|Things are looking up!|
The main thing I've learned: It's the Yeast Stupid.
Quality ingredients matter; Grains have flavors; yadda yadda yadda. The flavor of signature beers has as much to do with the yeast as with anything else. You can't make a Belgian beer without Belgian yeast. You can't make a sour without acids and micro-flora.
If anyone is reading this please post a comment of what you've learned from brewing in your years of experiences.