Creature Comforts Automatic
Creature Comforts Automatic Pale Ale is out in cans for the second summer in a row. (Courtesy Creature Comforts Brewing Company)

It’s not often that a pale ale gets a lot of hype.

After all, it’s a pale ale. Drinkable and an entry level-type of craft beer. But when the crew from Athens, Georgia’s Creature Comforts makes one, it gets noticed. We talked to brewmaster Adam Beauchamp to get a look at Automatic.

Let’s talk Automatic – what was the inspiration for the recipe?

We wanted to make a modern pale ale with a significant hop presence in a balanced package with a luxurious mouthfeel.  We wanted no caramel or toasty malt contribution in order to let the hops sing.  When we developed the recipe lots of breweries were coming out with session India Pale Ale’s and we all thought of that style as a bit inauthentic.  People want to throw the letters IPA on everything that is even close to an IPA.  Pale ales were kind of getting left in the dust at the time and we felt that the beer we had in our heads was technically a modern interpretation of the pale ale.

A lot of people I talk to say that Automatic is like a mix between a classic pale ale and a hazy Northeast IPA. Is that what you’re going for?

I’d say Automatic does not share the maltiness or breadiness of a classic pale ale.  It has more hop aromatics than classic pale ales.  I suppose it is juicy like a lot of Northeast IPA’s and has a touch of haze from oats.  We were going for something unique, not necessarily a hybrid.  There are a few fairly similar examples around the country like some of Society’s or Hill Farmstead’s pales.

Automatic’s ABV is 5.2 – not a session, but close. What are some of the challenges getting a lot of flavor into a lower-ABV beer?

Big hop flavor and aroma can have a difficult time finding balance in a dry and moderate strength beer.  There is a certain amount of bitterness that is inevitable with the amount of hops we’re using.  We try and keep the bitterness quite restrained, and also provide big mouthfeel and some unfermentable malt sugars intact to support the hops.  Too often these type of beers end up tasting insipid to me, which is not a good thing.

What makes Automatic unique?

We selected Mosaic and Crystal hops specifically for this beer.  Both varieties that we selected exhibited very unique fruit character, which really shows through in the beer.  The Crystal has some interesting sweet strawberry notes, while the Mosaic we chose had less pungency than a lot of Mosaic crops and also showed some berry character.

Pale ales are usually not highly sought after, but are good, solid drinking beers. why do you think this one took off last year (and this year)?

I think the Georgia consumer base is interested in unique and new interpretation of styles, especially for hoppy beers.  The quality of the beer speaks for itself and we are usually getting beer to the consumer very quickly, leaving a ton of hop aroma intact.  Our sales and marketing team did a fantastic job with the roll out and explaining what we, the brewers, were going for.

The art – you usually try and use local artists for your cans. Who did you choose for this one and why?

Michelle Fontaine is an extremely talented painter based in Athens that sometimes does retro looking dreamscapes.  The design is partly an homage to our facility, being an old Chevrolet dealership built in the 40’s which later became a tire shop.

For us children of the 90s, “Automatic” harkens back to the classic REM album “Automatic For the People.” Were you going for that, or is there a different meaning to it?

The REM album actually references a saying that the owner of a local soul food restaurant is known for repeating to his customers.  When Dexter Weaver serves you in his restaurant Weaver D’s he usually says “Automatic!”  It has become sort of an Athens meme.  To me it means he’s serving great food that is automatically good every time you order it.  He’s serving the people every day. Hopefully we’re brewing quality beer for the people as well.

Have you considered putting this one out year-round?

We have.  No news on that front.

What’s coming up next for Creature Comforts?

Athena Paradiso will be returning this summer and we will have a few releases from our barrel program coming soon as well.

Aaron’s Take:

It’s a shame this one isn’t year round. When most people (myself included) think of the traditional Pale Ale, I’m looking at a relatively sessionable beer that I can enjoy when I’m doing other things, like grilling outside. Automatic is a great “drinkin'” pale, with a balance of mouthfeel and a definite lack of bitterness. But’s it’s also a beer that can be enjoyed completely on its own.

Automatic is now available on draft and shelves.