#1 - was 30 psi a good choice?
#2 - how often should I check the pressure?
#3 - how long should I let it age?
1 = Not really. Youll have no idea what youre going to get. You need BeerSmith(et al) to tell you how much PSI to use depending on exact grain bill, desired style v/v, and temp. It took me a while to figure this out (doh!) but the PSI calc is equilibrium so after about 3 days its effectively the same as 30 doesnt matter. My default is 5 days.
2 = The pressure should be constant for 3+ days. Just one pop will absorb into the beer in minutes.
3 = MANY people get high centered on this one. I think perhaps the universal answer is, As long as you can.
, or, Until it tastes good to you.
My default is 4 weeks. (But thats only because I FINALLY have a decent backlog.)
Im still puzzled by the question of temp though, but have made some progress. Regarding the 7mo old OP, I purchased a cellar: a 7cuft GE freezer off Craigslist for $70, and a $23 Chinese temp controller off eBay. I also found a 5cuft unit as a fermentation control chamber for about the same price. (Same exact models nice! Except a more expensive Ranco for the second.) I can also use them to crash the primary before kegging. Kind of nifty.
I was influenced by HollisBrewCo
s responses above and changed my process, but also, more recently, I talked to the owner/brewer of Monkish Brewing
(he does all Belgians) who said after the initial day or two of strict temp control he just let it go so my idyllic notion of precise temp control throughout the entire fermentation is debunked, because his beers are extremely clean which is what I thought I would be getting from strict sub 70s temp control throughout fermentation and maturation. Not so.
My most current process (all ales):
1.) I sit beer out at room temp for 4 hours to get a good start. (~77° this time of year always in the 70s.)
2.) Then I use fermentation control to keep beer at exactly what recipe calls for, for 7 days. For example, my Celebration Ale clone (per OP) is 62° for 2 days, 64° for two days, then 66° for three days.
3.) I dry hop at day 7. At this point Ill leave out at room temp to finish for 4 days.
4.) I cold crash at 33° for 3 days, then keg.
5.) I keep my keg backlog in the cellar at 38° for 20-50 days
because I can!!
So I now have the means, but one of these days Im going to do a split batch and FING NAIL the Original Post question #1. It irritates me that I still dont know the answer to that. Ill keep one keg at 38°, and another at a fluxuating high 70s, for 30 days and see what the taste difference is. There has to be a difference. Neither good nor bad, but there has to be a difference. Im thinkin.
My new thing is to get a keg, a bottle, and my clone and do head to head to head of the same beer. I can get some of my clones better than the bottle almost all the time now, but almost never as integrated as a factory keg.