Recycle your Bottles at Home

22 Nov

Every Homebrewer is faced with a slight dilemma: after brewing 5 gallons of beer you have to put it somewhere.  If you’re small-time like me then you are probably not set up with a kegging system and have to rely on bottling.

There are several options on how to go about this: you can buy bottles from homebrew stores that come without labels, or you can reuse empty bottles that you have drained yourself.  I do the latter because, number one it is cheaper and, number two it becomes a game to find cool bottles that I can reuse for my own beer.

Coolest shaped bottles I have found: Samuel Smith bottles are larger and darker; Sierra Nevada bottles are more stout shaped, same as Anchor Brewing Co,; Schneider weisse bottles are taller but pretty narrow and elegant looking; larger, almost wine-sized bottles can be found but you have to make sure that a regular sized bottle cap will fit, wine bottles won’t work but a nice fit is any larger bottle put out by Dogfish head; I have a lot of really old Genesee pint bottles that are tough to come by nowadays; I also have a really nice, older Sapporo bottle that is pretty large and most definitely in charge.

Don’t bother with twist-offs, there are of no use and should be returned for deposit money.

I have tried various ways of getting labels off and I haven’t noticed much difference in effectiveness.  I have tried baking soda and soap mixtures which seem to work fine and I hear the Oxyclean really does the trick, but that isn’t a product that I own so soap, hot water and maybe some baking soda is my solution.  What I can tell you is what brand’s labels come off the easiest and the toughest.

Tough Ones: Brooklyn labels are, in my opinion, the worst.  You can let them soak in your solution overnight and they are still incredibly resistant to leaving the bottle.  I don’t bother with them anymore, I would rather have the deposit than deal with that headache.  In general, American craft beers are tougher.  I am not sure if we use more adhesive, or just superior adhesive but the labels are stubborn.  Samuel Adams is not the best, but can be done.  If you don’t mind scraping some paper and scrubbing off some glue residue then grab some Sam.  Any beer bottle with foil on it presents some scraping, but is very doable.  Bottles in which the label has been etched or adhered in some other way present problems as well.  Stone Brewing Company’s bottles must remain with their demonic icons in place, I don’t bother trying to make those bottles naked.

Easy Ones: For the most part, when German brand beer bottles are soaked the labels just slide off.  Leave the bottles in the solution for about an hour and when you return the labels will be floating on the surface waiting for you.  Brand’s I have tried: Paulaner, Spaten, Ayinger.  Goose Island is the same way, again I don’t know if it is less adhesive or inferior adhesive but the labels just jump right off of the bottles.

Something I am trying right now is retrieving the labels that come off in one piece, drying them out and adhering them to a piece of hard board to make coasters.  Look for a post on that in the future and I hope that this was helpful in some way.

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2 Responses to “Recycle your Bottles at Home”

  1. Kevin December 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    I find that some ammonia dilluted in water does a hell of a job getting those labels off. AFter letting the bottles sit for about 30 minutes, the labels more or less could be wiped off. Give it a try.

    • theartistsquaff December 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

      I have read that before, and everyone says that it works. Where do I get my hands on ammonia, though? It doesn’t seem to me like it is something I can just go out and by. Although I could be wrong in thinking that.

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