The tube is the best way to get home after visiting the pub. It’s warm, cheaper than an Uber, and you can’t kill anyone unless you really intend to.
We were curious about the cheapest pub on the line, so we’ve built a map – showing the cheapest pint in the pub closest to every tube station.
But that got us thinking. What’s the cheapest independent pub? And what, for that matter, is the cheapest line? What’s the cheapest zone by the pint? What’s the furthest tube station from a pub? And what’s most common cheapest pint on the tube?
First, let’s back up a bit.
What do I mean when I say “the cheapest pint close to every tube stop?”
Well, a pint has to be in a pub.* I’m not interested in drinking in bars, clubs, restaurants, or gin parlours. I’m too old for that. That asterisk means you can find my definition of what a pub is in the notes on this project page.
Second, I don’t want to walk further than I have to, so it has to be the closest** pub to a tube station. Any tube station. That’s 263 pubs in total, across 270 stops.
And who am I? Why am I doing this? Hi. Hello. I’m Adam Stead. I work for StoreKit, and we count pubs among our favourite customers. And I love pints. Here’s me, drinking beer.
To find the cheapest pub on the tube, I called 263 pubs and I asked them about their cheapest and most popular pint.
That’s an exhausting number of ring throughs, fake number tones, hang-ups, redials, can-you-call-back-laters, and I’ll-have-to-get-my-managers. It took about two weeks. There was one man who I’m sure I woke up complaining that the pub won’t effing delist his number from Google and that he doesn’t work there. One man who shouted that he didn’t know who I was and he didn’t have to answer my questions.
After that much effort, it seemed a shame to make just one map. So we’ve split this into three articles. This looks at the cheapest independent pubs, the second article examines pubs by the line, and the final article talks about the distance of pubs from the tube.
Note: due to a request from TfL, this is not the original map, but an alternate piece of art inspired by the tube but built from scratch. It also has corrections from the original map. The downloadable version can be found here
The Most Expensive Pub
Yeah, right down to it. We’re naming and shaming here.
By the cheapest pint, the most expensive pub on the tube is the Union Tavern near Westbourne Park. There, the cheapest pint you can buy is a £5.55 pint of Frontier, and the barman told me the most popular pint they sold was Neck Oil, for £5.80.
Now that’s *very expensive* for a cheapest pint, but their most popular pint was only 25p more, and unfortunately, £5.80 isn’t the most outrageous Neck Oil I’ve ever oiled my neck with. For example, The Hoop & Toy in South Kensington sells the same pint for £6.40, so I’m loathe to call the Union Tavern the most expensive pub in London.
The most expensive “most popular” pint of all was at the Sutton Arms near the Barbican, which cited Gamma Ray as its most popular pint, for £6.50. £6.50! Not even their most expensive pint!
But again, Gamma Ray is an expensive pint wherever you buy it. And you can buy £4.90 London Pride in the Sutton Arms if you’re not too embarrassed to ask what their cheapest beer is.
So one could argue that the *most* expensive pub is the pub which sells the most expensive pint versus the relative price of that pint in other pubs.
For that, we need to look at the price of different beers. The vertical bars on these graphs show two different prices. The bottom of the bar on this graph shows the cheapest recorded occurrence of that beer in one of our pubs, and the top shows the most expensive pint of that beer which occurred.
Here’s the spread of individual beer brands across categories.
Neck Oil is right up there at the top; but we don’t have the data for Frontier’s because the Union Tavern was the only pub to mention it.
John Smith’s, at the bottom, is the taste of brown, lukewarm mediocrity and it rocks. It was the cheapest pint in 6.5% of pubs, and was the most popular pint in, er, zero. Sorry. At the far end, everything to the right of Peroni was only cited as a popular pint, so there was always something cheaper than Estrella or Birra Moretti on offer.
Perhaps, then, the most expensive pub is one of the high scorers on the far left. The price with the highest relative pricing for their cheapest pint was… the Heathrow Terminal 5 wetherspoons, called The George.
There, a bud light costs £4.75, more than double the £2.37 average price of bud light recorded. Which is extremely expensive for a pint of lager you couldn’t pay me to drink.
The Cheapest Pint
And what’s the cheapest pint on the tube?
It’s a wetherspoons.
It’s two wetherspoons, in fact – The New Fairlop Oak in Fairlop, and the Oyster Rooms in Fulham Broadway, which both sell a £1.89 pint. That’s for a pint of Kozel in Fairlop, and for a pint called Greene King Ruddles Best in Fulham, which I’ve never drank, so could be delicious.
This was a conundrum for me.
I wanted to go and to enjoy the cheapest pint possible in any pub on the tube. But the fact that it was a wetherspoons felt kind of unsatisfying. I have nothing against the chain – I always make a point of reading wetherspoons news to help make sense of the latest round of Brexit negotiations – but I wanted to go and support somewhere independent. (I also suspect that £1.89 is an offer which might move between wetherspoons pubs from time to time).
So I began working my way up the list of pubs I had made from the cheapest and adjudicating whether I thought they were independent. After all the calls there turned out to be two joint contenders for the cheapest independent pub, whom I had to decide between.
1. The Coach & Horses, Hounslow East
In Hounslow, there’s an “urban farm”, transport links out of Hounslow, and best of all, there’s the Coach & Horses pub, which is 0.3 miles from the underground station along a busy road. You can drink yourself into a stupor for £2.00 a pop there, before visiting the urban farm’s snake house.
On the sixth time I tried the Coach & Horses, I got a response. But the barman would only tell me that they had a £2.00 pint, before telling me I would have to call back another time and he was too busy to answer my second question. Frustratingly I don’t know what kind of pint this is. I mean, maybe it’s becks blue?
2. The Salmon & Ball, Bethnal Green
The Salmon & Ball was a pub I once passed nearly every day on my way to work; but which I’d never been into. Their phone number didn’t work but I live close by, and I was itchy enough about the pricing to pop in on a Saturday.
And then I saw it. Written in chalk on the side of the building. The offer of the century. It was another £2.00 pint. This time, Best Bitter. Available only between 10am and 3pm on a week day.
You might be tempted to say, “well I didn’t hear any time conditions attached to the Coach & Horses” and you’d be right – but I don’t even know what beer that is. And drinking a £2.00 pint at 10AM on a Tuesday in Bethnal Green is a kind of rock bottom experience which can transform a person’s life. For £2.00, that’s a steal. It’s cheaper than a self-help book. And if we look at pint price by the zone – I mean, this is zone 2. It’s zone 2. It’s a zone 2 independent pub with a £2.00 pint. Zone 4 is the cheapest zone. Zone 2 is expensive.
This is a historic pub. It was incorporated in the 18th century. This is a listed bloody building. This was the pub I had been searching for all my life, and it was right there – pretty close to my house. This pub, this £2.00-a-pint pub, is in zone 2. This is absolutely the cheap pint you need in your life right now. And it was where I would go to complete the first part of my investigation, into the cheapest pint on the tube.
CHAPTER 2 – THE BEST DRINKING LINE
Curious about what the cheapest line on the tube is by PINT? Keep reading… this is the chapter where we go into a little more detail line by line, including – the cheapest line, the line with the best taste in beer, and the most popular pint on the tube.
CHAPTER 3 – THE FURTHEST PUB
For this project, I had to do a lot of measuring the distance from stations. The third and final chapter in this trilogy explains how to reduce the distance between your exiting the underground station and entering the pub to 0.
CHAPTER 4 – NOTES ON THE PROJECT
Think I’m wrong about the closest pub? Read my full methodology and a list of notes and exceptions.
At the request of TfL, the map of the “cheapest pint” has been removed from the blog.
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