The Calm Cove Oyster Farm is located just west of Hood Canal's Great Bend where the water is earthier and less oceanic. The oyster farm raises the spat for up to half a year inland and then transfer the oysters to mesh bags and place them in the Hood Canal on racks that keep them off the bottom. The Hood Canal's nutrient rich waters encourage fast growth. To finish the oysters, the Calm Cove Oyster Farm dumps them on the beach. Hood Canal's twice daily tides in can run up to 14 feet, jostling the the mesh bags and encouraging the development of deeper cups and thicker shells while the tides also expose the oysters to sunlight and air providing cleansing and also encouraging stronger shells.
The teardrop to oval shaped deeply ridged small to medium sized shells are deeply cupped with polished, gray with purple highlights and some green in the valleys. Turned upside down the cups like rough, new mountains with touches of snow. The caps are slate gray. The liquor is pleasantly salty with traces of minerals that add an astringent touch. The oysters meats are meaty approaching a beef tenderloin in texture with a mild brininess reminiscent of Greek olives. After biting into the meat the initial beefy mushroom flavors give way to sweeter, cucumber notes with a background seaweed earthiness and hints of mushroom. I am drinking a bottle Meinklang Sparkling Cider with the oysters and the cider cleanses the palate and leaves a light fruit note in the tail that works with the oyster's mild sweetness and cucumber flavors. The cider has a hint of smokiness that highlights some of the oysters' earthy flavors. The pairing is a pleasant circle - oysters' salt has you wanting more cider and the cider has you wanting more oysters. I rate the oysters 95 based on their flavors, cleanliness, and rich, plump meats and I rate the pairing 93.
Last year I paired Calm Coves with Widmer Brothers Downward Spiral (9.0% alcohol by volume). It is an imperial pale lager with an IPA hop character aged on oak. Imperial IPA's bitterness can overwhelm oysters but the lager yeast's cleaner ferment and the oak aging has toned things down a bit and this works - but not as well as the cider which lets more of the oyster character show through. Nonetheless, the oysters and the beer go very well together and I rate the pairing 85.