I brewed a GLBC Christmas Ale Clone in November, trying (futilely) to have it ready for Xmas Eve. Had it in bottles two weeks before, but to no avail. As this beer finished up around 9.3%abv, the yeast in the bottles had a lot more work to do given the boozy conditions inside the bottles.
After 5 weeks in the bottles (ambient temp in my house is around 65 degrees), and virtually NO carbonation (despite my priming sugar calculation on Tastybrew.com), I found a spot that generally stays 70 degrees or warmer: a shelf above my dryer in the laundry closet. Shook the cases really well, stored them up there, and was able to be patient enough to forget about them for exactly one week.
After one week up there, I noticed significantly more carbonation. A much more pronounced 'hiss' when opened the bottles, plus about a half inch, quickly-dissapating head. Also, there was good carbonation in the first few sips, giving way to a flatter beer by the end of my bottle sample.
A few questions:
1.) When the dryer is running, it can get up to 75-78 degrees in that spot. When it isn't, it is usually around 70. Are these swings harmful to the beer?
2.) Since there was no carbonation for so long, does this simply 'reset the clock' for carbonation? In other words, the louder hiss tells me there is a lot of CO2 in the headspace, but will this dissolve into the beer? Not to be a maniac, but I am looking to get the nice, soft carb bubbles that you get from a well-conditioned beer (they help make the alcohol heat more palatable!)
3.) At a certain point, will I see any benefit from cellaring the beer at 60-65 degrees? Given the ABV of this one, I am hopeful that it will age well. When would you all start the cellaring process?
I'm thinking to leave them up there for two more weeks, then stick them in a cool corner of the cellar to age, let the flavors meld, and the alcohol mellow out.
Thanks in advance. This is my first really big beer (1.093 OG), and I realize that these are not for the impatient. I'm just curious as to how best to get this beer into its prime.