Sam Cullen's on a mission: review a pub near to every single tube station. That’s 270 pints at least. He's been busy since we last met him in 2013. Three years in, he’s due to finish this March. So how’s he found what must be London’s most drawn-out pub crawl?
For a man who has spent countless hours sitting on trains and propping up bars, Sam looks surprisingly well. He’s friendly and still enthusiastic about the endeavour — perhaps because, with just 10 pubs to go, there's light at the end of the (tube) tunnel.
Sam does have a real job (in Parliament), he’s quick to clarify — his life isn't just endless nights out. In fact, he’s usually limited to a pint or two in each place. He was inspired by a documentary about the tube’s 150th anniversary and a trip to The Ship in Kennington. Why not link the two together, he thought. "The tube is London,” Sam smiles, Doom Bar in hand.
Though Sam doesn't necessarily visit the closest pub to each station, instead taking recommendations from the followers of his blogs, a few can turn out to be disappointing. But his aim isn’t to criticise: "I’m not going to be the Charlie Brooker of pubs," he says.
As recommendations go, Sam’s standouts include The Atlas in West Brompton, Ye Olde Mitre Inne in High Barnet, the Highgate's The Wrestlers and The Pineapple in Kentish Town. North London scores pretty well, then.
His perfect pub would be all about "atmosphere, character and not too many seats". It'd serve a good selection of real ales and run a "good solid quiz".
Sam's positive about his now-encyclopedic knowledge of the capital's pubs and how many new places he's discovered. "Even if someone says, 'I live near Pinner', I can say, 'have you been to the Oddfellows Arms?'"
So as the final pint's in sight, what’s the next challenge? Sam's still considering drinking his way round the Overground, although not in the order the stations opened, as he's currently doing with this challenge.
His final pub of this challenge will be on 5 March, The Defector's Weld, in Wood Lane, the last station to open. Despite Sam's usual few pint rule, completing this challenge definitely justifies a full blown night out.