Im a first time brewer and everything was going good until i realized i did not take a before reading..... Is there still a way to get an average alcohol reading??? THANKS
You can get a pretty good estimate from a number of online programs, I prefer beer calculus. Since you're a first time brewer I assume you are using an extract kit which means you don't have to worry about mash efficiency, and the calculation should be pretty straight forward. Enter in your ingredients to estimate the initial gravity and you can measure the final gravity yourself once the beer is done. You can also input measured gravities into beer calculus and have it do the calculations for you.
This won't be 100% accurate but it should give you a pretty good idea of your alcohol levels. Beyond that you would need a refractometer to get an accurate abv, which you probably don't need to invest in as a first time brewer. Good luck!
Since you're a first time brewer, I assume you used extract. Knowing the amount of extract, the volume and the final gravity will allow you to calculate the ABV. Dry extract (DME) has about 45 points/lb./gal. (ppg). In other words, one lb. of dry extract in one gal. of water will give you a gravity of 1.045. If you put that one lb. in 5 gal, of water, you get a gravity of 1.009 (45/5=9). Liquid extract (LME) has about 36 ppg. So, for instance, if your recipe used 5 lb. of LME and your batch was 5 gal., your OG would be 1.036. Next, when it's done fermenting you need to measure the final gravity. I use the formula (OG-FG)x.132 to determine the ABV.
If you have a refractometer and a hydrometer, you can get an estimate by comparing FG readings between the two, as in this question.
If not, you'll have to calculate the OG from your recipe. If you used extract, and know your final volume, this is pretty straightforward. If you did a partial mash, rather than solely using extracts, you would have to estimate an efficiency. See this answer for values to use for extracts or use an online brewing calculator.