Process question. I just got comments back from a beer competition (Malt Madness) and my main flaw appeared to be lack of malt flavor/aroma. The beer was a Belgian Specialty Ale - "Cranberry Tart Saison." A strong saison aged made with America Farmhouse aged with Brett and Lacto on Cranberries/Cherries for the last three months. I received similar comments on my Black IPA, which had a some biscuit malt in it.
In the case of this beer (caution backdoor compliment) it didn't matter as I managed to get first out of 14 or 17 in the Belgian Specialty category. But in the case of the Black IPA it appears that the judges felt it was a big flaw. Could it be process related either Brew in a Bag or temp control? It also could have been a naming problem, I meant tart as in slightly sour, but it could have caused the judges to think of a dessert. The comments said it was a recipe not process issue. I scored a 36.5, so I think maybe it was not a super hard competion or maybe tart beers do better in the summer then noels.
I've been brewing all-grain about a year. In both cases the flaw was malt aroma/flavor related so it was consistent. Or maybe it is a flaw in recipe design as in both cases I mashed low intentially as I wanted both beers to be pretty dry. And they both were. Would dryness effect malt aroma? Or appearance of grain? Its sort of funny as the base recipe had spelt, rye, wheat, and buckwheat in it.
In the case of the Saison, I bottle conditioned it with a wine yeast to increase the stone fruit aspect. And I didn't mention the cherries in the beer description, because I did not detect them and thought they may have come off as Brett anyway. So with the lacto, brett, and fruit aroma, I am not sure how one would notice much malt. Process related, both beers were strong beers (~9% ABV) and in both cases there were comments about how there was no alcohol warmth. Not sure if that is process related and related to the lack of malt aroma.
Sort of related, I kegged up two or three weeks ago, my Brett Trois batch and the yeast is awesome. Fruity esters without any phenols but it drys out a beer incredibly. I want to use it for a 100% Brett Porter -> something like smuttynose but with Amarillo and Brett. So chocolate and a bit of fruit. So if I have a process issue I would like to address it first.