The beer was basically a science experiment that was entered as a specialty beer. With no claimed "like" beer and no category guidelines to use in judging the beer, I judged the beer based on the ingredients, process, and bugs claimed on the entry form. The beer had a really harsh middle of the tongue flavor that made it darn near undrinkable for me, which is why I contemplated giving it a 13 (my first score was actually in the low twenties). I brought my score up because I wanted to reach a consensus.
As I brew mainly to study the behavior of brewing cultures (I have maintained a culture collection for most of the time that I have brewed), I am familiar with the flavors produced by the bugs claimed in the fermentation. The harsh off-flavor was not a flavor that is produced by the any of the bugs claimed under normal circumstances. The flavor was definitely produced by wild non-brewing microflora pickup, which is a flaw that would prevent any beer from scoring in the forties.
Ah, fricking category 23...
it's making more sense now. Yeah you ended up in the most subjective cat. Science experiments indeed.
I do believe competitions should have very experienced judges in that category, more than just about anywhere else, but perhaps they did.
I don't avoid 23 anymore, but I don't relish it. I'm hoping the new guidelines will reduce some of the variety; American Wild and Specialty IPA and whatever.
I am capable of telling why I am/am not impressed with a certain beer's blend of base and specialty information, and from what we've seen I expect you are too. Curious why the other judge loved it so much, but I guess you really did encounter a fairly rare event early on. I've never encountered even half of the score differential you indicate. I actually think you did well with a 29, provided it also included feedback on why it didn't work for you.