Please note: the maker of the kit has joined in the conversation and clarified that there is more provided with the purchased package than the sample provided. With that extra material in the purchase this is more that a testing kit which could very well make it a far better value than these initial review comments suggest. Rather than editing them, I am leaving them up as well as their correction in the comments.
I got a package in the mail today from TasteYourBeer.com. I wonder what's in it.
Inside the US Postal Service envelope was a glossy box board carton with "Explore the Depths of Beer" and "Beer Tasting and Hop Appreciation Kit" on it and two 6x9 inch booklets and 14 small sample jars inside. There are some coffee beans inside one of the jars as a "scent refresher" and the rest have pellets of different hop strains in them. One of the booklets is called the "Quick Start Guide" and is basically a neatly folded cardboard pamphlet with some guides to the elements of tasting, a lexicon of common terms and some suggestions how to learn about beer...like checking the label. The other booklet, called "Beer Appreciation Guide," is a bit more substantial at 47 pages and includes beer basics information you would find in some first-level home brewing guides and then goes on in more detail on beer appreciation though looking, smelling and tasting than the other booklet provided. There are also some tips on hosting a tasting, links to the company's website resources as well as a colour comparison chart on the back.
For someone who is unaware, I do think it is useful to smell the various jars of hops and compare one from another to learn there is a difference in scent. But that is where the "kit" aspect of the package kinda ends. That being said, my real issue with this product is the price which is either 62 bucks...or is it 49 bucks... depending on where you look on the website. If it was $14.99 I would be comfortable suggesting this is a reasonably acceptable newbie stocking stuff but, even with the hops price scare, paying this much for what you get is not something I can recommend. At a more reasonable price and a bit more content like sealed bags of various sorts of malts to compare, this would be a decent introduction for a newbie beer fan who wants a prop to use when sharing his or her interest with friends. But as most of the content can be replaced with information readily available on the web and a trip to a decent home brewing shop, it is not the only way to go.