I have become fairly active at the homebrewtalk.com forums, and I'd say that the vocal majority of members there do not bother with fancy labels (to say nothing of those who look down their noses at those who do). Many of the members there reuse commercial bottles, and they do no labelling at all beyond some sharpie with a lot number, or perhaps a colored sticker on their bottle caps. I have no problem with any of the above, but I want to be able to place a bottle of beer into someone's hand and have them react positvely to the appearance. I want people to get the impression that I care about this hobby, and I feel like a nice package really helps to convey that.
A few months ago, back when homebrewing was only an abstract concept for me, I began to think about what I might call the beers that I created; after all any brewery has a name, right? After musing on this for a few days, a name hit me, one that gave a nod to my Southern heritage while still allowing me to honor my geeky love for fantasy - I decided to name my hombrew operation "Confederate Dragon Brewery". This kicked off some furious imagination on my part... wouldn't it be great if I could have some cool labels on my beers? After all, if I was going to go to the trouble to make my own beer - obstensibly, in order to make quality beer - didn't I want them to look good, as well?
To that end, I insisted from day one that I use plain, new bottles for my beer. I understand why some prefer to get empties from bars or from their own drinking, but I have no desire to put my beer into a bottle branded with some other beer's name.
As for labels... some searches online turned up really expensive, professionally printed labels... but then, I found onlinelabels.com, which had a great set of labels that you could print yourself - they only cost $18 for 400 bottles' worth. These got promptly added to my Christmas list.
Next, I started thinking about how great it would be to have bottle caps that went with my labels... after all, no commercial beers come with plain gold lids! Again, commercial solutions required insanely large orders at crazy prices... until I found bottlemark.com, who do digital bottle cap printing (with no minimums) for twelve cents per cap.
At any rate, I did receive new bottles, as well as labels for Christmas. Last week, my bottle caps arrived in the mail - just in time for me to bottle my very first batch of homebrewed beer. Brittany Connoly, an artist friend of mine, agreed to draw my concept for the labels, so I was set.
I will admit that my botttle caps from bottlemark are not quite as nice as I was hoping that they would be; I was expecting clarity similar to what you would get from, say, an office-grade color laser printer, but instead, the quality is similar to what you'd get on a home inkjet print. That being said, custom caps are still custom caps... they are COOL to have. On the other hand, I had a better idea of what to expect from the labels, since I would be printing them on an inkjet printer. The art did look good on my printer... and when all was said and done, the print quality ended up a good deal higher than I had expected.
Last night, after bottling, I labelled the batch. I can say without reservation that I think they turned out fantastic! Check out the pics below of my Yorkshire Brown Ale. Sorry for the flash glare... I'm not great at taking beer pics yet.
By way of explanation (if you care) - the dragon is wearing a Confederate uniform (thus, Confederate Dragon Brewery). The dragon is holding a white rose, and the white rose is featured on the neck label - the significance being that the white rose is the symbol of the House of York (the tie in, of course, to Yorkshire brown ale). The bottle cap is a coat of arms (gray dragon superimposed on shield decorated similar to the Confederate flag, with "CDB" written on it).
For the forseeable future, I plan to do custom bottle labels for every beer that I brew. To me, it's well worth the additional fourteen cents or so that it costs me per bottle (as opposed to no labels and plain caps).
Tags for this post: custom, labels, label, bottle, caps, art, yorkshire, brown, ale
I'm very happy with how these turned out and I geeking out with you, Olan. I hope you don't mind, I saved this pictures for my portfolio as an application of the labels I did.
If anyone is interested, I would be willing to do quality labels like these for others as well (for a modest price).
I'm so glad they turned out, though! Very cool!
posted by Brittany Connolly on 1/31/2012 at 05:57:42 AM
I followed your link from HBT and I enjoyed your blog. I have been brewing for a couple of years but recently have had the desire to "step it up" a bit. I have had a logo made and am going to get some caps as well. I also am going to have labels made. I keg a lot of my brew but am having a bigger system built so I will be bottling portions of each batch. Geek out. This is one of the best hobbies out there.
posted by Bob Winzinger on 1/31/2012 at 02:51:50 PM
Love those labels. keep up the posts, as we love to read them.
posted by Roger Briant on 2/05/2012 at 04:57:06 PM
They look great! You're a braver man than I if you plan on labeling every bottle of every batch! That's too much cleaning before reusing for the next bottling day for my liking!
posted by Martin on 2/18/2012 at 03:28:09 AM
I've had quite a few people ask me about the labels, and how easy they are to remove.
I had my first beer from this batch last night. Afterwards, I ran the bottle under the faucet and soaked the label - it peeled right off with little residue left (and that rubbed off pretty easily). A soak in plain water would probably do the trick.
posted by homebrewadad on 1/10/2015 at 10:11:18 PM
It is a fantastic work.I like this labels.
posted by custom labels on 3/05/2012 at 08:34:02 AM