On a couple score sheets, I have been dinged for having "phenolic" off flavours in a couple different beers. I don't detect this at all but I am not a trained judge. Most recently, an APA that I really liked was downgraded pretty heavily for it and an allusion of infection was made by the judge. Again, I don't get it but maybe it was in the bottle that was judged.
So, my question is what could cause this, is this a common comment (meaning is it accurately perceived or is it a "go-to" for people when they don't know what else to say) and what can I do to prevent it?
I am not sure about the infection comment because I have yet to notice any infection in any of my beers so it must be a darn low incidence if its there. My standard kegging cleaning routine is: Hot water and soap, extensive rinse with hot water, star-san soak, siphon out 1/2 the star-san to sanitize my siphon, charge the keg with CO2, run the remaining star-san out through the tap until empty. Admittedly, I don't pull the tubes each time but maybe I should start.
For bottles they get a strong bleach rinse to remove labels and any "chunks" in the bottom, thorough rinse with a bottle sprayer and then soaked in star-san prior to filling. I also soak the caps, tub and picnic tap I use in star-san before bottling. Probably missing some key step here but it's hard to describe.