Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reusing Bottles (Removing Bottle Labels)

I've been kegging now for about a year and since I'm lazy I find it to be a far preferable choice to bottling my home brew. There are reasons to bottle however such as competition entries and sharing your brew somewhere besides where your keg-o-rator is located. Since I started out by bottling I have a bunch laying around but they're all 22 oz bomber bottles. These are too big to send in for competitions and when you give them out to friends you don't always get them back. Since I am lazy I prefer to bottle as much of my beer as I can in the bombers because it takes less time but I do bottle a portion into standard 12 oz long necks for sharing.

Rather than hitting the local home brew shop for new bottles I, and I'm sure many others, like to buy beer and as a side effect get the bottles for a nickel each. Just make sure your not buying twist off top bottles and you can pretty much use any brand. When you do this make sure to rinse the bottles well after finishing them off so they can be easily reused. 

In order to reuse a bottle you need to clean, sanitize and probably remove labels from the bottles. This task varies in difficulty depending on the brand of beer you bought. The easiest way to clean and remove labels is to use an oxygen based cleanser such as Five Star Chemicals PBW or even Oxyclean. Just fill up a large container with water and cleaner and let the bottles soak for an hour and if you bought the right brand of beer the labels will "sluff" right off. If you didn't buy the right brand be prepared to first scrape the label then scrub the glue off, it sucks so you may just want to consider buying a different brand of beer for bottle reuse.

Sanitizing is simple as well. Fill another container with a mixture of water and a no-rinse sanitizer like Five Star Chemicals Star San. If you're using Star San just let the bottles soak for at least a minute then place them upside down on a bottling tree or Fast-Rack stack-able bottling rack.

This is a pretty simple process that probably didn't warrant it's own blog post but the tip of soaking in an oxygen based cleaner alone may be useful to someone, somewhere at some point in time. I'm going to leave a tiny list of easy to remove and difficult to remove bottle labels. If you know of anymore, through your own experience, for either category, please leave it in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Easy Label Removal Brands

Magic Hat
Left Hand

Difficult Label Removal Brands

Southern Tier