California Ale
Telegraph Brewing Company

California AleCalifornia Ale
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Style:
Belgian Pale Ale
Ranked #300
ABV:
6.2%
Score:
82
Ranked #39,673
Avg:
3.63 | pDev: 15.43%
Reviews:
66
Ratings:
135
From:
Telegraph Brewing Company
 
California, United States
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  7
Gots
  26
SCORE
82
Good
California AleCalifornia Ale
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 135 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by kojevergas:
Photo of kojevergas
3.15/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Taphouse_Traveler
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BeerManDan
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

When poured in the glass, the color was a reddish brown with a load of foam and a fair amount of lace. The smell citrus and hops was sort of weak and not impressive. The taste of hops, citrus and a yeasty carbonation. As this ale warmed up the carbonation and flavors became more softer and not as bitter as when first poured.

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Photo of bigbelcher
2.81/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I don't get the name on this beer at all. It is California Ale but there is nothing California about it. The brewer called it a farmhouse ale but it isn't anything like a farmhouse ale either.

Color is a dark amber color with a huge white overcarbonated head. Aroma is of yeasty bubble gum with no hop or other spices. CO2 was over the top but the mouthfeel was light with no Belgian lacing. Flavor was slightly caramel with Belgian yeast notes. I wasn't very impressed by this beer.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.05/5  rDev -16%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ripe tangerine with barely perceptible showers of superfine yeast. I'm sure there will be more yeast on subsequent pours (note: there isn't). The softly creamy crown is slightly more beige than eggshell and looks pretty good as it deflates. I could be looking at an Oktoberfest, a bock, an amber ale or any number of other styles.

The aroma is slightly more toasted than (but is otherwise similar to) a Belgian pale ale. It smells like a spicy yeast strain was used and there's a fair amount of earthy-musky fruit. Farmhouse funk is nowhere to be found. In the end, the nose falls short in the personality department.

California Ale does not fit neatly into any single style (the brewery admits as much). The flavor is most similar to the small handful of 'Belgian amber ales' that I've had. The malt is almost as toasted, as earthy and as nutty as it is in many Oktoberfests.

A peanut brittle-like flavor and sweetness is perfectly balanced by bitterness and spice. It's difficult to know if the spiciness is due to the yeast or the hops. Probably both. This is good beer, but it doesn't have the chops (depth and complexity) to hang with the world's best. Or the country's best, for that matter.

The mouthfeel is pretty good if judged in isolation. It's medium in heft, is slightly slick on the finish, and is softly bubbled. If judged strictly as a saison (note: the style has since been changed to California Common), the score would be one notch lower due to a lack of fluffiness and energy.

California Ale's biggest assets are its uniqueness and its drinkability. I'm having a pretty good time with this '750', but have no desire to buy another bottle. It will be interesting to taste Telegraph's take on a few other styles.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$7.49 for a 750 ml bottle at Lone Hill Liquor in Glendora, May 2008.

Pours a medium amber, more biere de garde looking than saison. A low-moderate carbonation requires a hard pour ro get a head, but once it's there, it lasts a long time.

Aroma of butterscotch and bready malts, a bit of organic tartness alongside.

Flavor is a nice malt mix with a yeasty, slightly herbal tones, and a tart, almost sour ending (after a slightly sweet beginning). Interesting and enjoyable, a bit plain and toned down for my style, but easily drinkable.

Good stuff.

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Photo of Zorro
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ML from the San Luis Obispo BevMo.

Near clear amber colored ale with a tall off-white to tan colored head that dissipates fairly fast. Quite dark for a beer in the Saison category. Amber might be generous and maybe I ought to be calling this a brown colored beer. But there is a bit too much orange in there to really call it brown.

The smell is a little sweet and spicy with the flowery aroma that you would expect from a beer of this type. Quite spicy for this beer type and much more like a Belgian pale in this respect. Lots of pepper and a little cinnamon and coriander.

The taste begins dry and quite spicy and a little bitter. Quite a smack in the mouth taste-wise this is certainly no mild and subtle beer this really gets your attention. Dry and peppery and solidly bitter this isn't a Saison with lots of subtle flavors this is the type that stuns you mouth with the power of it. Definitely at the extreme end of Saison flavor.

The mouthfeel is rather thick for the style.

Drinkability is always subjective to the drinker but for this beer it will be more so. Very powerfully flavored this is comparable to Imperial IPA in its flavor intensity. I would have to call this an extreme beer and the strongest flavored Saison I have ever tasted. If you want a mild flowery beer then THIS is NOT the beer for you. I you like EXTREME beers then this IS a beer for you.

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Photo of travolta
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance:
Very nice and slightly cloudy orange brown. Head is frothy and off white.

Nose: Clean and clear wheat and grass. Slightly malty undertone.

Taste: Wet at first, but gets dryer to a clean finish. Some orange at the end, with wheat or dry grain in the middle.

Notes: a smooth and crisp type of beer. I was not blown over, but did enjoy the quality.

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Photo of brentk56
2.86/5  rDev -21.2%
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

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Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at biegaman's super extravaganza spring Saison tasting! Biegaman cracked this one open.

Pours a cloudy orange/brown, thin off white head, lace spots, settles to a thin layer, head lasts. Smell is neat, sweet, honey, bit of funk, sour fruity middle, citrus/lemons, kind of yeasty. Taste is similar, malty, wheat, citrus, sourness, floral and fruit, bit of vanilla, yeast and fruits in the finish, decent complexity, flavours work well together. Mouthfeel is light bodied with medium carbonation, good drink, easy to put down and refreshing for the heat. Thanks Jan!

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Photo of SBPCGuru
4.5/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer out of a growler at the brewery on 5/19/06 for a tasting party.

Color is dark caramel. Flavorful and delicious beer. Medium carbonation makes a great mouthfeel. Medium head retention with slight lacing down the glass. Very well balanced (malt & hops) beer. Would drink again for sure.

This beer fits the Amber Ale / Siason category and is not your ordinary beer by any means. This says a lot since I have sampled over 200+ beers from local and global breweries. When I find a beer that impresses me, I let everyone know it. Take my guidance and try this beer on draft or pickup a growler at the brewery.

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Photo of sloejams
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had this beer now several times and each time I find myself enjoying it more. My brother now lives in Santa Barbara; so one fine sunny afternoon while visiting him, we biked over to the Telegraph Brewery. It's a small operation that offers tastings - I definitely recommend swinging by if in SB.

Since then I've been seeing their quality beers popping up throughout Los Angeles and more often than not - it's this one.

It's darker and a bit maltier than a traditional saison. In fact, there's no indication by Telegraph themselves that this is a saison. The rest of the elements certainly suggest it though. It has the pepper and citrus tones. A flavor that is quite complex but enjoyed so simply. The malty edge Telegraph infuses will probably be a bit confusing initially - for me the first two times I've tried it. But it warms up to you and you can easily see how this helps it transcend to a be a beer that can be enjoyed all year round.

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Photo of plaid75
1.99/5  rDev -45.2%
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.

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Photo of 2beerdogs
3.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of bjohnson
1.78/5  rDev -51%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Pours a dark amber color with a slight haze. Puffy half finger white head. An interesting color for a saison--even though above it says they aren't marketing it as such. The wtf is this? Aromas of strong bubblegum and fruit notes. Candied sugar belgian esters with a sharp hop presence.

Yikes. Carbonation blast up front almost made me gag. Candied sugar malt notes with hints of caramel and bubblegum. Carbonation dries out the taste buds and leaves the a grassy like bitterness with a slight yeasty residue. Mouthfeel is actually a tad light despite the earthy flavors. I'm not sure what this beer is striving to emulate. A houblon chouffe or a spicy dubbel. It's not very well balanced with aspects crossing over many different styles. Suffice it to say, my drain was thirsty. Saison? definitely not. a mess? yep.

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Photo of MiScusi
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Father's Office in Santa Monica, CA. Poured light brown and had lots of earthy and spicy character to it. Thought there was quite a resemblance to the Russian River Perdition I had earlier. Carbonation was very lively and on the higher side. I have to go with an all around good for this beer because I think it could be an exceptional one to start a night out with. I will need to sample this again to pick up it's nuances.

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Photo of grub
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

group tasting may 26/07 with biegaman, Viggo, Lexx, crwills, [email protected], [email protected], and me (grub). everybody threw something into the mix and we had a great lineup of beer. biegaman contributed this one, so thanks jan!

750ml bottle, corked and caged.

pours reddish amber colour, getting lighter and more hazy towards the bottom of the bottle. very small white head drops fast and leaves no lace.

aroma is nice. bit of malt vinegar. light lemony sourness. bit of funk. light cracker malt. bit of citrus character.

taste is good. light cracker malt. bit of lemony sourness. medium-low bitterness level. touch of orange and grapefruit.

mouthfeel is good. medium carbonation level. fairly light bodied with a dry finish.

drinkability is good. balanced and interesting beer.

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Photo of kirok1999
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Haven't had too many Saisons. Pours a bubbly copper with a large rising off white head. Smells of grass, wheat and a slight sweetness.
Tastes wheaty, grassy, some mild funky Belgian notes, strong and slightly bitter aftertaste, slightly sour and astringent. Feels slightly bready, bubbly as well.
Easy to drink, especially with some strong cheese and crackers.

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Photo of magictrokini
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Surprising beer. Pours clear copper with a big white head. Spicy hop and malt nose; akin to a Sierra Nevada. The taste is very smooth. Sweet malt and crisp hops, nice balance of citrus and resin, with a very distinctive finish. Sour, funky, bretty, and delicious. Its like a Flemish take on an APA. Neither overrun the other, but instead bring out the best in both.

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Photo of biegaman
3.63/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of crwills
4.1/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasting at biegaman's place with grub, viggo, lexx, blankboy (RB), and tupalev (RB). I didn't write down who brought what, unfortunately, so thanks everyone!

Poured a mildly cloudy brown with no head at all -- but still looks very nice, great colour! Aroma is floral hops and a slightly sour tinge, and the flavour carries this excellently. Funky saison aroma, more hops in the flavour than I'd expect, but the uniqueness made it great. Bitter, crisp aftertaste.

My highest rated beer of the tasting! Good stuff!

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Photo of rallison
4.18/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Z's Taphouse in Goleta. Served in a 20 ounce hefeweizen style glass. Served a bit too cold, although not as cold as some places do...at least the glasses weren't chilled. Thank you Z's.

A: Nice semi-cloudy brown/red color with a 1/4" white head that stays as lacing throughout the whole session.

S: This was the only area that was not too impressive. Picked up some standard maltiness, nothing out of the ordinary here.

T: Interesting. That is my first impression. It really is an amber meets a saison, like other people have said. And this exact description was used by me while drinking it, only to come on here and see that as a common thread. But it's quite true. You get a good amber ale basically in the malt bill, but then get just a hint of the funky characteristics of belgian saison yeasts plus a nice spiciness. It really is a nice combo. And it's perfectly balanced, with just the right amount of carbonation. If more ambers had these extra characteristics, I'd be drinking a lot more ambers!

M: Very good. Body is consistent with the good amber ales.

D: Definitely very good. The perfect balance of this beer keeps it very sessionable. Extremely drinkable.

I know this beer is very local, but I'm glad to see another Santa Barbara brewer doing some interesting things. I'm really looking forward to trying their porter. I have high hopes based on this beer and the reviews for the porter. I'd recommend giving this a try if you come through the Santa Barbara County region. Or trade for a bottle, as these are bottled (distribution is extremely limited though).

So yes, recommended.

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Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
3.11/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served cold on tap in 23 oz shaker.

Appearance: Dark amber and slightly hazy. No appreciable head and little lace.

Nose: Yeasty and grainy, more like a fermentation than finished beer. Also plenty of juicyfruit.

Taste: Malty, consistent with the color and fruity.

Mouthfeel, nice and filling with reasonable bitterness.

Overall: Maybe an attempt to brew an American amber ale with weissbier yeast?

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 750ml corked bottle poured into a nonic pint glass. The saison appears a cloudy golden amber color with about two fingers of fluffy bone white foam. Smells and tastes of sweet citrus such as orange peel, sour lemon, yeast, slightly peppery, mildly sour. A notch better than medium bodied with more than ample carbonation for a saison. Not too bad.

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California Ale from Telegraph Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 135 ratings