safale US-05 yeast, no starter. primary for seven days, secondary for seven days with one oz citra pellets. forced carbed and bottled two weeks after carbonation.
aroma 8/12. slightly off funk in the front, backed by citrus and a light sweetness. no DMS, slight acetaldehyde
appearance 2/3. very hazy light orange with thin off-white head.
flavor 12/20. lightly sweet, firm bitterness. some tropical notes in the mid-palette, finishes slightly resiny.
mouthfeel 3/5. medium body, medium-light carbonation, slight late astringency, no overt alcohol.
overall 7/10. very nice, almost amber-ish in impression, and slightly astringent in the finish but still tasty.
total 30/50 (not sure why, the above adds up to 32). none of the descriptor definitions with checked off.
the carbonation is my choice, I tend to under-carb my beers. I get too much foam off my keg otherwise, and I actually prefer a lighter carb. too many bubbles bite my tongue in an unpleasant way. my next go around I'll up the hops a bit, I realize the IBUs are a tad low for an IPA. mostly I'm concerned about the astringency and acetaldehyde.
some background: I sterilize everything with iodophor. my mash is a ten gallon igloo cooler with a false bottom. I've had trouble with my efficiency in the past, rarely getting over 60%. I've just learned to accept the slightly lower OG. I've also started working with yeast starters with limited results, I don't have a stir-plate and suspect that may be a problem.
any suggestions? I'd like to tweak this recipe a couple times before entering it in the NHC. should I worry about adding carapils AND crystal? is my astringency or acetaldehyde due to improper sanitation? I haven't used star-san yet, but could start if that would help.
You mentioned only one of the judges was BJCP. What were the other judges comments? Take them as an aggregate unless you know the other people are very inexperienced. Judging is very subjective.
Did you use any finings in the boil? Irish moss or whilflock may help clear up some of the cloudyness that was mentioned. Also, dropping the temp on your secondary or keg before bottling to help anything fall out of suspension.
SO-5 has a reputation of not clearing as well as it's liquid cousin 1056. Though you really do need to do a starter with the liquid yeasts.
Acetaldehyde can be caused by sanitation issues, but it can also be caused by pulling the beer off the yeast too soon. After fermentation is is no longer visibly active, there is still a lot of "clean up" work being done by the yeast.
Try leaving the beer in the primary for a few more days.
Re: carbonation. If you are brewing for competition, you need to adhere to the style guidelines even if they are not necessarily to your personal taste. In your recipe, if you feel the color is a bit dark or it is too sweet, you could scale back the crystal to 1/2# or go with a bit lighter crystal. The comment was made that the head was thin, so you need the cara-pils. I've found in addition, that a couple ounces of flaked wheat always guarantees me a very nice fine bubbled head with good retention. Again, if sweetness is an issue, scale back the cara-pils by 1/2...you'll still get the body and head help from it.
Getting the timing right on a beer is important for competition as well. There's like a bell curve on a beer where it's condition and flavors continue to improve for a while after kegging or bottling. Acetaldehyde and astringency are a couple of things that you can pick up in a "green" beer that can dissipate as the beer reaches peak condition and all the flavors round out a bit. These two items were mentioned, but not discussed as serious faults, so perhaps that was the case here.
I'm not super experienced at competitions, but I have had some of the same issues and have solved them with the things I've mentioned. Good luck with your future entries. Hope some of this is helpful.