The People

Greggin’ for the camera before the beard become robust; in the Gingerman.

Greg Zeschuk

Greg was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, a chilly place where he learned to appreciate a hearty, warming beverage.  After a relatively uneventful childhood he attended the University of Alberta where he earned a medical degree.  Just prior to medical school Greg met Ray Muzyka, his future colleague in medicine school, but more importantly, his future business partner at BioWare.

It was during his early university years that Greg did more research into those hearty, warming beverages. His first beer experiences were with the classic Canadian brews before their transformation into “local champions” in the schemes of the global multinational beer marketers.; back in the day they were actually pretty tasty.  His beer education was furthered by a Calgary microbrewery called Big Rock that was making some solid, flavorful and interesting brews: Traditional Ale (an Irish Red Ale to some, a Brown Ale to others), Grasshopper (American-style Wheat), London Porter, and McNally’s Extra Ale (and Irish Red Ale named after Big Rock’s founder Ed McNally) were all early favorites and important in his early formative beer drinking years back in the 80’s.  This foundation would serve well to establish an appreciation for good beer that would be so important to him in the years to come.

After graduating from medical school at the University of Alberta in 1992 Greg spent a year in Akron, Ohio as a medical intern before returning to Edmonton to finish his Family Medicine training in 1994.  It was shortly after this that Greg formally teamed up with Ray (and a third partner, a medical doctor named Augustine Yip) to start BioWare Corp.  Prior to even leaving medical school Greg, Ray and Aug had made some medical education software that was used at their university and laid the foundation for their future work on video games.

The beer pickins’ in the post medical school days were pretty slim, though Greg was occasionally able to find some interesting beer.

In Akron, Pete’s Wicked Ale was one stand out from those bygone times.  Perhaps Greg was too busy building BioWare with Ray (or cheating with wine and scotch), but not many beers stand out for him in the decade and a half after forming BioWare.

Greg and Ray went on to build BioWare over nearly 20 years (Aug returned to medicine in 1997) and made some of the most beloved Roleplaying Games ever created; Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Star Wars: The Old Republic are some of the games BioWare made.  Along the way BioWare grew to be an important player in the videogame industry and was purchased by Elevation Partners, a private equity firm in 2005, and later by Electronic Arts, one of the largest game publishers in the world, in 2007.  Greg and Ray worked with Electronic Arts for nearly five years before both moving on to explore new opportunities.

Along the way Greg and Ray had some amazing experiences at BioWare and were blessed to work with innumerable talented and passionate people.  Toward the end of his time at BioWare Greg was the General Manager of BioWare’s Austin studio and helped to guide the successful launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

It was during Greg’s time in Austin, Texas that he was re-introduced to good beer (now called craft beer, by many), and this time the impact was profound!  It happened at the Gingerman in Spring 2009 when a friend suggested he try a Storm King, from Victory, and his mind was blown.  For a short time he created a fictional alter-ego, Vic Stormking, and refused to respond to any other name.  After he recovered from the Russian Imperial Stout induced delerium he was a convert; beer was the nectar of the gods and it needed to be celebrated so all could know its goodness!  The craft beer scene in Austin before the recent popularity explosion was also a huge influence on Greg; being able to enjoy delicious beers in places like Whip In, the Draught House and the Gingerman, as well as drinking great beer and watching movies at the Alamo Draught House, convinced him that the pursuit of beer celebration was the correct path when he had finished at BioWare.

Austin is now becoming a enormous beer mecca; new breweries, pubs, brewpubs and beer bars are opening every month.  When Greg first went to Austin a small core of quality breweries (Independence, Real Ale, 512, and Live Oak) drove the scene; now they are being joined by exciting new breweries every few weeks.  Clearly this is something worth sharing!

And thus, the idea behind the Beer Diaries was born: to celebrate and promote craft beer around the world, starting with Austin, Texas.  It’s a tough job, but Greg will be doing it with passion, devotion and dedication for beer fans everywhere!

Mike Mann in Thailand

Mike demonstrating The Beer Diaries style in Thailand. He took in some culture and fine beers too.

Mike Mann

Mike Mann is a filmmaker and photographer born and raised in Austin, Texas, a fine place to drink a pint.  He started making films in grade school, employing friends as actors in his adventure stories, and using his father’s VHS camera to capture the moment.

Later, Mike earned a BS from the University of Texas at Austin’s Radio-Television-Film department, where he learned to hone his skills as a director and crewman.  Because of the technical abilities he had built up, he was later able to make a living by working on others’ films while making his own.

It was also in college that he developed two life-loves: traveling to amazing places and drinking really great beer.

In 1999, Mike traveled abroad to Europe to study Italian and explore new cultures for the first time.  In learning about Czech, German, and Belgian beers, his life was changed.  Cheap beer was never the same.

It was not long after his travels that Mike started homebrewing to try to recreate the flavors he had experienced.  He had just started rooming with an old friend, Mark Allen, when Mark got a job at a local homebrew supply store.

Fueled by experimentation and cheap beer supplies, Mike and Mark Allen hosted and contributed to many a social gathering, treating friends to delicious homemade Trappist Trippels, Pilsners, Stouts and other specialties, making many more converts to the side of good craft beer.

Years down the road, with many grindhouse and travel films under his belt, Mike stepped further into the world of documentary filmmaking.  A friend had introduced him to Jeff Young, the head brewer at Black Star Coop in Austin.  After receiving an enthusiastic tour from Jeff of Black Star before it had started producing, a light bulb went off to make a short documentary about what it meant to Jeff to be a brewer.  “Brewed” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2010 with much approval from audiences.  It was this brew doc that further lead Mike to enter the world of Austin craft brewed beer.

In the early summer of 2012, Mike was enjoying a pint with fellow filmmaker, Ben Leavitt, at the Whip In, when a friend / employee of the Whip In and another came to join them at their table.  The fourth was Dr. Greg Zeschuk, co-founder and manager of Bioware video games.  It was then that Mike learned of Greg’s shared enthusiasm for awesome beer.  In the coming weeks, Mike and Greg met several times and talked extensively about the possibility of future beer videos.  Thus was born the partnership of Mike Mann, Greg Zeschuk, and The Beer Diaries.