I drank a lot of Colt 45 in my time. I don’t know if it was because Billy Dee Williams promoted it so well or if it was the fact that it cost something like 2 bucks for 40 ounces of malt liquor (probably number 2), but in my 20s I guzzled quite a bit of that stuff.
And it was terrible. Seriously just the worst. But someone had to actually come up with that recipe, and the guy who did was a ‘master brewer.’ He just died, at the age of 92. He was Peter J. Marcher.
The guy who brewed one of the consummate ghetto drinks was about as white as they come. While he was born in Indiana he couldn’t speak English when he first went to school because his parents spoke only German at home. Here’s a nice anecdote that sums up the party hardy lifestyle and mentality of Marcher:
While he ate breakfast in a local cafe each morning, an attractive woman passed by on her way to work at a nearby bank.
“He said that one morning, he made a mental note that he would have to look into that,’” his son said.
He would have to look into that! Play on, playa!
That woman of course became his wife. After WWII, where he was stationed in Iran, guarding oil pipelines, Marcher got into brewing. He worked at Rheingold for a while before moving to Baltimore and becoming master brewer for the National Brewing Company, the people who made National Bohemian and National Premium.
It was there that Marcher formulated Colt 45, which was named for the Colts football team and especially #45, Jerry Hill, a Colt running back until 1970. The malt liquor was introduced in the early 60s.
Somehow Marcher was proud of the brew.
“Pete was very careful about the quality of the products. He wanted to make sure there wasn’t too much oxygen in the beer or it had been overheated in the brewing process. He was very careful about that,” recalled William E. “Ned” Eakle, former Howard County executive who earlier had been National Brewing Co.‘s corporate director of labor and personnel in Baltimore.
“There were frequent taste tests. He was tough about what he did, and he wanted it done right,” said Mr. Eakle, who retired from the company in 1974.
I guess the moral of the story is that even the worst stuff has someone behind it who really cares and thinks it’s great. That explains so much in this world.
And so a man who revolutionized the malt liquor industry is gone. Let us pour out our 40s for Peter Marcher.