Noodling around the internet for ideas the other day I came across this reference to an unfamiliar form of inn the book Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy:
Rolliver's inn, the single alehouse at this end of the long and broken village, could only boast of an off-licence; hence, as nobody could legally drink on the premises, the amount of overt accommodation for consumers was strictly limited to a little board about six inches wide and two yards long, fixed to the garden palings by pieces of wire, so as to form a ledge. On this board thirsty strangers deposited their cups as they stood in the road and drank, and threw the dregs on the dusty ground to the pattern of Polynesia, and wished they could have a restful seat inside.
The novel in question is published in 1891 but is set in an economic depression almost twenty years earlier. The whole text can be found here. It's as odd a set up as I can imagine and, while it initially seems a bit shabby, is recommended as having a superior ale on tap... or rather "in tap"... compared to another establishment in the fictional village.
The prospect of a lane way inn would certainly increase my interest in going for an evening walk. There is a suggestion of what the serving hedge outside the inn might have looked like at this website. The former Stonch now known as Jeff posted a photo today with something of a far less successful variant witnessed recently in London. The fact is one of the most exotic things one suggest to an Ontario based beer fan is the idea of unbridled and unfenced outdoor public drinking. It is the closest we actually have to a notion of sin. The nearest one can easily get to is the locally licensed area of a spot like the Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, as illustrated above. But that is urban and all biker style. Oh, to be able to walk down a country land, grab a quart of ale at the hedge side and move on for a few miles to the next stop.
Have you heard of such a thing? Is there any place that this sort of thing can be done now?