, I have tried most methods out there like hot soapy water, OxyClean and soaking them. I want to know which method works best for you as all input will help.
  2. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Use only bottles with water soluble glue
    SFACRKnight likes this.
  3. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    A good bit of bleach and a little bit of oxy-clean. Over night.
    But be sure to rinse thoroughly.
    That will remove the labels, guaranteed.
  4. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (393) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    +1 bleach and water soaking hot water, real hot water can work to, but you'll go through a lot of it if you have a large amount of bottles
  5. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I always went the hot water and oxyclean over-night soak approach. Usually the labels were floating in the morning, but for some you had to peel them off. And if they didn't peel off, I tossed the bottles as it wasn't worth my time.
  6. NRajtarski

    NRajtarski Initiate (82) Jan 17, 2017 Minnesota

    Ok, thank you to everyone so far for your help.I will try the overnight method with bleach and see how that works.
  7. Jimbob-gbr

    Jimbob-gbr Initiate (72) Apr 18, 2017 Nebraska

    I use hot water and dish soap. Works for most labels. Scrape and scrub
  8. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (186) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    You'll quickly learn which brands are easy and which are hard. Those half-liter bottles of German wheat beer (Weihenstephaner for sure, but also Hofbräu I think) have labels that just fall right off after a few minutes in the water. A little scrub removes any residue. I also love that size of bottle, it saves time on bottling day (and space in my dishwasher—I sanitize my bottles by running them through a "sanitize" cycle without any soap), but it's not so much beer that I feel like I can't crack one open on a random weeknight.

    The bottles are pricey, but they come with some excellent beer inside. [Edited to add: I mean they come from the store with excellent beer inside. By the time I've filled them up, caveat emptor.]
  9. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Aspirant (227) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    Ive found that most of the german and belgian commercial beers that are sold in my area have labels that come off quite easily after a short soak in hot water. Sam Adams' labels are very easy to remove also.
    Witherby and riptorn like this.
  10. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (369) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Many German brewers, in the German market, are using standard 500 ml bottles that are re-used. Not recycled but re-used. If you ever see a 500 ml bottle that looks like it has white glass abrasions at the top where the neck meets the body and along the bottom, it is a re-use bottle that has been around a while.

    Point is, they are soaking off labels, sanitizing and re-using. Those labels have to come off easy or the system doesn't work. The bottles are a bit more robust as well.

    I can guess that if they are bottling for export in 12 ounce bottles, same label equipment.

  11. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (95) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Chlorine, Oxyclean, hot soapy water, PBW (my preference); regardless of what you use to get the labels to slip off relatively easily, I agree with @pweis909 on trashing the bottles if the labels stick.
    UFO labels come off easily, too. Not sure about the rest of Harpoon's offerings.
  12. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,243) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

  13. gvickery

    gvickery Aspirant (266) May 13, 2017 Texas

    A lot depends on the type of label, paper will come off easy with a day soak in soapy water. I've seen some plastic labels that are a real bitch, no way for the water to penetrate and loosen the glue. I've noticed that import labels are the easiest. Stone brewing uses a super tough plastic that is way more trouble to remove than its worth.
  14. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,258) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    gvickery likes this.
  15. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (204) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

    Hot water for >15 minutes, then use the back blunt end of a spoon to scrape them off, then scrub with a brillo pad to remove excess adhesive. For any labels that are relatively difficult to take off, throw those into the recycle bin, it just ain't worth any extra hassle.
  16. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    A putty knife also works well.

    ^^^ This.
    dmtaylor likes this.
  17. frozyn

    frozyn Zealot (573) May 16, 2015 New York
    Premium Trader

    A PBW soak does the trick for me with most labels -- they tend to fall off and the glue evaporates as well (make sure to wear rubber gloves!). And if that don't do the trick, I follow @dmtaylor's lead and recycle them.