I’ve got exactly 44 batches under my belt at this point, so I’m not sure I’m the level of Denny/Yoda (maybe somewhere between a young brazen Obi wan and that weird girl jedi with the blue horn things), but I will offer my $0.02.
I think it depends on what you like to drink. If you like to drink/brew American style ales, you can get by with Chico/US-05/WLP001/Whatever Wyeast. In 90% of the beers I make, I am using Chico, Nottingham, WY 3711 (for saisons), or WY 2206 Bavarian Lager for lagers (even some hybrids…see my Cal Common ‘discussion’ from awhile back). Probably 60% I use Chico (though I am going to try out Pacman soon).
That being said, if I want to make a Kolsch, you NEED a kolsch yeast. It just won’t be right otherwise. But you can also use that yeast to make an American Wheat, American Pub Ale (I really want to try this one), and some would argue both types of Altbier. If you want to make a wild ale/flemish sour, you can’t really do it without Roseleare (some would say you could spit in the beer for the lacto, or use your kitchen sponge, but variable results :cheers: ) If you want to make a wit, you likely need a wit yeast. Beers that are yeast/phenolic/ester-forward need a specific yeast. I would lay my 401k on the fact that NG (and any reputable brewery) knows the profiles of all the yeasts they use and how to manipulate the yeast to give them the flavors they or their customers want.
Yeast Labs want to sell you yeast. Make no mistake. But yeast is a huge contributor to beer flavor. Think about tasting the wort then tasting the finished beer. It makes a huge difference (as does conditions of the ferment).
Rogue uses their house yeast (Pacman, similar characteristics as Chico) in just about all their beers…AIPAs, APAs, Stouts, Porters, Ambers, BIPA’s, barleywines, Xmas ales, etc. (if I’m not mistaken). So yes, if you like to brew different types of IPA or beers where yeast is not a critical component, I wouldn’t mess around with the differences between WL “West Coast Ale” and “American Ale”. The differences are going to be minimal. However you would have a pretty tough time making a proper Dortmunder with S-05.
I will also say that I tried to make an AIPA with S-04, and its just not right. If you’ve ever had a bitter of any strength made with Notty (or another English Ale yeast), there is a tangy flavor that goes great in bitters, but is NOT GOOD AT ALL in AIPAs.
Not sure if I answered your question, but I couldn’t resist throwing my thoughts out there.