Hey guys, I just wanted to swing in and post up my experience on my first beer. My first beer is a British Pub style Porter. As with almost all first brews, I'm sure, I made a lot of mistakes. I didn't cool down the wort very quickly when I was done with the boil, I moved it from the primary into the secondary after only 3 days, I had quite a few problems syphoning everything from the primary to the secondary and back again for bottling, and my temperature control is horrible (read: keeping it in a dark corner in my place with frequent temperature fluctuations).
Anyway, it's been about 5 weeks since I started and they've been in the bottles for about 2 weeks. I decided to ice one down and give it a try. I pored it into a glass and it looks great, great head and very nice color. I tried it at first and it had a great taste except for a little bit of an almost rubbing alcohol after taste to it, very faint though. I let it sit for a few minutes and tried it again and to my delight it seems to have gone away. Nothing now but a nice rich, chocolate taste. I iced down 2 more and had them later on last night and they both tasted fantastic! I took one down to share with the guys at my local HBS and they all said it tasted great. One of the old guys that worked there said that he'd be happy if he could buy a beer that tasted that good (of course it is there recipe so I'm sure he's had it once or twice, haha).
I guess this is my long and drawn out way of saying 1. Thanks for the help, I appreciate everything I've read on here so far and the answers I've gotten to my questions, and 2. If you are new and you think you ruined your beer, take it from me as I was just there, relax and let it play out. Chances are you will have a pretty good beer when all is said and done, even if you think you messed it up.
Anyways, cheers and thanks to you all