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California Ale | Telegraph Brewing Company

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California AleCalifornia Ale
132 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 132 |  Reviews: 66
Photo of SBBeer
4.34/5  rDev +20.6%
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.

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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 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 illidurit
3.68/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy bulletrain76. Pours a hazy, opaque, orange-copper color with a big billowing white head. Aromas of lemons and caramel, maybe orange zest too. Honeyed caramel malt flavor with a light lemony tinge on top. Some pepper and possibly clove too. Pours overly effervescent but after some time and swirling it becomes more drinkable.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.38/5  rDev -6.1%
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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Photo of Floydster
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle shared by Noah today, thanks again for picking this up on your way down from San Luis Obispo, poured into a Duvel tulip glass

A-Golden orange color, 1 1/2 inch creamy white head, decent retention, some lacing at first
S-Tons of earthiness, citrus, flowery accents, yellow fruits, yeast, a bit of funkiness, and light hops
T-Starts off with an earthy flavor, citrus and chewiness in the middle, finish is moderately funky with some hops providing a dry backbone along with floral aspects, gets a little sweeter as it warms, definitely remains earthy all the way through
M-Dry, rustic, funky, and yeasty mouthfeel, medium bodied, moderate to soft carbonation, taste lingers a little bit
D-Could have drank this bottle by myself and that is about it, pretty light overall but heavy for a saison at times, alcohol is hidden well and is smooth for the most part

Not what I was exppecting from the name or color, was a nice surprise though, not badly priced for its style around seven dollars either, would drink again, worth trying

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Photo of RichardWalter
3.89/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours tall. My glass was cold. Full pint glass with a little bit of lacey white foam that stays on the glass during the drink. Lighter reddish brown color. Opaque. No noticeable aroma.
Tastes full, hops, earthey, citrusy, hint of orange. Mouthfeel was also full with carbonation.
Great with fish tacos.

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Photo of ILikeGoodCider
4.12/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on Saturday, 2/7/09 in Camarillo, CA.

Served in a 16oz pint glass. Served at nice temp. I ordered a seared ahi tuna app to compliment.

A: Quasi-cloudy reddish-brown color w/ a 1/4" white head. Lacing throughout.

S: This was the only dissappointment, really. Not much to be had here.

T: Is it an amber? Is it a saison? amber/saison? As this is my favorite style, it startled me. Amber, malt, spice - a nice combination. Well-balanced. Carb was good. Imagine if more ambers took a page out of this book...

M: An amber consistency. Wonderful on the palate.

D: Strong drinkability. A session beer through-and-through. If JJ Brewsky's didn't have so many delicious selections, this would definitely have been ordered again (& again)!

Let me know if you want to trade. These folks are very limited on distro. Well-recommended!

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Photo of roblowther
3.19/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Ah! Saison. Couldn't place it. So much for my beer judging skills. It is a clear golden copper with a thin head, and it puts on a good carbonation show. The smell is caramel, pine, butter, and straw. (I guess I did pick up on something farm-ish after all). The taste is malty with a clean, crisp finish. It is a bit transparent, if I may use that term, and a touch metallic. The mouthfeel is nicely carbonated but a bit thin. The beer has good balance but finishes a bit harsh. All in all a decent brew, but not worth the price of the ticket to CA to get it.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very big thanks to a kind CA trader who sent me a bunch of these new beers to try. I was intriqued to say the least and dove into this one right first. Served chilled and poured into an oversized wine glass, this one was consumed on 12/22/2008.

The pour was very nice with a rich copper color coming through right away. Nice clarity to it really let the color shine through quite nicely. A small white head of foam rose up but quickly settled down into a light broken crown.

The aroma was very intresting I have to say. Rich notes of citrus hops, some light sour fruits and an abundance of grain notes. Carried over well into the flavor which I can only akin to a nice california steam beer with brett, super friggin cool. Smooth, mellow carbonation and a light body left this one with a nice clean taste to it. Very nice beer that was sippable despite low abv.

Overall I have to say this was a very nicely done beer. One of the most interesting light beers I have had and something of an enigma I have to say. Solid through and through and very much recommended.

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Photo of magictrokini
4/5  rDev +11.1%
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 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 number1bum
3.47/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one from BeerTruth, thanks man.

Pours a pretty clear amber color with a finger of off-white head that settles quickly and doesn't keep much of a lace or leave any stick.

Smell has some buttery toffee aromas, a subtle honey sweetness, some earthy yeast notes and has a bit of sourness.

Taste is the same as the smell really, with a subtly sweet honey/buttery caramel taste, a bit of fruitiness and some sourness. Barely any yeast character. Just a bit of spice. Overall, I suppose you could characterize this as subtle...I think I'd go with bland. Not terribly interesting, but it's smooth and drinkable.

The clarifying note here does help, because I was very puzzled that this was listed as a saison at first. The resemblance is a stretch, and the bottle itself doesn't make any mention of it being a saison, so I was scratching my head. Saison or not, it's a decent beer, but nothing to get excited about.

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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 barleywinefiend
3.53/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap from brewery.
Poured a nice amber color with a white rocky head. The beer is unfiltered, medium bodied. Nose has a fruity, spicyness with nice malts. Taste is good. hops and spiciness with a mix of fruits and tartness that is really good. Motuhfeel is good and sweet.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev +1.4%
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%
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 bulletrain76
3.98/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draught at the brewery. Clear orange color with a white head. Fruity and tart aroma with some spice and herbal hops. The flavor is dry and tart, but has a nice malt backbone supporting it. Really clean tasting. Unique and flavorful is the best way to describe it. Nice stuff, and I can;t wait to try it again.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.44/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My thanks to brianthompson for another chance at this beer. I graded it poorly the first time and I believe it was a bad bottle. He was kind enough to connect me with another. Instead of a second tasting, I will re-write my first.

Telegraph Apr 29, 2008

A - Murky golden honey. Not much head, leaves quick. Lacing almost non existent.

S - Pungent wild and barnyard, in a good way. Perfume too.

T - Thin malt center with lots of spice and wild yeast filling the ticket. Kind of one dimensional and watery at finish, but still pretty good.

M - Light, medium body, fair coating, good carbonation.

D - Not my style, but easy enough to quaff. Thanks again, brianthompson.

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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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Photo of sloejams
4.3/5  rDev +19.4%
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 kirok1999
3.63/5  rDev +0.8%
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 MiScusi
4/5  rDev +11.1%
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 Zorro
4.2/5  rDev +16.7%
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 Viggo
4/5  rDev +11.1%
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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California Ale from Telegraph Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.6 out of 5 with 132 ratings
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