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I was wondering what would happen if I brewed an ale, let it sit through its normal time period at traditional ale temperature (let's say, one month), and then lagered it at 40˚F for 1-4 weeks?

I would imagine if one were to go this route, he or she would remove the fermentor from cooling for a few days so the yeast would re-activate, before adding priming sugar and bottling?

  • FWIW a lot of lager brewers bottle condition after 3-4 months of lagering without the need to add fresh yeast. Those little guys are hardier than we sometimes give them credit for, and plenty remain in suspension for bottle conditioning, even with a long crash/lager. – Graham Jul 25 '13 at 13:44
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Basically what you've described is cold conditioning an ale, a fairly normal practice. It allows the beer to clarify and smooth, the same way it does with a lager. There is no need to let the beer warm before bottling. There's still plenty of yeast in it, and the yeast will become active once you add priming sugar and let the beer sit at room temp to carbonate.

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