Using milk to apply beer labels is a great way to save money and simplify bottle management, today we’re going to show you how to do it while I bottle my Golfer’s Grog Kölsch.
Before we get started, it’s a good idea to figure out if using milk is a good choice for you to apply beer labels, so we’ll look at some pros and cons.
Pros to using milk
- Cheap: You can label 40 bottles with about 2oz of milk, so about 4¢ worth of milk. You won’t find a better deal.
- Easy to apply: No extra tools or hardware is needed beyond a plate or some kind of shallow dish/container to hold the milk.
- Quick: All it takes is a quick swipe of the label over the milk, and then lay it on the bottle and press it in. Labels go on quick!
- Simple removal: All you have to do to remove the label is run it under some warm water for 3 seconds and they slide right off without any residue. It’s the easiest way to reuse your bottles for the next batch.
- Great for laser printers: The toner from laser printers is “burned” onto the page, so it makes great prints that don’t have running ink when they get wet. If you have a laser printer, these are great for applying beer labels to bottles using milk.
Cons to using milk
- Time to dry: The labels are wet for about 15 minutes after they are applied and can be bumped off or tilted crooked, so you have to keep them safe while they dry and harden. It’s not the kind of project you want to do 5 minutes before taking your homebrew to a party.
- Can’t get wet: Although the labels hold well after they are dry and stay in the fridge, they won’t do so well if you put them in an ice chest with a lot of moisture. Once the labels get wet, they will start to slide off.
- Bad for ink-jet printers: If you have an ink-jet printer, you’ll likely see some ink running or blurring when you use milk.
How to Apply Beer Labels Using Milk
- Pour a small amount (1-2oz) of milk into a shallow saucer, dish, or container. You really don’t need much at all, so start as small as you can because you can always add more later.
- Lay your bottle of beer flat on a table. I recommend using a towel because it helps keep the bottle from rolling around when you aren’t touching it and also helps absorb any extra milk from the label. Also very easy to wash!
- Take one of your labels and set it gently on the saucer of milk.
- Pull the edge of the label across the surface of the milk so that the entire backside of the label gets milk on it.
- Holding the label in your hand, align it straight on the bottle with one edge. I like to use the seam on the glass bottle to help with my alignment since it is vertical down the bottle.
- While holding the edge you just placed in contact with the bottle, slowly roll the bottle away from the label and allow the label to slowly adhere to the bottle.
- After the other edge of the label has been applied, wipe away any excess milk with a paper towel or dish towel. Also look to make sure there are no bubbles. If there are bubbles, just use the paper towel to press them toward the edge of the label.
- Place the bottle somewhere safe like back in a box or in the fridge so that they can dry and stiffen up.
That’s it! When you’re done drinking your delicious homebrew, just run the bottle under some warm water for a few seconds and the label will fall off without leaving any residue.
If you need to buy some bottles, I recommend the 12-oz bottles or 22-oz bottles from MoreBeer!