Perhaps the problem isn't the hops/hop schedule.
How's the malt flavor and aroma profile and body?
Perhaps the "bite" is carbonic bite, and the judge doesn't recognize the difference..
It very well could be carbonic bite - good point richardt. It doesn't have it auf tap, in fact, in a blind tasting my wife thought Spaten Premium Lager had a more pronounced bitterness and spiciness whereas mine was cleaner and smoother (her words not mine).
I felt the malt flavor was appropriate, maybe on the low end of guidelines. The malt aroma was lower than I wanted, but its there and clearly pils malt. I don't know how to increase malt aroma.
I agree with my wife (did I just say that) that it lacks the spicy noble hop character.
I figure I might just try all FWH + a late addition and see - I'll use my original 60min amount though rather than figure the same IBUs at 20 and use that amount however - I've been burned too many times doing that and I'd rather err on the side of being too malty than too bitter. I can adjust next batch if its not bitter enough.
Re: Matt - I don't know if I agree with lowering the Chlorides (which I would have to do via cutting with RO) and then adding gypsum - my usual plan of adding CaCl to get the Ca >50 doesn't add that much Chloride to the bill ; plus I always thought the Chlorides helped malt flavor, no? I'll have to fiddle with Martin's sheet this weeknd and come back to that - I may be totally wrong (now that
my wife would agree with