Weird, I had some similar thoughts.
I started homebrewing (this is my 30th year) because I knew I wouldn't be able to get a decent, well made, fresh beer when I returned to this country, excepting standard American lager (which is still in my fridge at all times, mind you.) Briefly, around that time, the nascent new brewery movement gave me hope that the situation was going to change. Then it all very quickly went off the rails somehow. Rant on, Bryan. You and I probably disagree on a lot of specifics, but the principle that there must be principles, and that solid, fundamental knowledge and skills must underpin the brewing industry, still applies. In my home brewery I can't, due to practical constraints, necessarily meet every single ideal goal required of a professional brewery (and we can still dispute what those are, based on differing traditions and end products, and we won't talk about your brewery.) But I seem to come a lot closer, or at least know better what those goals are, than most who have the audacity to charge good money for their, um, "beer," and I do really like my beer, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of "craft" "beer." So here we are 30 years later.
The German accommodation worked out with the EU actually sounds a lot like what Charlie (whose meat and potatoes has been the kind of adaptive quality and process control you emphasize) was suggesting. You can put anything you want in a bottle, but you can't necessarily label it all as "beer." As someone mentioned, we do already have something like this. Malternatives, or what Jim Koch is calling "beyond beer" ventures. But drawing the lines is not something I'd want to attempt.
BTW Bryan, you probably don't read Ron Pattinson's blog (Shut up about Barclay Perkins,) but his increasing frustration with trying to find a drinkable, recognizable beer while he is in this country, ironically usually on invitation of craft brewers who want to promote education about traditional beer, would be amusing if it weren't actually quite worrying. Think he'll blow a gasket soon. Or just go on straight whisk(e)y.