I’m also new to brewing, but i concur with Don Cuz … i’m currently brewing with two simultaneous one-gallon batches and i’m no where close to the point where i don’t need to buy beer anymore. Let’s say your 5-gal yields you 50 bottles … average just 1-2 beers a day and you’ll drink at the rate you’re brewing. Personally, i’ll be investing in 5-gal equipment as soon as i have the cash and some solid recipes/consistency.
That being said, I have a recipe book geared towards 1-gal batches, but it also details 5-gal versions, which are essentially exactly the same times 5 (at least when it comes to the grain). I’m assuming the same could work in reverse, and i just today tried scaling a five-gallon recipe down to one (brewing with 1/5 of the grain and hops… if you’re not all grain i imagine that extract should work on the same principle). I definitely made beer, and my pitch from 5 hours ago has already started bubbling … but it’s not the colour i expected, so i’m not sure whether that’s a ratio error i made in the downscale, or that’s just how the recipe is. Regardless, it looks like it will be drinkable, so I’m not terribly concerned. If you really want to try to downscale the batch, I say go for it and do what makes sense to you … just be open minded about the outcome and keep us posted on how it goes.