Unforgiven Red Rye – A Beer for Cowboys

A gun slinging, night riding wanderer out in the wild, wild west would’ve loved a case of Unforgiven to crack open in front of the fire.

At least, that’s what we believed when Gavin first made Unforgiven Red Rye back in the old brewery in Kelso. Half having a laugh, and half really wanting to make a smoked beer, the brewers came up with Unforgiven thinking about what a cowboy would drink. It would probably be something involving rye, something smoky, and something that went down smooth. The perfect name was found after Gavin went home and watched Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven one night after the beer was made, and it fast became part of our core range.


The flavours in this beer can at first be quite unexpected. Typically, when you think of a “smoked” beer you think big, bonfire, dark smoke; something heavy and bold. However take one swig of Unforgiven and you’ll find yourself with a smoke more akin to what you’d get from a meat smoker, or smoky bacon. This almost meaty light smokiness means it goes perfectly with some good hearty BBQ meals.
Rye whiskey is a cowboy’s best friend, and in Unforgiven we blend rye with our beech smoked barley to give a great peppery spiciness and adds another dimension to the smoky aroma. It also lends a slight breadiness typical of rye, just enough to accentuate the body of the beer.

Unforgiven Untappd Collage

Although speaking of the body, Unforgiven is unique in that a bottle bought in the Summer will taste different to one bought in the Autumn and Winter. Gavin and the brewers alter and balance the original recipe for Unforgiven depending on the time of year. In Summer months, it’s brewed to be lighter in both colour and body so that the smokiness and sweetness of the beer shine through and pair up with days outdoors beside the BBQ. During colder months – of which Scotland has plenty  – it’s brewed to have a slightly fuller body and to be a bit darker; this suits sitting by a warm fire with a plate of pulled pork perfectly! As for the hops used, they’re careful to only use the varieties that are best at the time of brewing to accentuate the spiciness in the rye that’s so iconic of this beer. Anything from Saaz to Waimea to Sladek, whatever at the time of brewing tastes best is what get used.

Unforgiven in glass

All our beers have some amount of attitude, but Unforgiven could give any of them a run for their money in a stand off. We can just picture Clint Eastwood standing out in the West, cracking open an Unforgiven, and taking a big swig while staring a man down.

Unforgiven Pulled Pork

We may have mentioned a few times before how much we love beer and food. We also love beer in food, so whenever we do a feature on one of our core beers we’re going to try our best to come up with a recipe that incorporates that beer.

pulled pork

This recipe is incredibly straight forward, and we had our own Shannon go home and test it!
A good pulled pork needs a good dry rub. A lot of companies make BBQ rubs, but you can just as easily do it yourself. We used:

A tablespoon of smoked paprika
Half a tablespoon of chilli powder
A tablespoon of dark brown sugar
Cracked Black Pepper
Ground Sea Salt
A pinch of fennel

Whatever cut of pork you use, you should add your rub, work it in, and leave it preferably overnight. Before adding the beer, we heated it up with a squirt of ketchup, a couple teaspoons of dark brown sugar, and some salt and pepper to work out some of the carbonation and also to let the flavours infuse.
Add this to your slow cooker or roasting dish and you’re good to go!

Shannon used a slow cooker, which was put on low for 4 hours then on high for 4 hours – or low for 7 hours if you’re going to be out. If you’re using an oven, set the temperature to 150c and let the pork roast for at least 6 hours until it falls apart, making sure to baste it every now and again with the tasty Unforgiven sauce to get it into every nook and cranny of the meat.

The sauce may be quite thin at this point so once your pork is cooked, drain the liquid into a bowl and set aside while you make a beurre manié. This is a French method of thickening sauces and soups, you simply get one tablespoon of butter, and one tablespoon of flour. Knead the butter into the flour using your fingers and once fully incorporated, add this to your sauce in a pan and allow it time to start thickening up on the heat.

Buerre Manie

It’s a bit messy but worthwhile! Once your sauce is a thick, glossy consistency, add it back to your pork and mix it in. Serve up with some hot brioche buns and fresh coleslaw, and a bottle of Unforgiven on the side.

One thought on “Unforgiven Red Rye – A Beer for Cowboys

  1. my site whois

    I’ve gotta say, I love the bacon beer!
    I’m just getting into homebrewing, I’ve done a good bunch of kits and I’m now looking at doing my first all grain.
    Would you mind me asking what type of malt you used so I can try and replicate the Unforgiven Red Rye!
    I’ll understand if you’d like to keep it a secret, because it’s a very unique flavour you have harnessed!
    I just thought I’d ask!


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