Originally Posted by Doug
So, how do you know when to drop the temp back down? When you first bottle, you are supposed to keep it nice and warm, right? What would happen if you continued to age at the warm temps? What's the ideal temp for aging?
Once a beer has completed conditioning (is fully caronated), it can be ready for cellaring. We're not talking about your average beer with a mere shelf life of 3-6 months, tops -- before quality begins to degrade. We're talking about beers that beg for maturation and strict storage like vintage beers, barleywines, imperial stouts, Belgian strong ales, lambics, old ales and so on. Ideally, any type of beer that can be laid-down for a year or two, or even more, in order to build a slew of complexities and thus further its character in a positive way.
Beer benefits from cool constant temperatures; usually around 50-55°F is ideal for most beers, and most beer collectors. Higher temperatures and you'll risk shortening the lifespan of your beer, lower and you'll induce chill haze (cloudy). Your strong beers (like barleywines, tripels, dark ales) will be their happiest at room temperature (55-60°F), most of your standard ales (like bitters, IPAs, dobbelbocks, lambics, stouts, etc) will be at cellar temperature (50-55°F) and your lighter beers (like lagers, pilsners, wheat beers, milds, etc) will be at a refrigerated temperature (45-50°F). Usually the higher alcohol, the higher temperature and lower alcohol, the lower temperature ... you get the point. Hope that helps.