Last Thursday, Migration Brewing Company celebrated the limited release of its new environmentally-friendly beer, produced in partnership with Portland State and the Emerging Leaders Board of the Oregon Environmental Council.
The beer, dubbed Little Foot Red Ale, reduces transportation-related carbon emissions by using only local ingredients.
The draft beer, described as a medium-bodied red ale by Migration co-owner Colin Rath in an interview with The Oregonian, will only be served on-site at the brewery’s pub, reducing waste that would come if the ale was bottled. Steel kegs are more recyclable than other methods of distribution, with a nearly 100 percent rate of recyclability compared to 45 percent with aluminum cans and 35 percent with beer bottles.
Additionally, Migration will be producing renewable energy credits provided by Portland General Electric.
Marketing for the beer was produced by students of Chris North, a professor at PSU’s School of Art + Design. Students designed the beer’s label and produced its motto, “Drink Co2nsciously.” They also designed hand-made t-shirts, posters, buttons and growler-coozies for the event.
“For my [Art 471] class, I try to have students focus on issues that are related to environmental conservation. Beer is the perfect jumping-off point to get people talking about these issues,” North said.
North said the concept is aimed at younger members of the beer-drinking community who have grown exasperated with traditional environmental messages that they have heard for most of their lives.
“We’re trying to reach a young audience that has been jaded by growing up with environmentalist messages. Beer is the perfect muse for that—we can use it to talk about everything from consumerism and how that affects the environment to the carbon cost of beer production,” North said.
Activities at the event included a raffle and a photobooth where customers could get their pictures taken and uploaded on Instagram.
Fletcher Beaudoin, assistant director of PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions and member of the Emerging Leaders Board, has been at the forefront of PSU’s collaboration with Migration.
“When we were in the process of making the concept, we took it to Hatfield Sustainability Resources and asked them to do a life cycle analysis to figure out the carbon emissions produced in making a brand of beer, and then [tried] to reduce those emissions,” Beaudoin said.
The event was used both as a platform to raise awareness of environmental issues and an OEC fundraiser for carbon policy change. Proceeds from the release party as well as all sales of the beer will help fund the OEC as it attempts to change environmental policy in Oregon.
“We have been partnering with local businesses for years,” said OEC’s Membership and Engagement manager Michelle McGrath. “This project fits right in with what we’re trying to do: create awareness by getting people to talk about products they see in their everyday lives.”
“The funds that the OEC raises will go towards trying to put environmental policy in place to ensure that Oregon is a leader in sustainability,” McGrath added.
“Instead of trying to create sweeping reform, this event tries to show people how making small changes can affect consumers’ carbon footprint,” said OEC Marketing Director Simon Tam.
While Little Foot Ale is brewed in a way that is more environmentally-conscious than other beers, contributors to the project agree that the real benefit of the campaign is to raise public awareness of environmental issues.
“Ultimately, it’s about raising awareness about how our everyday consumerism affects the world around us and the way we live,” Beaudoin said. “And what better way to start that conversation than over a beer?”