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College assists local brewery opening

TCCC Small Business Center

Leisa and Jody Jensen sit in their new business, Hayesville Brewing Company, located in Clay County.

Walking into Hayesville Brewing Company, the atmosphere instantly captivates patrons with its sleek, modern-style take on the traditional German biergarten. Hand-made decorative signs and objects line the walls, and serving as the main centerpiece sits an immaculate bar – designed first and foremost with comfort in mind.

“The bar is custom-built, and for us, it’s the little details that make all the difference,” says Jody Jensen. “All of our furnishings are made from recycled wood, with care taken as to the height and placement foot rests, all to maximize comfort.”

For Jody and Leisa Jensen, owners of Hayesville Brewing Company, the path to opening their own small business in Clay County benefitted from the expertise of Tri-County Community College’s Small Business Center.

“In early 2016, I spoke to Jody and Leisa about their interest in opening a brewery in Clay County,” says Kathryn Jenkins, director of the Small Business Center. “We began constructing a business plan and considering ways of securing partial funding.”

As she pours a pint of the brewery’s most popular beer, Baby Got Bock, Leisa adds the Jensens had years of experience in the restaurant industry prior to opening their current establishment.

“We got tired of having to drive out of our county to visit a local brewery,” she says. “We’ve lived here for 7 years, so it felt like the right time and that opening a brewery in Clay County would only serve as a boost.”

Hayesville Brewing Company officially opened on May 19, the week before Memorial Day this year, and business has been booming, Jody says.

“The support from the local community has been incredible,” he says, displaying the fermentation room, packed with beers all in various stages. “We can’t brew beer fast enough. We are brewing about seven or eight batches at a time now, but when we opened we only planned on two or three!”

The Jensens also credit the Small Business Center with helping them connect with other local small business owners to form partnerships across the region.

“We partner with the Daily Grind and Wine and Valley River Brewery in Murphy for several of our beers,” Jody says. “We also partner with local farmers in the surrounding area.”

However, Jody says, the real draw for many patrons isn’t just the variety of beer the brewery offers, but the homemade menu Leisa has spent years perfecting.

“All the items we offer are totally unique and are different than a lot of food offered in this area,” Jody says. “Our customers can’t get enough of Leisa’s recipes.”

While Jody talks, Leisa works to create one of the brewery’s signature menu items – the Wisconsin Game Board – a reminder of their Midwestern roots comprised of bison, elk and venison summer sausage, a variety of cheeses, grapes, olives, pickles, fresh fruit and pretzels.

“All the meat on the tray is imported from Wisconsin,” Leisa says, as she adds finishing touches to the board. “We want to be as authentic as possible.”

Authenticity is evident in the beer as well, Jody says. As he creates various recipes, he ensures the mineral makeup of the water used is identical to what would be used in Germany or Wisconsin, depending on which region influences each beer.

Both Jody and Leisa credit Jenkins and the Small Business Center with making the process of opening a new business run smoothly.

“Kathryn was a great help in highlighting any resources for our business,” Jody says.

Hayesville Brewing Company is now a thriving small business in Clay County, located across the highway from Jacky Jones Ford in Hayesville.

“We are still learning and adapting,” Jody says. “But the support from the community has been great, and we’re excited to be the first brewery in Clay County.”

For more information about Hayesville Brewing Company, visit their Facebook page at For more information about Tri-County Community College’s Small Business Center, visit or call (828) 835-9564.