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How to Waterproof Your Beer Labels
Whether you’re crafting a beer label for an upcoming party or event, you're a hobbyist who homebrews their own batches, or you run a large-scale craft brewery operation, you know the process of creating and finding awesome, durable and waterproof labels can be difficult.
It’s incredibly important for your beer bottle labels to be waterproof. Dealing with multiple temperature variables can be challenging enough for just your product itself, but having a durable label is just as important.
The great news is, there are several solutions that fit just about every possible budget for waterproofing beer labels.
Create Waterproof Labels Using an Inkjet Printer
Create Waterproof Beer Labels with Con-tact Paper
Use Polypropylene Waterproof Beer Labels
Professionally Printed Waterproof Labels on Rolls with a Laminate
Print Waterproof Beer Labels on BOPP Material
Print your Beer Labels on Waterproof Shrink Sleeve Material
Option 1: Design Your Own Waterproof Beer Labels Using Paper & an Inkjet Printer
(Recommended for homebrewers)
A cheap and easy DIY method of creating waterproof beer labels, is to create and print your own custom labels using an inkjet printer. Then you can waterproof them with a few supplies. This is a great option if you don’t have a lot of time, and you don’t need your labels to last for very long.
Here's how to print your own beer labels on an inkjet printer and waterproof them:
First, measure the circumference of either your beer bottle or the beer can you will be labeling. Measure both the width and the height of the label you will be creating. These will be the measurements for your template.
Note: If you are planning on doing a full-wrap label design, make sure you add ¼” to your overall label length so the ends will overlap.
Creating your labels can be a fun and enjoyable process. It adds another layer of personal touch to your beer labels. This way, you're able to give your beer a personality all of its own.
There are several options to create a beer label, depending on the amount of distribution your beer is going to see and how much experience you have with design software.
1. Want to keep it simple? You could sketch your label on to paper, scan it into your computer and add it to your template. Sometimes less is more!
2. There are also a number of free online design tools you can use to generate great label designs.
3. Another option would be to use design software. If you plan to make beer labels regularly it might be a good idea to become proficient in the Adobe Suite. Our graphic designers suggest Adobe Illustrator for the majority of your beer label design needs.
Once you have created & designed your beer label using the measurements from your template, just print it out on your inkjet printer.
To waterproof and adhere your label, you will need to purchase:
1. Strong Spray Adhesive
2. Krylon’s “Preserve It”
Both can be easily found at your local craft or hardware store.
Once printed, carefully cut your labels to size. Use Krylon Preserve it and spray the front of your label. Give it about 15 minutes to dry completely before handling. Make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area.
Once dry, flip your labels over carefully and spray the backs of them with your spray adhesive. Make sure to give it a good coat so they will adhere to your containers completely.
Now apply these at room temperature to clean, dry beer bottles. Let the adhesive bond to the beer bottle for the suggested time from the adhesive manufacturer before chilling. These labels should only be refrigerated. They should not be submerged completely, as this is a temporary solution and only water-resistant, not completely waterproof.
Option 2: Place Con-tact paper on top of your labels to create a moisture barrier for your Inkjet Labels and adhere them to the bottle
(Recommended for homebrewers)
If you want to create cheap, water-resistant labels but don’t want the hassle of messing with adhesive and topcoat sprays, you can use Con-tact Paper. Clear and adhesive, Con-tact paper is a cheaper alternative to waterproof labels if you are on a limited budget for your labeling project.
Available in large rolls for just a few dollars at most office supply stores, this is a great alternative for keeping your labels protected from water & moisture while keeping your beer nice and cold.
• Design your label for your beer, print it out using your inkjet printer and cut it out carefully.
• With your beer label cut to size, measure and cut a piece of Con-tact paper slightly larger than your beer label on all sides. This additional material will create both a moisture barrier as well as bond your label to your beer bottle. Now you can refrigerate your beer without the risk of ruining your label.
Option 3: Use Waterproof Poly Sheet Labels
(Recommended for homebrewers and small-time breweries brewing small batches)
Polypropylene labels (abbreviated Poly) are a great option for homebrewers who need longer life for their beer labels but don’t have the large yield of say, a craft brewery. Poly labels can withstand a lot of condensation for an extended period of time, while still looking great.
Poly labels are strong, tear resistant, and extremely vibrant when printed on. They provide extreme resistance to abrasion, water and chemicals.
When applying beer labels to glass bottles where moisture and condensation are often a factor, it is important to choose a label with an aggressive adhesive. Our line of poly custom sheet labels use a high-grade waterproof adhesive.
Make sure to apply your label to a clean surface, with no moisture or condensation present. This will give your labels the best “stick”.
If you reuse your beer bottles like many homebrewers do, we suggest using an adhesive remover, like Goo-Gone, when cleaning and prepping the exterior of your beer containers between label applications. Otherwise, the label’s adhesive is quite strong and will leave some leftover residue.
There are two options for purchasing poly sheet labels for your beer bottles:
1. Purchase blank, poly sheet labels compatible with your laser/inkjet printer and print them yourself. Note: these labels are difficult to find, and you will need to adjust your printer settings like media type & DPI to get the toner to adhere to the poly material. You will also need to use the bypass feed and not the default paper tray.
2. Have your custom poly beer labels professionally printed on a 4-color digital press and shipped directly to you.
With us, you simply submit your beer label artwork or create it online using our LabelNinja tool and we will produce, package and ship it to you. Your waterproof beer labels are shipped to you ready to be peeled and applied in just a few days.
We also offer expedited shipping if you need your labels as soon as possible.
Order just the amount you need and no more. You can order 2 sheets, 20 or 200 and still get them all in just a few business days. These full-color digitally printed labels are already waterproof and ready to go. And ready to go.
Custom Polypropylene sheet labels create the look of professional waterproof labels without killing your budget. Less spent on labels means more to be spent on hops!
Option 4: Rolls of Waterproof Labels with Laminate for Extreme Durability, Printed Professionally
(Recommended for all craft breweries)
Ready to ramp up your waterproof label production to match your beer production? A good choice for you may be professionally printed labels printed on rolls on a digital press.
Here are some really neat options available when you choose to go with digitally printed, waterproof labels on rolls:
Dynamic, Variable Artwork: You can create dynamic artwork that changes on a label-by-label basis powered by variable design software (our process is called Splash Variable Design). Here are some labels we printed for Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa, FL using our Splash Variable Design.
These waterproof Silver BOPP (Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene) labels feature a geometric background pattern that changes on each and every label. Each customer that received these labels now has a truly unique beer bottle that only they possess.
Variable data: As seen on the popular Coke bottles with people’s names. Imagine the possibilities! “Mike, this beer has your name on it!”
Unmatched Color Control: With the ability to print in traditional CMYK plus the added benefit of orange, green, violet + white, digitally printed labels can be printed with a vibrancy and saturation rarely seen in the world of print.
Whether you’re just getting your brewery off the ground or if you’ve recently increased your beer production, you’re going to need some impressive labels to go along with your killer brew.
If you have or are looking into an automatic labeling applicator, then custom printed roll labels are absolutely the way to go.
When it comes to waterproof digitally printed labels, there are several options for your beer label’s material/finish combination.
The most commonly used material for products that are in moisture-rich environments are Biaxially-Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) facestocks.
They are similar in property to polyethylene but are significantly stronger, much more rigid, and offer a substantially larger temperature resistance range.
BOPP films are stretched & oriented in both directions (both length and width) to provide superior graphic quality, increased stiffness, strength, and they are 100% waterproof. BOPP labels are some of the strongest labels in the industry, essentially being both tearproof and waterproof.
BOPP labels are available in several facestocks:
- White BOPP (our most popular) features a brilliant white stock that makes the graphics on your label “POP”.
- Clear BOPP is a transparent material that gives your beer bottles a clear, see-through effect.
- Silver BOPP has a metallic facestock that when printed on makes your artwork appear as if its been printed on a metallic surface. Depending on the color applied on top of the silver it can appear as gold, copper or a number of other metallic colors.
So, what happens if our BOPP material isn’t what you had envisioned for your beer label? Not to worry! This is where manufactured label rolls excel over other options. We can take practically any stock and apply a protective covering. This creates an impenetrable barrier between your label and any moisture.
There are two basic options when it comes to adding a protective coating to your labels:
1. Varnish: Varnish is essentially a liquid coating that is cured to the top of your label as a protective coating. At LabelValue we offer UV Cured varnish coating in either matte or gloss or spot applications.
Varnishes offer scuff and abrasion resistance as well as some water-resistance. However, when it comes to superior waterproofing for your labels there really is only one option: lamination.
2. Lamination: Lamination is a gloss or matte plastic film applied directly to the surface of your beer label. It provides an actual plastic barrier between the label and environment and it is permanently bonded to the front of your label. Lamination offers advantages over a varnish by adding label rigidity for machine application, superior scratch and chemical resistance, as well as creating a barrier between any moisture and your label.
Besides the standard clear laminating films, there are specialty lamination films that can achieve practically any look you are trying to create. Some of these options include metallized films in several colors, as well as holographic films in numerous patterns.
The key here is to work closely with your label supplier and discuss the effect you’re after and your budget.
Just as important as your waterproof beer label’s laminate is the adhesive on the reverse side. If your label isn’t applied with an aggressive high-initial tack you run the risk of the label slipping, or falling off the container, as it is moved from one extreme temperature to another.
Think about how often your beer moves from the various stages of bottling, to refrigeration, to someone’s open hand. At LabelValue, we use a super aggressive MACTAC BOPP label with a service range of -75° F to +200°F. You should make sure to ask your label provider what the temperature range of their adhesive is.
If you homebrew beer often, create large one-off batches, or sell several variations at once, laminated waterproof custom labels may be a smart solution for you.
BONUS TIP: The great thing about adding a laminate to your homebrew labels is the fact that they are writable with a Dry-Erase Marker. Create a homebrew beer label that can be written on and erased depending on what you’re brewing.
Option 5: Use Shrink Sleeve Labels for Your Beer Cans or Bottles
(Recommended for craft breweries looking to sell more beer than their competition)
Shrink sleeves are an incredibly attractive, durable, and cost-effective option for labeling beer and are quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in the printing industry.
“Within just the last decade, shrink has grown to capture a tremendous 12.5% of the global label markets by area from the previous decade.”
So, what’s causing this increase in demand? In short shrink sleeve offers:
• 360° Full-Body Design
• Vibrant Print Colors, Maximum Shelf Appeal, & Extended Product Shelf Life
• Durability, Waterproof, Scuff and Scratch Resistance
Shrink Sleeves have proven to be ideal for many types of products, beverage containers being at the top of the list.
A process called Reverse-Printing available in digital formats puts your artwork on the inside of the material, creating a waterproof barrier between your artwork and its environment.
While a traditional label will cover about 40% of your product, shrink-sleeves cover practically 100% on top of the increased on-shelf impact. This accounts for an approximate increase of around 150% container coverage, for an average small ~25% initial cost increase.
Along with being cost-effective, they essentially eliminate the need for colored containers, and apply well to non-traditional container shapes. All of these are ways to increase the presentation value of your product against the competition.
In a recent shrink sleeve collaboration project we completed for Brew Bus Brewery, Cigar City Brewery and PP+K Advertising, we were able to use the properties of the shrink sleeve and metallic shine of the can, to accomplish the look of gold foil without the costly addition of a cold-foil die plate.
This shrink sleeve also incorporated a full 360° design that utilized the shape of the can to accent the artwork when shrunk.
The extra space provided by full-body shrink sleeves means more room to create eye-catching designs as well as increased area for your brand to get its message across.
The on-shelf impact is where shrink really excels.
In a recent study, shrink sleeves were shown to create stronger consumer emotional connections than a product with a traditional label. They were also shown to act as a key influencer of a first product trial as well as long-term sales for repeat buyers.
So, what does all that mean? Basically, brands that choose shrink sleeve labeling have seen an increase in first time buyers willing to give their product a shot, as well as return buyers who have created a relationship with the consumer through their packaging.
Also, worth noting is the increased quality that consumers perceived products to have when choosing shrink sleeves over traditional labeling.
Shrink sleeves are really good at making your product stand out.
Research has suggested that many of today’s successful brands use shrink sleeve labels in some capacity.
A great example of shrink sleeve leading the charge of a successful product launch is Campbell’s V8 V-Fusion beverage. They utilized a 360° shrink sleeve label and within the first two years of launch were reporting sales at 10x that of the average new juice product launched in the United States.
More and more commonly craft breweries are utilizing this labeling technology to create waterproof 360° labels for their brews.
Low run-cost coupled with the immediate on-shelf presence, has made this a lucrative option for smaller seasonal batches that can’t justify ordering such a large minimum of pre-printed cans.
Blank cans or even previously printed cans can be covered in virtually any color using shrink sleeves. We commonly help clients come up with solutions to repurpose previously printed cans for new beer releases.
Waterproof, vibrant, full of appeal, shrink sleeves are here to stay.
Depending on your budget, you can create waterproof beer labels in many creative ways. Whether you’re looking to add some decoration to an upcoming party or are looking to expand your brewing into a full-scale operation, if it’s about labels, it’s what we do best.
Give us a call for any of your labeling questions or needs and we will be happy to help; 1.800.750.7764. Located in Tampa, FL we are a premier custom label provider focused on creating great work and setting up our clients for success!