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Thunderbird on Koenig revamps with emphasis on beer

Arianna Auber

It’s not just a coffee shop anymore.

Branching off from its other location, Thunderbird Coffee in the Cherrywood neighborhood, Thunderbird Café and Tap Room on Koenig Lane has changed its name and added more beer on draft, with a total of 34 beer taps and 1 cider tap, in an effort to become more of a beer destination than it used to be.

Among some of the beers on draft are local staples like (512) Wit and Real Ale Hans Pils, as well as harder-to-find brews like Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout on nitro and my summer seasonal of choice, Austin Beerworks Einhorn. Although Thunderbird, like its other location, has always had a handful of draft beers, owner Ryan McElroy wanted to cultivate a tap list of beers competitive with other local craft beer bars.

“We’re willing and equipped to source hard-to-find beers, in particular from Europe,” owner Ryan McElroy said. “We have five different couplers allowing us to tap virtually any keg and two nitro taps to serve nitrogenized beers.”

In addition to the extra taps, Thunderbird got a design makeover by the capable hands of local interior designer Lilianne Steckel. With more seating options, it’s gotten a lot of good feedback, but the removal of electrical outlets has caused some complaints from people who can no longer work there all day on their laptops. That was an intentional choice McElroy made, he said, so that Thunderbird becomes more of a place to hang out with friends for a sandwich and a beer, rather than an all-day work spot as it had been. The lack of parking, he noted, partly fueled that decision.

But some elements of the café remain unchanged. Customers can still stop by for breakfast tacos from Tacodeli and fresh pastries from Quack’s Bakery, Celeste’s Best and Rockstar Bagels. And Thunderbird hasn’t abandoned the focus on good coffee, with two rotating, often single-origin espresso options from Counter Culture and Cuvee, in addition to cortados, cappuccinos and more.