Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Amanda Benson Oral History Interview, June 29, 2018

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Growing up; Family Farm; OSU; Fermentation Science;

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Partial Transcript: Okay, go ahead and introduce yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Amanda Benson was born in Prineville, Oregon, but her family lived in Mitchell. She grew up in a very small town with a population of roughly 200 people, and she explains the dynamic of everybody knowing one another. In Mitchell they had enough children to form a school, but they would often combine with other nearby towns to form sports teams. Amanda grew up on the family farm, so many of her early memories revolve around the animals and other outdoor activities. Every year the family would take animals to the fair in the summer, and in the winters they would take annual skiing trips.
Amanda graduated high school in a class of 8, most of which had been together through elementary school. Over the years they spend an abundant amount of time together through class and traveling for sports, which led to really tight knit relationships. She played volleyball and basketball in the fall and winter, and dabbled in track and tennis in the spring.
Following high school, Amanda thought she wanted to enter into some Engineering field of study at Oregon State University. She explains the drastic differences of her small town experience to the time she spent at OSU, a large public university. Quickly into her time in Corvallis she shifted her focus from engineering to Food Science Fermentation. She explains that given the nature of the size of the fermentation department, it very much reminded her of hometown experience.

00:15:56 - OSU then & now; Cascade Lakes; Deschutes;

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Partial Transcript: When I graduated it was a lot more hands on...

Segment Synopsis: Amanda opens this segment by comparing her experience in the fermentation science department in comparison to how she views it now. She shifts her focus to sensory classes she took at OSU, where they would taste wine and focus on what tastes they were able to pick up. In her current job she is more geared towards managing the tasting panel and was focused on how to facilitate other people who are participating. While still in school she was hired as an intern at Cascade Lakes in Redmond for 6 months until she returned to school. She was back at school for 3 months, then went back to Cascade Lakes before ultimately taking a job at Deschutes. She explains that she was surprised to find that in the brewing work force she didn't rely on what she had learned in school as much as she had anticipated.
Amanda graduated from OSU in 2000, when she went back to Cascade Lakes for a few months. They didn't have a permanent job for her, so she aspirations of getting hired at Deschutes. She explains that a kid she had gone to school with had a job at Deschutes, which gave her an opportunity to take a tour of the facility and she understood that this was a place she really wanted to be. She applied when a position opened up and they performed a formal interview while doing another walk through of the facility, afterwards she received a request for a working interview which essentially was a test to see if she was able to perform the physical responsibilities of the position.

00:30:27 - Brewers; Lab Work; Sensory; R&D;

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Partial Transcript: Most of the brewers who I started brewing with have moved on...

Segment Synopsis: She then explains how her role at Deschutes shifted over the years. From 2001-2006 she only brewed, then she shifted into part time brewing and part time lab work, then eventually applied for and transitioned into full time lab work. When Amanda started working in sensory it was a brand new program so she wasn't entirely sure what her role would consist of, and their weren't many other breweries doing large scale sensory work so there wasn't much frame of reference.
She talks about how she had to develop her pallet for tasting and how the vocabulary evolved over time in order to be able to describe the tastes of various products they create. The conversation pivots to how Amanda likes to spend time outside of work. During the summer she really enjoys boating and spending time on the water. She now has a daughter which she explains requires the majority of her leisure time.
The exciting parts about her current job revolve around the expansion of the QA department which has led her to work on more research and development projects that allow her experience on new flavors and creating new products.

00:42:41 - Challenges; ASBC; Master Brewers Association; Conclusion;

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Partial Transcript: What are some of the things that can be challenging?

Segment Synopsis: One of the difficulties of her job is preparing those involved in the sensory panels and ensuring they are properly trained and invested in the tastings. The interview shifts, and Amanda elaborates on how she communicates with other members of the brewing industry and how they are able to learn from one another. She is a member of ASBC and the Sensory Subcommittee, which allows for the them to develop methods and then confirm that it is valid. The one issue this poses is that everybody's sensory program is suited to their specific brewery, but it does allow for the culmination of thoughts processes to refine their own programs.
She also participates in the Masters Brewers Association, which she gives presentations for on occasion. This will usually result in people following up with questions about their own sensory programs to which she tries to return the favor that was done for her early in her career. In addition, she has taught a few courses at Central Oregon Community College, which mainly consists of home brewers.
She concludes the interview by reflecting on what it means to work for a company that just turned 30. She has witnessed a lot of changes over the course of her 18 years, but explains that it feels like she was just hired not too long ago.