If I were to do a taste-test of the beer at racking/bottling time, how indicative of the end result would it be?
Agreed, you have to 'see past' the lack of carbonation, and I have found that the lighter, lower ABV beers that have had a yeast that settles really well do taste OK at bottling at as little as 7 days and are a good indication of the final outcome at say a few weeks or a month in a bottle. I've brewed some with Nottingham yeast that already seem ready to drink! Conversely the higher alcohol, stronger flavoured, less floculent yeasts can taste awful at bottling, but don't give up on them! After a month they may still be poor but try again at 3 months and you may be delighted.