I started brewing my own beer sometime after Christmas, and in the time I have brewed three beers. The first one was an Irish Dry Stout, which was from a kit. This beer only sat in primary, so it was bottle conditioned. Bottle conditioning using dry yeast was a big mistake. There is more yeast in the bottle, so the beer picks up more of the yeast's flavor. This review is after the beer has sat in the bottles for more than two months. From previous experience, I know that it should be chilled to numb the palate (it's that bad). A slow pour creates a good sized head. The first noticeable thing about the beer is the soda pop like carbonation. It also feels like it coats your mouth just like sugary soda. It tastes like it's possibly contaminated, but it's possible that taste is from the yeast. After allowing the beer to warm up, and the carbonation to die down, the flavor started to come out, which actually isn't as bad now. Still has the nasty coating, but the roasted grain came out more. It's not exactly coffee or chocolate, and it's not exactly a roasted flavor, but I can't describe it any other way. It's still pretty bad though.
The second one is a mystery style. It started out as a Vienna lager, but the lager yeast that was used didn't start within 48 hours, so I pitched in ale yeast. It's possible that the lager yeast later kicked in because this only took two days to finish primary fermentation. So, it might be an amber ale/California common (lager yeast fermenting at ale temperatures). This one was not made from a kit. I made my own all grain recipe, but when I got to mashing the grains, I failed to extract much fermentable sugar, and flavor. In attempt to get it to normal, I added a can of amber malt extract. When adding it, I was careless, and didn't sterilize anything. After 4 days in primary (including the two days of inactivity), 2 weeks in secondary, and a month sitting in the bottles carbonating, the result was a very nasty beer. The lack of sterilization allowed bacteria to grow in the wort, and it only got worse as it got older. I ended up dumping nearly 48 bottles of beer down the sink. That later turned into a controversial decision when one of my brother's friend found out that I had alcohol I didn't want. It's funny when 17 year olds beg for alcohol.
Dumping that beer allowed me to make the next beer: a porter. Porter is one of my favorite styles, so I didn't want to be careless about brewing this one. Instead of using dry yeast which isn't very good, I used WYeast British ale yeast which is a strand that works well for porters. I also sterilized the hell out of everything to prevent contamination. The beer sat in primary for a week, and then in secondary for 3 weeks. I bottled the beer only a week ago, and added enough priming sugar to create only a small amount of carbonation. One week isn't enough to fully carbonate the beer, but I'm impatient to try the beer. I tried the beer after letting it warm up about half an hour. Opening the cap made a faint popping sound, so some carbonation has been created. Although, there is not enough to create any kind of head, even with a forceful pour. There is still some sweetness from the priming sugar that will be fixed in time (about a month). The first noticeable taste is the esters, or fruity tasting by-products of the yeast. There is still a good amount of active yeast floating the the beer that might be increasing that taste. The normal porter flavors aren't as noticeable. It takes some time to taste the coffee/chocolate that is normal in porters. It will probably take some time for those flavors to come out more.
This is the first beer that I'm not disappointed with the outcome. Sterilizing the hell out of everything and using better yeast has paid off.