One aspect of homebrewing that I always found fun was designing bottle labels for what I had brewed. However getting my custom paper label to stick to the bottle, and later wash off so I could reuse the bottle again became a challenge. Many folks recommend using milk, and it is pretty amazing that milk will act as a sort of glue. The problem I found with milk is that while it will hold the label on, and is easy to remove when cleaning, is that it didn’t hold up to the “ice chest test”. After scouring beer forums for a solution a few years back, this is what I came to use.
I have no recollection as to where exactly I found it, it’s been so many years now. My best guess is that it was from the HomeBrewTalk forum back in the early 2000s. So I apologize in advance for not crediting whomever the original creator is.
Bottle Label Glue
- 6 Tbsp Water
- 2 packets Unflavored Gelatin .5 oz
- 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 2 tsp Glycerine
- Boil water. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved.
- Add vinegar and glycerine, stir well.
- Cool and pour into jar, seal tightly.
- Brush the glue onto the back of your paper label and then place the label onto your bottle.
The two parts that really stood out to me and the reason I began using it are:
- It gets firm and will set in cold water (or on ice). Nobody wants to be the one pulling the mystery brew out of the bucket hoping they picked the good ale and not the mediocre ale. Thus it passes the “ice chest test”.
- It releases very easily in hot water. You’re going to wash and sanitize your bottles so you can bottle your next batch, so who wants to fuss with some super adhesive that you need to bust out the steelwool for just to remove it. The labels peel off so effortlessly in warm or hot water.
To use it, I liberally brush it to the back of my label, then stick it into the bottle. Sometimes I’ll paint the corners or edges of the label the front if they don’t look like they’re sticking down. Although that is honestly usually just from me doing a bad job of applying the glue on the backside. While I use it specifically for my homebrew labels, there really isn’t any reason why you couldn’t use it anywhere that you needed a “waterproof” glue.
Hope this helps out some other Home Brewers out there!