Years ago I came to the conclusion that the brewer makes the beer, the equipment doesn't. That's not to diss anyone who ises a fancy system. That's a personal preference, not a requirement for good beer. After all these years and all these brews (somebody cue "Still Crazy After All These Years"!), I'm still happy with my incredibly down scale Cheap'n'Easy system. It fits my style of brewing, I make good beer and I have fun doing it. Those should be the considerations.
I'm with Denny on this, 1000%.
The only upgrades to my 'system' were after I already had 15 years of brewing behind me: so around 26 years ago I decided to ramp the hobby up a bit and I built a very simple 3000watt electric 'keggle' (simple, as in just on/off, no fancy controls); I also bought a 5 gal Gott/Rubbermaid cooler for mashing to replace the bucket I was using, and I started using a counterflow wort chiller. Fortunately, I've always been a lunatic
I've only just
in the past year replaced the cooler with a new one (of the same
type), and at some point soon will add a 10 gal one. Other than that, I've essentially been brewing on the same 'system' since 1986. I know exactly
what to expect from it and get great results...certainly on par with or better than my local micros are putting.
It's definitely a 'ghetto' system without a doubt, and it's certainly more 'hands on' than an automated system would be, but I couldn't even imagine changing the setup now, since it has, for so long, consistently delivered what I want.