effective way to remove labels from beer bottles
Is there one?
Was drinking some of Lagunitas Freak Out Stereo Ale and found out the brewery is planning on doing a bunch of Zappa-inspired beers (scary I know) and want to keep the labels.
Keep them moist by spraying down with windex until they peel off or soak in soapy warm water. Some are harder to remove than others. If its the sticker variety (not just a glued label), they can be peeled off in whole without soaking if you are very careful not to let the adhesive peel away from the paper as you are peeling it away from the bottle.
I know saoking in PBW (powdered brewery wash)solution takes them right off in about 15 minutes, but unless you visit a homebrew shop, you probably won't be able to find it.
The best way to do it, which is how everyone does it that homebrews beer to remove labels, is to soak the bottle in a solution of warm water and ammonia. Make sure you soak it for like an hour. it will just slide off. Works for most labels, but it doesn't work well for labels that are made of plastic or metallic.
I tried this and it worked with varying degrees of success. After a couple hours, the hitachino label came right off; big hole (montana) label ripped; and the lagunitas label hasn't been budging at all when I test it, and it's been about 12 hours now for that one.
i'm saving the most important one until i'm confident, but it looks like it's all highly dependent on the brewery so you can't figure out the best method until afterwards.
Soaking sometimes leave plain paper labels looking pretty sad. So, unless you're the type of collector who only wants to save stuff from beer bottles you've actually consumed, often a brewery will be happy to send you some labels if you send a SASE or, in other cases, they'll gladly sell you a package/set of labels for a nominal amount, as long as the demand doesn't overwhelm them.
There's also a huge label collecting segment of most breweriana groups (many collectors "run out of room" and switch to labels after years of displaying bottles, cans, signs, kegs, etc...).
The Lagunitas website has a phone number for their "store"- maybe you can make a deal with them over the phone to send you some unused labels for a set amount.