Have to admit I only had time to read the first page until now, but great thread.
I just have time to tell my story and will read the other posts later
For me it was a can of extract and a packet of yeast.
It was early 1995 in Ireland; my father got me into it as he already had the equipment for making wine.
At that time in Ireland the price of alcoholic drinks was quite high compared to the average amount of disposable income.
Mainly due to high taxes.
Kits were comparably very cheap because there was 0% alcohol content until you had brewed with it.
40 British-sized pints for about the price of two or three 6 packs of Harp/Guinness/Smithwick's/Bulmers.
It was my first year as a student, so I have to admit my main motivation for starting with brewing was to get drunk for less money.
There was no such thing as a home brew store in Ireland back then so we bought our kits from a so-called health food store in a nearby city.
I can't remember the brand but they had 3 types - Ale, Lager and Cider - probably all with the same yeast
I brewed them all at the same temperature anyway (ambient).
Everything sterilized with bleach and probably not rinsed enough.
They tasted very bad but did what I wanted, got me drunk for cheap and time wasn't such as valuable commodity as a teen as it is in my 40s now.
I remember I filled them into large Guinness bottles and added a spoon of sugar into each bottle.
Carbonation was like Cola, big bubbles and no head.
I did that for a few years, maybe 10 batches, then I moved away from Ireland and didn't have my father's equipment or the space of my parents' farmhouse to continue with brewing. Plus the price of beer in the countries I lived in afterwards didn't make it so attractive to brew anymore.
Almost 20 years later in 2013 I started back up with brewing but this time with a totally different motivation.
I live in the countryside in Germany and the choice of beer other than Weizen, Pils, Alt or some other type of Helles is a bit limited.
Don't get me wrong they are very solid beers but sometimes I want something a bit different or don't want to pay over the odds for an over-priced and not so fresh imported craft beer.
So I got into all-grain brewing and started brewing my own craft beer style beers.