"Taste your beer"

No, the title there isn’t a mandate for the obvious, it refers instead to the "Taste Your Beer" website, which is offering an interesting product: a beer tasting and appreciation kit. What makes a beer tasting kit? Well, aside from what you’d expect—like a beer guide, a cheat sheet for hops, etc.—the unique feature is a set of 13 small jars of actual hops (commonly used varieties). The potential taster is thus able to learn via smelling the hops directly what characteristics each variety of hop has.

It’s an interesting twist, to be sure, and a fairly clever one. I think the idea is to try to match the appropriate hop(s) with the beer you’re currently tasting—so you’d open each jar and try to match the aroma characteristics of the sample with the beer. Perhaps you’d taste the hops as well (though I’d imagine you’d want to do that at a different time, so as not to throw off your taste of the beer itself). The goal is to build a better appreciation of the beer by understanding at least one of the components that goes into it.

One concern I’d raise, though, is over the freshness of the hops; even if bottled fresh, they’ll quickly grow stale upon opening and through subsequent openings. And the jars are clear glass; you’d need to keep them in the dark to avoid excessive light exposure, further degrading their quality.

I’ll see if I can get a kit to do a hands-on review in more detail.

Fully included in the kit (according to their site) for $49: 13 hop varieties (in glass jars), full access to both their hops and terms databases, an aroma palate cleanser (no idea what this is), quick start guide, beer color swatch, hop cheat sheet, and beer appreciation guide. You can also read their press release here.


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