Got back the results from my first entered beer - got a 28.7 for roughly following the extract recipe from Papazian's recipe.
The main learnings:
fermented too warm = alcohol/astringent tastes. The judges picked this out, I knew it was coming - when I bottled the beer was at 79 degrees. I don't have a temperature control system set up (not even a swamp cooler). It really only gets warm 2 months a year here. I guess I either don't brew those 2 months or figure out the temp control.
Low carbonation: I didn't leave enough time to carb. 3 weeks in the bottle and it was still carbing. Next time I do this earlier before the competition...
Some other things i need to do more research on: one judge said no hops, one judge said too much hops bitterness. one judge said missing "melanoidan" - I don't know what that is. One judge recommended using lighter extracts and then adjusting color with grains rather than darker extracts. Got marked for a "plastic adhesive strip" aroma.
Fun stuff. I actually don't really like the beer that much myself, but I'm giving it more time in the bottle before I decide if I'm going to end up drinking it or not. I'm looking forward to getting the results for a porter next week.