We spend a lot of time talking about beers that are a bit “out there.” Beers with cucumber or salted caramel. Beers that top 20% ABV, and throwback beers that recreate styles from past centuries. It’s the nature of the job; we’re always looking for beers that are left to center. Beers that have a story to them. So it’s easy to overlook a pale ale that’s, well, just a pale ale, even when it’s from a standout brewery like Creature Comforts. A standard pale can get pushed to the back of the fridge. Passed over for beers with Fruit Loops or ginseng root. Basically, I’m giving you an excuse here, because I should’ve reviewed Automatic weeks ago. But you see, Automatic isn’t a spiced, fruity pale ale. There’s no habanero or mango in the mix. There aren’t even any experimental hops in play here. Just Mosaic and Crystal. But when you do everything right, the way Creature Comforts does in Automatic, you don’t need to travel to the left of center to make a compelling beer.
Automatic is a seasonal pale released for the dog days of summer. It pours a little hazy, and lands on the copper side of yellow, with a thin white head that dissipates pretty quickly. The nose is subtle, but enticing, and all citrus. The malt bill is sturdy, providing a round mouthfeel before transitioning into something zippy on the backend. The Mosaic and Crystal hops deliver plenty of fruit; I get a bit of lemon, as well as something on the sweeter end of the citrus spectrum. Let the beer warm and the fruit comes out to play even more. There’s just a faint hint of bitterness that lingers after an incredibly zesty finish.
Automatic is balanced and straightforward. It’s crisp and light. It’s the kind of beer you can go back to again and again. And I gotta say, I dig the can as much as I like the beer. The design was inspired by the ‘40s era Chevy dealership that Creature Comforts now calls home. As for the name, it’s a direct reference to the slogan of a local restaurant, which also served as the inspiration for REM’s Automatic for the People.
My only complaint about Automatic, is that it’s only seasonal. I have need for a solid pale ale like this year round. Scratch that, the world has need for a solid pale ale like this year round. Why tease us and only release it for a few months during summer?
Brewery: Creature Comforts
City: Athens, Ga.
Style: Pale Ale
Availability: Seasonal, 12 oz. cans.