Kristian Martin, Head Brewer of dedicated gluten-free brewery Two Bays Brewing Co., spoke to Beer & Brewer about lessons learned throughout his 11 years of brewing, and how Two Bays pushes the envelope of ‘better for you’ beer.

Martin’s love for brewing was fostered at Carwyn Cellars, where he worked while studying Criminology at university.

“While helping set up the bar there in my time spare from studying, my passion for craft beer grew. I was also a very keen homebrewer and decided that before going on to do a PhD in Criminology, I would try my luck working in the craft brewing industry. I decided that brewing was the life for me,” he said.

While the brewing process itself is Martin’s favourite part of the industry, he also has a keen interest in its history, and the people and connections that make brewing what it is today.

“Primarily I enjoy the creative and developmental aspects of brewing: creating new beers, experimentation and learning or developing new techniques to improve the products we make.

“I also have a strong interest in the historical aspects of brewing and the strong connection with agriculture. Reading has encouraged me to travel and see historical breweries, hop farm tours and maltings. I have met countless amazing people, experienced amazing beers and I hope to see much more of the industry worldwide,” he said.

Prior to his role with Two Bays, Martin worked as Head Brewer at Mornington Peninsular Brewery up until the brewing team were made redundant. His time at the brewery is a particular career highlight.

“We had an incredible team and countless fun releases, like Brain Squeeze, the Squid Series, and Old Pumping Station barrel aged Imperial Stouts, to name a few,” he said.

Joining Two Bays

Martin joined Two Bays in 2020, at which time his decision to brew gluten-free beer was a controversial one. Thankfully, gluten-free beer is garnered more respect since then.

“There were definitely times when people shrugged off the category, or thought it was a strange career move, but that is rarely the case now. We have grown organically against the grain, in more ways than one. Now, I regularly get compliments on what we have achieved and how our beers stack up against the rest,” he said.

Since taking on the role of Head Brewer at Two Bays, Martin has netted his fair share of accolades and awards for the brewery. Most recently, Two Bays Session Ale received Gold at the 2024 World Beer Cup, which Martin was lucky enough to be in person to receive. The same beer also received the Indies Trophy for Best Specialty Beer in 2023, where it was judged against other beers that contained gluten.

The challenge of gluten-free

Martin admits that gluten-free brewing is not without its challenges, both from the practical brewing side and from a marketing standpoint. However, he believes that Two Bays has the potential to push the category forward.

“It has taken the hard-pressed dedication from our team to overcome commercial obstacles and flavour boundaries, as well the broader economic challenges shared by the craft brewing community over the last few years,” he said.

“Gluten-free brewing is fraught with challenges. There was a lot of learning around enzymes and fermentation health that was relatively taken for granted when I was brewing with barley. A lot of what we do here now I would argue is relatively unique and groundbreaking, and I think Two Bays will continue to push the envelope in quality and accessibility of gluten free beer, particularly in light of the recent focus on ‘better for you’ choices.”

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