Wes Jacobs and his wife Heather, owners of Select Beer Bottle Shop and Tap Room, serve beer during a recent festival. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan
Wes Jacobs and his wife Heather went on a two week road trip 13 years ago that changed their lives forever. They drove up to Oregon and Canada, stopping at a brewery a day. Jacobs, a home brewer, was inspired by the beer culture, and when he lost his job, he concocted a plan.
“After looking for jobs for awhile I knew that if I was going to stay in L.A. I would have to create my own job,” he said.
After home brewing for years, he knew that starting a brewery would be too much work. Pondering his predicament, he noticed that his many beer friends and acquaintances needed a place to sell their concoctions in the South Bay.
“I realized that there were lots of breweries that didn’t have shelf space,” said Jacobs. “My wife and I talked about it and the idea kept getting more and more traction.”
Then, two years ago when he was laid up in bed because of a woodworking hand injury, he drew up a business plan that would eventually be the culmination of his beer-driven thoughts and ideas – Select Beer Bottle Shop and Tap Room.
He started shopping around, talking to friends, neighbors and beer geeks and realized that Redondo Beach was the most receptive to his idea of a specialized beer store.
“This is the only place like this in the South Bay,” said Ken Mercier, a regular from Inglewood. “I’ve been coming in from the beginning. I love it because it’s plain and simple and straight to the point. Plus, there’s no TV’s to distract you.”
The beer community welcomed his bottle shop with open arms.
“This shop’s definitely become our home,” said Jacobs. “It’s kind of become a joke – if somebody doesn’t show up for a couple of days I’ll text them and say ‘Hey, just wanna see if you’re okay!’ Now people laugh at me and say, ‘Wes, I’m going on vacation for a week, you don’t have to check in.’”
Jacobs spends seven days a week at the shop, his wife, who does environmental work in Long Beach spends her free time helping out. “She’s the boss,” Jacobs said.
Some days he serves the beers, other days he works the books. “We sleep at home and live here,” said Jacobs.
Their mission, “We sell beer to people who buy beer,” was purposefully simple, as is their beer system.
“I wanted to keep it as simple as possible so everything stays clean and fresh,” said Jacobs, who built everything in the shop including the shelves, the bar, the pouring system and even assembled the fridges. He estimates that the shop has a little north of 400 beers. Even though the shop showcases so many beers, regulars trust him to serve the best and keep the stock new and fresh.
Most of the beers on the wall and in the fridge are not local, but the tap always features a local brew, as well as a wide variety of styles.
“We try to keep everything from a light lager to a stout or porter,” Jacobs said. “We rotate through the styles so they’re fresh and new.”
Usually no beer stays on tap for longer than two weeks, and after he changes the keg he flushes the system and cleans the tap line to make sure the next beer tastes just like the brewers intended it to.
The shop, Jacobs explained, with its three walls full of beer and the featured bar in the middle of the room, was built for beer lovers not necessarily beer nerds, Jacobs said.
“I want to provide beer for everybody,” said Jacobs. “It’s supposed to be enjoyed and supposed to be fun.”
“This is really the only place like this in the South Bay,” regular Matt Mclvor from Redondo Beach said. “I come here to talk about beer and drink it. I fell in love with the place since day one.”
The best part of the job for Jacobs is choosing what beers “get the gig” and get served or sold. Weekly, he has beer brokers stop by to get him to taste their brews. For him, that’s part of the character of the job – having regulars, beer professionals, and newbies mingle and try new styles.
“It’s great to be here because when people come in they don’t come to drink beer in a bad mood,” said Jacobs. “It’s not like a hospital when people come in because they’re sick. They come in here to be social and have fun.”
Select Beer is located at 1613 S. Pacific Coast Highway. They are open Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 – 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday noon – 10 p.m. and Sunday noon until 6 p.m. SelectBeerStore.com. They are planning on having an Oktoberfest event on October 13 and also teaming up with Naja’s on October 20 for a “Pumpkin Patch” event featuring fall beers.