Let me preface my opinion about ingredient kits by saying that when I refer to a “kit”, I’m not talking about one of those single-can, “just add sugar” extract kits. Avoid these at all costs. To a lesser degree, I’m not a huge fan of the “Brewer’s Best” kits either. Overall, they’re not terrible — but God only knows how long the canned extract and pre-crushed grains sat in a warehouse before it was shipped to your homebrew shop.
When I say “kit”, I’m talking about a recipe kit that your homebrew shop of choice has personally put together. There’s a certain degree of quality assurance with these types of kits. This, of course, is completely dependent on the quality of your homebrew shop’s ingredients to begin with. If your local shop’s quality is suspect — make it easy on yourself — buy a kit from Northern Brewer, Austin Homebrew Supply, or More Beer.
With my lengthy preamble out of the way, I can say that I like ingredient kits. They’re simple, based on recipes that have gotten plenty of feedback, and eliminate the need for newbie homebrewers to design their own recipes.
Ok, enough reading. Go brew some beer!