Judges seem to be really hard on them. Or perhaps they don't quite know what to make of something under 4% abv?
I love Scottish shilling ales and I believe
I make some damn tasty ones. I think they are wicked smooth, clean and flavorful.
Judges don't seem to agree. I have often had comments about sourness and infections. I don't taste or smell sourness or infection at all and I am pretty sensitive to that. I wonder if it is the malts I use? I love to add a bit of aromatic malt for the wonderful maltiness. Early on in fermentation I perceive a fairly noticeable raisin character from it. It fades to more bready malt flavors as it cold ages. I wonder if that is what they are picking up on?
The other no-no that I do is the kettle caramelization. I know that this is often perceived as diacytal by judges so it is not recommended, but I love it. It adds to the malty sweetness I think and certainly the color. I try to stick to the "authentic" simple grist approach. I used to use only Marris Otter and a touch of roasted plus the caramelization. I only added the aromatic to boost the maltiness to try and mimic the more amber/brown base malts that would have been used. I have not had any complaints about diacytal, but perhaps it is adding to the sourness issue? One judge actually did recommend MORE kettle caramelization...
Another comment that tickled me was that the yeast character was not evident enough. That is one thing I personally do NOT expect in a Scottish ale. I intentionally ferment as cold as the yeast will let me. In this case 55F for Wyeast 1728. After a long cool ferment I age it even cooler for a month or so.
I realize infection is probably more of a potential in such low abv beers but I really truly do not believe these are infected. I do not have any issues with any other beers and I really do not taste it in these. My sanitation is excellent and once they are fermenting they tend to be almost lager like in there treatment.
I am just stumped. It isn't that they are always slammed. I entered the same beers recently in 2 competitions. One in the NHC and one in a local comp. I did not have much hope of my Scottish 70/- doing well in the local comp (non-bjcp) because generally the beers that win are HUGE, either in alcohol or hops. I actually took 1st. In the NHC... Bombed, only 28!
I don't know. I really love how the beers are so I won't be changing them. Anyways, just rambling here I guess. Thanks for reading.