We already know that craft beer is an art in itself, as much as any culinary process is considered an artistic exploit.

Merging the art of craft beer with more traditional arts — painting, sculpture, even music — makes for a pairing as great as the classic IPA-with-a-basket-of-mozzarella-sticks combo (or something as equally greasy).

Candy Kitchen fudge
Or, alternatively, as well as a porter and a tray-full of Candy Kitchen fudge.

Traditional beer festivals become exponentially better when there’s art involved, whether that be plein air painting, a live band, vendors touting handmade crafts or all of the above (Shore Craft Beer Fest: Chincoteague, anyone?). We — along with the Art League of Ocean City, the OC Foodie Tour and restaurants all around Ocean City — took that concept a step forward last night at the first-ever Big Get-Together.

Geri Gaskill
Local painter and instructor at the Art League Gerilyn Gaskill working in her studio on Wednesday night.

The Big Get-Together served as a launch for the new OC Foodie Tour, but was also an opportunity for guests to come sample the local beer (provided by Evo, 3rd Wave and Backshore Brewing) and local fare ranging from Dolle’s caramel popcorn to Pit & Pub pork sliders, all while listening to a live band (Full Circle Duo) and perusing the exhibits at the Ocean City Center for the Arts, where local artisans and crafters display their paintings, sculptures, jewelry, pottery and more.

Full Circle Duo
When Full Circle Duo does Fleetwood Mac, the crowd goes wild (especially me).

We didn’t see our usual festival crowd at the event. The crowd was made up mostly of Art League members, self-proclaimed foodies and friends of the OC Foodie Tour. Not everyone was interested in the beer, and the several bottles of white wine chilling at Evo’s table did come in handy.

But this wasn’t solely a crowd of craft beer connoisseurs, which we’ve come to expect at our festivals and other events — so, the hope is that at least a few Big Get-Together attendees walked away with a new appreciation for craft beer, if not a totally new obsession for it.

3rd Wave Big Get Together
3rd Wave’s Beach Juice Berlinner Weisse was paired with a cream of crab soup from Higgins Crab House. Their Male’Ana Grapefruit IPA went with Pit & Pub’s sliders, and their Sandstorm Belgian Tripel with a delicious dessert pizza from Ripieno’s.
Ripieno's dessert pizza
Needless to say, the dessert pizza was a hit.

Overall, the event was a food-and-beer pairing paradise, accentuated by a creative atmosphere, great music and even all the excitement that comes with a live auction (for those who weren’t there, Foodie Tour founder Sandy Gillis moonlights as an auctioneer, and she can talk fast).

Big Get Together auction
To the highest bidder on the Ocean City package, we’ll see you at OCtoberfest!

The joviality of the night was postponed for a few moments when the Executive Director of the Art League Rina Thaler announced that Worcester County would be cutting arts funding for the upcoming fiscal year. There’s still a few weeks to hit the ground running and let county representatives know just how important the arts are in the community, but even so: Please continue to support your local gallery and local artists, eat good food that’s not from a major chain restaurant, and Drink Local.

Dunes Manor Victorian Room
And stop by the Dunes Manor’s Victorian Room restaurant sometimes, because they can make even brussel sprouts taste good.

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