A fly on the wall of a 642 barrel per year brewpub.....
Me: Andrew, do we still have 6# of Cascade downstairs?
Andrew: Nope, but we have 5# of Centennial.
Me: cool, go grab it
Me: Can I get Weyerman Special B please?
Salesperson: We don't carry that Brand.
Me: How about Caramel 120?
Me: Does this water have more Chlorine in it this summer?
Andrew: smells like it.
Me: call the village and then boil it a bit.
Me: Andrew, wanna make the Stationmaster a little more hoppy?
Andrew: sure, you mean like Gumballhead?
ME: sounds good-I love that beer
Me: Andrew, make sure all of those 10,000 new bottles get rinsed before filling
Andrew: you think one of them could have some residue in them
ME: yes, and it could affect one bottle without us knowing
Andrew: do you think our batch size is too big
Me: yes, 15 bbls is too much. Slower beers taste different by the end of their run.
Me: HEy why did this lager not take off for three days
Andrew: MAybe they didn't send us enough yeast
fade to black......
As many people posted, a lot of the differences do derive from the drinker him/herself. Obviously the bud/miller/coors brands out there will not vary and even the sierra/Sam Adams/etc are becoming less and less varied. But anyone smaller certainly has a LOT of variables to contend with. (maybe you can tell us what beers in particular brought you to this quandry)Some strive for consistency and others don't. I think you can see in which camp I reside. Striving for improvement in each batch is more important to me thatn thinking I have a perfect beer that can be bettered.