1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

California Ale - Telegraph Brewing Company

Not Rated.
California AleCalifornia Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

106 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 106
Reviews: 61
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 17.09%
Wants: 7
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Telegraph Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Telegraph California Ale is our flagship beer and is our interpretation of the unique ales that were commonly brewed up and down the West Coast in the 19th century. It is an unfiltered medium-bodied beer, with a rich amber color and a rocky, white head. The beer is crafted using domestic American ingredients and fermented with a unique yeast strain that accentuates the hoppy spiciness, while also imparting fruity and subtly tart flavors. The aromas are spicy and earthy, reminiscent of the rich agricultural valleys surrounding Santa Barbara.

(Beer added by: SBPCGuru on 03-15-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 106 | Reviews: 61 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of itsfreeasinbeer
4/5  rDev +12%

itsfreeasinbeer, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of JustinOSU99
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Yellowish - Amber, small light brown lacing, good carbonation
S: Yeast, Light cream, orange peel, lemon zest, barley, creamy malt
T: Grass clippings, yeast, grain, orange, lemon
M: Creamy yet carbonated. Starts out sweet, ends tart.
D: One and done, but a nice change of pace for me.

JustinOSU99, Dec 11, 2011
Photo of nanobrew
4/5  rDev +12%

nanobrew, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of rjlCO
5/5  rDev +40.1%

rjlCO, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of caseyoharaa
4/5  rDev +12%

caseyoharaa, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of micromaniac129
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours quite clear and has a amber hue. A super tall white head sits atop a massively carbonated brew. The white foamy cap doesn't fade but instead grows, now thats a carbonated beer.
Aroma is malty with a tad of spice and yeast.
Taste is dry with some caramel malts. Hop profile here is low with not much flavor although there is some bitterness. Towards the end I can pick p some grains or bread and biscuits. I found this beer to be extremly over carbonated, perhaps to much sugar, that produced way too much foam. There was an easy three fingers worth the whole time. I think it taste good on the whole and by reading other reviews I'll put this in the rereview list and check at a latter date.

micromaniac129, Nov 12, 2011
Photo of kojevergas
3.18/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

1 pint 9.4 fl oz brown glass bottle with a cork and screwcap top served into a N'ice Chouffe stem-goblet in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live.

A: Pours a one and a half finger head of slight cream, good thickness, and decent retention. Colour is a semitransparent light copper.

Sm: Light cream and barley. Some light raw or candied sugar. A bit yeasty. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Candy sugar, barley, light malt, and yeast. Pleasant but simple. Nicely balanced, but a bit edgy on the yeast end. Strangely built for the style. My main problem is its simplicity.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and sharp. Too thick for the lack of flavours and relatively low abv. Doesn't really suit the flavours.

Dr: Drinkable but forgettable. Pretty mediocre. If you're a hardcore fan of the style (if those exist!) you might like it, otherwise steer clear.

kojevergas, Nov 03, 2011
Photo of biegaman
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What is California Ale? Like the state itself, it's a diversity of colours that all sort of just come together. The glass is brimming with orange and reddish highlights awash against a tarnished golden backdrop. Ironically enough, it seems to appear darker when held into the light. Its head has great big bubbles in it that sit like giant boulders.

The beer may be called California Ale but it definitely smells more like it's Belgian - a peppery, effervescent bouquet let's known that this Golden State brew has implemented a little help from an old-world strain of yeast, one that surely speaks French or Flemish, but Spanish probably not. It has soft notes of bruised fruits and an overtly phenolic persona.

The zesty yeast keeps things interesting and lively on the palate. Alongside a bubbly, bottle-conditioned carbonation notes of apple and bruised fruit dance the Charleston, meanwhile subtle but peppery phenols poke away at your tongue little by little. Fortunately there's sweet, caramelly malts to keep them both in check, especially on the finish.

A beer like this, which has a lot of character packed into a relatively modest frame, is quite easy to drink. The malts are assertive with some toffee and bready notes, but they are by no means heavy. The spiciness you become immune to, a tolerance is built up over the course of the 750 ml. It's pleasant and while more flavourful, still has mainstream appeal.

California Ale is a nice, albeit everyday kind of beer. While nothing extraordinary, it is, like a good brand of table wine, something worth stocking the house with if only to be enjoyed casually and often, best amongst a group and over a nice meal. Beer culture would be much improved if this (and not light lagers) were found in the fridges of average Americans.

biegaman, Jul 31, 2011
Photo of weazal
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

SMELL: Overwhelmingly bright, pretty sweet tangerine aroma. Reminds me of a Belgium Triple.

TASTE: Mmm, nice full soft mouthfeel with a tangy, bright nature. A bit dry finish makes for a clean, yet not to quick tasting. Fun and a bit sour. Easy, flavorful, and drinkable. A good introductory "good" beer.

weazal, Jul 16, 2011
Photo of jwinship83
3/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

750ml corked and caged bottle that i picked up at the naperville whole foods. i didnt know that this brand was sold in illinois and havnt seen it anywhere else. batch 72. drank out of my samuel adams perfect pint glass.

A- this one pours out a translucent light copper colored body with a small off-white head made up of very tightly knit bubbles. the head has above average retention and leaves behind a nice wall of lacing.

S- the first thing i notice about the nose is yeast. very spicy smelling with plenty of fresh cracked pepper. theres also almost a brett like odor. toasted bread malts. earthy and spicy hops at the end.

T- the spice that i could smell comes back in force in the taste. very spicy and peppery. after that i get some toasted bread malts and a slight nuttiness. earthy hops and more spice at the end.

M- the body is on the lower side of medium. the carbonation is very high.

O- overall i think they need to tone the spices down in this one. theyre very strong and make this seem pretty one dimensional. the price isnt bad (i think i paid around $9 for this bottle which is cheaper than most 750s) but i still dont see myself picking this up again.

jwinship83, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of BucBasil
3.73/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a pint glass at a restaurant in Malibu. Reviewed from some quick notes jotted down on a receipt.

S: slight fruit hint, especially citrus. Bready balance.

T: Some pine, more fruit - not just citrus but a full array, incl. apple. Finishes with some spice and bread. Gingerbread in the finish.

A little thin, but tasty. Good beer, if a little hard to pin down. Went well with my meal.

BucBasil, May 24, 2011
Photo of bbb099
4.22/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared w/ mjyoung

A - Cloudy copper color with foamy, white colored head.

S - Dominated by fruity aroma with citrus hops and toasted grains smell on the side.

T - Mild flavors of yeast, cereal, and sweet malt. Ends on a slightly hoppy note. More flavorful than the well known Anchor Steam.

M - High amount of carbonation. Medium bodied. Not bad at all.

O - One of the better California commons out there. Definitely recommend a try.

bbb099, May 09, 2011
Photo of brentk56
2.8/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: It's a looker, with a huge head sitting atop the clear amber liquid; great retention and lacing

Smell: Toast, Granny Smith apples, horseblanket and a flinty aspect

Taste: The carbonation is so high that it is hard to discern the flavor elements up front, but once the bubbles settle down, the Brett and Granny Smith apple flavors take over; the lemony tartness builds, after the swallow and the finish is chalky

Mouthfeel: Overcarbonated, with a medium body

Drinkability: At first I thought that perhaps I had a bad bottle, but then I read a number of other reviews; I wasn't expecting a sour but this beer is way out there; the label says that it is subtly tart but there is nothing subtle about this one; I have had a number of sours and keep trying to like this one in that context but I am afraid I cannot

brentk56, Mar 04, 2011
Photo of ELDAVIS69
4.8/5  rDev +34.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is probably one of my favorite Telegraph beers. 750ml poured into my super classy HOTD tulip, the beer pours an intense amber hue with great head retention. Smell is that of yeast & honey with a dash of farm animal. Taste is superb I'm diggin the yeasty spiciness/funk, overall a damn good beer from an under appreciated local brewery.

ELDAVIS69, Feb 27, 2011
Photo of Kc12349
2.28/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance: average looking, amber, slightly cloudy
Smell: sweet and acidic
Taste: again acidic overtones are a bit overwhelminh
Mouthfeel: thin with little head
Drinkability: a struggle to continue after half a glass

I gave this a try because the label looked respectable enough and on the whim that it was named after the state of my youth. It took me a couple sips to decide on it, but it grew quickly tiresome. I regretting buying the wine size bottle I had purchased. I am unsure in retrospect if the beer had gone bad or if it was intended to taste as acidic as it did. Regrettably I lean towards the later.

Kc12349, Feb 26, 2011
Photo of 55bob
1.68/5  rDev -52.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Bought a 750ml bottle. Really nice label and bottle with corkage. Store presentation is very inviting. My compliments to the label artists and sales team.

First I could barely open this bottle. The cork was fit so tightly. I actually looked for a pair of pliers for assistence. The cork gave way to a loud pop---over carbonated I thought and I was right.

Pourd into a pint glass about 1/2 full becasue the rest was light fizzy head whcih settled quite quickly. Aroma was of yeast and also sour. Not just yeast but really off. Taste was off also. Tasted like spoiled homebrew. I only had a home brew taste this bad once and I dumped the entire batch which is alos what I did with this bottle.

To give the benefit of doubt to the brewery this could have been a older bottle from a single batch that suffered quality control issues. I'll try more of thier beers before passing judgement on the entire brewery.

55bob, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of Hojaminbag
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Telegraph California Ale has a hazy gold to yellow body with a small white head. Retention and lacing are both ok.

Interesting aroma. Some citrus hops, pale malt and a little bit of brett.

I've heard of Telegraph brewing before, but I knew nothing about this beer when I ordered it at a small beach-side bar. Based on the name I assumed it was a steam beer, and it had some steam characteristics, but it also has similarities to a Belgian Saison. The strongest flavor is the musty, horsey flavor of brett, which also makes this beer extremely dry. I like the brett, it was a pleasant surprise, and it is there in just the right dose. Besides the brett there is a little bit of lightly tart fruit, a light, pale malt backbone and just a little nip of citrus and bitterness from the hops.

Bone dry with fairly active carbonation.

This beer doesn't really fit into any style guidelines, but it was definitely enjoyable.

Hojaminbag, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of ibbjamin
2/5  rDev -44%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A workmate gave me this 750ml bottle to try and get back to him on its quality. Apparently the brewer is a friend of his mother. I told him I'd give my honest opinion. Poured into a pils glass.

Pours leaving a standard sized fizzy off white head. Transparent and golden yellow in color. Minimal head retention.

I detect a lot of Belgian yeast and bready hints in the nose. Banana peel, clove, grassy hops and white grape as well. Reminds me more of a tripel than anything.

Taste is off to me. Hard for me to describe, I mean some of the characteristics I noted in the nose, but much more confused.

Mouth is lighter body with a somewhat watery medium finish. A bit funky, but to me, this is not the good kind of funk I have become fond of.

I will gladly try another of their beers, maybe even this one again. I am hoping this may just be a bad batch or something because this one just can't be right.

ibbjamin, Nov 04, 2010
Photo of plaid75
1.98/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

On draft at Toronado, San Francisco, CA.

Poured a dark copper hue with a half finger foamy white head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured doughy malts and bret.

The taste consisted of an unpleasant tartness.

The mouthfeel was average for the style with a moderate astringency.

Overall a confused steam beer. Not very good.

plaid75, Oct 16, 2010
Photo of wedgie9
3.15/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tasted from bottle at Lush West Town. Pours clear amber with a medium off-white head that leaves heavy lace. Nose is fairly light with some caramel malt and a bit of non-descript fruitiness, black licorice, and something metallic. Flavor is slightly tart up front with the malt and yeast kicking in heavily on the middle and finishing with solid bitterness, and the metallic flavor comes through as well. The body is medium with lively carbonation and a long, bitter finish.

wedgie9, Sep 27, 2010
Photo of Halcyondays
4.2/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle,

A: Pours amber with a frothy almost gushing white head, fair retention.

S: Yeasty white pepper, almost Bretty, hay.

T: Candied oranges, rum, tangerine. Yeasty, rustic flavour. Saison like for sure.

M: Nice full carbonation, but not over the top. Full-bodied, crisp.

D: An intriguing beer. Very tasty, another winner from Telegraph. I don't know why it is listed as a Common, it's an ale and Telegraph says it's in the farmhouse style. Whatever its true style it's good stuff.

Halcyondays, May 01, 2010
Photo of misinformed
3.08/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Hazy, medium amber. Vigorous carbonation. Practically foamed out of the glass as I poured it. After it settled, I was left with a light brown head about two fingers high.

S- Very faint and light smell that is generally sweet. I got a background of dry hay or grain, but not much else worth mentioning.

T- Very light tasting, almost lacking in any distinguishable character. Starts with sweet malts and finishes bitter with a trace of yeast. Some slight citrus notes and a bit of grains in the aftertaste, but mostly just a pleasant bitter finish.

M- Lots of nice carbonation. Very smooth and light-bodied, but verging on medium territory. Refreshing and not too dry.

D- Smooth and easy to drink. I drank a whole glass trying to nail down any distinct flavor in this. I liked this better than their Golden Wheat Ale which I also tried recently, but it didn't do too much for me otherwise. I probably won't pick it up again, but I am glad I tried it.

misinformed, Mar 22, 2010
Photo of RoyalT
3.05/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - This poured a deep orangish-brown with an overly-explosive head.

Smell - The light, easy grain that typifies the style was present but trounced by a heavy yeast aroma.

Taste - The yeast came on way too strong and ruined the delicate balance of this ale.

Mouthfeel - This is a bit bigger than light-bodied but I wouldn't say medium. It had some nice carbonation and no bitterness.

Drinkability - The grain base of this ale was wonderful but the heavy yeast character ruined the experience.

RoyalT, Feb 21, 2010
Photo of RaulMatisse
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In the interest of full disclosure, I once called Santa Barbara home and am rightfully stoked to have a grassroots craft brewer in the area.

With that being said, we begin...

Enjoyed on tap on-site at Telegraph. The brewer (sorry, I've forgotten your name) explained that he was particularly impressed with this batch.

A :: Deep, unfiltered apple juice.

S :: Spiced cider and candied sweet potatoes. Swirl your Telegraph tulip and you'll be presented with orange peels, cinnamon, and cloves.

T :: Belgian candi sugar on the nose, followed by a quick, sharp hop bite, all mellowed by citrusy Belgian yeast. A long finish is complimented by maple syrup and sweet starches. 

D :: The modest ABV allows me to ride away swiftly on my bicycle to mercury lounge (great Belgian selection). As an aside, California Ale reminds me of a lighter version of The Bruery's Autumn Maple. But, to the task at hand, I'd quickly return to this ale as a highly quaffable and throughly enjoyable California/Belgian hybrid (unsure why it is classified as a steam beer on BA).

RaulMatisse, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of SBBeer
4.43/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Let me start off by saying this beer is a staple in my quiver. While mentioned repeatedly as a saison, it has a much maltier character then your typical farmhouse ale.

This one of those beers that you need to get to know. At first it may seem a bit strange in that it doesn't clearly remind you of a beer you know. In the same vein at first look it appears to be a brown ale with a thin white head. After your taste you quickly realize it is nothing like a brown ale but instead fits smewhere in the belgian world

After one or two you can really appreciate the subtle characteristics of this fine beverage. I highly recommend this beer and a trip to the brewery will make your SB trip.

SBBeer, Oct 17, 2009
California Ale from Telegraph Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 106 ratings.