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Beer Label Collecting

I got started collecting beer labels over 3 years ago. It started as a way to remember the interesting beers that I had enjoyed but quickly branched into something else entirely. Today’s labels are pushing the boundaries of previous branding strategies. Many breweries are entering the art world, using local artists to design their labels. The label type and design are all part of a brewery’s plan for brand recognition but moves beyond the sedate labelling of the mass-market breweries. There are also breweries that use painted on labels either full-time or part time: Alaskan, New Holland, Rogue, Schlafly, Stone, etc.

My label collection has grown over time and now stands at 1500+ (including a few non-beer labels).

How do I remove the labels?

Equipment Need: Classic straight-edge razor and a large cup (big gulp-size).


Method Step 1: Soak the bottle in the large cup. Put enough water in the bottle to sink it to the bottom. Then put water in the cup to cover the bottle. I usually soak the labels for a least a few hours and have found that it doesn’t matter if you use hot or cold water. In fact, I re-use the water in the cup many times. Eventually the water gets gummy and I dump it and clean the cup but I don’t think that’s required.

There are a few bottles that have are metallic stickers or are clear. To test the label I use the straight edge to try and left a corner a millimeter or so until I know what type. For metallic sticker or clear labels you can skip step 1.



Method Step 2: I lay the bottle on its side on a towel (for leverage) and use the straight razor to gently pull up on side of the label enough to grab with my fingers. If I’m lucky enough I don’t need the razor anymore.



Method Step 3: I then gently pull the label off the bottle using light equal pressure. If you go too quickly it is very easy to tear the labels. There are many times where you actually “split” the label and only pull off the thin outer layer. You need to be very careful and thorough when this happens.

You may often need the razor to assist you if you notice a rip starting in the label. That happens often but doesn’t spell doom. You can either start Step 2 over on the other side of the label or use the razor to pull the label around the tear from the bottle.

With some labels, especially the metallic stickers and clear labels, you’ll also pull the sticky-side off. I simply use scrap paper and stick it to the back side of the label. For the clear labels I use black construction paper to provide contrast to label’s image. Otherwise I use white paper.

The hardest labels that I’ve found to remove are from Alpine (one label I destroyed) and Penn Brewing.

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Written by Bob Pack

Simply put, Bob is a beer lover. He goes out of his way to try new beers whenever he can find them. The love of trying new beers had resulted in a beer label collection of over 1400. When it comes down to it, Bob is a hop head. He loves IPAs (including double and black). Stouts are a close second. His tweet reviews on @nova_beer are simple and approachable. Let him know what you think. Find Bob Pack on Google Plus

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5 Responses to "Beer Label Collecting"

  1. Brad Moyer says:

    If you put a little powdered oxy-clean in the cup the label will fall off with no resistance..always worked for me. Cool article…


    Brad @ Fermented

  2. Bob says:

    Will have to try that. I do you put oxy-clean in each time or do you simply re-use the water without adding new OC?

  3. […] no secret that Bob and I collect labels (use this link to learn how to get labels off of your beer bottles), which leads to interesting […]

  4. Kevin says:

    I’ve been at beer label collection about three years and have about a thousand labels. My collection is limited by my sticking to the kinds I like, such as IPAs, porters and stouts, and my refusal to pay some of the outrageous prices out there for single bottles. I soak them in water in a sink, multiple bottles at a time. I use hot water but was interested to learn on this site that cold will work as well.

    I wonder if anyone else has had the trouble I have with Shorts brewery labels. They have good beer and great art, but their labels drive me crazy. Unlike most breweries, they use a lot of very gummy glue, and their labels are rather thin. A razor blade is needed to remove their labels, but the blade gets gummed up with the glue and the labels tear apart every time.

    Any suggestions?

  5. PJ says:

    Ive been collecting beer labels for years now and was wondering if you had any suggestions for mounting them for displaying them in my Man Cave?

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