I do appreciate the gentle rebukes above because it will help me remember the point. I honestly don't remember if I wrote 'too much caramel malt' or 'too much caramel flavor,' but that is beside the point.
The main reason I posted this is about the insight I learned into my own APA/IPA grain bill. I found myself agreeing more with the sentiments described earlier in this thread about decreasing crystal malts in these beers. Such is the value of tasting several beers at a sitting. So I am going to use less in future brews of this style.
While I agree that there is know way of knowing with certainty, I will say that crystal malts are the most likely cause. Regardless, any flavor that dominates a fresh hop APA, other than hops, will result in a lower score than another beer that appropriately highlights the hops.
One further clarification: Jim, I am not yet a certified beer judge. The organizers asked my BJCP study group to help with the judging, and then made sure that there was at least one BJCP certified judge at each table. I was very pleased that my scores were within 2-3 points of the other two at my table! And best of all was when I was helping judge Best of Show between an IIPA, IPA, and APA. The IIPA was eliminated first, and we were having a hard time deciding on the other two as they were both equally good - until I pointed out that the IPA had the bittering level of an APA - that was the deciding factor and the APA won. I am happy I was the first to notice it.