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Brew school at the Diving Dog Brewhouse

on December 11, 2015

Each month, the beer market is flooded with brand new flavors, and sometimes people want to know exactly what goes into a batch of freshly brewed beer.

Rob Bailard is the brain behind Diving Dog Brewhouse in downtown Oakland, which allows anyone from beer connoisseurs to non-drinkers to experience the brewing process.

At the Brewhouse, beer director Derrik Battaglia is the one who keeps the beer flowing. The 30-year old Oakland native has been helping Bailard set up beer drinkers with their very own kettle to brew a batch of their own suds since the brewery opened in October last year. Battaglia, who started as a bartender and made his way to a managing position in a week, spends his time talking to the craft breweries that occupy most of the 20 plus taps on board.

“For the most part we’re more of a educational facility–a beer school, if you will,” Battaglia said.

He said on an average day, he walks into the building and then heads straight into doing his usual office work and inventory. “It’s really nothing exciting at all,” he said. But he does look forward to brew days. Diving Dog calls it “Brew on Premises” or B.O.P., and Battaglia’s thin but tall body suddenly became very animated with excitement as he speaks about it.

Battaglia gestured expressively with his hands as he explained the routine of prepping. He will mosey on into the brewery around 11 a.m. to gather the ingredients: hops, barley and whatever specialty ingredients Diving Dog has on deck.

Then, in one of the “Employees Only” rooms, which is as hot as a sauna, he makes sure the boilers are turned on. On the other side of the boiler room is a row of bronze colored kettles that sit in the brightly sunlit front room.

Battaglia said the kettles, which reflect off of his black framed eyeglasses, are named after every dog that is or has been a part of Bailard’s life, including Ziggy, who’s featured on the company logo.

It’s quite interesting that a brewery allows the public to come inside, let alone be taught by the craft master himself. But Battaglia said he thinks showing people what it takes to make a good beer will make them appreciate it more. This was the case for him, after his first tour of a brewery.

“Beer is supposed to be fun,” Battaglia said. “The more people that are interested the better.”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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