Our post about beer and wine bottle inspired art is currently the top post on our site. A lot of people want to turn their old beer labels into something useful and fun. While our first post was about the art itself, we never mentioned how to get the labels off in the first place. In this post, we wanted to explain the way that's worked for us so far.
Soak The Bottles
The first time we got our beer labels to slide off the bottle was by accident. A couple unopened bottles of beer were sitting in a bucket full of ice and water for a few hours. When I went to retrieve one, I noticed all of the labels were floating on the surface of the water. We started using this technique to remove the beer bottle labels ever since. You'll want to use very cold water rather than warm water. We tried warm water a few times but it made the labels too soft and they tore during removal.
Peeling The Labels
Be very careful when peeling the beer bottle labels off. Be prepared for some to get destroyed in the process. Most of the time, you just have to get lucky to peel the label off in one piece. As you get familiar with the different brands of beer and how their labels behave after a good soaking, you can start peeling differently for each bottle. For example, we noticed that the very thin paper-like labels on Newcastle bottles are almost impossible to remove. However the waxy paper labels on bottles of Duvel almost always come off by themselves without any peeling necessary.
Drying The Labels
Before you can do anything with the beer labels, you'll need to dry them after their soak. We lay our labels out on a towel face down. There is a small amount of glue on the back of the labels and they tend to curl during the drying process. If the label is face down, they'll curl as if they were still around the bottle. We found this to be better than a reverse curl where the label ended up looking convex.
No matter what you decide to do with your old beer labels, these steps above should help you get them removed from their bottles in one piece. We'd love to see what other things you guys can come up with besides our simple canvas. Email us some pictures and we'll be happy to showcase them here on the blog.