Chincoteague Oysters are grown in Chincoteague Bay sheltered from the Atlantic by a long thin finger of land. The bay has no singificant fresh water sources so the oysters get the Atlantic Ocean's full salty impact and lacking fresh water sources which carry the taint of civilization, the bay's waters are clean. The Ballard family of the Ballard Fish and Oyster Company has grown these oysters for 115 years and currently farms them in trays and cages.
These oysters have the old, gnarley look of a washed up, alcoholic, punch drunk palooka. The cups are ashen, muddy grey to dirty brown and green and peppered with small holes. The oval to teardrop shaped shells are deeply cupped, and on the brittle side with an average meat to shell ratio with the liquor filling about a quarter of the shell. The liquor is brackish and reminds me of the saltwater my mother used to make me gargle with when I had a sore throat and encouraged me to keep my mouth shut and not mention sore throats. The oyster has a light, salty seabreeze aroma with the liquor more brackish than the meat - this is salty but not funky. The liquor is very briny with some broth notes. While saltiness is the main player with the meat you notice some sweetness in the middle and some meaty, umami, bacon flavor. The main meat has a creamy texture that melts to reveal a bit of gristly membrane. I rate Chincoteagues 75.
These will pair perfectly with any beer you would drink with fish and chips or anything you would drink with a bag of potato chips. Light lagers, amber ales, Kolsches, cream ales all the ways to the various incarnations of IPA. Right now I am washing these down with a bottle of White Winter Winery Blueberry Mead for a perfect marriage of sweet and salty. The Chincoteaque's salt accentuates the flavor and sweetness of the mead in a very nice way and the mead keeps the oyster's saltiness from becoming overpowering and also brings out some of the oyster's own sweetness. 1-4-19