With this thread, I feel like I waded across a wide swift flowing river that was a bit over waist deep in the middle only to come out the other side with nothing more than wet shorts to show for it.
I think I recognize the "it" and it is the 5 elements with a perceptible "snap, fade" on the aroma (once you perceive it, it fills your olfactory senses and then is gone, at least for the moment, but on the exhale, you get a second chance at it, kinda like a burp after a good meal). Subtlety to the nth degree, yet perceptible.
I have a good brewing friend who can make "it" happen and he doesn't say that there is only one way, either. He just knows what the German school taught him. He tells me to use a little Carafoam (half a pound at most for 5 gallons) with Pilsner malt, do an acid rest (I know, it is unnecessary with well modified malts), double decoct, use a teaspoon of Wyeast yeast nutrient at 10 minutes left in the boil (he swears by it), pitch a good starter (2206 or your favorite) at about 62-64F, and slide the temperature down to about 54F over a couple days; then at the end of high krausen, move it up a slight bit (.5-1 degree per day?) over several days to about 68 and let it finish completely at that temperature, then step it down 3-4 degrees per day until at 32F, which is held until the beer is very clear (usually only a couple days at most). Then rack and carbonate and cellar at 32F for a couple weeks. He wins with it and I have tasted "it" in it.
FWIW, I have another friend who flew to Germany 3 times per month for years and always brought back fresh German lagers, usually Helles. There is something to the freshness, too. The "field being fresh" and the "snap" to me are how I can attempt to articulate the concept. But having said all of that, I have tasted some damn good homebrews that don't have "it", but have everything else, which ain't half bad.