I have three beer vats. My first vat was a startup kit you know, one of those plastic kegs with the pre-packaged mixes. Good for the hobby brewer, but they don't hold a lot of beer (even less when you drop them while trying to shake the last few drops out into your mouth.) I now use Russian "Yugo" vats. Very large, very steady, and way to heavy for me to lift on my own - which is a good thing when I start sampling the wares too much.
Proper equipment is needed for home brewing -- and size does matter!
A brewer once told me that brewers never get arthritis because of the anti-arthritic properties of beer. I don't know if it's true or not, but my arthritis in my knees doesn't seem to have gotten worse since I started. At least, I no longer feel any pain. I've been hung over a number of times, but only because my beer is so good. And after I'm done worshipping the porcelain throne, a little hair of the dog always cures what ails me.
Several years ago, I started making my own beer and selling it at the Farmer's market. Click HERE for information on my beer and how to purchase it.
I have three vats, but my first vat is still the crappiest beer producer. Beer vats take a while to get established and each vat has its own peculiarities. My other vats are traditional Langstroth vats, which are basically just metal kegs I found behind the quickieserv beverage barn.
Each vat is its own little microcosm. I think not washing them makes the beer better. Beer habitats consist of the yeast queen (more on her later), a small number of horny males who only go after the hops, and worker yeast. Worker yeast are all sisters in bondage and all little yeasties are daughters of the yeast queen. Worker yeast are what make a good beer good. Without them, all you would have are dead plants floating in water.