California Ale | Telegraph Brewing Company

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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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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 132
Photo of 55bob
1.7/5  rDev -52%
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 Hojaminbag
3.88/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of ibbjamin
2.06/5  rDev -41.8%
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 plaid75
1.99/5  rDev -43.8%
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 wedgie9
3.16/5  rDev -10.7%
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 Halcyondays
4.19/5  rDev +18.4%
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.

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Photo of misinformed
3.08/5  rDev -13%
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 RoyalT
3.05/5  rDev -13.8%
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 RaulMatisse
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
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).

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Photo of SBBeer
4.34/5  rDev +22.6%
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 -28%
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 -20.6%
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 illidurit
3.68/5  rDev +4%
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 -4.5%
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 -1.7%
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 +9.9%
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 +16.4%
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 -9.9%
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 +13%
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 +13%
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 -29.7%
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 -2%
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 -22.9%
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 -0.3%
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 +3.1%
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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California Ale from Telegraph Brewing Company
3.54 out of 5 based on 132 ratings.
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