For those of you who are uninitiated to the hobby/cult of homebrewing, making labels for beer poses a few logistic challenges. First, the ink must not be water soluble. The first drop of condensation on the bottle will turn your label into a bleeding mess. So absolutely no ink-jet printing, and no water soluble inks. The oil-based inks and relatively ease with which you can make prints led me to block printing. I'll be the first to admit that my block printed design is not the easiest solution. (Printing labels with an laser printer definitely seems like the easiest.) But I loved the idea of a handmade label-- it seems to suit a handmade beer particularly well. And if you do go to the trouble to cut a block for printing, you can then print your design on all sorts of things-- cardboard (for coasters!), fabric (beer-themed canvas bags! T-shirts!) And best of all, you've got the block already made and will be able to quickly churn out new labels the next time you brew a batch of that particular beer. And if you know a home brewer and make them a custom label as a gift... Well, then you've made a friend for life.
The second obstacle is adhering the label to the bottle. If you plan on reusing your bottles (as most home brewers do) then you'll want the label to come off the bottle without leaving a messy residue. But obviously, you want the label to stay put on the bottle while you store it, chill it and serve it. I did a bunch of reading, and a few experiments and found a solution that works great: milk. (Yes, really!) Lots of brewers use milk straight from the fridge. Skim milk is the preferred choice, at it has all the adhering proteins, but none of the fat that could potentially make dried milk smelly. I don't regularly buy skim milk, so I made a glue using nonfat dried milk. Not only is this glue solution more concentrated than plain skim milk, but (because of dried milk's shelf life) you can whip up this glue even if you don't happen to have extra milk in the fridge.