I haven't looked into actually buying a brew kit, but I do know they are a great way to start. I thought of buying some of my buddies some brew kits as gifts because they've expressed an interest. They're expensive, but I do spend a lot on a couple of folks. I know they'd love it.
Wild, are they still about a hundred bucks? I do not have a ton of money so this may work out best for me! I have seen where some people spends hundreds if not thousands of dollars on the items they need to have.
Brewing kits start around $125 now which comes with everything you see from the link above and your first ingredient kit. All you need (if you want to cook inside) is a pot to cook in, thermometer, and bottles.If you want to cook outside, you'll need a turkey fryer. A turkey fryer will provide a burner, pot, lid, and thermometer. It can add up quick if you aren't careful.
Wild, do the brew kits prove more helpful or do they hinder people who want to learn? I am still new and am curious about these, because they look like they would limit your creativity you have to make your own brews.
If you want to start creating your own recipes, do it. If you are on the fence post about it, pick up the book "Designing Great Beers". This book has all the info you need to begin creating your own recipes. As for the kits, the only limiting it does is that due to the number of different kits made, you are limited to what's available. The kits offer an award winning recipe, ingredients, crown caps, and peace of mind to those that are just starting out. Once a brewer is comfortable with the process, the sky is the limit.
The first time I started brewing I brought a home starter kit of the internet. Made about 50 bottles. The great thing is that once you buy the first kit you can use the equipment to make more and the next time it doesn't cost as much!