PSU students design brand, launch low-carbon beer

Why brew a “carbon-conscious” beer? Because: Portland.

Migration Brewing is collaborating with students and staff from Portland State University (PSU) and other volunteers to brew a beer with a smaller carbon footprint than your average microbrew in a fundraising effort for carbon policy work by the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC).

Fletcher Beaudoin, assistant director of PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions and member of the OEC’s Emerging Leaders Board, is leading the University’s involvement in the project, brokering the relationship with Migration and working with an undergraduate class of PSU graphic design students to develop a brand, logo, and promotional materials for the beer, called Little Foot Red Ale.

The beer was developed in tandem with an in-depth lifecycle analysis of Migration’s beer performed by Portland-based Hatfield Sustainability Resources, which determined the carbon emissions associated with the beer’s production. Plans for a lighter-carbon red ale were then fine-tuned by Migration with tweaks including organic ingredients, only on-site distribution, and the purchase of renewable energy certificates to offset remaining production emissions.

“Migration is one of the many Portland breweries that is looking carefully at the impacts of their industry and making moves to improve their environmental performance,” said Beaudoin. “I’m proud that PSU was able to play such a key role in creating a carbon-conscious beer and shine a light on the steps businesses can take in the realm of climate action. Proceeds from Little Foot will support OEC’s own climate programs.”

“OEC is working to cut pollution by transitioning to cleaner energy, cleaner fuels, and climate friendly transportation options, and we are always on the lookout for new and creative solutions, like health​y​ soils or ​organic practices​” said OEC Communications Director Jessica Moskovitz. “This project represents everything that the Emerging Leaders Board does: it’s creative, collaborative, and it is all about one of the things that makes Oregon great–our beer!”

The optimized, carbon-conscious recipe for Little Foot Red Ale will be brewed at Migration in January and tapped for a fundraising release party at 5 p.m. on January 22nd at Migration’s pub, 2828 Northeast Glisan Street in Portland.

Chris North, adjunct professor of Graphic Design in PSU’s School of Art + Design said the Carbon Conscious Beer project provided her students the opportunity to take their skills as designers a step further than they would in a typical class. In anticipation of the January event, students in the class played a large part in how the event would roll out—from naming the beer and coining the phrase Drink Co2nsciously to developing social media promotions, crocheting growler cozies, and etching pint classes—in addition to hand printing posters, table tents, and invitations.

“This was the perfect project to get students excited—improving the climate while drinking beer? What’s not to like?” North said.

The Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) advances sustainability research, education, and outreach at Portland State, leading the University to be a powerful catalyst and model for a more equitable, ecologically balanced, and economically vibrant future. (

Located in Portland, Oregon, PSU has about 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. PSU’s motto is “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” and we provide every student with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. Our downtown campus exhibits PSU’s commitment to sustainability, and sustainability is incorporated into much of the curriculum. (