Discussions of styles can be pedantic and pointless, especially when it comes to something like this beer. Beer Advocate and Rate Beer both classify it as a California Common (typified by Anchor Steam), but the defining characteristic of that style is that it’s brewed with Lager yeast at Ale temperatures, and according to Telegraph, they use their house yeast for this beer (which is descended from a Belgian ale strain). I’m guessing it gets classified that way because Telegraph also says it’s an “interpretation of the unique ales that were commonly brewed up and down the West Coast in the 19th century”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to style. I’ve also seen folks call this a Belgian Pale Ale, a Belgian Amber (both of which would work, I guess), and of course, a saison (because what beer can’t be classified as a saison?) Well, whatever. Styles can give you a good idea what you’re in for, but in cases like this, the lack of agreement on styles seems to tell you something too.
Telegraph has only recently begun distributing out here (in the past year or so), though at this point, I’ve had all three beers I’ve seen available. Telegraph Reserve Wheat was a total eye opener, a Berliner Weisse that’s tart but very well balanced. Los Padres Ale was a spot-on saison style beer (inasmuch as a saison can be). And now this… difficult to categorize beer, Telegraph’s flagship brew:
Telegraph California Ale – Pours a golden amber color with tons (let’s say 3 fingers) of big bubbled, foamy white head. Smells of earthy, musty Belgian yeast, a hint of spice, and maybe even some citrus fruitiness. The taste is sweet, a little bit of earthy hops, perhaps some nuttiness and again with the light citrus fruit character. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, almost effervescent, but really well balanced. Goes down pretty easy. Overall, I’m really enjoying this beer. Not a face melter, but a well crafted, balanced, complex, all around good beer! A-
Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/23/12. Batch No. 85.
I will most certainly be keeping an eye out for more Telegraph brews and I’m especially hoping to get me some of that Gypsy Ale that everyone raves about (apparently a fall seasonal)…
4 thoughts on “Telegraph California Ale”
That is an attractive beer. Why do you lucky cats get all the new toys?
It’s not luck! Ok, it’s luck. These suckers aren’t that easy to come by though, even here. Still, at this point, I don’t think I can ever complain about beer not being distributed here. I’ve had a pretty darn good run this year. But who am I kidding, I’m sure I’ll whine at some point that I can’t find me any Stormaktsporter. The grass is greener, I guess.
This is an excellent beer that is overlooked in Southern California. The whole brewery is underrated. It also reminded me of a Belgian style. Gypsy is excellent, and now I want to try the Los Padres Ale.
Judging from how my personal experience matches with the reviews on Beer Advocate (usually a tricky proposition), I’d have to agree that Telegraph is underrated. I totally lucked into Los Padres, which happened to be one of the three beers on tap at some random restaurant I went to (the fact that all 3 beers were good craft offerings was a happy accident). Haven’t seen it anywhere else though. I’m really hoping some Gypsy makes its way East this year… but at this point, I’ll probably snap up anything I see from Telegraph…