Inside Two Tribes' King’s Cross music-focused brewery and taproom

Will Hawkes

Will Hawkes

15 March 2018

Justin Deighton is running through some of his neighbours at Tileyard, a co-working space a few minutes’ walk north of King’s Cross.

'There’s Rapha, Pretty Green, Beats headphones, and over 100 recording studios. Mark Ronson’s got one, Lily Allen, Basement Jaxx, The Prodigy too,' he says. 'We want to tap into that creative culture.'

In April, the brewing company that Deighton co-owns with wife Niki, Two Tribes, will open a new brewery and taproom in a former industrial unit here (they already run a larger brewery down in Sussex, near their Brighton home). Costing £500,000, it includes a 10-hectolitre brewkit made by Zip Technologies in Hungary, and a taproom space modelled on Scandinavian brewpubs like Warpigs in Copenhagen.

'Tileyard’s owners wanted a brewpub, they wanted something for the people who work here to do after 5pm,' says Deighton. 'At the moment everyone leaves as soon as they’re finished work.' Deighton hopes a line-up of beers that runs the gamut from easy-drinking to experimental will convince them to stay a few hours longer. Beers will be served in ⅔ glasses at £4 a go. 'This is going to be our creative kitchen,' he says.

He’s particularly excited by the possibility of sour beers. 'We’re going to make lots of Berliner Weisse. I was in Denmark about six months ago, and I went to a tap takeover by the Danish company Brewski. I had a range of five Berliner Weisse beers, and the flavour profile went from coffee bean to mango. The beer all looked the same, but the flavour range was phenomenal.'

The brewer also hails from the frozen north: Christoffer Tuominen, who left his native Finland to work for Beavertown in 2014. After three-and-a-half years there, he spent eight months at Camden Town before taking the job at Two Tribes.

Music at its heart 

There will be be a strong music theme. The sound system comes from Funktion-One ('It’s the best you can get,' says Deighton), and Island Records – whose own-label beers are produced by Two Tribes in Sussex – will use the venue for A&R/new talent nights.

'I’m basically [Island’s] beer producer,' says Deighton. 'In an odd way I am signed to Island Records! One of the reasons for opening this site is because 70% of our capacity in Sussex is taken up by producing Island beers. We want somewhere where we can just focus on Two Tribes.'

The venue will be event-led, he says, and most of the beer will be sold on-site; although some will go into can (he owns a mobile canning line, which will shuttle between Two Tribes’ two sites) and keg, to be sold through his distribution company, The Beer Collective.

There’ll be street food, too: burgers from Patty & Bun, for example, or pizzas made by Vinyl, Tileyard’s on-site cafe. The taproom will close at 11pm weekdays and midnight Friday and Saturday.

Deighton’s background is in music. He worked as a producer at Strongroom studios in Shoreditch during the 1990s, and was a globe-trotting DJ too. He ran a record label – Pacific Records London – and co-ran a packaging company, Think Tank Media, with his wife. They sold that seven years ago; coincidentally, the current owners run it out of a unit at Tileyard.

All this means that this creative slice of King’s Cross feels very much like home for Deighton. 'It’s got an atmosphere like The Strongroom in the 1990s,' he says. 'It’s going to be great to be a part of of that.

'We want to make good beer; I’m not that desperate for the taproom to be rammed every night, there’s not a huge amount of footfall. We are going to host some really great parties, though!'

Want to read more from Will Hawkes? 

Malt + Pepper duo on pub-hopping and honing their ‘beer food’ offering
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