removing bottle labels

Discussion in 'Breweriana' started by BUNZILLA, Mar 12, 2012.

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    BUNZILLA Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2011 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    I wanted to start a collection of bottle labels of the beer I have drank. What I have learned is not all is not all labels are created equally. Some come off very easily after a quick soak in warm water. Some labels refuse to come off after a 24 hour soak. Does anyone one have any suggestions for removing stubborn labels?
    paintball_LEGEND likes this.
  2. olympuszymurgus

    olympuszymurgus Zealot (582) Nov 24, 2009 California
    Beer Trader


    RBCORCORAN Aspirant (239) May 18, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Just a thought ...but for the tough ones send a S.A.S.E. to the brewery and ask nicely for a label or two.
    leedorham likes this.
  4. Agold

    Agold Defender (641) Mar 13, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Hot water and oxyclean works really well. Let it soak for a while and most labels peel off. If they dont come off after this, I generally ditch it. I collect labels too and I have found some breweries have labels that never come off(great lakes) or disintegrate or run when they come in contact with water (RR). Some are just stickers though and peel off but it takes a bit of pulling (cigar city).
    paintball_LEGEND likes this.

    BUNZILLA Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2011 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    S.A.S.E ?
  6. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,149) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Premium Member

    Self Addressed Stamped Envelope

    If you do a search of the Brewerania forum you'll see a few posts like yours with good suggestions.
  7. Chickenhawk9932

    Chickenhawk9932 Savant (917) Jul 19, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Great Lakes is my nemesis in labels, I have a Christmas Ale from 2010 that is still only half off.

    BUNZILLA Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2011 Indiana
    Beer Trader

  9. mindfuldave

    mindfuldave Devotee (491) Mar 22, 2011 New Jersey
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    Def some hot water and oxyclean, mine usually are floating in the water by the time I walk back to check them out.

    BUNZILLA Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2011 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    How much oxyclean do you add?
  11. CircusBoy

    CircusBoy Initiate (0) Mar 10, 2008 Ohio

    My mom received a book for collecting wine bottle labels and taking notes on the wine. To remove them it comes with label stickers that you use to peel the label off and save it, they work perfectly.
  12. berserk4886

    berserk4886 Initiate (0) Oct 26, 2007 Wisconsin

    I've seen something like this before and I remember a few people recommending a quick go (10-15 seconds) in the microwave helps with getting the label off.
  13. mindfuldave

    mindfuldave Devotee (491) Mar 22, 2011 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Depends on how much water you have, so its hard for me to tell. Sometimes I use too little and they don't come off, so I would add about a scoop if you are soaking a bunch of bottles.
  14. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,417) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    i run them through the dishwasher. most come off. I lay them flat and call it a day.
  15. bigfnjoe

    bigfnjoe Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2009 Pennsylvania

    When myself and a buddy went to the homebrew store for the first time, the salesman gave us a compound called Straight A. One tablespoon in a gallon of water (we use warm), throw your bottles in there, and most will come right off. Some breweries (Duck Rabbit, Troegs) require more soaking than others, but some (Bells, Terrapin, Guinness) come off after maybe about two minutes. We just use it in the sink while brewing to clean up our bottles from the last week of drinking (and while drinking and brewing), and it works like a charm. NOTE: some labels don't come off very well and peel. Learn which breweries they are, and soak them extra. You could probably just let them dry overnight (or maybe use a hair dryer?) and they'll be fine for whatever you want to do with them.
  16. Fitshaced

    Fitshaced Aspirant (229) Feb 29, 2012 Colorado

    Hot water and Oxiclean. Every label comes off with ease. Doesn't take much Oxi. I use the Versatile Free because i reuse my bottles for home brewing and this has no Dyes or perfumes
  17. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan Poo-Bah (3,400) Dec 13, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    that article was nutty. i never knew that there are wine remover labels and turning the silkscreened bottles into glasses...GENIUS! doubt i'll do it, but would love to have a darkness glass or a few.
  18. sommersb

    sommersb Initiate (0) May 25, 2010 Tennessee

    Kills me the way some breweries put enough glue on their labels to keep tiles on the space shuttle!

    From my experience, seems like German breweries use the least amount of glue. Soak them for 10 minutes and they're floating...
  19. Fitshaced

    Fitshaced Aspirant (229) Feb 29, 2012 Colorado

    I've heard Dark Horse are the worst to get off. I can't wait to try one in Oxiclean. It has taken off every label i have thrown at it..
  20. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2011 Maine

    I soak in oxyclean then will sit there with a razor blade and scrape it off. Most come off pretty smooth, then will run an old towel over it to get the little fuzzy pieces.
  21. Fitshaced

    Fitshaced Aspirant (229) Feb 29, 2012 Colorado

    Odd never had any that needed a razor after OXI.

    Why do people spell it OXY?

    RBCORCORAN Aspirant (239) May 18, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Sorry , thought everyone knew what it meant. self addresses stamped envelope. If you e-mail and ask many won't bother but if you take the time to stick an envelope with your addie and a stamp with a note inside inside an evelope sent to them asking nicely most will send because you put the effort into it.
    I guess I'm the only one here who used to do it in the 60's for decals and hot rod stickers from places like STP and all the racing teams. :rolling_eyes:
    BeerBum likes this.
  23. Keith238

    Keith238 Initiate (188) Jul 31, 2007 New Jersey

    Good article pretty much sums it up except for one point. Keeping bottles on hand until you figure out which method will be best for removing the labels. I've use wine label stickers successfully for most labels but anything vinyl either stretches or removes colors from the label. Anything foil like Avery's labels, dissolve in oxiclean. Heavy paper labels like DFH are great for soaking, color holds well, labels come off in under 10 minutes and they dry pretty well with the help of a dish towel pressing them to stay flat, Sam Adams remove very well too with soaking. I tend to buy new beers in pairs and I don't chuck them until I get one of the labels off in good enough shape for my collection.
  24. UHCougar12

    UHCougar12 Disciple (382) Feb 21, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I have recently just removed 60+ labels by just filling up one side of the kitchen sink with hot water, and liquid soap. All I did was fill the bottle with the warm water(so it would sink), then let them soak for +-1hr. There were about 5% that gave me a hassle, so I just tossed them in the trash. Good Luck!
  25. PaulQuinn

    PaulQuinn Initiate (68) May 27, 2011 British Columbia (Canada)

    And how about painted labels? Any thought? A super sticker that sucks the paint from the bottle to the sticker or something?
  26. Keith238

    Keith238 Initiate (188) Jul 31, 2007 New Jersey

    I'm afraid you're S.O.L. for collecting labels from painted bottles. Save the bottle or take a pic for the scrapbook.
  27. jp7161

    jp7161 Initiate (0) Dec 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    i find 30 seconds in the microwave helps for the ones that dont come off from soaking
  28. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I hope I'm overlooking something when I say this: I've used oxyclean and other soaks to remove labels. The labels aren't anything I'd want to save. Granted, I usually scrape them off with a knife, but the label itself is going to be shot after the soak. If you're wanting to preserve the label, I'd look elsewhere, or as suggested above, ask the brewery for a fresh cut.
  29. djbreezy

    djbreezy Crusader (742) Dec 16, 2008 Washington

    I thought people used a hair dryer for this. What is with all these strange time consuming soaking methods?!
  30. amart79

    amart79 Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2012 California

    Does anybody know how likely the s.a.s.e. for a label works? What are the best ways to do this, i.e. who to send it to, what to say, etc?
  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,258) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Brewers seem to hate them - people request labels from keg-only, painted label bottle and can-only breweries, ask for them via email, claim that they're fans of beers that aren't distributed in their area, etc. Mostly it seems if you throw in a coupla bucks as well as the sase you'll probably get some stuff.
  32. LODGE4

    LODGE4 Initiate (0) Dec 12, 2012 Florida

    Most breweries use a strong glue, so soaking in hot soapy water usually won't work. Use half a cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda in a bucket of hot water. Fill the bottles with water so they don't float in the bucket - put them in the bucket for about 5 minutes - if you leave them in too long the colors might fade. The labels should come right off easily. If the colors fade after only 5 minutes, use dishwashing liquid instead - usually breweries that use cheap paper use cheap glue too so that should work. When the labels are off the bottles, and they're almost dry, they tend to curl up so get silicone release paper, put the label between 2 sheets , iron it for a few seconds on cotton setting and put a book or two on top of it to keep it flat while it cools off. Through trial and error, this works best for me..
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  33. LODGE4

    LODGE4 Initiate (0) Dec 12, 2012 Florida

    I have a question that I can't find an answer to anywhere on the internet. Does anybody know the reason for neck labels ? I soak off the main label from the bottles of beer after I drink them but not the neck label and I just can't understand the purpose of that label. Obviously they do have a purpose or breweries wouldn't spend the money to make them and attach them to the bottles.
  34. tehzachatak

    tehzachatak Initiate (0) Sep 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    I use a significant amount of baking soda, not washing soda or oxyclean, and it gets 90% of the labels off intact without doing anything visual to them. There are a few bottles with different adhesives it doesn't work well on, but it nails most of them. I also, of course, use very, very hot water.
  35. EseLocoSS

    EseLocoSS Initiate (119) Feb 2, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    What about for the labels that are not glue based but more sticker-like? For example, Half Acre's labels are a sticker that they slap on and are basically impossible to get off.
  36. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,149) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Premium Member

    Try heating the bottle in the microwave for 30-40 seconds, then carefully peel it off. Be sure to have a piece of paper handy on which to stick the label because it will bring the glue with it.
    EseLocoSS likes this.
  37. EseLocoSS

    EseLocoSS Initiate (119) Feb 2, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Great! Thanks!
  38. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,433) Mar 18, 2010 California

  39. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,149) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Premium Member

    This is just a guess but when bottles were returnable and reused the retail stores may have stored the returned empty bottles from multiple breweries in an upright position in old cases, and when you look down on a case of bottles you can't read the labels to be able to separate them to go back to the correct brewery. Neck labels are readable in that kind of storage situation.
    crzegrl likes this.
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