#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. You’ll have no idea what you’re 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 it’s effectively the same as 30 – doesn’t 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 that’s only because I FINALLY have a decent backlog.)
I’m 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 70’s 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 I’ll 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 I’m going to do a split batch and F’ING NAIL the Original Post question #1. It irritates me that I still don’t know the answer to that. I’ll 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. I’m 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.