I am new to homebrewing as a whole, although I did assist in some mead making and beer brewing another lifetime ago. When I got into making beer on my own it was January of 2009. My first recipie kit was a True Brew All Malt Amber. Without the usage of my hydrometer I simpley made the beer and relied on time to measure the wort fermenting out. The reason I did not use my hydrometer was thatI didn't have a tube to check the gravity of the liquid in. My first beer was a success, but only because of luck.
Thinking I succeed without this step in brewing I did not purchase a measuring vial until recently. In interim I have brewed a Dead Guy clone, a True Brew Stout and IPA without taking readings. The Dead Guy came out overcarbonated, stinking of alcohol, and tasting flat. The stout is way off and in no way resembles a stout: it is very thin bodied and again has an alcohol smell. Now I have yet to check my IPA which has been aging in bottles, but again I do not have much hope of it turning out good.
For the Dead Guy and the Stout I used Kreamex(?) and I wonder if that played a part in how it all turned out. On the IPA I used straight dextrose when bottling.
So, I believe that I have learned to take all steps necessary to assure the brew is what it is supposed to be before bottling.
Any insight or questions are welcomed. I just wanted to share misfortune in the beginning stages of figuring out brewing.