We Are Upstate NY with Cicerone Megan Reynolds of R&R Tap Room
Driven by a love for beer, Megan’s journey began with growing hops and homebrewing, becoming a Certified Cicerone (a beer expert, similar to a sommelier, but for beer), and eventually becoming the proprietor of R&R Tap Room in Woodstock New York. When first entering R&R Taproom you can’t help but feel and welcome the chill vibe of this much-loved local bar. Megan’s well-curated, bar and café showcases a variety of beer styles, select organic wines and cider. The kitchen serves a rotating selection of locally sourced, small plates including salads, sandwiches, bowls, seasonal specials and cheese plates. And of course, all of these pair perfectly with whatever is on tap. Stop by R&R next time you’re in Woodstock and don’t hesitate to ask Megan about her favorite topic-beer! Get ready to learn about and savor the taste of Hudson Valley IPAs and Saisons or venture into national or international sour beers and small-batch specialties.
Let’s get more acquainted with Megan Reynolds.
INSIDE+OUT: Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in the Hudson Valley?
Megan Reynolds: I grew up in the city and North Carolina and moved to Woodstock about 15 years ago from Minneapolis. My dad grew up in Manhattan and worked summers at the MacDaniel boarding house on MacDaniel Road, so that side of the family has had a long connection to Woodstock. My parents bought a house in Woodstock in the 70s and were weekenders through the 90s, so I spent a lot of time here as a kid.
What inspired the idea for your business?
When I first got into craft beer, the laws were different in most places and brewery taprooms were rare. If you wanted to try different beers, you went to a beer bar. Better yet, the beer bar with a bottleshop. Beer for me was about exploration, and a good beer bar was a place to try all the weird stuff and hone your tasting skills. They also tended to be small and unfussy, and that was the kind of place I wanted to run – more than just a place to drink, a place of small discoveries.
What can guests expect from a visit to R&R Tap Room?
We’ve always been a hybrid place in that we’ve always had a bottleshop, food, and a bar. Since the pandemic, my mom has been running a vintage pop-up there as well. She’s a great picker and curator, and while she’s always been a fixture at R&R, it’s been fun to work together formally. We donate 20% of the vintage sales to charities each month, so it’s also an opportunity to discuss those priorities. Obviously, there are a million places deserving these days, and it has been grounding to contribute in some small way through our business.
From the beginning, we’ve had a big menu for a bar. And as it turned out, most of our regulars came to eat, so while we downsized the menu during the pandemic, it was still always a place you could have lunch or dinner. We’ve always focused on vegetarian and vegan food because no one who works in the kitchen eats meat and that’s the food we’re most passionate about.
Restaurants are a hard enough business and changing your menu a lot is not cost-effective, but again, when you’re small, it’s easier to do and the menu is a creative outlet for us. During the pandemic, we did an outdoor pop-up with vegan sandwiches. We’re bringing those back this year at the taproom on the weekends. We’re also doing a vegan brunch monthly through the summer.
What’s the biggest misconception about your business or what you do?
While I love the hybrid nature of my business, it can be confusing to first-time guests. There are often people staring through the windows or standing at the front door, taking it all in and trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do! But we sort it out and honestly, the fun of running a small place is the fact that you can do different things.
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Book a Private Cozy Event at R&R Taproom
Seats 24 and holds 40 to 50 for standing