Classing up my brews

When we first started brewing I bought blank labels online, Jennie designed awesome labels, I wrote some text to add to her design, we printed the labels at home, and labeled all 50 some-odd bottles by hand. We did this for our first few batches, but the labeling, and more so peeling of all the labels to reuse the bottles became tedious.

After awhile we would only label bottles given as gifts. I had the label template saved on my old Windows XP desktop, and edited the template in Photoshop Elements for each brew. The beers we didn’t label, I would mark the bottle cap with a Sharpie, or buy different colored caps to color code my beers.

The hard drive on my 2004 vintage desktop was 99% full. When Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP I took it offline. My old printer didn’t support AirPrint, so I stopped buying ink. Needless to say, we haven’t labeled in a long time. There is nothing classier than giving a bottle of beer as a gift and explaining that the “CH” on the bottle cap means it is the Chocolate Milk Stout.

I use my iPhone and iPad for almost everything, but there are some things that are just easier to do on a real computer with a mouse and keyboard. A few months back I finally broke down and bought a Windows 10 PC. Last week I bought a new printer. I am officially back in the labeling business!

Through my work I was able to download Microsoft Office for only $9.99. Microsoft Publisher had the template for my blank labels pre-loaded. The editing capability doesn’t seem as robust as Photoshop Elements, but I think it will be good enough for my purposes.

This past weekend I bottled the Pyrite Pistol. The beer had sat on the Bowmore-soaked oak cubes in the secondary for 35 days. The samples I tasted were awesome! The oak and scotch add a smoky complexity to what was otherwise a clean Scotch Ale.

I set aside six bottles to possibly enter into competitions, but I labeled the rest. I started designing the labels shortly after I designed the recipe. On bottling day I added the brew date, bottling date, some information on the beer, and social media accounts to the labels before printing them up. I ended up with a case plus three bottles of 22 ounce bombers, and about two cases of 12 ounce bottles.

I still have a ton of blank labels left. I plan to label most of my big beers I plan to cellar. The labels are an inexpensive paper stock. They look great coming out of the printer, but any contact with water the ink runs. If you load up a cooler with these labels on the bottles the labels will slowly fall off. If I really want to step up my game I would buy higher end labels and have them printed by a laser printer.

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