...everyone likes a follow up.
Doing my third batch now...currently @ Day 4 of fermenting.
My second batch wasn't so bad and now I'm actually liking the beer very, very, much.
For my third batch, same recipe as second, I used way less water to mash so I could get better temp readings. This helped A LOT, especially finding hot spots of grain sitting there and I could then do a little stir to even it out ~65. I never used the gas hobs after adding grain and just used hot water to top up now and then.
While boiling I did a taste test every 10 minutes to see when the 'bad taste' comes in...if it were to come in on this batch. I figured the hops bitter started to kick in around the 35min mark. I think my first batch, which tasted like alcohol, was perhaps from having too much hops for too long as I may have let it boil a little too long and thus subsequent flavoring hops amped up the bitterness to make it taste like additional alcohols.
I placed the fermentor in the fridge to get down to a solid 18.5 degrees then added the re-hydrated yeast. I got an overflow in the airlock, which I haven't had before, gave it a clean and put it back on. I'm not worried about it, actually I'm thinking that it might be a good sign.