California Ale | Telegraph Brewing Company

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California AleCalifornia Ale
133 Ratings
California AleCalifornia Ale

Brewed by:
Telegraph Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

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.

Added by SBPCGuru on 03-15-2006

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 133 |  Reviews: 66
Photo of 55bob
1.7/5  rDev -52.8%
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.

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Photo of bjohnson
1.78/5  rDev -50.6%
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 plaid75
1.99/5  rDev -44.7%
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 ibbjamin
2.06/5  rDev -42.8%
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.

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Photo of Kc12349
2.33/5  rDev -35.3%
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.

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Photo of getkrunkhoe
2.49/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

11-15-08 @brewery

This beer was not impressive for me. I know its won awards and it's their flagship beer but... not what I expected.

Appearance- was a nice light brown to orange glow,
Rocky head, yet nice retention.

Smell- was skunky or bitter not in a pleasing way though. Lots of spice characters, and I dont know what hops they used for this ale but I detected Chinook Hops(overdone)

Taste- a Bitter, disturbing taste. I got a bit of clove, pepper, maybe grapefruit or grapefruit rind, Chinook hops. Just wasn't a balanced beer.

Mouthfeel- was decent, sat well, could be refreshing if improved.

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Photo of tyanow
2.55/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I really want to love this brewery. Really!

I wish I had a ll great things to say about them but so far I have yet to be overly impressed.

This California Ale is so airy and gassy that it is hard for me to even rate, but here's the lowdown based on my one bottle experience.

I do not know how anyone can call this a saison. It has no grassy spiciness and no rustic flavor. If you put this in front of me in a blind taste test, I'd call this an ajunct lager.

It was stored in my beer fridge for a couple of weeks, but when I popped the cork, the thing foamed over and made a mess of my floor, my shirt and my table - bad start.

Once I got that under control, and waited for a a half a glass of foam to settle down I got to see the lovely amber color of the ale. If is filled with a lot of tiny fast moving bubbles.

The taste.... um well... there isn't much of one. Maybe a little yeast but it's hard to tell through all of that foam. Kind of reminded me of Gennesse which i haven't sipped in 25 years.

The worst part for sure is the mouthfeel. it's like filling your mouth up with soda pop and swishing it around your mouth for a minute. It's so lively yest with no payoff.

Clearly this is not on my recommended list.

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
2.73/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: snifter. pours a nice burnt sienna color w/ vibrant red notes. nice off-white head. decent retention..faint lacing, ring like.

S: nice tart, fruity aromas. some apples, and spices. some sourness.

T: very tart fruit flavors. light pepper, some metallic tones. decent sour notes.

M: medium to light bodied. palate is unappealing.

D: not terrible, but not for me. not a good rep of a saison.

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Photo of t0rin0
2.75/5  rDev -23.6%

Photo of bigbelcher
2.81/5  rDev -21.9%
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 Samuel906
2.82/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3


Light reddish brown with a ton of carbonation and head up front that leaves very light lacing. Very high clarity. A pretty nice color actually; looks more like iced tea than beer to be honest.


I'm can't really put my finger on it, but I do not like the smell of this beer, and for someone who likes gettin my nose up in that, it is a turnoff. And reading some of the other reviews, it sounds like this can be hit and miss. It was very muted, some yeast and citrus, green apples spices and cloves.


Pretty light, and super high carbonation. Refreshing, crisp, good very cold. The sweet leaves you feeling a little sticky.


Citrus... Yeast... Malt... Spices... Pretty simple but it works; clean, tasty and refreshing.


I'm honestly having a hard time calling this one... Very drinkable but very simple. Not an adventure for your taste-buds and it's not gonna get you very drunk. I liked it, something a little different, but I can't see myself every buying it again.

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Photo of brentk56
2.86/5  rDev -20.6%
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

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Photo of Sjsupolo
2.96/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Avg. but fine

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Photo of Beerswag
3/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of mpenske
3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of jwinship83
3.01/5  rDev -16.4%
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.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.05/5  rDev -15.3%
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 misinformed
3.08/5  rDev -14.4%
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.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.11/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap in Lodi.

Deep lightly cloudy golden iced-tea color with a half inch of dense head. Great film retention, wispy lace. Surprising amount of sugar and fruit, with a little bit of yeast and peppery spices coming through. The nose is a lighter version of this, and a bit grainy. Thicker mouthfeel than I was expecting with a creamy body and ample, fuzzy and frothy carbonation. Tingly at times. Not terrible but I didn’t really dig it.

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Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
3.11/5  rDev -13.6%
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 Rick778
3.15/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of kojevergas
3.15/5  rDev -12.5%
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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Photo of wedgie9
3.16/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

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Photo of throwitallaway
3.18/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought from South Bay Liquor. Poured from a 750ml. bottle into a pint glass. Amber color with a small head that recedes quickly. Unless my nose isn't working properly today, this isn't the most aromatic beer. I get vague notes of spice and sour. Taste starts off with spice and sour and then transitions to fruitiness that's backed up with malts. Some hop bitterness too. The mouthfeel is on the thin side unfortunately. Overall this beer is a little hollow and boring. The taste and mouthfeel simply aren't full enough. Bummer.

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California Ale from Telegraph Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.6 out of 5 with 133 ratings