I read you post yesterday morning and made me think quite a bit
Yes, I think it is a fantastic way to stress the concept that "you need to know in what part of the desert you are" when doing a beer experiment. I may "steal" it one day (with proper credit of course).
If the control beer is in the desert floor or even in the plateau of mediocrity, it would be much harder to detect a significant difference, than if your control beer is in Valhalla, and as a researcher it is one's obligation to try to know where you are with that beer. In research lingo, it is one of the steps one must take to minimize the odds of a Type 2 error.
Ways to operationalize this obligation are for example entering the beer in 1-3 competitions, in Germany, use the DLG beer test, assemble a panel of judges that you are certain will evaluate the beer objectively. It is not perfect but it is at least a measure of control.
I would call this to VALIDATE YOUR MEDIA.
In addition to this media validation, sometimes you need to VALIDATE YOUR METHOD. Although I never force carbed a beer in my life (natural carb or spunding), I can concede that for an ale it is a widely used process. However, when your media is a lager beer, if you want to use an uncommon method, at minimum you need to validate your method against one of the many lager brewing methods. In these experiments, the BRU team not only used their common ale method but used a lager fermentation temperature schedule that is unproven.
BRU has not even started addressing the RELIABILITY issue. Can you make the same beer over and over again (yes, the same GREAT beer). If your media changes often, and if you let your media be dictated by what you need to brew for a given event, reliability becomes an afterthought.
Last but not least, DESIGN TO FIND DIFFERENCES. Your media (beer style) and your treatments must be carefully selected to maximize the odds of finding a difference, should there be one. This is a controversial topic, even among scientists, but to scientifically prove similarities requires an effort that is orders of magnitude larger than the effort required to prove similarities; so unless you are willing to undertake the effort to prove a similarity, design to find differences.
Finally, DO NOT IGNORE THE LITERATURE. Scientists do not reinvent the wheel. Many times, scientists hypothesize that the literature is wrong, and that is part of science, but to prove this wrong, they repeat the experiment/s they think is/are incorrect; scientists do NOT start all over again from zero.
Last but not least, a comment on the "we are just homebrewers" argument for bad science. The scientific process has nothing to do with the complexity of the instruments at your disposal. Indeed, there are experiments one cannot do if one does not have the instruments, time or resources, but one can still do great science with "homebrewing" equipment, time and resources. Experiments we reproduce in high school chemistry or physics lab are no less science than experiments run at the CERN supercollider; science is just about following the scientific process, nothing more.