I still think its a law of diminishing returns. You think R10 is great because you expect it to be great. The Yankees win because of the pinstripes, the Soviet hockey team wins because they and their opponents know they will win.
You do the reverse and set up a blind triangle with yours against r10, if you can't identify and adjust your beer to more closely mimic (or DIVERT FROM, if thats what you want) r10, then you need to sharpen your sensory and/or process chops. Are there elements you simply cannot replicate? Sure. Sitting in my living room drinking a solid kolsch probably wouldn't stand up to sitting along the Rhine at a cafe, sipping your fourth stange of Reissdorf.
Not to put words into your mouth, but you are saying that if a blind triangle test was done between my beer and some of the best NE IPA's were done, a large sample of trained tasters would find Heady/Hill/Foley/Lawsons to be 'better' than mine, I say fine. But that is likely a few points, from a few tasters, on a 50 point scale, when I am still brewing 35-40 point beer consistently (our last IPA scored a 47 from a GM judge in RI).
I consider myself and my brewing partner, on our larger system to be good brewers. Very good even. Yes, I consider Kimmich, Lawson, Oliver, Cilurzo, etc., etc. to be GREAT brewers, because they can design a flavor profile (that is considered excellent by a wide range of palettes) and execute that beer again and again with remarkably consistent results. They understand far more of the variables to a far greater extent than we do, and how they will ultimately affect the product.
I personally PREFER our hop-forward beers to any of Stone's beers. Does that mean I am a better brewer than Mitch Steele? No chance. But I brew a beer that I prefer to drink any day because that recipe has been designed and executed to my specs, the way I want it. Do we come up short sometimes? Definitely. Sometimes as a result of system limitations, sometimes a result of knowledge/experience limitations, but its a risk I will take, and 7-8 times out of 10, we will execute a beer that we both prefer, and as a (I grant you, sometimes biased) judge, I say stands up to many of the Northeast's road trip beers. I frankly wouldn't waste my time brewing them if we weren't really really close.
Finally, a big 'well-said' to Rad, as always. I'm glad you enjoy my (sometimes passionate) ramblings! We recently did a IIPA with 50% Conan and 50% harvested HF yeast. We'll see how it goes!