The Legacy Brewing Company in Reading, Pa., likes to take traditional styles of beer and flip them on their heads. The company has just recently started distribution in Massachusetts.


 

 


All varieties of beer are based on traditional styles.


Many breweries stick to those classics a nice, low-alcohol oatmeal stout, or a malty, red ale.


Other breweries, though, such as the Legacy Brewing Company in Reading, Pa., likes to take those traditional styles and flip them on their heads, brewer/owner Dave Gemmell said.


Although many breweries make so-called "extreme beers" beers that stray far from the norm with high alcohol content or different ingredients, Legacy takes on styles different from those usually made extreme.


"Most of what we've got going are the big beers," Gemmell said. "We do make a lot of big beers, but we also use quality ingredients."


Legacy recently began distributing its beers in Massachusetts. Gemmell said he did not think his 5-year-old brewery was ready to expand to this market, but Atlantic Importing of Framingham convinced him the beers could sell in the region.


Legacy has sent seven beers to the Bay State: Hoptimus Prime, Midnight Wit, Hedonism Ale, Euphoria Ale, Nor'Easter Ale and the Reading Premium Beer. And so far, Gemmell said, people have been extremely receptive.


The standout could be the Hedonism Ale. This is not the Irish red ale your father drank. Traditionally, red ales are highly malty and sweet, with a low hop profile.


Hedonism is nothing like that. Sure, there is a strong barley malt presence, but it's more bitter, with more flavorful hops than many double IPAs on the market.


The name Hedonism came about when employees had a conversation about the beer.


"We were kidding around and said 'It's like an orgy of ingredients,"' said Gemmell. "Literally, the name came from it being an orgy of ingredients. We packed this thing with malts and hops. There's not really a lot of good red ales out there and that's one of the things we wanted to try."


The label plays off the "orgy of ingredients" conversation. It has one cartoonish man getting kissed by two cartoonish women. There's even a poll on legacybrewing.com asking fans if the label is too racy.


Another new take on a traditional style is the Nor'Easter, a 7 percent alcohol by volume oatmeal stout. Oatmeal stouts are typically below 5 percent alcohol.


Despite the added alcohol, this was a wonderfully creamy, flavorful stout. And once you're past an odd, out-of-place sour smell upon the initial pour (which later disappeared), this is an excellent dessert beer.


"It's really a double oatmeal stout," said Gemmell. "There's not much like that in the market."


As a child growing up, I used to play with Transformers and watch the cartoon of the same name, so the name and label for Hoptimus Prime drew me to this double IPA right away.


For those who were not as much of a geek as I was as a kid: Optimus Prime was the leader of the Autobots, who were the good guys in the show.


The Hoptimus Prime label shows a giant replica of Optimus Prime, but instead of being made of metal, he is made from hop plants.


And while the label doesn't make the beer, the Hoptimus Prime is a solid double IPA.


The Midnight Wit, a Belgian-style wheat ale, is a nice delicate brew, while the Euphoria is a strong, Belgian ale.


Legacy's best-seller is the Reading Premium Beer. Gemmell said the now-defunct Reading Brewing Company was to Pennsylvania what Narragansett was to New England, a popular, regional brewery.


"I call it the beer that your grandfather used to drink," he said. "It's an all-malt beer, good tasting kind of a clean tasting pilsner beer. We can't keep it on the shelves. Locally, it put us on the map. People didn't know who we were. Then people started buying this, and saw our name on it, and now they're buying all of our other stuff."


Legacy Brewing Company beers are available currently at Marty's Liquors in Newton and Julio's Liquors in Westborough and several Boston-area stores. Several other stores are expected to pick up the beer in the coming weeks, including Liquor Worlds in Medway, Franklin and Milford and Warehouse Wine & Spirits in Framingham.


Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail nmiller@cnc.com or call 508-626-3823.Check out the Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/