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Old 12-13-2010, 02:41 PM   #1
Nov 2010
Raleigh, NC
Posts: 248
Liked 28 Times on 20 Posts

So, while driving into work this morning, I suddenly realized that I have over 100 bottles of beer from 4 different recipes sitting in my beer closet. Once the excitement about this wore off, I realized that my memory will not always be perfect, and I'm going to reach a point where I have a hard time keeping up with what is what. As a new brewer, my initial idea was to use a different color bottle cap for different styles. The more I thought about it, the less I think that will work, as my LHBS only has about 8 different colors of caps. So, I started writing the bottling dates on the caps after I bottle them. But again, memory. So, I'm thinking of just hanging up a clipboard in my beer closet with the details of what's what. I'm wondering, though, if anyone has any other suggestions for how they keep up with that beers they have and from when. I don't want to start labeling my beer yet, as that would take extra money from my extremely fixed income that would better be used at buying brewing supplies. So, how do y'all do it?
"I sit here and drink my good Wittenberg Beer, and the Kingdom of God comes all by itself." -Martin Luther

"Good men drink good beer." -Hunter S. Thompson

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Old 12-13-2010, 03:13 PM   #2
Jun 2007
Lansing, MI
Posts: 157
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For me, labeling makes little sense as we reuse the bottles several times and I'd hate to make a nice label just to scrape it off when we changed beers. If I ever get into a consistent rotation of beers I brew, this may make more sense.

For me, I write the style's initials on the cap, along with the date if we brewed multiples of that style on different dates. For example, my friend brewed an Irish Stout with us, and we wrote 'IS' on the cap. This works, but if we had an Imperial Stout in bottles, we'd obviously have to change things up... It also only works if we get caps with no writing. Our buddy bought a kit which came with printed caps, making it difficult to write the style/date on them. This also doesn't work well keeping ties to the recipe used.

But, we've recently moved to kegging most of our brews, so a note on the keg is usually sufficient. Once we get taps through the door, I've got plans for handles with chalk board type surfaces on the handle.

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Old 12-13-2010, 03:25 PM   #3
Ace_Club's Avatar
Sep 2008
Chicago, IL
Posts: 43,844
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There are so many different options, it really comes down to whatever works for you.

For bottles, you can just print name and date on avery return address type mailing labels and stick them on. It's small, will come off easily and fits all the necessary information. You could also try using a dry erase marker on the bottle itself.

For kegs, I use a blue dry erase marker and it just wipes off when I clean the keg for the next batch.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:35 PM   #4
chapa's Avatar
Jul 2010
St Louis, MO
Posts: 801
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I number all my batches in my composition book, so I just write the batch number on the cap. I usually split 10g batches, so lately I've been numbering with a decimal to clarify which one it is. Like 13.2 (my 13th batch and #2 of the 2 carboys, maybe one has diff yeast or dry hops etc).

I use painters tape on my fridge to label which tap is what batch, and also write the name, style, ABV & IBUs. I also want to get those chalk board tap handles.

The problem with caps is they are so small, so you really have to come up with an efficient method. I'm sure the #s will eventually all run together, but maybe I'll start making a chart as a quick reference.
Fermenting/Conditioning: Casc/Cent APA, Hoppy Birthday Amarillo/Simcoe IPA(6g American/5g Belgian), Chappist Belgian Dubbel
Bottled/Kegged: Red Rye IPA, Wesside Trip(Westmalle Tripel clone), ESB, Lil Trap (4% Trappist Starter Batch), Robust (Pumpkin) Porter, 3% Little Hopper, "Slick Rick" Old Engine Oil Clone(oaked w/ vanilla and balvenie scotch), Imperial RyePA,
On Deck: Quad, Belgian IPA, Orfy's Mild, Scotch Ale

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Old 12-13-2010, 04:28 PM   #5
Nov 2010
Woodstock, GA
Posts: 72
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I box my bottles in old 12 pack boxes and mark each box with masking tape with type of beer and date. I have several different types of bottles so I can usually sort out which is which once I move them to the fridge.

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Old 12-13-2010, 04:31 PM   #6
Dec 2010
Chicago, IL
Posts: 28

For me, each beer is a unique gift from the Almighty and deserves it's own name and label, at the least. Don't forget your beer is alive! We all want an identity, we all want to be known.

Plus, it makes remember's what's what (or who's who) much easier.
I also label the boxes I store them in.

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Old 12-13-2010, 04:34 PM   #7
Apr 2009
Highlands Ranch, CO
Posts: 1,326
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I keep a spreadsheet of what I brew, and assign a batch number, which goes on the bottle caps. I started using BeerSmith recently, so I also put the Batch number in the recipie title. Only issue is flip tops, but I usually just have one batch of them at a time and empty all of them before using again.

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Old 12-13-2010, 04:40 PM   #8
Sep 2009
Jackson, TN
Posts: 494
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Take a sharpie and come up with a 2 or 3 letter code for each beer and write it on the cap. Make a cheat sheet for yourself so you know what is what. Also label your boxes.

e.g., American Pale Ale = APA....

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Old 12-13-2010, 05:16 PM   #9
Oct 2010
Posts: 725
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I haven't managed to pipline enough beer for this to be a problem. I have 3 varieties in my closet right now, 2 of which are down to less than a case.

I am working with 3 primaries right now, but 1 is filled with apfelwien, and another that just was emptied into bottles needed some extra time to age before bottling. 1-2 more primaries should put me in a much more pleasantly complicated situation.
On Deck: Chav Irish Red
Pipe Dreams: Chai Porter
Primary #1: Empty
Primary #2: Empty
Primary #3: Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Bottle Conditioning/Drinking: Brown Porter, Pale blonde session ale

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Old 12-13-2010, 07:12 PM   #10
May 2010
Bay City, MI
Posts: 916
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I do two things. I have 5 or 6 different colored milk crates. They sell them cheap around the back to school time in the fall. When I bottle them each batch gets a different color. As I grab a sixer of one of them to put in the fridge, I write a 2-3 letter discription. RA = red ale , CA= Cream ale, GA = german altbier. I usually dont have bottles from more than a few batches back.

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