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Sufferhead Original

lˈsəfərhed əˈrijənl ‘

Sufferhead Original is a craft beer inspired by the experience of African immigrants living in Europe, especially Germany, and communicates some of the received stereotypes, politics of difference and integration associated with their expatriate fate through the brewing and branding of the beer.

The name ‘Sufferhead’ derives from the 1981 track by Fela Kuti, ‘Original Suffer Head’, in which Fela sings about the deplorable political and economic situation in Nigeria at that time. The 80’s was a decade of mass emigration by Nigerians due to the harsh economic and political situation in the country. The name also plays on the beer’s strength, with a high alcohol by volume (ABV) and the possibility of a suffering head the day after.

And here again, Sufferhead could also be that cliché of ‘poor suffering’ Africans. A ‘label’.



Based on a report by the city of Kassel, Somalians, Eritreans, and Ethiopians constitute the highest population of Sub-Saharan Africans living in Kassel. Since one of the aspects of Sufferhead beer is its connection to the gustatory perception, the inspiration for creating the craft beer came from various flavours of this region: coffee is a very common beverage in the countries mentioned, as is Tej, a mead brewed from honey and flavored with the powdered leaves and stems of gesho, popular especially in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Amongst many Africans, there is a consensus about German/European food not being ‘scharf’ (hot) enough, and the need for more chili in it.

Sufferhead Original (Kassel edition) brings these flavours into play, translating them into craft beer using different hops, roasted malts, chili, and summer honey from Kassel. The beer aroma starts with an intense roasted malt, cocoa and coffee, and is followed by honey and chili.

Sufferhead Original (Kassel edition) is a documenta 14 project by Emeka Ogboh, and was brewed in collaboration with CraftBEE.



In addition to beer brewing, the project explores African immigrant experiences through the branding and promotional campaigns for the beer; channeling labels, clichés, and occurrences into creating advertisements.

The Sufferhead campaign kicks off with ‘Wer hat Angst vor Schwarz?’ (Who is afraid of black?), and ‘Einmal Schwarz, immer Schwarz’ (once you go black, you never go back), riffing a controversial German schoolyard game ‘Wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann?’ (Who is afraid of the black man?), and a stereotypical reference to African masculinity.



Sufferhead Original (Kassel edition)


Provided by Sascha Nicolai, brew master CraftBEE.


Pours black with a thick light brown head. Dark and opaque.


Intense roasted malt, cocoa and coffee then followed by Honey and chili. As the beer warms up, the flavor combinations evolve and the chili notes open up, followed by citrusy notes from the hops.


Coffee and cocoa are at the forefront. Then honey, malt and chili follow. The fruitiness and heat of the chili come through nicely on the finish.


Slightly coating with lingering bitterness. Slightly dry, sweet and warming.

Tasting Notes