Pure fire

When Two Tribes go outdoor, serving beer and tasty slaw


Despite having been a fan of Two Tribes’ beers ever since we first wrote about its Jamaican Porter collaboration with Island Records back in 2016, I’ve never quite made it along to visit its North London home in person. This has always felt like a massive oversight, given the brewery’s long-standing devotion to club culture, great food, sessionable beer and (latterly) fire. For me at least, it ticks every box.

As I may already have mentioned, it’s been raining since I arrived in London, so the party is very much confined to the covered, canvas-walled heart of Two Tribes’ legendary Campfire venue. Even so, there’s a great atmosphere, with a roaring firepit, barbecue kitchen, comfortable seating, cool murals and a DJ booth. Unsurprisingly a decent-sized crowd is keeping the bar staff busy.

It's during the summer months though, that this place really comes into its own. With  capacity for around 1500 people here, occupying the large open space between the permanent bar/DJ/firepit area and the brewery doors about 50 meters away, Campfire has become an important venue for live music, attracting household name DJs, as well as supporting up-and-coming talent from around the Kings Cross area.

The Campfire concept started life in the midst of the pandemic, essentially born out of the ongoing loss of music venues and restaurants; it’s deliberately Covid-restriction friendly, but the format is so damn compelling that it’s only got stronger since the world reopened.

“This year we’re getting even more in to the whole live events side,” says Paul Robinson, Two Tribes’ managing director. “Obviously it will be going all through the summer, but we have a few big days planned already, and a lot of pre and post festival parties – just lots of good stuff… and in terms of building the Two Tribes brand, this space allows us to get our customers in with some beers, some great food, some great local music. It’s really the biggest asset we have.”

PHOTO: Richard Croasdale

Campfire has always had a heavy emphasis on food, during lockdown inviting guest chefs – usually with a penchant for BBQ and direct flame cooking – to hold residencies in the brewery’s open-air, restriction-friendly events space.

This foodie focus remains. While Campfire still hosts guest chefs, pulling in some big names from the cooler side of London gastronomy, it also now has a permanent head chef in the shape of Sam Deighton, the son of co-founder Justin Deighton. Sam cut his teeth at several other highly regarded flame-centric London restaurants before coming to work for his dad, and the menu reflects this experience, as well as his personal creativity.

While the food on offer is constantly evolving, it’s all very much from the fire. I enjoyed flame grilled chicken in a charcoal bun, alongside an incredible miso-glazed sweet cabbage, again charred on the grill.

On the brewing side, it’s been great to see Two Tribes move on from its original concept – mostly collaborating with artists and other brands, keeping its own name in the background – to singing with its own voice, through brilliant beers clearly labelled as Two Tribes. This too has been a journey, moving from an almost ad-hoc production schedule to having a five-strong core range, before reducing its permanent beers back down to the three strongest. 

Each beer I try this evening is absolutely bang-on, particularly in context; these are beers with a tonne of character and interest, showcasing distinct hop character – especially on the hazy side – but without asking the drinker to do too much work. It’s something a lot of breweries claim, but these really are beers for enjoying by the pint, with friends, listening to a DJ, maybe having a dance later. Two Tribes understands that even the best beer (or especially the best beer) doesn’t demand to be the most important part of the night.  

Even though we’re kind of in a business park in King’s Cross, there’s still a real vibe to the place. Most of Two Tribes’ neighbours are in the creative industries and regularly hit Campfire after work, and the presence of Noel Gallagher’s studio in the same block results in frequent celebrity sightings, adding to the sense that you’re in the middle of something quite special. I’m coming back in the summer, and I’m bringing my glo-sticks.

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